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Coastal Restoration: Saving Sand

The Revelator - Mon, 07/15/2024 - 07:00

Coastal ecosystems — including oyster reefs, sandy beaches, mangrove forests and seagrass beds provide important habitat for marine life and food and recreation for people. They also protect shorelines from waves and storms. But these precious systems face serious threats. This series looks at what put them at risk, along with examples of efforts to restore and protect important coastal ecosystems around the world.

We need to talk about sand.

Most people don’t realize that these humble grains — that ubiquitous stuff of vacations, ant farms and hourglasses — are the second-most used natural resource in the world after water. According to a 2019 report from the United Nations Environment Programme, we use more than 55 billion tons of it per year — nearly 40 pounds per person per day.

And a lot of that sand comes from illegal activity, involving criminal gangs who mine, smuggle, and kill for the precious material.

The Building Blocks of Modern Society

Sand — legal or otherwise — gets used to enhance beaches, extract petroleum through hydraulic fracking, fill land under buildings, and make computer chips.

But the biggest amount by far — an estimated 85% of the sand mined globally — goes into making concrete. Concrete combines two key ingredients: cement, a binding agent made from calcium or other substances, and aggregate, which is either sand or a combination of sand and gravel. Quality concrete requires jagged and angular aggregate grains — a quality found in only a tiny fraction of the worlds’ sand, most of it on beaches and in rivers. This sand also is easy and cheap to mine, and it’s located close to much of the construction taking place around the world.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, world consumption of aggregate for all uses exceeds 40 billion metric tons (44 billion U.S. tons) a year — an estimate that’s likely on the conservative side and represents about twice the amount of sediment carried annually by all the world’s rivers. (Sediment from land rocks is the source of most coastal sand, which also comes from shells and marine organisms pulverized by waves, the digestive tracts of coral-eating fish, and the remains of tiny creatures called foraminifera.)

Not surprisingly, UNEP calls management of sand one of the greatest sustainability challenges of the 21st century.

The organization also warns about sand mining’s serious consequences for humans and the natural environment.

Removing beach sand leaves coastal structures more vulnerable to erosion even as climate change raises sea levels and makes storms more intense. Transporting sand generates carbon dioxide emissions. Sand mining has political and cultural consequences, including effects on the tourism industry, and creates noise and air pollution.

Coastal sand mining also destroys complex ecosystems. The microorganisms, crabs, and clams that live in beach sand are important food sources for birds. Sea turtles and several bird species nest on sandy beaches. Seagrass, an important food source and habitat for marine residents, needs sandy ocean floor to grow. Stretches of underwater sand provide habitat for sea stars, sea cucumbers, conchs, and other critters, and are feeding grounds for flounder, rays, fish, and sharks.

Removing sand also affects water quality in the ocean and depletes groundwater.

Stolen Sand

Yet this harm is not the only issue. Increasing demand for sand has created a vast illegal industry resembling the organized criminal drug trade, including the same violence, black markets, and piles of money — an estimated $200 to $350 billion a year. Of all the sand extracted globally every year, only about 15 billion metric tons are legally traded, according to a report from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

Pascal Pedruzzi, director of UNEP’s Global Resource Information Database-Geneva, became aware of illegal sand mining when the Jamaican government asked UNEP in 2014 to find out why the island had a serious beach erosion problem.

“There was a lot we didn’t know about sand extraction, including how much was being taken,” he says.

Or from how many places: Sand is mined from coastal environments in at least 80 countries on six continents, according to the 2022 book Vanishing Sands, written by several geologists and other experts on coastal management and land rights.

The book outlines a litany of sand crimes, from seemingly small to massive. In Sardinia, Italy, airport officials have seized about 10 tons of sand over 10 years, much of it carried in thousands of individual half-quart bottles. In Morocco criminals removed as many as 200 dump trucks of sand a day from massive dunes lining the Atlantic coast.

According to Africa’s Institute for Security Studies, illegal sand mining in Morocco is run by a syndicate second in size only to the country’s drug mafia. It involves corrupt government and law enforcement officials and foreign companies. Much of the Moroccan sand, for example, ends up in buildings in Spain.

In India demand for sand tripled from 2000 to 2017, creating a market worth 150 billion rupees, just over $2 billion. Multiple diverse and competing “sand mafias” run mining sites surrounded by armed private security guards. Their weapons likely are obtained illegally, given the difficult process of acquiring guns legally in India.

