#UN; #UNCTAD; #EelectricCars; #ClimateChange
New York, Jun 28 (Canadian-Media): Demand for raw materials used in the production of electric car batteries is set to soar, prompting the UN trade body, UNCTAD, to call for the social and environmental impacts of the extraction of raw materials, which include human rights abuses, to be urgently addressed, UN reports said.
Agência Brasil/José Cruz. Image credit: Brazilian mine (file)
Electric cars are rapidly becoming more popular amongst consumers, and UNCTAD predicts that some 23 million will be sold over the coming decade: the market for rechargeable car batteries, currently estimated at $7 billion, is forecast to rise to $58 billion by 2024 .
The shift to electric mobility is in line with ongoing efforts to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change, but a new report from UNCTAD, warns that the raw materials used in electric car batteries, are highly concentrated in a small number of countries, which raises a number of concerns.
Drilling down in DRC, Chile
For example, two-thirds of all cobalt production happens in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). According the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), about 20 per cent of cobalt supplied from the DRC comes from artisanal mines, where human rights abuses have been reported, and up to 40,000 children work in extremely dangerous conditions in the mines for meagre income.
And in Chile, lithium mining uses nearly 65% of the water in the country's Salar de Atamaca region, one of the driest desert areas in the world, to pump out brines from drilled wells. This has forced local quinoa farmers and llama herders to migrate and abandon ancestral settlements. It has also contributed to environment degradation, landscape damage and soil contamination, groundwater depletion and pollution.
Climb the value chain
Noting that "the rise in demand for the strategic raw materials used to manufacture electric car batteries will open more trade opportunities for the countries that supply these materials”, UNCTAD's director of international trade, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, emphasised the importance, for these countries, to “develop their capacity to move up the value chain".
In the DRC, this would mean building processing plants and refineries that would add value and, potentially, jobs within the country. However, for various reasons (including limited infrastructure, financing and a lack of appropriate policies), refining takes place in other countries, mainly Belgium, China, Finland, Norway and Zambia, which reap the economic benefit.
The report recommends that countries such as DRC provide “conducive environment to attract investment to establish new mines or expand existing ones”.
Diversify and thrive
UNCTAD also recommends that the industry find ways to reduce its dependence on critical raw materials. For example, scientists are researching the possibility of using widely-available silicon, instead of graphite (80% of natural graphite reserves are in China, Brazil and Turkey).
If the industry manages to become less reliant on materials concentrated in a small number of countries, says UNCTAD, there is more chance that prices of batteries will drop, leading to greater take-up of electric cars, and a shift away from fossil-fuel powered transport.
As for the environmental consequences of the batteries themselves, the report recommends the development of improved, more sustainable mining techniques, and the recycling of the raw materials used in spent Lithium-Ion batteries, a measure that would help deal with the expected increase in demand, and also create new business opportunities.
#UN; #ClimateChange; #EconomicRecovery
New York, Jun 28 (Canadian-Media): As governments try to kick-start their economies, the UN is calling for recovery plans to be built around low-carbon technologies, to avoid a return to fossil fuel-based business as usual, UN reports said.
Coastal communities, like Port Sud-Est in Mauritius, are exposed to the adverse impacts of climate change. Image credit: UNDP Mauritius/Stéphane Bellero
Islands at the forefront
Some of the countries and regions at the forefront of this wholescale shift to renewables are islands, where the need to avoid the significant cost of importing fossil fuels, such as oil and gas, provides added motivation.
Mauritius, for example, is planning to generate over a third of its electricity from renewable sources within the next five years. Projects supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), will be an important part of this transition, bringing an additional 25 Mega Watts of solar power to Mauritius, including a mini-power grid in Agalega, one of the outer islands.
At the current pace, it would take the world forever to come anywhere near a no-carbon system. Rana Adib, Executive Director, REN21
As well as reducing pollution, this shift to clean energy is expected to aid economic recovery, with new jobs in areas such as the production, installation, and maintenance of renewable energy equipment, from solar panels, to batteries and wind turbines.
Another added benefit is energy security: with such a high dependence on imported oil, price fluctuations can make budgeting difficult, and any interruption to supply can have serious consequences. “Home-grown” energy from renewable sources can make the energy grid more reliable, and more resilient.
