Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Tag Archive: Policy

  1. “We are still in” video links: US Climate Action Center side events with Bloomberg and Brown making ‘America’s (non-federal) Pledge,’ Todd Stern on the future of the Paris Accords, and more at COP23 UN climate conference

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    November 16, 2017

    See here for videos of all the presentations at the alternative US Climate Action Center with the slogan “we are still in” (to see the full selection, scroll down the page a little and look to the right of “LIVESTREAM” — click on the small video icon at the top right of the gray livestream rectangle and scroll down for the titles below)

    Some highlights worth watching:

    Whither the Paris Agreement? The Future of the Paris Agreement
    Thursday, November 16th | 12:00- 1:00 | Fiji Dome [NOTE: this gives a great clear overview of the Paris Agreement and actions needed between now and 2020]
    Speakers: Todd Stern, former Special Envoy for Climate Change in the Obama Administration and Sue Biniaz, the former principal legal advisor on the climate negotiations for the United States.
    Hosted by: America’s Pledge

    America’s Pledge Launch Event [see a pdf of America’s Pledge here and press release on the GHG reductions commitment from non-federal US entities of over 2500 cities, states and businesses that equals 1/3 of the US economy and the 3rd largest economy in the world]
    Saturday, November 11th | 10:30 – 12:00 | Fiji Dome
    Speakers: Michael R. Bloomberg; Governor Jerry Brown, California; Bill Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh, PA; Laura Phillips, Senior VP of Sustainability, Walmart
    Hosted by: America’s Pledge

    Maintaining U.S. Engagement in International Climate Finance
    Saturday, November 11th | 12:00 – 13:30 | Fiji Dome
    Speakers: Vice President Al Gore; Senator Jeff Merkley, Oregon; Governor Terry McAuliffe, Virginia; Frank Klipsch, Mayor of Davenport, Iowa and Co-Chair, MRCTI; Dan Zarrilli, Senior Director, Climate Policy and Programs, City of New York; Valerie Smith, Director and Global Head, Corporate Sustainability, Citi; Kevin Rabinovitch, Global VP of Sustainability and Chief Climate Officer, Mars, Inc.
    Hosted by: Center for American Progress; World Resources Institute; CDP; Mississippi River Cities &Towns Initiative (MRCTI)

    California’s Climate Regulatory Program: Recent Progress Informs Opportunities and Challenges
    Thursday, November 9th | 15:00 – 16:00 | Fiji Dome
    Speakers:
    The Honorable Ricardo Lara, California State Senate; Jonathan Parfrey, Executive Director, Climate Resolve; Ellie Cohen, CEO, Point Blue Conservation Science (see my presentation here: COHEN Healthy Lands to Secure our Future– CA & Climate Policy, US Clim Action Center Nov 9 2017); Nicolas Muller, UNFCCC
    Moderator: Louis Blumberg, Director, California Climate Change Program, The Nature Conservancy
    Hosted by: The Nature Conservancy

  2. Bad news: Global emissions rising again

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    • In 2017, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry are projected to grow by 2% (0.8% to 3%). This follows three years of nearly no growth (2014-2016). (GDP to rise 3.6% according to IMF figures).
    • Global CO2 emissions from all human activities are set to reach 41 billion tonnes (41 Gt CO2) by the end of 2017. Meanwhile emissions from fossil fuels are set to reach 37 Gt CO2 — a record high.
    • Atmospheric CO2 concentration reached 403 parts per million in 2016, and is expected to increase by 2.5 ppm in 2017.
    • [and some good news] CO2 emissions decreased in the presence of growing economic activity in 22 countries representing 20 per cent of global emissions; Renewable energy has increased rapidly at 14% per year over the last five years — albeit from a very low base.

    November 13, 2017 University of East Anglia read full ScienceDaily article here

    Global carbon emissions are on the rise again in 2017 after three years of little to no growth. Global emissions from all human activities will reach 41 billion tons in 2017, following a projected 2 percent rise in burning fossil fuels. It was hoped that emissions might soon reach their peak after three stable years, so this is an unwelcome message for policy makers and delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn this week.

