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VIDEO: Ocean temperatures rise and the EU carbon tax

May 4, 2023

The Week in Sustainability – May 1–5, 2023

Ocean temperatures rise…again

Scientists have recorded the highest global ocean surface temperature ever. Temperatures reached 21.1°C last month—that’s just shy of 70°F—surpassing the previous record of 21°C in 2016. While the increase may seem small, it will undoubtedly impact ecological services and ecosystems. Oceans play a crucial role in regulating global temperatures by circulating heat from the equator toward the poles. The rise in ocean temperatures contributes to sea level rise, threatening U.S. coastal communities like South Florida, where it’s expected that miles of coastline will be lost in the coming decades.

Inland communities will also feel the effects of increased ocean temperatures through intensified marine heat waves, which can devastate ecosystems and disrupt food sources and economies. Warmer waters also fuel stronger storms, and the interaction with El Niño and La Niña cycles can exacerbate these threats. An El Niño cycle, for example, can bring warmer, dryer weather to the Northern U.S. and increased flooding to the Southeast.

EU’s carbon border tax potential

New research from environmental economy groups across Leiden University, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact, and Ecologic Institute suggests that the revenue impact of the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) could be much more significant than initially estimated. The CBAM is an import carbon tariff designed to prevent domestic companies from shifting production to regions with less stringent climate policies. The researchers evaluated various implementation scenarios for the tariff and found that in the least ambitious form, it would impact 83 megatons of CO2—that’s the equivalent of removing over 18 million passenger vehicles from the road in a year or powering 10 million homes. And the most aggressive scenario? Well, that could cover over 1,500 megatons of CO2.

The implementation details of the tax are yet to be determined, but one concern is the potential impact on export-related economies in developing nations. Rather than exempting economically vulnerable countries, the researchers recommend using the revenue generated by the border tax to invest in low and middle-income countries to develop clean industries. This would help facilitate a global transition to net-zero while supporting countries most impacted by climate change, like Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.

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Editorial statement
At Sustain.Life, our goal is to provide the most up-to-date, objective, and research-based information to help readers make informed decisions. Written by practitioners and experts, articles are grounded in research and experience-based practices. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by our team of sustainability professionals to ensure content is accurate and aligns with current industry standards. Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.
Alyssa Rade
Alyssa Rade is the chief sustainability officer at Sustain.Life. She has over ten years of corporate sustainability experience and guides Sustain.Life’s platform features.
Hannah Asofsky
Hannah Asofsky is a sustainability data analyst at Sustain.Life.
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