Some of the nations most vulnerable to the climate crisis are calling for an "emergency pact" to limit global temperature rise.
The Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), which represents around 1.2 billion people from countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific, released a manifesto Tuesday ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) scheduled to take place in Glasgow this November, as BBC News reported.
"Weeks ahead of COP26, major polluters have still failed to align their Paris Agreement NDC national emission commitments with all available efforts to limit warming to 1.5ºC which requires large-scale pre-2030 action, while adaptation is under-supported, leaving vulnerable nations at the brink of survival and people all over the planet deep in harms' way," the manifesto said. "Glasgow must deliver – it may be the last chance for humanity to avert climate catastrophe."
@TheCVF countries release their manifesto for COP26. Calls for the talks to proceed without delay; for adaptation f… https://t.co/68T9QflkVX— Climate Vulnerable Forum (@Climate Vulnerable Forum) 1631014946.0
The group, which represents 45 of the "world's most climate threatened nations," called for maintaining the goal of limiting temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The bloc had previously been instrumental in enshrining that lower target in the language of the Paris agreement, BBC noted.
Now, they want the Glasgow summit to approve a "Climate Emergency Pact" with two main components:
- A plan for delivering $100 billion a year in climate finance to developing countries from 2020 to 2024, to be split between adaptation and mitigation.
- A commitment from countries to update their climate plans every year between now and 2025, as opposed to the every five years required by the Paris agreement.
The manifesto came the same day as a coalition of 1,500 environmental organizations called for COP26 to be delayed, citing concerns that delegates from poorer countries would have less access to coronavirus vaccines and face greater travel expenses, as POLITICO reported.
"Our concern is that those countries most deeply affected by the climate crisis and those countries suffering from the lack of support by rich nations in providing vaccines will be left out of the talks," Climate Action Network Executive Director Tasneem Essop told Reuters.
However, the CVF manifesto did not agree with this demand.
"COP26 must happen in-person in October-November 2021 with robust COVID-19 measures, and vulnerable developing countries need special support, facilitated access and hybrid modalities to ensure inclusive participation," the group wrote in its manifesto. "This is the most important meeting for the future of the planet and it cannot wait."
CVF Ambassador Mohamed Nasheed, who is also the speaker of the Maldives parliament, told POLITICO he was frustrated with the green groups' call to cancel talks on behalf of poorer nations.
"Even in the face of death, we must meet. The alternative is the death of the planet," he said. "It's all very well for middle-class Europeans to say that... but we need a result. For us not having a result... is far, far more worse than anything else. So we need this to happen."
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The athlete, who is a life-long environmentalist, has partnered with financial technology innovator Ando to fight and reverse climate change through sustainable banking. And, he's inviting you, me and everyone who will listen to join him in investing in our collective future.
According to Honnold, the majority of big banks have been bankrolling the polluting fossil fuel industries for decades. In an Oct. 2020 piece penned for Outside magazine, Honnold explained, "When you put your money in a bank it doesn't just sit there — the bank loans up to 90% of its capital to other projects... Six of the top ten institutions supporting increased fossil fuel extraction are U.S.-based."
This has resulted in trillions of bank client dollars being pumped into planet-damaging fossil fuel industries with zero control in the hands of the individuals whose money it actually was, Ando said in an announcement of their partnership with Honnold. The amount tops $3.8 trillion of banking clients' money being invested in fossil fuels in just the five years since the Paris agreement, an Ando representative told EcoWatch.
"It's ironic that most people's money winds up being used for all kinds of projects that they personally would never support," Honnold wrote in Outside. "An individual can go vegan, compost, and turn their thermostat down only to find that the money in their savings account is funding a pipeline or fracking."
In the piece, the legend also drew parallels between his "impossible-dream-turned-real" ascent of El Cap and the global fight against climate change. He called the latter the "apex issue facing our generation — an issue that feels too big and too complex to act on" just as his climb had felt before he conquered it.
Honnold noted that the climate crisis is "all-encompassing" and "urgent" because it will impact almost every other environmental issue. Most scientists agree that as a global community we only have until 2030 to make meaningful changes before the worst effects of warming are permanently baked into our future, he wrote.
Now, through this partnership, Honnold and Ando are inviting people to make one of the most meaningful and powerful changes they can: switching to a sustainable bank like Ando. This will ensure that their money is used as a force of environmental good instead of financing additional fossil fuel extraction.
Ando is a "radically transparent banking service" with a mission to end the banking industry's financing of fossil fuels, the Ando representative said. All customer money run through Ando — including Honnold's and anyone he convinces to create an account — is exclusively invested in carbon-reducing projects striving to reverse the devastating impacts of the climate crisis.
"That's what's so exciting about Ando — we invest 100% of deposits into green initiatives like renewable energy and sustainable agriculture. Finally, you're in control, able to bank with a company that shares your values and uses your money to help heal the planet," the partnership announcement added.
As a fully transparent bank, Ando allows clients to choose how their money can impact the planet. Ando
As it turns out, swapping to a sustainable bank like Ando allows an individual to have up to 27 times the impact of other environmental actions like going vegan, taking shorter showers, or installing solar panels on their roof, an unrelated study by Nordea Group Sustainable Finance found.
Honnold and Ando hope to mobilize the former's enthusiastic fan base towards their shared mission. Honnold wrote, "The simplest way to reduce energy extraction from the Arctic, tar sands, and via fracking and coal is to decrease the funding to these dirty technologies. Being deliberate and choosing a sustainable bank is key."
The environmentalist and athlete concluded, "After all, your bank is using your money to impact the world, one way or another."
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From bamboo utensils to bamboo toothbrushes, household products made from bamboo are becoming more popular every year. If you have allergies, neck pain or wake up constantly to flip your pillow to the cold side, bamboo pillows have the potential to help you sleep peacefully through the night.
In this article, we'll explain the benefits of bamboo pillows and how they can help you on your journey to better sleep. We'll also recommend a few of the best pillows on the market so you can choose new bedding that's right for you.
Our Picks for the Top Bamboo Pillows
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. Learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.
- Best Overall: Sleepsia Bamboo Memory Foam Pillow
- Best Luxury Pillow: Cosy House Collection Luxury Bamboo Pillow
- Best Body Pillow: Snuggle-Pedic Full Body Pillow
- Best Bamboo Alternative: Avocado Green Pillow
Why Switch to Bamboo Pillows?