By Sumaira Abdulali – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The NGO South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People reports hundreds of deaths and injuries related to illegal sand mining in India each year, including citizens (adults and children), journalists, activists, government officials, and law enforcement.

There are similar stories in Bangladesh, Cambodia, elsewhere in Africa, and in the Caribbean — almost everywhere sandy coastal areas can be found.

How to Solve the Problem

UNEP has begun tackling the problem of sand mining, putting forth ten recommendations that include creating international standards for extracting sand from the marine environment, reducing the use of sand by using substitutes, and recycling products made with sand.

While these recommendations target legal sand mining, more responsible management and reduced overall demand also should make illegal mining less lucrative and, therefore, less common.

“The good news is there’s a long list of solutions,” says Peduzzi. “We start by stopping waste of sand. We can make the life of buildings longer, retrofitting them instead of knocking them down. Maybe change the use of a building over time, as a school first and then 50 years later, a place for elderly people. When a building needs to be destroyed, crush and reuse the concrete. Build with wood, bricks, adobe, and straw.”

Building with straw also could reduce burning of crop waste. Every year, India produces 500 million tons of straw but burns 140 million tons as “excess.” One company there, Strawcture Eco, is using straw to create wall and ceiling panels that are fire resistant, insulating, and sustainable.

Alternatives to sand in concrete include ash from waste incineration and aluminum smelting waste. Peduzzi notes that ash creates concrete that is about 10% less solid, but points out, “that is still pretty good. You can use it to make buildings, but maybe not a bridge.”

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The UNEP report notes that involvement from industry, the private sector, and civil society is vital in solving the problem. For example, shifting away from building with concrete will require changing the way architects and engineers are trained, acceptance by building owners, and new laws and regulations.

“We rely on sand, as a commodity,” Peduzzi says. “But we also need to realize its ecosystem services. We must be wiser about how we use it.”

UNEP hopes to collect solutions into a single, accessible online location (although it currently lacks funding for the effort). The idea is to create a hub for policies and technological solutions, Peduzzi says, and to develop best practices for them. The Global Initiative report on India also calls for a website for tracking illegal sand mining hosted by a think-tank or journalism agency — a sort of crime-spotters portal where people could anonymously upload evidence.

Shifting Sands, Shifting Thinking

William Neal, an emeritus professor at Grand Valley State University in Michigan and one of the authors of Vanishing Sands, suggests in an email that finding sand substitutes is not enough. Coastal communities, he says, need to retreat from rising seas rather than build more hard structures such as seawalls. This “shoreline engineering” often destroys the very beaches it is intended to save, he explains, and the long-term cost of saving property through engineering often ends up exceeding the value of the property. Seawalls also tend to simply shift water elsewhere, potentially causing flooding and significant damage along other parts of the shoreline.

Peduzzi also espouses shifts in thinking, including how we get around in cities.

“Instead of building roads for cars, build subways,” he says. “That moves people faster and gets away from fossil fuels. The icing on the cake is that when digging subway tunnels, you are getting rocks, generating this material instead of using it. Cars are not sustainable — not the material to make a car itself or the roads and parking lots.”

Without systemic changes, the problem of sand removal is only going to grow bigger as the population increases and people continue to migrate from rural to urban areas, increasing the demand for infrastructure like roads and buildings.

“The problem has been overlooked,” Peduzzi warns. “People need to realize that sand is just another story of how dependent we are on natural resources for development.”

Previously in The Revelator:

Coastal Restoration: Recycled Shells and Millions of Larvae — A Recipe for Renewed Oyster Reefs

The post Coastal Restoration: Saving Sand appeared first on The Revelator.

Categories: H. Green News

Hurricane Beryl shows why the new UK government must ramp up climate finance 

Climate Change News - Mon, 07/15/2024 - 05:24

Hannah Bond is co-CEO at ActionAid UK.

This month has been unprecedented, even in a news cycle that has grown increasingly immune to ever-worsening climate catastrophes. After Beryl, a powerful category five hurricane, smashed its way across the Caribbean, an alarming report by the Copernicus Climate Change Service found that the planet has breached 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming for the twelfth month straight.  

For a new UK government pledging to take strong climate action at home, this must be a wake-up call for it to act on its historic responsibilities as a major global greenhouse gas polluter. These two alarming events alone show why it must put climate finance at the heart of its climate agenda as COP29 rapidly approaches. 

