Global warming news

Environment is grabbing big role in ads for campaigns

New York Times: In Michigan, an ad attacking Terri Lynn Land, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate, opens with a shot of rising brown floodwaters as a woman says: “We see it every day in Michigan. Climate change. So why is Terri Lynn Land ignoring the science?” In Colorado, an ad for Cory Gardner, another Republican candidate for Senate, shows him in a checked shirt and hiking boots, standing in front of a field of wind turbines as he discusses his support for green energy. And in Kentucky, a...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Forcing climate change onto the national agenda

Washington Post: The 2014 elections have been a dispiriting affair, replete with Democratic skittishness about the major legislative achievement known as Obamacare and wretched GOP demagoguery about Ebola and the border. But despite all this, and even if Dems lose the Senate, there may be one bright spot: Liberals may have made a bit of headway in forcing climate change on to the national agenda. In the Senate race that may have focused more than any other on climate change -- in Michigan -- the Democrat appears...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

On World Energy Day let's remind the EU that people want ambitious EU 2030 targets

Our ship, the Arctic Sunrise is back with a mission. After a year in Russian custody for a peaceful protest against oil drilling in the Arctic, she is now released, repaired and back in the water. Once again she will challenge reckless dirty fossil fuels plans – this time off the Spanish coasts, which is under the threat of off-shore drillings.

Activists onboard the Arctic Sunrise – and all over Europe – are calling for clean energy the very week that EU leaders are about to make crucial decisions about Europe's energy system for decades to come. They will be talking about how to reduce climate change including through using more renewable energy and improved energy efficiency. I hope the politicians attending will show the same courage and strength.

Image Gallery.. 

These activists are – literally – shouting from the rooftops, reminding the world what poll, after poll in Europe tells us: people want less fossil fuel exploration, more use of renewable energies and more effective energy efficiency.

These two strategies are the most clear and direct way to address climate change. Is this the week that politicians will listen?

Our message to EU leaders is very clear: Don't stand by as we stumble towards catastrophic climate change simply because you don't have the political backbone to modernize our aging, polluting energy system.

These leaders are posturing and wringing their hands, but they know what they have to do. They have to agree that the only way to stop climate change is to fully embrace the need for more renewable energy and implement better energy efficiency.

The choice is simple and their job at the EU summit this week is to do the ground work so this can happen.

If anyone is not sure what people want, take a train anywhere in Europe and see. Farms using wind turbines. Small roofs half covered in solar panels. In fact 60% of the renewables in Germany are used by households, farms and cooperatives. The future is arriving but we need to accelerate the process.

We want to know that when an office block renovates for a new business, planning permission requires that any changes result in the highest possible standards of insulation.

We want to know that any new city buses and private cars use as little fossil fuels as possible, making them cheaper to run.

We want government buildings to put solar panels on their roofs, not only to cut their energy bills, but to reflect the will of their electorate.

We want to reduce the billions of euros a day Europeans pay to import fossil fuel and steer fraction of it towards establishing a credible, smart renewable sector which will excite investors and create jobs.

All of these things would help curb climate change which, if unimpeded, will cost us much, much more in the future.

Greenpeace's volunteers and Europeans want to remind political leaders that they may not see these things but we are watching them and we won't tolerate their tired old arguments.  

Don't pretend drilling for oil is for jobs. Destroying the Canary Island tourism business doesn't help Spain's economy.

Don't pretend it's too expensive to have renewables. The UK's proposed new nuclear reactor will be one of the most expensive power generators in the world.

Don't pretend it's about logic or that a better energy system is unrealistic. Embracing a clean, modern, sustainable future that protects where we live – the planet – is the most logical, most realistic, in fact the only, choice.

Let's hope that this week, those politicians have the guts for the glory of us all and show they are worthy of our votes.

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Virag Kaufer is a European Energy Project Coordinator, based at Greenpeace Hungary.



Read more [Greenpeace international]

U.S. needs to invest in Arctic ships, technology to prepare for climate change: envoy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States needs billions of dollars of new equipment including ice-breaking ships, better satellite service and fiber-optic networks as it prepares for climate change and melting ice in the Arctic, a top U.S. official said on Tuesday.







Read more [Reuters]

US oil exports would worsen global warming, govt auditors say

InsideClimate: Allowing United States oil producers to export crude would not only sway markets at home and abroad, it would also worsen global warming and present other environmental risks, the Government Accountability Office said in a new survey of experts. "Additional crude oil production may pose risks to the quality and quantity of surface groundwater sources; increase greenhouse gas and other emissions; and increase the risk of spills," said the report. That finding dampened what otherwise read as...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Climate Equity: A Tale of 4 Countries

Finalizing an “ambitious and equitableinternational climate agreement by 2015 is a key step in transitioning the world to a low-carbon economy and building resilience. Figuring out what that kind of agreement looks like, though, can be difficult—especially when it comes to the equity component.

The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has set in motion a process for countries to propose their own climate actions– their “intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs)” – next year, ahead of the Conference of Parties in Paris (COP) at the end of 2015. How those contributions reflect equity is a central question. In addition, the UNFCCC has set a temperature goal to collectively limit average global temperature rise to 2 degrees C in order to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. Discussions of equity frequently revolve around which countries are responsible for what share of global emissions reductions. More recently, experts have begun to include other issues in equity discussions, such as countries’ capacity to adapt to climate impacts and their financial and other resources to take action.

So, how should countries decide what to put into their contributions, and how should they be evaluated? What should governments, civil society, and the private sector take into account in thinking about the equitability of a country’s actions?

WRI’s new online tool, the CAIT Equity Explorer, aims to help answer these questions.

A New Tool for Viewing Equity

Rather than providing a formula, the Equity Explorer enables users to look at a variety of quantitative indicators and consider a holistic picture of a given country’s emissions and ability to act, including level of development, capacity to adapt to climate impacts, potential for mitigation action, and other factors. The size of countries’ indicators in the radar charts created in the tool —as well as how they compare to other nations’—point to what level of contribution might be appropriate.

Take a look at the comparison between four different nations to see how the tool works:

United States

In the graphic to the left, the United States’ radar chart is relatively full. Two “slices” in particular—historical emissions per capita and GDP per capita—go out to the edge of the circle, meaning that the country ranks fairly high in those indicators as compared to all other countries in the world. The United States’ relative level of current emissions is, however, somewhat smaller, as seen in the two radar indicators for current emissions.
The chart also shows that the United States’ capacity to adapt to climate impacts is relatively high because of its level of economic development in relation to the impacts it faces. Combined, these factors suggest that the country has reason to set ambitious goals when it comes to climate action—including both domestic emissions reductions and the finance it should provide to help other countries mitigate and adapt to climate change.

For other indicators, however, the United States may look somewhat different. For example, it has taken steps that others may not have taken to reduce emissions that cause local air pollution. As a result, even though the country can reap substantial benefits by improving local air quality, other countries may have even more to gain from reducing emissions.

