REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, the climate crisis, REDD, and natural climate solutions. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
23 March 2020
Here’s Why We’ll Never Treat The Climate Crisis With The Same Urgency As The Coronavirus
By Amy Westervelt, Huffington Post, 23 March 2020
The vast majority of climate stories these days are various takes on how to view the issue through the lens of the coronavirus and vice versa. Of course, anyone who knows anything about climate change knows that it is just as fundamental a worldwide threat over the next several decades as COVID-19 is right now (and will continue to be in the coming weeks and months).
As state after state and, more haltingly, the Trump administration commit billions of dollars to measures against the coronavirus at a speed and scope comparable to how the U.S. mobilized during World War II, the comparisons drawn between the pandemic and climate change make sense.
Coronavirus Holds Key Lessons on How to Fight Climate Change
By Beth Gardiner, YaleEnvironment360, 23 March 2020
frightening new threat cascades around the world, upending familiar routines, disrupting the global economy, and endangering lives. Scientists long warned this might happen, but political leaders mostly ignored them, so now must scramble to respond to a crisis they could have prevented, or at least eased, had they acted sooner.
The coronavirus pandemic and the slower-moving dangers of climate change parallel one another in important ways, and experts say the aggressive, if belated, response to the outbreak could hold lessons for those urging climate action. And while the dip in greenhouse gas emissions caused by the sharp drop in travel and other economic activity is likely to rebound once the pandemic passes, some carbon footprint-shrinking changes that the spread of COVID-19 is prompting could prove more lasting.
Energy and Policy Experts Have a Plan to Fight Covid-19 and the Climate Crisis
By Dharna Noor, Gizmodo, 23 March 2020
Right now, it seems like everything is fucked.
A global pandemic is spinning out of control—350,000 people have tested positive for covid-19, nearly 42,000 of whom are in the U.S. We’re facing an impending economic recession. Fifteen percent of American workers have already lost their jobs or hours due to the pandemic, and according to one prediction, three million people could become unemployed by summer. National inequality, which is already reaching record highs, could become far more dramatic.
Corona stimulus plans overlook ‘historic’ chance for climate crisis
By Martin Kuebler, DW, 23 March 2020
The COVID-19 outbreak has sent countries scrambling to avert economic disaster. Yet in a time of climate change, none appear to be prioritizing clean energy plans. DW spoke with experts to find out why.
2020 is meant to be a pivotal year in global efforts to turn the tide on climate change, but the coronavirus is threatening to throw a spanner in the works.
Just 18 months ago, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that the world was way off course in its efforts to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst impacts of global warming.
Coronavirus pandemic leading to huge drop in air pollution
By Jonathan Watts and Niko Kommenda, The Guardian, 23 March 2020
The coronavirus pandemic is shutting down industrial activity and temporarily slashing air pollution levels around the world, satellite imagery from the European Space Agency shows.
One expert said the sudden shift represented the “largest scale experiment ever” in terms of the reduction of industrial emissions.
Readings from ESA’s Sentinel-5P satellite show that over the past six weeks, levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) over cities and industrial clusters in Asia and Europe were markedly lower than in the same period last year.
Vegetation holds key to climate control
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 23 March 2020
Here’s an easy way to warm the tropics even further: just fell some rainforest, and the local temperatures will soar by at least a degree Celsius, showing the role played by vegetation.
There is also a good way to temper the summer heat of temperate Europe: just abandon some farmland, leave it to go wild and leafy, and the thermometer will drop by perhaps as much as 1°C.
And, paradoxically, there is even a leafy way to warm the Arctic: burn lots of fossil fuels, precipitate a climate crisis, advance the growth of spring foliage by three weeks or so, and check the thermometer. The region will be even warmer, just because the Arctic has become greener.
The isolated tribes at risk of illness from Amazon missionaries
By Dom Phillips, The Guardian, 23 March 2020
A radical group of evangelical Christian missionaries set on converting every last tribe on Earth has raised fears that deadly diseases – and even the coronavirus – will spread in the Brazilian Amazon. The group has based its newly bought helicopter right beside a reserve with the world’s highest concentration of isolated indigenous groups, who have little resistance to common illnesses.
There are more than 100 isolated indigenous groups in Brazil, all highly vulnerable to common diseases such as measles and flu, and 16 of them live in the same reserve in the Javari Valley, a vast, remote area the size of Austria. Covid-19 could wipe out any of them.
The fight to save the Amazon is a matter of life or death for those trying to protect it
By Sophie McNeill, Sharon O’Neill and Naomi Selvaratnam, ABC News, 23 March 2020
Amazonian tribes and local campaigners who stand up to the illegal networks that are destroying the world’s largest tropical rainforest are being threatened, attacked and even killed.
A Four Corners investigation has found the Brazilian Amazon is being destroyed at rapidly increasing rates from a combination of illegal logging, beef and soy farming and deliberately lit fires.
Colombian death squads exploiting coronavirus lockdown to kill activists
By Joe Parkin Daniels, The Guardian, 23 March 2020
Death squads in Colombia are taking advantage of coronavirus lockdowns to murder rural activists, local NGOs have warned.
When cities across the country introduced local quarantine measures last week, three social leaders were killed, and as the country prepares to impose a national lockdown on Wednesday, activists have warned that more murders will follow.
Marco Rivadeneira, a high-profile activist, was murdered in the southern Putumayo province, Alexis Vergara was shot dead in the western Cauca region, and Ivo Humberto Bracamonte was killed on the eastern border with Venezuela.
South America’s indigenous people lock down as coronavirus takes hold
By Anastasia Moloney and Fabio Teixeira, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 23 March 2020
For decades, indigenous groups from Colombia to Brazil have been fighting the threat to their lives posed by oil exploration, deforestation and illegal logging.