Bamboo may be thought of as a tree-like structure because of its resilience, but it's actually classified as grass, which can be spun and woven in a soft, spongy material much like cotton. The pillows are made with a bamboo-based outer sleeve and stuffed with foam pieces in order to mold to your head position. Bamboo is considered naturally hypoallergenic and doesn't attract pests, bacterias or other fungi like most other plants.
Bedding materials such as cotton and silk don't have the concise cellulose structure that bamboo does. The material's cell structure allows more oxygen circulation, which keeps it lightweight and breathable so your pillow stays cooler longer.
Other than the sleeping benefits of the pillows, bamboo is considered an extremely sustainable material through production. The adaptable plant works as a great renewable resource, as it can thrive in any soil type and it is considered one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. As the bamboo is grown, it produces more oxygen than its calculated carbon emissions. And the cultivation of bamboo doesn't require fertilizer or pesticides, so ecosystems around the bamboo farms can be left unharmed.
Although bamboo itself is a completely natural and sustainable material, it has to undergo a strong chemical process in order to become a textile. Bamboo viscose, which is a type of rayon, is controversial among environmentalists because of this process, but overall, bamboo derivatives still produce lower carbon emissions than traditional polyester bedding. New bamboo textile processes are also being developed to be much more eco-friendly.
Full Reviews of Our Top Picks
When choosing our top recommended bamboo pillows, we looked at factors including:
- Comfort: Quality comes first when choosing bedding. The bamboo pillows chosen contain soft and snug adjustable filling to adapt to your preferred firmness.
- Materials: Most traditional pillows are stuffed with synthetic foam that contains VOCs, also known as volatile organic compounds. We ensure both the bamboo fabric and foam used in our picks are toxin-free.
- Cost: Bamboo pillows are usually a little more expensive than regular polyester or feather pillows because of their superior comfort and eco-friendly properties. It's important that the product you spend your money on is worth the cost and will hold up long-term.
- Customer reviews: We look at real and verified reviews in order to make sure each product is genuinely beneficial to customers' sleep.
Best Overall: Sleepsia Bamboo Memory Foam Pillow
The Sleepsia Bamboo Memory Foam Pillow is our pick for the overall best bamboo pillow because it offers just the right amount of support for side sleepers, stomach sleepers and back sleepers. Unlike most memory foam pillows, which use a large compact memory foam base, the shredded memory foam in these sleeper pillows allows you to easily add or remove the filling to meet your optimal comfortability. This memory foam pillow can support your neck, shoulders and upper back muscles without putting stress on your spine.
The bamboo cover as well as the memory foam allow for better air circulation to keep you from feeling too warm. These bamboo pillowcases are antibacterial as well as machine washable, so you can always have a clean sleep. The sizes range from standard to king-size pillows and are sold in a compact box that can easily be reused or recycled after purchasing.
Customer Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars with over 6,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Sleepsia's memory foam pillow uses CertiPUR-US® certified safe foam to ensure low emissions and prohibits the use of harmful components.
Best Luxury Pillow: Cosy House Collection Luxury Bamboo Pillow
Cosy House's king- and queen-size pillows are made with high-quality, bamboo-derived rayon fabric. The premium bamboo fibers increase airflow and temperature control so you won't have to flip to the cool side of your pillow through the night. If the pillows get dirty or flat over time, simply throw them in the washer and dryer to make them feel brand new again.
These bamboo pillows have a middle layer of transitional foam for extra durability as well as a safe, non-toxic filling to ensure you can sleep comfortably. If you're not satisfied with the luxurious product, Cosy House offers a satisfaction guarantee and will answer any questions or concerns in a timely manner.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 2,300 Amazon ratings.
Why Buy: Cosy House products are Amazon's Choice for luxury bamboo pillows and are CertiPUR-US certified. They contain premium materials to ensure you get the best possible sleep.
Best Body Pillow: Snuggle-Pedic Full Body Pillow
If you have back pain and neck pain, the Snuggle-Pedic Full Body Pillow will be able to support your full body to relieve tension while sleeping. The 4.5-foot-long pillow works great as a pregnancy pillow or for anyone seeking premium comfort and support.
The Snuggle-Pedic was developed by chiropractors who wanted to help restless patients get a good night's sleep. The doctors found that your body is able to evenly distribute its weight and naturally align your spine when hugging a body pillow. Inside the pillow is a cooling material that is designed to absorb heat and help people prone to night sweats and overheating. The shredded memory foam pillow can be easily maneuvered to your body's comfort and is fully machine washable if you want to clean or re-fluff it for long-lasting coziness.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 14,300 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Made in the USA and GreenGuard Gold certified, Snuggle-Pedic ensures non-toxic stuffing.
Best alternative: Avocado Green Pillow
If bamboo pillows just aren't for you, Avocado's 100% organic cotton pillow is just as sustainable and comfy. When you open the sleeve, the pillow is divided into three main materials. The outer layer consists of a quilt-like cover made from high-quality cotton. The soft organic latex ribbons underneath provide structure and customizable firmness to support all sleep positions. Finally, the pillow is stuffed with eco-friendly kapok tree fiber which is hypoallergenic, biodegradable and never grown with pesticides.
Avocado provides an extra bag of filling if you want to adjust your volume for a softer or more extra firm pillow. You can wash your removable cotton pillow cover if needed, but there's no need to use bleach and hanging it to dry will keep it from naturally shrinking. The soft pillows come in every size necessary and pair well with Avocado's green mattress if you're determined to sleep well with sustainable peace of mind.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 5,000 ratings on the Avocado website
Why Buy: Vegan, GreenGuard certified and considered a carbon-negative business, Avocado's Green Pillow has passed some of the most strict emissions and sustainability testing for sleeping products on the market today.
Frequently Asked Questions: Bamboo Pillows
Is a bamboo pillow sustainable?
Bamboo is considered a great renewable resource that can be used in many different household items and is a great alternative to traditional polyester bedding products. The fast-growing plant has such a high carbon to oxygen rate that it actually offsets carbon emissions, and it doesn't require any fertilization or pesticides that could potentially cause runoff production. However, the production process to turn bamboo into a textile can create toxins that leach into the environment. Still, it's a better alternative to full synthetic materials.