China

China’s picture falls between that of the United States and other countries. Its historical emissions are much lower than those from the United States, but the chart shows that its current emissions are significantly higher than many other developing countries, including India, another major emerging economy. China also has a lot of potential to reduce its local air pollution, as compared to other countries, so aggressive emissions reductions domestically would gain the national benefit of cleaner air while also contributing to the global benefit of reducing climate change. China’s economic capacity to adapt to climate impacts is also relatively high. Given these results, a tool user might expect that China will also put forward significant mitigation targets as well as resources to help other countries reach their mitigation and adaptation goals.

India

Unlike the United States or China, India’s relatively lower GDP per capita and capacity to deal with climate impacts mean it has fewer resources available to take climate action. Like China, however, it could reap local and national air quality benefits from reducing emissions. The chart also shows that, in comparison to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), India does have capacity to use its own resources to take action. Thus, a tool user might expect that it would not need to rely heavily on the international community for financial support.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

The DRC has limited economic resources and capacity to adapt to climate impacts or reduce emissions. It also has relatively low total emissions, though its current per capita emissions reflect the impacts of deforestation, suggesting that resources and support to reduce emissions from deforestation is vital. Finance for that kind of action, as well as for increasing its ability to adapt to climate impacts, will need to come from sources outside the country—such as through climate finance provided by countries with greater capacity.

Creating an Equitable Global Climate Agreement

These glimpses into the challenges and opportunities countries experience become more nuanced as the user chooses different indicators. Each country has a slightly different story to tell. Through the Equity Explorer, users can get a better understanding of what climate equity means—both in their own countries and internationally.

  • LEARN MORE: Find out how to use the Equity Explorer by watching the video below.

Read more [wri.org]

US, EU want UN to stress low cost of climate change fight - draft

Reuters: The United States and European Union want the U.N. to stress the low cost of fighting climate change in a draft handbook on the issue that it is compiling, a leaked document showed on Tuesday. The United States wants the handbook to do more to show that the costs of action "will be almost insignificant relative to projected growth", the document showed. In more than 2,000 comments on the U.N. draft, obtained by Reuters, some governments also suggested more explanation of why the pace of temperature...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Climate change now 'irreversible' - Prof McPherson

3News NZ: The climate change message is just depressing, no matter what way you look at it. Best case scenario, we all have to change our lives dramatically, just to keep us vaguely on the right track. Worst case scenario - were all doomed. Unsurprisingly, that's a hard message for scientists to get us all to listen to, which might be why Professor emeritus Guy McPherson is a teacher of natural resources, ecology and evolutionary biology, but is also a grief counsellor on the side. Prof McPherson...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Climate Change on the Nuclear Subcontinent

Huffington Post: In a recent blog post, Secretary of State John Kerry described climate change as a "gathering storm," already affecting millions around the world and posing direct challenges to our national security and global stability. In a new report, the Pentagon agreed. Indeed, our climate is changing in erratic but decisive ways, as the ice caps melt, seas warm (and rise), and the temperature of the globe increases over time. Diverse disciplines offer perspectives on these issues that could lead to our deeper...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Race to the Top: Driving Ambition in a 2015 Climate Agreement

What if an international climate change agreement could set the rules for years to come, driving greater emissions reductions, more renewable energy and energy efficiency and a shift away from fossil fuel? An agreement you could depend on because you know both the long-term goal and how countries are going to work together to achieve it?

Such an agreement is in the works, but key decisions need to be taken in the coming months to make it a reality by December 2015, when countries are scheduled to meet in Paris to finalize negotiations for a global climate deal under the UNFCCC framework.

A consortium of research organizations from around the world, called ACT 2015, has been thinking hard about what structure, processes and rules would need to be put in place to create confidence and predictability of action under this agreement. There are five key ingredients:

1. Set a long-term goal that people, investors, businesses, cities and national policy makers understand

Currently countries are aiming to keep global average temperature from rising 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels. This 2 degrees C target is an important threshold; if the planet gets much hotter than this, the impacts of a changing climate become unbearable for many people and creatures. However, it is not the easiest target to translate into day-to-day practice and decision-making. If the agreement includes a complementary goal of phasing out greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to net zero by 2050 it would send a much clearer signal on the downward direction of travel of emissions.

2. Commit to strengthening national commitments to reduce emissions, or shift to a clean economy, until that long-term goal is met.

No roll-backs, no weakening, keep moving towards phasing out emissions. Countries could make their emissions-reduction targets and their actions stronger at any time.

3. Make it clear that at least every five years, countries will strengthen their commitments to cut climate-warming emissions.

Longer than five years moves away from real time for business, politicians and the public.

4. Bring in independent facts.

While countries should outline what they can do, based it on analysis, it is always best to get a second or third opinion. Welcoming and encouraging independent experts to provide ideas on how countries can reduce emissions and information on how far away the efforts are from phasing out GHG emissions, ensures that the debate is open, transparent and dynamic.

5. Assess progress and go back at it again.

We all know how important it is to assess how we are doing on our own goals and to change course if need be. This applies to countries too. The new climate agreement should have a straightforward assessment of how countries are doing and a clear process to support those countries that are going off track.

If the agreement could include these five essential features, it would go far to creating confidence that leaders are engaged and that they are going to come back to the table at least every five years to keep strengthening actions until emissions are phased out. Negotiations on the agreement in Bonn from October 20-24, 2014, offer a good opportunity for such a straightforward approach to emerge.


Read more [wri.org]

Climate talks told to ease rifts as heat busts record

Agence France-Presse: Fresh UN climate talks opened in Bonn on Monday with a plea for nations to overcome rifts as scientists reported record global temperatures for the month of September. In an appeal to negotiators at the six-day meeting, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said renewed commitments made at a world summit on September 23 to curb climate change should prompt negotiators to "build bridges." Their discussions must lay the foundations for the annual ministerial-level talks to be held in Lima in December,...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Electricity Access Has Small Effect on Emissions in India, Study Says

Yale Environment 360: Expanding electricity to the homes of 650 million people in India over the past 30 years had minimal direct impact on the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change. Although many humanitarian and development organizations have stressed the importance of improving electricity access in low-income countries, it has been unclear how this would impact overall emissions levels. An analysis of trends in India between 1981 and 2011 shows that expanding household...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Public Forests Sacrificed to the Biomass Industry

EcoWatch: If we’re to believe the biomass energy industry, the U.S. Forest Service and a chorus of politicians from both sides of the aisle, we can solve the energy crisis, cure climate change and eradicate wildfire by logging and chipping our national forests and burning them up in biomass power facilities. The plotline of their story goes something like this: Years of taxpayer-funded logging and fire suppression in federal forests (at the behest of the timber industry) has resulted in “overgrown” forests...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Australia: Australia prepares for 'dangerous' bushfire season

BBC: As Australia prepares for another horror bushfire season, experts are warning that some areas of the country are becoming uninhabitable because of the increased risk of fire and that worse-than-normal seasons are becoming the norm. And one of the country's top firefighters has warned that the loss of homes was now inescapable as climate change drives more frequent and fiercer blazes. Hot, dry conditions in the lead up to summer have increased the likelihood of "very high fire danger weather"...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Europe emission targets 'will fail to protect climate'

BBC: Europe's leaders are about to consign the Earth to the risk of dangerous climate change, a UN expert says. Prof Jim Skea, a vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says the EU's plan to cut CO2 emissions 40% by 2030 is too weak. He says it will commit future governments to "extraordinary and unprecedented" emissions cuts. The Commission rejected the claim, saying the 40% target puts Europe on track for long-term climate goals. The 40% target - proposed by the European...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

More Australian universities push for fossil fuel divestment

Blue and Green: Shortly after the Australian National University (ANU) divested from seven fossil fuels firms, gaining criticism from the government, more universities are being pressured by academics and students to follow suit, in order to avoid dangerous effects of climate change on the economy, health and environment. Three members of the Group of Eight universities – formed by leading Australian education institutions – are expected to receive pressure from faculty members and student groups in order to...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Alpine lifelines on the brink

Gland, Switzerland – Only one in ten Alpine rivers are healthy enough to maintain water supply and to cope with climate impacts according to a report by WWF. The publication is the first-ever comprehensive study on the condition of Alpine rivers.

