Natural Climate Solutions
Welcome to Nature4Climate's Weekly Briefing. This weekly newsletter summarises content from international media outlets (and our partner organisations) on stories, developments and events that relate to nature-based solutions to climate. Our editorial policy is to circulate articles and opinion pieces whether we agree or disagree with viewpoints represented. In this new version, we feature the week's top NCS related news stories and analyse themes in coverage.
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Green recovery can revive virus-hit economies and tackle climate change, study says
Carbon Brief, Brian O’Callaghan and Cameron Hepburn, 5 May
Top U.S. and British economists, including Joseph Stiglitz and Lord Nicholas Stern, have published a new report that finds green public investment is the most cost-effective way both to revive virus-hit economies and strike a decisive blow against climate change. There is an excellent summary in Carbon Brief by two of the reports co-authors, as well as coverage in Reuters and The Guardian. The report presents the top five recommended policy types, which include natural capital investment for ecosystem resilience and regeneration including restoration of carbon-rich habitats and climate-friendly agriculture. The authors find that "natural capital spending is fast-acting because worker training requirements are low, many projects have minimal planning and procurement requirements, and most facets of the work meet social distancing norms. Through their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), many countries have already prepared “shovel-ready” projects, and in most lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs) these NDCs are heavily oriented towards infrastructure." It concludes: "High-productivity economies of the future will be those that make the most of artificial intelligence and the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution while also protecting and enhancing natural capital, such as ecosystems, biodiverse habitats, clean air and water, productive soils, and a stable climate."
Source: Hepburn, C., O’Callaghan, B., Stern, N., Stiglitz, J., and Zenghelis, D. (2020), ‘Will COVID-19 fiscal recovery packages accelerate or retard progress on climate change?’, Smith School Working Paper 20-02.
Brazil to deploy troops to protect Amazon as deforestation surges
Reuters, Eduardo Simões and Jake Spring, 29 April
Reuters reports that the government has deployed military forces to protect against fires and deforestation. Crux shares a report from Brazilian Catholic churches that land-grabbing has been on the rise under the Bolsonaro administration. Mongabay releases a feature piece on the murder, logging and land theft tied to the region of Lábrea, which has a long history of criminal landholders laying claim to protected forests. Unearthed covers further instances where the Bolsonaro administration is pulling back efforts to monitor the protection of the Amazon. MEA WorldWide reports that newly proposed laws in Brazil could lock-in the further exploitation of land for commercial purposes and increasing the risks of new diseases. BBC reports on the toll the coronavirus is having in Manaus, the Amazon's largest city, and the growing discontentment with the Bolsonaro administration, which has downplayed the severity of the disease. Mongabay also writes about the quilombos communities on the edge of the Brazilian Cerrado who struggle to maintain control of their lands in the face of the government-supported agribusiness industry. Mongabay shares the results of a new report that finds sugarcane expansion to meet bioethanol demand could lead to tremendous biodiversity loss in the Brazilian Cerrado. Financial Times runs an editorial on "the self-destruction of the 'Tropical Trump'" as popularity for the Brazilian President begins to decline.
As a 'green stimulus' Pakistan sets virus-idled to work planting trees
Reuters, Rina Saeed Khan, 28 April
Reuters reports that Pakistan has lifted restrictions on its forestry agency to allow the creation of more than 63,000 jobs to replant trees during the coronavirus pandemic.
National Trust stop cleaning rivers while tree planting lies in doubt after losing £200m during lockdown
The Telegraph, Christopher Hope, 2 May
The Telegraph reports an announcement from The National Trust's co-director Hilary McGrady that water cleaning and tree replanting efforts are on hold after a £200 million loss due to the coronavirus recession. McGrady has also penned a complementary op-ed for The Telegraph on the need for ministers to step up and provide support for efforts to restore nature as income for the trust and efforts are on hold during this time.
Will COVID-19 Help or Hinder Efforts to Develop Natural Climate Solutions?
