Welcome back to the Landscape News bi-weekly digest on landscapes, climate and sustainability. From what’s (left) on your shelves to what’s in the atmosphere, here’s the news to know.
With COVID-19 dominating the headlines, climate change might be falling a bit into the shadows – but could the two issues be more intertwined than we think?
With over a third of the world’s population on lockdown, both carbon emissions and air pollution levels have diminished – providing a “historic opportunity” for climate action, according to the head of the International Energy Agency. Here’s what that could look like.
International travel has slowed to a trickle: with 40 percent fewer flights than usual and a third of the global fleet parked, airlines are predictably struggling. The U.S. government has offered its carriers a USD 58 billion bailout to keep them in the air.
As the global wildlife trade comes under scrutiny, Vietnam is set to follow China’s lead in cracking down on both trafficking and consumption. The U.S., on the other hand, has temporarily relaxed all environmental rules to aid businesses struggling with the economic impact of the outbreak.
The ozone layer, meanwhile, is continuing to heal and could even make a full recovery.
With mass gatherings out of the question, climate activists are moving online and rethinking their strategy – and keeping an eye out for coronavirus bailouts that could increase fossil fuel dependence.
Violence against land and environmental defenders continues across Latin America, with at least 83 murdered and hundreds threatened or attacked in Mexico since 2012. Likewise, park guards funded by conservation groups are accused of abusing Indigenous communities in Congo.
Don’t miss two new books describing the trauma experienced by Australia’s Stolen Generations – Indigenous children who were forcibly taken from their families and adopted by white families.
Locusts are ravaging crops across East Africa and the Middle East, and COVID-19 is hampering the delivery of pesticides and other equipment. NASA- and U.N.-funded scientists are turning to satellite imagery to combat the infestations.
In Italy, the waters of Venice are running clear, as fish, crabs and ducks reclaim the canals now devoid of tourist boats and water taxis. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, however, is going through its third and most severe coral bleaching event of the last five years.
Oil prices have plummeted to below USD 30 per barrel as Saudi Arabia ramps up production, even while demand collapses amid the pandemic. But don’t let that deter you from buying an electric car: a new study continues to confirm that they’re much more climate-friendly than gasoline cars.
Could cheap oil bankrupt the fossil fuel industry and spare the climate? That remains to be seen, but it’s a major blow to global banks, who have invested billions of USD in the fossil fuel industry in recent years despite claiming to support the Paris Agreement on climate change.
China, the world’s largest timber importer, has banned the trade of illegal logs, while Cambodia is holding off on building a dam over the Mekong River. Japan has announced an updated climate plan, though it has been roundly criticized as inadequate.
And hats off to the Dutch city of Utrecht, which is not only building a car-free, bike-friendly residential district for 12,000 people, but also refitting every roof with either plants or solar panels.