The landmark WWF study, Save the Alpine Rivers, found that only 340 kilometers of large Alpine water systems remain ecologically intact compared to 2,300 kilometers of heavily modified or artificial stretches of river.

"Healthy rivers, streams, wetlands and floodplains provide a suite of ecosystem services including fresh water and flood protection," said Christoph Litschauer, Head of WWF's European Alpine Freshwater Program. "These systems are essential for human livelihood. Beyond basic services, we also have to look at healthy natural rivers as one of our best insurance policies against climate change."

The high mountain ranges of the Alps function as water towers for 14 million people from eight countries. The rivers that drain these mountains provide household and agricultural water, food, fisheries, energy, jobs and recreation.

The study, carried out with Vienna's University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, assesses the current status of 57,000 kilometers of river and found 89 out of 100 Alpine rivers are already substantially harmed. Only 11 per cent of rivers are in pristine condition, with the rest having been redirected, altered or impacted by hydro-electric dams.

"Many planned hydro-dams are situated in protected areas like the Soca in Slovenia or on pristine rivers like the Isel in Austria. These counteract current protection efforts," continued Litschauer. "Rivers are more than mere energy suppliers; they need to be seen for the complete natural services they provide."

In addition to damming and regulation of rivers, Alpine riverbanks are being converted to agricultural land and urban areas, reducing their natural ability to regulate floods.

Climate change was also identified as a threat to Alpine rivers in the report. This adds to the results of a separate study conducted for the Austrian government that found that temperature increase in the Alps is much higher than in other regions of the world. The temperature in the Alps has risen by 2°C within the last 200 years, far above the average global temperature increase of .85°C.

Following the costly and catastrophic floods that hit Europe in the past few years, WWF highlights the need to strengthen the resilience of water ecosystems and is calling on governments to prepare an action plan to protect and restore these rivers.

"Extreme weather events are increasingly likely and we must protect and strengthen the capacity of our 'green infrastructure' including living rivers and wetlands. The environment is changing and we must respond," said Litschauer.

Despite being one of the most densely populated mountain ecosystems in the world, the Alps contain a variety of unspoiled wild places and are important for biodiversity. The WWF study defines no-go areas for hydro power plants and highlights river stretches for future restoration projects.

Read more [WWF]

India: Charge of the Green Brigade

Indian Express: Students of MG College, Thiruvananthapuram, ensure their campus stays green, through its Nature Club and Bhoomitra Sena Club. Nature Clubs are a common feature of colleges in Kerala. Bhoomitra Sena club was formed by the Department of Environment and Climate Change, Government of Kerala and gets government grants. The clubs take up special planting drives on World Environment Day, Gandhi Jayanthi and Ozone Day. Apart from club members, volunteers of the National Service Scheme (NSS) pitch in for...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Urban heat island effect big factor in climate change, Hong Kong records show

South China Morning Post: Temperature and rainfall are the two most basic elements in climate change. So what can we learn from a study of local temperature records and why might it be that local factors other than carbon dioxide output are the main cause of rising temperatures in our city? Climate change is defined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as that attributable directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and is in addition to natural...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Link between environmental degradation & Ebola

Star: The Ebola epidemic besieging West Africa is perhaps the starkest warning yet that as we tear down forests, we open ourselves up to new strains of virulent disease. Among the key lessons from the current outbreak is that human-created pressures such as intensified food production, rapid trade and travel, and climate change, are putting future generations at risk of further Ebola-like catastrophes. Through some mix of travel control, medical advances, and humanitarian assistance, we can hopefully...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Leonardo DiCaprio donates $2 million to ocean conservation group

ABC: LEONARDO DICAPRIO has donated $2 million through his Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to an organization working to protect ocean life. The funds will benefit ocean conservation group Oceans 5, which is attempting to stop illegal fishing and create marine reserves in the world's five oceans, according to The Hollywood Reporter. A statement from The Great Gatsby star, who was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace on Climate Change last month (Sep14), reads, "Oceans 5 is an exciting new platform...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

IPCC lines up for a sixth climate audit as economic costs corrected

Sydney Morning Herald: More than a quarter of a century old and the bane of global warming sceptics everywhere, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is not about to fade into the sunset. This past week, the UN body released its final report on climate impacts, adaptation and vulnerability -- 1820 pages long -- and will finalise the synthesis summary of its entire Fifth Assessment Report by month's end. That will emerge in time for the G20 gathering of leaders in Brisbane in mid-November. The IPCC's fifth...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Climate Change: It's Only Human To Exaggerate, But Science Itself Does Not

Science 2.0: To exaggerate is human, and scientists are human. Exaggeration and the complementary art of simplification are the basic rhetorical tools of human intercourse. So yes, scientists do exaggerate. So do politicians, perhaps even when, as the UK’s former environment secretary Owen Paterson did, they claim that climate change forecasts are “widely exaggerated”. A more pertinent question is: does the way in which scientists and politicians speak publicly lead to wild exaggeration? When both are engaged...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Green Revolution in Africa: How to make banks listen to farmers, by World Bank chief

Vanguard: The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) recently released its annual African Agriculture Status Report which focused on climate change and climate-smart agriculture at the 2104 African Green Revolution Forum held in Addis Abba, Ethiopia. A Nigerian, Dr. Ademola Braimoh, a senior natural resources management specialist with the World Bank, was part of the team which worked on the report. Braimoh, whose principal area of focus is climate smart agriculture, spoke with Sunday Vanguard...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

More urgent than Ebola, climate change is a bigger threat and we need to act now

Mirror: The biggest threat to mankind is not war and international conflict – it’s the fact that most governments never think about the long term. This week the US Defense ­Department said natural disasters from climate change will lead to more instability, disease and poverty. I’ve been in Geneva for a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a group of politicians from 160 ­countries which champions human rights. I last visited Geneva eight years ago to discuss with the United Nation’s World...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

A sprinkle of compost helps rangeland lock up carbon

San Francisco Chronicle: A compost experiment that began seven years ago on a Marin County ranch has uncovered a disarmingly simple and benign way to remove carbon dioxide from the air, holding the potential to turn the vast rangeland of California and the world into a weapon against climate change. The concept grew out of a unique Bay Area alignment of a biotech fortune, a world-class research institution and progressive-minded Marin ranchers. It has captured the attention of the White House, the Brown administration,...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

WWF Statement on the Convention on Biological Diversity COP-12

On 17 October 2014 the Convention on Biological Diversity concluded its 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Pyeongchang, South Korea. In response, the WWF CBD delegation issued the following statement:
 
WWF welcomes the outcomes of CBD COP-12. Important steps were taken to advance the mechanisms for identification and protection of biodiversity. Governments of the world unanimously called for the new development agenda to integrate biodiversity into universal sustainable development goals in the Gangwon Declaration, the high level ministerial statement.

