• FutureTrack

This Week in Sustainability News – 01.07

Updated: Jul 15

This past week was filled with interesting sustainability and climate news, we’ve summarised the top stories below.


Climate-friendly farming practices could replace chemical fertilisers

  • A recent study published in Nature has found that practising ecological intensification (EI) within farming has positive effects on crop yields and reduces the need for artificial fertilisers.

  • EI practices focus on sustaining crop yields whilst reducing the negative environmental impacts of farming. Methods of EI include increasing crop diversity, adding nitrogen-fixing ‘fertility’ crops, and using organic matter as fertiliser.

  • The researchers also found a substitutive relationship between EI and artificial fertilisers, meaning that EI practices have a great effect on crop yield when low levels of artificial fertilisers are used, and a minimal effect when higher levels are used.

  • This substitutive relationship means there is potential to use EI to reduce artificial fertiliser use while sustaining and possibly increasing crop yields.

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EU countries agree to new climate laws

  • Following long negotiations, EU countries have agreed to joint positions on several proposed climate laws. However, these laws will not go into effect until after negotiations with the European Parliament.

  • One of the key laws agreed to will require that, from 2035, all new cars sold in the EU must emit zero CO2 emissions. This will essentially prohibit the sale of new petrol- or diesel-powered cars.

  • Other agreements included: forming a 59-billion-euro fund to shield low-income persons from the new policy’s costs; increasing natural carbon sinks; and reforming the EU’s carbon market.

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The dire consequences of temporarily overshooting 2C warming

  • Researchers have analysed what will happen to life on earth if global warming temporarily overshoots the 2C limit set by the Paris agreement.

  • The results showed that even if the global temperature overshoot only lasted 60 years, some areas of the planet could face extreme temperatures for a further 200 years. Facing such temperatures would lead to irreversible extinctions and lasting damage for tens of thousands of species.

  • Considering their findings, the researchers stressed that the world must rapidly cut emissions now to avoid overshooting 2C of warming. They state that it is far ‘too risky’ to allow for an overshoot and then rely on future carbon removal technologies to solve the problem.

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Report states UK will not achieve net zero under current programmes

  • A report released by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) this week has found ‘major failures’ in the UK’s net zero delivery programmes.

  • The CCC applauded the Government’s ambitious targets and subsequent progress with renewable energy deployment and electric vehicle adoption but state that in many other areas, the likelihood of under-delivery is high.

  • In light of this, the report makes over 300 recommendations to the government for filling out policies over the next year.

  • The CCC also recommends that the government develop contingency plans for areas where policies may fail.

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‘Devastating’ Supreme Court decision limits US emission cuts

  • The US Supreme Court has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not have the authority to regulate emissions from fossil fuel power plants.

  • The ruling was made in response to a case brought to the Court by major coal producer, West Virginia, on the behalf of 18 other predominantly republican states and of large coal companies.

  • The decision has put America’s climate targets of net zero by 2050 and 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035 in jeopardy.

  • US president Joe Biden calls the ruling “another devastating decision that aims to take our country backwards” but insists his efforts to tackle the climate crisis will not be undermined.

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