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Each week we share the top sustainability news stories from around the world. Here’s this week’s round up:

This week we explore a warning from developing nations around the climate crisis, an emerging global player in the electric car market, and a landmark deal to further reduce carbon emissions.

Wealthy Nations Failing to Help Developing World Tackle Climate Crisis:

Poorer nations have warned that rich countries have failed to provide the financial assistance needed for the developing world to cut greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the impact of climate breakdown. The failure leaves billions of people at risk from the worsening ravages of extreme weather. 

The warning comes after a US summit of world leaders that ended with few new funding promises. The global power led with sweeping new targets of cutting emissions by at least 50% by 2030. Countries like Canada, Japan and South Africa strengthened their targets while other major economies like South Korea and the UK didn’t make any new commitments or promises. Poor countries are already struggling with the Covid-19 crisis and rapidly mounting debt. 


Gaston Brown, prime minister of the Caribbean nation Antigua and Barbuda and chair of the Alliance of Small Island States told the summit that “the debt of small states has risen to unsustainable levels because of repeated borrowing to rebuild and recover from natural disasters arising from climate change.” The president of the African Development Bank also noted that the continent was losing between €6bn and €14bn per year because of climate breakdown and this is expected to exponentially rise if current conditions persist. The president, Akinwumi Adesina, said, “Africa is not at net zero; Africa is at ground zero. We must therefore give Africa a lift to get a chance of adapting to what it did not cause.”

UK Replaces France as Europe’s Second Largest Electric Car Market:

The UK is now Europe’s second largest electric car market in the first quarter of the year. Almost 32,000 battery electric cars were sold in the UK compared to about 30,000 in France during the same time period. This is in part due to the rising demand for cars with zero exhaust emissions as new emissions rules mean that manufacturers face steep fines if their products’ average carbon dioxide output does not fall.


Matthias Schmit, an independent automotive analysis said, “The UK is likely to remain the number two European battery electric vehicle market this year, albeit a long way behind market leader Germany, which manufacturers are relying on to meet European-wide targets thanks to the generous incentives on offer there”. He further noted that there has already been evidence of manufacturers trying to push lower emissions models in the UK. At the end of March, the German premium carmaker BMW lowered the price of its electric i3 to meet a lower bar for government subsidies. 

EU Reaches Landmark Deal to Reduce Carbon Emissions:

Last week, before the US summit was held, the European Union reached a deal on a climate law that includes an ambitious target to reduce net carbon emissions by at least 55pc by 2030. The law would enshrine the objective of a climate-neutral EU by 2050. The agreement also includes the establishment of a European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change and an intermediate climate target for 2040. It was also agreed that the commission would prepare sector-specific roadmaps to chart the path to climate neutrality in different areas of the economy.


Portugal’s minister for environment and climate action, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, said the European climate law would be “the law of laws,” setting the framework for EU climate-related legislation for the next 30 years. “With this agreement, we send a strong signal to the world – right ahead of the climate summit – and pave the way for the commission to propose its ‘fit-for-55’ climate package in June,” he also said. Ireland’s Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, TD, welcomed the news and reiterated that Ireland is “tired of being laggards” when it comes to the climate crisis.

Tune in next week for another round of sustainability news from around the world.