The Pacific US State of Hawaii is planning to go even further and become a trailblazer for the rest of the United States, by going completely renewable by 2045. As Hawaii State Governor, David Ige, explained to UN News, their commitment is now moving to the mainstream: “at the time we enacted the law to commit to 100 per cent renewables, no other community had done anything similar and at the National Governors’ Association, people were generally very surprised.
They thought that it was so beyond possible that it was a foolish undertaking. Now, California has embraced the commitment to 100 per cent clean renewable energy and other states are contemplating doing the same. I’m proud that Hawaii has really inspired other states and communities.”
Time to change the entire energy system
As economies recover post-pandemic, following these examples will be essential to turn the tide and, as a new report from REN21 – a renewable energy think tank that includes the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Development Programme (UNDP) amongst its members – shows, remarkable progress has been made by the renewable energy industry, where costs are falling, and clean energy use is increase.
However, this good news is currently offset by the fact that global energy use is rising, and is being powered, in the main, by fossil fuels. Following the release of the report, on 16 June, Rana Adib, REN21’s Executive Director, underlined the fact that the pandemic-related emissions drop barely makes a dent in the long-term problem of climate change, and an overhaul of the entire energy system is needed:
“Even if the lockdowns were to continue for a decade, the change would not be sufficient. At the current pace, with the current system and current market rules, it would take the world forever to come anywhere near a no-carbon system.”
The report warns that many recovery programmes include commitments to stick with dirty, polluting fossil fuel systems: whilst some countries are phasing out coal, others continue to invest in new coal-fired power plants. In addition, funding from private banks for fossil fuel projects has increased each year since the signing of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, totalling some USD 2.7 trillion over the last three years.
“Some directly promote natural gas, coal or oil. Others, though claiming a green focus, build the roof and forget the foundation,” warned Ms. Adib. “Take electric cars and hydrogen, for example. These technologies are only green if powered by renewables.”
Clean is cost-effective
Nevertheless, Mauritius and Hawaii show that a green option is not only possible, but actually a better deal than a fossil-fuel based recovery plan, especially when the true costs, including air pollution, climate change effects and traffic congestion, are factored in.
A new book from the World Bank, Technology Transfer and Innovation for Low-carbon Development, shows that most of the emissions reductions needed to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, can be achieved if existing, commercially proven low-carbon technology is adopted on a massive scale.
As Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) explains, “renewables are now more cost-effective than ever, providing an opportunity to prioritize clean economic recovery packages and bring the world closer to meeting the Paris Agreement Goals. Renewables are a key pillar of a healthy, safe and green COVID-19 recovery that leaves no one behind.”
When Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2020, a report from UNEP, The Frankfurt School, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, was released in June, it further underlined the plummeting costs of clean energy, highlighting the fact that “putting these dollars into renewables will buy more generation capacity than ever before”, and help countries deliver on stronger climate action.
“If governments take advantage of the ever-falling price tag of renewables to put clean energy at the heart of COVID -19 economic recovery, instead of subsidizing the recovery of fossil-fuel industries”, said Ms. Andersen, “they can take a big step towards clean energy and a healthy natural world, which ultimately is the best insurance policy against global pandemics.”
An opportunity for a cleaner world
The economic slowdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a significant fall in harmful greenhouse emissions and, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), 2020 will see a drop of around eight per cent.
This has given us an idea of what a cleaner world might look like, but it is only a temporary respite: it has also had devastating consequences, including the shuttering of entire sectors, and unemployment for millions of people.
Now, with countries and regions like Mauritius and Hawaii investing in policies, programmes and initiatives to get people back to work, there is an opportunity for a more sustainable approach, with renewable technologies at its heart. The question is whether the international community will seize this opportunity, or stick with the devil they know.
United Nations, Jun 26 (Canadian-Media): New records for extreme lightning bursts, or ‘megaflashes’, during 2019, have been made official, more than doubling the size and duration of the previous record flashes, the UN’s weather agency, WMO, announced on June 25, UN reports said.
Closing the windows and covering your pet’s ears, during the ensuing thunder, probably wouldn’t have made much difference to anyone stuck in the middle of the flash that developed continuously over northern Argentina on 4 March 2019, lasting a whopping 16.73 seconds.