Now, the battle is against the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
Indigenous tribes are locking down and closing off their reserves to visitors as they fear the disease that is fast spreading across South America could wipe them out.
24 March 2020
Planting trees will not solve the climate crisis
By Tony Currie, New Frame, 24 March 2020
Trees are good. Trees are green. Trees suck up carbon dioxide. Ergo: plant as many trees as possible and you solve the world’s environmental and climate change challenges almost overnight. Right?
Not at all, say a growing number of bewildered African ecologists. They worry that Global North-led mass tree planting projects will do very little to contain ballooning emissions of carbon dioxide and other climate-warming gases – and are more likely to ignite conflict over land tenure, food security, conservation and dwindling water resources for generations to come.
ICAO Identifies Six Eligible Carbon-Offsetting Programmes for Aviation Industry
By Beate Antonich, IISD, 24 March 2020
Recent meetings organized under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN specialized agency established in 1944 to manage the administration and governance of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention), addressed steps by ICAO to address the aviation industry’s negative environmental externalities.
At the ICAO Council meeting, which convened from 2-20 March 2020, in Montréal, Canada, the Council adopted a standard to reduce civil aviation impacts on local air quality and human health, and took further decisions on implementing the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). CORSIA is a market-based mechanism adopted in 2016 to achieve ICAO’s goals of increasing fuel efficiency by 2% per year and carbon-neutral growth of civil aviation from 2020 onwards. The mechanism aims to cap aviation’s future emissions growth by obliging airlines to buy offsets, rather than reducing their aircraft emissions.
GCF Prepares to Deliver Ambition for COP 26
By Beate Antonich, IISD, 24 March 2020
2020 marks an important year for climate finance and the beginning of a critical decade for climate ambition. Starting off its first meeting of the year, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board met from 10-12 March, in Geneva, Switzerland, to address pertinent agenda items. The Board considered an updated workplan for the next three years, the effectiveness of its committees, and recommendations for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the simplified approval process (SAP).
The Imperative of Ending Wildlife Crime
By John E. Scanlon, IISD, 24 March 2020
Reports that the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak originated from illegally sourced wildlife, including pangolin, has given a new sense of urgency to ending wildlife crime. Wildlife crime is not new, yet, remarkably, there is no global legal agreement addressing it. This is despite the devastating impact it has on wildlife, local communities, national economies, security, public health and entire ecosystems, and its links to HIV Aids, Ebola, SARS, MERS and now COVID -19.
The Big Fix: What can COVID-19 teach us about the global climate crisis?
By Anna Kusmer, PRI, 24 March 2020
“Every crisis deserves to be treated as a crisis,” Greta Thunberg posted online this month when she announced that her weekly school strike — organized through her Fridays for the Future — was going virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Thunberg draws a clear connection between the climate crisis and the current pandemic.
And some of those parallels are clear. Both pose grave threats to the health and well-being of billions of people, and both call into question fundamental aspects of our society: How can we reconfigure the economy? How do we make high-stakes decisions about complex problems with high levels of uncertainty?
Here’s what a coronavirus-like response to the climate crisis would look like
By Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times, 24 March 2020
Both the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change are global crises with the power to derail economies and kill millions of people.
Society has moved far more aggressively to address the coronavirus than it has the climate crisis. But some experts wonder if the unprecedented global mobilization to slow the pandemic might help pave the way for more dramatic climate action.
Delay is deadly: what Covid-19 tells us about tackling the climate crisis
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 24 March 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has brought urgency to the defining political question of our age: how to distribute risk. As with the climate crisis, neoliberal capitalism is proving particularly ill-suited to this.
Like global warming, but in close-up and fast-forward, the Covid-19 outbreak shows how lives are lost or saved depending on a government’s propensity to acknowledge risk, act rapidly to contain it, and share the consequences.
Don’t blame over-population for the climate crisis
By Heather Alberro, CityMetric, 24 March 2020
This year’s annual World Economic Forum in Davos brought together representatives from government and business to deliberate how to solve the worsening climate and ecological crisis. The meeting came just as devastating bush fires were abating in Australia. These fires are thought to have killed up to one billion animals and generated a new wave of climate refugees. Yet, as with the COP25 climate talks in Madrid, a sense of urgency, ambition and consensus on what to do next were largely absent in Davos.
Massacre in the Amazon
By Jesse Hyde, Vanity Fair, 24 March 2020
The farmers arrived before dusk, setting up camp in the tall grass. There were 25 of them, and for months they had been attempting to occupy a sprawling farm known as Santa Lucia that had been carved from the Amazon rain forest. All around them, the once-impenetrable jungle had been reduced to barren pastures—part of an orchestrated campaign by large landowners and multinational corporations to slash and burn their way deeper into the Amazon. Every week, another 40 square miles of the world’s largest rain forest—what has long been the most important natural bulwark against climate change—go up in flames. Last year, the fires grew so large that they were visible from outer space.
The death of ‘connectivity,’ the China-led phase of globalization
By Walden Bello, Rappler, 24 March 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is the second major crisis of globalization in a decade. The first was the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, from which the global economy took years to reach a semblance of recovery. We did not learn our lessons from the first, and this is perhaps why the impact of the second has been even more massive.
Coronavirus: fears mount that China’s transition to a greener economy may be shelved amid recovery
By Harry Pearl, South China Morning Post, 24 March 2020
The coronavirus crisis has sparked fears that China’s long-term environmental goals, including its ambitious carbon trading system, could be shelved as the government scrambles to get the economy back on track.
