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The COVID-19 pandemic is “a warning from the planet that much worse lies in store unless we change our ways”, a leading UN environment figure has said, ahead of the publication of the biggest climate report in almost a decade.

“While the climate crisis, together with biodiversity loss and pollution, has indeed been under way for decades, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought this triple planetary crisis into sharp focus,” Joyce Msuya, assistant secretary general of the United Nations and deputy executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said today.

“The pandemic is a warning from the planet that much worse lies in store unless we change our ways.”

Joyce Msuya addressing the Opening Ceremony for 54th Session of the IPCC and 14th Session of the Working Group I. Pic: IPCC
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Joyce Msuya addressing the Opening Ceremony for 54th Session of the IPCC and 14th Session of the Working Group I. Pic: IPCC

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Ms Msuya was speaking to mark the finalisation of the most comprehensive assessment of global warming of its kind since 2013.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group I has compiled its latest update on the science behind climate change, assessing the impacts of global warming and warning of future threats.

Its researchers will now spend the next two weeks talking representatives of 195 governments through their findings, before the report is published on 9 August.

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The need for such a wide-reaching study has been thrown into sharp focus by a spate of climate change-linked environmental disasters suffered the world over, from flooding in Europe to famine in Madagascar. Siberia burned while swathes of the US and Brazil suffered record heat and drought.

It will set the scene for the all-important COP26, crucial climate negotiations taking place just three months later in Glasgow. The aim of the talks is to get governments to agree on how to limit emissions and limit global warming ideally to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

The spread of the fires is graphically clear from the air. Pic: Anastasya Leonova
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With 100 days to COP26, what are these climate talks and why are they so important?

Ms Msuya added: “After years of promises but not enough action, it is a warning that we must get on top of this crisis that threatens our collective future.

“As I speak it is clear that extreme weather is the new normal. From Germany to China to Canada or the United States, wildfires, floods, extreme heatwaves. It is an ever-growing tragic list.

“And as countries invest unprecedented amounts of resources into kickstarting the global economy, as we all call for this recovery to be green, we need the IPCC more than ever.”

Hot topics in the report could be humanity’s impact on the climate, feedback loops and the impacts of climate change already happening, the role of forests and oceans as carbon sinks or potential carbon sources.

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How to prepare for extreme weather

What is the IPCC?

For more than three decades the UN’s climate science body, the IPCC, has provided politicians with assessments on the global climate, publishing a series of reports every seven years, as well as special interim reports.

IPCC reports have historically underpinned global climate action and influenced decisions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Its 2013 assessment that humans had been the “dominant cause” of global warming since the 1950s set the stage for the landmark climate accord known as the Paris Agreement in 2015.

In 2018, the IPCC released a special report on keeping global temperature rise under 1.5C, which changed public discourse on climate.

The global atmosphere is already 1.2C warmer than the preindustrial average.

A further two reports in this assessment cycle are on track to be published next year.

Working Group II, slated for February, will calculate the vulnerability of humans and nature to the climate crisis and subsequent adaption. Working Group III, to follow in March, will assess ways of keeping to global temperature targets, including options on renewable energy or carbon capture and storage.

Subscribe to ClimateCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Spreaker.

Sky News has launched the first daily prime time news show dedicated to climate change.

The Daily Climate Show is broadcast at 6.30pm and 9.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.

Hosted by Anna Jones, it follows Sky News correspondents as they investigate how global warming is changing our landscape and how we all live our lives.

The show also highlights solutions to the crisis and how small changes can make a big difference.

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‘Invincible’ all-girl football team goes whole season unbeaten – in boys’ league

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'Invincible' all-girl football team goes whole season unbeaten - in boys' league

An all-girl team has become football’s latest “invincibles” by going unbeaten all season – while playing in a boys’ league.

Queens Park Ladies under-12s finished top of division three of the Bournemouth Youth Football League, with 18 wins, four draws and no defeats.

They dominated the 11 boys’ teams in the league, scoring 61 goals and conceding only 11.

By the time they had played all their matches, they had amassed 58 points, 16 more than the second-placed team, which had two games still to play.

To make their triumph all the sweeter, they had to overcome initial resistance from county FA bosses, who initially told them they would have to play in a girls’ competition.

Pic: Queens Park Ladies
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The under-12s team celebrates winning the league. Pic: Queens Park Ladies

Manager Toby Green was convinced his team was good enough to play against boys every week and the players, who train twice a week, have proved him right on the pitch.

Next season, the girls will be promoted to the under-13s second division.

They topped the league away against Moordown & Southbourne several weeks ago but clinched the “invincibles” title last weekend with a 3-0 win against Lymington Town.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Green said: “The girls have done really, really well. They’ve worked so hard all season, not just in the games, but in their training as well.

“They have been really disciplined… they deserve it.”

Pic: Queens Park Ladies
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Pic: Queens Park Ladies

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Mr Green said securing the league title with a 3-0 away win against a team that had won six games in a row was one of the highlights of the season.

“We’ve really had to dig in, particularly away from home,” he said.

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Four of the girls in the 14-strong squad have been playing together since they were five years old.

Mr Green started the team when his daughter Olivia told him she wanted to play football. He had already coached his older daughter as the only girl in a boys’ team and decided this time he would put together a girls’ team, but wanted them to play in the boys’ league.

The team hopes to inspire more young girls to get involved in football.

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‘Give us a future’: Anger as residents still not back in homes six months after Storm Babet

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'Give us a future': Anger as residents still not back in homes six months after Storm Babet

It’s been six months since Storm Babet battered the UK but many communities are still picking up the pieces.