Ecosystem Marketplace, Steve Zwick , 27 April
Ecosystem Marketplace interviews corporate buyers of offsets, who indicated that they are sticking with their commitments. However, interviews with project developers indicate that at least some companies are not and that many of the developers are anticipating lean years ahead. E&E News reports similar findings: that companies are not yet abandoning commitments, but that new voluntary corporate climate pledges are likely to be put on hold. Mongabay writes that carbon credits may be the last lifeline for many African conservation efforts as eco-tourism has come to a halt and likely won't return for some time. Stuff calls into question whether carbon offsetting efforts can survive the current recession and the economic recovery that's coming.
Siberian Wildfires Have Burned an Area More Than Three Times the Size of Delaware
Gizmodo, Brian Kahn, 2 May
Gizmodo covers the fires in Russian Siberia that are estimated to have spread over 5 million acres. The Siberian Times writes on the local impacts of the fires, the government's response, and the cause of the fires being tied to farmers burning away dried grassland which is banned under Russian law.
South Korea subsidizing biomass so heavily that wind and solar are being crowded out of the market
Mongabay, Mike Gaworecki, 30 April
Mongabay reports that the high-level of subsidies for biomass in South Korea are crowding out the potential for investments in other renewable energy technologies like wind and solar. South Korea's ruling party has recently established a Green New Deal manifesto that was hailed by many as a sign of climate leadership. The subsidies behind these biomass plants raise questions about their approach to achieving net-zero emissions, as much of the biomass is burned alongside coal in the same facility and the source of the biomass often originates overseas in Vietnam, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian nations.
Economic development racking up unpayable debt to nature, researchers warn
Reuters, Thin Lei Win, 29 April
Reuters covers new report that argues many parts of the world may not have enough suitable land for green efforts to make up for the environmental damage caused by planned development like clearing forests for new roads or more plantations. This relates to a growing amount of media attention on the concept of "de-growth," which argues sufficiently sharp reductions in carbon dioxide emissions cannot be achieved through new technology, pricing incentives or even major investment in energy and transport systems - ending economic growth is the only solution. Much of this attention is likely related to Michael Moore's controversial documentary Planet of the Humans, which heavily promoted "de-growth". Financial Times has published an editorial on the topic, concluding, "The environmental movement should take one more lesson to heart: if degrowth is the only solution we can find to our problems, perhaps we haven’t looked hard enough."
The Nature and Oversight of Supply Chains Are Changing
Financial Times writes that the coronavirus recession and the lockdowns in response to the disease are making the idea of localizing supply chains more popular. Sourcing locally can make a major impact on corporate climate commitments that are growing more ambitious and popular. Global Witness releases a press release that the European Commissioner of Justice will introduce legislation on greater corporate accountability as the European Commission commits to new EU rules to regulate supply chains. BBC shares the dire straits are global food supply chains are in as exports and imports across the world are harried by coronavirus safety restrictions.
STAT OF THE WEEK
5 Million Acres
The estimated size of area that's burned in Russian Siberia.
AND HERE'S SOME GOOD NEWS
No tourism income, but this Philippine community still guards its environment
Mongabay, Keith Anthony Fabro on 30 April
On prime tourist months, the Puerto Princesa Underground River easily fills in its 1,200 daily carry-in capacity. Image by Haya Benitez via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Mongabay shares an article on the communities of the biodiverse rich Palawan area in Phillippines which rely heavily on eco-tourism for their economy that has been crushed by the travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the end of eco-tourism activities the people of Palawan continue to monitor and protect their lands from illegal logging and fishing activities. Community ownership of these resources has allowed a sense of commitment to sustaining these natural resources until eco-tourism can begin again or other outside support can be established.
A group of organizations, led by Christiana Figueres, Co-founder of Global Optimism, have released a "global call" for nature-based solutions, articulating four high-level principles: 1) Cut emissions 2) Conserve and protect existing ecosystems 3) Be socially responsible and 4) Be ecologically responsible
Professor Rachel Kyte writes that the cleaner air we are experiencing as a result of lockdowns from the coronavirus are not something to celebrate, but the current moment provides an unprecedented opportunity to redesign our economies for lasting sustainable change.
David Ganz, PhD, the executive director of RECOFTC, explains why empowering and supporting marginalised people may be our best tactics to strengthen local forest management.
Corporate commitments for nature-based solutions can be a significant solution if they follow these four principles laid out by forest experts at WWF.