China’s growth had already slowed to record lows before the coronavirus sent the economy into a tailspin, with industrial production, retail sales and investment all then plunging at double digit rates in the first two months of the year.
Coronavirus Throws EU Climate Plans Into Disarray
By Dave Keating, Forbes, 24 March 2020
For the first ten years of its existence, the European Union’s carbon-trading market was widely considered a failure. An overly generous free allowance system combined with the financial crisis’s slowdown in economic activity drove the price of carbon in the Emission Trading Scheme to levels far too low to discourage emissions.
In 2015, a controversial intervention by EU lawmakers fixed the problem with legislation that made the price go up. But now as a result of the sudden halt of economic activity due to Coronavirus and the drop in gas and oil prices, the price is plummeting again, already sinking to levels not seen since November 2018. The price is certain to continue falling.
[Indonesia] New player starts clearing rainforest in world’s biggest oil palm project
Mongabay and The Gecko Project, 24 March 2020
A new company has begun clearing rainforest in an area of Indonesia’s easternmost Papua province earmarked to become the world’s largest oil palm plantation, in a vast project that has been mired in allegations of lawbreaking.
If seen through to completion, the Tanah Merah project will generate an estimated $6 billion in timber and create a plantation almost twice the size of London, at the heart of the largest stretch of intact rainforest left in Asia. It will also release an immense amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, at a time when Indonesia has committed to reducing emissions from deforestation.
Papua mangroves could help Indonesia coast to climate targets
By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News, 24 March 2020
The characteristics of mangroves in a range of ecosystems – from undisturbed natural settings to areas where considerable land-use changes have occurred – should be evaluated to properly assess country-level blue carbon emissions accounting, according to new research.
While mangroves have long been recognized as significant “blue carbon” sinks and as coastal buffers against erosion caused by ocean activity and sea level rise, now scientists have shown that their carbon storage capacity varies greatly depending on a variety of ecological factors.
[Thailand] Chiang Mai appeals for bushfire support
Bangkok Post, 24 March 2020
Chiang Mai’s provincial governor, Charoenrit Sanguansat, is asking volunteers to do what they can – including drive off-road and fly their drones — to help locate fire hotspots in the province, as widespread forest fires have caused air quality there to plummet.
“We need volunteers to do walking surveys. We need them to drive cars, ride motorcycles and fly drones to pinpoint the exact location of the fires so we can quickly dispatch firefighters to them,” he said yesterday.
25 March 2020
Covid-19 is nature’s wake-up call to complacent civilisation
By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 25 March 2020
We have been living in a bubble, a bubble of false comfort and denial. In the rich nations, we have begun to believe we have transcended the material world. The wealth we’ve accumulated – often at the expense of others – has shielded us from reality. Living behind screens, passing between capsules – our houses, cars, offices and shopping malls – we persuaded ourselves that contingency had retreated, that we had reached the point all civilisations seek: insulation from natural hazards.
The Analogy Between Covid-19 and Climate Change Is Eerily Precise
By Gilad Edelman, Wired, 25 March 2020
For a brief moment there, it looked as though the coronavirus pandemic might escape the muck of partisanship.
It’s true that President Donald Trump, wary of a recession during a reelection year, had first tried to talk the virus into submission. His counterfactual insistence that the situation was under control did nothing to slow the viral spread through February and early March. It did, however, seem to influence the party faithful, as polls showed Republican voters were taking the pandemic far less seriously than Democrats. In other words, the facts of Covid-19 were already politicized. As I suggested last week, it looked as though this process were unfolding just as it had for climate change—but at 1,000x speed.
Why we’ll succeed in saving the planet from climate change
By Emma Marris, National Geographic, 25 March 2020
My mother’s brown hair is long and parted in the center. She is sewing a eucalyptus seedpod to a dress made of pale green drapery fabric, laughing with her friends. She is 19 years old.
It is February 1970, a few months before the first Earth Day, and students at San Jose State College in California are throwing a “Survival Faire,” during which they plan to bury a brand-new yellow Ford Maverick. The Maverick and all combustion engines are to be declared dead because they belch pollutants that have helped create vile, ground-hugging smog in San Jose and cities around the world. The Maverick, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Paul Avery wrote, “was pushed through downtown San Jose in a parade led by three ministers, the college band and a group of comely coeds wearing green shroudlike gowns.”
Why we won’t avoid a climate catastrophe
By Elizabeth Kolbert, National Geographic, 25 March 2020
“A unique day in American history is ending,” Walter Cronkite intoned on the CBS Evening News on April 22, 1970. The inaugural celebration of Earth Day had drawn some 20 million people to the streets—one of every 10 Americans and a way bigger crowd than the man who’d dreamed up the occasion, U.S. senator Gaylord Nelson, had anticipated. Participants expressed their concern for the environment in exuberant, often idiosyncratic ways. They sang, danced, donned gas masks, and picked up litter. In New York City they dragged dead fish through the streets. In Boston they staged a “die-in” at Logan International Airport. In Philadelphia they signed an oversize, all-species “Declaration of Interdependence.”
From summits to stimulus: Nature-based solutions can help
By Lucy Almond, Climate Home News, 25 March 2020
The world is holding its breath as we count the human cost of what will likely be the defining moment of this generation.
Governments are quite rightly focusing on emergency response measures to slow the spread of the virus, save as many lives as possible and take whatever steps they can to relieve the economic hardship people in every country are already facing.
Coronavirus: ‘Nature is sending us a message’, says UN environment chief
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 25 March 2020
Nature is sending us a message with the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing climate crisis, according to the UN’s environment chief, Inger Andersen.
Andersen said humanity was placing too many pressures on the natural world with damaging consequences, and warned that failing to take care of the planet meant not taking care of ourselves.