And the flash that stretched more than 700 kilometres (400 miles) across southern Brazil on 31 October last year, was equivalent to the distance between Boston and Washington DC in the United States, or between London, England, and Basel, Switzerland.
The world’s greatest extent for a single lightning covered a horizontal distance of over 700 km (440) across parts of southern Brazil on 31 October 2018, by WMOThe previous megaflash distance record was 321 km (199.5 miles) on 20 June 2007, across the US state of Oklahoma, and the previous continuous duration record, was a puny-by-comparison 7.74 seconds, reached on 30 August 2012 in southern France.
Seen from space
The new record-breaking strikes, captured by the American Geophysical Union ahead of International Lightning Safety Day on 28 June, were recorded by equipment carried on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, and their orbiting counterparts from Europe and China.
The records were described by Professor Randall Cerveny, chief rapporteur of Weather and Climate Extremes for WMO, as “extraordinary”: “Environmental extremes are living measurements of what nature is capable of, as well as scientific progress in being able to make such assessments”, he added.
“It is likely that even greater extremes still exist, and that we will be able to observe them as lightning detection technology improves.”
Professor Cerveny said the technology could help scientists better understand the whole science of lightning, and potentially save lives: “This will provide valuable information for establishing limits to the scale of lightning – including megaflashes – for engineering, safety and scientific concerns.”
The WMO reiterated the dangers of lightning, and the many lives it claims every year.
Previous extreme examples have led to major loss of life: in 1975, for example, 21 people in Zimbabwe were killed when a single flash hit the hut in which they were sheltering, and 469 people were killed in Dronka, Egypt in 1994, when lightning tragically struck a set of oil tanks, causing burning oil to flood the town.
The official advice from the agency is to follow the 30-30 rule: if the time between flash and thunder is less than 30 seconds, stay inside, and wait 30 minutes after the last observed flash, to resume outdoor activities.
#CaribbeanDustStorm; #WMO; #Sahara;
Caribbean, Jun 26 (Canadian-Media): A massive dust storm currently blanketing many parts of the Caribbean, posing a significant threat to regional health, has revealed the importance of having effective warning systems in place, the World Meteorological Office (WMO) said on Friday, UN reports said.
A dust storm which originated in the Sahara in Africa has arrived in the Caribbean. Image credit: WMO
The storm arrived in the Eastern Caribbean from North Africa last week, affecting a wide area so far, spanning from the northern coast of South America to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
Daily life affected
“Sand and dust storms are severe hazards that can affect weather, climate, the environment, health, economies, transport and agriculture in many parts of the world”, said Dr. Oksana Tarasova, Head of WMO’s Atmospheric Environment Research Division.
“The ongoing dust storm, which has affected daily life in the Caribbean, shows the importance of forecast and warning services.”
‘Hazardous’ air quality levels
Although dust blows from Africa across the Atlantic every year, the UN weather agency said this year’s event has been particularly intense and extensive.
The dust storm has darkened skies, contaminated rainwater and greatly reduced visibility. It also poses a significant health hazard.
Countries such as Martinique, Guadeloupe and Puerto Rico have reported air quality levels in the “hazardous “category, with record values of PM10 – a particulate matter which can cause respiratory problems and disease.
Concentrations reported in Puerto Rico are at the highest level observed in the last 20 years.
Scientists at the University of Puerto Rico have also observed record high levels of aerosol optical thickness, or the measure of tiny solid or liquid particles in the air, such as dust, sea salt, or pollution from factories.
“This is a dust event of truly historic proportions”, said Professor Olga L. Mayol-Bracero at the University of Puerto Rico, and her counterpart, Dr. Andrea Sealy, meteorologist with the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology.
Natural and man-made causes
Sand and dust storms are common in arid and semi-arid regions of the world. They are usually caused by thunderstorms, which create strong winds that can transport large amounts of sand and dust thousands of kilometres away.
Every year, around 2,000 million tons of dust enters the Earth’s atmosphere, according to WMO. While much of this occurs naturally, a large part is due to poor water and land management.
WMO on Friday released the latest edition of its annual Airborne Dust Bulletin which found that mineral dust concentrations last year generally were similar to 2018 levels.
Through its Sand and Dust Storm – Warning Advisory and Assessment System (SDS-WAS), the UN agency provides operational forecasting aimed at reducing impacts on the environment, health and economies.
