7 Ways the Outcome of Paris Climate Talks Will Impact Your Day-to-Day Life
You might be thinking that the UN Paris climate talks, going on now through Dec. 11 will have little bearing on your day-to-day life, but these global climate negotiations are different. The outcome of this conference—what many believe is our last best hope of achieving the binding international agreement we urgently need—will impact you personally, along with billions of people around the world.
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1. This is kind of the last chance we have to take concerted global action. We will only succeed in addressing the climate crisis by unifying governments, businesses and citizens to act together.
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, we have been burning fossil fuels and deforesting wide swaths of land to fuel human development. Climate cycles respond very slowly to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the oceans and atmosphere—so the effects we feel today are the result of actions taken decades ago. Even in a hypothetical scenario in which we stop deforesting and no one, anywhere, uses fossil fuels ever again, climate cycles will continue to change for decades. But if global leaders at the UN Paris Climate Talks do not reach an agreement that curbs fossil fuel use in a significant way, the concentration of pollutants and gases will increase the speed of climate change and make the effects of climate change much more violent.
2. Climate Instability = Increased Food Insecurity and Violence.
For farmers all over the world, being able to rely on regular weather patterns is crucial. When these patterns change unpredictably, entire crops can be lost. Climate change is already impacting crop yields around the world, especially wheat and coffee.
Beyond unpredictable rains, climate change means generally warmer temperatures, more heat waves and increased risk of droughts, floods and mega-natural disasters—all of which compromise food security and can lead to displaced populations, climate refugees and increased violence. In fact, extended drought is a major contributing factor to the conflict in Syria. Experts predict that persistently low crop yields for staples such as wheat or rice in developing countries could lead to mass migrations and violent conflicts. A successful climate agreement in Paris is important to a stable food supply and therefore to global security.
3. The Deforestation Double-Whammy
The Rainforest Alliance works in everything from agriculture to tourism to carbon—but everything always comes back to forests. Protecting forests is at the root of our mission and has been for more than 25 years.
That’s because forests play a crucial role as water and air purifiers, filtering out pollution and sequestering greenhouse gases. They also halt erosion and provide economic opportunities to the communities that live in the forest. And studies show that forests help regulate climate all over the world—so the Amazon rainforest helps control rainfall as far away as California.
When forests are chopped down, the negative effects are twofold. We lose the valuable carbon dioxide-to-oxygen respiration from the trees, while also releasing tons of carbon dioxide that had been stored in the forests. At the UN Paris Climate Talks, the Rainforest Alliance and other like-minded organizations will discuss the importance of land use and how we can keep forests standing to help mitigate climate change.
4. Acidic Oceans
You may have heard the phrase “ocean acidification” bandied about, but what does it actually mean?
Put simply, the ocean is growing more and more acidic as we continue to burn fossil fuels. The carbon dioxide released by burning these fossil fuels is absorbed into the ocean, where it dissolves into the water and begins to change ocean chemistry.
In more acidic ocean waters, hard-shelled marine organisms like oysters, crabs, snails and teeny tiny zooplankton will have difficulty creating and maintaining their hard shells. The higher pH of the ocean water causes these hard shells to disintegrate, rippling up the food chain and ultimately effecting the larger predatory fish that we eat. When about 12 percent of the world’s population depends on fisheries and aquaculture, that’s a big deal—and you can forget about sushi.
5. Coffee and Coffee Farmers
Climate change will affect everyone, everywhere, to some degree, but tropical areas will be hit especially hard. This is bad news for those of us who enjoy food and other commodities that come from the tropics, such as coffee, bananas and cocoa (in other words, everyone).
Farmers in tropical zones are already experiencing those unpredictable weather patterns we mentioned earlier. Warmer, wetter summers have prompted an outbreak of coffee rust, a parasitic fungus that causes entire coffee crops to wither and die. And coffee can only grow within a very specific temperature range—the warmer it gets, the less likely farmers will be able to harvest enough coffee to support themselves and their families. For many coffee farmers whose sole income comes from coffee, the changing climate has already devastated their livelihoods.
Sustainable farming methods can help and an international agreement in Paris could make all the difference in driving agricultural transformation at the scale needed to help farming communities in tropical latitudes.
6. Women, Children and Indigenous Communities First
Developing nations feel the effects of climate change the most. The people who live in this less-developed areas do not have access to the infrastructure or services that offer support in the face of natural disasters, such as drought or intense storms. Rather unfairly, these people live mostly low-emission lives, yet will experience the most intense effects of climate change. Women, children and indigenous communities are especially vulnerable. Gender inequality in parts of the world mean women and their children experience a greater hurdle to climate adaptation. And indigenous communities suffer the loss of natural resources and weather patterns that are foundational to their way of life, leading to lost economic opportunities.
As a part of its Sustainable Development Goals, the UN plans to eradicate extreme poverty, establish gender equality and improve public health in developing nations. Climate stability plays a huge role in reducing poverty and improving health. An agreement at the Paris Climate Talks would be a step toward achieving even bigger social goals.
7. There’s No Plan[et] B
We’re in this predicament because our predecessors burned fossil fuels and deforested huge areas of land. It’s hard to blame them—for the most part, they didn’t know any better. But we do. It would be tremendously shortsighted for delegates at the UN Paris climate talks to fail to reach an agreement. To do so would amount to a global shrug: “They can deal with it later.” Unfortunately, climate change is not an issue that can be dealt with later—delaying action could only intensify the changes we’re already feeling.
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theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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