Leading scientists also said the Covid-19 outbreak was a “clear warning shot”, given that far more deadly diseases existed in wildlife, and that today’s civilisation was “playing with fire”. They said it was almost always human behaviour that caused diseases to spill over into humans.
When we rebuild our economy, we must do it with sustainability in mind
By David Ritter, The Canberra Times, 25 March 2020
The bones of our nation’s future will be set by our response to the coronavirus.
Of course our most urgent task as a nation is to ensure the health and safety of all Australians and stop the spread of coronavirus by acting quickly and decisively to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Everything must be done to keep people safe and the fabric of our society intact.
However, beyond the initial urgent response required to safeguard our families, children, grandparents and friends, our leaders have before them a moment of reckoning.
Climate change: Green energy plant threat to wilderness areas
By Matt McGrath, BBC News, 25 March 2020
Wind, solar and hydro power installations pose a growing threat to key conservation areas, say researchers.
Researchers found that over 2,200 green energy plants have been built within the boundaries of the Earth’s remaining wilderness.
They say that around 17% of renewable facilities globally are located in protected regions.
A further 900 plants are now being developed in key areas of biodiversity.
Covid-19, the Climate Crisis and Lockdown – an opportunity to end the war with nature
By Vishwar Satgar, Daily Maverick, 25 March 2020
With the coronavirus, we are really trying to mitigate the revenge blow from nature. It’s a moment to be humble and realise our finitude in a wondrous and infinite natural order.
Covid-19 has pushed an already weak and crisis-ridden global economy over the edge. Massive value has been erased from crashing stock market prices. Many commentators are talking about the return of economic conditions similar to the great financial crash of 2007-2009. The most powerful countries in the world from China to the US have ground to a halt.
Electricity, carbon prices plummet as coronavirus wounds EU economy
By Igor Todorović, Balkan Green Energy News, 25 March 2020
Market participants pushed prices of electricity and emission certificates lower at the main exchanges in Europe while widespread shutdowns caused a decline in carbon and other greenhouse gases released by the industry because of restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
Statistical data show a global recession is close as the pandemic crippled transportation, services and healthcare, just to start with. The economic freeze particularly hit market prices of electricity and carbon dioxide – namely, shutdowns in the industry over the risk of the acceleration in the spread of the coronavirus derailed power demand.
The Struggle of Indigenous Peoples in Defense of Forest and Life
Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation, 25 March 2020
On the International Day of Forests, the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) joins the world in calling for the protection of our forests and biodiversity, and in highlighting the role and challenges of Indigenous Peoples (IP) in protecting them.
IP comprises less than 5% of the world’s population. Although a minority and considered one of the poorest segments in society, IP territories encompass up to 22% of the world’s land surface coinciding with areas where 80% of the planet’s biodiversity is found.
Commodity Driven Tree Cover Loss in Congo May Be 10 Times Higher Than Previous Estimates
By Liz Goldman and Giuseppe Molinario, Global Forest Watch, 25 March 2020
When forest degradation and destruction meet local communities who are simply feeding themselves or making their livelihoods, the case for forest preservation gets complicated.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly the Congo Basin, this pattern of clearing and regrowth for subsistence — dubbed shifting cultivation — is thought to have driven the majority of recent, extensive tree cover loss in the region. But a new study conducted in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by the University of Maryland shows that more loss could be associated with commercial land uses like plantations, mining or logging than previously thought, potentially up to ten times higher than prior reports.
Kenya: 40 desalination systems financed by carbon offsetting
By Inès Magoum, Afrik21, 25 March 2020
The German companies Boreal Light and Atmosfair will work with the Kenyan companies Water Kiosk Ltd and Bilal Sustainable Development Programme to develop 40 solar-powered water desalination systems in several counties in Kenya. The project will require an investment of 435 million Kenyan shillings (over $4 million).
[New Zealand] We’re fossil fuel addicts. Could we go cold turkey?
By Henry Cooke, Stuff, 25 March 2020
The Zero Carbon Act commits New Zealand to reduce carbon and other long-lived gases to “net zero” by 2050, while reducing our methane and other short-lived gases by between 24 and 47 per cent below 2017 levels.
These targets are a formidable challenge. But, because they are so distant, it’s easy to assume technology or global politics will deliver a breakthrough. After all, the big challenge of the 1970s – inflation – got sorted out.
But economic growth and modern life are largely predicated on the exploitation of fossil fuels.
[USA] Unsanitized: Bailouts, A Tradition Unlike Any Other
By David Dayen, The American Prospect, 25 March 2020
Twelve years ago, banks asked for a bailout after years of irresponsible, highly leveraged lending. The Treasury Department put out a three-page term sheet seeking money from Congress with no strings attached, even eliminating judicial review. Democrats balked, called it a slush fund and worse, then agreed after a few mostly meaningless bits of oversight and some promises to help ordinary people. That $700 billion bailout was window dressing for trillions that came from the Federal Reserve, but it kept Congress quiet, hooking them into the rescue of the system.
26 March 2020
Greta’s World: How one Swedish teenager armed with a homemade sign ignited a crusade and became the leader of a movement
By Stephen Rodrick, Rolling Stone, 26 March 2020
There is persona and there is reality in Greta Thunberg. It is Valentine’s Day in her hometown of Stockholm, but there’s only wind, no hearts and flowers. A few hundred kids mill about, with a smattering of adults. If there were not signs reading “Our Earth, We Only Have One,” it could be mistaken for a field trip to the ABBA museum.