It has regional centres providing forecasts for Asia, Northern Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.
#UN; #WMO; #ClimateChange; #ArcticCircle
Geneva, Jun 23 (Canadian-Media): Reports that temperatures in a Russian town in the Arctic Circle likely reached a record 38C (100.4F), last weekend, have been approved by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) pending final verification, it said on Tuesday, UN reports said.
WMO. Image credit: Twitter handle
“The WMO is seeking to verify reports of a new temperature record north of the Arctic circle”, WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis told journalists in Geneva. “It was reported in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk amid a prolonged Siberian heatwave and increase in wildfire activity.”
If the Russian authorities confirm the temperature observation taken last Saturday, WMO will then refer the finding for a further detailed review by an international panel of experts, Ms. Nullis explained.
The region of Eastern Siberia now in the spotlight is known for its weather extremes in winter and in summer, with temperatures above 30C (86F) not unusual in July.
This latest report of an Arctic temperature more typical of the Tropics comes a few months after the Argentine research base, Esperanza, on the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula, set a new record temperature of 18.4C (65.3F) on 6 February. Arctic heating up twice as fast
According to WMO, the Arctic is heating at roughly twice the global average. The heat spike follows a prolonged Siberian heatwave and wildfire period, Ms. Nullis explained, after an unusually warm spring that was also characterised by a lack of snow.
Data from WMO shows that May was about 10C (18.5F) above average in many parts of Siberia, “and it was this extraordinary heat which actually drove, made the warmest May on record for…the northern hemisphere, and also we think at a global level as well”, said Ms. Nullis.
According to WMO, air temperatures in the Arctic from 2016 to 2019 were the highest on record.
Sea ice declines
Equally worrying, the volume of Arctic sea ice in September 2019 – after the melting season - declined by more than 50 per cent, compared to the average from 1979 to 2019.
WMO’s verification process involves requesting additional information from the Russian meteorological service Roshydromet, including the readings, the type of equipment used and how the observation corresponds to others taken by surrounding weather stations.
“Those data will then be very carefully examined by an international panel of atmospheric scientists who, once they discussed it, will make a recommendation as to whether or not the observation is valid,” said Professor Randall Cerveny, WMO Rapporteur, in a statement.
He added: “The end result will be incredibly valuable information that will help climate scientists better understand climate, engineers and medical doctors better prepare for climate extremes and even the general public in achieving a better appreciation of climate change across this planet.”
#Alberta; #EnvironmentalReporting; #PublicHealthEmergency
Alberta, Jun 23 (Canadian-Media): Environmental reporting which had been temporarily paused by government of Alberta during the provincial public health emergency will resume on July 15, four weeks earlier than planned, media reports said.
“The temporary reporting relief provided through Environment and Parks allowed industry time to ensure the health and safety of staff and the communities in which they work. Now that the public health emergency is no longer in effect and Alberta is reopening as part of our phase two relaunch, industry can resume business while keeping communities and employees safe,” said Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks on June 23 in a press release.
Jason Nixon. Image credit: Twitter handle
A three-month extension has been authorized to industry by the Alberta Environment and Parks to submit regulatory reports for emissions reduction achievements and renewable fuel operator compliance by June 30.
All documentation related to Water Act approvals and licences, reports for public land rentals, and reports related to Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act authorizations that were collected since the ministerial order was put in place now need to be submitted.
Although drinking water facilities were not affected by the order, these are still required to submit reports during the pandemic.
Ministerial orders put in place by the Ministry of Energy are also being repealed on July 15, earlier than anticipated.
“There is no higher priority than the safety of workers and the communities they work in. The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic...While we expect precautionary measures to be taken, we have no doubt that industry is more than capable of adapting to these challenges,” said Sonya Savage, Minister of Energy in a new release.
#UN; #ClimateChange; #LandDegradation; #ProtectNature; #Biodiversity;
Geneva, Jun 17 (Canadian-Media): The UN Secretary-General has called for “a new contract for nature” to address ongoing global challenges connected to land degradation, such as forced migration, hunger and climate change, UN reports said.
A young girl cooks in a rural village in Ethiopia, where the land has been affected by recurrent droughts. Image credit: © UNICEF/Tanya Bindra
António Guterres made the appeal on Wednesday in a message to mark the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.
