There was some good climate news in 2023. Really.

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As federal regulations go, preventing emissions of a combustible, planet-warming superpolllutant that isn’t even producing anything of economic value is truly about the least we can ask of an industry. But it’s a step forward that promises to eliminate the warming equivalent of about 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2038.

There was other good news on methane at the UN conference as well. A group of major oil and gas companies including BP, Exxon, and Saudi Aramco pledged to cut their methane pollution by at least 80% by 2030. In addition, a handful of additional nations joined an international coalition committed to easing global emissions by 30% this decade, while others stepped up their pledges and funding.

All of this comes on top of growing global efforts to more effectively monitor and report major sources of methane pollution around the globe, and reduce emissions from agriculture and landfills. 

As with every issue when it comes to climate change, none of this is enough, too much of it is voluntary, and complications abound. But these announcements, along with other signs of progress, are slowly adding up to a less grim future, while reminding us all that we’re capable of achieving even more.

—James Temple

A crucial fund to pay for climate damages launched

While the world scrambles to slow our emissions, it’s becoming ever more clear that the damage from climate change is happening in the present tense, with wildfires, floods, and heat waves making headlines. 

So it was welcome news that this year’s UN climate conference started with a historic milestone for vulnerable countries struggling to deal with these problems. On day one of the talks, the long-anticipated loss and damage fund was officially launched.

Historically, a handful of industrialized nations like the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom have been responsible for much of the emissions that are exacerbating extreme weather events and related disasters. Now, they are (nominally) paying for that legacy.

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