What is so special about bamboo pillows?Bamboo bed pillows are a great product to try if you have trouble sleeping because of allergy issues, breathing problems or overheating at night. They are known for their distinct fibers that encourage airflow and make the pillows so lightweight. The breathable features have shown evidence of hypoallergenic properties and create a natural cooling to help sleepers get a good night of rest.
"It's even more urgent now than it was before," said Greta Thunberg.
By Jake Johnson
Young people by the hundreds of thousands took to the streets across the globe on Friday to deliver a resounding message to world leaders: The climate crisis is getting worse, and only radical action will be enough to avert catastrophe and secure a just, sustainable future for all.
From Pakistan to Italy to Germany to the Philippines, the worldwide "Uproot the System" actions marked the largest climate demonstrations since the coronavirus pandemic forced campaigners to take their protests online last year. Climate activists in developing countries — where access to vaccines is limited due to artificial supply constraints and hoarding by rich nations — were still forced to limit the size of their demonstrations Friday as a public health precaution.
"Last time it was digital and nobody was paying attention to us," Yusuf Baluch, a 17-year-old activist from the Pakistani province of Balochistan, told Reuters. "In the global north, people are getting vaccinated so they might be out in huge quantities. But in the global south, we are still limited."
The Global Climate Strike continues! Balochistan is predominantly agriculture-based. They have been affected by dro… https://t.co/EN1Ps8HNYr— Fridays For Future (@Fridays For Future) 1632470617.0
Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, whose solitary sit-down strike outside her home country's parliament in 2018 helped spark the global Fridays for Future movement, said that "it has been a very strange year and a half with this pandemic."
"But of course, the climate crisis has not disappeared. It's the opposite — it's even more urgent now than it was before," said Thunberg, who on Friday joined a large demonstration in Berlin, which was hammered by massive, climate-linked floods in July.
Watch Thunberg's full speech in front of the Reichstag building:
Greta Thunberg talks in Germany at Reichstag 🍃 24. Sept. 2021 youtu.be
Organizers said that more than 1400 climate strikes are set to take place in at least 70 countries Friday, with hundreds of thousands expected to attend demonstrations in Germany alone.
"As emissions and inequalities increase, we rise up and demand climate justice," said Berlin-based climate activist Luisa Neubauer.
The latest youth-led global action kicked off just weeks ahead of the pivotal COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, which many civil society organizations want to be postponed over fears that inequities in coronavirus vaccine access could prevent delegates from developing nations — those most vulnerable to the climate crisis — from attending.
Equalizing global vaccine distribution is one of the six demands that climate campaigners are aiming to put before world leaders during Friday's mass demonstrations. The full list is as follows:
- The Global North needs to cut emissions drastically by divesting from fossil fuels and ending its extraction, burning, and use. We need concrete plans and detailed annual carbon budgets with roadmaps and milestones to ensure we get to net-zero with justice and equity in the time needed to address climate change.
- The colonizers of the north have a climate debt to pay for their disproportionate amount of historic emissions and that starts with the increase of climate finance to implement anti-racist climate reparations, the cancellation of debts especially for damage caused by extreme weather events, and providing adaptation funds that serve the communities.
- Work towards a genuinely global recovery from COVID-19 by ensuring equitable vaccine distribution worldwide and suspending intellectual property restrictions on COVID-19 technologies. This is an essential step towards a global, green, and just recovery.
- Recognize the tangibility of the climate crisis as a risk to human safety and secure the rights of climate refugees in international law.
- Recognize the invaluable impact of biodiversity on indigenous communities' lives and culture, and commit to make ecocide an international punishable crime.
- Stop the violence and criminalization against indigenous peoples, small farmers, small fisherfolk, and other environmental and land defenders. Support the work they do. Respect and listen to our defenders.
The worldwide demonstrations came a week after the United Nations warned that even if the 191 parties to the Paris agreement meet their current climate targets, global greenhouse gas emissions will still rise 16% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels. The UN also estimated that the planet is on track for 2.7°C of warming by the end of the century, a level of heating that experts say would be cataclysmic — particularly for developing nations.
Calling for #UprootTheSystem, we strike against the systemic roots of the climate crisis and demand for drastic emi… https://t.co/VwesTVB0jV— 🇵🇭Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (@🇵🇭Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines) 1632447705.0
People from different cities in Bangladesh have started their strikes to demand for climate justice and climate act… https://t.co/614adpVHCo— Fridays For Future (@Fridays For Future) 1632456276.0
At the UN General Assembly in New York this week, the leaders of vulnerable countries pushed wealthy nations — the largest contributors to the climate emergency — to stop shirking their responsibilities to confront the planetary crisis.
"We simply have no higher ground to cede," Marshall Islands President David Kabua said Wednesday. "The world simply cannot delay climate ambition any further."
Participants in Friday's global action pointedly amplified that message. Valentina Ruas, a Brazilian activist, told The Guardian that "the global north should be developing climate policies that have at their core climate justice and accountability to the most affected people and areas."
"Instead," she added, "they continue to exploit vulnerable communities and recklessly extract fossil fuel, while bragging about their insignificant emission reduction plans."
German climate activist Luisa Neubauer (L) and Swedish campaigner Greta Thunberg protest outside the Swedish Parliament during a Fridays for Future weekly demonstration on Aug. 20, 2021, in Stockholm, Sweden. CHRISTINE OLSSON / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP via Getty Images
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By Kenny Stancil
Amid an ongoing wave of extreme weather disasters and ahead of a major United Nations climate conference this fall, top scientists from nearly 200 countries began meeting Monday to finalize a landmark report detailing how the fossil fuel-driven climate emergency is already wreaking havoc around the globe and what society must do to avert its most catastrophic consequences.
The forthcoming report — the sixth edition of an assessment of the latest climate science from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — is "going to be very important worldwide," Petteri Taalas, head of the UN's World Meteorological Organization, told roughly 700 delegates via Zoom, Agence France-Presse reported.
NPR noted that the last edition of this IPCC report, which represents the international scientific consensus about anthropogenic climate change, "came out in 2013 — an eternity in the world of climate science, where the pace of both warming and research are steadily accelerating."
As scientists convene for a two-week virtual meeting, deadly extreme weather events are continuing to take their toll throughout the world, making clear the urgent need to adequately confront the climate crisis.
