Newsdesk – March 5

People take part in the ‘Right(s)’ march to raise awareness for climate change and social justice on May 12, 2019  in Brussels. (Photo by Hatim Kaghat/AFP via Getty Images)

EU climate law sparks political battles.   Brussels on Wednesday presented its European Climate Law — the centerpiece of its Green Deal vision of radically slashing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by mid-century. Despite the coronavirus fallout and canceling all external events for three weeks,  youth climate campaigner Thunberg and other activists were present. A Tuesday letter to EU leaders signed by Greta and other fellow activists said,  “Net-zero emissions by 2050′ for the EU equals surrender. It means giving up. We don’t just need goals for just 2030 or 2050. We need them for 2020 and every following month and year to come.” The EU wants to be climate-neutral by 2050,  but it’s an EU-wide target rather than one all 27 member countries have to hit at the same time. EU countries are split. Poland already made clear that it won’t adopt the 2050 timeline for now, instead of going at its own pace. “If the EU wants to make climate-neutrality a real and feasible goal, it needs to raise the issue of a fair distribution of commitments,” said Poland’s Climate Minister Michał Kurtyka, adding that to maintain EU credibility “there is a need to diversify the pace of achieving climate-neutrality, as well as the distribution of funds for funding this transition.”  Other countries like Austria, Denmark, and Sweden have pledges to get to carbon-neutrality earlier than mid-century.   A group of northern and western members such as Finland and the Netherlands support a 55 percent cut, but coal-reliant countries are resisting. Going climate-neutral by 2050 won’t be possible without absorbing emissions that simply can’t get cut.  EU officials are increasingly hyping forests to suck up excess emissions, which could help clean up sectors such as construction by promoting wood as a building material and replace coal and other fossil fuels. But environmental campaigners worry that it could threaten forests and biodiversity, undercutting the potential of trees to absorb emissions by burning them instead. The EU tries to convince economic rivals and top polluters China and the U.S., as well as other big emitters, that slashing emissions to net-zero by 2050 makes economic sense as well as helping stem worsening climate change – Politico

  • If We Plant Billions of Trees to Save Us, They Must Be Native Trees – TheThyee
  • How to cook with plant-based meats – The New York Times
  • Warming Winter (Almost) Cuts Off a Sweet Wine Tradition in Germany – The New York Times
  • ‘We Have to Stand Together’: A Tale of Two Nations – TheThyee
  • World’s biggest meat company linked to ‘brutal massacre’ in Amazon – The Guardian
  • Meet Thailand’s secret weapon in climate change battle – AFP
  • Would You Pay Higher Gas Prices to Slow the Climate Crisis? – The New York Times
  • Two-thirds of UK homes ‘fail on energy efficiency targets’ – BBC
  • 50 simple ways to make your life greener – The Guardian
  • Get Ready, New York: The Plastic Bag Ban Is Starting – The New York Times

For Mexico’s forgotten cloud forests, sustainability and protection are key. In 2009, scientists estimated that Mexico’s tropical montane cloud forests — hillside woodlands  — were down to 28% of their original extent.  Despite their importance, these ecosystems have largely been forgotten and poorly studied, and to some extent, they are disappearing.  The research resulting recommendations arose from an April 2019 workshop attended by academics, forest technicians, members of civil society organizations and landowners.  Conserving these cloud forests, blanketed in fog and rain, even the secondary ones, protects mountain basins and soil from erosion.   They’re home to 12% of the country’s plants and 755 species of land vertebrates. Cloud forests are very vulnerable ecosystems though.  It is estimated that each year, Mexico loses around 1.1% of its cloud forest due to changes in land use for agriculture and livestock farming. Secondary cloud forests have younger trees, usually between 10 and 20 years old that sprouted after older growth had been cleared away. These secondary forests are critical homes for abundant biodiversity. Their vegetation reduces the impacts of rain and the risk of landslides. They also stitch together disparate parts of the forest, creating corridors for wildlife and providing refuge for many pollinators. What’s more, these cloud forests capture a lot of carbon. They are also a daily source of forest resources, including timber, firewood, and charcoal for the low-income families who live in or around these forests. “If forest extractions occur without any planning, these secondary forests degrade and lose some of their ecosystem functions,” a tropical forest ecologist Toledo said – Mongabay

A swarm of locusts north of Nairobi, Kenya, in January. The U.N. described an outbreak of desert locusts as a threat to food security.Photograph by Tony Karumba / AFP / Getty

Welcome to The Climate Crisis Newsletter. We’re eight weeks into the new decade, and we’ve had the warmest January ever recorded. We’ve seen the highest temperature ever measured on the Antarctic continent, and also record swarms of locusts descending on the Horn of Africa. Thousands of people huddled on Australian beaches this year, ready to wade into the ocean as their only protection from the firestorms raging on the shore. An iceberg twice the size of Washington, D.C., crashes into the Southern Ocean and the South is experiencing historic winter flooding.   A new study in the journal Nature implies that the total methane emissions—the most significant global-warming gas after CO2—from man-made fossil sources (coal, natural gas, and oil) are higher than previous estimates.  Consider the conclusions of a team of economists from the world’s largest bank, “Something will have to change at some point if the human race is going to survive.”  National polling released this month, in a study by researchers at Yale and George Mason Universities, found that one in five Americans said that they would “personally engage in non-violent civil disobedience” against “corporate or government activities that make global warming worse” if a person they liked and respected asked them to.  Without Christiana Figueres, the Costa Rican-born former executive secretary of the U.N., there would have been no Paris climate accord. Her new book, co-written with Tom Rivett-Carnac, is called “The Future We Choose.” Her book paints two remarkable pictures of where we will go if we don’t act on the climate, and where we can go if we do. If we are not able to cut our current global greenhouse-gas emissions by fifty percent over the next ten years, we will be poised to enter into a world of constant destruction of infrastructure, congested and polluted cities, rampant diseases, increasing burning and flooding, mass migrations due to extensive droughts, heat or land loss leading to the abandonment of uninhabitable areas, and political turmoil as people fight for food, water, and land – The New Yorker