Etelle Higonnet of Mighty Earth shares her story as a forest campaigner who almost succumbed to the COVID-19 virus and how our efforts to end the wildlife trade must include the commitment to end tropical deforestation.
Four professors write a guest post for the IPBES on the need for our efforts to survive and recover from the coronavirus pandemic must focus on more than just reestablishing the economic growth of yesterday.
The editors of Scientific American share a piece calling for an end to the destruction of nature to prevent the next pandemic.
Natural Climate Solutions and Nature4Climate Partners
In fast-warming Minnesota, scientists are trying to plant the forests of the future
The Washington Post, Brady Dennis, 29 April
In Panama, agroforestry technique of silvopasture improves ranching traditions
Mongabay, Erin Banks Rusby, 29 April
Climate math: What a 1.5-degree pathway would take
McKinsey & Company, 30 April
Lush prize winners restoring ecosystems
Ecologist, Catherine Early, 27 April
New Report Spotlights Indigenous Community-Led Efforts to Safeguard Nature
Wyss Campaign for Nature, 28 April
Community credit scheme funds patrols and reforestation, boosts female leadership in forestry
RECOFTC, 28 April
New database wrangles data on land rights projects around the globe
Mongabay, John C. Cannon on 29 April
Podcast: Collective Action and a Forest Positive Future
Tropical Forest Alliance, 30 April
Coronavirus, climate change, forest fires: Integrated fire management and people-centred policymaking
RECOFTC, David Ganz, 30 April
As loggers exploit virus, Cambodian forest protectors defy state ban
Reuters, Matt Blomberg, 1 May
If Amazon is serious about climate change, why is it ignoring tropical forests?
Forest500, 1 May
Why ‘Carbon-Cycle Feedbacks’ Could Drive Temperatures Even Higher
Yale360, Fred Pearce, 28 April
Fight against illegal logging could be cut back by mobility restrictions: NGO
The Jakarta Post, Made Anthony Iswara, 3 May
California Virus War Slams Into Its Other Crisis: Wildfires
Bloomberg, David R Baker and Mark Chediak, 28 April
How deforestation can lead to more infectious diseases
Deutsche Welle, Nadia Pontes, 29 April
The Numbers and Impact of Palm Oil
Beauty Matters, Kelly Kovack, 29 April
Trump seizes on pandemic to speed up opening of public lands to industry
The Guardian, Jeremy Miller, 30 April
Virus Puts Focus on Deforestation’s Risk to Public Health in ASEAN
Voice of Asia News, 29 April
US scientist: ‘Roads and corruption’ are big drivers of deforestation
Euractiv, Frédéric Simon, 4 May
UK military beef supplier buys from sanctioned Brazilian farmers, investigation shows
Mongabay, 28 April
Campaigners call for transparency in Myanmar timber trade after 850 tons of wood seized
Mongabay, Michael Tatarski, 28 April
Colombian youth push their government to address deforestation
Yale Climate Connections, Sarah Kennedy
Increasing Deforestation Calls Into Question Pará's Sustainable Development Model for the Amazon
Pulitzer Center, 30 April
Under the cover of lockdown, illegal logging surges in Tunisia
Reuters, Layli Foroudi, 1 May
Young Nigerian researcher goes to bat against forest fires
Mongabay, Linus Unah, 30 April
Could An Innovative Reforestation Program Help Stem Climate-Change-Fueled Wildfires Worldwide?
Elle, Molly Langmuir, 20 April
Afforestation vital in making Africa climate resilient, pandemic ready
The East African, Musonda Mumba, 28 April
Trees For The Future Launches 20 New Projects
Headlines News, 30 April
Tree planting vet looks ahead to what will be a much different summer in the bush
Kelowna Now, Josh Duncan, 30 April
Over 80,000 Trees to be planted by Eden Reforestation Projects and gamigo
Gamasutra, 4 May
Why Amazon's commitment to working forests matters
GreenBiz, Heather Clancy, 30 April
Thailand testing new way to demonstrate if timber is legal
Timberbiz, 4 May
Indonesia’s timber legality system remains in force
foresthints.news, 1 May
Why the Next Generation of Hospitals Should Be Made From Mass Timber
Architizer, David Staczek, 30 April
Is there enough wood in the world to feed sustainability?
