Environment and climate change stories to read this week

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to business leaders on Monday to support developing countries “in their hour of need” with access to COVID-19 vaccines, help to combat the climate crisis and reform of the global financial system. Speaking virtually to the World Economic Forum, Guterres said: “Across all three of these areas, we need the support, the ideas, the financing and the voice of the global business community.”

A study has found that of the 21 cities to host the Winter Olympics, only Sapporo, Japan would be able to provide fair and safe conditions to stage them again by the end of the century if greenhouse gases are not dramatically reduced. Researchers reviewed historical climate data from the 1920s along with future climate change trends.

China will force key industrial sectors and regions to take action to measure greenhouse gas emissions as part of a new initiative to improve data quality and oversight, according to an environment ministry document reviewed by Reuters.

It comes as Royal Dutch Shell said China may triple electricity generation to supply 60% of the country’s total energy under Beijing’s carbon-neutral goal by 2060, up from the current 23%. Shell is one of the largest global investors in China’s energy sector, with business covering gas production, petrochemicals and a retail fuel network.

A new $80 billion fund to support Europe’s poorest households during the shift to green energy should kick in a year earlier than planned, in 2024, an early draft of the European Parliament’s position on the proposal said. The European Commission said last year it would launch a “social climate fund” in 2025 to shield vulnerable citizens from higher bills that could arise from a EU carbon market for buildings and transport fuels.

A major winter storm slammed much of the eastern United States with snow, ice and high winds on Sunday, causing widespread travel disruptions and power outages on a holiday weekend. Winter weather alerts stretched more than 1,000 miles (1,609 km) from Alabama to Maine, with the governors of Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina all declaring emergencies due to the storm.

Severe weather events in Canada caused insured losses of C$2.1 billion ($1.68 billion) last year, making 2021 the sixth-costliest since 1983, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said in a statement on Tuesday.

Greece will forbid new road building and development in six of its mountain areas, taking a first step to protect its last remaining virgin habitats, Environment Minister Kostas Skrekas said on Tuesday. Making the transition to green energy a key priority, the conservative government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has promised to shut down nearly all its lignite-fired plants by 2025 and protect areas with native plants and animals.

Paradigm shifts and pristine coral reefs: Everything to know about the environment this week

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