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This week on Carbon Brief: CCC progress report; Nairobi nature talks; Less frequent cyclones

Weekly Briefing
Red lights
On Thursday, the US Supreme Court made the momentous decision to restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) role in curbing power plant emissions – an important ability in a nation that has long struggled to pass meaningful climate legislation. 
It was a bitter reminder of the country’s highly partisan climate politics and the difficulties that face Democratic president Joe Biden in living up to the climate ambition he has promised. (See this morning’s Carbon Brief Daily Briefing for all the coverage and reaction.)
This week also saw UK government advisers at the Climate Change Committee (CCC) release their latest progress report to parliament, detailing the ways in which the UK is – or is not – on track to achieve its own climate goals. Past progress reports have made for sobering reading – as reflected in Carbon Brief’s coverage – but this is the first one since the government released its full net-zero by 2050 strategy.
However, the new report concludes that the government’s current programme “will not deliver net-zero”, and warns that it has “credible” plans for just 39% of the emissions cuts required to meet the UK’s carbon budgets. There has been progress over the past year, but CCC chief executive Chris Stark pointed to “massive flashing red lights” over buildings, industry, agriculture and land use in particular. Carbon Brief has all the details.
At a launch event attended by Carbon Brief on Wednesday evening, outgoing CCC chair Lord Deben commended the leading role the government has taken in setting its net-zero target. Standing alongside former Conservative prime minister Theresa May and Labour’s shadow climate minister Ed Miliband, Deben celebrated the cross-party consensus that UK politics has on climate change.
But now the focus turns from targets to action and the committee’s report calls for hundreds of actions to be taken across every branch of government. The question is, will they listen?
Nairobi negotiations
As with progress on tackling climate change, there is still a very long way to go to preserve the world’s biodiversity. And after a week of talks convened by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the world’s governments are not much closer to agreement on how to do it.
The negotiations – held at the UN’s headquarters in Nairobi – followed talks in Geneva in March that concluded with key elements of a post-2020 “global biodiversity framework” still unresolved. Both sets of preparatory talks were intended to simplify the draft framework ahead of part two of the COP15 summit – already much delayed because of the Covid pandemic.
Carbon Brief’s Aruna Chandrasekhar was in Nairobi and explains in her summary that the negotiations delivered only “a few clear wins”. These included a new target on gender and youth, unambiguous recognition of the value of ecosystems in cities, and a date and final venue for COP15. The summit will now be hosted in Montreal, Canada, this December, rather than in Kunming, China.
However, with issues remaining around finance, nature-based solutions, subsidies and agricultural pollution, one observer likened the talks to “groundhog day”, adding that negotiators will need “a step-change in political will, attention and ambition” to salvage the draft text.
As attention turns to Montreal, the CBD co-chairs confirmed that there will be yet another round of talks held “just on the periphery, back-to-back with the COP”.
Cyclone decline
New research covered by Carbon Brief this week finds that tropical cyclones – among the deadliest natural hazards on Earth – are becoming less frequent as the climate warms. 
The authors find a drop from more than 100 tropical cyclones per year worldwide in pre-industrial times to around 80 in 2012. They suggest that warming is weakening two major global atmospheric circulation systems, with knock-on effects that create “more hostile conditions” for cyclones to form.
The decline is “good news”, the lead author tells Carbon Brief. But cyclone frequency isn’t the whole story, he adds, noting that climate change is making cyclones more intense and shifting them towards highly populated coastlines, putting many people at greater risk overall.
Recommended reads
This week on Carbon Brief
Cropped: Biodiversity talks; WTO subsidies; EU nature law
COP15: Key outcomes for nature loss and climate change from UN talks in Nairobi
CCC: Costly gas means reaching climate goals ‘could save UK 0.5% of GDP’
Tropical cyclones now ‘13% less frequent’ due to climate change
This week's Daily Briefings
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