In Hurricane Beryl’s shadow, loss and damage fund makes progress on set-up

The Caribbean is one of the regions most at risk of climate change, with 70 percent of its population living or working in coastal areas surrounded by ever-warming seas that make hurricanes like Beryl more common and more violent. While a category five hurricane is unprecedented this early in the year, forecasters have already predicted that the region could experience up to seven severe hurricanes between now and the end of October.  

Extreme climate shocks are not only wreaking havoc, claiming lives, and destroying whole communities – they are also severely affecting the region’s tourism-dependent economies. Already it’s been estimated that the clean-up alone will cost tens of millions of dollars – a cost that doesn’t even begin to factor in what’s needed to rebuild destroyed communities still paying the price of previous disasters – crises that are gendered in their nature.  

Costly damage

Women and girls are more than 14 times more likely to be killed by climate shocks, according to Women’s Environmental Leadership Australia, while our own research found that women also face an increased risk of non-economic impacts such as gender-based violence and forced child marriage.

Hurricane Maria – the deadliest Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the 21st century – cost the island nation of Dominica an estimated 225 percent of its GDP, while Hurricane Irma in the same year cost Antigua and Barbuda more than $136 million in damages, with the tourism industry representing around 44 percent of all losses.  

Even seven years on, the scale of the destruction has meant that communities are still rebuilding while dealing with hurricanes that worsen with intensity and frequency with each passing year. Yet, despite this, small island nations that have only contributed around 1% of all global carbon emissions, have struggled to unlock climate finance, accessing a mere $1.5bn out of the $100bn pledged in total to Global South countries.   

Negative debt spiral

To make matters worse, countries across the Caribbean have no choice but to turn to international financial institutions and take on eye-watering levels of debt to help communities regain their footing. Debt laden with restrictive repayment conditions further locks countries into a negative spiral – forcing governments to shape their economies and societies in order to service their debts.  

All this means that small island nations are left to play catch up, forever stuck on the back foot. Instead of spending the meagre levels of finance pledged to resilience-proofing their economies and communities, loans are used to service debts while interest rates for repayments globally remain at a record high.  

In its manifesto, Britain’s Labour Party spoke about “tackling unsustainable debt” as a “priority area” in its global commitments – indeed a positive step forward. But in power we need it to act and end the colonial debt system and support countries in the Caribbean and beyond move towards a just and climate resilient future. 

The Loss and Damage Fund must not leave fragile states behind

For a new government keen to show global leadership on climate, this year’s COP summit is a vital moment for the UK to play a much stronger role on climate finance than its Conservative predecessors. As the fourth-highest historic carbon emitter in the world, the UK has a moral and historic responsibility to address climate change, but its actions haven’t matched its words so far. 

During its election campaign, Labour failed to pledge new funds to address the huge gulf in climate financing for losses and damages, opting instead to simply deliver the previous government’s low-ball commitments to spend £11.6bn between 2021-2026. With nations set to meet at COP this year to define new annual climate finance commitments for Global South countries – known as the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) – Labour needs to be much more ambitious in Azerbaijan. The future of communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis depends on it. 

Now, in the words of Grenada’s Prime Minister Dickson Mitchell, is not the time for countries like the UK to “sit idly by with platitudes and tokenism.” Now is the time for radical action and for the new UK government to stand up and deliver for the billions of people facing a runaway climate emergency. 

The post Hurricane Beryl shows why the new UK government must ramp up climate finance  appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

Pay the polluter?

Ecologist - Sun, 07/14/2024 - 23:00
Pay the polluter? Channel Comment brendan 15th July 2024 Teaser Media
Categories: H. Green News

In Hurricane Beryl’s shadow, loss and damage fund makes progress on set-up

Climate Change News - Fri, 07/12/2024 - 07:37

As Caribbean nations tallied the destruction caused by the passage of Hurricane Beryl, the board of the fund set up to compensate for such devastating loss and damage held its second meeting this week. 

“The level of damage is apocalyptic,” said Henrietta Elizabeth Thompson from Barbados, among the countries worst hit by the natural disaster, at the start of the four-day session in Incheon, South Korea.

The board needs to create a fund that “reflects the scale of the magnitude, of the risk, the damage and devastation faced by people across the world and the urgency required to respond to it,” she added.

But before the fund starts handing out any money in future, board members have to agree on procedural matters.

A name and a place

On the opening day, the Philippines was picked as the host of the fund’s board in a secret vote by members. The Southeast Asian nation defeated bids from seven other candidates: Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Bahamas, Barbados, Eswatini, Kenya and Togo. 