From record-shattering heatwaves and droughts on multiple continents, to still-raging wildfires in North America and Siberia, to several devastating floods and landslides in Europe and Asia, a summer of non-stop climate-related disasters — along with projections that conditions will continue to deteriorate in the absence of fundamental political-economic transformation — has fueled demands for decisive action.
In addition to mounting evidence of the severity of planetary heating, another key development since the publication of the last IPCC assessment report was the 2015 adoption of the Paris agreement, which seeks to limit global temperature rise this century to "well below" 2°C, and preferably 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels.
To date, AFP noted, the rapid increase in emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases over the past two centuries has caused the global average temperature to climb 1.1°C.
Two months ago, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that existing coal, oil, and gas operations must be shut down as quickly as possible for the world to have a chance of meeting the Paris agreement's more ambitious goal, adding that there is "no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply."
IPCC lead author and Maynooth University professor Peter Thorne told AFP that "1.5 Celsius became the de facto target" thanks to the IPCC's influence in shaping global policy objectives.
The IPCC, however, has been less successful in shaping actual global policy.
"The reality is that we are not on track to achieve the Paris Agreement goals of limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century," Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change, said Monday in a statement. "In fact, we're on the opposite track, heading for more than a 3°C rise."
The authors of the three-part IPCC report considered all climate research published before February 2021. Part one covers physical science and is set to be published on August 9, AFP reported. Part two, which covers impacts, is slated for a February release, while part three, which covers potential solutions, is expected to be unveiled in March.
Taalas told delegates on Monday that the document will be "critical for the success of the Glasgow climate conference in November."
From Oct. 31 to Nov. 12, the United Kingdom will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), during which heads of governments will meet for the first time since 2019 to discuss national pledges to slash greenhouse gas pollution.
Existing nationally determined contributions (NDCs), or emissions reduction targets, are inadequate to prevent catastrophic levels of warming in the 21st century, according to the UN. The IPCC hopes that governments will utilize the new report when creating plans for decarbonization, forest and fisheries management, and the protection of vulnerable populations from extreme weather.
"It takes years to put together the IPCC report," NPR noted. "It has 12 chapters, covering everything from the heat-trapping properties of individual greenhouse gases to extreme weather events to the regional impacts of global warming."
According to NPR, "The new report will be the most comprehensive, detailed, and accurate picture of the global climate ever released." Because the computer models that scientists use to predict future changes — and the data that informs those models — have improved, scientists will be able "to say with more certainty how quickly the Earth is heating up, and how the extra heat being trapped by greenhouse gases will affect everything from sea levels and hurricanes to droughts and heat waves."
For the first time, "the IPCC will break down its global climate science findings by region," NPR reported. That's significant because even though climate impacts are geographically uneven, "many countries don't have the resources to systematically study how the climate is changing in their region, or what to expect in the future," the news outlet added. "Without localized information, it's impossible to prioritize infrastructure and housing that's built for the climate of the future."
In an effort to help policymakers understand the long-term effects of their present-day decisions and meet the scale of the climate crisis, the new report will present five future scenarios to delineate what the world might look like decades from now, depending on which policies are implemented by which countries in the coming months and years.
Earlier this year, the U.S. and the European Union pledged to cut carbon pollution in half by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, on their way to "net-zero" by 2050. Climate justice advocates pushing for a "fair share" approach to NDCs, however, have called such targets insufficient. Because impoverished nations have done the least to cause the crisis and yet are most vulnerable to its effects, progressives argue, rich countries with higher levels of historical emissions should contribute substantially more resources to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Even if NDCs were deemed adequate, Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said in April — before U.S. President Joe Biden's infrastructure agenda had stalled in Congress — that wealthy governments have so far failed to develop specific plans for how to decrease emissions, let alone implement the policies necessary to do so.
The IPCC's hypothetical policy scenarios — called shared socioeconomic pathways — take into account a number of demographic, political, economic, and technological variables.
As NPR reported:
For example, in one world countries work together to develop low-cost, low-carbon technologies and put them into use quickly for everyone. In another, some countries or groups of people transition very quickly to wind, solar, and other clean energy sources while others move much more slowly. In a third imaginary world, nationalism surges around the world and governments focus on local energy and food security rather than global economic changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions...
Under most of the scenarios, it's still possible to keep global warming below the 2 degree Celsius threshold set by the Paris agreement, says Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. In other words, there are many ways to address climate change, and the new report will help describe those options.
A draft of the new IPCC report that was leaked last month, however, warned that the devastating effects of a warming world — including an increased risk of widespread hunger and disease — are set to hit far sooner than previously thought, prompting the authors to call for systems-wide changes to avert a worst-case climate scenario.
Tim Lenton, director of the University of Exeter's Global Systems Institute, told AFP on Monday that "feedbacks which amplify change are stronger than we thought and we may be approaching some tipping points."
In light of the existential threat posed by the climate emergency, UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday reminded world leaders of the importance of ambitious climate action and international cooperation after officials at a Group of 20 summit failed to reach an agreement for a communiqué just 100 days away from COP26.
Last week, more than 160 organizations, led by the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition, launched the "Deadline Glasgow — Defund Climate Chaos" campaign to pressure Wall Street and the Biden administration to cut off funding for companies and projects fueling the climate emergency.
"The decisions nations make in the next few months," Espinosa stressed on Monday, "will likely determine whether we will or will not ultimately limit global temperature rise at 1.5°C."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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The United States officially reenters the Paris agreement today, a symbolic and important step toward the aggressive action required to stem the tide of climate change.
The day also marks the merger of two of the most prominent groups formed after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the pact — We Are Still In, a coalition of states, cities and businesses, and America's Pledge on Climate Change, which tracked their progress — into the new America Is All In, which will continue to push for accelerated action.
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IEA Warning: CO2 Emissions Will Keep Reaching 'All-Time High' if Rich Nations Keep Skimping on Clean Energy
By Jake Johnson
The International Energy Agency warned Tuesday that global carbon dioxide emissions are on track to soar to record levels in 2023 — and continue rising thereafter — as governments fail to make adequate investments in green energy and end their dedication to planet-warming fossil fuels.