“Through international action and solidarity, we can scale up land restoration and nature-based solutions for climate action and the benefit of future generations. By doing so, we can deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind”, he said.
Desertification, or the degradation of land in arid areas, is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations, with more than three billion people routinely affected.
Drylands cover more than a third of the planet’s land surface. They are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use, such as through overgrazing or bad irrigation practices.
Choose to protect nature
This year’s observation puts the spotlight on sustainable production and consumption.
With ‘Food. Feed. Fibre’ as the slogan, the aim is to get people everywhere to reduce food waste, shop at local markets, and swap clothes instead of always buying new items.
The head of the UN office which oversees a global treaty on preventing land degradation said that although the COVID-19 pandemic may have temporarily curtailed some freedoms, such as travelling at will, people still have freedom of choice.
“In our globalized world, the food we eat, the feed for our livestock and the fibre for clothes, impact land thousands of miles away,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary at the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
“Each of us holds the power to protect the land for each choice we make in our daily lives. And we can still choose to protect nature. By doing so, we in fact protect our future.”
Great Green Wall
The Secretary-General pointed to efforts to reverse land degradation, such as the Great Green Wall in Africa’s Sahel region, launched by the African Union in 2007.
Through the initiative, trees are being planted from Senegal to Djibouti, to restore land and boost food security, transforming lives and livelihoods along the way.
“Such efforts bring back biodiversity, reduce the effects of climate change and make communities more resilient,” the UN chief said. “All told, the benefits outweigh the costs ten-fold.”
Globally, 75 per cent of land is degraded, according to the President of the UN General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande.
“As land degrades, resources deplete. Thus, the most vulnerable people are further exposed to poverty and hunger; with women, smallholder farmers, indigenous communities and children being disproportionately affected”, he said.
‘Urgent paradigm shift’
The resulting extreme poverty and hunger are among the root causes of both conflict and migration, he continued, outlining a cycle of “degrade-abandon-migrate”.
Mr. Muhammad-Bande believes an “urgent paradigm shift” is needed, focusing on protection, sustainability and restoration, and he called for renewed commitment to safeguarding the planet.
“As we build back better in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, let us work together with farmers to promote sustainable land management”, he said.
“We must support smallholder farmers, the vast number of whom are women, to make evidence-based decisions in regard to crop selection, inputs usage, and land resilience, in the face of climate change and loss of biodiversity.”
#Alberta; #EmissionsReduction; #Bill22; EEA; #ERA
Alberta, Jun 14 (Canadian-Media): The shuttering of Energy Efficiency Alberta (EEA) and an end to cabinet approval for oilsands projects are proposed in an omnibus bill (Bill 22) introduced by the government of Alberta on June 11, media reports said.
EEA aimed to help Albertans make their homes and businesses more energy efficient.
But Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon said that EEA duplicated work of ERA.
ERA. Image credit: Twitter handle
If Bill 22 is passed, most remaining programs and services that have been led by EEA will transition to ERA, an organization that has been helping industries and businesses save money and reduce emissions for more than 10 years.
Since 2009, more than $534 million have been committed by ERA to 161 projects that are worth $4 billion.
It is estimated that these projects would reduce emissions by almost 33 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030.
While ERA focuses on larger-scale emission reductions initiatives for industry, Nixon said it would also be mandated to include programs previously administered by EEA
The passing of BILL 22 would lead to the ultimate closure of EEA in September.
About two-thirds of the current staff of EEA will move to ERA, said Nixon.
There are 14 changes in the Bill 22 aimed at reducing what the government calls "red tape" in six different ministries.
According to the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act, 2020, need for cabinet to sign off on oilsands projects approved by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is eliminated.
Elimination of that extra step could speed up the process by as much as 10 months, said the officials.
Dissolution of the agency would lead Alberta to its previous status as the only Canadian province without that kind of agency.
Bill 22's other initiatives include opening up of grazing leases in provincial parks, grazing permits in forest reserves and the sales of public lands to all Canadians, not just residents of Alberta.
This move will focus the province’s funding on one agency, and make it clearer for applicants and their service providers to access emissions-reduction programs.
