Ask a Scientist: What Should the Biden Administration and Congress Do to Address the Climate Crisis?
By Elliott Negin
What a difference an election makes. Thanks to the Biden-Harris victory in November, the next administration is poised to make a 180-degree turn to again address the climate crisis.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Ajit Niranjan
World leaders and businesses are not putting enough money into adapting to dangerous changes in the climate and must "urgently step up action," according to a report published Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
Adaptation Has a Long Way to Go<p>The Adaptation Gap Report, now in its 5th year, finds "huge gaps" between what world leaders agreed to do under the 2015 <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/5-years-paris-climate-agreement/a-55901139" target="_blank">Paris Agreement</a> and what they need to do to keep their citizens safe from climate change.</p><p>A review by the Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative of almost 1,700 examples of climate adaptation found that a third were in the early stages of implementation — and only 3% had reached the point of reducing risks.</p><p>Disasters like storms and droughts have grown stronger than they should be because people have warmed the planet by burning fossil fuels and chopping down rainforests. The world has heated by more than 1.1 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution and is on track to warm by about 3°C by the end of the century.</p><p>If world leaders <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-change-performance-index-how-far-have-we-come/a-55846406" target="_blank">deliver on recent pledges</a> to bring emissions to <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/joe-bidens-climate-pledges-are-they-realistic/a-56173821" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">net-zero</a> by the middle of the century, they could almost limit warming to 2°C. The target of the Paris Agreement, however, is to reach a target well below that — ideally 1.5°C. </p><p>There are two ways, scientists say, to lessen the pain that warming will bring: mitigating climate change by cutting carbon pollution and adapting to the hotter, less stable world it brings.</p>
The Cost of Climate Adaptation<p>About three-quarters of the world's countries have national plans to adapt to climate change, according to the report, but most lack the regulations, incentives and funding to make them work.</p><p>More than a decade ago, rich countries most responsible for climate change pledged to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 in climate finance for poorer countries. UNEP says it is "impossible to answer" whether that goal has been met, while an OECD study published in November found that between 2013 and 2018, the target sum had not once been achieved. Even in 2018, which recorded the highest level of contributions, rich countries were still $20 billion short.</p><p>The yearly adaptation costs for developing countries alone are estimated at $70 billion. This figure is expected to at least double by the end of the decade as temperatures rise, and will hit $280-500 billion by 2050, according to the report.</p><p>But failing to adapt is even more expensive.</p><p>When powerful storms like cyclones Fani and Bulbul struck South Asia, early-warning systems allowed governments to move millions of people out of danger at short notice. Storms of similar strength that have hit East Africa, like <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/zimbabwe-after-cyclone-idai-building-climate-friendly-practices/a-54251885" target="_blank">cyclones Idai</a> and Kenneth, have proved more deadly because fewer people were evacuated before disaster struck.</p><p>The Global Commission on Adaptation estimated in 2019 that a $1.8 trillion investment in early warning systems, buildings, agriculture, mangroves and water resources could reap $7.1 trillion in benefits from economic activity and avoided costs when disasters strike.</p>
Exploring Nature-Based Solutions<p>The report also highlights how restoring nature can protect people from climate change while benefiting local communities and ecology.</p><p><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-fires-risk-climate-change-bushfires-australia-california-extreme-weather-firefighters/a-54817927" target="_blank">Wildfires</a>, for instance, could be made less punishing by restoring grasslands and regularly burning the land in controlled settings. Indigenous communities from Australia to Canada have done this for millennia in a way that encourages plant growth while reducing the risk of uncontrolled wildfires. Reforestation, meanwhile, can stop soil erosion and flooding during heavy rainfall while trapping carbon and protecting wildlife.</p><p>In countries like Brazil and Malaysia, governments could better protect coastal homes from floods and storms by restoring <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/mudflats-mangroves-and-marshes-the-great-coastal-protectors/a-50628747" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mangroves</a> — tangled trees that grow in tropical swamps. As well as anchoring sediments and absorbing the crash of waves, mangroves can store carbon, help fish populations grow and boost local economies through tourism. </p><p>While nature-based solutions are often cheaper than building hard infrastructure, their funding makes up a "tiny fraction" of adaptation finance, the report authors wrote. An analysis of four global climate funds that spent $94 billion on adaptation projects found that just $12 billion went to nature-based solutions and little of this was spent implementing projects on the ground.</p><p>But little is known about their long-term effectiveness. At higher temperatures, the effects of climate change may be so great that they overwhelm natural defenses like mangroves.</p><p>By 2050, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/rising-sea-levels-should-we-let-the-ocean-in-a-50704953/a-50704953" target="_blank">coastal floods</a> that used to hit once a century will strike many cities every year, according to a 2019 report on oceans by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the gold standard on climate science. This could force dense cities on low-lying coasts to build higher sea walls, like in Indonesia and South Korea, or evacuate entire communities from sinking islands, like in Fiji.</p><p>It's not a case of replacing infrastructure, said Matthias Garschagen, a geographer at Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany and IPCC author, who was not involved in the UNEP report. "The case for nature-based solutions is often misinterpreted as a battle... but they're part of a toolkit that we've ignored for too long."</p>
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Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" data-width="1244" data-height="1244" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
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Youth Climate Movement Demands Immediate Action After 'Empty Promises,' Announces Next Global Strike
By Jon Queally
Fridays for Future, the youth-led global group inspired by Swedish campaigner Greta Thunberg, announced Wednesday that its next international day of climate strikes will occur on March 19 of this year with a demand for "immediate, concrete, and ambitious action" directed at world leaders who have in recent years talked seriously about the urgent need to address the planetary emergency but stalled dangerously by failing to make those words a reality.
