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Climate

AM Briefing: Overtime at COP28

On the conference's stalemate, a new youth lawsuit, and Ford's production cuts

AM Briefing: Overtime at COP28
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: It’s getting windy in Queensland as Tropical Cyclone Jasper approaches land. America’s chances of a white Christmas are looking increasingly slim. It’s cold but sunny in Washington, D.C., today, where Ukrainian President Zelensky will meet with President Biden.

THE TOP FIVE

1. COP28 runs into overtime

Negotiators at the COP28 climate summit remain divided over the text that will appear in the final deal to emerge from the conference, and in particular whether the text will call on countries to phase out fossil fuels. The conference was scheduled to end this morning but is running into overtime. Yesterday an updated draft text was swiftly and widely condemned in part because it eliminated the “phase out” language in an attempt to appease Saudi Arabia, among other nations. This morning COP28 Director General Majid Al Suwaidi said that draft was just a starting point for talks. He added that the United Arab Emirates COP presidency wants the text to include fossil fuels but that in the end, it will be up to the nations in attendance to come to an agreement. A new draft of the text is expected sometime today.

Activist Licypriya Kangujam Youth climate activist Licypriya Kangujam interrupts COP28 demanding an end to fossil fuels. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

2. California children sue EPA over climate

A group of 18 kids in California is suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), accusing it of failing to protect them from the effects of climate change and therefore violating their constitutional rights. The lawsuit, Genesis B. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, was filed by the Oregon-based nonprofit law firm Our Children’s Trust, the same firm that in August represented a group of Montana children in their successful landmark climate suit against that state. The Genesis suit calls climate change the “single greatest driver of the health of every child born today” and says young people are “actively being harmed and discriminated against by their government’s affirmative allowance of dangerous levels of climate pollution.” The plaintiffs don’t want compensation, but are asking “for various declarations about the environmental rights of children and the EPA's responsibility to protect them,” NPR reports.

3. Ford to slash F-150 Lightning production in 2024

Ford will significantly scale back production of its F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck in 2024, Automotive News reports, citing an internal memo. The company had planned to make 3,200 trucks per week but will cut that in half to 1,600, “marking a major reversal after the automaker significantly increased plant capacity for the electric vehicle in 2023,” explains CNBC. EV sales continue to climb: F-150 Lightning sales are up 53% year over year. But even so, the pace of growth hasn’t matched some automakers’ ambitious expectations as prices and interest rates remain stubbornly high. As a result, companies including Ford are being forced to pull back on their EV investment and expansion plans. A Ford spokesperson said the company will “continue to match production with customer demand.”

4. Report reveals environmental risks for world’s freshwater fish

A quarter of the world’s freshwater fish are at risk of extinction due to environmental degradation, according to a new assessment from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Climate change and pollution pose some of the biggest threats to freshwater fish, but overfishing, dam construction, and invasive species also play a part. The assessment found that the global population of Atlantic salmon plummeted by 23% between 2006 and 2020. “Ensuring freshwater ecosystems are well managed, remain free-flowing with sufficient water, and good water quality is essential to stop species declines and maintain food security, livelihoods and economies in a climate resilient world,” says Kathy Hughes, co-chair of the IUCN SSC Freshwater Fish Specialist Group.

5. Europe’s power-production emissions are declining

Europe’s largest economies have managed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production by nearly 25% over the last five years by switching from fossil fuels to renewables, Reutersreports, citing data from electricitymaps.com. Emissions from electricity generation across Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands have declined by 156 million tonnes in 2023 compared to 2018. “As every major European economy is set to expand renewables generation further each year through the rest of this decade, the region's overall carbon intensity will continue to decline, and will likely help the region emerge as the global hub for low-carbon electricity generation by 2030,” Reuters’ Gavin Maguire says.

THE KICKER

“While it may look broken in the short term, somehow this dysfunctional process can still deliver.” –Eve Tamme, a former climate negotiator for the European Commission, speaking to Heatmap’s Robinson Meyer on the future of COP.

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Jessica Hullinger

Jessica Hullinger is a freelance writer and editor who likes to think deeply about climate science and sustainability. She previously served as Global Deputy Editor for The Week, and her writing has been featured in publications including Fast Company, Popular Science, and Fortune. Jessica is originally from Indiana but lives in London. Read More

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