In a new report, IEA estimates that of the $16 trillion world governments have spent to prop up their economies during the coronavirus crisis, just 2% of that total has gone toward clean energy development.
Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, slammed what he characterized as the hypocrisy of rich governments that promised a green recovery from the pandemic but have thus far refused "to put their money where their mouth is." Research published last month revealed that between January 2020 and March 2021, the governments of wealthy G7 nations poured tens of billions of dollars more into fossil fuels than renewable energy.
On top of being "far from what's needed to put the world on a path to reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century," Birol said that the money allocated to green energy measures thus far is "not even enough to prevent global emissions from surging to a new record."
"Governments need to increase spending and policy action rapidly to meet the commitments they made in Paris in 2015 — including the vital provision of financing by advanced economies to the developed world," Birol continued. "But they must then go even further by leading clean energy investment and deployment to much greater heights beyond the recovery period in order to shift the world onto a pathway to net-zero emissions by 2050, which is narrow but still achievable — if we act now."
We just launched @IEA’s new Sustainable Recovery Tracker to measure how governments’ responses to the Covid-19 cris… https://t.co/j5UEWMH9Zg— Fatih Birol (@Fatih Birol) 1626757221.0
The IEA's analysis — which examines roughly 800 policies implemented throughout the coronavirus crisis by more than 50 countries — finds that "full and timely implementation" of the economic recovery measures would result in CO2 emissions surging to an "all-time high" in 2023 and continuing to rise in the following years, more than wiping out the pandemic-related emissions drop.
"While this trajectory is 800 million tonnes lower in 2023 than it would have been without any sustainable recovery efforts," the analysis notes, "it is nonetheless 3,500 million tonnes above" what's necessary to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
The Paris-based agency's latest findings come just months after it said world governments must immediately halt all new investments in oil and gas projects in order to avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis, which is wreaking havoc across the globe in the form of catastrophic flooding, deadly heatwaves, drought, and wildfires.
Birol plans to present the IEA's new report to the leaders of G20 nations, which — according to research published Tuesday morning — have handed more than $3.3 trillion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry since the Paris climate accord was finalized in 2015.
"The action taken by these countries up until this point is a far cry from what is needed," Antha Williams, the environment lead at Bloomberg Philanthropies, which helped conduct the subsidy research, told The Guardian. "As a host of climate emergencies intensify around the world, the continued development of fossil fuel infrastructure is nothing short of reckless. We need more than just words — we need action."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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Even though 2020 lending was down 9% compared to the previous year, it was still higher than in 2016, when the Paris agreement took effect, and lending to the 100 fossil fuel companies with the biggest plans to expand actually rose by 10%. American and Canadian banks accounted for 13 of the 60 banks reviewed in the report, with JPMorgan Chase providing more fossil fuel financing than any other bank.
The report comes as pressure is mounting on financial institutions to stop investing in fossil fuels driving climate change and multiple banks have touted promises to cut and offset their greenhouse gas pollution, including JPMorgan, HSBC, and Citigroup.
As reported by The Guardian:
"When we look at the five years overall, the trend is still going in the wrong direction, which is obviously the exact opposite of where we need to be going to live up to the goals of the Paris Agreement," said Alison Kirsch, at Rainforest Action Network and an author of the report. "None of these 60 banks have made, without loopholes, a plan to exit fossil fuels."
"We have seen progress in restricting financing for special places like the Arctic or greenhouse-gas-intensive forms of oil, like tar sands, but these are such a small piece of the pie," she said.
For a deeper dive:
Correction: A previous version of this story stated wrongly that the biggest banks gave fossil fuel companies $32.8 trillion in financing. It is $3.8 trillion.
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By Anke Rasper
"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
The report, released Friday, looks at the national climate efforts of 75 states that have already submitted their updated "nationally determined contributions," or NDCs. The countries included in the report are responsible for about 30% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.
While most have increased their individual climate efforts, only two of the worst emitters, including the UK and the EU, have stepped up their goals considerably. And the member states' plans to tackle the climate crisis "are very far from putting us on a pathway that will meet our Paris Agreement goals," said Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of UN Climate Change.
The individual contributions submitted to date would only cut about 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions — a far cry from the 45% cut needed by 2030 to meet the 1.5 degree goal, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
In 2015, 195 countries and the European Union had agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global heating way below an increase of 2 degrees Celsius.
UN Chief Guterres urged major emitters to "step up with much more ambitious emissions reductions targets for 2030" well before the next UN Climate Conference, slated for Glasgow in November.
The interim report also stressed that poor countries were banking on the funds pledged under the Paris agreement to protect forests and other ecosystems, to carry out climate measures.
Nations Need to Improve Their Targets
The UN's interim report, which looked at the NDCs available as of December, provides a snapshot ahead of the COP 26 climate conference in November. The remaining 122 signatory countries have yet to define their updated contributions, including the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases: China and the U.S.
The Paris agreement is a voluntary process and leaves it up to national governments to decide how they want to achieve their self-imposed targets. There is no provision for sanctions or punitive mechanisms against countries that fail to meet their climate targets.
Will the U.S. Take the Lead on Climate Change?
Many hope that the U.S. rejoining the Paris agreement will provide a much-needed boost to international climate ambitions. U.S. special envoy for climate John Kerry has already announced that the U.S. will present "very aggressive, strong NDCs" ahead of the special climate summit in Washington on April 22.
The U.S. under the Biden administration also wants to expand its climate diplomacy to include China in particular, currently the largest emitter. China has already announced plans to increase its national targets this year.
Other major emitters, such as Russia and Brazil, have so far shown little ambition to commit to more. Former head of the UN Climate Secretariat, Christiana Figueres, was optimistic nonetheless that "many large emitters such as the U.S., China, Japan and others" would submit ambitious plans, because it was "in their own competitive interests to reach 50% emissions reductions by 2030."
Together with Canada, the U.S. is also considering slapping higher import duties on countries that are not doing enough to save the climate. However, it is unclear whether such sanctions are compatible with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Climate Change Existential Threat to Humanity
UN Climate Change Chief Patricia Espinosa pointed out that the last 10 years had been the hottest decade in human history. The record rise in temperatures, for example in the Arctic winter and northern Siberia, and dramatic winter weather slamming the traditionally mild southern U.S., were being amplified by the now measurably slowing Gulf Stream in the Atlantic — something that could be irreversible.
