Biden’s climate summit, a rare West African coffee and the staggering emissions of the superrich

News to know in our bi-weekly digest

The U.S. government under President Biden has made combating climate change a priority. quickps, Unsplash
23 April 2021
23 April 2021

Gold mining causes 90 percent of deforestation in some parts of the Amazon.

But what if we could make it less toxic to the Earth’s lungs and Amazonian communities?

This week on Landscape News, we take a deep dive into satellites, mangroves and biophilic design, plus many more stories from across the world.

LANDSCAPE NEWS

CubeSats are relatively low-cost and are a good way of testing out technologies in space. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Flickr
CubeSats are relatively low-cost and are a good way of testing out technologies in space. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Flickr

Mark your calendars: on 29 April, join us for a half-day digital forum on restorationHere’s why it matters.

We also ran this innovative competition that saw 24 entrepreneurs pitch their ideas on how to restore the Aral Sea.

Satellites are transforming the way we look at our planet. Find out how in our latest GLF Live with Digital Earth Africa.

Many of us have been stuck at home during the pandemic – but here’s a how-to for livening up your living spaces by incorporating nature.

Mangroves store carbon and protect coastal areas from flooding, but they’re slowly being chopped down by developers in Gabon.

Scientists are conducting ground-breaking research on soil microbiomes and their crucial role in storing carbon in forests.

POLICY

U.S. President Biden has framed tackling the climate crisis as an opportunity to create jobs and build resilience. justinlim, Unsplash
U.S. President Biden has framed tackling the climate crisis as an opportunity to create jobs and build resilience. justinlim, Unsplash

On Earth Day, world leaders stepped up climate commitments at a virtual summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden, who has pledged to halve emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. This more than doubles the U.S.’s commitment under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Japan, Canada and the U.K. have promised to slash emissions drastically over the course of the next decade, while the E.U.’s goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 will be legally binding. The E.U. has also bumped up its goal to reducing greenhouse gas levels by at least 55 percent by 2030.

China said its emissions will peak before 2030, but that it will phase out coal during the latter half of this decade and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. Russia welcomed foreign investment into clean energy, but did not state specific emissions reduction goals.

China also could save up to USD 1.6 trillion by switching from coal to renewables, but India is still considering building new coal plants, which currently still provide the cheapest power. South Korea has also said it will end the public financing of coal-fired power plants overseas.

Brazil stepped up its commitments by pledging to see the end of illegal deforestation by 2030 and become climate-neutral by 2050, a decade earlier than previously declared, though these targets have been met with skepticism. A separate bill would also legalize mining on Indigenous lands.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund are looking at linking climate and conservation spending to debt relief.

CLIMATE

The devastation of French vineyards has raised alarms over the future effects of climate change. farber, Unsplash
The devastation of French vineyards has raised alarms over the future effects of climate change. farber, Unsplash

Global carbon emissions are set to rebound by almost 5 percent this year as the global economy recovers from the pandemic.

The world’s wealthiest 5 percent of people contributed 37 percent of global carbon emissions between 1990 and 2015.

Over 200 people have died in record floods in East Timor and Indonesia following Cyclone Seroja. This year could see an above-average Atlantic hurricane season, too.

Following several days of unexpected frost, winemakers in France have lost at least a third of their harvest.

Cities will bear the brunt of rising temperatures and sea levels. Affluent city-dwellers in the U.S. are already flocking to less climate-vulnerable neighborhoods, causing gentrification.

PEOPLE

The Guarani-Kaiowá have fought for decades for the right to their ancestral lands. Christian Braga, CIDH
The Guarani-Kaiowá have fought for decades for the right to their ancestral lands. Christian Braga, CIDH

More than 34 million people are on the brink of starvation – and hundreds of NGOs are calling on world leaders to increase aid to prevent mass famine.

In a landmark decision, Brazil’s supreme court has agreed to review a past case that canceled the demarcation of Indigenous Guarani-Kaiowá territory.

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg believes the COP26 climate conference should be postponed until COVID-19 vaccines are more equitably distributed around the world. Her foundation is donating EUR 100,000 to make that happen.

Deforestation caused a Rwandan man to fall victim to a brutal dog attack. He’s now devoting his career to raising funds for the world’s forests.

PLANET

Seagrass, such as eelgrass, absorb 10% of carbon in the ocean annually. E. French-E. Shields, VIMS
Seagrass, such as eelgrass, absorb 10% of carbon in the ocean annually. E. French-E. Shields, VIMS

Less than 3 percent of the world’s land ecosystems remain intact. Up to 20 percent of this land could still be restored, though.

Meanwhile, a new initiative aims to protect 5 percent of the ocean – an area larger than all of South America.

New Zealand’s kauri trees can be living time capsules. Here’s what they can teach us about our planet’s past.

Eelgrass seeds contain 50 percent more protein than rice. Could they be the next superfood?

And as the climate crisis hits coffee harvests, we could soon be sipping this rare wild coffee from West Africa instead.

BUSINESS

Some clothing brands, such as North Face, have begun to use regenerative cotton in their garments. andrearondon, Unsplash
Some clothing brands, such as North Face, have begun to use regenerative cotton in their garments. andrearondon, Unsplash

Coastal ecosystems can store vast amounts of carbon, and ‘blue carbon’ markets are now emerging to restore them.

Researchers have developed the whitest-ever paint to keep buildings cool by reflecting 98 percent of sunlight.

Startups are making carpets out of banana fibers in Uganda, recycling car batteries in India, and providing insurance to farmers affected by the climate crisis in Kenya.

Regenerative farming is the latest fashion fad. Rest easy knowing your clothes are helping keep the Earth healthy…

…that is, until you check out Google Earth’s new time-lapse feature, which shows how humans have altered the planet over the last 37 years.


Leave a Reply