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<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7d28297ed74f240c8518e748ab6d83b3"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LV9aCiyui18?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
By Brett Wilkins
A report published Tuesday by the eco-advocacy group Environment America urges President-elect Joe Biden to immediately restore critical environmental protections gutted by Trump administration regulatory rollbacks.
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'Disappointing' Decision From Norway's Supreme Court in Climate Lawsuit Challenging Arctic Offshore Oil Licenses
By Dana Drugmand
Norway's Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled not to overturn the Norwegian government's approval of new licenses for offshore oil drilling in the fragile Arctic region.
By Andrea Germanos
ExxonMobil's Monday announcement of new targets for addressing greenhouse gas emissions was met with derision by climate advocates who called the plan "too little, too late."
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President-elect Joe Biden is currently considering the former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under former President Barack Obama to be the domestic "climate czar," Reuters reported.
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European Union leaders reached an eleventh-hour agreement Friday to reduce the bloc's collective greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent of 1990 levels by 2030.
<div id="9cdc2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="97b83cd67a1260727f1519ae627fa752"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1337296150580383744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Europe is the leader in the fight against climate change. We decided to cut our greenhouse gas emissions of at lea… https://t.co/65Pq9FHyn1</div> — Charles Michel (@Charles Michel)<a href="https://twitter.com/eucopresident/statuses/1337296150580383744">1607671222.0</a></blockquote></div>
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World leaders should declare a "climate emergency" in their countries to spur action to avoid catastrophic global warming, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in opening remarks at a climate summit on Saturday.
On the fifth anniversary of the 2015 Paris Agreement, more than 70 world leaders are due to address the one-day virtual meeting in the hope of galvanizing countries into stricter actions on global warming emissions.
Fossil Fuel Investment 'Unacceptable'<p><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: 14px; color: rgb(90, 88, 88);">The UN chief said economic recovery packages launched in the wake of </span><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-endng-covid-new-dawn-for-climate/a-55807185" target="_blank" style="background-color: initial; font-size: 14px;">the coronavirus pandemic</a><span style="background-color: initial; font-size: 14px; color: rgb(90, 88, 88);"> represented an opportunity to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future — but warned so much more needs to be done to ward off catastrophic consequences.</span><br></p>
China and India Promises<p>China and India vowed to advance their commitment to lower carbon pollution at the summit.</p><p>President Xi Jinping was one of the first leaders to address the virtual conference and he said China will boost its installed capacity of wind and solar power to more than 1,200 gigawatts over the next decade. Xi also said China will increase its share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 25% during the same period.</p><p>And "China always honors its commitments," Xi promised.</p><p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India was ramping up its use of clean energy sources and was on target to achieve the emissions norms set under the 2015 Paris agreement.</p><p>India, the second-most populous nation on Earth and the world's fourth-largest greenhouse gas emitter, is eyeing 450 gigawatt of renewable energy capacity by 2030, Modi said.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/un-urges-world-leaders-to-declare-climate-emergency/a-55918020" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649465278#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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By Andrea Germanos
Teen climate leader Greta Thunberg on Thursday reiterated her demand that humanity end its inaction on the planetary emergency as she warned—five years after the Paris agreement was signed—the world is "speeding in the wrong direction" in terms of emission reductions.
<div id="55a74" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="00cadf04f5611b6d1e8acbdac77c10f5"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1337091285182803968" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">My name is Greta Thunberg and I am inviting you to be a part of the solution. As #ParisAgreement turns 5, our lead… https://t.co/kBVPEYilco</div> — Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)<a href="https://twitter.com/GretaThunberg/statuses/1337091285182803968">1607622378.0</a></blockquote></div>
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By Morgan Bazilian and Dolf Gielen
This month marks the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate agreement – the commitment by almost every country to try to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius.
It's an ambitious goal, and the clock is ticking.
Progress Toward Net Zero<p>Two countries have achieved net zero emissions, largely due to their tiny populations and thick forests that store more carbon than the country emits. Six countries have net zero carbon targets in law. Five plus the EU have proposed legislation. Several others have targets in policy documents or under discussion.</p>
Data as of Dec. 7, 2020. Table: The Conversation / CC-BY-ND. Source: Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit Net Zero Tracker. Get the data
Countries With the Most CO2 Emissions From Fossil Fuels<p>In 2019, the world's six largest CO2 emitters together accounted for 51% of the global population and 67% of total CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.</p>
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