Thousands March in Durban Calling for 'Climate Justice'
For a week now government negotiators working on the plan for ‘Long Term Co-operative Action’ on climate change have been scattered across a conference center in Durban, South Africa negotiating over the wide range of issues not covered by the rules of the Kyoto Protocol. This includes two questions central to the success of these talks. The first is how to fund renewable energy and forest protection measures in developing countries, and how to support people living in those countries to adapt to climate change. The second is the question of whether or not countries will agree to sign a new comprehensive legally binding treaty by 2015.
This morning all of the different viewpoints of the countries here were brought together in a single document – the draft text that will now be haggled over in the second week of these talks.
The document presented is 131 pages long, which in itself shows how complex the negotiations will be over the coming days, and how far we still have to go to reduce them to the few pages that ministers can sign up to in the final hours.
There are areas where progress has been made and agreement is close, for example on technology co-operation. There are other areas where countries have been negotiating for years and have made little progress in reducing the divergent options on the table (an example of this is the text on long-term finance—how much money goes into the Green Climate Fund and where it comes from).
Green Climate Fund
Developing countries are growing tired with the delay in delivering on the $100 billion dollars first pledged in the run up the Copenhagen. One option to bring these delays to an end would be to decide on a so-called ‘work programme’ on sources of finance with a clear deadline set for the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) next year. This would mean that countries who pledged the money would have to focus on its delivery—and could free up other parts of the negotiations which are currently blocked because it is not certain if that money will come. A positive move, and one which shows that new alliances are beginning to emerge between progressive developed and developing countries, South Africa put forward proposals to raise money through levies on the aviation and shipping sectors. More progress on long-term finance will be required before there is the possibility of a deal being done here in Durban.
But when will we have a deal?
One important thing was revealed upon publication of the draft text—some areas are so sensitive that whilst intense political discussions are going on behind the scenes, there aren’t yet a series of clear options on the table for negotiators to discuss. One of these issues—one central top these talks—is the question of whether or not there will be a mandate to negotiate a new treaty by 2015. In reaction to the text published, the U.S. chief negotiator Jonathan Pershing indicated that his country doesn’t even accept that it’s in a negotiation about this issue. Yet at the same time, China was indicating in a public statement that it is now open to the possibility of taking on legally binding emissions cuts—a potentially important step towards a wider agreement on a treaty.
Meanwhile, in another part of the building efforts were being made to finish talks in what are normally considered to technical, rather than highly political, issues. But today there was an outbreak of politics in the discussions on tropical forests. In a hard-won victory last year in Cancun, progressive countries achieved agreement on a series of safeguards to make sure plans to cut emissions from forest loss would also protect biodiversity and the rights of indigenous peoples. But today the original opponents to strong safeguards (including Brazil) restarted the battle, by arguing that they shouldn’t have to supply information about how they’re actually applying those safeguards in their own countries. In other words, they don’t want to be forced to reveal if they’ve broken the rules.
Brazil is at risk of losing its previous reputation as a relatively robust defender of tropical forests because right now, back in Brazil, plans are going forward to deconstruct their national laws for protecting the Amazon with the new Forest Code. The new code would make it legal for agribusiness to cut down much larger areas—risking a rapid increase in forest loss and carbon emissions.
Meanwhile, outside of the UN talks, thousands of activists marched on Dec. 3 in Durban during a 'Global Action Day' to step up the pressure on the government negotiators. Greenpeace was there, demanding governments listen to the people not the polluting corporations and take action on climate change.
For more information, click here.
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The Washington Redskins will retire their controversial name and logo, the National Football League (NFL) team announced Monday.
By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma
Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.
