The Times - UK (2022-01-24)

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the times | Monday January 24 2022 19


fire retardants and are known as forev-
er chemicals because they do not break
down easily in the environment.
PFAS have been linked with cancer,
miscarriage, birth defects, endocrine
disruption and liver disease.
Scientists tested liver samples of 50
otters found dead in 2007-09 and de-
tected PFAS in all of them. Four out of
five had at least 12 different types of the
chemicals in their bodies. Samples from

otters that had died from 2014-19 all
contained two PFAS which had been
The otters mainly died in road colli-
sions and the impact of PFAS on their
health is unknown.
Concentrations of the chemicals
were higher in otters from arable areas.
The chemicals wash off fields into
rivers where they contaminate fish
which are eaten by otters.

The deal agreed at the Cop26 climate
conference in Glasgow is at risk of re-
maining “just words on a page”, accord-
ing to the minister who brokered it.
Alok Sharma will warn today that the
promises made in November may
“wither on the vine” unless countries
act. The promises include a commit-
ment by all countries to strengthen
their climate change targets for 2030 by
the end of this year.
In a speech at Chatham House, the
Cop26 president, will say “There is no
doubt that the commitments we se-
cured at Cop26 were historic. Yet at the
moment they are just words on a page.
“And unless we honour the promises
made, to turn the commitments in the
Glasgow Climate Pact into action, they

We must turn historic Cop

words into action, says minister

Ben Webster Environment Editor will wither on the vine. We will have
mitigated no risks. Seized no opportu-
nities. We will have fractured the trust
built between nations. And 1.5 degrees
will slip from our grasp.”
Scientists have calculated that cli-
mate pledges already made by coun-
tries would only limit warming to about
2.4C, which would have devastating
consequences globally.
Sharma will also use the speech to
outline the UK’s priorities for climate
negotiations, which he will continue to
chair until handing over responsibility
to Egypt, where the next climate
change conference, Cop27, will take
place in Sharm al-Sheikh in November.
The Glasgow pact committed coun-
tries to “phase down coal”. The lan-
guage was weakened after China and
India objected to a draft text that re-

ferred to “phasing out” the dirtiest fossil
fuel. Sharma is also seeking to ensure
that developed countries meet their
promise to deliver $100 billion a year in
public and private money to help poor
countries respond to climate change.
Bob Ward, policy director of the
Grantham Research Institute on Cli-
mate Change at the London School of
Economics, said Britain also needed to
commit itself to greater action on cli-
mate change this year.
“Although the UK already has one of
the strongest pledges for 2030, it will be
difficult to persuade other countries to
go further without offering to do more
itself,” he said.
“The UK Presidency of Cop26 needs
to put pressure on all countries, partic-
ularly laggards like Australia, to in-
crease their planned emissions cuts.”

Toxic sewage chemicals found in otters

Ben Webster

Otters are contaminated with toxic
“forever chemicals” that leak from fact-
ories and sewage works and are spread
onto farmland in sludge, a study says.
The perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroal-
kyl substances (PFAS) are used to make
products water, stain and grease-resist-
ant. They are used in goods such as
after their world record Atlantic row of 3,000 miles in 40 days, 23 hours, 57 minutes non-stick pans, waterproof clothes and

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