"It's time for all remaining Parties to step up, fulfill what they promised to do under the Paris Agreement and submit their NDCs as soon as possible," Espinosa said, adding "if this task was urgent before, it's crucial now."
And with the world focused largely on the coronavirus crisis, Espinosa stressed that any economic measures to offset the pandemic needed to take the climate crisis into account.
According to Espinosa, this is precisely why it is so important to tackle the global crises — such as COVID-19, the climate crisis, and the dramatic loss of biodiversity — as a whole.
"As we rebuild, we cannot revert to the old normal. The NDCs must reflect this reality and major emitters, especially G20 nations, must lead the way," she said.
The expanded final report, which will include all national climate contributions, will be released shortly before the UN climate conference in November. COP 26 President Alok Sharma urged all member states to "recognize that the window for action to safeguard our planet is closing fast."
Reposted with permission from DW.
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By Jon Queally
Anti-poverty groups, climate campaigners, and public health experts reacted with outrage and howls of disappointment Sunday after the G7 leaders who spent the weekend at a summit in Cornwall, England issued a final communique that critics said represents an extreme abdication of responsibility in the face of the world's most pressing and intertwined crises — savage economic inequality, a rapidly-heating planet, and the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
"This G7 summit will live on in infamy," declared Max Lawson, Oxfam's head of inequality policy, in a statement responding to the G7 communique at the conclusion of the weekend summit — a gathering characterized by the global progressive movement as an unmitigated disaster compared to what could have been achieved.
"Faced with the biggest health emergency in a century and a climate catastrophe that is destroying our planet," Lawson said, the leaders of the richest nations "have completely failed to meet the challenges of our times. Never in the history of the G7 has there been a bigger gap between their actions and the needs of the world. In the face of these challenges the G7 have chosen to cook the books on vaccines and continue to cook the planet. We don't need to wait for history to judge this summit a colossal failure, it is plain for all to see."
The G7 statement does vow to "[e]nd the pandemic and prepare for the future by driving an intensified international effort, starting immediately, to vaccinate the world by getting as many safe vaccines to as many people as possible as fast as possible" — and the member nations pledged a collective 1 billion doses will be donated to benefit middle- and low-income nations. However, public health experts have been adamant that voluntary charity and empty rhetoric — especially in the the absence of a joint commitment to lift patent protections for life-saving vaccines at the World Trade Organization — makes clear the richest nations would still rather protect the profits of the pharmaceutical industry than serve the world's poor or see the pandemic eviscerated.
This was a missed opportunity for #G7 countries - who have done most to fuel the crises of Covid, climate & inequal… https://t.co/z1pbtn4zeq— War on Want (@War on Want) 1623601093.0
On Sunday, Global Justice Now executive director Nick Dearden — who has been on the ground in Cornwall throughout the summit — called the communique "shameful," a document that "stresses 'vaccines are a public good' and 'we need equitable access' while then reinforcing the intellectual property system which enshrines the very opposite principles."
"The G7 is not fit for purpose," Dearden tweeted. "They have operated without any concern for lives around the world — or even for our own ability to end this pandemic." Dearden said it was now clear that "profits first" is the true commitment of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the other G7 leaders, and Global Justice Now suggested the only people who will be celebrating the bloc's lack of ambition will be Big Pharma and its allies:
Success! I blocked a plan to make billions of Covid jabs as fast as possible, to protect big pharma profits. Greed… https://t.co/m61mkPrz2d— Global Justice Now (@Global Justice Now) 1623598378.0
Meanwhile, the G7's specific response to the climate crisis was seen as paltry, even if a modest step in the right direction. Thousands of climate activists demonstrated Saturday to demand the G7 leaders finally match their actions with some of their recent promises, but again the ambitions put forth Sunday by U.S. President Joe Biden, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and the other powerful leaders were seen as more of the same kind of failure that has become all too familiar.
"This summit feels like a broken record of the same old promises," said John Sauven, Greenpeace UK's executive director. "There's a new commitment to ending overseas investment in coal, which is their piece de resistance. But without agreeing to end all new fossil fuel projects — something that must be delivered this year if we are to limit dangerous rises in global temperature — this plan falls very short."
The G7 plan touted by its members on Sunday, said Sauven, "doesn't go anywhere near far enough when it comes to a legally binding agreement to stop the decline of nature by 2030. And the finance being offered to poorer nations is simply not new, nor enough, to match the scale of the climate crisis."
Despite the G7 communique's new pledge to end future financing of coal projects worldwide and restating its Paris Agreement pledge to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 ºC by 2050, those promises fall intensely short of what the scientific community says is necessary to address the climate emergency.
"The G7 has now fallen squarely behind what leading economists, energy analysts, and global civil society has shown is required: an end to public finance for all fossil fuels," said Laurie van der Burg, senior campaigner for Oil Change International, on Sunday. "Our climate cannot afford further delay, and the failure of the G7 to heed these demands means more people impacted by the ravages of our climate chaos."
"Between 2017 and 2019, G7 nations spent $86 billion in public finance for fossil fuels," van der Burg continued. "Every single cent of that makes it harder to reach our climate goals. That's why more than one hundred economists as well as hundreds of civil society organizations from around the globe called on these leaders to end this public support for dirty fuels and shift this money to real solutions. Unfortunately those calls were not met with action, and our climate and communities — particularly the most vulnerable in the Global South — will feel the consequences."
Swedish climate activist and Fridays for Future co-founder Greta Thunberg also weighed in:
The climate and ecological crisis is rapidly escalating. G7 spends fantasy amounts on fossil fuels as CO2 emissions… https://t.co/ZkoFUmAvtv— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg) 1623606064.0
David Turnbull, Oil Change's strategic communications director, put specific emphasis on Biden's responsibility heading into the summit — his first overseas trip as U.S. President — and his failure to seize the historic moment or establish himself as a truly transformational leader on the global stage.
"Biden's first trip abroad unfortunately can be chalked up as a missed opportunity," Turnbull said. "Despite strong statements about ending U.S. international support for all fossil fuels in the first few months of his administration, President Biden has yet to turn those statements into true action. The G7 was a key moment to show that the U.S. can be a leader in moving the world forward on bold climate action, and unfortunately that leadership has not yet revealed itself."
