From the United States passing one of its most significant climate bills to Europe’s continuing battle with wildfires and droughts, here are the top climate stories from this week.
1. Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act into law
US President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act 2022 into law on August 17. Considered landmark legislation to aid the US’ move away from fossil fuels, the law will, among other things, help invest in low-emission sources of energy, aid electric utilities switch to lower-emission sources of energy and encourage Americans to buy electric vehicles through tax credits.
The Inflation Reduction Act will help save money on prescription drugs, cut health care premiums, cut energy costs, take aggressive action on climate, and make large corporations pay their fair share in taxes.
We got it done. pic.twitter.com/XjdkNkOpov
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 16, 2022
According to the New York Times, the bill invests $370 billion in spending and tax credits in low-emission forms of energy to fight climate change. It is aimed at helping the United States cut greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 40% below 2005 levels by 2030. That would put the country within striking distance of Biden’s goal of cutting emissions at least 50% over that time period.
2. China issues first national drought alert
China has issued its first national drought alert of the year as authorities battle forest fires and mobilise specialist teams to protect crops from scorching temperatures across the Yangtze river basin, reported Reuters.
The national ‘yellow alert’, issued late on Thursday, comes after regions from Sichuan in the southwest to Shanghai in the Yangtze delta have experienced weeks of extreme heat, with government officials repeatedly citing global climate change as the cause. The alert is two notches short of the most serious warning on Beijing’s scale.
3. ‘Spanish Stonehenge’ emerges from drought-hit dam
A brutal summer has caused havoc for many in rural Spain, but one unexpected side-effect of the country’s worst drought in decades has delighted archaeologists — the emergence of a prehistoric stone circle in a dam whose waterline has receded, says a Reuters report.
The #Spanish #Stonehenge has emerged from a drought-hit dam leaving archaeologists a rare chance to study the prehistoric site. #DolmenofGuadalperal #Archaeology #megalithic #prehistoric #Spain pic.twitter.com/99VimNlU0u
— China Daily Hong Kong (@CDHKedition) August 19, 2022
Officially known as the Dolmen of Guadalperal but dubbed the Spanish Stonehenge, the circle of dozens of megalithic stones is believed to date back to 5000 BC. It currently sits fully exposed in one corner of the Valdecanas reservoir, in the central province of Caceres, where authorities say the water level has dropped to 28% of capacity.
4. Wildfires in Europe, Algeria
Spain, Portugal and France in Europe and Algeria in Africa have seen massive wildfires, abetted by windy conditions and droughts brought on by below-normal levels of rainfall.
VIDEO: 🇵🇹 Firefighters battle national park blaze in central Portugal
Firefighters on Wednesday tackled the flames in the #SerraDaEstrela Natural Park which have been raging for four days and have already destroyed more than 4000 hectares of forest, according to estimates pic.twitter.com/wh5RZ9gpl2
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) August 11, 2022
In Spain, just this summer, wildfires have blackened more than 700,000 hectares, the largest area since the European Union started collecting satellite data in 2006, said an Associated Press report. In Portugal, barely days after the two-week-long wildfire was brought under control in the pine forests of the Serra da Estrela national park, experts are warning that an upcoming heat wave could worsen the situation. In Algeria, the death toll from wildfires rose to 37 as of Thursday.
5. Designer Armani and guests flee wildfire on Sicilian island
Firefighters worked Thursday to put out the remnants of two wildfires on a Sicilian island that forced fashion designer Giorgio Armani and dozens of others to flee their vacation villas overnight.
A photo from the island of Pantelleria showed flames appearing to encroach on Armani’s villa, but the Italian designer’s press office said they stopped short of the property. Armani and guests evacuated to a boat in the harbour.
(Compiled from reports from Reuters, AP and other agencies)