THE EUROPEAN GREEN DEAL GETS A ROADMAP TO REALITY
On July 14th, The European Commission produced a slew of proposals that would turn The European Union’s Green Deal targets into a reality if they are adopted.
These proposals still have work to do to get passed into law, and as you can imagine, there is plenty of objection coming from folks like oil companies and airlines, but this was a key step forward in putting words into action.
The timing is particularly important ahead of the much anticipated Cop21 in Glasgow this November, the UN summit on Climate Change.
The EU, United States, China, and India are really the 4 forces that will shape global climate policy in the near future. The EU has been far ahead of the 4 on a variety of progressive climate tools ranging from carbon pricing to regenerative agriculture, and given they have so many different nations and leaders and subcultures to organize, that’s no small feat.
To save you the time in reading it, here are the key takeaways we gathered:
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels
- Increasing the price on carbon, which we wrote about in the newsletter last week has been comfortably above $50, and lowering the caps on emission by at least 2.2% per year
- A push to spend any and all emissions trading revenue garnered from their cap and trade system on climate and energy-related projects
- Sets a target of carbon removal from natural sinks (not necessarily carbon sequestering technology) to 310 million tonnes by the end of 2030. Natural carbon sinks include everything from forests to healthy soil to the whales in the Nordics
- Plant 3 billion trees across Europe by 2030
- Produce 40% of EU’s energy from renewables by 2030. It was 18% in 2018, the latest year we could find a verified figure.
- Public sector must renovate at lest 3% of it’s buildings per year for energy efficiency
- 100% of cars by 2035 must be zero-emission. And electric charging stations must be installed every 60 kilometers (37 miles)
- Complete phase out of free emissions allowances for airlines
- A Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism designed to put a carbon tax on imports
CARBON BORDER TAX?
This last component is the most controversial. Basically what the EU is saying here, is that it is not fair if local suppliers of say, concrete, have to pay a carbon tax but foreign providers can sell concrete to a local building company much cheaper. That’s not good for EU businesses.
So if the foreign provider is not paying a verifiable carbon tax of their own in that country, they will have to pay it when importing to the EU.
The governance of this is super tricky as you can imagine. Who does the audits? Who sets the prices for other countries? Will this hurt EU exports?
Lots of tricky stuff to figure out here. But this is a big step in the right direction and the pressure is now on the US, China, and India to make similar progress ahead of Cop21.
Sources for this Story:
BIG MOMENTUM FOR WILDLIFE CORRIDORS
In the past couple months, there have been two major announcements pushing wildlife corridors forward in Belize and Florida. These aren’t the only ones out there by any means, but they are significant developments in this area and both deserve some of our attention.
Wildlife corridors are typically smaller passageways that connect much larger wild ecosystems, from forests to swamps to deserts. They allow for wildlife to migrate and enrich biodiversity which is a critical target for conservation work.
THE MAYA FOREST CORRIDOR IN BELIZE
This was made official in May, and we’ll link to a great detailed article on it below by our friends at MongoBay.
This corridor will connect the Manatee Forest Reserve in the northern part of Belize with the Rio Bravo Conservation Area in the south. While the actual size itself of the corridor is not too large, between the previously discontinued forests and conservation areas it now connects, this is presently the largest contiguous block of forest management in all of Central America.
The impact of this is critical on multiple fronts:
- We’ve been losing valuable tropical forests in Central America at an alarming rate, particularly in the name of agricultural development. That agricultural development is much needed though to provide for people. Belize has earmarked 2/3 of the corridor for agriculture, but specifically aiming for regenerative forms such as agroforestry that provide models for wildlife, nature, and agriculture to all coexist. If successful this can be a path forward for others in the region to follow.
- The forest and conservation areas the corridor now connects will be significantly stronger because of this. Wildlife need genetic diversity to thrive long term. For animals with large natural ranges, like the jaguars in Belize, getting cut off within shrinking patches of forest limits genetic diversity. Vegetation also thrives on wider seed dispersion. So do pollinators. So this corridor can save the connected forests from losing their individual strength.