But where is Greta? I find a scrum of reporters interviewing a child in a purple puffer jacket, pink mittens, and a homemade-looking knit hat. It takes me a minute to realize that it’s Greta. She is 17, but could pass for 12. I can’t quite square the fiery speaker with the micro teen in front of me. She seems in need of protection.
Sustainable Forests and Reaching the SDGs
By Judith Walcott and Lera Miles, IISD, 26 March 2020
Whether from the emergence of infectious diseases, the growing risks to global food systems, or from the increasing variability in global climate and local weather patterns, it is evident that we urgently need to rebalance our relationship with nature. Our relationship with forests is a prime example.
Forests are among the most biodiverse of Earth’s ecosystems. They sequester carbon and help to mitigate against climate change. They protect watersheds and help to control soil erosion. And yet, around 11% of carbon dioxide emissions come from deforestation and forest degradation, which is second only to the energy sector.
Synthetic palm oil being brewed like beer gets Bill Gates’ investment
By Maeve Campbell, EuroNews, 26 March 2020
C16 Biosciences is the New York based startup producing a synthetic version of palm oil that doesn’t rely on deforestation. The company has just received a 20 million dollar ‘series A’ investment round from Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund.
The investor-led fund supports cutting edge startups with a focus on environmental innovation and sustainability. Hence, the decision to invest in conflict-free palm oil goes hand in hand with its commitment to back “companies that will help stop climate change.” A ‘series A’ investment is usually offered to a business which has already developed a track record of success, as opposed to ‘pre-seed’ or ‘seed’ stages of funding which occur earlier in a company’s lifespan.
Covid-19 and climate change: The epidemic provides a chance to do good by the climate
The Economist, 26 March 2020
In Venice, water in the canals is running clear, offering glimpses of fish swimming against the current. As human activity grinds to a halt, natural rhythms resume. A similar, less visible story is being played out in the skies. Around the world, levels of toxic air pollutants are dropping as places go into lockdown in an attempt to curb the spread of sars-cov-2, the virus causing a pandemic of a new disease called covid-19. Emissions of greenhouse gases are following a similar pattern.
New Blockchain-Based System Aims to Supercharge $200B+ Climate Finance Markets
Sustainable Brands, 26 March 2020
Climate Futures’ 1PLANET Marketplace will launch during Earth Month as a blockchain-enabled, decentralized app (dapp) designed to help users do their part to mitigate the climate crisis — and keep it top of mind during COVID-19 hysteria.
Carbon-reduction experts Climate Futures will launch their 1PLANET Marketplace — a ready-to-use blockchain system and dapp (decentralized app) powered by the 1PLANET (1PL) token — in April, otherwise known as Earth Month. 1PLANET enables individuals and businesses to take action against climate change by granting easy and transparent access to carbon markets.
The Nature of a Crisis
By Bill McKibben, The New Yorker, 26 March 2020
An idea beloved of the technorati is that we are actually living not on the earth we seem to inhabit but in a simulation. Elon Musk has said that it’s “most likely” the case, and Neil deGrasse Tyson has set the odds at fifty-fifty. If so, we’ve clearly reached the point where whoever is supervising the action has handed the game over to a bored supervillain who is wildly pressing buttons: Pandemics! Locusts! Firestorms!
The rich board private jets as coronavirus spreads
By Maxine Joselow, E&E News, 26 March 2020
Private jet companies are seeing a spike in interest and bookings from wealthy Americans who are trying to return home as world leaders announce travel restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19.
American travelers with less means, however, say they remain stranded abroad with little help from the State Department or U.S. embassies.
The situation shows how the coronavirus crisis is exacerbating economic inequality, as the wealthy and well-connected book private jets and obtain supplies like face masks and testing kits — luxuries not everyone can access.
Are We Prepared for a Climate Crisis in the Middle of a Pandemic?
By Olivia Aguilar, Truthout, 26 March 2020
With the need for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be discussing how we will handle displaced peoples and limited resources should a climate disaster occur. It is not a matter of if this will occur, but when.
Three-and-half-years ago, I started writing about a fictional apocalypse scenario. My head was spinning with catastrophic scene after catastrophic scene the day after we elected a president who had a disdain for science. After a long and drawn out night, it felt as if the progress we were making on climate change and environmental protections, though slow, was not only over, but doomed. While the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t what I envisioned that night, COVID-19 only exacerbates the climate catastrophe scenarios that I imagined, leaving us in a very fragile state.
Coronavirus: Magic Money Trees are sprouting up everywhere
By John McLellan, Edinburgh Evening News, 26 March 2020
Some £45bn went on taking RBS into public ownership through the purchase of shares, with 80 per cent of the company owned by the tax-payer, and while the bank has reformed and returned to profit, it is still 62 per cent government-owned.
When it gets to numbers like £850bn, the difference of a billion here or there seems not to matter so much, but considering Edinburgh Council’s annual budget is just under a billion it matters a lot. The UK government has so far pledged something like £400bn in emergency funding to deal with the coronavirus crisis but that’s only the start and the figure will rise, most immediately to meet promises to help the self-employed, but also as the costs begin to mount from providing emergency hospitals and suchlike and as the true economic cost begins to emerge.
Corona crisis ‘most expensive’ way to lower emissions – German climate researcher
By Benjamin Wehrmann, Clean Energy Wire, 26 March 2020
Emissions reductions due to the coronavirus crisis cannot be considered good news, according to climate researcher Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). “Nobody can be happy about any positive climate effect now, since the price we’re paying for this is unbelievably high. That’s due to a collapsing economy, the individual and social costs and especially to the human suffering caused by this pandemic,” Schellnhuber told Frankfurter Rundschau, adding there was “no other way that is more expensive to save CO2.” He called on policymakers not to let environmental action policies such as the EU’s Green Deal fall behind, as measures to contain the virus and its economic impact take precedence on political agendas.