Selecting a host country was one of the most pressing priorities for this week’s meeting. It represented a first necessary step for the board to take up a legal personality and enter into formal agreements with the World Bank, set to host the loss and damage fund on an interim basis. 

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While the administrative staff of the fund will be based at the World Bank, the board will carry out some of its meetings in the Philippines in the future, likely in the capital Manila. The country’s proposal scored particularly high thanks to its abundant transport options and accommodation facilities and its visa free entry for short stays for most visitors, according to a background paper

A man stands in a home where the roof was ripped apart, in the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl, in St. Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica, July 5, 2024. REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona

The somewhat thorny issue of what to officially call the fund also landed on the table in South Korea. 

For nearly all climate talks participants, it’s simply been the “loss and damage fund” since it was adopted at COP27, but the United States have made various attempts at a rebrand. At COP28 in Dubai, for example, then U.S. climate envoy John Kerry kept referring to the “fund for climate impact response” – a more neutral label that softened the suggestion of developed countries’ historical responsibility. 

In consultations ahead of the meeting, the co-chairs of the board collected various options, from the minimalistic “the Fund” to the highly technocratic “Fund referred to in decisions 1/CP.28 and 5/CMA.5”.

Ultimately, members decided to go with “Fund for responding to Loss and Damage”, abbreviated as FLD, without spending much time debating the matter. 

Beware the ‘billions’

Divisions cropped up when the discussion turned to the process of selecting the executive director (ED). Hoping to announce the name of the executive director at COP29 this November, the board had to agree at this session on the criteria for picking the fund’s boss, including the roles and responsibilities.

Several board members from developing countries wanted the ED’s job description to mention efforts to find additional money for the fund at the scale of billions. “If you have someone running a fund of 100 million, this is totally different from 10 billion, 55 billion, or 100 billion,” said Egypt’s Mohamed Nasr, “the scale of this fund is not confined to where it is”.

Where East African oil pipeline meets sea, displaced farmers bemoan “bad deal” on compensation

Countries have pledged around $700 million to the fund so far, with Italy, Germany, France and the United Arab Emirates among the biggest contributors. The United States has pledged only $17.5 million. South Korea pledged $7 million at this week’s meeting. The residual costs from loss and damage is projected to reach a total of $290 billion to $580 billion by 2030, according to a 2018 study.

But some developed country board members, including the US, rejected the proposal of including a reference to “billions”, according to observers.

“It is clear that developed nations…remain non-committal about scaling financial mobilisation,” said Harjeet Singh, global engagement director for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, who attended the meeting. “The initial commitments of a few hundred million dollars are merely a drop in the ocean compared to the real and escalating costs of climate change that developing countries endure,” he added.

Eventually, board members found a compromise wording. The ED will be asked to lead efforts to grow the fund’s resources “towards contributing to a response at scale to respond to climate-induced loss and damage”.

Global goal of tripling renewables by 2030 still out of reach, says IRENA

The recruitment process will now go underway with the goal of putting a shortlist of candidates in front of the board by the next meeting scheduled for September 18-20 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Legal agreements

Between now and then, there will be little time for a summer break.

After approving last June the conditions of hosting the fund, the World Bank now has until August 12 to share with board members the draft text of the agreements detailing how that will work in practice. It will include things like provisions to handle the money and give access to recipients and the rules governing the relationship between the board and the World Bank.

Developing countries and civil society groups are eager to see guarantees that communities in hard-hit countries will be able to access funds directly without going through various intermediary agencies.

“Agreeing and certifying these agreements will be the most important decision at the next board meeting”, said Liane Schalatek, associate director of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Washington who attended the board meeting. “The World Bank has shared an outline of what they will include, but we are talking about legal agreements so the devil is in the detail”.

The post In Hurricane Beryl’s shadow, loss and damage fund makes progress on set-up appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

Compounding a Crisis: When Public Health Solutions Worsen Climate Change

The Revelator - Fri, 07/12/2024 - 07:00

In Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley,” where the air is thick with pollutants and asthma rates are alarmingly high, a troublesome irony is unfolding.

This region is home to sprawling petrochemical plants and toxic fossil fuels that disproportionately affect the respiratory health of the area’s majority-Black residents.

