Climate Daily

The evidence in the Word documents is available to our subscribers.  The cards below are free to anyone.

Climate change won’t cause human extinction

Rick Newman, January 6, 2022, Let’s stop making this climate change mistake, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/lets-stop-making-this-climate-change-mistake-151934749.html

The Earth is ablaze, apparently. The New York Times recently published “Postcards from a world on fire,” a detailed accounting of climate change disruptions in each of 193 countries. Atop the multimedia version of the feature, a spinning globe spews flame and smoke, like the Twin Towers before they collapsed on 9-11. Climate change reportage routinely declares we are destroying the planet, wrecking the Earth and imperiling the world, as if the entire geologic mass is about to go poof. The countdown is on for the number of years—50? 30? 10?—we have to save the planet. Stay ahead of the market These characterizations are not quite right—and overstating the consequences of a warming climate may already be undermining efforts to take needed action. A warming climate is undoubtedly changing the planet in ways dangerous to humans and other living things. But the Earth isn’t on fire, and the planet itself is not endangered. What we’re damaging is our own habitat, and those of other species. The planet will carry on one way or another. “We’re riding this planet right now,” says Bob Bunting, CEO of the Climate Adaptation Center in Sarasota and former lead forecaster for the government weather agency NOAA. “It remains to be seen how permanent we are. The planet will evolve with or without us. The planet doesn’t care whether we’re part of it or not.” We tend to anthropomorphize Earth—“Mother Nature”—yet humans have only been part of the planet for a tiny portion of its existence. And the Earth has been as warm as it is now at least three times during the last 400,000 years, according to data from Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Species have come and gone, but a warming climate has never threatened the Earth itself. What’s different now is record levels of carbon in the atmosphere, suggesting temperatures will eventually hit unprecedented levels. Whether humans will survive that is the real question. It might seem like innocent hyperbole or dramatic license to say we’re wrecking the planet when we’re really damaging just a specific part of it that happens to be vital to us. After all, if we go extinct, the planet will cease to exist, for humans. At that point, who cares if it continues to circle the sun without us. Yet existential alarmism is counterproductive when public support is crucial to addressing a problem as vast as climate change. Most people, if told the planet is on fire, can look around and plainly see that it’s not. Others may feel a sense of dread and think it’s pointless to do anything, if we’re really doomed. Even people who know climate change is making floods, fires, droughts and storms worse can rightfully ask how urgent the problem really is and how much climate activists exaggerate. For all the people killed and displaced by freakish weather, there are many more who still don’t feel any direct impact from a warming planet—and might even think a shorter winter in northern climes would be welcome. Most Americans recognize that climate change is a serious problem and many consider it a crisis. But that’s not the same as resolving to take action. Economists almost universally agree that one of the most effective ways to trigger a green-energy transformation would be to enact a carbon tax that makes fossil fuels increasingly expensive, and renewables ever cheaper by comparison. Yet that has proven politically impossible. President Biden is pushing for a huge green-energy transformation, but his plan doesn’t include a carbon tax, because you simply can’t win elections by promising to raise the cost of fueling cars and heating homes. In Washington state, one of the most liberal and environmentally aware, voters nixed carbon tax initiatives in 2016 and 2018. People hold cardboard signs cut in shapes of burning trees and homes and flames, symbolizing the present day impacts of climate change, during a 'non-violent resistance' climate change protest organized by Extinction Rebellion in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., September 17, 2021. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs People hold cardboard signs cut in shapes of burning trees and homes and flames, symbolizing the present day impacts of climate change, during a ‘non-violent resistance’ climate change protest organized by Extinction Rebellion in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., September 17, 2021. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs Some voters say they’re willing to sacrifice to help deal with a warming planet, but that hasn’t yet translated into political action. Biden’s Build Back Better legislation includes several hundred billion dollars in green-energy investments, but that hasn’t passed yet, and may never. Aside from that, U.S. efforts to address climate change have been modest at best: tax incentives for electric vehicles, a bit of infrastructure funding, on-off-and-on-again increases in fuel-efficiency standards. Not much, given the scale of the problem. Keeping global temperatures at manageable levels is going to be really expensive. The International Energy Agency says it will take $5 trillion in global energy investment per year by 2030. The International Renewable Energy Agency estimates a total need for $131 trillion in global energy investment by 2050. If the U.S. contributed according to its proportion of global GDP, that would be $21 trillion during the next 30 years or so, or $700 billion every year above what we’re spending now. Some of that would be private investment, but it would require policy changes likely to increase the return on renewables while lowering the return on carbon. Hence the political barriers. It would also require some amount of taxpayer funding way higher than anybody is seriously talking about now.

Coral reef bleaching won’t destroy food supplies

Sky News, January 6, 2022, Climate change: Hope for millions as study finds damaged coral reefs can still provide seafood, https://news.sky.com/story/climate-change-hope-for-millions-as-study-finds-damaged-coral-reefs-can-still-provide-seafood-12510337

