09 September 2021 - NPWJ News Digest on Environmental Justice & Human Rights

Articles

Climate change: Fossil fuels must stay underground, scientists say
BBC, 09 Sep 2021

Scientists say that limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5C should help the world avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change. Globally, the researchers calculated, production of fossil fuels needed to have peaked in 2020 and be on a steady decline of 3% every year until 2050. "Through the Covid pandemic, we have seen a large decline in production - but that is bouncing back," UCL associate professor of energy systems Dr Steve Pye told BBC News.

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Earth’s tipping points could be closer than we think. Our current plans won’t work
The Guardian, 09 Sep 2021

If there’s one thing we know about climate breakdown, it’s that it will not be linear, smooth or gradual. Just as one continental plate might push beneath another in sudden fits and starts, causing periodic earthquakes and tsunamis, our atmospheric systems will absorb the stress for a while, then suddenly shift. Yet, everywhere, the programmes designed to avert it are linear, smooth and gradual.
Current plans to avoid catastrophe would work in a simple system like a washbasin, in which you can close the tap until the inflow is less than the outflow. But they are less likely to work in complex systems, such as the atmosphere, oceans and biosphere. Complex systems seek equilibrium. When they are pushed too far out of one equilibrium state, they can flip suddenly into another. A common property of complex systems is that it’s much easier to push them past a tipping point than to push them back. Once a transition has happened, it cannot realistically be reversed.

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Climate change panel discusses recent IPCC report
The Observer, 09 Sep 2021

A panel of scholars convened over Zoom Wednesday to speak about the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the severity of climate change and how humanity can adapt to a reality of extreme weather. The scholars called for a change in behavior for the future while humans still have the chance to prevent potential extreme effects on the climate. Since its inception in 1988, the IPCC, an intergovernmental body under the United Nations, has published five reports with an upcoming report expected to be published in 2022. A contribution to this sixth report was published in August and was the topic of the panel’s discussion. 

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Climate change and construction spell disaster for the Himalayas
DW, 09 Sep 2021

At first, no one noticed the water lapping angrily at the riverbank. Reena Bhalekar's family slept soundly as the early morning rain drummed on the tarpaulin of their shelter. "The water was rising slowly," the 26-year old remembers. "My sister wasn't even aware that the water had come into her home." Then, from somewhere nearby, a piercing scream shattered the silence. Rushing outside, Reena discovered the river had risen dramatically overnight and now reached their slum in Chetru, a tiny village on the outskirts of Dharamshala in the Indian Himalayas. Settlements further down the hill were already a foot deep in water. With the road leading out of the settlement submerged, the family abandoned their belongings and scrambled up the densely forested hill to safety.

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Want to act on climate change but not sure how? Tweaking these 3 parts of your life will make the biggest difference
The Conversation, 07 Sep 2021

Last month’s dire report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change may have left you feeling overwhelmed, or unsure what to do next. We often hear about ways everyday people can tackle climate change, but which acts will make the biggest difference? The academic literature tells us three spheres of our lives contribute most to climate change: home energy use, transport, and food consumption. Together, these activities comprise about 85% of a household’s carbon footprint.

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Landmark pact to protect Amazon rainforest shows little progress
Al Jazeera, 06 Sep 2021

When the presidents of South America’s Amazonian nations met in Colombia’s jungle town of Leticia two years ago, to discuss how to better protect the world’s largest rainforest, they signed a landmark deal that raised hopes deforestation would decline. The Leticia Pact aimed to drive sustainable forest use and reforestation, restore degraded land, improve information sharing and the use of satellite data to monitor deforestation and wildfires, and empower women and Indigenous groups.

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Indigenous leaders push new target to curb Amazon deforestation
Al Jazeera, 05 Sep 2021

Indigenous groups are urging world leaders to back a new target to protect 80 percent of the Amazon basin by 2025, saying bold action is needed to stop deforestation pushing the Earth’s largest rainforest beyond a point of no return. Amazonian delegates launched their campaign on Sunday at a nine-day conference in Marseille, France, where several thousand officials, scientists and campaigners are laying the groundwork for United Nations talks on biodiversity in the Chinese city of Kunming next year.

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Then and now: Why deforestation is such a hot topic
BBC, 04 Sep 2021

If there was a poster-child of environmental degradation, surely it is deforestation. The removal of trees - for example, through logging or fires - has, for many decades, been listed as one of the main factors behind nature loss and environmental harm. In recent years, the loss of tree cover around the world has also been firmly linked to the increasingly volatile changes to the climate. Plants and trees absorb up to a third of our CO2 emissions from the atmosphere each year. Yet, as we fell vast swathes of primary forests around the globe, we are reducing our planet's ability to lock away, or sequester, the harmful gas that is released from burning fossil fuels. According to the UN, an estimated 420 million hectares (one billion acres) of forest have been lost through conversion to other land uses since 1990 - that is an area roughly equivalent to the size of Libya.

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