Friday news roundup July 2, 2021
A wildfire burned 90% of the village that recorded Canada’s highest ever temperature. Lytton, British Columbia, recorded the country’s highest ever temperature this week: 49.6C (121.3F). Abnormally high temperatures have been recorded across swathes of North America, with Seattle and Portland also passing 46C. British Columbia’s Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe has blamed the extreme weather for a dramatic increase in recorded deaths—486 deaths were recorded over five days, compared with a usual average of 165. In Vancouver, British Columbia’s biggest city, heat is believed to have been a contributing factor in the deaths of 65 people since Friday. Twenty-five air-conditioned cooling centers have been opened in the city so people can escape from the heat. Experts say that climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves. However, linking an event directly to global warming is complicated. “Every heatwave occurring today is made more likely and more intense by human-induced climate change,” according to Dr Friederike Otto from the University of Oxford. “Climate change is definitely one of the drivers of the intensity of this Canadian heatwave—but it is not the only one and determining how much it impacts it, is a work in progress,” he told the BBC.
Read Linguère Mously Mbaye’s IZA World of Labor article, “Climate change, natural disasters, and migration.”
Australia ranked last for climate action among UN member states. A new report assessing 193 countries’ progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) placed Australia in last place, with the nation scoring just 10 out of 100 on tackling its fossil fuel emissions. Australia received the low score in an assessment of fossil fuel emissions, emissions associated with imports and exports, and policies for pricing carbon. Brunei, Qatar, and Norway also scored poorly. An overall assessment of the 17 SDGs placed Australia in 35th position, as it performed strongly on health and well-being, economic growth, education, and clean water and sanitation. The UN report warns countries not to allow the Covid-19 pandemic to lead to a prolonged reversal in progress toward the goals. “International commitments, for instance towards climate neutrality, must be rapidly accompanied by transformative actions and investments,” the report says. “Large fiscal packages of major economies present an opportunity to foster a green, digital, and inclusive recovery.”
Read about how exposure to elevated levels of air pollution adversely affects educational outcomes, in Sefi Roth’s IZA World of Labor article.
Bangladesh is a bellwether for climate change migration, according to a Sky News report. Bangladesh’s low-lying land, flood-prone rivers, monsoon seasons and cyclones, mixed with poor infrastructure and socioeconomic opportunities, have pushed many of its inhabitants from their rural homes and into the cities for work. Climate change is exacerbating and accelerating this pattern and internal migrants are arriving in cities, like the capital Dhaka, faster than infrastructure can keep up. Dhaka (pop. 21 million) is the fastest-growing megacity in the world, with up to 2,000 migrants arriving every day. Most end up in the city’s slums, home to 40% of Dhaka’s population. Asif Saleh, who runs the development organization BRAC in Bangladesh, warns “It’s absolutely crumbling under the pressure of people.” He says “There is no sort of proper planning for people who are coming from outside. Public transportation, infrastructure—all are not equipped to handle so many people.” Bangladesh’s foreign minister, Abdul Momen, says the issue could be “a security problem for the rest of the world” as there will come a point when Bangladesh is unable to accommodate an ever-increasing number of people.
Find more IZA World of Labor content on environmental regulations and labor markets.