Following the announcement in Beijing last week by President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping of a historical agreement between the two countries to cut carbon emissions, Obama moved on to the G20 meeting in Brisbane where he made another climate-positive announcement: he pledged on Friday that the U.S. will contribute $3 billion to the UN's Green Climate Fund. The fund was established to help developing countries address greenhouse gas pollution and climate change.
Obama's announcement opened the door for other nations to step up. It was quickly followed by a pledge of $1.5 billion from Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe. Then last evening, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has dragged his feet about participation, suggested that Canada will get on board as well. The UK's David Cameron is expected to announce a $1 billion pledge later this week.
Harper's announcement comes as a particular surprise since he and Australian prime minister David Abbott jointly dissented from support of the fund when it was announced late last year. G20 meeting host country Australia is rapidly becoming the poster child for resistance to climate change action, and this weekend's conference made it clear that has not changed. Abbott opposed the new pledges, attempting to keep the issue off the meeting's formal agenda and water down the commitment language. The U.S. and other countries overrode that effort. Abbott told the world leaders at the meeting that he is "standing up for coal," while Australia's treasurer Joe Hockey said his country is focused on jobs and growth and he didn't see climate change as a problem.
These pledges should put the fund close to its $10 billion goal, and environmental groups praised the commitments.
“This week has breathed new life into global climate action," said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute. "This pledge signifies that the U.S. is serious about delivering a global climate agreement. These funds provide critical support to vulnerable communities that are unable to withstand the impacts of climate change on their own. Further, these funds can be used to support U.S. companies looking to expand low-carbon opportunities overseas."
“Make no mistake about it, momentum toward significant international action to tackle the climate crisis is quickly building," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. "On the heels of a historic deal with China to cut air pollution and carbon pollution while growing our clean energy economy, President Obama’s pledge to the Green Climate Fund shows that he is taking the lead in creating a path to real progress in Paris. But this commitment will do more than lay the groundwork for a strong international agreement. It will also help developing countries fund critical investments to reduce emissions and protect themselves from the devastating effects of climate disruption, helping stabilize their future while securing our own.”
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They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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