Out now: The Environment, November 2023

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Climate futures

As the year winds down, diplomats, climate scientists and campaigners are gearing up again to attend the latest United Nations Conference of the Parties, this time in Dubai. COP28 moves climate change back onto the news agenda after a year of torrid weather.

We’ve had cyclones in southwest Africa, record-breaking heat in western Europe, soaring sea temperatures in the Atlantic, wildfires in Hawaii and from Algeria to Greece, catastrophic floods in Libya after storms burst dams on its north coast and deluges from New York to Uganda to Hong Kong

Climate scientists repeat; these events are not misfortunes. They follow a pattern that plays out the extreme, destabilising impacts of global heating that experts have modelled for decades. Climate change is here, now.

This issue of The Environment ponders our climate futures. We look at tipping points – some of the hardest climate impacts to model and predict. Revised modelling warns that these may come sooner, as global heating accelerates.

We look at climate impacts on people’s health. The climate crisis is becoming a public health challenge as floods, storms, fires and heatwaves affect people’s health and wellbeing.

But we also champion those working for good.

If 80 per cent of the world’s people are believers, can faith leaders promote climate action? Yes they can – and already are, suggests new research among Muslims and Coptic and Anglican Christians in Egypt.

Local government – and particularly city authorities – are leading the drive to adapt to more extreme weather. We asked experts who’ve reviewed climate-adaptation plans across Europe to name the cities that impress them most.

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