However, at a time when the world has seen the loss of more than half of the planet's wildlife populations, countries are neither moving fast enough nor doing enough to prevent further decline. Governments must supercharge efforts to fulfill their promise to strengthen protections for nature by 2020. In 2010, parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a strategic plan and the Aichi targets, a set of 20 goals aimed at stemming species and habitat loss by 2020. WWF's Living Planet Report confirms the urgency with which the world must act to safeguard our natural treasures:

  • Species populations worldwide have declined 52 percent since 1970;
  • The there is a 76 % decline in freshwater species a 39% decline in marine species and nearly 40% decline in terrestrial species;
  • Global freshwater demand is projected to exceed current supply by more than 40% by 2030;
  • We need 1.5 planets to meet the demands we make on the planet each year.
Protecting biodiversity is of paramount importance to ensuring a sustainable future for all. Biodiversity and ecosystem services guarantee human health, well-being and social stability, and provide the foundation of prosperity, including jobs, food, water, and healthy soils. Forest ecosystems alone contribute US$ 720 billion to the global economy.  And wetlands provide us with clean water, while oceans give us sustenance.
 
Each of us, no matter where we live or how we make a living, has a stake in ensuring governments succeed in taking urgent and impactful action. To that end, WWF's delegation at CBD COP-12 was sought after for their technical and policy expertise on many issues, including marine and coastal biodiversity, implementation of national action plans, sustainable development goals and integration of conservation, ecosystem conservation and restoration, and impacts of climate change. The following summary provides details on progress made during CBD COP-12 and WWF's reaction to key steps taken.
 
Global Biodiversity Outlook Report
The fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO4) sent a strong message, one echoed by WWF's 2014 Living Planet Report, that some progress has been made but business as usual will not achieve the Aichi targets by 2020. The COP urges Parties to take comprehensive and urgent measures necessary to ensure the full implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and corresponding national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs).

National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans
The COP urged Parties that have not yet done so, to review and update and revise their national biodiversity strategies and action plans in line with the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, to adopt indicators at the national level no later than October 2015, and to submit their fifth national reports. The COP also called for the provision of support for revising, updating and implementing updated NBSAPs and capacity-building.

Finance
The level of ambition was far from meeting the needs that arise from the information provided in GBO4 and the results of the High Level Panel on resources needed for the Aichi targets. However, commitment made by developed countries to doubling international financial flows for biodiversity offers hope. In most countries, domestic resources form the substantial part of biodiversity funding. It is a positive first step that all Parties agreed to mobilize domestic financial resources from all sources to reduce the gap on financing their respective NBSAPs. It is also encouraging that Parties increased efforts on capacity building for mobilizing resources. The decision also includes milestones for eliminating or phasing out incentives, including subsidies that are harmful for biodiversity, which WWF believes is important for reducing the pressure on biodiversity and its associated costs.

Marine and Coastal Biodiversity
With regards to "Marine and Coastal Biodiversity," WWF sincerely congratulates Parties on the acknowledgement of more than 150 "ecologically or biologically significant marine areas" in different parts of our world's oceans—in areas within as well as beyond the jurisdiction of coastal states.
 
In light of the increasing human impacts on our oceans, it is critical that Parties now develop appropriate approaches and measures for these areas to ensure that the biodiversity and ecosystem services contained therein are sustainably maintained, as already agreed under the Achi Targets.
 
Finally, as the evidence for impacts of sound on marine life now is overwhelming, WWF welcomes the progress that was made with Parties agreeing on a number of relevant and required measures that need to be taken to minimize and mitigate impacts of anthropogenic underwater noise and on priority actions to protect coral reefs and associated ecosystems.

Ecosystem Conservation and Restoration
WWF welcomes the outcome of the COP-12 on Agenda Item 26, Ecosystem Conservation and Restoration. WWF particularly welcomes the acknowledgment of the need to develop a monitoring system for ecosystem degradation and restoration (paragraph 4.g), as well as the inclusion of the marine sphere in the development of spatial planning approaches for the reduction of habitat loss and the promotion of restoration (paragraph 4.a). Furthermore, WWF welcomes the recognition of the crucial role of indigenous and local communities in the conservation and management of biodiversity, and of the importance of protecting and restoring coastal wetlands as crucial for biodiversity, ecosystem services, livelihoods, climate change and disaster risks reduction (paragraph 6). However, WWF believes that more efforts should be made for ensuring sufficient financing and including the protection and restoration of ecosystems in national and sub-national development programs and public policies.
 
The COP recognized the contribution of private protected areas, in addition to public and indigenous and local community managed areas, in the conservation of biodiversity, and encourages the private sector to continue its efforts to protect and sustainably manage ecosystems for the conservation of biodiversity.

Biodiversity and Climate Change
The COP expressed concern about the findings and conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its Fifth Assessment Report, and urges Parties, other governments, relevant organizations and stakeholders to take steps to address all biodiversity-related impacts of climate change highlighted in the report and to further strengthen synergies with relevant work under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
 
WWF encourages Parties other governments to promote and implement ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, and to integrate these into their national policies and programmes in the context of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005–2015, endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 60/195, and the revised Framework to be adopted at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. WWF also welcomes the references to the Warsaw Framework for REDD+, and those to indigenous and local communities and traditional knowledge (preambular paragraph 4).

Nagoya Protocol  
The Nagoya Protocol, a treaty expected to ensure greater access to genetic resources and a mandatory fair sharing of the benefits that could be derived from those resources, entered into force on 12 October, almost four years after it was adopted on 29th October 2010. WWF applauds this progress and encourages further inclusion of representatives of indigenous and local communities.

