Nine must-read 2021 climate change stories from around the world
From the way Indonesia treats its Elon Musks to the aftermath of the “unimaginable” flooding in Germany, here is our pick of the best Climate Home stories this year.
After a year 2020 in which the Covid-19 pandemic drowned out other news, climate coverage returned in force in 2021 with a Nordic summer of disaster leading to Cop26, the most publicized climate summit since Copenhagen and the most important since Paris.
At Climate Home News, we’ve covered all the big news – summits, goals, elections, weather extremes. We also spent time digging up the lesser-known stories and the real stories behind the headlines.
Here are nine examples spanning five continents (sorry Antarctica). To stay up to date with our work, subscribe to our weekly or premium newsletters and, to help us fund it, please consider becoming a supporter.
1. Angola’s dependence on oil hinders its exit from the poorest group of nations
At the start of the year, Angolan officials were panicking as they were only weeks away from graduating from the group of least developed countries.
It is usually a reason for celebration. Chloe Farand explained why – with falling oil prices – the country couldn’t afford to lose the preferential treatment of being in the club of the poorest countries in the world.
While oil has brought wealth to the country, this wealth has not been widely distributed and social indicators remain far lower than countries like Tunisia with similar income levels.
2. Green Climate Fund whistleblowers urge US to move money elsewhere – until ‘toxic’ workplace is fixed
With the United States returning to the climate fold this year, we’ve covered the debate over how much money it should give to developing countries’ climate efforts.
But it’s not just the amount that’s important, it’s how it is delivered. In March, our editor-in-chief Megan Darby got hold of documents suggesting that the staff of the United Nations Green Climate Fund were deeply unhappy with their leadership.
Unless there is urgent reform, whistleblowers told Climate Home News, US money would be better directed elsewhere. Activists, however, called for engagement rather than divestment. President Joe Biden has agreed to shell out $ 1.2 billion for newbies.
3. With Indonesia’s Response to Elon Musk in Prison, Electric Vehicles Are Going Nowhere
Ten years ago, a charismatic minister and talented engineer made it their mission to clean up Indonesia’s polluted air by developing a cheap, local electric car. But it did not go as planned.
First, the minister crashed an electric sports car into a cliff during a test drive. Then the engineer was sentenced to seven years in prison for wasting state money after his car was deemed unsuitable for the road.
Now engineers are understandably terrified of taking state money to research electric vehicles, and with Tesla’s and Nissan Leaf’s outside the budgets of most Indonesians, the country’s cars pollute more. than ever.
4. Lost at sea: the villagers of Côte d’Ivoire save their ancestors from the rising waves
In May, Ingrid Gercama and Alejandra Loreto traveled to Côte d’Ivoire as part of our climate justice reporting program and met fishing villagers trying to save their dead ancestors from coastal flooding, caused by a mixture of climate change and mangrove deforestation.
The opening quote, “we have to dig up my mother… if we don’t, the sea will take her,” certainly brings these studies of sea level rise to life.
5.Ocean fire reveals weak regulation of Mexico’s oil and gas sector
In July, a photo of the burning sea in the Gulf of Mexico went viral, becoming the emblem for everything wrong with the global economy’s dependence on fossil fuels.
Isabelle Gerretsen looked at the story behind the image. She investigated Pemex, the Mexican state corporation responsible for the underwater gas leak and Exim Bank, the U.S. export credit agency that has given the company billions of dollars over the past 23 years. last years.
Activists wanted an investigation into the leak, she found, and believed they had a better chance with Exim than with Pemex. Five months later, there is no sign of an investigation. Kate De Angelis of Friends of the Earth said: “Given that Exim is currently planning to support Pemex more, I guess they weren’t very concerned about the fire.”
6. As the Taliban take control of Afghanistan, coal is a key source of income
In August, the Taliban swept through Afghanistan, forcing government officials, translators, activists and journalists to flee, fearing for their lives. At the same time, a prolonged drought left Afghans hungry and increased instability.
Chloe Farand spoke with the country’s climate negotiator Samim Hoshmand, who fled to Tajikistan, and explained how coal mining had financed the Taliban takeover.
7. The lesson of the German floods: prepare for the unimaginable
It was a summer of tragedy in the northern hemisphere as even rich countries faced climate catastrophe.
Canada and the northwestern United States suffocated and burned, flooding drowned in a Chinese subway car, and more than 200 people were killed by flooding in the heart of Europe.
Marlene Jacobsen traveled to a flood-affected town in Germany and heard how 12 residents of a disabled care home drowned while trapped in their flooded rooms. She asked why the precise, timely and terrifying weather forecast had not been acted upon.
8. “It’s going to be bumpy! – Papua New Guinea sparked panic on last day of Cop26
Coverage of the last day of Cop26 focused on the last-minute weakening of the Coal Tongue by India and China. But earlier today, other issues threatened to derail the Glasgow Pact.
One was a divide between developed and developing countries over financing the poorest countries to adapt to the effects of climate change. It ended when Africa was satisfied with the promises of the US and the EU.
The other was a niche question – whether to automatically include United Nations forest projects in carbon markets.
Papua New Guinea’s negotiator, a Manhattan lawyer called Kevin Conrad, threatened to block the deal over it, sparking panic that reached the UN secretary-general in New York.
9. Mia Mottley: the “fearless” leader pushing for a global settlement for climate fronts
At Cop26 and throughout 2021, no leader has exceeded his weight more than Mia Mottley of Barbados.
In addition to going through a Covid-induced tourism downturn, the Caribbean nation’s first female leader has made her country a republic and found time to advocate for an overhaul of the international climate finance architecture.
Chloe Farand spoke to people who work with her about Mottley’s campaign for debt relief and climate finance for all developing countries.