CLIMATE TALK RESULTS: People Ready for Climate Action, World Leaders are Not
The United Nations climate talks in Doha, Qatar ended Saturday with key countries agreeing to guidelines on how to track progress toward meeting their commitments and set a path toward a stronger legal agreement in 2015, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
“This year has been filled with devastating wake-up calls that global warming is already impacting us. Failure to act will hurt people and communities in the United States and around the world," said Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director at NRDC.
"With the agreement in Doha, countries can now focus on following through on the commitments they made to reduce emissions at home, build stronger efforts to support action by developing countries and improve the transparency of their actions. Countries have begun rolling up their sleeves to enact new standards and policies that will lay the foundation for even greater carbon pollution reductions. These efforts will be supported by the progress made at the climate negotiations, but real progress will only occur if we win the fights in the capitals, boardrooms and courtrooms of the key countries,” continued Schmidt.
The agreements in Doha, include:
- Outlining the clear path to negotiating even stronger action in 2015 that will include actions by all key countries.
- Finalizing key guidelines on how developed and developing countries will monitor and report their emissions and track progress towards their emissions reduction commitments.
- Reaffirming the need to continue investing in efforts to support developing countries in deploying clean energy, reducing deforestation emissions and supporting the most vulnerable countries in strengthening their resilience to climate change countries.
- Finalizing the second round of targets for a number of developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol.
People are Ready for Action on Climate—“World Leaders” are Not
In a year in which the impacts of climate change pounded people in rich and poor countries alike, negotiators in Doha have failed to deliver even the minimum expectations for the UN climate negotiations, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
But a broad spectrum of civil society organizations have vowed to continue the fight for a global climate agreement in 2015, starting with negotiations next year in Poland.
"Some developed countries have made a mockery of the negotiations by backing away from their past commitments and refusing to take on new ones. And to make matters worse, it was only a handful of countries—such as Poland, Russia, Canada, U.S. and Japan—who held the negotiations to ransom," says Samantha Smith, leader of WWF's Global Climate and Energy Initiative.
"What science tells us and what millions of people experienced this year is that fighting climate change is now extremely urgent. Every year counts, and every year governments do not act increases the risk to us all.
"The acid test for these negotiations was real emissions cuts; real and concrete financial commitments for climate change; and the basis for a new global deal by 2015 that is both ambitious and equitable. But instead we got a shamefully weak deal, one that is so far away from the science that it should raise ethical issues for those responsible."
"But hope is far from gone. The movement gets stronger and more passionate everyday. Communities and people are standing up for clean energy, confronting dirty projects all over the world, such as coal, and demanding that changes be made. Here in Doha, for the first time in history, people marched to demand real leadership to tackle climate change," says Tasneem Essop, head of the WWF delegation to COP 18.
"The most significant development in Doha was what happened outside the plenary rooms," says Essop. "Social movements and civil society joined hands to take a stand against the lack of ambition and urgency in the climate negotiations. We will continue to work to ensure that governments are going to meet the 2015 deadline for a fair, ambitious and binding agreement."
Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
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