    The research, published today simultaneously in the journals Nature Climate Change, Earth System Science Data Discussions and Environmental Research Letters, reveals that global emissions from all human activities will reach 41 billion tonnes in 2017, following a projected 2% rise in burning fossil fuels.

    The figures point to China as the main cause of the renewed growth in fossil emissions — with a projected growth of 3.5%.

    CO2 emissions are expected to decline by 0.4% in the US and 0.2% in the EU, smaller declines than during the previous decade.

    Increases in coal use in China and the US are expected this year, reversing their decreases since 2013….

    ….[some good news] CO2 emissions decreased in the presence of growing economic activity in 22 countries representing 20 per cent of global emissions….

    Glen P. Peters et al. Towards real-time verification of CO2 emissions. Nature Climate Change, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/s41558-017-0013-9

  3. From Miami to Shanghai: 3C of warming will leave world cities below sea level

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    • An elevated level of climate change would lock in irreversible sea-level rises affecting hundreds of millions of people, Guardian data analysis shows
    • local preparations for a 3C world are as patchy as international efforts to prevent it from happening. At six of the coastal regions most likely to be affected, government planners are only slowly coming to grips with the enormity of the task ahead – and in some cases have done nothing.
    • UN Environment Program said that the international body said government commitments were only a third of what was needed.

    Hundreds of millions of urban dwellers around the world face their cities being inundated by rising seawaters if latest UN warnings that the world is on course for 3C of global warming come true, according to a Guardian data analysis.

    Famous beaches, commercial districts and swaths of farmland will be threatened at this elevated level of climate change, which the UN warned this week is a very real prospect unless nations reduce their carbon emissions.

    Data from the Climate Central group of scientists analysed by Guardian journalists shows that 3C of global warming would ultimately lock in irreversible sea-level rises of perhaps two metres. Cities from Shanghai to Alexandria, and Rio to Osaka are among the worst affected. Miami would be inundated – as would the entire bottom third of the US state of Florida.

    The Guardian has found, however, that local preparations for a 3C world are as patchy as international efforts to prevent it from happening. At six of the coastal regions most likely to be affected, government planners are only slowly coming to grips with the enormity of the task ahead – and in some cases have done nothing.

    This comes ahead of the latest round of climate talks in Bonn next week, when negotiators will work on ways to monitor, fund and ratchet up national commitments to cut CO2 so that temperatures can rise on a safer path of between 1.5 and 2C, which is the goal of the Paris agreement reached in 2015.

    The momentum for change is currently too slow, according to the UN Environment Programme. In its annual emissions gap report, released on Tuesday, the international body said government commitments were only a third of what was needed. Non-state actors such as cities, companies and citizens can only partly fill this void, which leaves warming on course to rise to 3C or beyond by the end of this century, the report said….

  4. Finally, a focus on saving the great forests of the Sierra. But is it too late? SacBee Editorial

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    • “There is an urgent need to reform policy and management to ensure that Californians continue to benefit from these forests for generations to come,” a new Public Policy Institute of California report says
    • Reducing forest density could have the side benefit of increasing run-off by as much as 9 percent, filling streams and rivers for the good of fisheries and for residential, agriculture and industrial use, the PPIC report says.

    Sacramento Bee Editorial  September 21, 2017 read full SacBee editorial here

    We Californians take for granted the great forests of the Sierra Nevada. It is where we ski and hike, and breathe fresh air, and it’s the primary source of our water.

    It’s all at risk. Drought and bark beetle infestation are the proximate cause of death of more than 100 million trees in California since 2010. But the forests were weakened by climate change, combined with mismanagement that includes well-intentioned wildfire prevention efforts and logging in past decades of old-growth trees, which are most resistant to fire and disease.

    [Governor] Brown and the Legislature approved another $225 million in cap-and-trade revenue, reserved for the fight against climate change, for forests. That underscored one of California’s inconvenient truths. Like refineries, diesel engines and cars powered by internal combustion, burning and decaying forests spew greenhouse gases.

