Batteries from trees, seaweed solutions and COP28 controversy

News to know in our special January news round-up

21 January 2023
Eden FlahertyMing Chun Tang
21 January 2023
Eden FlahertyMing Chun Tang

The Landscape News bi-weekly digest is currently on hold until March. In the meantime, please enjoy this special start-of-2023 news roundup.

This year will be hot. The El Niño climate phenomenon is set to return by mid-2023, which will likely be enough to send global warming over 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In this special January 2023 news round-up, we cover the latest temperature records, natural climate solutions, greenwashing controversies and more.

LANDSCAPE NEWS

A petroglyph from an Indigenous group in the Peruvian Amazon. Tomas Munita, CIFOR
A petroglyph from an Indigenous group in the Peruvian Amazon. Tomas Munita, CIFOR

Last month, world leaders sealed what was hailed as a historic deal for the planet at the COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal. But was the agreement really such a resounding success?

Deep in the Amazon jungle, archaeologists are discovering a network of lost cities dating back some 1,600 years. Here’s what we know about them so far.

Meet these seven changemakers restoring the Earth: our new Restoration Stewards and their teams will receive funding, mentorship and training to restore ecosystems around the world this year.

And lastly, here’s a quick guide to the most important climate events to attend in 2023.

CLIMATE

Batteries from trees, seaweed solutions and COP28 controversy
Winter storms and record highs seem increasingly common. James Lewis, Unsplash

In a chaotic winter for the northern hemisphere, at least eight European countries have seen record-high January temperatures, forcing ski resorts to close – mere weeks after severe winter storms affected some 250 million people in the U.S. and Canada.

Last year was the hottest on record in the U.K., Ireland, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Portugal. In the U.K., the heat was made 160 times more likely by the climate crisis. Globally, the past eight years have been the eight hottest years on record, with 2022 in joint fifth place.

And even if we could limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, the world would still lose up to half of its glaciers.

In more positive news, the ozone layer is slowly healing and is expected to fully mend by 2066. This year will also see scores of climate lawsuits go to trial across the globe.

PEOPLE

Batteries from trees, seaweed solutions and COP28 controversy
Demonstration in Lützerath on January 8th, 2023. Stefan Müller, Flickr

Are we living in a new age of intersecting global crises? Business leaders, politicians and academics all think so.

German police have removed hundreds of protesters, including Greta Thunberg, from an abandoned village that will be razed to make way for the expansion of a coal mine.

Two environmentalists have been murdered for opposing an iron oxide mine in a nature reserve in Honduras, one of the world’s most dangerous countries for environmental defenders.

Half of the world’s 7,000 languages spoken today are set to die out by the end of the century. The climate crisis could seal their fate.

PLANET

Batteries from trees, seaweed solutions and COP28 controversy
A solo penguin. James Eades, Unsplash

The climate crisis could wipe out almost two-thirds of Antarctica’s plants and animals by the end of the century, including its penguins.

Likewise, most of the sharks and rays that live around coral reefs are endangered – and their demise could have serious knock-on effects on other marine life.

The ocean could become a casualty of the climate crisis, but it could also be a part of the remedy: underwater seaweed forests help absorb carbon dioxide and cover an area twice the size of India.

What if batteries could grow on trees? Scientists are hoping to start developing sustainable batteries out of lignin – the polymer that makes trees woody.

BUSINESS

Batteries from trees, seaweed solutions and COP28 controversy
Bales of used plastic containers tightly packed for their journey to be recycled. Nareeta Martin, Unsplash

Hundreds of banks and financial institutions pledged to achieve net zero emissions at COP26 in 2021. Today, these institutions are still investing hundreds of billions in fossil fuels.

How impactful are carbon offsets? A recent investigation calls into question the effectiveness of a leading provider’s practices

ExxonMobil’s scientists have accurately predicted global warming since the 1970s – but that hasn’t stopped the oil giant from publicly disputing its own findings. Now, it’s suing the E.U. over its energy windfall tax.

India has banned the import of plastic waste since 2019. So how did one city become a dumping ground for ‘recycled’ waste from North America?

POLICY

Batteries from trees, seaweed solutions and COP28 controversy
Brazil’s newly-appointed Minister of Indigenous Peoples Sonia Guajajara talking at GLF Climate 2022. GLF, Flickr

This year’s COP28 climate summit will be led by the CEO of one of the world’s largest oil companies. The U.S. and E.U. have endorsed the appointment, which has sparked outrage from climate activists.

Brazil’s new administration sees the return of Marina Silva as minister of the environment and climate change, while Sônia Guajajara is the country’s first-ever minister of Indigenous peoples.

Pakistan has now received over USD 9 billion in aid to rebuild from last year’s devastating floods.

India will invest USD 2.3 billion in the production of green hydrogen. The U.S. is set to ban the shark fin trade and has approved the world’s first vaccine for honeybees.


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