World’s Biggest CO2 Polluters Failing to Meet Climate Goals
The world's biggest emitters of greenhouse gases are far short of meeting their climate goals, new research says. The research paints a bleak picture, no matter how you look at it.
Only one in eight of the world's most-polluting companies are on track to meet their climate goals under the Paris agreement, as Reuters reported. The researchers found that only 20 of the 160 most-polluting companies have made strides to reduce their emissions to a level necessary to keep global temperature from rising 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Another part of the research looked into 274 of the world's highest emitting publicly listed companies and found that almost half of the world's largest companies do not even consider future risks from the global climate crisis in their operational decision-making. Almost 25 percent of the publicly listed companies that are the world's biggest-polluters do not report their greenhouse gas emissions despite regulators and central banks in many countries asking for greater disclosure of climate risks, according to The Guardian.
Researchers at the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics carried out the study, which was funded by the Transition Pathway Initiative, a group of investors who manage about $14 trillion and are supportive of the Paris agreement. The researchers analyzed the financial disclosures of companies in key sectors including oil and gas, steel and aluminum, utilities, car manufacturing and air transport, according to The Guardian. The firms examined in the study account for more than 40 percent of emissions from public companies around the world.
"It's over three years since the Paris agreement was signed, and this research shows the corporate sector is improving its climate planning and performance, but not fast enough," said Simon Dietz, co-director of the Grantham Institute, The Guardian reported. "Cutting through the noise, we can see that barely 12% of companies plan to reduce emissions at the rate required to keep global warming below 2C."
The findings highlight the distance between the private sector's handling of the climate crisis and the transformation that scientists say is needed to stop the climate crisis from wrecking the planet, according to Reuters.
"The clock is ticking on irreversible climate change," said Adam Matthews, co-chair of the Transition Pathway Initiative and the director of ethics and engagement at the Church of England Pensions Board, in a statement, as Reuters reported. "Investors need to adopt an emergency footing otherwise the window to secure the change we need will be gone."
This study follows an open letter from investors managing more than $34 trillion in assets, nearly half the world's invested capital, to G20 governments last month stressing the urgent need to tackle global warming. Some investors have already divested from fossil fuels.
"This research shows clear leaders and laggards emerging within sectors from airlines to aluminum, and that gives investors an investment-relevant decision to make today," said Faith Ward, co-chair of the Transition Pathway Initiative, as The Guardian reported. "As the effects of climate change accelerate, we can expect to see more capital flow away from those companies that bury their head in the sand, and towards those companies aligning with a 2C pathway."
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:email@example.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
Earth's ice is melting 57 percent faster than in the 1990s and the world has lost more than 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994, research published Monday in The Cryosphere shows.
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Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.