Bleached and damaged coral reefs are still able to supply nutritious seafood, a study has found. Scientists led by Lancaster University used more than 20 years of data from the Seychelles, where tropical reefs were damaged by a large coral bleaching event in 1998. The bleaching, caused by rising sea temperatures, killed 90% of the corals found on the islands. Bleaching turns the corals white, and leaves them under stress and at risk of death. Scientists were unsure how climate change could affect the nutrients available from reef fisheries. But the new findings reveal they may be more resilient than previously thought. Campaigners say the global oil demand is already met by oil and gas exploration to date Oil and gas companies operating in North Sea to cash in ‘near record’ income as energy prices skyrocket Colourful houses in Hotwells in the city of Bristol seen from above during the first mass ascent, where balloons from all over the world gather at Ashton Court, Bristol, to take part in the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. Climate change: Find out the energy efficiency of homes in your area – as most important factor revealed The research, published in One Earth, finds damaged reef fisheries remain rich sources of micronutrients, even increasing in nutritional value for some minerals. This will bring hope to more than six million people who work in the small-scale fisheries and rely on tropical reefs. The fish they catch are vital to the health of millions of people in the tropics, which suffer from high levels of malnourishment. Bleached coral reef that is now dominated by seaweed (Lancaster University / Professor Nick Graham) Global warming means coral bleaching events are becoming more frequent and more severe, placing these vulnerable ecosystems under greater stress. Dr James Robinson, who led the study, said the findings “underline the continuing importance of these fisheries for vulnerable coastal communities, and the need to protect against overfishing to ensure long-term sustainability of reef fisheries”. “We found that some micronutrient-rich reef species become more abundant after coral bleaching, enabling fisheries to supply nutritious food despite climate change impacts,” he added, and called for the protection of these systems to be made a “priority”. The scientists, who came from the Seychelles, Australia, Canada, and Mozambique, calculated that reef fish are important sources of selenium and zinc, and contain levels of calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids comparable to foods like chicken and pork. Iron and zinc were found to be more concentrated in fish caught on reefs dominated by microalgae and seaweeds. Co-author Professor Christina Hicks said the study “suggests reef fisheries will continue to play a crucial role, even in the face of climate change, and highlights the vital importance of investing in sustainable fisheries management”. The researchers believe the results underline the need for more of the catches to be retained for locals and promotion of traditional fish-based diets. They used a combination of experimental fishing, nutrient analysis, and visual surveys of fish communities to inform the study.

Temp has increased 1.1 degrees, most limit to 1.5 to avoid impacts

Lisa Friedman, January 4, 2022, The New York Times, Biden ‘Over-Promised and Under-Delivered’ on Climate. Now, Trouble Looms in 2022., https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/04/climate/biden-climate-change.html

“If they can’t pull this off, then we failed; the country has failed the climate test,” said John Podesta, a former senior counselor to President Barack Obama and founder of the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. Mr. Podesta praised the Biden administration for making global warming a priority, creating a White House office of domestic climate policy, appointing an international climate envoy to reassert U.S. leadership on the global stage, moving forward a handful of regulations and proposing major investments in clean energy. But he also noted that the physics of climate change is unforgiving. The planet has already warmed an average of about 1.1 degrees Celsius compared with temperatures before the Industrial Revolution. If temperatures continue to rise past 1.5 degrees Celsius, the likelihood of increasingly deadly wildfires, floods, heat waves and other disasters becomes unavoidable, scientists have warned. Countries must immediately and drastically reduce greenhouse gases caused by burning oil, gas and coal if the world is to avert the most catastrophic impacts, experts have said.

Clean energy projects include dams that trigger military conflicts in the developing world

Giulio Boccaletti, 1-4, 22, When Climate Change Meets Geopolitics, New Security Beat, https://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2022/01/climate-change-meets-geopolitics/

Deteriorating security in Ethiopia, a country W.E.B. Dubois once described as where “the sunrise of human culture took place,” is deeply concerning. The last few months have seen a dramatic involution for a country that was once a poster child for sustainable development. The conflict between the government and rebel forces in Tigray is not just a matter of regional security, but a significant blow to the world’s efforts to fight climate change. Just over ten years ago, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi presented Ethiopia’s Climate Resilience and Green Economy Strategy. It was the 17th Conference of Parties in Durban, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The plan was hailed as a visionary, historic example of economic growth and climate agendas coming together, a new paradigm for development in a world of climate change. But behind the jargon of “green growth,” the plan was the product of a complicated geopolitical history. During WWII, President Roosevelt invited Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie to visit hydraulic projects, such as Glenn Canyon Dam, that had transformed the American West. The trip took place in 1954, during the Eisenhower administration. By then, economic development was a central concern for poorer countries like Ethiopia, who looked at the American Progressive experience in hydropower as a model to replicate. In the following years, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which at the time acted as a de-facto technical agency of the State Department, worked with the emperor’s government to produce a blueprint for the Blue Nile. The plan was an instrument of American Cold War strategy in the region. Far downstream, Gamal Nasser was playing Americans and Soviets against each other as he attempted to develop his own stretch of the river. Hydraulic development of the Nile’s upstream source was a powerful reminder to the newly elected Egyptian President that the Americans had their hand on the tap of his water supply. Amongst the proposed projects in the plan was a hydroelectric dam close to the border with Sudan, the “Border Dam.” It was supposed to hold just over 11 billion cubic meters of water, with installed capacity of about 1.5 Gigawatts. The plan was far too ambitious for Selassie’s autocratic government and remained unused. Eventually, the emperor was replaced by Mengistu’s DERG regime in 1974, itself then chased away by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its allies in 1991. In May of 1992, Meles Zenawi, the leader of the TPLF and by then president of a transitional government, argued that the rebirth of Ethiopia would depend on the development of its substantial water resources. The time for the Blue Nile plan seemed to have come. But Egypt, fearing for its supply of water, vowed to fight any attempt to develop such infrastructure, a threat it could back with its military might, now confident of American support. The plan remained dormant. Then came the Arab Spring. I was in Addis Ababa when, on the morning of February 11, 2011, the military came out in full force across the city, signaling an unusual concern for security. Two thousand miles downstream, Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian autocrat, had just been defeated in Tahrir Square. That day, everything changed. Up to that point, the government had been pursuing an Ethiopian green growth plan, but it had been singularly silent on how the vast, planned amounts of renewable energy would be delivered. Few knew of a key project, codenamed Project X, that was based on the Blue Nile blueprint. In fact, the Millennium Dam, built on the site of the Border Dam and subsequently renamed the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, was going to be the keystone of the country’s low-carbon rebirth. Two months later, Prime Minister Zenawi laid the first stone. The dam—over-dimensioned by roughly five times compared to the original proposal—was to be the largest in Africa, an ambitious benchmark of the country’s aspirations, shrouded in a bright shade of green. In November of that same year, Zenawi presented the country’s Climate Resilient and Green Economy strategy in Durban, revealing his ambition to the world. A template for Green Growth had been set, anchored on a hydropower project that had been conceived over half a century earlier. Meles Zenawi died unexpectedly in 2012. A few years later, the TPLF lost its grip on power to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, setting the stage for the current conflict. Development of the vast dam continued—it has just completed the second stage in filling its vast reservoir—but for the past year, the once star performer in the African low carbon transition has been descending into chaos. No matter what happens, recomposing an ethnically divided country scarred by alleged war crimes will be a fragile basis from which to deliver on the promise of the green growth. The Ethiopian government continues to be ostensibly committed to its low carbon strategy. Egypt, incensed by what it views as uncooperative river development, has been increasing pressure to thwart it. This issue is going to dominate the regional context when nations convene in Sharm el Sheik for UNFCCC COP 27. There is little doubt that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will be looking upstream, trying to judge whether the troubles of its upstream rival might herald another reversal of fortunes along the Nile. Multilateral negotiations over climate can often appear to be a principled fight for a low carbon future against the reactionary forces of the incumbent fossil fuel economy. But Ethiopia’s potentially catastrophic setback shows that green growth, economic development, and regional geopolitics are inextricably bound in a complicated, path-dependent knot that can present insurmountable obstacles to progress. It is a crucial reminder that, for all the focus on technology and global targets, the political wrangling that shapes and has always shaped the pursuit of development and self-determination is the dominant engine that will define the world’s ability to win its fight against climate change.

