By Burak Bir
ANKARA (AA) - The year 2021 saw many major moves towards protecting wildlife and the environment, including bans on single-use plastics, while many reports warned of growing threats to nature as well as wildlife.
Here is a look at global environmental developments, reports, events and stories of 2021 compiled by Anadolu Agency.
- Electric car sales in Norway account for over half of car purchases, making it the first country in the world to reach the benchmark.
- Spain registers its coldest temperature on record, with a meteorological station in the Catalan Pyrenees registering a frigid -34.1 degrees Celsius (-29.3 Fahrenheit).
- 2020 is recorded as the warmest year in Europe, according to the European Union's climate monitoring service.
The year 2020 is one of the three warmest on record, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says, with a naturally occurring cooling climate phenomenon, La Nina, putting a brake on the heat only at the very end.
- Somalia announces a state of emergency over a new generation of desert locust swarms that have rocked the East African region.
- January's total Arctic sea ice volume averages the second-lowest on record after 2017, according to scientists.
- The US officially rejoins the Paris Agreement, the State Department announces, saying climate change and science can "never" again be "add-ons" in Washington's foreign policy.
- More than 14 million tons of Sahara dust are circulating in the atmosphere above North Africa, the North Atlantic and Europe, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
- About one million of the 8 million animal and plant species in the world are threatened with extinction, primarily due to human activities, according to a report on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
- The world's first recycled plastic sailing dhow begins a mission in Africa's largest freshwater lake to raise awareness about plastic pollution, according to the UN.
- The slowdown in global warming seen at the end of the last century is reflected by a decline in malaria transmission in the Ethiopian highlands, according to a study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and the University of Chicago.
- Climate change-caused drought in Somalia has left 70% of families in the country without access to safe drinking water and urgently needing humanitarian support, according to the non-profit organization Save the Children.
- Temperatures in most of northwestern Europe hits record levels as unusually warm weather grips the region.
- More than 30 heads of state and global leaders pledge to prioritize actions that help African countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and build forward better.
- EU institutions reach an agreement on a concrete text for the bloc’s climate law.
- Kenya announces that it has finally managed to contain the locust invasion that ripped through the East African country.
- Acute food insecurity reaches a five-year high worldwide as the international community grapples with conflicts, the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, according to a report by the Global Network Against Food Crises.
- Spain is heating up faster than the global average, according to a study, which found that 2020 was the country’s hottest year on record.
- The world's largest iceberg – close to 80 times the size of Manhattan – splits off from Antarctica.
- Environment ministers of G7 countries agree to take new steps against the use of fossil fuels and to deliver climate targets in line with limiting the rise in global temperatures to 1.5C.
- For the third straight month, deforestation in the Amazon breaks records, as 1,180 square kilometers (455.6 square miles) of the Amazon were deforested in May according to the Brazilian Institute for Space Research.
- Europe experiences its coldest spring in years in 2021, but temperatures are well above average in other parts of the world, especially in northern Africa, the Middle East, and northern and western Russia, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
- During the Leaders' Summit on June 14, NATO discusses the fight against climate change for the first time as the alliance also includes the topic in its 2030 agenda.
- Toxic chemicals in plastic waste are poisoning people by seeping into poultry eggs, according to a report by Czech environmental NGO Arnika and the International Pollutants Elimination Network.
- New Zealand announces plans to ban most single-use plastics including cutlery, straws, cotton buds and packaging by 2025.
- Canada's unprecedented heat wave sees a record temperature of 49.6C (121.2F) extending as far as its Arctic territories, according to the World Meteorological Organization, which warns climate change “is the defining challenge of our time.”
- An international team of climate scientists and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center says it found that man-made climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions makes heat waves at least 150 times more likely to occur.
- Water-related hazards dominated the list of disasters for the human and economic toll in the past 50 years, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
- About 83 million people will die from global warming-related issues in the 21st century without major changes to carbon emissions policies, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature Communications.
- Wildfires spread to many parts of the world, according to US space agency NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS).
- The IPCC Working Group I report, titled Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, highlights that global temperatures will likely rise 1.5 degrees Celsius by around 2030.
- July 2021 was the warmest month ever recorded, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says as concerns continue to mount over the ravaging effects of climate change.
- Over 30 million people are dying from hunger across the world, according to a report by the UN special rapporteur on the right to food.
- The US’ Harvard University announced that it will stop investing in fossil fuels after nearly a decade of criticism from students and faculty.
- Even countries with strong climate targets are mostly not on track to meet them, while more have failed to bring forward stronger commitments for 2030, said a report by the Climate Action Tracker.
- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issues a dire warning, saying the world is on a “catastrophic pathway” to surpass negotiated caps on temperature increases meant to mitigate the ravages of climate change.
- China’s President Xi Jinping orders a halt to building new coal-fired power projects outside the country.
- An estimated 14% of the coral reefs across the globe have been wiped out in less than a decade, according to a study released by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.
- The world's richest nations, which are responsible for around 75% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, are not on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius despite raising ambitions, according to the Climate Transparency Report 2021.
- Three months after deadly floods swept through Western Europe, experts warn that natural disasters may become more frequent and diverse in the future.
- The world is on track for a global temperature rise of 2.7°C by the end of the century, according to a report, with the UN chief saying world leaders can still work for a greener future.
- The UN Climate Change Conference, also knowns as COP26, begins in Glasgow, Scotland, with new pledges expected to be announced in the fight against climate change.
- World leaders make remarkable pledges on real action at the COP26 summit to limit rising temperatures and support small island developing states (SIDS) and Africa to adapt to the changing climate.
- More than 100 world leaders sign a declaration committing to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.
- An estimated 50% of the world’s population that lives in coastal areas will be exposed to flooding, storms and tsunamis by 2030, according to the UN.
- Twenty-three countries make national climate education pledges at the COP26 conference, including net-zero schools and placing climate at the heart of national curriculums.
- COP26 concludes as all attending countries reach a new climate deal that will try and keep global warming at 1.5 C.
- Japan says greenhouse gas emissions in the country dropped to a record low last year, largely due to COVID-19 lockdowns that slowed economic activities.
- Russia vetoes a UN Security Council resolution that would have formally linked climate change and global security.
- A temperature of 38 C (100.4 F) in Verkhoyansk, Russia on June 20, 2020 has been recognized as a new Arctic temperature record as both the hottest and coldest locations are warming, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
- The UN humanitarian action office announces that it launched a 2022 humanitarian response plan for Somalia, seeking $1.5 billion to assist 5.5 million people in need.