November 30 (Reuters) – Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest spiked to a 12-year high in 2020, official government data showed on Monday, with damage surging since President Jair Bolsonaro took office and undermining environmental enforcement.
In 2020, the world’s largest rainforest destruction was up 9.5% from a year earlier to 11,088 square kilometers (2.7 million hectares), according to data from Brazil’s national space research agency Inpe. (Reporting by Jake Spring Editing by Stephen Eisenhammer)
Following this week’s climate emergency declaration, New Zealand have to face the fact that it has one of the worst climate records in an industrialized country.
Of the 43 industrial countries – known as Annex 1 – 31 countries experienced emission reduction. But 12 saw an increase in net emissions between 1990 and 2018, and New Zealand is almost at the top of this group.
As part of the Paris Agreement, countries are asked to submit emission reduction targets. This Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) is a measure of a country’s commitment to contribute to the goal of limiting warming to below 2 ℃.
New Zealand submitted its NDC in 2015, with the main target of reducing emissions over the next decade to 30% below 2005 levels. But this is not what it seems.
New Zealand’s NDC is confounding this problem by adopting targets clean emissions in 2030 compared to baseline dirty emissions in 2005. This target actually allows New Zealand to increase its net emissions.
Last year, New Zealand introduces the Zero Carbon Act, making it one of the few countries to have zero emissions goals enshrined in law. But current short-term policies have not kept up with ambitions of achieving zero net emissions by 2050.
Fair and ambitious climate action
It was clear at the time of the Paris Agreement that the countries’ initial targets would unfortunately not be sufficient to limit warming to below 2 ℃. Therefore, the agreement requires countries to show “developments over time” to reflect each country’s “highest possible ambition”.
In addition to increasingly ambitious targets, countries are also asked to explain why contributions intended for a common goal are fair. Many do, but not in New Zealand.
Some countries argue that their contribution is fair because their total share of global emissions is small. Others say their per capita emissions are small, while some high-emitting countries show their per capita emissions are decreasing. If that argument doesn’t work, some countries say it’s very difficult for them to reduce emissions, so the fair share should be smaller.
Like every kid on the playground complaining “That’s not fair!” admit, this is only a self-serving excuse for inaction, rather than a justifiable basis for determining justice.
The Climate Action Tracker argues that this approach is fair if it will produce the outcome agreed in Paris, if all countries follow it. On that basis, New Zealand’s NDC is considered insufficient, consistent with the world being 3 3 warmer.
The Climate Equality Reference Project seeks to define universally agreed criteria of equity, based on UN agreements and discussions with social, environmental, development and belief groups around the world. They find there should be a component of historical responsibility – who got us into this mess, and who benefits from it?
This can be assessed by cumulative emissions from several starting points, such as 1850 or 1950. There must also be an element based on a country’s ability to act, assessed by GDP above a certain threshold.
Under this approach, New Zealand’s targets need to be for net emissions to reach zero by 2030, and to become negative thereafter by storing carbon and by investing in emission reductions in other countries. This conclusion was recently supported in a detailed study by Oxfam NZ.
Zero net emissions by 2030 is not possible. New Zealand hasn’t even started reducing emissions yet.
Rich countries have to take more responsibility
So what can you do if you’ve agreed to something you can’t achieve? The first step to take is to understand the situation and determine a fair contribution. New Zealand hasn’t done it yet – our current NDC (updated in April 2020 to reflect a Zero Carbon Act) makes no mention of fairness.
The second step is to achieve the highest possible ambition. For example, New Zealand could follow in the EU’s lead in reducing emissions by a further 42-48% in the next decade.
The Climate Change Commission, created under the Zero Carbon Act, provides New Zealand with a framework for dealing with this. The commission is expected to release a consultation document in February, review the NDC and prepare an emissions budget through 2035.
The chairman of the commission, Rod Carr, has recognized the importance of fairness in determining the NDC, saying:
In my opinion, fair share is a really good conversation for New Zealanders to have […] We are a rich and developed country. Rich countries, with higher per capita incomes, do have a responsibility to do more than average.
The commission will also advise on how much of a contribution New Zealand should make domestically or internationally, and how much to meet by planting trees versus actually reducing emissions.