Climate change warms lakes, increasing species extinction

Clean Technica, January 4, 2022, Warming Lakes Are Losing Oxygen. Climate Change & Pollution Are To Blame, https://cleantechnica.com/2022/01/03/warming-lakes-are-losing-oxygen-climate-change-pollution-are-to-blame/

In a sweltering morning last July, thousands of dead fish washed onto the northeastern shores of Pokegama Lake, 60 miles north of Minneapolis. Deb Vermeersch, an official with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, was called in to investigate. When she arrived, she saw a quarter-mile stretch of sand covered with the rotting carcass of walleye and Northern pike, which thrive in deep, cool waters, as well as crappies, sunfish and suckers — all warm water dwellers. “They were already pretty decomposed because of the warm water,” Vermeersch recalled. Because so many different types of fish had died, Vermeersch and her colleagues knew it wasn’t a species-specific parasite, a common cause of fish kills. They zeroed in on the culprit: dangerously low oxygen levels. Oxygen is disappearing in freshwater lakes at a rate nine times that of oceans due to a combination of pollution and warming waters, according to a study published in Nature earlier this year. Lakes like Pokegama are warming earlier in the spring and staying warm into autumn, fueling algae blooms, which thrive in warm waters, and threaten native fish. Minnesota, with its 14,380 lakes and temperatures that have risen faster than the national average, is a unique laboratory for studying how climate change is affecting temperate-zone lakes around the world. The state sits at the intersection of four biomes — two distinct prairie ecosystems and two ecologically different forest systems. This means scientists here are able to study how lakes in different ecosystems fare on a warming planet, and look for ways to stave off the worst effects of climate change. “If you start losing oxygen, you start losing species.” What’s going on at the surface is that warmer water holds less oxygen than cool water,” said Lesley Knoll, a University of Minnesota limnologist and one of the authors of the Nature report. She said that longer, hotter summers are interfering with two key processes that have historically kept lakes’ oxygen levels in check: mixing and stratification. In temperate climates, water at the surface of lakes mixes with deep waters in the spring and the fall, when both layers are similar in temperature. As the surface water warms during the summer, the water forms distinct layers based on temperature — cool water at the bottom, warm at the top. This is known as stratification. In the fall, when the surface waters cool again, the water mixes for a second time, replenishing oxygen in deeper waters. But as climate change makes surface water warmer, and keeps it warmer for longer, that mixing doesn’t happen when it should. “As you have that stronger stratification, the water in the deep part of the lake is cut off from the oxygen at the top part of the lake. If you start losing oxygen, you start losing species,” says Kevin Rose, a biologist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and a coauthor of the Nature study. Knoll, Rose and a team of 43 other researchers studied 400 temperate lakes from around the world. They found that, on average, surface waters warmed by 7 degrees Fahrenheit and have lost roughly 5 percent of oxygen since 1980; deep waters, which haven’t warmed much, have still lost an average of almost 20 percent of their oxygen. (Thanks to the state’s long-held lake monitoring programs, almost a quarter the lakes in the study were in Minnesota.) Warming lakes emit methane Fish kills aren’t the only reason scientists are concerned about lakes losing oxygen. In extreme cases, when deep waters go completely void of oxygen, something else happens: Methane-emitting bacteria begin to thrive. “As lakes warm, they will produce more methane and most of that has to do with stratification,” said James Cotner, a limnologist at the University of Minnesota. Lakes normally emit carbon dioxide as a natural part of breaking down the trees, plants and animals that decay in them, but plants in and around fresh water also absorb it, making healthy lakes carbon sinks. Lakes have historically emitted methane, too — about 10 to 20 percent of the world’s emissions — but the prospect of them releasing more of the greenhouse gas has Cotner and his colleagues alarmed. Methane is about 25 times more potent than CO2 when it comes to trapping heat in Earth’s atmosphere. Cotner is leading a team of researchers who are studying what conditions allow methane-emitting bacteria to prosper in lakes and how conservationists can respond. “The key questions are understanding how much and when carbon dioxide and methane are emitted from lakes, and what are the key variables that can tell how much will be emitted. Certainly, oxygen is a big part of that, but stratification and warming also plays a role,” says Cotner.

COP-26 targets won’t keep us at 1.5 degrees

Madeleine Cuff, 1-1, 2022, Why 2022 is climate change crunch time for the richest countries, https://inews.co.uk/news/2022-climate-change-preview-crunch-time-1377754

Global emissions are still rising and despite the pressure of COP26, nations have not promised tough-enough emissions cuts to hold warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels – the last “safe” level of warming, according to scientists.

Developing world will drive future climate change, inadequate financial support for a green transition

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-12-14/coming-carbon-tsunami

In the struggle to combat climate change, the world is fighting the last war. Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, countries have released one and a half trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The largest cumulative emissions have come from the United States, European countries, China, and Russia, in that order. But these countries are now prosperous enough to pay for policies that can place them on the path to net-zero emissions by midcentury. The top emitting countries of the future could come largely from the developing world—countries such as Brazil, India, Indonesia, and South Africa, which face the herculean task of bringing millions out of poverty while simultaneously adapting to the harsh realities of climate change. If industrialized countries do not shoulder the responsibility to help prevent this next wave of emissions, the global effort to avoid climate disruption will fail. Efforts to ensure that today’s largest polluters rapidly curb their emissions are vitally important, but this progress risks being erased if poorer countries find it impossible to pursue a low-carbon development strategy. In order to simultaneously preserve the environment and help lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, rich countries must provide financing and policy support at a scale that has so far been unavailable to poorer countries. There are roughly two dozen emerging economies across the globe that are poised to expand their greenhouse gas emissions dramatically in the near future if they do not receive this assistance. Their population size, rapid economic growth rates, and reliance on fossil fuels have placed them on a trajectory for a dramatic expansion of their emissions. Together, they could cause the same massive wave of emissions that China produced during the first two decades of this century, when it released 195 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This would render impossible the efforts to reach global “net zero” by midcentury, which scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change. This challenge represents not only a scientific and political dilemma but an ethical and moral one, as well. Citizens of the world’s least developed countries have the same aspirations for economic prosperity as citizens of China, Germany, or the United States do. Those who argue that the only way to combat climate change is to reduce economic growth miss the fundamental unfairness of global economic development, which has left a third of the world’s population behind. Yet if developing countries follow the “grow first and clean up later” pattern established by the United States, western Europe, and East Asian countries, the consequences for the climate will be catastrophic. International focus, however, remains stubbornly fixated on the carbon emissions of China, the United States, and the EU. Institutions largely designed by and for developed countries—such as the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate and the G-7—continue to be central for climate diplomacy, even if they have not yet proved effective in reducing global emissions. But most of those countries’ emissions have already peaked, and they all boast the mature governance institutions, vibrant private sectors, and ready access to capital that make it entirely plausible for them to achieve net zero by 2050. The developing world, however, has none of these advantages. Many leaders from developing countries are no less concerned about climate action than their counterparts in Beijing, Washington, and Brussels, and the choices they make in the next five to ten years will determine the extent to which a surge in emissions can be prevented. So far, however, the efforts to provide their countries with low-carbon economic growth opportunities have been woefully inadequate. Although the recent UN Climate Change Conference, known as COP26 (the 26th Conference of the Parties), resulted in incremental progress, negotiators also acknowledged “with deep regret” that countries had failed to mobilize the financing for green development strategies that had been promised in previous agreements—and even those pledges were insufficient to address the scale of the problem. Meanwhile, the private sector continues to invest in whatever energy projects it wishes—regardless of how dirty they are.

Every ½ degree beyond 1.5 degrees puts hundreds of millions at-risk

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-12-14/coming-carbon-tsunami

Although world leaders have announced their intention to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the planet is currently on track to experience warming far in excess of that level. The consequences of this will be devastating: according to the latest report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, every additional 0.5 degrees Celsius of warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius will cause “clearly discernible increases in the intensity and frequency of hot extremes . . . as well as agricultural and ecological droughts.” In the event of two degrees Celsius warming, extreme heat waves that normally would have occurred only once in 50 years will likely occur 14 times during the same time frame. Three hundred and fifty million more people risk being be exposed to deadly heat: residents of Karachi, Pakistan, and Kolkata, India, for example, could experience, on an annual basis, conditions like those of the heat wave that struck the Indian subcontinent in 2015, which killed thousands. These changes will afflict the developed and the developing world alike; there is no alternative but to collaborate to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

China’s emissions are triple those of the US

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-12-14/coming-carbon-tsunami

In 1997, China’s GDP was dwarfed by the United States’, standing at less than $1 trillion in current U.S. dollars. Its accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001, however, unleashed the potential of its export-led development model: China’s GDP grew by leaps and bounds for the next 20 years, reaching $14.7 trillion by 2020. This is the development model that most developing countries look to for inspiration today—but it is a climate disaster. As the growth of China’s economy exploded, the country’s emissions likewise skyrocketed, surpassing those of the United States in 2005 and tripling in only 14 years.

Developing countries could emit as much as China

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-12-14/coming-carbon-tsunami

No single country is likely to produce the same volume of emissions as China did during the first two decades of this century. China’s emission growth was a function of its massive population size, high economic growth rate, and heavy reliance on coal for energy. There are 15 major emerging-market or developing countries that possess two out of three of these drivers (Bangladesh, China, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, and Vietnam); eight other countries are deeply reliant on petroleum consumption, the next most carbon­-intensive fuel (Algeria, Brazil, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and Saudi Arabia). This makes a total of about two dozen countries deserving priority attention and support.  Several of these countries together, if they continue on their current economic growth paths, could easily create a wave of emissions similar to the one China caused from 2000 to 2020. For instance, if just four of them—Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia—were to meet their pre-pandemic emission growth rates (as reported by the Climate Action Tracker) through 2050, their cumulative net emissions between now and then would be 197 billion metric tons. This figure would be equivalent to China’s emission output between 2000 and 2020.

Developing countries need financial support to meet emissions targets

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-12-14/coming-carbon-tsunami

This calculation does not take into account any planned emission-reduction policies or pledges. Thankfully, many developing countries have announced their intentions to improve their climate records: South Africa has pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia have committed to reaching net zero by 2060, and India has promised to achieve net zero by 2070. But none of these countries has produced a detailed plan for how to achieve its goal. Meanwhile, Iran has not yet announced a timeline for reaching net zero, and countries heavily reliant on coal, such as India and Vietnam, will have a particularly difficult time making the transition to a green economy. Despite these challenges, Vietnam committed at COP26 to phase out domestic coal use by the 2040s. Wealthy economies will need to provide some form of support for all these countries to bring an end to business as usual. Many countries in the developing world have good intentions to avoid climate change but need the financing and technical support to accomplish this policy shift. They will understandably prioritize poverty alleviation and economic growth—especially now, as the world comes out of a global recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Climate change will wreck economies: 10-25% loss of GDP

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-12-14/coming-carbon-tsunami

These developing countries are also more vulnerable to extreme weather events caused by climate change. If the world doesn’t begin rapidly reducing emissions, their growth will be hobbled by increasingly frequent hurricanes, mudslides, floods, and droughts. One analysis, sponsored by a global network of central banks, found that most countries could experience a 10–25 percent loss of GDP if no additional steps are taken to mitigate climate change. The greatest GDP losses are projected to occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, but China and the United States could still suffer substantial losses of up to ten percent of GDP. According to a UN report published earlier this year, it is estimated that the cost of adapting to climate change in developing countries will rise from $70 billion today to up to $500 billion by 2050.