The lack of funding for climate adaptation for poorer nations — those that have done the least to create the climate threat but suffer the most because of it — was also highlighted by Oxfam International.
"This plan could support green development in poorer countries," said Oxfam's climate change lead Nafkote Dabi, "but it is lacking in detail including on who will foot the bill. It also appears to champion infrastructure to reduce emissions, while many communities are screaming out for support to adapt to the impacts of climate change — an area that remains woefully underfunded."
Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, made the explicit connection between poverty, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the climate emergency.
"Everyone is being hit by COVID-19 and worsening climate impacts," Morgan said, "but it is the most vulnerable who are faring the worst due to G7 leaders sleeping on the job. We need authentic leadership and that means treating the pandemic and the climate crisis for what they are: an interconnected inequality emergency."
"The solutions to the climate emergency are clear and available," she continued, "but the G7's refusal to do what's needed is leaving the world's vulnerable behind. To fight COVID-19, supporting a TRIPS waiver for a People's Vaccine is crucial. To lead us out of the climate emergency, the G7 needed to deliver clear plans to quickly phase out fossil fuels and commitments to immediately stop all new fossil fuel development with a just transition."
Where, she asked, "is the clear national implementation with deadlines and where is the climate finance so urgently needed for the most vulnerable countries?"
According to the global movement for climate action and a just solution to the pandemic, such things are not to be found in anything that came out of Cornwall over the weekend.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By Kenny Stancil
In a historic rebuke of fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil, shareholders on Wednesday voted to elect at least two people to the company's board of directors who were backed by activist investors eager to accelerate the transition to clean energy.
During Exxon's annual shareholder meeting, an activist hedge fund called Engine No. 1 — which "owns only about 0.02%" of the oil company's stock, according to climate reporter Emily Atkin — ran four of its own director candidates in opposition to the fossil fuel corporation's hand-picked board members. At least two of Engine No. 1's candidates won, with the races for additional boardroom seats too close to call as of this writing.
"The outcome is a sign that Exxon's morally inept and fiscally questionable long-term climate strategy is finally catching up with it," wrote Atkin.
Journalist Brian Kahn tweeted: "Hard to overstate how much Big Oil is getting its ass kicked today by courts and shareholders alike," before proceeding to highlight three major victories claimed by climate activists on Wednesday.
In addition to the shareholder revolt at Exxon, 61% Chevron's shareholders voted Wednesday in favor of slashing carbon emissions, and Royal Dutch Shell earlier in the day was ordered by a court in the Netherlands to reduce its carbon emissions 45% by 2030, compared with 2019 levels, as Common Dreams reported.
Hard to overstate how much Big Oil is getting its ass kicked today by courts and shareholders alike. 🔥Shell loses… https://t.co/1K6NY9xB1a— Brian Kahn (@Brian Kahn) 1622049489.0
"It's important to understand," explained a news dispatch by The New Republic about Exxon's board election, that Engine No. 1 "is fundamentally a financial company, not some kind of environmental justice collective." The outlet continued:
As such, its criticism of Exxon, outlined in an investor presentation, stems from the fundamental principle that "ExxonMobil has significantly underperformed and has failed to adjust its strategy to enhance long-term value." But the source of this underperformance, the hedge fund claims, is something approaching climate denial: "A refusal to accept that fossil fuel demand may decline in decades to come has led to a failure to take even initial steps towards evolution, and to obfuscating rather than addressing long-term business risk."
Environmentalist Bill McKibben emphasized that the election of Engine No. 1-nominated candidates to Exxon's board happened despite the company's "strenuous objections."
Jess Shankleman of Bloomberg News, meanwhile, described the news this way: "A tiny activist investor has just held a proxy referendum on Exxon's climate plans — and won."
The Guardian reported that the "rival upstart" received a boost when BlackRock — the world's biggest asset manager and the second largest shareholder at Exxon with a 6.7% ownership stake — threw its support behind three of Engine No. 1's four director candidates, all of whom "have a background in fossil fuels but leadership experience in green energy innovation... due to frustration with the company's refusal to take climate concerns seriously."
As Atkin noted:
Exxon's long-term strategy, you may remember, is to significantly ramp up oil production over the next decade, climate crisis be damned. The company released an absolutely laughable "climate plan" a few months ago, which allows the company to increase its carbon emissions in line with that strategy.
The oil giant has also faced heat in recent months for refusing to fully explain to investors how climate change poses a risk to the company; how much and to whom is it giving political contributions; and where its political lobbying efforts are focused.
While BlackRock "has previously pledged to make climate change central to its investments, and has received a good deal of praise for it," Atkin wrote, the financial giant "did not back all of Engine No. 1's candidates... [and] still likely voted to retain Exxon CEO Darren Woods — who has been central to pushing the oil giant's current strategy — as director of the board."
Environmental campaigners echoed Atkin, simultaneously celebrating Wednesday's surprise boardroom victory while calling for more far-reaching changes that are consistent with what scientists and climate justice advocates say is necessary.
"Make no mistake: the shareholder vote to shake-up Exxon's board represents a seismic shift for the company," said Ben Cushing, financial advocacy campaign manager at Sierra Club. "It's a culmination of years of activist energy and a result of massive shareholder frustration with the company's failure to change course on climate."
"However," Cushing added, "change must come from the top as well. And with Darren Woods still in charge of Exxon, we question if the new board members will be able to change course quickly or drastically enough. Exxon needs to stop greenwashing, align with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and phase-out oil and gas production, starting now."
Roberta Giordano, finance program campaigner at The Sunrise Project, said that "what Engine No. 1 could accomplish with such a small ownership stake at Exxon is remarkable."
"Imagine what BlackRock, Vanguard, and other major asset managers could do if they really wanted to effect change at the major polluters of the world," Giordano continued.
"New board members are a start," she added, "but Exxon needs new leadership at the very top."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By Kenny Stancil
Over the past five decades, the Arctic has warmed three times faster than the world as a whole, leading to rapid and widespread melting of ice and other far-reaching consequences that are important not only to local communities and ecosystems but to the fate of life on planet Earth.
The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) issued that warning on Thursday in a new report that summarizes the latest findings on Arctic change and projections of future transformations under different climate scenarios. The publication of AMAP's report coincides with this week's meeting of the Arctic Council in Reykjavík, Iceland, which brings together policymakers from countries bordering the region.