The latter is already a contentious issue, as payments for “carbon agriculture” (which is included in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme, unique in the world) are causing unrest in the agriculture and environmental sectors.
If people are being paid to store carbon in trees today, who is responsible for keeping that storage indefinitely, and who is at risk if it fails?
Climate change Secretary James Shaw has acknowledged the current targets are weak, compared to what the US, EU and China are now considering, and he expects stronger targets to be recommended by the commission next year.
New Zealand has introduced new institutions and mechanisms to reduce emissions and stop the use of fossil fuels. Now, we implement it.
Robert McLachlan is professor of applied mathematics at Massey University
KARACHI: Residents of a port city have been pressured by an expert diver to take responsibility for the environment because coral bleaching – reported for the first time outside Pakistan last month – threatens marine life and poses a risk of exacerbating the climate emergency.
Khizar Sharif, a scuba diver certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), notified bleaching activists and authorities for the first time in October 2020 when he discovered a pale, bleaching and dying coral reef near Churna Island.
“Coral reefs that are white show that they are turning white, which means they are dying. And anything that is dying is not a good sign,” said Sharif. Geo News, with which he also exclusively shares the footage he recorded under water.
Pakistan, currently, ranks fifth among the countries most affected by the climate emergency, with climate change, rising sea temperatures and industrial activity causing irreparable damage to submarine life near Karachi and beyond.
Talk to Geo News During the interview, the expert diver said he had been observing the coral reef for several years and that many small fish and various other species lived there.
Coral reefs are usually brightly colored and provide not only a home for but also a source of aquatic life. In fact, according to experts, more animals live on coral reefs than in the forests of Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Coral bleaching was first reported earlier this month near Pakistan’s Churna Island, according to a statement released by WWF-Pakistan, which cited Sharif’s underwater efforts in the final weeks of October.
In some areas, most of the bleaching was observed while it was limited in others, said WWF-Pakistan, warning that it was a “grave threat” to the country’s coastal biodiversity.
“When I was diving below the surface on October 10, it was skin-diving – a mixture of snorkeling and freediving and breath-holding diving – and without the proper diving equipment, but I often carry an underwater camera with me,” Sharif said.
“We shouldn’t look to the government or anyone else to do something about it … to improve this situation. We need to take our own initiatives that improve our environment,” he underlined.
According to another report shared by a wildlife conservation NGO, WWF-Pakistan’s Sindh and Balochistan Region Chief Dr Tahir Rasheed explained that negative environmental conditions and microbial disease were causing coral bleaching.
“Under such conditions, the corals secrete zooxanthellae that live in their tissues, causing the corals to become completely white. This process is called coral bleaching and it causes coral death, ”he said Dawn.
Call to declare the Churna Island MPA
Experts, including Dr Rasheed and WWF-Pakistan marine fisheries technical adviser, Mohammad Moazzam Khan, have asked the government to declare Churna Island a ‘Marine Protected Area (MPA)’.
Khan said the bleaching could also occur due to industrial activities and development projects that raise sea water temperatures. Such activities “would not only have a negative impact on coral reefs but could wipe out a large part of the rich biodiversity from the area”, he warned.
WWF-Pakistan frequently shares the latest information on Pakistani wildlife, as well as marine life.
In a recent update, he shared that a large group of pantropical dolphins – which consist of nearly 50 fish – were spotted near Churna Island.
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Some parts of Australia, including Sydney, were blazing through the hottest November nights on record with temperatures likely to remain high on Sundays, prompting authorities to issue a total fire ban.
Sydney CBD surpassed 40 degrees Celsius (104 F) on Saturday while much of western New South Wales, South Australia and northern Victoria roasted through higher temperatures near 45 degrees.
Temperatures are expected to pass 40 degrees for the second day in a row on Sunday, while the Bureau of Meteorology predicts a five or six day heat wave for northern New South Wales and southeast Queensland.
The forecast for a rise in temperatures prompted the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to say demand may exceed supply in New South Wales on Sunday afternoon.
Australia has experienced a hotter and longer summer with last season being nicknamed “Black Summer” by Prime Minister Scott Morrison due to unusually prolonged and intense wildfires that burned nearly 12 million hectares (30 million hectares), killing 33 people and an estimated 1 billion animals.
The Rural Fire Service issued a total fire ban for much of eastern and northeastern NSW for Sunday, saying there was a “very high to severe estimate of the fire hazard” as strong winds and heat exacerbated dry conditions.
Reporting by Swati Pandey; Edited by Daniel Wallis
The Australian Charity and Nonprofit Commission has fired warning shots at the Australian Conservation Foundation, asking environmental groups to “read the guide on political advocacy immediately” and consider withdrawing open complaint letter about Angus Taylor’s lack of action on climate change.
In correspondence seen by Guardian Australia, ACNC has raised its objection to the climate change open letter to Scott Morrison published in early November on the ACF website.
The document was signed by the ACF as well as by thousands of doctors and health and medical professionals. Matter also runs as an advertisement in Australian newspapers.
The open letter brokered by the ACF urged Morrison to exclude Taylor from his emission reduction portfolio because he “failed in his ministerial duties in three critical ways”.
The three ways specified in the open letter are to continue to “allocate public money for gas and other polluting fossil fuel projects while overseeing a 50% national decline in large-scale renewable energy investment from record highs in the 2018-19 financial year”; “Failure to reduce Australia’s emissions in accordance with our international obligations”; and failing “to tie Australia to its net zero emissions target by 2050, isolating the federal government from state partners, businesses, farmers and civil society and Australia from the international community”.
The ACNC compliance division contacted the ACF in writing on November 13. The charity watchdog told ACF they were “coming [their] concern “that the organization” has engaged in activities that appear to be against political candidates “.
Guardian Australia understands that several other groups involved in drafting the open letter have also been approached by the commission.
ACNC told ACF: “While a registered charity can advocate for issues related to its charitable goals, it cannot aim to promote or oppose a political party or candidate.
“It’s not limited to candidates during the election period – this includes current lawmakers.”
The ACF has rejected the assessment and told the commission that there is no justifiable basis for repeal the open letter on climate change.
The ACF chief executive, Kelly O’Shanassy, had told the commission that the open letter was entirely “an exercise in advocacy to advance the ACF’s charitable cause”.
O’Shanassy pointed out that ACF is a registered charity for the advancement of the natural environment.
“The ACF regularly conducts advocacy related to climate change and, in particular, prevents catastrophic climate change on a scale that will destroy rather than protect our natural environment,” the ACF chair said in a letter returning to the commission on 27 November.
“As a charity for the advancement of the natural environment, it is of course very appropriate for the ACF to provide public comment on whether the minister for emissions reductions is successful in reducing Australia’s harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
“All such comments are completely in line with our charitable cause.”
The ACF noted the open letter did not mention any political parties, and it indicated that Taylor was a sitting MP, not a candidate for political office.
“In calling for minister Taylor to be removed from his ministerial post, the ACF has made no comment on whether he should remain a member of parliament,” O’Shanassy said, adding the letter “relates only to minister Taylor’s role as emission minister.”
ACF said it believes it fully complies with the requirements.
However the commission has warned the ACF “the right to register as a charity is based on continued compliance with obligations under the Australian Charities and Non-Profit Commission Act 2012 (ACNC Act) and the Australian Charities and Non-Profit Commission Act 2013 Regulations (Regulations) .
“The Australian Conservation Foundation Incorporated must ensure its activities advance its charitable goals and that boards exercise their powers and obligations with the reasonable care expected of them.”
Charities are allowed to take part in public debate, and oppose or support government policies, laws, or practices, as long as it is relevant to their charitable cause. But they are not allowed to directly promote or oppose political parties or candidates running for office.
Commission publicly warned in 2017 it will crack down on inappropriate political advocacy in the sector, citing a growing number of complaints about charities – benefiting from significant tax concessions – engaging in political advocacy. Reports on that year found that Australian charities shun political advocacy and “silence themselves” for fear that dissent will attract political retribution.
The ACF has been audited by the commission during the electoral cycle but complaints about open mail are unusual.
O’Shanassy has responded to the organization’s request to read political advocacy guidelines by saying: “Thank you for your recommendation that the ACF should familiarize itself with ACNC’s guidelines on political advocacy.
“The board and staff are aware of this publication and have benefited greatly from it. We remain focused on these important issues, consistent with the good governance practices of the ACF. “