Here, inhalers — one of the key tools for managing diseases like asthma — play a dual role: alleviating symptoms of pollution while also contributing to environmental degradation. This paradox has underscored the urgent need for sustainable solutions that holistically address environmental justice, health, and race equity issues in frontline communities like Cancer Alley.

Inhalers, often viewed as life-saving devices, have a profoundly negative impact on the environment. The most popular of the two main varieties of inhaler, metered-dose inhalers, release a gas that warms the earth hundreds of times faster than carbon dioxide.

A recent investigation by NPR revealed that the cumulative amount of climate-damaging gasses released from traditional inhalers is the equivalent of driving half a million gas-powered cars for a year. This means that each puff contributes significantly to climate disintegration. And as pollution damages more people’s lungs, the need for inhalers increases.

This 85-mile stretch of land wasn’t always referred to as Cancer Alley. Older residents recall a thriving community where many people lived off the nutrient-rich land. However, corporate greed and negligent politicians have irreparably damaged the soil, the land, and the air, leading to some of the highest cancer rates per year for residents.

Dozens of new cases each year are believed to be linked to severe air pollution. That pollution has also led to high rates of asthma in the area. Even more concerning is data showing the link between pollution, asthma, and cancer is visible in neighborhoods with high poverty rates — but not in more affluent communities, proving again that poverty kills.

The implications of the inhaler paradox are staggering. Not only do frontline communities bear the brunt of pollution-related health burdens, but they also face the ironic reality of using medical interventions that perpetuate the cycle of environmental degradation. Addressing this issue requires collective advocacy and action between healthcare professionals, environmental advocates, policymakers, and community leaders.

We have long approached environmental and public health solutions with a bandaid instead of a cure. The unique problem posed by inhalers releasing toxic gasses that increase climate change is one example why short-term solutions are no longer an acceptable way to manage our climate’s deteriorating health. Frankly speaking, it’s too costly to keep operating under this model when it is costing lives, the health of our planet, and our collective future.

Beyond encouraging the use of other inhalers and safe recycling, it is critical that government agencies do more to address greenhouse gas emissions so that we can proactively focus on prevention efforts instead of doing damage control.

While recent EPA rules on clean vehicles and emission reduction efforts are encouraging, it is not enough to combat the damage we have already done to the planet.

That is why my organization, the Hip Hop Caucus, is working with communities on the frontlines of these issues, uplifting their stories through The Coolest Show. Together we’re pushing back against attempts to roll back the minimal regulations protecting these communities and advocating to shut down operations that disproportionately put Black and brown lives at risk.

We’ve witnessed the effects of corporate greed and climate denial on our planet. It’s untenable to keep proposing short-term public health solutions without addressing the underlying causes of disease. Reports have shown how creating climate friendly policies can save taxpayer dollars in the long run — and more importantly, save lives.

It’s not too late to do right by the 20,000 residents of Cancer Alley. But we must act before it’s too late.

This op-ed was produced by and distributed for syndication by

The post Compounding a Crisis: When Public Health Solutions Worsen Climate Change appeared first on The Revelator.

Categories: H. Green News

How Bad Is Warming? La Niña May Reveal

Yale Environment 360 - Fri, 07/12/2024 - 06:42

The Pacific is set to shift from its warmer El Niño phase to its cooler La Niña phase in late summer or early fall, U.S. officials say, likely bringing an end to a long stretch of unprecedented warmth.

Read more on E360 →

Categories: H. Green News

Where East African oil pipeline meets sea, displaced farmers bemoan “bad deal” on compensation

Climate Change News - Fri, 07/12/2024 - 04:53

The serene coastline of Chongoleani used to be a little-known paradise for local fishers and farmers just north of the Tanzanian city of Tanga.

But now it is becoming the end-point for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) where, after a journey of over 1,400 km through Uganda and Tanzania, the oil is stored and put onto ships bound for customers abroad.

EACOP is a joint venture between French multinational TotalEnergies, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation and the governments of Uganda and Tanzania. It plans to bring oil from the Tilenga and Kingfisher oil fields near Uganda’s Lake Albert, down past Lake Victoria and all the way east through Tanzania to the Chongoleani Peninsula.

While the $4-billion project promises economic growth and energy security for the region, it has sparked protests due to its negative environmental, economic and social impacts – which have been met by crackdowns on the part of the authorities in both countries.

East African climate activists have joined forces with their international counterparts in a campaign called #StopEACOP, arguing that the pipeline will exacerbate climate change by transporting 246,000 barrels of oil a day to customers to burn, releasing greenhouse gases. They also warn that it will displace thousands of people and endangers water resources, wetlands, nature reserves and wildlife.

The Ugandan government says that it has the right to exploit the country’s fossil fuel resources in order to fund much-needed economic development and is taking measures to reduce the project’s climate impact, such as heating the pipeline with solar energy. Wealthy nations like the US, Canada and Australia, meanwhile, are also increasing fossil fuel production.

Living “like town dwellers”

In Tanzania, Chongoleani residents said they had been warned by the village chairman and other ward leaders not to talk to journalists, but Climate Home spoke to two whose land had been taken over by the government for the pipeline and its port.

Without adequate compensation, they said they had been unable to buy a new farm in the area and have to buy food from the city rather than growing their own and selling the surplus.

Mustafa Mohammed Mustafa said his family used to own two farms in Kigomeni village, together about as big as eight football pitches. On these, they grew coconut, cassava, corn and groundnuts. They ate some of it and sold the rest.

But with the pipeline coming, the government-owned Tanzania Ports Authority took over their land, compensating them with 15m Tanzanian shillings ($5,700), which hasn’t been enough for them to buy new farmland in the area.

“We live like town dwellers these days,” said Mustafa. “We buy firewood, we buy charcoal, we buy lemons, coconut, cassava. We buy all of these supplies from the city centre. How is this alright?”

House prices soar

Part of the reason they cannot afford a farm, says Mustafa, is that EACOP’s arrival has increased the price of local land, as it is considered a project area with potential for business investment.

Villagers either put a high price on their land or hold onto it and only accept offers from the government or foreign investors, according to Mustafa, believing this will get them a better deal.

A sign for Chongoleani oil terminal (Photo: Climate Home News)

Mustafa blames the government for not giving them proper information from the initial stages of the project, nor a choice about whether they wanted to sell their property. Instead, he said, they were told that the project is of great economic importance for the country.

“I am angry that the government took advantage of our ignorance of legal matters and gave us a bad deal that we couldn’t argue against,” Mustafa said.

Sitting alongside Mustafa in Chongoleani village, Mdiri Akida Sharifu said he regrets selling his family’s land in Kigomeni but they had no other option.

“At the moment, we have very little faith that this will benefit us. When government officials came here, they encouraged us to give up our land with the promise that once the project started, we would be given priority in getting jobs. But now that we’ve given up our land, we even have to buy lemons from Tanga town,” he said.

Countrywide compensation battles

Elsewhere along the pipeline’s routes, landowners have complained about unfair compensation, saying the government paid them in 2023 using price estimates made in 2016, ignoring seven years of inflation. Kamili Fabian from the Manyara region told local paper Mwananchi that he was paid less than a third of his land’s value. “Where is the justice in that?” he asked.

The government says it uses national and international standards to compensate people fairly. Energy minister Doto Biteko has said 35bn shillings ($13m) had been allocated for this purpose and the government had built 340 new homes for relocated people.

Reporting on these issues is a challenge. When Climate Home visited the coastal village of Putini, a man called Mahimbo – who would only give one name – refused to comment on the compensation process and said local leaders had told the villagers not to speak to journalists about the pipeline.

But he took Climate Home to the office of village chairperson Abdallah Said Kanuni to seek permission to comment on the record. “We have been given clear instructions to neither speak with journalists nor allow them to interview villagers on matters relating to the pipeline, unless the journalists have official permits from the regional [government] office,” Kanuni said.

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Compensation battles are playing out far beyond this area.  A Total spokesperson told Climate Home nearly 19,000 households have been compensated for the effects of the pipeline and the associated Tilenga oil field on them and about 750 replacement houses have been handed over.

But Diana Nabiruma, communications officer for the Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), said her organisation had spoken to hundreds of people who had received compensation and had yet to meet any that said it was adequate.

She said a major problem has been that people were paid in 2023 based on their land’s value in 2019. As in Chongoleani, the price of land rose in those four years, partly because of EACOP and the promise of paved roads. Many people have not been able to replace the property they lost, she said.

Ugandan riot police officers detain an anti-EACOP activist in Kampala, Uganda, on October 4, 2022. (REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa)

Nabiruma added that many people want to seek top-up compensation but are scared – and unable to afford – to challenge EACOP and the government in court. In Uganda’s capital Kampala, police have beaten and arrested activists protesting against the pipeline.