    In April, the Governor’s Tree Mortality Task Force reported that the 2013 Rim Fire at Yosemite emitted 12.06 million tons of carbon dioxide, three times more than all the greenhouse gas reductions achieved that year in all other sectors in California. Worse, the detritus decomposing in the burn area will unleash four times that amount of greenhouse gas in coming decades.

    In much of the 15 million acres of mountains from Kern to Siskiyou counties, forests are choking with 400 sickly trees per acre, four times the number in healthy forests. Tools to heal the forests are at hand, but forest management is fraught.

    …Some environmentalists oppose logging, while some conservative politicians advocate unraveling environmental restrictions to allow for far more logging. Neither extreme is helpful. Flexibility is needed. The Clean Air Act could, for example, allow for the use of prescribed fires.

    …Reducing forest density could have the side benefit of increasing run-off by as much as 9 percent, filling streams and rivers for the good of fisheries and for residential, agriculture and industrial use, the PPIC report says.

    The report says the cost of wise forest management might not be astronomical. In time, it might pay for itself, assuming mills are retooled or built to accommodate smaller and mid-size timber. Such mills could provide jobs in parts of the state where unemployment is chronically high.

    …Our re-engineered state of 40 million people faces many problems. The water delivery system is oversubscribed and antiquated. Billions of dollars should be spent to reinforce California against floods.

    But there is cause for optimism. Laird last month announced the Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative with other top officials, and some significant environmental groups are joining longtime advocates to focus on Sierra restoration. There is some support in Congress for wiser forest management.

    And now comes an infusion of state money, not to be taken for granted, and none too soon.

  5. A better farm future starts with the soil; Opinion on the next Farm Bill

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    • With extreme weather events on the rise and farmers and foresters feeling the effects of a changing climate, however, soil health is now at the forefront of our national conversation.
    • Within the next year, the new 5 year Farm Bill will be reauthorized with implications for every aspect of food and agriculture in the US
    • the next farm bill should ensure an ongoing and growing focus on improving soil health and should make sure that USDA has the authority and funding it needs to measure and report on program outcomes…

    Within the next year Congress will reauthorize the massive amalgamation of legislation we commonly refer to as “the farm bill.” The farm bill, which is reauthorized every five years, has major implications for every part of our food and farm system and covers issues including but certainly not limited to: conservation, nutrition, local food, credit and finance, research and commodity subsidies.

    Although healthy soil is one of the essential building blocks of agriculture, historically the issue has not been a major focus of the farm bill – as some farmers would say, soil has been treated like dirt. With extreme weather events on the rise and farmers and foresters feeling the effects of a changing climate, however, soil health is now at the forefront of our national conversation.

    ….As our most significant package of food and farm legislation approaches expiration on September 30, 2018, many are asking: How can the farm bill support resilient farms, address natural resource concerns and increase productivity? A key part of the answer: promote soil health.….The next farm bill should enhance the long-term funding base for both working lands programs and ensure an ongoing and growing focus on improving soil health. In addition, the farm bill should make sure that USDA has the authority and funding it needs to measure and report on program outcomes….

    ….The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is one of the only USDA research programs with a clear and consistent focus on farmer-driven research. SARE is the leader in cutting-edge on-farm research to develop and test soil enhancement methods, such as regionally specific cover cropping or grazing management systems. The next farm bill should reauthorize and secure direct farm bill funding for SARE to ensure the program’s continued success.

    ….The farm bill must also underscore the connection between healthy soils and reduced risks for farmers, and ensure that federal crop insurance programs reward producers for advanced conservation activities and provide the appropriate incentives for those who are not currently engaged.

    Collectively, reforms to conservation, research and the farm safety net present an enormous opportunity to improve the health of our soils. …

    Alyssa Charney is a policy specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and staffs the Coalition’s Conservation, Energy, and Environment Committee.

