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Towards urban climate resilience: learning from Lusaka

  “This is a long shot!”  These were the words used by Richard Jones (Science Fellow, Met Office) in August 2021 when he asked if I would consider leading a NERC proposal for a rapid six-month collaborative international research and scoping project, aligned to the COP26 Adaptation and Resilience theme. The deadline was incredibly tight but the opportunity was too good to pass up - we set to work! Background to Lusaka and FRACTAL Zambia’s capital city, Lusaka, is one of Africa’s fastest growing cities, with around 100,000 people in the early 1960s to more than 3 million people today. 70% of residents live in informal settlements and some areas are highly prone to flooding due to the low topography and highly permeable limestone sitting on impermeable bedrock, which gets easily saturated. When coupled with poor drainage and ineffective waste management, heavy rainfall events during the wet season (November to March) can lead to severe localised flooding impacting communities and creatin
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COP27: how the fossil fuel lobby crowded out calls for climate justice

COP27 has just wrapped up. Despite much excitement over a new fund to address “loss and damage” caused by climate change, there is also anger about perceived backsliding on commitments to lower emissions and phase out fossil fuels. As an academic expert in climate justice who went along this year, hoping to make a difference, I share this anger. “Together for Implementation” was the message as COP27 got underway on November 6 and some 30,000 people descended on the Egyptian resort town of Sharm El Sheik. The UNFCCC strictly regulates who can attend negotiations . Parties (country negotiation teams), the media and observers (NGOs, IGOs and UN special agencies) must all be pre-approved. I went along as an NGO observer, to represent the University of Bristol Cabot Institute for the Environment . Observers have access to the main plenaries and ceremonies, the pavilion exhibition spaces and side events. The negotiation rooms, however, are largely off limits. Most of the day is spent

The Horn of Africa has had years of drought, yet groundwater supplies are increasing – why?

Harvepino / shutterstock The Horn of Africa – which includes Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and some surrounding countries – has been hit by increasingly frequent and devastating droughts. Despite this, it seems the region has an increasing amount of groundwater. And this water could help support drought-stricken rural communities. That’s the key finding from our new research , in which we discovered that while overall rainfall is decreasing, an increase in “high-intensity” rainfall has led to more water being stored deep underground. It’s a paradoxical finding, yet one that may help one of the world’s most vulnerable regions adapt to climate change. In the Horn of Africa, rural communities live in a constant state of water scarcity punctuated by frequent periods of food insecurity . People there rely on the “long rains” between March and May and the “short rains” between October and December to support their lives and livelihoods. As we writ

Are you a journalist looking for climate experts? We've got you covered

 We've got lots of media trained climate change experts. If you need an expert for an interview, here is a list of Caboteers you can approach.  All media enquiries should be made via  Victoria Tagg , our dedicated Media and PR Manager at the University of Bristol.   Email  victoria.tagg@bristol.ac.uk  or call +44 (0)117 428 2489. Climate change / climate emergency / climate science / climate-induced disasters Dr Eunice Lo  - expert in changes in  extreme weather  events such as  heatwaves  and  cold spells , and how these changes translate to negative  health  outcomes including illnesses and deaths. Follow on Twitter  @EuniceLoClimate . Professor Daniela Schmidt  - expert in the causes and effects of climate change on  marine systems . Dani is also a Lead Author on the IPCC reports.  Dr Vikki Thompson - expert on  climate extremes , particularly heat extremes. Follow on Twitter @ClimateVikki Dr Katerina Michalides  - expert in  drylands, drought  and  desertification  and helpin

Just Stop Oil: do radical protests turn the public away from a cause? Here’s the evidence

Just Stop Oil handout / EPA , CC BY-NC Members of the protest group Just Stop Oil recently threw soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in the National Gallery in London. The action once again triggered debate about what kinds of protest are most effective. After a quick clean of the glass, the painting was back on display. But critics argued that the real damage had been done, by alienating the public from the cause itself (the demand that the UK government reverse its support for opening new oil and gas fields in the North Sea). Supporters of more militant forms of protest often point to historical examples such as the suffragettes. In contrast with Just Stop Oil’s action, when the suffragette Mary Richardson went to the National Gallery to attack a painting called The Rokeby Venus, she slashed the canvas , causing major damage. The Rokeby Venus: the 17th century painting by Diego Velázquez was slash

Climate change will not impact everyone the same way; but we do not know how

The National Guard rescuing a flood victim. Credit The National Guard, Flickr, CC BY 2.0 . Climate change is affecting the lives of billions of people. The impacts range from water scarcity and food production to health and wellbeing. Climate change impacts are felt in the cities and settlements where people live. We have heard many times that we need to ensure no one is left behind in climate change adaptation and mitigation. To ensure that every voice matters, the impacts of climate change on different groups have to be taken into account. Many individuals or groups are disproportionately affected by climate change as they have less capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate-related hazards. Worldwide, there are more than one billion persons with disabilities, 15% of the world’s population. The preamble of the Paris Agreement states that parties should respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights and the rights of persons with disabili

Insects will struggle to keep pace with global temperature rise – which could be bad news for humans

Animals can only endure temperatures within a given range. The upper and lower temperatures of this range are called its critical thermal limits. As these limits are exceeded, an animal must either adjust or migrate to a cooler climate. However, temperatures are rising across the world at a rapid pace . The record-breaking heatwaves experienced across Europe this summer are indicative of this. Heatwaves such as these can cause temperatures to regularly surpass critical thermal limits, endangering many species. In a new study , my colleagues and I assessed how well 102 species of insect can adjust their critical thermal limits to survive temperature extremes. We found that insects have a weak capacity to do so, making them particularly vulnerable to climate change. The impact of climate change on insects could have profound consequences for human life. Many insect species serve important ecological functions while the movement of others can disrupt the balance of ecosystems. H