Fiji Unveils Plan to Fight Climate Crisis, Condemns 'Grossly Irresponsible and Selfish' Inaction of World Powers
By Jake Johnson
The island nation of Fiji on Wednesday slammed world powers for their "grossly irresponsible and selfish" failure to act on the planetary emergency and unveiled a bold plan to bring the country's carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.
Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Fiji's economy and climate change minister, said in a speech to parliament Wednesday morning that the fight against the climate crisis is "a fight for our lives and our livelihoods."
"As the impacts of climate change accelerate and attempts are made to weaken global ambitions," said Sayed-Khaiyum, "we must listen more than ever to the scientists, not the climate deniers or those motivated by self-interest or political interests."
Here in the vast Pacific sits our beloved Fiji. Small and increasingly vulnerable as we scan the horizon anxiously year by year for the kind of extreme weather event that three years ago, took the lives of 44 of our loved ones and inflicted damage equal to one-third of our GDP.
That is the grave situation in which we find ourselves through no fault of our own and why this government puts such a strong emphasis on the climate issue.
The Guardian described Fiji's plan as "one of the world's most ambitious legislative programs to tackle the climate crisis."
"The act will include tighter restrictions on the use of plastics, a framework for Fiji to reduce its emissions to net-zero by 2050, the introduction of a carbon credits scheme, and the establishment of procedures for the relocation of communities at risk from the adverse effects of the climate crisis," The Guardian reported.
Sayed-Khaiyum said he hopes the climate legislation will pass parliament with "unanimous support."
"There is no room for cynicism, no room for complacency," Sayed-Khaiyum added. "We cannot afford climate change fatigue to set in Fiji because if anything the outlook is worsening."
The climate plan, which was unveiled ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Tuvalu next week, comes after Fiji joined a group of Pacific island nations in declaring a climate emergency and urging "governments of high emitting countries that are hindering progress in climate change efforts to heed the climate science and urgently change direction for the benefit of all, including the people in their own countries."
Fenton Lutunatabua, regional managing director of 350.org in the Pacific, celebrated the declaration as "visionary."
"The collective futures of Pacific peoples depends on us being able to push back against the fossil fuel industry fueling this climate crisis, and towards equitable and just solutions centered on people," Lutunatabua said. "This is what is at the heart of this important international statement."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
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