“Our government has always maintained that we must leverage our industry partners and small- and medium-sized businesses in order to tackle emissions. We have also committed to streamlining government delivery of services and cutting red tape. By rolling EEA into ERA, we are accomplishing all of the above. We thank the board and staff of EEA for their service, and we look forward to continuing important emissions-reduction work under ERA as we move to a stronger, more diversified economy and put Albertans back to work, ” said Nixon.
ERA collaborates with government, industry and innovators to speed up the development of technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and attract investment, and will be supported by the funds generated from the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) system, which regulates emissions from large industries.
Through ERA, Alberta's emissions-reduction efforts would be focused on the commercial and industrial sectors, which account for more than 65 percent of the province’s total emissions.
“Reducing costs and emissions are core to ERA’s mandate, and we have a proven business model to offer the organizational efficiencies and results the province is seeking. We will build on EEA’s expertise and experience to help Alberta’s industries achieve sustainable environmental outcomes, attract investment, and improve their overall competitiveness,” said
Steve MacDonald, CEO, ERA.
Decisions on specific programs and administrative details of Alberta's work with ERA on innovative ideas and solutions for managing and reducing emissions are underway and will be shared with Albertans as updates become available.
#ILO; #Green&FairCovidRecovery; #SDGs; #WorldEnvironmentDay; #PartnersForInclusiveGreenEconomy;
New York, June 6 (Canadian-Media): On World Environment Day, 5th June 2020, global institutions working on development, labor and environment have united around key actions for spurring a green, just and transformative recovery, ILO reports said.
Image credit: ILO
The COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating existing global inequalities within and between countries and communities, while exposing how vulnerable our socio-economic systems are to external shocks.
The Partners for Inclusive Green Economy11 are calling for recovery efforts that recognise the interdependencies between human and environmental health, and aim to build resilience to even more profound risks on the horizon - biodiversity loss, widening inequality and climate change.
There are already some inspiring examples of countries and decision makers taking leadership to prioritise green and pro-poor stimulus packages. If these efforts can build towards deeper and more integrated policy approaches, developed in consultation with stakeholders and civil society, the response to COVID-19 could provide a powerful accelerator for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement.
Together, the partner organisations have identified the following ten policy options that will guide a fast, fair and green recovery:
1. The Green Economy Principles of Wellbeing, Justice, Sufficiency & Efficiency, Planetary Boundaries, and Good Governance should guide recovery plans and actions.
2. Advance national green economy plans, ‘Green Deals’, green industrial strategies and COVID-19 recovery plans to build long-term resilience and prosperity. Countries should use this opportunity to redouble efforts to meet the ambitions of the SDGs and Paris Agreement.
3. Structure fiscal stimulus and financial aid packages to accelerate the transition to a fair and green economy - not to undermine it.
4. Recognise and value the role of nature in reducing systemic risks, and mitigate the risk of future zoonotic disease outbreaks by addressing their root causes.
5. Build resilience to external shocks by investing in sustainable infrastructure and stronger public health and environmental protection.
6. Strengthen and broaden inclusive social protection mechanisms and advance human rights.
7. Accelerate the energy transition and tackle fossil fuel subsidies.
8. Apply a gender-responsive approach to the recovery to effectively address underlying issues of gender inequality.
9. Prioritise small and informal enterprises to accelerate the private sector transition to greener practices.
10. Improve global cooperation and coordination to more effectively respond to other global crises.
#UN; #UNEP; #WorldEnvironmentDay; #"Time #ForNature"; #Covid19Pandemic; #GreenLegacyInitiative
New York, Jun 6 (Canadian-Media): As nations of the world strive to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s World Environment Day brings into sharp focus the importance of fundamentally shifting humanity’s relationship with nature to preserve our societies and prevent future pandemics, UNEP reports said.
Image credit: Twitter handle
Celebrated annually on 5 June, World Environment Day is the United Nations’ biggest event advocating for environmental action and the need to protect our planet. Since it was first observed in 1974, the event has grown to become a global platform for public outreach on the environment in over 100 countries.
This year – despite the ongoing pandemic that has devastated the global community – Colombia and Germany co-hosted the main World Environment Day celebrations, streamed live online from Bogotá. Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez and Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), led global calls to declare it “Time #ForNature,” a call to action to combat the accelerating species loss and degradation of the natural world.
“To care for humanity, we must care for nature. As we work to build back better, let’s put nature where it belongs - at the heart of our decision making,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “On World Environment Day and every day, it’s time for nature.”