A Good News Story?<p>On the surface, the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/fwb.13569" target="_blank">results from our study</a> appear to provide a "good news" story. Warming temperatures were linked to higher numbers of fish, more species overall and, therefore, potentially more fishing opportunities for northerners.</p><p>Initially, we were surprised to learn that warming was increasing the distribution of cold-adapted fish. We reasoned that modest amounts of warming could lead to benefits such as increased food and winter habitat availability without reaching stressful levels for many species.</p>
Photo of Arctic grayling (left) and Dolly Varden trout (right). Alyssa Murdoch / Lilian Tran / Nunavik Research Centre and Tracey Loewen / Fisheries and Oceans Canada<p>Yet, not all fish species fared equally well. Ecologically unique northern species — those that have evolved in colder, more nutrient-poor environments, such as Arctic grayling and Dolly Varden trout — were showing declines with warming.</p>
Fish Strandings and Buried Eggs<p>Recent news headlines run the gamut for Pacific salmon — from their increased escapades <a href="https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/more-pacific-salmon-showing-up-in-western-arctic-waters/" target="_blank">into the Arctic</a> to <a href="https://www.juneauempire.com/news/warm-waters-across-alaska-cause-salmon-die-offs/" target="_blank">massive pre-spawning die-offs</a> in central Alaska. Similarly, results from our study revealed different outcomes for fish depending on local climatic conditions, including Pacific salmon.</p><p>We found that warmer spring and fall temperatures may be helping juvenile salmon by providing a longer and more plentiful growing season, and by supporting early egg development in northern regions that were previously too cold for survival.</p><p>In contrast, salmon declined in regions that were experiencing wetter fall conditions, pointing to an increased risk of flooding and sedimentation that could bury or dislodge incubating eggs.</p>
Headwaters of the Wind River within the largely intact Peel River watershed in northern Canada. Don Reid / Wildlife Conservation Society Canada / Author provided<p>Interestingly, we found that certain climatic combinations, such as warmer summer water temperatures with decreased summer rainfall, were important in determining where Pacific salmon could survive. Summer warming in drier watersheds led to declines, suggesting that lowered streamflows may have increased the risk of fish becoming stranded in subpar habitats that were too warm and crowded.</p>
The Fate of Northern Fisheries<p>The promise of a warmer and more accessible Arctic has attracted mounting interest in new economic opportunities, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2019.103637" target="_blank">including fisheries</a>. As warming rates at higher latitudes are already <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank">two to three times global levels</a>, it seems probable that northern biodiversity will experience dramatic shifts in the coming decades.</p><p>Despite the many unknowns surrounding the future of Pacific salmon, many fisheries are currently <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/03632415.2017.1374251" target="_blank">thriving following warmer and more productive northern oceans</a>, and some <a href="https://doi.org/10.14430/arctic68876" target="_blank">Arctic Indigenous communities are developing new salmon fisheries</a>.</p><p>As warming continues, the commercial salmon fishing industry is poised to expand northwards, but its success will largely depend on extenuating factors such as <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060023067" target="_blank">changes to marine habitat and food sources</a> and <a href="https://www.yukon-news.com/news/promising-chinook-salmon-run-failed-to-materialize-in-the-yukon-river-panel-hears/" target="_blank">how many fish are caught during the freshwater stages of their journey</a>.</p><p>Even with the potential for increased northern biodiversity, it is important to recognize that some northern communities may be unable to adapt or may <a href="https://thenarwhal.ca/searching-for-the-yukon-rivers-missing-chinook/" target="_blank">lose individual species that are associated with important cultural values</a>.</p>
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If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Interviews With Contact Tracers<p>Contact tracing is a public health strategy that involves identifying everyone who may have been in contact with a person who has the coronavirus. Contact tracers collect information and provide guidance to help contain the transmission of disease.</p><p>It's been used during outbreaks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Ebola, measles, and now the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.</p><p>It starts when the local department of health gets a report of a confirmed case of the coronavirus in its community and gives that person a call. The contact tracer usually provides information on how to isolate and when to get treatment, then tries to figure out who else the person may have exposed.</p><p>"We ask who they've been in contact with in the 48 hours prior to symptom onset, or 2 days before the date of their positive test if they don't have symptoms," said <a href="https://case.edu/medicine/healthintegration/people/heidi-gullett" target="_blank">Dr. Heidi Gullett</a>, associate director of the Center for Community Health Integration at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and medical director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health in Ohio.</p>
“You’ve Been Exposed”<p>After the case interview, contact tracers will get to work calling the folks who may have been exposed to the coronavirus by the person who tested positive.</p><p>"We give them recommendations about quarantining or isolating, getting tested, and what to do if they become sick. If they're not already sick, we still want them to self-quarantine so that they don't spread the disease to anyone else if they were to become sick," said Labus.</p><p>Generally, the contact tracer won't ask for additional contacts unless they happen to call someone who is sick or has a confirmed case of the virus. They will help ensure the contact has the resources they need to isolate themselves, if necessary. The contact tracer may continue to stay in touch with that person over the next 14 days.</p><p>"We follow the percentage of people that were contacts, then converted into being actual cases of the virus. It's an important marker to help us understand what kind of transmission happens in our community and how to control the virus," said Gullett.</p>
Why You Should Participate (and What Happens If You Don’t)<p>A <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30457-6/fulltext" target="_blank">Lancet study</a> from June 16, which looked at data from more than 40,000 people, found that COVID-19 transmission could be reduced by 64 percent through isolating those who have the coronavirus, quarantining their household, and contacting the people they may have exposed.</p><p>The combination strategy was significantly more effective than mass random testing or just isolating the sick person and members of their household.</p><p>However, contact tracing is only as effective as people's willingness to participate, and a small number of people who've contracted the coronavirus or were potentially exposed are reluctant to talk.</p><p>"Contact tracers have all been hung up on, cussed at, yelled at," said Gullet.</p><p>The hesitation to talk to contact tracers often stems from concerns over privacy — a serious issue in healthcare.</p>
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