Fast pandemic response could tackle climate crisis
By Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, 26 March 2020
If you want to know how fast a modern society can change, go to most British town centres and see the pandemic response. They will be unrecognisable from what they were 10 days ago.
You’ll see far fewer pedestrians, now sheltering from coronavirus infection at home, far fewer vehicles, hardly an aircraft in the skies above. The familiar levels of urban noise have faded to a murmur. The usual air pollution is dropping fast, with reports of significant falls from not just the UK but China and northern Italy as well.
Earth Hour- In these uncertain times, nature can help sustain us. We must also sustain nature.
By Gavin Edwards, WWF, 26 March 2020
As the spread of Coronavirus brings self-isolation and social distancing for more and more of the world, many of us are turning to nature to reconnect, for exercise and for our emotional well-being. Our balconies, gardens, local parks and hills, even windows, offer some respite from the feeling of being trapped inside our homes, while we seek to maintain physical distance from others. This challenging time also raises some more fundamental questions to contemplate, such as how did humanity get to this point? Have we been taking the natural world — and its resilience — for granted?
This man made first contact with 9 uncontacted tribes — here’s what he learned
Survival International, 26 March 2020
“I remember it well; my first encounter with isolated Indians was in 1971. Our mission was to bring out Jaboti and Makurap tribal people, enslaved in the rubber forests deep in the Amazon. I travelled along the Rio Branco as far as it was navigable, then walked along many trails until the indigenous people accompanying me suddenly refused to continue. They had found signs of the existence of the invisible ‘brabos’. All around us were huts, shelters, mats, remains of fires, arrowheads, marked trees, animal traps.
When COVID-19 met the EU ETS
By Sam Van den plas, Carbon Market Watch, 26 March 2020
The EU carbon market prices are plummeting as a result of the economic shutdown, underlining the need to strengthen the scheme to better sustain similar shocks in the future. No efforts should be spared to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, and it will be critical to ensure that European climate policies are not weakened and stimulus packages also support the EU Green Deal.
Deforestation risks rise as coronavirus hinders SE Asia protection
By Michael Taylor, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 26 March 2020
Southeast Asia’s rainforests face a heightened threat from illegal loggers and poachers as coronavirus restrictions hamper conservation efforts, green groups warned on Thursday.
In Malaysia and Indonesia – home to large swathes of protected forests – police and army personnel are largely being deployed in urban areas to enforce lockdowns or help build emergency health facilities to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.
Meanwhile, the capacity of plantations, environmentalists and state forestry agencies to both monitor forests and act if clearing happens is being hampered by constraints on movement imposed by authorities and organisations to stem the pandemic.
[Thailand] Doi Suthep burning bright: What’s being done? Why is it happening? And yes, there is a solution
By Pim Kemasingki, Citylife Chiang Mai, 26 March 2020
Our days are spent in seclusion; those with air-purifiers can shelter indoors from the worst of the particles and those without must worry about the future of their lungs, as the mountains next to the city burn. Massive fires are raging across the Doi Suthep-Pui mountain ranges, with one fire near Huay Tung Tao estimated to have decimated over 2000 rai of land. The largest fire at this time, however, is the cluster burning wildly to the south of the city on the Hang Dong side of the mountain range, perfectly positioned upwind to blow the smoke straight down into the city. Then there are fires creeping dangerously close to Doi Suthep Temple and Phuping Palace.
[USA] EPA suspends enforcement of environmental laws amid coronavirus
By Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill, 26 March 2020
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a sweeping suspension of its enforcement of environmental laws Thursday, telling companies they would not need to meet environmental standards during the coronavirus outbreak.
The temporary policy, for which EPA has set no end date, would allow any number of industries to skirt environmental laws, with the agency saying it will not “seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting obligations.”
27 March 2020
Deforestation’s Public Health Impact in the Spotlight Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
Chain Reaction Research, 27 March 2020
Amid the widespread outbreak of COVID-19, deforestation is in the spotlight as a contributor to the increase in infectious diseases. Forest loss is connected to the spread of viruses: research shows that habitat loss stemming from forest destruction has led to greater human-animal contact, which increases the chances of diseases such as COVID-19 and coronaviruses spreading to humans.
The Right to Carbon, the Right to Land, the Right to Decide
By Charlotte Streck, Ecosystem Marketplace, 27 March 2020
The question of ‘carbon rights’ to forests is a question that’s dogged proponents of REDD+ (or REDD-plus) since before the acronym was coined a decade ago, and it’s one with multiple answers depending on which carbon transaction or REDD+ implementation strategy you’re looking at. Halting deforestation and participating in REDD+ – whether through results-based-payment programs, jurisdictional or project-level REDD+– involves understanding carbon rights – a term that is, itself, a misnomer. This article, another contribution to our “Shades of REDD+” series, will raise and discuss a few of the carbon rights relevant to tropical forest countries.
The Coronavirus Is a Fast-Motion Climate Crisis
By Sean Woods, Rolling Stone, 27 March 2020
Warnings about the crisis went unheeded. Scientists were ignored and called doomsayers. The press accounts were labeled fake news and brushed aside. “The cure would be worse than the illness” went the argument. Government watchdogs saw their budgets gutted. Lawmakers misled the country and did more harm then good. We were told by leaders that “everything was under control” or that the worry was nothing more than “a hoax.”
They were all wrong.