Indigenous Knowledge Preservation and Recognition
The final resolution on use of the terminology "indigenous peoples and local communities" (Article 8J) in future decisions and secondary documents of the COP comes with caveats and will not have a bearing on any past decisions or change the meaning of the Text of the Convention. Nevertheless, WWF welcomes this decision as it has been a long-standing demand of Indigenous and Local Communities (ILCs) and also a recommendation of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
 
The COP encouraged parties and ILCs to consider how indigenous and local communities might effectively participate in the development, collection and analysis of data, including through Community-Based Monitoring, and further explore how ILCs' Community-Based Monitoring and Information Systems can contribute to monitoring of Aichi Target indicators. The plan of action on customary sustainable use of biological diversity was also endorsed and there is a request for support for ILCs to develop community plans and protocols to document, map, and register their community conservation areas.
Read more [WWF]

Fossil fuel divestment: climate change activists take aim at Australia's banks

Guardian: Climate change activists will aim to give the big banks a $200m bloody nose on Saturday, in the latest round of what has been an increasingly bitter campaign to force the divestment of companies with fossil fuel interests. A “national day of divestment” will see more than 1,000 bank customers switch their accounts away from the “big four” banks: ANZ, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and NAB. Campaign organisers Market Forces and 350.org claim that the major banks have already lost $250m worth of...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Our favorite Pope still needs to address one major issue

Grist: Pope Francis, a.k.a. the Ultimate Chill Dude Pope of All Time (UCDPAT), has been a publicity dream for the Catholic Church. Even on Grist, we’ve sung his praises for his love of public transit and calls to action regarding climate change. There`s just one little area, however, where ol` UCDPAT`s climate action plan leaves a lot to be desired: contraception. The draft document from the 2014 Synod on the Family (which comes to an end on Sunday) includes a significant reworking of the language used...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Lake Erie Toxic Algae, Blame Climate Change And Invasive Mussels

ThinkProgress: Lake Erie is increasingly plagued by toxic algae blooms each summer, and a new study suggests how climate change and mussels, of all things, may be to blame. On Thursday, the Columbus Dispatch reported on the new research and computer modeling, which show neither rising water temperatures nor runoff from fertilizers and sewage - the traditional causes cited - fully account for the blooms. According to the paper, published in Water Resources Research, climate change may be providing cyanobacteria...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

US eyes buffet option in global climate talks

Guardian: Barack Obama’s negotiating position for a global deal to fight climate change is beginning to look like a big buffet. In speeches this week, Obama’s lead climate negotiator, Todd Stern, has given the clearest indication to date that America is pushing for an agreement with some elements of a full-scale, legally binding international treaty. But other key components of a global agreement would be more in line with a handshake deal among leaders. The combo deal would allow America to join other...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

7 inspiring stories of communities taking action for climate

Stories of communities taking action for the climate and refusing to accept the plans of polluting fossil fuel companies are happening more and more. Here are just a few inspiring climate acts of courage taken by doctors, villagers, students, farmers, and 92-year old veterans – people just like you.

1. Canoes vs. coal

The People of the Pacific refuse to allow themselves to drown, they are fighting back against climate change! Residents of the Pacific islands, among the countries most vulnerable to rising sea levels, are taking the fight to save their homes directly to the fossil fuel industry. Using traditional canoes, 30 Pacific Climate Warriors from 12 Pacific islands paddled into the oncoming path of coal ships in an effort to shut down the world's biggest coal port for a day.


350.org

2. Maules Creek community - "We cannot allow this to happen"

Australian mining giant, Whitehaven Coal, is set to build a huge open-cast coal mine to become one of the largest in the country. The mine's CO2 output could reach up to 30 million tonnes per year – roughly equivalent to New Zealand's entire energy sector. The local community together with anti-coal activists, including religious leaders, doctors and a 92-year-old digger, decided they will not allow this coal to be mined and burned. They launched a fierce campaign against the developments, undertaking direct, non-violent action to protest against the mines. Despite the protests the mining has begun, but the fight is not over.

© Leard State Forest / flickr / CC BY 2.0

3. The story of Dharnai

The Dharnai village in Bihar, India, has shown their government, and the rest of the world, how people can stand up to the climate-wrecking fossil fuel industry. This small village from one of India's poorest states is lit-up by a solar-powered micro-grid. By bypassing the dirty energy technologies of the past century, and by powering their community with sustainable solar power, the village proved that people can own and control their own clean and renewable energy.

4. A little lobster boat can make a big difference

In May 2013, Ken Ward and Jay O'Hara used their little lobster boat to block a shipment of 40,000 tonnes of coal destined for the Brayton Point Power Station, the largest coal plant in New England, US. They were charged with conspiracy, disturbing the peace and motor vessel violations and faced up to several years in jail. In a major — and unexpected — victory for the climate movement, prosecutors in the US state of Massachusetts dropped charges against the two activists. Why? Let's let the District Attorney explain:

Wow. Let's hope all peaceful activists taking action for our future are treated with the same common sense.

5. Fossil-free schools and cities

Dozens of universities and cities are committing to divesting in fossil fuels. Several of these commitments come as a result of students and residents organizing and speaking to officials about the importance of divesting from fossil fuels. READ MORE about everyone who's going fossil free!

© maisa_nyc / flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

6. People of Mahan

The story of Mahan in India is the story of a community fighting to save an ancient forest from a long-corrupt coal industry. The struggle of the people of Mahan attracted international support and managed to, not only save the forest from being turning into an open-pit coal mine, but also achieved victory for the environment and the climate by spelling out the end of cheap coal in India. Coal fired power plants are the biggest source of man-made CO2 emissions. India now has an excellent opportunity to scale up its ambition on renewable energy!

7. Human chain against coal

Thousands of people joined hands to form an eight-kilometer Human Chain across the border of Germany and Poland to protest against lignite coal mining in the area. 30 different nationalities traveled from cities all over Europe to be there. It was an extraordinary event that brought together Greenpeace volunteers, environmental grassroots organisations and thousands of members of the local community.

Helena Meresman is a climate and energy digital mobilization specialist with Greenpeace International.


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Oxfam: inaction and financial short-termism putting millions at climate change risk

Blue and Green: A “toxic triangle” of political inertia, financial short-termism and vested fossil fuel interests is preventing action to curb climate change, putting millions of people at risk of food and water shortages, Oxfam has warned. In a damning new report, the leading poverty charity estimates that current global warming trends, which will result in a world 4-6C warmer by 2100, could leave 400 million people blighted by famine and drought by mid-century. While warming of this magnitude would have...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Australia: Climate change forcing rethink on fire risk, RFS chief Shane Fitzsimmons says

Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Climate change is having an impact on every level of fire management, the New South Wales rural fire chief has said on the first anniversary of the Blue Mountains bushfires. The NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said with more days of high fire danger, there is now a shrinking window of opportunity to carry out back-burning and other hazard reduction. "If our window of opportunity continues to shrink, in order to get those really important pre-season activities underway...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Peru glaciers shrink 40% in 44 years: government

Agence France-Presse: Peru's glaciers have shrunk by more than 40 percent since 1970 because of climate change, giving birth to nearly 1,000 new lagoons, national water authority ANA said Thursday. Peru, which is hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP 20, in December, used satellite images to carry out the glacier inventory ahead of the high-level meeting. The worst-affected glacier was 5,200-meter-high (17,000-foot) tourist gem Pastoruri in the Andes mountains, which lost 52 percent of its...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

US, Military to Plan More Strategically for Climate Change

National Geographic: Climate change is a “threat multiplier” and worse than many of the challenges the U.S. military is already grappling with, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The New York Times indicated that the report marks a departure from the DoD’s previous focus on preparing bases to adapt to climate change. The DoD now calls on the military to incorporate climate change plans in its strategic thinking and budgeting. “Among the future trends that will impact our national security...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Global natural gas boom alone won't slow climate change

ScienceDaily: A new analysis of global energy use, economics and the climate shows that without new climate policies, expanding the current bounty of inexpensive natural gas alone would not slow the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions worldwide over the long term, according to a study appearing today in Nature. Because natural gas emits half the carbon dioxide of coal, many people hoped the recent natural gas boom could help slow climate change -- and according to government analyses, natural gas did...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

This new study explains why fracking won’t solve climate change

Climate Desk: For President Obama, fracking is a key weapon against global warming. Abundant natural gas, he said in his State of the Union address this year, is a "bridge fuel" to ubiquitous renewable energy - the key to securing economic growth "with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change." Not everyone agrees. In fact, the debate over whether natural gas is the antidote to our deadly addiction to coal, or a faux climate change solution that will stall the clean energy revolution, is one...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

A New Climate Economy: Shifting Corporate America onto a Low-Carbon Path

As more businesses take action on climate change, new research could help accelerate the trend by showing why it’s in U.S. companies’ economic best interests.