  6. Cartoons- Sept. 15, 2017

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    Note: These cartoons are opinions of the artists and do not necessarily reflect the views of Point Blue Conservation Science or its staff.

    http://www.gocomics.com/mattdavies/2017/09/12

    http://www.gocomics.com/claybennett/2017/09/01

     

    http://www.gocomics.com/mikeluckovich/2017/09/07

     

    Signe Wilkinson 09/13/17

    http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/signe/20170913_Daily_Signe_Cartoon_09_13_17.html

     

     

     : California cartoons : Meyer Cartoons

    http://www.meyertoons.com/gallery.html?gallery=California%20cartoons&folio=Cartoons

  7. Deforestation has double the effect on global warming than previously thought

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    • Even if all fossil fuel emissions are eradicated, if current rates of deforestation in the tropics continue through to 2100 then there will still be a 1.5 degree Celsius increase in global temperature
    • While carbon dioxide emissions from energy use must be the primary target of climate change mitigation efforts, land use and land cover change (LULCC) also represent an important source of climate forcing.
    • Tackling deforestation should be higher on the climate change agenda.

    By

    In the fight against climate change, much of the focus rests on reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and developing alternative energy sources. However, the results of a new study suggest that far more attention should be paid to deforestation and how the land is used subsequently – the effects of which make a bigger contribution to climate change than previously thought.

    The research, conducted by Cornell University and published in the journal Environmental Research Letters,shows just how much this impact has been underestimated. Even if all fossil fuel emissions are eradicated, if current rates of deforestation in the tropics continue through to 2100 then there will still be a 1.5 degree Celsius increase in global temperature….

    Natalie M Mahowald et al. Are the impacts of land use on warming underestimated in climate policy? Environmental Research Letters. August 2017. DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa836d

    Abstract: While carbon dioxide emissions from energy use must be the primary target of climate change mitigation efforts, land use and land cover change (LULCC) also represent an important source of climate forcing. In this study we compute time series of global surface temperature change separately for LULCC and non-LULCC sources (primarily fossil fuel burning), and show that because of the extra warming associated with the co-emission of methane and nitrous oxide with LULCC carbon dioxide emissions, and a co-emission of cooling aerosols with non-LULCC emissions of carbon dioxide, the linear relationship between cumulative carbon dioxide emissions and temperature has a two-fold higher slope for LULCC than for non-LULCC activities. Moreover, projections used in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the rate of tropical land conversion in the future are relatively low compared to contemporary observations, suggesting that the future projections of land conversion used in the IPCC may underestimate potential impacts of LULCC. By including a “business as usual” future LULCC scenario for tropical deforestation, we find that even if all non-LULCC emissions are switched off in 2015, it is likely that 1.5°C of warming relative to the preindustrial era will occur by 2100. Thus, policies to reduce LULCC emissions must remain a high priority if we are to achieve the low to medium temperature change targets proposed as a part of the Paris Agreement. Future studies using integrated assessment models and other climate simulations should include more realistic deforestation rates and the integration of policy that would reduce LULCC emissions.

  8. Worldwide 100% renewable energy needed and possible by 2050, per new publication

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    • A detailed roadmap for 139 countries outlines a path to a future powered entirely by wind, water and solar energy.

    • Such a transition could mean less worldwide energy consumption due to the efficiency of clean, renewable electricity; a net increase of over 24 million long-term jobs; an annual decrease in 4-7 million air pollution deaths per year; stabilization of energy prices; and annual savings of over $20 trillion in health and climate costs

    August 24, 2017  read full Cosmos article here and ScienceDaily article here

    Everybody wants to change the world. Few of us publish research detailing exactly how to do it.

    Stanford’s Mark Z. Jacobson, who led a 2015 effort to create a state-by-state plan for a US transition to 100% renewable energy, has published similar research on a much larger scale, examining scenarios in which 139 countries could be powered purely by wind, water and solar (WWS) by the year 2050.

