By Chris Lang
This week’s REDD notes. Follow @reddmonitor on Twitter for more links to news about forests, the climate crisis, natural climate solutions, the oil industry, greenwash, carbon offsetting, etc.
An assessment by the World Meteorological Organisation states that there’s a 24% chance of one year in the next five years exceeding 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures. There is a 70% chance that temperatures will be above the 1.5°C threshold in one or more months in the next five years.
On CarbonBrief, Richard Betts of the Met Office Hadley Centre, explains that,
While this is another reminder of the Earth’s rising temperatures, it is important to note that it would not mean that the Paris Agreement’s long-term goal to limit warming to 1.5C will have been breached.
This is because the warming limit refers specifically to long-term human-caused warming and not the added effect of natural fluctuations in the climate.
The planet is heating up at between 0.1°C and 0.3°C per decade. At this rate average temperatures will reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2050. Betts notes that the WMO forecast does not change this prediction.
Investors with more than US$4.5 trillion in assets wrote to Brazil’s government demanding a stop to the environmental destruction that has increased since president Jair Bolsonaro took office in January 2019. Last month, fires in Brazil’s Amazon hit a new record.
On 9 July 2020, Brazil’s government arranged a video conference in response to the investors’ letter. During the conference the government said it would put in place a 120-day ban on setting fires in the Amazon.
Reuters quotes Jeanett Bergan, head of responsible investment at Norwegian pension fund KLP, as saying, “We really appreciate the dialogue but we hope it will contribute to concrete results on the ground.”
Some firms are threatening to divest from Brazil if Bolsonaro’s government fails to address deforestation.
In a new briefing on Brazil and the EU, Fern notes Brazil’s deepening economic, political and health crises and asks “when will the European Union (EU) end its complicity in the unfolding catastrophe?”
The EU is Brazil’s second largest trading partner. Much of the trade consists of agricultural goods such as soy and beef, that are driving the destruction of the Amazon and the Cerrado.
In 2019, the EU finalised a Free Trade Agreement with the Mercosur countries. The deal has not yet been signed, and Austria, Walloon and the Netherlands have rejected the deal in its current form. The deal would allow 99,000 tonnes of beef to be imported tariff-free: “sacrificing forests and rights on the altar of trade”, as Fern puts it.
The Trillion Tree Campaing, the Trillion Trees initiative, the Bonn Challenge, 8 billion trees, the African Forest Landscape Initiative. These are just some of the on-going tree planting campaigns.
A recent article in SciDev.net points out vast tree planting drives could post a threat to ancient grasslands. “Vast, empty, plantable spaces mostly do not exist,” the article notes.
And where trees are planted, there are impacts:
A study published earlier this year looked at the consequences, over decades, of tree-planting near rivers. Trees planted on natural grassland where the soil is healthy decrease river flow significantly. And the system does not bounce back: the reduction in river flow lasts for at least half a century, found the scientists from Cambridge University.
Climate News Network reports on six new studies looking at the problems with the tree planting frenzy:
- As land surfaces warm rapidly, would-be foresters might see their investments literally going up in smoke
- Poorly-designed policies could deliver plantations that end up absorbing far less carbon than anyone hoped for, and at a cost to natural wilderness and biodiversity
- In temperate zones, rising temperatures and extended drought could mean that many trees will die
- How effectively newly planted forests absorb atmospheric carbon depends on a suite of factors: among them tree species, the history of the land newly-planted, and the type of soil around the roots
- Because natural forests directly or indirectly support four out of every five species living on land, the loss of tree canopy is already changing the numbers and variety of global wildlife
- And finally, as temperatures go up, the appetite of the most prolific species for atmospheric carbon could dwindle – meaning that forests planted to slow climate change will be increasingly ineffective.
The German newspaper taz recently sent some questions to the UN aviation body, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, following ICAO’s decision to dilute its carbon offsetting scheme down to homeopathic potency.
ICAO’s press office replied that she was “dismayed” that the taz, “continues the same misinformation that we find in other neoliberal media”. She declined to reply because, “the current assessment is that it is pointless to support you”.
“In light of your past false allegations and allegations, we currently consider you to be committed to bad faith and someone who is not legitimately interested in taking an accurate and balanced look at what ICAO was created for.”