WRI launched its study, Seeing Is Believing: Creating a New Climate Economy in the United States, before a packed house at George Washington University last week. The paper, which builds on the global Better Growth, Better Climate report, reveals that it’s possible to reduce emissions across five key areas of the economy while saving businesses and consumers money and improving human health.

Chad Holliday, former chairman and current board member of Bank of America, and Ken Gayer, vice president and general manager of Honeywell, joined WRI experts for the event and panel discussion, moderated by Amy Harder of the Wall Street Journal. Together, they highlighted the economic benefits cutting emissions can bring to U.S. businesses, as well as what’s needed to shift corporate America onto a low-carbon growth path.

An “Inflection Point” for Corporate Climate Action

Holliday, Gayer, and WRI President Andrew Steer noted the private sector’s recent progress on climate action. “I think there’s quite a lot of evidence that we may be at an inflection point,” Steer said. “More than 1,000 companies at the U.N. Climate Summit signed up to say ‘we should have a price on carbon.’ That simply wouldn’t have happened two years ago.”

At the same time, technological advances are driving down the costs of cleaner power. Solar photovoltaic prices have dropped 80 percent since 2008. New natural gas is now up to 44 percent cheaper than power from new coal plants, and the cost of electric vehicle batteries decreased 40 percent since 2008.

“We now have an economic argument [for climate action],” said President Felipe Calderon, former president of Mexico and chair of the commission that produced Better Growth, Better Climate. “We can talk not only about carbon reduction, we can talk about revenues and profits. We can talk about jobs.”

Seeing Is Believing shows how some U.S. businesses are already saving money by cutting emissions. Companies like PepsiCo, Heineken, and Ben & Jerry’s, who have started using coolers free of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gases, have seen energy savings of 10 to 20 percent or greater. Utilities found it was 50-67 percent cheaper to improve energy efficiency rather than pay for new electric power generation, such as natural gas or coal plants, between 2009 and 2012. And energy prices for customers of Iowa’s MidAmerican utility are projected to drop by $10 million annually as more wind power comes online.

“It does make good economic sense,” Holliday said. “I’d say this is the biggest market opportunity, and the United States is prime to take it.”

Capitalizing on the Opportunities

Yet despite recent progress from business leaders, U.S. corporations as a whole have a lot of work left to do. As Nicholas Bianco, lead author of Seeing Is Believing, said, America is still the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter, with per capita emissions three times the global average.

That’s where policy and other interventions come in. While the new research lays out win-win economic opportunities associated with climate action, fully capitalizing on them requires overcoming market barriers.

“Companies are always going to innovate and invest,” Gayer said. “The issue is scale. Without the action from government, you don’t get the scale.”

The study lays out several ways to overcome these market barriers. Panelists also noted a few opportunities to help scale up business action on climate change, including:

Put a Price on Carbon

A carbon tax or other policies would provide the right signals to investors and business to direct their finance toward low-carbon options rather than business-as-usual fossil fuels. “How much longer are we going to tax good things like work and profits and not tax bad things like pollution?” Steer said.

Secure a Global Climate Deal

Countries are currently working to establish a global climate treaty under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, with a deadline of December 2015. Securing an ambitious deal could get businesses moving in the right direction. “Currently, businesses do not know which side to go,” Steer said. “They know that probably, 10 years from now, there’s going to be a serious price on carbon, but they’re not sure of that.”

Invest More in Research & Development

While technology like solar photovoltaics are becoming increasingly cost competitive with conventional power sources, we need more innovation to develop cost-effective, low-carbon infrastructure. “We’ve seen overall public R&D decline 88 percent in the power sector since 1980,” Bianco said. “The industry only invests .05 percent of its annual revenues into R&D. The pharmaceutical industry invests 11 percent.”

Finalize Emissions Standards for Existing Power Plants

In the absence of Congressional action, one of the most significant policy signals the United States can send to business is finalizing ambitious emissions standards for existing power plants, which emit the largest share of U.S. greenhouse gases. “They can help the United States get started, and I think once we get started, we’ll find that this is actually much easier than people think,” Bianco said.

In the meantime, it’s in businesses’ own best interests to start taking action now. “This report says the economics make sense now,” Holliday said. “And I really believe it.”

  • LEARN MORE: For more recommendations on how cities, states, and the country can reduce market barriers to low-carbon opportunities, please download our paper.

Read more [wri.org]

Change your food, change the world: 5 ways to bite away at your food footprint

Between production, packaging, transport and cooking, the things we eat can have a massive impact on the earth. Luckily, they're also some of the easiest habits to change. Here are the first steps to going on an environmentally-friendly diet.

If you're thinking about changing what you eat to get a healthy body maybe it's also time to think about what you should eat for a healthy planet. Here are five things you can try to reduce your impact on the world:

1. Try some hipster greens

You may have heard about kale – the leafy green that has become a hipster health-food superstar lately. Scientists are hoping kelp – that's right, seaweed – will follow in its footsteps as the ultimate in environmentally-friendly nutrition.

Kelp can be grown in dense coastal sites rather than fresh water and space hogging fields, minimising the precious resources needed to cultivate it. According to Grist, not only can kelp grow in salt water, it helps clean nutrient runoff and similar toxics that damage our oceans. Kelp also grows so fast that scientists claim it's particularly good at sequestering our carbon emissions. It's a winner all round!

Find out more about kelp's future as the cooler, more environmentally conscious sister of kale in this blog from our friends at Greenpeace US.

2. Minimise your food waste

According to Grist, if the world's wasted food became its own island – it would be the third biggest contributor to climate change globally. In the West, much of this occurs due to poor composting practices, wastefulness, cosmetic selection by farmers and supermarkets, and inefficient supply chains – all of which are preventable.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation say roughly one-third of food globally is wasted. In a new report, the UNFAO traces the massive environmental impacts of this waste:

Without accounting for [greenhouse gas] emissions from land use change, the carbon footprint of food produced and not eaten is estimated to be 3.3 tonnes of CO2 equivalent: as such, food wastage ranks as the third top emitter after USA and China. Globally, the blue water footprint (i.e. the consumption of surface and groundwater resources) of food wastage is about 250 km3, which is equivalent to the annual water discharge of the Volga River, or three times the volume of Lake Geneva. Finally, produced but uneaten food vainly occupies almost 1.4 billion hectares of land; this represents close to 30 percent of the world's agricultural land area.

What you can do:

  • Check your fridge and pantry and make a shopping list before you hit the supermarket.
  • Use your leftovers wisely – try turning fruit and vegetables that's slightly past peak into yummy smoothies and soups!
  • If you can – grow your own food!