What the Coronavirus Means for Climate Change
By Meehan Crist, The New York Times, 27 March 2020
Something strange is happening. Not just the illness and death sweeping the planet. Not just the closing of borders and bars and schools, the hoarding of wipes and sanitizer, the orders — unimaginable to most Americans weeks ago — to “shelter in place.” Something else is afoot. In China and Italy, the air is now strikingly clean. Venice’s Grand Canal, normally fouled by boat traffic, is running clear. In Seattle, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta, the fog of pollution has lifted. Even global carbon emissions have fallen.
Don’t be fooled by blue skies and clear waters – the coronavirus crisis will not give us a greener world
By John Sauven (Greenpeace UK), Metro, 27 March 2020
We find ourselves in a time of uncertainty and upheaval almost unimaginable a few months ago. When we’re not worrying about the daily arithmetic of deaths and disease brought by COVID-19, we worry about the impact that the crisis is having on people’s jobs, businesses, and our entire way of life.
It’s only human to be looking for scraps of good news – anything to distract from the 24/7 rolling coverage of the emergency and give us hope that a better future awaits.
The Climate Crisis Will Be Just as Shockingly Abrupt
By Melody Schreiber, The New Republic, 27 March 2020
As governments around the globe debate how to respond both to the coronavirus itself and the economic chaos it has unleashed, a theme that’s come up over and over is how to prioritize what makes it into spending packages. In the United States, right-left fault lines have emerged over the question of bailing out emissions-heavy industries versus a greener stimulus. On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a large-scale rollback of environmental regulations as a response to the pandemic—allowing many emitters to police themselves when it comes to pollution.
INSIGHT: Covid-19—Protecting Your Business from VAT Fraud
By Jan Sanders and Ibrahim Ahmed, Bloomberg Tax, 27 March 2020
In times of crisis an increase in fraud, VAT fraud included, becomes apparent. Sophisticated fraud schemes may try to lure bona fide businesses into their chain of transactions. Jan Sanders and Ibrahim Ahmed of PKF Netherlands discuss why now is the time for businesses to reflect on fraud risk management and its robustness.
As businesses are feeling the impact of unprecedented coronavirus (Covid-19) measures, governments are turning to emergency support packages. Like in other crises, value-added tax (VAT) is an important fiscal tool of choice when responding to the economic downturn. Measures include rate cuts, accelerated refunds and extensions of payment deadlines.
Exclusive: Brazil scales back environmental enforcement amid coronavirus
By Jake Spring, Reuters, 27 March 2020
Brazil will cut back on efforts to fight environmental crimes during the coronavirus outbreak, an official at environmental agency Ibama told Reuters, despite concerns that reduced protection could lead to a spike in deforestation.
Ibama Director of Environmental Protection Olivaldi Azevedo said the outbreak has left him little choice but to send fewer enforcement personnel into the field because of the highly contagious virus.
He estimated that one-third of Ibama’s field operatives are close to 60 years old or have medical conditions that put them at greater risk for severe symptoms of the virus.
Amid Pandemic, Ecuador Removes 100 Corpses From Homes in Its Biggest City
Reuters, 27 March 2020
Ecuadorean authorities have removed 100 corpses from homes in the city of Guayaquil in three days, the interior minister said on Friday, following residents’ complaints that they have no way to dispose of relatives’ remains amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The coastal city has the country’s largest concentration of COVID-19 cases as well as a heavy presence of military officers enforcing curfew prompted by a nationwide health emergency declaration.
Coronavirus UK lockdown causes big drop in air pollution
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 27 March 2020
The nationwide shutdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak has led to big drops in air pollution across the UK’s major cities, new data analysis shows.
Levels of toxic pollutants were likely to fall even further, scientists said, as traffic remained off the roads but prevailing westerly winds from the Atlantic returned. Current easterly winds are bringing additional pollution from continental Europe to Britain.
[UK] Social distancing accidentally did the hard part for the climate crisis – now it’s up to us to keep going
By Georgina Lawton, Independent, 27 March 2020
Social distancing is totally at odds with human behaviour and the construction of global capitalism. Our entire world is on pause, and yet there are still not enough TV series and podcasts in existence to entertain us. We are working in our bedrooms and doing far too much living in our living rooms but still, boredom is woven into the fabric of our being.
Those of us who once had normal jobs miss the mindless patter of work colleagues at lunch. Those of us who work from home anyway are already bored of the hourly Whatsapp updates from this latest batch of home-workers. All of us are worried about our mental health, the NHS, and the impact quarantining will have on our intimate relationships.
[USA] Opening Up Thousands of New Forest Acres to Meet the Demands of Carbon Markets
American Foundation Foundation, 27 March 2020
For those searching for ways to implement critically important climate goals, the Family Forest Carbon Program is a path to reducing your carbon footprint, enhancing forest benefits and supporting rural livelihoods — all while meeting stakeholder expectations for corporate sustainability.
2020 began with historic announcements from several influential entities in the business world — including BlackRock CEO Larry Fink’s announcement that climate risk will guide the world’s largest institutional investor in all of its investment decisions. BlackRock, even this month has reinforced its intent to continue pushing companies to address climate risk in their governance efforts. As a domino, companies are declaring audacious goals for reducing their carbon emissions and environmental impacts.
28 March 2020
Tackle climate crisis and poverty with zeal of Covid-19 fight, scientists urge
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 28 March 2020
Government responses to climate breakdown and to the challenges of poverty and inequality must be changed permanently after the coronavirus has been dealt with, leading scientists have urged, as the actions taken to suppress the spread of the virus have revealed what measures are possible in an emergency.
The Covid-19 crisis has revealed what governments are capable of doing and shone a new light on the motivation for past policies and their outcomes, said Sir Michael Marmot, professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London, and chair of the commission of the social determinants of health at the World Health Organisation.
