Here are the top five international developments on climate in 2023, as we see it.
- Brazil returns protections to Amazon – deforestation rate drops to lowest point in 5 years. Protecting the Amazon is critical to the climate as well as survival of numerous indigenous peoples. With the defeat of former President Bolsonaro – who had pledged not to designate “one centimeter more” of protected indigenous land – President Lula da Silva and his environmental minister returned protections for the forest and enforcement of illegal logging. They got nearly immediate results.
- Portugal runs on 100% renewable energy for 6 days. From Oct 31 to Nov 6, the nation of 10 million was powered entirely by wind, sun, and hydropower. That was 149 consecutive hours, beating its previous record of 131 straight hours on renewables in 2019.
- The Global Methane Pledge now includes 150 nations and has raised $1 billion to help poor nations cut methane pollution. China has included methane in its national climate plan and the U.S. announced an 80% reduction target. Methane is far more potent than carbon dioxide in the short term and its reduction offers the fastest way to address global warming.
- COP28 Climate Conference secures international agreement to “transition away” from fossil fuels. After a contentious start, and intense resistance from petro-states like Saudi Arabia to “phase out” fossil fuels, in the final document nearly 200 nations agreed to “transition away from” fossil fuels and to triple renewable energy production by 2030.
- Global temperatures go off the charts – 2023 hottest year on record. Scientists are analyzing the extreme heat to discover whether a threshold has been reached. Clearly we are inching dangerously close to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels.