Two events in August 2019 underlined the complexity of paving the way to a climate-neutral world: the publishing of the new IPCC report and the Amazon fires. Both events demand that climate diplomats move beyond a narrowed focus on energy in decarbonisation debates.
First, the IPCC landmark report stresses that it will not be possible to keep global warming at safe levels unless there is a transformation in food production and land management, given that agriculture, forestry and other land use account for nearly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Among the action areas are the restoration of peat lands and the need for drastic reductions of meat consumption. Secondly, the political disputes between Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and the EU regarding the Amazon further underline the need for better climate diplomacy, and quite literally looking at what is actually on the plate.
The Amazon forest fires and their (mis)management by the Brazilian government have sparked intense debate about the treatment of the world's largest rainforest. This discussion also reached the negotiation tables of the G7 summit as well as the EU trade negotiations with Mercosur. According to EU's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service the forest fires already emitted nearly 25 megatons of CO2 by mid-August – in addition to all the other negative impacts on the environment and societies.
In this edition of our newsletter, Adriana Abdenur, Coordinator of the Peace & Security Division at the Igarapé Institute, examines the potential of the EU-Mercosur trade deal for ensuring sustainable trade – and highlights a need to extend the EU’s climate diplomacy tool-box. One of her recommendations is to encourage the EU to decide what it accepts to be on its plates and what it does not. In other words, the EU must reassert its leadership role in paving the way for global decarbonisation.
Colombia’s long-standing internal conflict and the country’s contribution to climate change share one common root cause: land concentration. Policies to strengthen access to land and to ensure sustainable land use might therefore hold the key to promoting peacebuilding in Colombia, while simultaneously reducing emissions.
As disasters wreak havoc all over South Asia, health impacts have increasingly emerged as a major concern for communities and governments in the region. It underscores the need for concerted efforts towards building synergies between the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda particularly now, in the post-disaster reconstruction phase, to ensure “building back better” and future disaster prevention.
In the Inner Mongolian county of Horinger, Northwestern China, afforestation efforts have transformed a barren, dusty landscape into a pine forest. Planting trees has diminished the sandstorms, boosted biodiversity and improved the environment generally. As the climate emergency worsens, the potential for planted trees to draw carbon out of the atmosphere is being re-examined. What can the world learn from the Chinese experience with afforestation?
Without electricity, Gaza is unable to treat its sewage water. This has already led to the closure of one of Israel’s key desalination plants, which uses water from the Mediterranean Sea. In Jordan, recurring droughts and the influx of refugees have resulted in a water crisis with regional spillover effects. Such examples create a clear message: climate and environment know no borders. In this interview, EcoPeace Directors Nada Majdalani (Palestine), Yana Abu-Taleb (Jordan) and Gidon Bromberg (Israel) explain why disengaging from a shared environment can aggravate the region’s security challenges.