Every sector failing to move fast enough on climate | First Thing

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Every sector is failing to move quickly enough to make the “transformational change” needed to keep global heating below 1.5C beyond pre-industrial times, a critical target of the Paris climate agreement, a global report has found.

Examining 40 sectors, ranging from agriculture to finance, the Systems Change Lab report found that all were changing too slowly to meet the targets needed to restrict global heating, with some areas even regressing: agricultural emissions, the dependency on cars and deforestation all required “complete U-turns”.

The alarming findings come just days before world leaders meet in Glasgow for the Cop26 global climate summit, with the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, admitting it was “touch and go” whether the necessary action would be taken. Failing to decarbonize quickly enough would mean the planet would increasingly be hit with deadly heatwaves, storms, flooding and crop failures.

What pace do we need to be moving at?

  • Phasing out coal: five times faster

  • Reforestation: three times faster

  • Coastal wetland restoration: nearly three times faster

  • Climate finance growth: 13 times faster

  • Cutting energy intensity of buildings: almost three times faster

  • Reducing Europe and North America’s beef consumption: 1.5 times faster

School safety officer charged with murder after teenager shot

Oscar Rodriguez hold vigil
Oscar Rodriguez, the brother of 18-year-old Mona Rodriguez, who was allegedly shot by a Long Beach school safety officer, holds a vigil to call for justice. Photograph: Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times/REX/Shutterstock

A school safety officer in Long Beach has been charged with murder after the shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old while he was on duty.

The Los Angeles district attorney announced on Wednesday that the officer, Eddie Gonzalez, whose contract was terminated a week after the killing, was facing one count of murder after allegedly firing into a moving vehicle near a high school on 27 September, hitting 18-year-old Manuela Rodriguez. The teenager, who had a five-month-old son, died a week later in hospital.

  • Why was Gonzalez off campus? A school district spokesperson said that its officers “work both on campus and near campuses [to] ensure safe passage of students to and from school”.

  • What do campaigners say? There have increasingly been calls to remove armed police from schools and to reinvest those funds into student services.

Oil executives face accusations of lying about climate crisis

ExxonnMobil plant
Executives from the US’s largest oil company, ExxonMobil, as well as Shell, Chevron and BP, will be questioned under oath. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

The heads of large oil companies will be questioned under oath in Congress for the first time on Thursday about the industry’s campaign of denying the role fossil fuels have played in global heating.

Top executives from the US’s largest oil company, ExxonMobil, as well as Shell, Chevron and BP, will testify in the momentous hearing, having previously dodged requests to appear before Congress.

  • How significant is this? It could be a turning point, according to a Representative, Ro Khanna. He compared it with the 1994 congressional hearing at which the heads of big tobacco companies were asked if they knew nicotine was addictive, leading to a $206bn settlement.

In other news …

Santa Fe’s county sheriff, Adan Mendoza, speaks during a press conference
Santa Fe’s county sheriff, Adan Mendoza, speaks to the press about the shooting on the movie set of Rust in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photograph: Sam Wasson/Getty Images
  • The gun used in the killing of the cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust was not thoroughly checked before being given to Alec Baldwin, the movie’s assistant director, Dave Halls, has admitted. Officials confirmed live bullets were found on the set last week.

  • Senior Democrats in Congress were divided on Wednesday over taxing billionaires’ assets to fund Joe Biden’s social and climate change agenda. The proposal would affect 700 of America’s super-rich, according to its proponents, and is opposed by some Democrats, including the West Virginia senator Joe Manchin.

  • A large storm that hit the US north-east and left more than 600,000 homes and businesses without power has been labeled a “bomb cyclone” – a tempest that swiftly intensifies and features plunging air pressure within 24 hours. At least one person has been reported dead.

  • A second In-N-Out restaurant in California has been forced to close for refusing to enforce vaccination rules. Health officials indefinitely shut the Pleasant Hill restaurant after it repeatedly ignored instructions to check indoor customers’ vaccination cards or proof of negative tests.

Stat of the day: 31% of Americans don’t accept that climate change is happening

Most Americans want to see oil and gas companies held accountable over the climate crisis, a poll finds.
Most Americans want to oil and gas companies held accountable over the climate crisis, a poll finds. Photograph: SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Almost a third (31%) of Americans do not accept global warming is happening, despite a near-total (99.9%) scientific consensus that the climate emergency is the result of human action. A poll of 1,000 Americans revealed political divisions, with Democrats overwhelmingly (89%) accepting the scientific basis of the climate emergency, while only 42% of Republicans agreed global warming was a reality.

Don’t miss this: the men haunted by their biological clocks

Illustration: Steven Gregor
Illustration: Steven Gregor Illustration: Steven Gregor/The Guardian

While society often associates concerns about declining fertility with women, men also experience anxiety cause by a ticking biological clock, with children born to men older than 45 having a higher risk of premature birth and low birth weight. Once sperm count starts to drop “it’s a steady decline”, says Dr Laura Dodge, an assistant professor of reproductive biology.

Climate check: the danger of progressive gestures by big business

A firefighter attends a fire near Wooroloo, northeast of Perth, Australia
A firefighter attends a blaze near Wooroloo, north-east of Perth, Australia. Photograph: Evan Collis/AP

When big business makes progressive gestures, it can often come across as a PR stunt: a way to align their brand – and bottom line – with evolving popular sentiment, whether on social issues or climate activism. These gestures can be worse than useless, says Prof Carl Rhodes, from Sydney’s University of Technology : “They represent a very real and dangerous side of contemporary capitalism … [it] has become a substitute for action.”

Last Thing: 20 years since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Messianic purpose … Daniel Radcliffe starring in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Photograph: Allstar/Warner Bros/Sportsphoto/Allstar

Twenty years on from the first Harry Potter movie, Peter Bradshaw reflects on the “nostalgic spectacular” and how the world has changed since the franchise hit screens in 2001. “We see Harry Potter coming to terms with his messianic purpose: he is released from his Dickensian incarceration in the Dursley household and sent for his first term at Hogwarts,” the Guardian’s film critic writes. “‘Wingardium Leviosa,’ says the earnest, wide-eyed Hermione … and the story is airborne again.”

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