David Attenborough says coronavirus is short-term problem – climate change isn’t
By Sarah Robertson, Mirror, 28 March 2020
TV legend Sir David Attenborough today warns the world not to let coronavirus deflect it from another global battle – with climate change.
The champion of the natural world is washing his hands and observing social distance guidelines like the rest of us.
But Sir David – whose film A Life On Our Planet has been put back to November because of the pandemic – says the virus is no real surprise.
He tells the Sunday Mirror: “There’s always been plagues. There are diseases.
“That is part of the natural world and tightly packed as we are and travel as we do, it is hardly surprising it spreads.”
Is factory farming to blame for coronavirus?
By Laura Spinney, The Guardian, 28 March 2020
Where did the virus causing the current pandemic come from? How did it get to a food market in Wuhan, China, from where it is thought to have spilled over into humans? The answers to these questions are gradually being pieced together, and the story they tell makes for uncomfortable reading.
Let’s start at the beginning. As of 17 March, we know that the Sars-CoV-2 virus (a member of the coronavirus family that causes the respiratory illness Covid-19) is the product of natural evolution. A study of its genetic sequence, conducted by infectious disease expert Kristian G Andersen of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, and colleagues, rules out the possibility that it could have been manufactured in a lab or otherwise engineered. Puff go the conspiracy theories.
Why There’s Never Been a Better Time to Combat the Climate Crisis
By Brian Kahn, Gizmodo, 28 March 2020
This is the start of a crucial decade in human history. And while it’s certainly not starting the way we all expected with a global pandemic forcing the world into public health and economic crises, that doesn’t mean we can take our eyes off the climate ball.
In fact, it’s never been more important to focus on the threat of climate change. While bad actors are doing their damnedest to ramp up pollution, there is also an unprecedented opportunity to transform the entire economic system.
[India] Social Distancing Is a Privilege
By Rana Ayyub, Foreign Policy, 28 March 2020
On March 24, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a complete nationwide lockdown for 21 days—one of the strongest national measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The decision marked a sharp turn. Just a week ago, the world’s second-most populous country was being seen as a mysterious anomaly that had remained relatively unscathed from the deadly pandemic. But then the math caught up. As the lockdown began, the number of confirmed cases in the country was beginning to grow exponentially, rising to 933 by March 28.
Who Will Take Responsibility for the Human Tragedy Unfolding in Democratic India?
By Dushyant Dave, The Wire, 28 March 2020
When I wrote yesterday about the impending crisis and calling in of the armed forces to aid civilian authorities, I had not realised the magnitude of the problem. I was utterly wrong in my assessment.
Throughout Friday, I have been watching various TV channels including regional ones and have seen what we as a nation should never have seen.
Tens of thousands of migrant workers are walking on highways from various industrial towns and cities to their villages. They are walking with their children on shoulders, women walking with their precious belongings. But all of them, without exception, are hungry, famished, tired, frustrated, dejected and resigned to their fate. They all spoke in one voice about the failure of their rich employers in providing them with much needed money and food, not to speak of any kind of security of their future.
29 March 2020
Greta Thunberg on the climate crisis: “The people in power have given up”
By Rhian Daly, NME, 29 March 2020
Greta Thunberg has criticised authorities around the world in their handling of the climate crisis in a new interview.
The Swedish activist became the figurehead for the movement to halt climate change and save the planet after going on strike from school back in 2018.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, Thunberg said: “It seems like the people in power have given up. They say it’s too hard – it’s too much of a challenge. But that’s what we are doing here. We have not given up because this is a matter of life and death for countless people.”
The Current & Coming Climate Crisis — Podcast With Michael Mann
By Winter Wilson, CleanTechnica, 29 March 2020
In this episode of our CleanTech Talk podcast interview series, Michael Barnard, Chief Strategist of TFIE Strategy Inc. and CleanTechnica contributor, sits down to talk with Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science and the Director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, about the immediacy and importance of addressing climate change.
The Global Oil Market Is Broken, Drowning in Crude Nobody Needs
By Javier Blas , Alex Longley , and Sheela Tobben, Bloomberg, 29 March 2020
The global oil market is broken, overwhelmed by an unmanageable surplus as virus lockdowns cascade through the world’s largest economies.
Onshore tanks in many markets are full, forcing traders to store excess oil in idle supertankers. Refineries are starting to shut down because nobody needs the fuels they produce. In physical oil markets, barrels are already changing hands for less than $10, and in a few landlocked markets producers are paying consumers to take away their crude.
[Ecuador] This Is What Climate Change Looks Like in an Era of Covid-19
By Jocelyn Timperley, Gizmodo, 29 March 2020
As the coronavirus pandemic continued to escalate around the world, a more localized emergency has unfolded in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
After a day and a night of extreme rainfall at its headwaters, the Bobonaza River, which passes through a mosaic of indigenous towns and villages near Ecuador’s border with Peru, was rising at a rate local communities had never seen before.
Many did not even have time to collect up their things before the waters had inundated their houses. Communities quickly sent out word that a flood had hit them. In a sign of what could come elsewhere in a world experiencing the dual crises of a pandemic and climate change, government support has been slow to roll in despite some community members losing everything.
[UK] Climate crisis: Government unveils ‘unprecedented’ vision of future travel with focus on walking, cycling and public transport
By Harry Cockburn, Independent, 29 March 2020
The government has quietly published an ambitious plan for how it will revolutionise UK transport to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight the climate crisis.
The report comes in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and has appeared on the Department for Transport website without any fanfare.
But its aims have been described as “unprecedented” and campaigners have said it “pulls no punches” in its assessment of where the UK is and where it needs to be to improve health and make daily life more efficient.