According to the report, the Arctic's annual mean surface temperature surged by 3.1ºC between 1971 and 2019, compared with a 1ºC rise in the global average during the same time period. Arctic warming has been accompanied by a decrease in snow cover and sea and land ice; an increase in permafrost thaw and rainfall; and an uptick in extreme events.
"The Arctic is a real hotspot for climate warming," Jason Box, a glaciologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, told Agence France-Presse on Thursday.
The rapid warming of the Arctic is releasing significant amounts of carbon dioxide and methane, accelerating the… https://t.co/L50di68FYG— Environmental Justice Foundation (@Environmental Justice Foundation) 1621440072.0
AMAP stressed that the current transformation of the Arctic environment is adversely affecting the livelihoods and food security of Arctic communities, especially Indigenous ones. Arctic warming also poses risks to unique terrestrial, coastal, and marine ecosystems in the region, some of which are vulnerable to irreversible harm. Moreover, the report emphasized, "changes in the Arctic have global implications," especially if potentially negative feedback loops are triggered.
"No one on Earth is immune to Arctic warming," the report said. "The rapid mass loss of the Greenland ice sheet and other Arctic land ice contributes more to global sea-level rise than does the melting of ice in Antarctica."
Some projections estimate that by 2050, 150 million people worldwide will be displaced from their homes just by rising sea levels.
Without an adequate international effort to slash greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, that number could be far higher.
According to the report, the latest climate models indicate that "annual mean surface air temperatures in the Arctic will rise to 3.3–10°C above the 1985–2014 average by 2100, depending on the course of future emissions."
"Under most emission scenarios," the report said, "the vast majority" of climate models "project the first instance of a largely sea-ice-free Arctic in September occurring before 2050," and possibly as early as 2040.
Because each fraction of a degree of warming makes a difference, the stakes for adequate climate action are immense.
If the global temperature rises to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, the report pointed out, an ice-free Arctic summer is 10 times more likely than if planetary heating is limited to 1.5ºC, the more ambitious target of the Paris agreement.
A growing number of countries, including major economies like the United States and the European Union, have recently pledged to cut GHG emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by the end of this decade on the way to net-zero by midcentury.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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Aptly called, "Earth's lungs," the planet's two largest swaths of rainforest, in Amazonia and Africa, suck up 15 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions produced by humans. These ecosystems are essential for carbon sequestration and therefore curbing climate change, and while the Amazon rainforest has been the subject of mountains of research, scientists are just now beginning to understand how rainforests in Central and Western Africa respond to small changes in climate — and it's good news.
African rainforests naturally thrive in drier conditions than rainforests in Amazonia and Southeast Asia. According to new research, these conditions appear to have made African rainforests more resistant to drought and warmer-than-normal temperatures compared to rainforests in Amazonia, the world's largest rainforest, and Borneo.
"This is the first on-the-ground evidence of what happens when you heat and drought an intact African rainforest," Leeds' School of Geography professor and senior author of the new research, Simon Lewis, said in a press release. "What we found surprised me."
Despite more severe droughts and hotter weather, 100 plots of intact tropical rainforests spread across the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia and the Republic of the Congo still absorbed a significant amount of Earth-warming CO2 compared to non-drought years.
To test this, the team used the 2015-2016 El Niño climate pattern as a model for what conditions may look like consistently in the near future. Exasperated by climate change, the temporary cycle brought a temperature increase of nearly 1 degree Celsius above the 1980-2010 average and the most severe drought on record.
According to lead author Amy Bennett, a professor at the Leeds' School of Geography, the extreme weather conditions brought by El Niño in 2015 and 2016 reduced the amount of carbon dioxide the forest pulled from the atmosphere by about 36 percent. However, the ecosystems continued to function as a huge carbon sink. Despite the crippling conditions, the plots indicated that rainforests in Central and Western Africa still absorbed 1.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year — three times the amount emitted by the United Kingdom in 2019.
"African tropical forests play an important role in the global carbon cycle, absorbing 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year since the turn of the last century. To discover that they will be able to tolerate the predicted conditions of the near future is an unusual source of optimism in climate change science," Bennett said in a press release.
In particular, larger trees were mostly unaffected, which the researchers speculated was due to the fact that larger root systems have more stable access to water. Smaller tree species, however, had less growth and higher death rates during drought years.
In contrast, research published in Nature in 2018 found that the Amazon rainforest's canopy shrunk during spells of El Niño drought. The Amazon rainforest, the largest of its kind in the world, is expected to collapse by 2046 and scientists believe it's already on the brink of emitting more carbon dioxide than it absorbs.
Taken together, research on Earth's lungs emphasizes the importance of keeping rainforests intact while drastically reducing carbon emissions. Central Africa houses the world's second-largest tropical rainforest. Like all rainforests, the 240 million hectares of forest are threatened by logging, mining, expanding agriculture and wildfires.
"The resistance of intact African tropical forests to a bit more heat and drought than they have experienced in the past is welcome news, but we still need to cut carbon dioxide emissions fast, as our forests will probably only resist limited further rises in air temperature," said Bonaventure Sonké, a professor at University of Yaoundé in Cameroon, who co-authored the new study.
Gabon recently received $150 million in international funds from the United Nations Central African Forest Initiative to preserve its rainforests, 10 percent of which are already protected. Cameroon, its neighbor to the north, committed in 2017 to restoring more than 12 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, the International Union for Conservation of Nature reported. But on its own, preserving rainforests will not be enough to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change. The authors stress that humans also need to commit to emitting fewer greenhouse gases.
"Our results provide a further incentive to keep global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as outlined in the Paris Agreement, as these forests look to be able to withstand limited increases in temperature and drought," Sonké said in a press release.
Kaitlin Sullivan covers the environment, science and health beats. Her work has appeared in NBC News, Popular Science, NPR, VICE and Inverse, among others. Before becoming a journalist, she worked on a farm in Western Colorado, at a hostel in Brazil and as an editor for the American Alpine Club. She grew up in Minnesota, which is probably why she's so obsessed with water, and has a master's degree in health and science reporting from CUNY. When she isn't reporting, you'll probably find her outside hiking, rock climbing, sailing, camping, growing food or petting someone's dog. Follow her on Twitter: @kaitsulliva
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