THE FLORIDA WILDLIFE CORRIDOR
Yes, something GOOD for the planet and for nature happened in Florida! Yes that Florida. We are not big fans of Florida leadership on many fronts, but give them credit for this one. They signed a really important bill into law at the tail end of June to expand and protect the Florida Wildlife Corridor and spend $400 million doing so.
18 million acres of protected land now sit between the Everglades and central Florida. This is huge.
The interesting takeaway from all this has been the partnership between agriculture and wildlife. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right?
Well, ranchers and farmers share a common threat with wildlife in Florida – land and property development. Over 1,000 people are moving to Florida every day right now. Livestock ranchers in Florida, for example, have come around to saying they are willing to accept some cattle depredation from panthers as they move north up the corridor if agriculture and conservation can bring their budgets and political influence together to protect rural lands form being overly developed.
So far so good. This was big time news and it should be applauded.
DO THE CARLTON
And let’s give some Animalia love to Carlton Ward Junior, a Nat Geo Explorer who first started working on the Florida Corridor Proposal in 2010. This is a Super Bowl level victory for Ward so go follow his work and give him a shout!
Sources for this Story:
UEA MAKING IT RAIN
Like so many other parts of the world, the United Arab Emirates is mired in a brutal combination of increasing heat and shortening rainfall. Pushing them into an unprecedented water crisis.
As a result, they’ve been ramping up their efforts and operations to seed rainfall, nearly matching their total experiments already in 2021 from just two years ago in 2019.
This is one of any forms of geoengineering – the notion of targeted alterations to the climate, atmosphere and weather conditions – that may be common place in the decades ahead in order to keep life afloat.
THE LOW DOWN ON CLOUD SEEDING
Cloud seeding has been around for a long time, dating back to significant experiments in the 1940s when scientists would drop dry ice into a cloud from a plane above to induce snowfall.
In simple terms, cloud seeding works by dropping particles into a cloud that help collect water molecules. As individual water molecules stick to this added particle, the collection becomes heavier and reaches a point of weight where it falls from the cloud in the form of rain or snow.
The most commonly used particle is silver iodine.
This has been going on for decades with mixed results. 8 US States in the West, ranging from California to Colorado, collectively spend $1.5M per year on cloud seeding operations. Smaller experiments aimed to crack a larger opportunity to tackle the record droughts – California is facing the worst drought right now in over 1,200 years.
The results have been inconsistent and hard to measure for efficacy:
- There is no way to do a controlled experiment. Since scientists can not replicate the same exact cloud in the same exact conditions and time as the one that was seeded, making it hard to gauge how much precipitation comes from the actual seeding
- There is also some potential risk. A 2021 study in the UAE found correlations between areas that received cloud seeding and higher concentrations of particulate matter, small toxic particles that damage air quality and cause respiratory issues
- Seeding requires very specific cloud conditions, which themselves change in rapid iteration in real time, making it hard to scale and rely on
A COMPLIMENTARY TOOL
Some of the US studies have shown that for snowfall, cloud seeding can yield 5-15% more snow. Given cloud seeding is relatively inexpensive compared to other forms of geoengineering, the cost per acre-foot of water is quite low and economically efficient compared to the value of that extra water in drier areas.
For example, the Western US heavily relies on winter snowfall to fill up reservoirs for water supply during the increasingly drying spring, summer, and fall months. California’s snowpack as of June 1st of 2021 was at 0%, meaning nothing is left. It was at 3% in June of 2020 and a whopping 202% in 2019 after a record setting winter snowfall that was more of a weather anomaly.
So getting cloud seeding right can be valuable. We need to continue to study and test this methodology in small, controlled doses, and examine impacts beyond the actual precipitation output such as particulate matter.
Most likely, cloud seeding can be a valuable complementary tool to aid us to get by during prolonged periods of drought, but is not going to be a reliable source to solving drought conditions and water supply shortages.
Sources for this Story: