Trees crucial to future of cities– the right amount of tree cover can lower summer daytime temperatures by as much as 10 F

-To get the maximum benefit of this cooling service, the study found that tree canopy cover must exceed 40 percent.

Read ScienceDaily coverage here

Carly D. Ziter, Eric J. Pedersen, Christopher J. Kucharik, Monica G. Turner. Scale-dependent interactions between tree canopy cover and impervious surfaces reduce daytime urban heat during summerProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 201817561 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1817561116

….Impervious surfaces — like roads, sidewalks and buildings — absorb heat from the sun during the day and slowly release that heat at night. Trees, on the other hand, not only shade those surfaces from the sun’s rays, they also transpire, or release water into the air through their leaves, a process that cools things down.

To get the maximum benefit of this cooling service, the study found that tree canopy cover must exceed 40 percent. In other words, an aerial picture of a single city block would need to be nearly half-way covered by a leafy green network of branches and leaves….

Healthy Soils to Cool the Planet – A Philanthropic Action Guide

See more here about Breakthrough Strategies and read their excellent new guide here (Pdf)

Background from Ellie: Conservatively, managing agricultural soils for soil organic matter can sequester 5 billion tons (Gt) of CO2e out of the atmosphere globally every year, drawing down 50% of what is needed to return to a safe climate by 2050.

The UN IPCC’s recent 1.5C report called soil carbon sequestration as among the cheapest methods with the greatest potential (http://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15/). Healthy soils are foundational to human well-being, climate stabilization and vibrant ecosystems. The sustainable management and restoration of soils enhance agricultural productivity, fresh water availability, biodiversity, and climate change preparedness with enormous potential to slow and reverse negative impacts such as droughts, floods and more (von Unger, M. & Emmer, I. 2018. Carbon Market Incentives to Conserve, Restore and Enhance Soil Carbon. Silvestrum & TNC).  

Almost all IPCC scenarios that keep us below 2°C of warming include CO2 removal – typically about 10 billion tons CO2 yr-1. Based on the latest estimates from the IPCC, soils management could conservatively pull 5 billion tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere annually on croplands and rangelands by 2050, offering 50% of the needed carbon removal, with zero additional land and water use (D. Bossio, TNC; and, Zomer et al. Global Sequestration Potential of Increased Organic Carbon in Cropland Soils. Scientific Reports 7.; Vermeulen et al, A Global Agenda for Action on Soil Carbon. Nature Sustainability, Jan 2019). Equally important is avoiding future emissions from soil by protecting existing soil carbon stocks in grasslands and wetlands. 

Currently, only 8 governments include soil health in their efforts to achieve the Paris Climate goals (UNFCCC 2015). Yet boosting soil health at scale should be relatively easy to achieve through low-tech sustainable agricultural practices with policy, funding and technical support. There are other natural climate solutions as well such as climate-smart habitat restoration (https://www.sciencebase.gov/catalog/item/59fb62cbe4b0531197b165f8 and Dybala et al. (2018) Carbon sequestration in riparian forests: a global synthesis and meta-analysisGlobal Change Biology. ) and silviculture (https://www.fs.usda.gov/ccrc/topics/silviculture-climate-change).  

CO2 emissions in 18 developed economies fall due to decreasing fossil fuel and energy use, increase in renewables and climate policies in place

University of East Anglia Read full ScienceDaily article here

Efforts to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and tackle climate change in developed economies are beginning to pay off according to new research.

…Policies supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency are helping to reduce emissions in 18 developed economies. The group of countries represents 28 per cent of global emissions, and includes the UK, US, France and Germany.

The research team analysed the reasons behind changes in CO2emissions in countries where emissions declined significantly between 2005 and 2015. The findings, published in Nature Climate Change, show that the fall in CO2 emissions was mainly due to renewable energy replacing fossil fuels and to decreasing energy use.

However, the decrease in energy use was partly explained by lower economic growth reducing the demand for energy following the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. Significantly, countries where CO2 emissions decreased the most were those with the largest number of energy and climate policies in place…

  1. Corinne Le Quéré, Jan Ivar Korsbakken, Charlie Wilson, Jale Tosun, Robbie Andrew, Robert J. Andres, Josep G. Canadell, Andrew Jordan, Glen P. Peters, Detlef P. van Vuuren. Drivers of declining CO2 emissions in 18 developed economiesNature Climate Change, 2019; 9 (3): 213 DOI: 10.1038/s41558-019-0419-7

UNFCCC Katowice Climate Package: Making The Paris Agreement Work For All

Read more here at the UNFCCC website

When delegates adopted the 2015 Paris Agreement to widespread cheers and excitement, it was clear that further details needed to be negotiated on how the agreement would be implemented transparently and fairly for all. Countries set a deadline for themselves to complete these negotiations on the implementation guidelines in 2018 at COP24.

Against the backdrop of rising global emissions and multiplying signs of climate change such as wild fires, droughts and storms, countries began negotiating in 2016. “Recognizing the urgency, governments overcame difficult political and complex technical issues to agree the Katowice Climate Package at COP24,” said the UNs Climate Chief, Patricia Espinosa.

..The Katowice outcome is a complex package, achieved through in-depth technical discussions and political compromise and containing operational guidance on:

  • the information about domestic mitigation and other climate goals and activities that governments will provide in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs);
  • how to communicate about efforts to adapt to climate impacts;
  • the rules for functioning of the Transparency Framework, which will show to the world what countries are doing about climate change;
  • establishment of a committee to facilitate implementation of the Paris Agreement and promote compliance with the obligations undertaken under the Agreement;
  • how to conduct the Global Stocktake of overall progress towards the aims of the Paris Agreement;
  • how to assess progress on the development and transfer of technology;
  • how to provide advance information on financial support to developing countries and the process for establishing new targets on finance from 2025 onwards.

Time to Panic: The planet is getting warmer in catastrophic ways. And fear may be the only thing that saves us

To stay safely below that threshold, we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, according to the United Nations report. Instead, they are still rising. So being alarmed is not a sign of being hysterical; when it comes to climate change, being alarmed is what the facts demand. Perhaps the only logical response….. The likeliest outcomes for the end of this century fall between two and four degrees of warming. And so looking squarely at what the world might look like in that range — two degrees, three, four — is much better preparation for the challenges we will face than retreating into the comforting relative normalcy of the present.

By David Wallace-Wells Read full NYTimes opinion here

The age of climate panic is here. Last summer, a heat wave baked the entire Northern Hemisphere, killing dozens from Quebec to Japan. Some of the most destructive wildfires in California history turned more than a million acres to ash, along the way melting the tires and the sneakers of those trying to escape the flames. Pacific hurricanes forced three million people in China to flee and wiped away almost all of Hawaii’s East Island.

We are living today in a world that has warmed by just one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late 1800s, when records began on a global scale. We are adding planet-warming carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at a rate faster than at any point in human history since the beginning of industrialization.

In October, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released what has become known as its “Doomsday” report — “a deafening, piercing smoke alarm going off in the kitchen,” as one United Nations official described it — detailing climate effects at 1.5 and two degrees Celsius of warming (2.7 and 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)…

Though the report — the product of nearly 100 scientists from around the world — did not address any of the scarier possibilities for warming, it did offer a new form of permission to the world’s scientists. The thing that was new was the message: It is O.K., finally, to freak out.Even reasonable.

This, to me, is progress. Panic might seem counterproductive, but we’re at a point where alarmism and catastrophic thinking are valuable, for several reasons….

… If we started a broad decarbonization effort today — a gargantuan undertaking to overhaul our energy systems, building and transportation infrastructure and how we produce our food — the necessary rate of emissions reduction would be about 5 percent per year. If we delay another decade, it will require us to cut emissions by some 9 percent each year. This is why the United Nations secretary-general, António Guterres, believes we have only until 2020 to change course and get started. …

… as climate change has been dawning more fully into view over the past several decades, all the cognitive biases that push us toward complacency have been abetted by our storytelling about warming — by journalism defined by caution in describing the scale and speed of the threat.

California Wildfires, Hurricane Michael Top List of 2018’s Costliest Natural Disasters: Munich Re

by LS Howard, Jan 8 2019 Read full Insurance Journal article here 0

The costliest natural catastrophes occurred in the United States in 2018 with one of California’s devastating wildfires and Hurricane Michael topping the list, according to Munich Re.

A report from Munich Re on last year’s natural disasters pointed to “clear indications” that man-made climate change is a factor in California’s wildfires.

Breaking down the losses, Munich Re said northern California’s November wildfire, known as “Camp Fire,” had overall losses of US$16.5 billion and insured losses of US$12.5 billion, while Hurricane Michael had overall losses of US$16 billion and insured losses of US$10 billion.

In total last year’s natural catastrophes racked up an overall global price tag of US$160 billion, said the reinsurer, noting that only half these economic losses were insured. The 2018 losses were below 2017’s significant loss total of US$350 billion, due mainly to record hurricane losses.

Last year’s insured losses of $80 billion were substantially above the inflation-adjusted average for the last 30 years (US$41 billion), but below 2017’s record figures of US$140 billion, said the reinsurer.

Munich Re said California saw its worst-ever wildfire season – for the second year running – with the state’s wildfires contributing US$24 billion to the overall 2018 natural catastrophe loss burden with US$18 billion of the total wildfire price tag covered by insurance.,,,,

Ireland withdraws public money from fossil fuel investments

by Charlie Taylor January 4, 2019 read full article here

Ireland Strategic Investment Fund divests from 38 companies, raising €68m

The Department of Finance confirmed on Friday that the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), a State body controlled and managed by the National Treasury Management Agency, has divested from 38 fossil fuel companies.

The divestment, which was worth a combined €68 million, saw the fund selling off its shares in companies involved in oil, gas and other fossil fuels.

ISIF, which published a list of 148 fossil fuel companies in which it said it will not invest, is expected to continue to divest in such companies while also increasing investment in clean energy projects. Its portfolio already includes a range of wind farms, solar power and other renewable energy projects.

The €7.9 billion fund, which was designed to support economic activity and employment in Ireland, replaced the National Pensions Reserve Fund in 2010.

“The passing of this legislation marks Ireland out as one of the first countries in the world to withdraw public money from investment in fossil fuels,” said the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe. “It positions the ISIF as one of a handful of sovereign wealth funds globally to implement a fossil fuel divestment strategy’.

How we can combat climate change

Wash Post Editorial Staff January 2 2019 read full Washington Post article here

The world has until 2030 to drastically cut our emissions. Where do we begin?

Last year’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sounded the alarm: The world has until 2030 to implement “rapid and far-reaching” changes to our energy, infrastructure and industrial systems to avoid 2 degrees Celsius of warming, which could be catastrophic. But the scale of the challenge can appear so overwhelming that it’s hard to know where to start. The Post asked activists, politicians and researchers for climate policy ideas that offer hope. Radical change from one state, or even the whole United States, won’t address climate change on its own, but taking these actions could help start the planet down a path toward a better future.

11 policy ideas to protect the planet

Read more here….

How we can make beef less terrible for the environment- managed grazing with silvopasture (Wash Post Opinion)

Eric Toensmeier is a lecturer at Yale University and a senior researcher with the climate change-focused nonprofit Project Drawdown. He is the author of “The Carbon Farming Solution.” Read full Washington Post opinion piece here.

Long-term storage of carbon in silvopasture soil is up to five times higher than managed grazing alone — not to mention the carbon stored in the biomass of the trees, although this is not a solution for all rangelands.

When I began investigating how to capture carbon dioxide to fight climate change a decade ago, I had no way of knowing which tool would have the greatest potential. Years later, in 2015, when the environmentalist and entrepreneur Paul Hawken hired me to work for Project Drawdown to help model the impacts of 23 land-based climate change solutions, many on our team were surprised when a relatively unknown solution called “silvopasture” emerged as the most powerful agricultural production practice — the ninth most powerful method overall.

Silvopasture systems combine trees, livestock (ruminants like cattle, sheep and goats) and grazing. Ranchers and pastoralists plant trees or manage the land for spontaneous tree growth. The trees provide shade, timber and food for livestock. In most silvopasture systems, the carbon captured in soil and trees more than makes up for the greenhouse gases (methane and nitrous oxide) that ruminants emit through belches and flatulence. One study of intensive silvopasture in Colombia found that emissions from livestock were equal to a quarter to half of the carbon sequestered in soil and biomass…..