Deutsche Elle, Richard Orange, 1 May
First Wooden Wind Power Tower Erected In Sweden
Renewable Energy Magazine, 29 April
Natural gas from wood waste
Castanet, Colin Dacre, 30 April
FortisBC to purchase wood waste-derived RNG from REN Energy
Bioenergy Insight, 1 May
Negative Emissions Technologies
Aker Solutions' carbon-capture technology approved for use
Reuters, Nerijus Adomaitis, 29 April
Treasury IG: A decade of carbon-capture tax credits were faulty
Roll Call, Benjamin J. Hulac, 30 April
Agriculture and Soil Health
What is Regen Ag and why is it big for NZ?
Newsroom, Alina Siegfried, 4 May
Indonesia aims for sustainability certification for oil palm smallholders
Mongabay, Hans Nicholas Jong, 29 April
WRI and Cargill Partner on Tools and Best Practices To Advance Sustainable Agriculture
Cargill, 30 April
Some ranchers and conservationists agree: Grazing and logging can save birds
Mongabay, Jennifer Oldham, 28 April
Uniting to Deliver Deforestation-Free Sustainable Palm Oil More Critical Than Ever
RSPO, 29 April
It’s time to start paying attention to Canada’s peatlands
Canadian Geographic, Meg Southee, 30 April
Northern Peatlands in Canada
Wildlife Conservation Society Canada, May
California’s critical kelp forests are disappearing in a warming world. Can they be saved?
National Geographic, Todd Woody, 30 April
Mangrove protection official
Cayman News Service, 29 April
Vietnamese Mangrove Biosphere Thrives Under Citizen Management Program
The Energy Mix, 29 April
New Science, Research, Policy and Tools
Natural Climate Solutions A Federal Policy Platform of the National Wildlife Federation
National Wildlife Federation, April 2020
The National Wildlife Federation has released a new federal policy platform for natural climate solutions for the domestic United States.
Mitigation Hierarchies - First Things First: Avoid, Reduce … and only after that–Compensate
World Wildlife Fund, April 2020
The World Wildlife Fund releases a discussion paper on the history of 'Mitigation Hierarchies' and the importance of focusing on implementing corporate commitments in-line with their best practices for comprehensive change and impact.
Robust ecological drought projections for drylands in the 21st century
Global Change Biology, April 2020
Dryland ecosystems may be especially vulnerable to expected 21st-century increases in temperature and aridity because they are tightly controlled by moisture availability.
The greenhouse gas offset potential from seagrass restoration
Nature, April 2020
This project quantified the net GHG removal from the atmosphere from a seagrass restoration project Virginia, U.S.A., part of the largest, most cost-effective meadow restoration to date, to provide the first seagrass offset finance test-of-concept.
Leading with Soil - Scaling Soil Carbon Storage in Agriculture
Carbon180, April 2020
A carbon removal think tank releases a discussion paper on the many opportunities we have to utilize agricultural practices to sequester carbon dioxide back into soils and provide economic benefits.
Effects of spatial autocorrelation and sampling design on estimates of protected area effectiveness
Conservation Biology, April 2020
Estimating the effectiveness of protected areas in reducing deforestation is useful to support management decisions. This paper assessed methods to estimate the effectiveness of protected areas, using Colombia as a case study.
Making the market work for nature
iied, April 2020
Tackling biodiversity loss is a growing priority for human survival. Introducing incentives for positive actions could play a key role in helping to reverse this loss. This paper explores the potential of using a novel approach to promote biodiversity conservation.
The evaluation of a participatory extension programme focused on climate friendly farming
Journal of Rural Studies, May 2020
This paper contributes to the current literature by conducting the first evaluation on a climate change participatory extension programmes (PEPs) in a developed country and by developing and applying an effective evaluation framework for climate change PEPs, in order to achieve an understanding of the change achieved by PEPs.
Global drivers of food system (un)sustainability: A multi-country correlation analysis
PLOS One, April 2020
This analysis is the first one that provides quantitative evidence at the global scale about correlations between the four dimensions of sustainability of our food systems and specific drivers.
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Lucy Almond, Director and Chair of Nature4Climate