Newsdesk – February 11

Work is under way on the Yokosuka plant, one of 22 new coal-burning facilities expected in the next five years.Credit…Noriko Hayashi for The New York Times

Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants, Despite the Climate Risks. Japan now plans to build as many as 22 new coal-burning power – one of the dirtiest sources of electricity – at 17 different sites in the next five years, just at a time when the world needs to slash carbon dioxide emissions to fight global warming. Together the 22 power plants would emit almost as much carbon dioxide annually as all the passenger cars sold each year in the United States. “Japan is an anomaly among developed economies,” said Yukari Takamura, an expert in climate policy at the Institute for Future Initiatives at the University of Tokyo. “The era of coal is ending, but for Japan, it’s proving very difficult to give up an energy source that it has relied on for so long.” This stands in contrast with Japan’s effort to portray this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo as one of the greenest ever. The Japanese government’s policy of financing coal power in developing nations, alongside China and South Korea, has come under scrutiny. Together with natural gas and oil, fossil fuels account for about four-fifths of Japan’s electricity needs, while renewable sources of energy, led by hydropower, make up only about 16 percent. The country is already experiencing severe effects from climate change. Scientists have said that a heat wave in 2018 that killed more than 1,000 people could not have happened without climate change. Because of heat concerns, the International Olympic Committee was compelled to move the Tokyo Olympics’ marathon events to a cooler city almost 700 miles north.  A target of the activists’ wrath has been Japan’s new environment minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, a charismatic son of a former prime minister who is seen as a possible future candidate for prime minister himself.  Mr. Koizumi has shied away from more explicit promises in favor of more general assurances that Japan will eventually roll back coal use. “While we can’t declare an exit from coal straight away,” Mr. Koizumi said at a briefing in Tokyo last month, the nation “had made it clear that it will move steadily toward making renewables its main source of energy” – The New York Times

  • Indonesian investigative reporter and journalism advocate Tommy Apriando, 1989-2020 – Mongabay
  • World’s 1st 3D Printed Neighborhood Being Built In Mexico – WBUR
  • In this new Dutch neighborhood, there will be 1 shared car for every 3 households – Fast Company
  • Can we heat buildings without burning fossil fuels? – BBC
  • Can we protect nature by giving it legal rights? – Ensia 
  • Chief Raoni, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, presides over historic meeting with over 600 indigenous leaders in Brazil – Mongabay
  • On the Oscars red carpet, fashion got political – The Hill 
  • Mining leads to flooding in Indonesia’s coal capital Samarinda – Mongabay
A joint of British beef. The levy on pork and chicken would be lower owing to their smaller environmental impact. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty

EU urged to adopt meat tax to tackle climate emergency. Levy would help offset impact of farming by raising price of steak in UK by 25%, says report. A “sustainability charge” on meat to cover its environmental damage could raise billions to help farmers and consumers produce and eat better food, according to a report. The levy on pork and chicken would be lower owing to their smaller environmental impact. The report also suggests that such charges could reduce consumption of beef in the EU by 67%, pork by 57% and chicken by 30% by 2030. According to The Tapp Coalition of health (environment and animal welfare organization) about half of levy should be given to help farmers move their production away from meat, which could increase individual farm incomes by thousands of euros per year. Recent research has shown that a huge reduction in meat-eating in rich nations is essential to tackle the climate emergency. Other work indicates that avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet. The report from Bit examines how governments, the food industry and campaign groups can help shift diets away from meat. Food companies could make plant-based products the default choice, for example at catered events or on flights. The report also encourages marketing plant-based food as “delicious, normal, and satisfying, not as light, overtly healthy or vegetarian”. Another proposal is placing veggie burgers alongside their meat counterparts instead of separating them on menus or in supermarket aisles. Toby Park, the head of energy and sustainability at Bit, said: “Governments, industry and consumers around the world are more aware than ever of the need to live within our planet’s means” – The Guardian

Yas Bara, a fisherman of 44 years and the head of a local fishermen council, prepares his boat for another day at the empty dock at Ghar el-Melh, Tunisia, on Oct. 22, 2019. Due to climate change, the number of “fishing days” per year here has dwindled from six months to just 60 days.

Where climate change threatens ancient sites and modern livelihoods. North Africa may not be front and center in the West’s discussion of climate change, but the challenges here are pressing and lacking resources. In Tunisia, the fishermen of Ghar el-Melh can always be found these days at the cafe down by the docks. With warmer temperatures and surging storms the number of “fishing days” per year has dwindled from six months to 60 days in Tunisia. “Future generations here will only see these fish in the history books,” says captain Yas Bara, a fisherman of 44 years and the head of the local fishermen council. Climate change has posed a particular challenge to North African farmers, many of whom have been using agricultural practices and techniques passed down through the generations dating back to the Spanish Inquisition. At his approximately 2-acre farm, Mr. Garci is adding about 8 to 12 inches of soil to his farm on a regular basis to make sure roots do not drop into the rising water table. While Tunisian farmers are battling to keep water out, farms in nearby Morocco are running dry. With record-shattering temperatures and dwindling rainfall, Morocco has endured a series of record droughts over the past five years, devastating crops and the national economy. Farmers have felt particularly vulnerable. More than 40% of Moroccans rely on farming. Climate change threatens UNESCO World Heritage ancient sites. Forty such sites in the Mediterranean area are threatened by rising sea levels, 10 of which are in North Africa. Hundreds of other archaeological sites are threatened on North African coastlines. Increased evaporation of seawater due to rising summer temperatures has led to high winds picking up salt, other minerals, and sand and slamming them into the seaside statues, columns, and monuments at a record pace. With most of the monuments made from sandstone or limestone, these winds are dimpling and eroding away their Corinthian designs – The Christian Science Monitor