Newsdesk – July 21

Proposed integrated design by Perkins and Will of green-blue urban streetscape at the Churchill Technology and Business Park in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. [Photo: Perkins and Will]
Cities are getting hotter, but we can redesign them to keep us cool. As days of extreme heat get more common, there are a few simple solutions that cities around the world are implementing to keep people a little more comfortable.  As cities, on a global scale, that were relatively cool in the past are beginning to grapple with buildings that weren’t built for heat, there are several ways cities can prepare for extreme heat, from changes in infrastructure—like solar and battery “microgrids” that can keep air conditioning on at cooling centers if the heat takes the grid down—to shifts to different cooling technology, like geothermal power. Although these are good ways to keep cities cool, there are three particularly simple and helpful solutions. One solution involves covering cities and buildings with trees. For instance, in Milan, the Bosco Verticale (“Vertical Forest”) building is covered with trees on balconies. “We designed the balconies to accommodate really significant green infrastructure,” says Brian Swett, director of cities and sustainable real estate at the engineering firm Arup. We can also coat streets and roofs to help lower temperatures inside buildings, helping people feel more comfortable and use less air conditioning; like cars, air conditioners are both another major source of emissions and make cities immediately hotter as the machines vent heat outside. Last, but not least, we can design buildings to stay cool, for instance, by green and “cool” roofs and facades, or automatic shades that can cover windows when the sun shines directly on them—in an office building, and automatic windows that can open at night. But, what if we could rethink the shape of the cities themselves? This could cool them down and improve the way people get around buildings – Fast Company

  • Trump drilling leases could create more climate pollution than EU does in a year – The Guardian
  • Climate change: Arctic permafrost now melting at levels not expected until 2090 – Independent
  • Air travellers may have to pay carbon charge to offset emissions – The Guardian
  • EPA restores broad use of pesticide opposed by beekeepers –
  • US philanthropists vow to raise millions for climate activists – The Guardian
  • Britain’s first climate assembly agrees plan for council to tackle crisis – The Guardian
  • Energy regulators divided over natural gas and climate change – Axios

Last month’s heat wave in Europe was also part of the Bad Season. [Photo: ARND WIEGMANN / REUTERS]
Here Comes the Bad Season.  It’s not just this heat wave. July 2019 is likely to be the hottest month ever measured. We are right in the middle of it, and we are not simply talking about a series of sweltering afternoons. Even hours after the sun sets, air temperatures could hang well above 90, dipping below the 80-degree mark only in the moments before dawn. The heat index in some big cities—including New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.—may sit above the mid-80s for 72 hours straight. This vast blanket of oppressive heat will continue to smother the eastern two-thirds of the United States, subjecting tens of millions of people to searingly hot days and forbidding, unrelenting nights. These extreme temperatures will be extremely dangerous. Heat waves kill more Americans, on average than any other type of weather event. Excessive heat and humidity can damage internal organs, including the kidneys and the brain, and they can prompt heatstroke or even heart failure. And heat waves like this one—multiday episodes during which temperatures barely budge overnight—can be especially deadly, because people without air conditioning at home can’t open their windows and cool off while they sleep. This is what it’s like during the Bad Season, but “July is shaping up to be the warmest July on record—and probably the warmest month ever measured, since July is the hottest month of the year” – The Atlantic

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres [Photo: UN]
Guterres asks all countries to plan for carbon neutrality by 2050.  In a letter to all of the heads of state, the UN chief set net zero emissions as the benchmark for ambition, ahead of a landmark summit in September. He demanded that they set out plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Clarifying his demands, Guterres said he had “asked all leaders to come to the Summit ready to announce the plans that they will set next year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.” For some poorer countries, which still share this aspiration to achieve carbon neutrality, it is not under serious consideration for major emerging economies like China. Nevertheless, the ambitious Guterres added that the plans should include “a commitment as concrete as possible” to increase countries’ contribution under the Paris Agreement in 2020 and indicate the long-term strategies countries will submit to UN Climate Change before the end of next year. Besides Guterres’s ambition, there are other initiatives are expected to focus on zero net emissions in buildings by 2050, improving the resilience of 600 million slum dwellers and upscaling climate finance for cities in low- and middle-income countries – Climate Home News