Since 2000, global warming has cost the United States and the European Union at least $4 trillion in lost output and tropical countries are 5% poorer than they would have been without climate change impacts
Devastating wildfires that have ravaged the US West Coast continued to rage on Wednesday as smoke from the deadly blazes spread across the country and even reached Europe.
“The scale and magnitude of these fires are at a level much higher than any of the 18 years that our monitoring data covers” since 2003, said Mark Parrington, senior scientist and wildfire expert at Europe’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).
He adds that the fires are emitting so much pollution that thick smoke was visible over 8,000 kilometres (4,900 miles) away in northern Europe, showing how devastating the blazes have been in their magnitude and duration.
The heaviest smoke from the fires, which began mid-August in California, remains over the US West Coast.
California cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as Portland in Oregon and Washington state’s Seattle have registered some of the worst air quality in the world.
Wildfires in the US could trigger red sunsets in Norway, Norwegian state broadcaster NRK reported.
Huge plumes of smoke over the west coast of the United States rushed eastward. Norway is already expecting the sky to turn red.
“It is ash that is transported up into the atmosphere, and then takes wind and weather it on to us”, explains director Tore Furevik at the Bjerknes Center in Bergen (UiB). American ash will reach Iceland this weekend.
This is one of the largest wildfires on the west coast. It’s huge, and satellite images show the west coast is shrouded in smoke all the way from Mexico to Canada, scientists say.
Meanwhile Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) said that achieving net zero emissions by mid-century would cost an estimated $1 trillion-$2 trillion a year of additional investments, or 1-1.5% of global gross domestic product.
To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius this century, global greenhouse gas emissions will need to reach net zero. When this is achieved, the reduction in 2050 living standards in developed and developing countries would amount to less than 0.5% of global GDP, the report said.
Since 2000, global warming has cost the United States and the European Union at least $4 trillion in lost output and tropical countries are 5% poorer than they would have been without climate change impacts, according to research by Stanford University.
The ETC is a global coalition of 40 energy producers, industrial companies and financial institutions, including ArcelorMittal, HSBC, BP, Shell, Orsted and Bank of America, which are committed to achieving a carbon-free economy by 2050.
Other industrial manufacturers have their own plans. Major global nickel and palladium producer Russia’s Norilsk Nickel has its own plans for climate change. The company, with its main base in the Arctic and affected by the abnormally hot spring and summer of 2020, as a result of permafrost thawing, thousands of tons of diesel fuel leaked into the neighboring river. Nornickel plans to create a permafrost monitoring system by the end of 2021. The monitoring system could be a useful programme for Nornickel’s operations, which are largely located above the Arctic Circle. Nornickel will be looking to find solutions that could prevent another environmental disaster at its operations.
Also a group of scientists from Russia’s Academy of Sciences has embarked on a comprehensive study of the ecosystems and environment of the Arctic in an expedition to the Taymyr Peninsula at the invitation of Nornickel.
“There is no doubt that it is technically and economically possible to reach the zero-carbon economy which we need by 2050; and zero must mean zero, not a plan which relies on the permanent and large-scale use of ‘offsets’ to balance continued emissions,” said co-chair of the ETC, Adair Turner.
“But action in the next decade is crucial – otherwise it will be too late,” he added.
As a result of the energy transition needed, oil demand could be slashed from 100 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2019 to around 10 million bpd by mid-century, and thermal coal use would be totally phased out, the report said.
China has the resources and technology to become a rich, developed carbon-free economy by 2050. All developing nations should be able to reach net-zero emissions by 2060 at the latest but will require development investment to attract private green investors, it added.
On Wednesday, the European Commission said the bloc should commit to deeper emissions cuts over the next decade, requiring huge investments in transport, heavy industry and energy – where businesses will also face higher carbon costs under EU plans to revamp its carbon market.