3. Cut down on meat and fish consumption

We've previously talked about the water-intensive process used to take meat from farm to fork – but new research has found the meat you eat – and in particular, red meat – also has massive impacts on your contribution to climate change.

The Guardian reports that giving up red meat could be as effective at cutting your carbon emissions as giving up your car. Further research into daily eating habits found that the diets of British meat lovers amounted to double the climate-warming emissions of their vegetarian peers.

And it's not just on land that we're eating unsustainably – our seafood consumption habits and man-made climate change are hurting our oceans. We need to dramatically improve global fishing practices and combat air pollution and ocean acidity. Learn more here.

What you can do:

  • Choose grass-fed beef rather than grain-fed.
  • If you can't cut meat out of your diet – try joining people like Sir Paul McCartney and Chris Martin by adopting Meatless Mondays.
  • If you're already vegetarian and loving it – you could try reducing your footprint even more by cutting down on dairy.

4. Find out who made your food

One of the most blissful ignorances that many people harbour today is that slavery is a nightmare of the past. Unfortunately, slavery is still a $32 billion dollar global industry that likely spans the entire supply chain of your favourite foods.

Right now, Greenpeace is working to help industry and governments improve conditions for workers in the fishing industry – who face among the worst working conditions in the world. Workers can encounter a whole spectrum of issues ranging from extremely low wages, inadequate sanitation, lack of safety equipment, lack of personal space and long working hours to documented cases of forced labour, human trafficking and even murder at sea.

Slavery has no place in our world, our supermarket shelves, or our restaurant tables. You can use the wonderful Shop Ethical guide to find food with clean supply chains.

5. Eat local, eat organic

Luckily, eating local produce can be a great way to cut down on unsustainable production, extreme travel distances and excess packaging., it's becoming increasingly important for our climate, environment and economy that we find out where and how our food is grown – and what better way than buying from the source?

Rashini Suriyaarachchi is the Digital Assistant at Greenpeace Australia Pacific.


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Fracking boom will increase global carbon emissions, scientists warn

Blue and Green: A global fracking boom will not help prevent climate change, as cheap shale gas would displace cleaner renewable energy and actually increase carbon emissions, according to a new study. Because the burning of shale gas, extracted through the controversial process of fracking, releases around 50% less carbon than conventional fossil fuels such as coal, proponents have suggested it could act as a “bridge fuel”. While investment in renewables is scaled up to meet demand, shale gas could fill in...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

U.S. Climate Envoy Says All Nations, Rich and Poor, Must Curb Emissions

Yale Environment 360: U.S. Climate Change Envoy Todd Stern The negotiating architecture that has governed the decades-long pursuit of an international climate agreement is outdated, said Todd Stern, the U.S. special envoy for climate change at the State Department and the nation’s lead climate negotiator. In remarks delivered at Yale University’s Law School on Tuesday, Stern reiterated the U.S. position that all nations -- both rich ones and developing ones -- must be brought together under one agreement that includes...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

3 Maps Show Importance of Local Communities in Forest Conservation

Local communities are key to protecting the world’s last remaining forests. Indigenous peoples and local communities hold legal or official rights to one-eighth of the world’s forests, about 513 million hectares (1.3 billion acres). A recent report by WRI and the Rights and Resources Initiative found lower rates of deforestation where governments protect communities’ rights.

Researchers used Global Forest Watch, an online forest monitoring system, to visualize how tree cover is changing in and around lands managed by local communities. Through maps, we can see how local communities can be key conservationists, helping to protect forests and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation.

1) Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples Resist Forest Loss.

Click to enlarge.

Brazil is home to the most extensive tropical rainforests on Earth. Despite a history of high levels of deforestation, Brazil has reduced forest loss by 70 percent per year since 2004, in part due to efforts to legally recognize and protect Indigenous Lands and enforce the law. Importantly, many of Brazil’s remaining well-conserved forest ecosystems are managed by communities.

WRI analysis using satellite data and maps from the Brazilian National Indian Foundation found that from 2000 to 2012, tree cover loss inside Brazil’s Indigenous Lands of the Amazon Basin totaled only 0.6 percent, compared with 7.0 percent in areas outside those lands. The map above shows the boundaries of Indigenous Lands in the Brazilian states of Rondônia and Mato Grosso, and satellite detection of tree cover loss. The loss concentrates around, but rarely inside, Indigenous Lands. Notably, one of these areas is home to the Paiter-Surui, the first indigenous tribe to successfully sell carbon credits for protecting forests on their land.

2) Panama's Comarcas Protect Intact Forests.

Click to enlarge.

Situated along the Central American isthmus connecting North and South America, Panama serves as a critical biological corridor and is home to tens of thousands of plant and animal species. And although indigenous peoples represent only 12 percent of the total population of Panama, indigenous territories (or comarcas) cover 31.6 percent of Panama’s land area and contain 54 percent of Panama’s mature and primary forests. As the map above confirms, the five indigenous comarcas in Panama exhibit lower rates of tree cover loss than other forested areas and contain many of the country’s Intact Forest Landscapes.

The government has begun exploring options to protect these forests through REDD+ programs, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. Indigenous peoples play a central role in these partnerships, but some indigenous groups have expressed concerns that their rights would be weakened by REDD. UN-REDD responded to these concerns by re-affirming a rights-based approach that would strengthen local forest rights while preventing deforestation.

WRI and RRI’s recent report recommends that “Governments, donors, and civil society should help ensure that people and local communities are able to participate genuinely in the development of legal and policy frameworks related to REDD+.”

3) Liberia’s Community Forests Overlap with Industrial Oil Palm Concessions.

Click to enlarge.

Global Forest Watch paints a troubling picture of some countries where government actions undermine community rights. One such example is Liberia. More than one-third of this heavily forested country is currently allocated or identified by the government for commercial plantation development and industrial logging, primarily by foreign or foreign-financed companies.

The map above shows overlapping land rights and a palm oil concession held by Golden Veroleum (GVL), a large palm oil company whose sole investor is Singapore-based Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), and two community forests established under the Liberian Community Rights Law. Despite communities’ legal ownership of these forests, the government allocated land within these forests to palm oil companies. This operation threatens forests that communities rely on for their livelihoods.

Although the company carried out a social and environmental impacts assessment required by Liberian law, the operation caused significant conflict in surrounding communities. In 2012, several Liberian communities released a joint declaration claiming that they were not consulted prior to the government’s leasing of their lands, nor were they consulted by the company as it planned development. Community groups also filed an official complaint with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a multi-stakeholder palm oil certification body of which both GVL and GAR are members, stating that the company was not complying with environmental and social commitments required under RSPO.

Following that complaint, an independent investigation confirmed the allegations and recommended measures that Golden Veroleum should take to improve community engagement and comply with their commitments. After the reports, the company has worked to better engage affected communities and reduce their ecological impact, including through participatory mapping. The situation is complex and ongoing, but it illustrates that forest communities are important stakeholders who should be active participants in land and natural resource allocation that affects their lives and forests.