The storm, which hit last October, caused devastating flooding, widespread power cuts and left seven people dead.

In Catcliffe, a village near Rotherham, South Yorkshire, more than 200 homes were evacuated when water levels reached over six feet high.

And while the water has gone, its impact is still being felt.

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October 2023: Storm Babet submerged hundreds of homes

The residents of Sheffield Lane were among those forced to flee – and most of them still aren’t back in their homes.

Instead, they’re still staying with family or living in hotels while they wait for their properties to be repaired.

Chris Lloyd was led to safety in a raft by firefighters when his home became submerged by fast-rising waters. His property was so badly damaged that he won’t be back in it until June.

He says flood-hit communities feel totally forgotten.

Catcliffe resident Chris Lloyd
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Catcliffe resident Chris Lloyd

“Do something, tell us something,” he says in a message to authorities.

“Give us something to reduce the amount of water that could potentially come in. I’ve said it a million times, but try and give the people of Catcliffe a future.”

Across the road at Jack’s Theatre School, the Saturday morning toddler group is oblivious to the stress and strain caused by the storm.

It took weeks for the historic building to dry out and the school relied on the help of dozens of volunteers to clean up the dirt and debris before they could return to the premises in February.

Flood damage in Catcliffe last October . Pic: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
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Flood damage in Catcliffe last October. Pic: PA

For staff and students, the show must go on, but there’s always the worry this could happen again.

Teacher Mia Mottram says: “Every time there’s heavy rain, I’m sat at home thinking I hope it’s not raining in Catcliffe because if it’s heavy again… it’s awful having to think like that.

“We know a lot of the children on this road and it was heartbreaking to think it was their homes that had been destroyed.”

There are concerns the UK is lagging behind when it comes to proactive steps to protect people and homes from extreme rainfall.

Baroness Brown, deputy chair of the UK Committee on Climate Change, says: “I don’t know how much more of a wakeup call we need from the climate.”

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All-girl football team goes whole season unbeaten – in boys’ league

Flooding minister Robbie Moore has called for local authorities to be careful when considering housing applications and make sure homes aren’t being built on floodplains.

“From my point of view, I want to be making sure the government… is putting as much money as possible into flood alleviation measures,” he says.

Meanwhile, communities such as the one in Catcliffe are trying to rebuild their homes and lives – all while fearing they won’t be properly protected when the next storm arrives.

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Former model almost died trying to cure cancer with juice diet

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Former model almost died trying to cure cancer with juice diet

A former model who almost died trying to cure her cancer with a juice diet has warned others against “cutting out” traditional medical advice and trying to source alternative information online.

Irena Stoynova forked out £2,000 on juicers and would spend up to three hours a day preparing liquid meals for the next day, believing it would clear her of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The 39-year-old was diagnosed in June 2021 when medics recommended that she receive conventional treatment, but she “shut them out” after watching people “talk about the success rate of alternative therapies online”.

Ms Stoynova was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma  in June 2021. Pic: PA
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Ms Stoynova was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in June 2021. Pic: PA

Ms Stoynova, from Crondall in Hampshire, said she took to a juice diet for two-and-a-half years, but also tried a raw-food diet, intermittent fasting, boiling herbs and special teas.

She said that she was advised to start chemotherapy, but she turned to the internet to find alternative advice and “everything started from there”.

She said she listened to one man with hundreds of thousands of followers on social media who claimed the body could “heal itself” through a radical lifestyle and diet change.

Ms Stoynova lost 20kg as a result of her holistic approach to cancer. Pic: PA
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Ms Stoynova said she lost 20 kilograms as a result of her holistic approach to cancer. Pic: PA

Ms Stoynova said she became a “fanatic” of the various diets and holistic therapies she followed, adding: “It was like tunnel vision.

“I didn’t stop, I was just so weak, I had sleep deprivation and hallucinations. I didn’t even have the strength to open the door for the delivery man.

“I couldn’t breathe because there was fluid on my lungs, I lost about 20 kilograms because of the dieting.”

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Doctors said Ms Stoynova was on the verge of death when she was taken to Frimley Park Hospital by ambulance in May last year.

She was told by doctors she would likely die without treatment for her cancer – which was stage three – but Ms Stoynova continued to refuse for a number of days before finally agreeing to receive chemotherapy.

Medics described “frustrating” conversations with her but eventually, after 10 days in hospital, she agreed to start chemotherapy.

The 39-year-old did a juice diet for two-and-a-half years, but also tried a raw diet, intermittent fasting, boiling herbs and special teas. Pic: PA
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Ms Stoynova is now in remission after having chemotherapy. Pic: PA

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Ms Stoynova, who is now in remission, added: “I now say to people that the side effects from chemotherapy are a piece of cake compared to the side effects that I got from trying the holistic treatment.”

She added: “What I would say is it’s great to have beliefs, it’s great if they’re backed by science, and please don’t cut off your consultants.

“I cut off consultants and everything connected with standard medicine and I almost lost my life.”

Dr Clare Rees, consultant haematologist at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is an extreme scenario and genuinely in the first 24 hours of Irena’s admission, I was unclear whether she would survive this or not.

“But the problem is that misinformation often spreads faster than the truth and obviously, if someone’s given the option of juice versus tablets or chemotherapy and injecting drugs into their bodies, you can see why they would prefer to do some of it if it will give them the same outcome – but the problem is that is not evidence-based practice.

“We always encourage people to go to Lymphoma Action or Macmillan Cancer Support for genuine information.”

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