“This is a moment for a deep reflection on nature, on climate change, on how we should behave, on what the ethics of our society should be, to protect species and ecosystems,” said President Duque. Colombia, one of six megadiverse countries in the Latin American region, aims to plant 180 million trees by August 2022.
With our ever-increasing demands, humans have pushed nature beyond its limits. In the last 50 years, the human population has doubled; the global economy and trade have grown nearly fourfold and tenfold, respectively. The emergence of COVID-19 has underscored the fact that, when we destroy biodiversity, we destroy the very system that supports human life. By upsetting the delicate balance of nature, we have created conditions for pathogens–including coronaviruses–to spread.
“Today, on World Environment Day, I call on everyone to work together to protect the nature that supports us all. The stronger our planet’s life support systems are, the better human health and wealth will be,” UNEP’s Executive Director said.
Around half the world’s GDP depends on nature. Our oceans and forests sustain billions of people and provide green jobs – 86 million green jobs from forests alone. Four billion people rely primarily on natural medicines. Nature-based solutions – such as afforestation and using greenery to cool our cities and buildings – can provide around one-third of the emissions reductions needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
In spite of logistical limitations as a result of the pandemic, governments, the private sector, civil society and individuals across the globe today joined in World Environment Day events, announcements and calls to acknowledge the importance of nature to our health, our economies and our societies.
In Canada, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson announced over 60 conservation projects under development. Funded through the Canada Nature Fund’s Target 1 Challenge initiative, these projects aim to conserve biodiversity, protect species at risk, and enhance the ecological integrity, connectivity, and size of Canada’s protected areas. The projects move Canada closer to its goal of protecting 25 percent of its lands and 25 percent of its oceans by 2025.
In Perú, the President Martin Vizcarra traveled to the Tambopata National Reserve in the Amazon, to supervise the progress of the production of 741,238 seedlings for reforestation and to enhance support to local communities hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Chile, the government announced a nationwide recycling initiative to improve waste management and disposal, including medical waste, due to the pandemic.
In Kenya, a ban on all single-use plastics in the country’s national parks, beaches, forests and other protected areas took effect today. Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, launched a push for five billion new trees as part of the country’s Green Legacy initiative.
In Southeast Asia, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Varawut Silpa-archa, launched a national plastic recycling campaign. Vietnam's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment launched their Action Month for the Environment under the “Time for Nature” theme, while the Wild For Life campaign was launched in Bahasa Indonesia.
South Asian countries also took landmark actions to commemorate World Environment Day. Bhutan, the world’s only carbon negative country, underscored their commitment to nature by launching a revised National Environment Strategy. In Nepal, the national Electricity Authority switched on the first phase of the country’s first 25MW solar array.
In India, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and UNEP’s India Office announced an urban forest programme in 200 cities, while UNEP and TED-Ed’s “Earth School” was incorporated into the Ministry of Human Resources’ digital platform for teachers, DIKSHA.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson today announced £10.9 million to protect rare wildlife and habitats, including turtles in the British Virgin Islands, penguins in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the coral reefs in the Comoros, and chimpanzees in Uganda.
A number of world leaders, as part of what is called The High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, endorsed a statement for the day, calling “on all governments around the world to retain our precious intact ecosystems and wilderness, to preserve and effectively manage at least 30% of our planet’s lands and oceans by 2030, and to restore and conserve biodiversity, as a crucial step to help prevent future pandemics and public health emergencies, and lay the foundations for a sustainable global economy through job creation and human well-being.”
Young people – who have been at the forefront of environmental advocacy - are a key part of efforts to reverse our unhealthy relationship with nature. Today, the World Scout Movement launched their new Earth Tribe platform of environmental badges for their 50 million strong movement. In addition, over 500 higher education institutions, representing 4.6 million students, will announce their support for the "Race to Zero" today by committing to decarbonise and integrate environmental themes across their curriculums by 2050.
Expressing solidarity with countries working to contain the pandemic, UNEP’s Executive Director noted that environmental protection is integral to building back better, adding that the world needs multilateral solutions to environmental challenges that transcend communities, boundaries and countries.
“The world is too big and interconnected for anybody to go it alone in the face of the environmental problems challenging our species,” she said.
Time for Nature as World Environment Day shines a spotlight on biodiversity