    In scope and scale, the paper – published in the new energy journal Joule – is a significant expansion on Jacobson’s prior work. It isn’t limited to each country’s electricity sector – it examines the electrification and decarbonisation of transportation, heating, cooling, industry, agriculture, forestry and fishing. The authors chose the 139 countries, which between them cover 99% of the world’s carbon emissions, because the necessary energy data about them were available through the International Energy Agency (IEA).

    The latest roadmap to a 100% renewable energy future from Stanford’s Mark Z. Jacobson and 26 colleagues is the most specific global vision yet, outlining infrastructure changes that 139 countries can make to be entirely powered by wind, water, and sunlight by 2050 after electrification of all energy sectors. Such a transition could mean less worldwide energy consumption due to the efficiency of clean, renewable electricity; a net increase of over 24 million long-term jobs; an annual decrease in 4-7 million air pollution deaths per year; stabilization of energy prices; and annual savings of over $20 trillion in health and climate costs….

    ….“Both individuals and governments can lead this change. Policymakers don’t usually want to commit to doing something unless there is some reasonable science that can show it is possible, and that is what we are trying to do,” says Jacobson. “We are not saying that there is only one way we can do this, but having a scenario gives people direction.”

    His ideal policy outcome would see “governments in many countries of the world commit to 100% clean, renewable energy in all sectors by 2050 with 80% by 2030”.

    “To avoid 1.5 C global warming, we need 80% reduction of everything by 2030 and 100% by 2050. We think a faster acceleration is possible at reasonable to low cost.”

    ….Jacobson’s paper is designed to serve as a vision for future, but even Finkel’s proposal [a recent review authored by Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel] for a far less ambitious emissions reduction target has not been adopted several months after it was proposed….

  9. Measuring global biodiversity change: Essential Biodiversity Variables

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    • Essential Biodiversity Variables constructed from various sources of data and are the underlying variables to assess changes in biodiversity through time can be produced to measure biodiversity change at a global scale.
    • EBVs can be used to measure progress toward key global policies to protect the world from further loss of biodiversity, support sustainable use of natural resources and enhance benefits from these.
    • harmonization of data collection and technical data management as well as legal complications and constraints are key bottlenecks

    August 17, 2017 read full ScienceDaily article here

    EBVs are constructed from various sources of data and are the underlying variables to assess changes in biodiversity through time. They can be used to measure the achievement of targets like the Aichi targets set by the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD) or the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) identified by the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to protect the world from further loss of biodiversity, support sustainable use of natural resources and enhance benefits from these…

    The publication is an outcome of the first two workshops organized by the EU-funded Horizon 2020 project GLOBIS-B: GLOBal Infrastructures for Supporting Biodiversity research

    Measurements of changes in species distribution and abundance underpin policy indicators to quantify population trends and extinction risk for threat categorization, assessments of geographic range dynamics, spread of invasive species, and biodiversity responses to climate change and habitat conversion. The discussions during the two workshops showed that the harmonization of data collection and technical data management as well as legal complications and constraints are key bottlenecks for building global EBV data products on species distribution and abundance….

    W. Daniel Kissling et al. Building essential biodiversity variables (EBVs) of species distribution and abundance at a global scale. Biological Reviews, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/brv.12359

  10. Trading Sustainably: local groundwater markets in CA under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)

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    Berkeley Law’s Center for Law, Energy and Environment June 2017

    California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act [SGMA] opens the door for local groundwater markets but does not provide guidance about when they’d be appropriate as management tools. This report outlines considerations to help evaluate local groundwater markets as a viable tool that contributes to sustainably managing a particular groundwater basin.

    [In SGMA, sustainable yield is defined as the amount of groundwater that can be withdrawn annually without chronically lowering groundwater levels, causing seawater intrusion, degrading water quality, causing land subsidence or depleting interconnected surface water (for example, creeks, streams and rivers) in a manner that causes significant and adverse impacts.]

    Download the Executive Summary:

    Trading Sustainably – Executive Summary (June 2017)

    Download the Report:

    Trading Sustainably: Critical Considerations for Local Groundwater Markets Under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (June 2017)

    Copyright 2017 Nell Green Nylen