58% increases in GHG emissions now

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-12-14/coming-carbon-tsunami

Despite the implementation of four major climate agreements and increasingly dire warnings from scientists, greenhouse gas emissions from all sources increased by 58 percent between 1990 and 2020. The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increased by 18 percent during the same period (since some emissions are absorbed by oceans and forests).

Paris will only limit warming to 2.7 degrees

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-12-14/coming-carbon-tsunami

Even the Paris agreement, a good outcome by the standards of international climate negotiations, is far from adequate. If all countries fulfill their promises, emissions will be 15 billion metric tons lower and global average temperatures will be one degree Celsius lower in 2050 than otherwise would have been the case. Yet by most estimates, total warming will still be an intolerable 2.7 degrees Celsius.

Inadequate financial resources for a green energy transition in developing countries

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-12-14/coming-carbon-tsunami

The resources being devoted to clean energy programs are too small to meet rising demand. Second, emerging economies (as well as many industrialized economies) have failed to develop a model of economic growth that does not rely on fossil fuels and energy-intensive industrialization. Japan, South Korea, and China adopted what became known as the East Asian development model—an approach that is manufacturing-intensive and export-led, with significant state intervention—and are all among the top ten emitters today. China is trying to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by switching to renewables and nuclear energy, but its abandonment of coal has been too slow. Third, public and private capital flows to developing economies do not provide sufficient financing to green energy projects. The International Energy Agency has estimated that $4 trillion in annual investments in clean energy is required to decarbonize the global energy system. In Paris, negotiators committed to mobilizing only $100 billion per year for developing countries by 2020—and even that pledge has not been met.

Although climate finance is notoriously difficult to track, the world appears to be mobilizing slightly more than $600 billion annually, just 15 percent of what is needed. National development institutions and corporations provide the bulk of the money (approximately $275 billion), multilateral and commercial banks come in second (with more than $190 billion), and individual investors and state-owned enterprises each provide roughly $55 billion. But three-quarters of these funds are spent domestically in developed countries, leaving little for the developing world. Sub-Saharan Africa benefits from only roughly $20 billion in climate finance per year, for example, compared with East Asia’s $292 billion. Most multilateral development institutions have failed to prioritize low-carbon energy projects. A study of investments from the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the Asian Development Bank in 2015 and 2016 found that only about 20 percent of the financing from these three institutions was aligned with the goal of staying below warming of two degrees Celsius.

For many developing countries, climate mitigation feels like a luxury they cannot afford.

The World Bank has reported that it provided $9.4 billion in financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy between 2015 and 2020. It does not report on its fossil fuel investments, making it difficult to assess its overall portfolio—although one German nongovernmental organization, Urgewald, conducted research that suggests the World Bank has invested $10.5 billion in new fossil fuel projects since the signing of the Paris agreement. By contrast, two of China’s so-called policy banks (the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China), which are government run, financed $16.3 billion in hydropower projects, $7.8 billion in nuclear power, and $2.4 billion in renewables between 2016 and 2020.

Although most multilateral development banks halted financing for coal a decade ago, they have done too little to support alternatives to this carbon-intensive fuel. There has been some modest progress: the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank have both actively financed renewable energy projects. The World Bank’s energy strategy, updated in 2020, reiterates that the bank no longer finances coal projects, that it halted financing for upstream oil and gas in 2019, and that it has “ramped up” efforts to help developing countries transition to clean energy.

These are welcome initiatives, but the multilateral banks’ investments in clean energy are still insufficient. The World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds has supported 26 gigawatts of clean power since 2008, whereas China alone has financed 32 gigawatts of clean energy projects in the last five years. The main financing vehicle under the Paris agreement is the Green Climate Fund, a small organization that as of October 2021 had financed just 190 projects around the world, with a cumulative commitment of $10 billion. Although the fund should continue to be part of the solution, project-by-project approaches are not going to provide the scale of support that is needed.

The failure of multilateral development banks to make financing for clean energy widely available means that they are ceding the space to public and private investors who are more interested in profit or geopolitics than climate change. China’s Belt and Road Initiative has provided crucial development support to many poorer countries, but more than 55 percent of the BRI’s energy finance has gone to fossil fuels, and of that, 70 percent was investment in coal. Overall, China financed 133 gigawatts of new power plants between 2000 and 2021, of which 56 gigawatts were from coal, 35 gigawatts were from hydropower, nine gigawatts were from wind, four were from solar power, and one was from nuclear power. Xi recently committed to stop building overseas coal plants and to “step up” support for low-carbon and clean energy projects, but whether China will follow through on these promises remains to be seen.

Multilateralism won’t solve climate change

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-12-14/coming-carbon-tsunami

Although climate finance is notoriously difficult to track, the world appears to be mobilizing slightly more than $600 billion annually, just 15 percent of what is needed. National development institutions and corporations provide the bulk of the money (approximately $275 billion), multilateral and commercial banks come in second (with more than $190 billion), and individual investors and state-owned enterprises each provide roughly $55 billion. But three-quarters of these funds are spent domestically in developed countries, leaving little for the developing world. Sub-Saharan Africa benefits from only roughly $20 billion in climate finance per year, for example, compared with East Asia’s $292 billion. Most multilateral development institutions have failed to prioritize low-carbon energy projects. A study of investments from the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the Asian Development Bank in 2015 and 2016 found that only about 20 percent of the financing from these three institutions was aligned with the goal of staying below warming of two degrees Celsius.

For many developing countries, climate mitigation feels like a luxury they cannot afford.

The World Bank has reported that it provided $9.4 billion in financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy between 2015 and 2020. It does not report on its fossil fuel investments, making it difficult to assess its overall portfolio—although one German nongovernmental organization, Urgewald, conducted research that suggests the World Bank has invested $10.5 billion in new fossil fuel projects since the signing of the Paris agreement. By contrast, two of China’s so-called policy banks (the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China), which are government run, financed $16.3 billion in hydropower projects, $7.8 billion in nuclear power, and $2.4 billion in renewables between 2016 and 2020. Although most multilateral development banks halted financing for coal a decade ago, they have done too little to support alternatives to this carbon-intensive fuel. There has been some modest progress: the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank have both actively financed renewable energy projects. The World Bank’s energy strategy, updated in 2020, reiterates that the bank no longer finances coal projects, that it halted financing for upstream oil and gas in 2019, and that it has “ramped up” efforts to help developing countries transition to clean energy. These are welcome initiatives, but the multilateral banks’ investments in clean energy are still insufficient. The World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds has supported 26 gigawatts of clean power since 2008, whereas China alone has financed 32 gigawatts of clean energy projects in the last five years. The main financing vehicle under the Paris agreement is the Green Climate Fund, a small organization that as of October 2021 had financed just 190 projects around the world, with a cumulative commitment of $10 billion. Although the fund should continue to be part of the solution, project-by-project approaches are not going to provide the scale of support that is needed. The failure of multilateral development banks to make financing for clean energy widely available means that they are ceding the space to public and private investors who are more interested in profit or geopolitics than climate change. China’s Belt and Road Initiative has provided crucial development support to many poorer countries, but more than 55 percent of the BRI’s energy finance has gone to fossil fuels, and of that, 70 percent was investment in coal. Overall, China financed 133 gigawatts of new power plants between 2000 and 2021, of which 56 gigawatts were from coal, 35 gigawatts were from hydropower, nine gigawatts were from wind, four were from solar power, and one was from nuclear power. Xi recently committed to stop building overseas coal plants and to “step up” support for low-carbon and clean energy projects, but whether China will follow through on these promises remains to be seen.

US climate financing too little

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-12-14/coming-carbon-tsunami

But as tempting as it is to criticize China for funding overseas coal projects through its state-owned policy banks, it is important to note that 87 percent of the financing for overseas coal plants between 2013 and 2018 came from non-Chinese public and private financiers, including U.S. commercial investment banks, Japanese public and private banks, and more.  During the Trump administration, the United States offered almost no support for green development strategies. The U.S. Export-Import Bank temporarily halted lending in 2015 because it lacked a quorum on its five-member board and the Republicans refused to confirm new appointees. It was reauthorized in 2019 with a backlog of $39 million worth of projects in its financing pipeline. The United States didn’t have a development bank until 2019, when the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation was born—and even then, the Trump administration made little use of it. The DFC has committed to reach net zero in its investment portfolio by 2040 and announced in September that climate-focused investments would account for one-third of its portfolio by fiscal year 2023.The United States also has the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, but its resources are dwarfed by those of the world’s development banks. USAID’s budget for the 2021 fiscal year committed just $600 million to climate efforts. The Power Africa initiative of USAID during the Obama administration, which aimed to expand access to clean energy in Africa, was a great example of what is needed—but it withered on the vine during the Trump years. As of March 2021, Power Africa had financed only 12 gigawatts of renewable energy, 4.8 gigawatts of which were already online. The resources being devoted to clean energy programs are simply too small to meet rising demand in the developing world.

 

Developing countries need financial and technical assistance for a green energy transition (such as those under COP26)

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-12-14/coming-carbon-tsunami

Many developing countries are not only willing to develop more sustainably but also eager to do so. The challenge is securing the necessary financing and technical assistance to make the transition to clean energy without jeopardizing their economic growth. Take Ethiopia, which has committed to a nonfossil fuel future and has a long list of geothermal, hydro, solar, and wind energy projects in its electricity-sector master plan. But many of these projects have not yet been financed, even as Ethiopia ranks as one of the top three countries in the world for the number of people without access to electricity. Due to the country’s lack of creditworthiness, China has been the main interested lender for Ethiopia’s renewable projects: Beijing’s Export-Import Bank has provided $4.4 billion in financing for nine hydro and wind power projects and five transmission and distribution projects since 2000. Meanwhile, the World Bank has provided $2.4 billion in loans to Ethiopia during this period for energy and climate-related projects.

Other countries are open to clean energy but are preoccupied with near-term solutions to their energy shortages. Pakistan has pursued an “all of the above” energy strategy, including expanding coal, hydro, natural gas, nuclear, solar, and wind power. China’s policy banks have financed a mix of fossil fuel and nonfossil fuel projects in the country, investing a whopping $20.6 billion in 19 energy projects since 2000, including seven coal, five hydro, and three nuclear projects. During the same time period, the World Bank appears to have invested $4.4 billion, primarily in clean energy and transmission and distribution projects. For Pakistan, climate mitigation no doubt feels like a luxury it cannot always afford as it works to increase its economic growth and alleviate poverty. Industrialized countries must help prevent the next wave of emissions. While the barriers to expanding clean energy in Ethiopia and Pakistan may be primarily financial, many other developing countries simply don’t know how to pursue greener development. Some aren’t even sure they want to do so, worrying that it will undercut their foremost priority: development. Most developing-world policymakers have minimal familiarity with renewables and a great deal of familiarity with coal. According to the International Energy Agency, in 2020, countries outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development relied on coal, peat, and oil shale for 36 percent of their total energy supply, while renewables supplied only 16 percent. In 2016, Bangladesh, opting for what it considered the most cost-effective path for power development, issued a power-sector master plan that embraced a shift from natural gas to coal. This is ironic, given that Bangladesh is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. (More recently, its government seems to have started to have second thoughts, introducing a new development plan that at least acknowledges that Bangladesh’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels “is a matter of concern.”) The national energy strategies of Indonesia, South Africa, and Vietnam also champion coal, largely because these countries have abundant domestic supplies of the fuel. An example of what is needed was announced at COP26, when France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union committed to provide $8.5 billion to help South Africa achieve a just transition away from coal and implement policies to decarbonize its economy. Policies like this can speed the shift to cleaner sources of energy in emerging markets, ensuring that their economic development does not hamper efforts to mitigate climate change. The process of global climate negotiations is necessary but not sufficient to solve the climate crisis. This work needs to be coupled with efforts to ensure that developing countries can access sufficient resources to pursue low-carbon development strategies. The public and private sectors must mobilize financing for the roughly two dozen countries where economic growth could cause large increases in emissions in the near future. Some of these countries, such as Saudi Arabia, should be able to finance their transitions without international assistance (although they may still benefit from policy advice). Others, such as Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Vietnam, will need much more comprehensive support in terms of financing, capacity building, and technical assistance. At the moment, national climate policies are essentially divorced from global financial flows. Changing that starts with governments, which must hold themselves and one another to account for regulating private financial institutions and greening their own public investments. Private firms control the overwhelming majority of international financial flows but have failed to regulate themselves despite the many voluntary agreements that already exist, such as the Green Bond Principles, which provide guidelines for financing environmentally sound and sustainable projects. Therefore, governments must step in. Financial regulators could require the disclosure of climate-related investments, prohibit companies from making new investments in coal or other high-carbon industries (as recently proposed in a bill by U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon), and promote cooperation among central banks to reduce climate-related risks in the financial system. The U.S. Federal Reserve recently joined the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System, a group of 80 central banks and supervisory authorities that is sharing best practices for strengthening the financial system’s resilience to climate-related risks. The developed and the developing world must collaborate to avoid the worst effects of climate change. The public sector is in equally dire need of reform. The governments of major emerging economies, such as Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and Russia, must reform their state-owned enterprises to be carbon neutral and start moving away from taxes on fuel as a major source of revenue. One option is to shift from fuel and income taxes to carbon taxes, which could promote the use of low-carbon energy sources while allowing governments to maintain their tax bases. Industrialized nations that have already implemented a carbon tax should provide technical assistance to developing countries. Norway, for example, has deep experience with these policies: it has proposed tripling its national tax on carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, while also committing to offset these increases with reductions in other taxes to avoid decreased competitiveness. The other big task is to fundamentally rethink how global development institutions function. The inventor Charles Kettering, who led General Motors’ research division in the first half of the twentieth century, once observed that managers should “never put a new technology in an old division,” because it will get eaten by its siblings. That is why the world needs a new global green development bank. Such a bank should be modeled on the World Bank or the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank but be devoted solely to financing low-carbon, resilient economic development trajectories. It could offer grants, loans, loan guarantees, and other types of investments to developing countries without the cumbersome project-by-project approach currently used by the Green Climate Fund. It should be staffed by experts who can provide technical assistance to developing countries about how to establish the environment necessary to spur private-sector investment in low-carbon industries. Ideally, it would induce a “race to the top” as each country tried to outperform the others in the delivery of sustainable prosperity solutions. Finally, a low-carbon development model must concentrate on green industrialization—that is, job creation and growth in industries that do not result in pollution. Moving forward, this model could tap new digital technologies to produce economic activity that is less carbon-intensive. Expanding service industries, creating strategies for sustainable agriculture, and investing in new high-tech energy, transportation, and building industries are also key elements of a low-carbon development model. There have been important success stories in the developing world that show the potential of this kind of development model. In India, a state-owned company aggregated commitments from cities and states to buy 85,000 electric three-wheelers, which are now available for purchase at subsidized rates. In Kerala, the state government has ordered that government offices purchase electric vehicles. These are the sort of procurement and financing arrangements that the developing world needs going forward. But electric vehicles still accounted for less than two percent of India’s automobile sales last year, underscoring the need to quickly scale up efforts t decarbonize economies around the world. LEADING THE WAY It is entirely possible to stop the next wave of emissions, provided both developed and developing countries show leadership in confronting the challenge. Many emerging economies are willing to adopt policies to mitigate climate change: of the roughly two dozen countries identified as having the potential for high emission growth, half have proposed net-zero targets for midcentury. Indonesia is about to institute a modest carbon tax on coal plants, and Mexico and South Africa already have carbon taxes in place. China recently finalized a national emission-­trading system for power plants, and Kazakhstan has established its own emission-trading regime. Ethiopia has released an economic strategy that prioritizes green development, featuring plans to expand its electricity supply from renewables and to reforest the country. But these countries also need financing and policy support, and unfortunately, the world’s two largest economies have failed to offer climate leadership. The United States has not modeled a good policy approach to low-carbon economic growth, as meaningful climate legislation remains stalled in Congress. The country arguably leads the world in clean energy research and development, but it falls terribly short in transferring those inventions to the marketplace because of its historical inability to create stable market incentives for low-carbon industries. The United States should be leading the push for reform of the multilateral development banks and the establishment of a global green bank. It must also begin regulating its private banks so that they cease investing in high-carbon industries and instead provide finan­cing for low-carbon industries and fuels.  China, meanwhile, has concentrated on industrial policy for low-carbon industries. Its firms have already conquered global solar markets and are on the way to expanding their control of the market for electric vehicles and batteries. Likewise, Beijing created stable markets for renewable energy deployment, resulting in China having the largest renewable energy capacity in the world. But China is far from a role model: it has not yet managed to stop building coal plants or to reform its fossil-fuel-based state-owned enterprises. Furthermore, it has not yet articulated a plan for increasing financing of clean industries overseas, and its investments through the BRI and other funding instruments remain shrouded in secrecy. Both the United States and China need to fully disclose their public and private investments in overseas markets so that they can be held to account for their impact on the climate. This abdication of leadership leaves the ball in the court of major developing countries, such as India, Indonesia, and South Africa, to forge a new approach. Developing countries have proved their capacity for innovation but need resources and policy assistance from their developed counterparts to transition to a low-carbon development model. This support from rich economies—which became rich, needless to say, by pumping the lion’s share of carbon into the atmosphere—is the only way for the world to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Regenerative agriculture will reverse climate change

InHabitat, 1-31-21, Why regenerative agriculture will reverse climate change, https://inhabitat.com/what-is-regenerative-agriculture/

What is regenerative agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture describes farming practices that create a cycle of caring for the soil through responsible grazing and land management. It’s a general term that encompasses a range of practices from composting to pasture cropping. The primary goal of regenerative agriculture is to enhance and retain the biodiversity in soil that has been continuously stripped for generations.

Why do we need regenerative agriculture?

The need for a conversion to regenerative agriculture is clear: higher temperatures and water shortages are impacting the food supply around the globe. Desertification, erosion, flooding and wildfires are other indicators of poor soil health. The causes of this soil damage are many and varied. They include the use of pesticides, fungicides and other chemicals, as well as overgrazing of the land and damaging crop planting practices.

A transition to regenerative agriculture means investing in small farmers who work the land with a variety of old school practices like growing organic crops, timed grazing of livestock animals, so they benefit rather than harm the land, and planting practices that avoid tilling the soil when planting.

All of these practices work in conjunction to create farms that bring a host of benefits. Imagine replacing industrialized crop production with smaller and well-managed farms with an emphasis on healthy land management. Considering around one-third of our planet is used in food production, this is a swap that can provide better soil for future generations to come.

Supporters of the movement are confident regenerative agriculture can not only slow, but reverse climate change. Regenerative agriculture rebuilds soil organic matter and restores degraded soil biodiversity, which controls carbon sequestration and improves water efficiency. In addition to supporting smaller farmers around the world and protecting the soil for the future, regenerative farming results in the same or improved food yields, the elimination of fertilizers and other chemicals and practices that don’t require expensive and damaging equipment. That means more hands-on jobs, shorter transport distances and higher profits. The truth is, the planet cannot support our current rate of food production if we continue to use the same processes that have changed the makeup of the soil. Even beyond the decrease in fertile soil and biodiversity that marks health, there’s another concerning factor for the future of agriculture: the loss of knowledge in regards to how to manage land wholesomely. Since regenerative agriculture happens on a small scale, it’s a lifestyle. The knowledge base can then be passed onto the next generation. This is an issue that can’t wait for the next generation before addressing a solution. Soil scientists estimate that with the current rate of indigenous seed loss and soil destruction, we will be facing serious natural food shortages within 50 years. Rather than investing heavily in lab-made foods, regenerative farming and grazing can not only protect the land, but also the rest of the environment suffering damage due to climate change caused by carbon release. “Without protecting and regenerating the soil on our four billion acres of cultivated farmland, eight billion acres of pastureland and 10 billion acres of forest land, it will be impossible to feed the world, keep global warming below two degrees Celsius or halt the loss of biodiversity,” according to Regeneration International. What is considered regenerative farming? Some of the types of permaculture and organic farming practices that fall under the umbrella of regenerative agriculture include: aquaculture, agroecology, agroforestry, biochar, compost, holistic planned grazing, no-till management, pasture cropping, use of perennial crops and silvopasture. Although the movement offers promise, the need is urgent and immediate. In order for regenerative agriculture to swiftly derail climate change, it needs to be a coordinated global approach. The good news is that many areas already have a system in place. Others are seeing the benefits and making the change. As a consumer, buying from local farms at the farmer’s market and looking for the Fair Trade label when buying from other parts of the world ensure environmental, economic and worker protections. “

Reaching 1.5 degrees requires net zero by 2

Bordoff & O’Sullivan, 2022 (Foreign Affairs, January, February, Green Upheaval: The New Geopolitics of Energy, JASON BORDOFF is Co-Founding Dean of the Columbia Climate School and Founding Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. During the Obama administration, he served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change on the staff of the National Security Council; MEGHAN L. O’SULLIVAN is Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America’s Power. During the George W. Bush administration, she served as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-11-30/geopolitics-energy-green-upheaval)

A move away from oil and gas will reconfigure the world just as dramatically. But discussions about the shape of a clean energy future too often skip over some important details. For one thing, even when the world achieves net-zero emissions, it will hardly mean the end of fossil fuels. A landmark report published in 2021 by the International Energy Agency (IEA) projected that if the world reached net zero by 2050—as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned is necessary to avoid raising average global temperatures by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and thus prevent the worst impacts of climate change—it would still be using nearly half as much natural gas as today and about one-quarter as much oil.

Clean energy transition means Russian oil becomes too expensive

Bordoff & O’Sullivan, 2022 (Foreign Affairs, January, February, Green Upheaval: The New Geopolitics of Energy, JASON BORDOFF is Co-Founding Dean of the Columbia Climate School and Founding Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. During the Obama administration, he served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change on the staff of the National Security Council; MEGHAN L. O’SULLIVAN is Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America’s Power. During the George W. Bush administration, she served as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-11-30/geopolitics-energy-green-upheaval)

In addition, the transition to clean energy will wind up augmenting the influence of some oil and gas exporters by concentrating global production in fewer hands. Eventually, the demand for oil will decline significantly, but it will remain substantial for decades to come. Many high-cost producers, such as those in Canada and Russia’s Arctic territory, could be priced out of the market as demand (and, presumably, the price of oil) falls.

Achieving net-zero requires carbon removal

Bordoff & O’Sullivan, 2022 (Foreign Affairs, January, February, Green Upheaval: The New Geopolitics of Energy, JASON BORDOFF is Co-Founding Dean of the Columbia Climate School and Founding Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. During the Obama administration, he served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change on the staff of the National Security Council; MEGHAN L. O’SULLIVAN is Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America’s Power. During the George W. Bush administration, she served as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2021-11-30/geopolitics-energy-green-upheaval)

For the past 30 years, rates of growth in the developing world have on the whole exceeded those in the developed world, fueling a gradual economic convergence of rich countries and poor ones. In the long run, the transition to clean energy promises to reinforce that trend. Although a net-zero world will still entail hardships, it will also mean far less pain for developing countries than a world of unchecked climate change. Moreover, many developing countries enjoy abundant, low-cost clean energy resources, such as solar power, which they will be able to use at home or export as either electricity or fuels. A fair number also boast geologic formations excellent for storing carbon dioxide that will need to be removed from the atmosphere. (According to some estimates, one-fifth of the reduction in carbon dioxide necessary to achieve net-zero emissions will come from carbon removal.)