Local Land Rights: A Data Challenge

Communities are often important allies in efforts to conserve and manage forests, but collecting accurate geospatial data on the location and extent of community land and resource rights remains a challenge in many countries. This lack of information makes it difficult for communities and other stakeholders to sound the alarm when illegal incursion occurs. Global Forest Watch, in partnership with WRI’s Land and Resource Rights project, is dedicated to putting indigenous peoples and local communities “on the map” in order to strengthen rights and protect forests.


Read more [wri.org]

Divestment campaign signs up first Swedish city

RTCC: Sweden’s seventh largest city has committed to divest its EUR225 million funds from fossil fuels. Örebro becomes the first Swedish city to fully withdraw from coal, oil and gas investments. It brings the municipality’s finances in line with its overall goal to become fossil-free by 2050. Lena Baastad, mayor of Örebro said: “We need to take action on climate change on various levels. Our efforts are more meaningful when we ensure that our financial assets don’t work in the opposite direction.”...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Australia a laggard rather than leader on climate change, says Wayne Swan

Guardian: Australia has “gone from lifter to leaner” on action against climate change, and must not block the topic’s inclusion on the agenda for the G20 summit in Brisbane next month, the former treasurer Wayne Swan will say. In a speech to the Lowy Institute on Wednesday, Swan will argue that Tony Abbott plans to “list the fig leaf of ‘energy efficiency’ on the agenda as a means to camouflage the anger and dismay within the international community at Australia’s stance as the first nation to go backwards”....
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Seeing U.S. Business Opportunity in a Low-Carbon Economy

Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published for The Hill.

America’s smartest business leaders are pursuing a strategy unheard of a few short years ago: they are building economic growth while tackling climate change at its source. We believe this is one of the true mind-shifts in modern commerce, as U.S. business leaders see the opportunity of investment in a low-carbon economy and the risk of following a business-as-usual, high-carbon path.

This phenomenon debunks the popular myth that cutting greenhouse gas emissions must put a damper on economy growth. Apple CEO Tim Cook talked plainly about the benefit his high-tech company has reaped as it has curbed carbon emissions and other environmental impacts.

“People told us it couldn't be done and that it couldn't happen, but we did it,” Cook said at the start of Climate Week in New York City. “It’s great for the environment, and by the way, it’s also good for economics. It’s both.”

Cook articulated a phenomenon that isn’t only for the future. It’s happening now. There are welcome signs that corporate America gets it. U.S.-based food products giant Mars joined multinational firms including IKEA, H&M and Phillips in a movement to shift completely—100 percent—to renewable energy. More than 1,000 corporations, including Coca-Cola and DuPont, expressed support for setting a price on carbon emissions. And the venerable Rockefeller Brothers Fund, created with U.S. oil money, announced a plan to divest its investments in fossil fuels.

These companies all understand the economic case for climate action – and the risks from inaction. Doing nothing leaves businesses more vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate: damage to facilities from extreme weather, disrupted supply chains, jeopardized food and water resources and added market uncertainty.

The old equation that linked carbon emissions to economic growth simply doesn't add up anymore. Real U.S. gross domestic product grew 11 percent from 2005 to 2013 even as energy-related carbon dioxide emissions dropped 10 percent.

Regional, state and corporate initiatives are moving in the right direction too:

  • Coca-Cola, General Motors and Red Bull have already cut energy costs by switching to safer, cheaper alternatives to high-emission hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants.

  • State energy efficiency programs save consumers between $2 and $5 for every one dollar invested; in Wisconsin, the state’s energy efficiency program is expected to inject over $900 million into the state’s economy and bring over 6,000 new jobs in the next decade.

  • Eight states got more than 15 percent of their electricity from non-hydro renewables in 2013, with Iowa among the leaders with more than 27 percent. An anticipated $1.9 billion investment in new wind power in Iowa is expected to cut consumer’s power rates by $10 million annually, create jobs, and bring in more than $360 million in new property tax revenue. Similar price drops are happening in Illinois and Ohio.

A growing body of evidence indicates we don’t have to choose between improving economic performance and reducing climate risk. Building on a September 2014 report by the Global Commission on Economy and Climate, a new analysis on the United States, Seeing Is Believing, shows that not only is the shift happening, it’s happening even faster than expected.

As just one example, increased energy efficiency has helped make American appliances as much as 80 percent more efficient than they used to be, while shrinking the annual growth in energy demand to about one-sixth what it was in the 1970s.

By removing existing market barriers to investment, we could cut the demand for electricity by 14 to 30 percent below what’s projected for the next 20 years, saving hundreds of billions of consumer dollars and slashing U.S. greenhouse emissions in the process.

Across the country, business leaders are making decisions for the most basic reason: they seek to limit risk and increase opportunity, and a well-designed low-carbon strategy can do both. But we need to do more to feed this nascent trend. Putting a price on carbon can be an economic engine. At the same time, U.S. markets need strong policy signals to encourage investment in the five sectors that are primed to capture additional economic returns and combat climate change: power generation, electricity consumption, vehicles, natural gas systems and HFCs. Planning for a low-carbon future also must include funding for innovative technologies. Finally, Washington needs to end the gridlock that has been an obstacle to progress in this area and many others.

That means creating long-term policy certainty by setting standards and carbon pricing, direct public investment in research and development of new technologies, and refining regulations to encourage investment in low-carbon infrastructure.

We already see strong signs that U.S. business is ready to make this quantum leap. Now we need leaders to support the policies and strategies that can put the United States at the forefront of the low-carbon economy.


Read more [wri.org]

Paul Ryan: Science doesn't get climate change

MSNBC: A full 97% of researchers taking a stance on climate change say it`s man-made, as do 97-98% of the most frequently-published climate scientists. But according to Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, they`re all wrong. When asked during an election debate Monday if he believed humans cause climate change, the former Republican vice presidential nominee joined the growing number of Republicans who refuse to acknowledge the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are influencing the Earth`s climate. “I...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Global Warming: Plants Absorbing More CO2 Than We Thought

Nature World: Global warming may be slightly less devastating to the Earth than feared, as new research has found that plants can absorb more carbon dioxide than we previously thought. Climate models have grossly underestimated the power of our plants because they failed to take into account that when carbon dioxide (CO2) builds up in the atmosphere, plants actually thrive, become larger, and are able to soak up more CO2. As part of photosynthesis - a natural cycle that helps plants convert sunlight into energy...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Sea Levels Rise 1.8 Meters in Worst-Case-Scenario

Nature World: With the world getting warmer and ice sheets melting, rising sea levels are a major concern among scientists. Now, new research claims that in the worst-case-scenario, we can expect sea levels to rise 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) at most. Numerous studies have warned of the risk of rising sea levels and its subsequent consequences, but none, including the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report from 2013, could accurately put a cap on this phenomenon within this century. Now researchers...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Immediate Risk to National Security Posed by Global Warming

ClimateWire: The Pentagon released a landmark report yesterday declaring climate change an "immediate risk" to national security and outlining how it intends to protect bases, prepare for humanitarian disasters and plan for global conflicts. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled the plan at the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas in Peru, where he said defense leaders "must be part of this global discussion" on climate change. Militaries, he added, "must be clear-eyed about the security threats...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

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