The Total spokesperson said EACOP will improve living conditions, adding that Total complies with local regulations and international standards and there is a fair grievance management mechanism in place for local people.

An EACOP spokesperson said that since last year, the project has provided households affected by leasing of their land in Chongoleani with food baskets and cash transfers, adding that the villagers are given preferential access to unskilled or semi-skilled work on the project.

The Tanzania Ports Authority did not respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by CHN staff and Joe Lo, editing by Joe Lo and Megan Rowling)

The post Where East African oil pipeline meets sea, displaced farmers bemoan “bad deal” on compensation appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

Calling all wild swimmers, surfers, paddlers

Ecologist - Thu, 07/11/2024 - 23:00
Calling all wild swimmers, surfers, paddlers Channel News brendan 12th July 2024 Teaser Media
Categories: H. Green News

China Building Twice as Much Wind and Solar as Rest of World Combined

Yale Environment 360 - Thu, 07/11/2024 - 05:59

China is erecting twice as much wind and solar capacity as every other country put together, according to a new analysis of large renewable energy projects. Increasingly, wind and solar are edging coal off the power grid.

Read more on E360 →

Categories: H. Green News

Global goal of tripling renewables by 2030 still out of reach, says IRENA 

Climate Change News - Thu, 07/11/2024 - 05:52

Despite growing at an unprecedented rate last year, renewable energy sources are still not being deployed quickly enough to put the world on track to meet an international goal of tripling renewables by 2030, new data shows.

At the COP28 climate summit in Dubai in 2023, nearly 200 countries committed to tripling global renewable energy capacity – measured as the maximum generating capacity of sources like wind, solar and hydro – by 2030, in an effort to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

According to figures published on Thursday by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), renewables are the fastest-growing source of power worldwide, with new global renewable capacity in 2023 representing a record 14% increase from 2022.

But IRENA’s analysis found that even if renewables continue to be deployed at the current rate over the next seven years, the world will fall 13.5% short of the target to triple renewables to 11.2 terawatts.

A higher annual growth rate of at least 16.4% is required to reach the 2030 goal, IRENA said.

Renewable electricity generation by energy source

Chart courtesy of IRENA

IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera warned against complacency. “Renewables must grow at higher speed and scale,” he said in a statement, calling for concrete policy action and a massive mobilisation of finance.

The United Arab Emirates’ COP28 President Sultan Al-Jaber called the report “a wake-up call for the entire world” and urged countries to add strong national energy targets to their updated national climate action plans (NDCs) due by early next year.

Geographical disparities

Bruce Douglas, CEO of the Global Renewables Alliance, a coalition of private-sector organisations working on renewable technologies, highlighted imbalances in the global picture of record renewables deployment.

“We shouldn’t be celebrating,” he said. “This growth is nowhere near enough and it’s not in the right places.

Africa saw only incremental growth of 3.5% in new renewables capacity last year compared with around 9% growth in Asia and North America, and 12% growth in South America.

And despite those higher increases in Asia and South America, data released last month by international policy group REN21 shows that less than 18% of renewables capacity added in 2023 was in Asia (excluding China), South America, Africa and the Middle East, despite these regions collectively representing nearly two-thirds of the global population.

A simmering conflict over one of Latin America’s biggest wind hubs confronts Mexico’s next president

Slow growth in Africa is failing to live up to the huge potential for renewables on the continent, whose leaders last year pledged to scale up renewables more than five-fold by 2030, to 300 gigawatts.

“The justice piece is huge and too often overlooked,” Douglas said, adding that finance is “by far” the biggest challenge to getting renewables off the ground in the Global South.

Africa, for example, has received less than 2% of global investments in renewable energy over the past twenty years, according to IRENA.

“That’s not acceptable in terms of an equitable transition,” Douglas said, noting that when countries miss out on renewables financing, they are also missing out on the development benefits, jobs creation and improved access to affordable energy that clean energy can bring.

Finance not flowing

The scarcity of financing for renewables in developing countries is in large part due to investors being put off by the high borrowing costs and risk profiles of many such markets, Douglas said.

William Brent, chief marketing officer at Husk Power Systems, which installs and runs solar micro-grids in rural communities in Nigeria and Tanzania, explained: “Most sources of big capital in the West seem largely uninterested in Africa.”

“Despite being home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world, Africa is perceived as having a much higher risk profile and returns that cannot match the Americas, Asia or Europe,” Brent said.

New South African government fuels optimism for faster energy transition

Sonia Dunlop, CEO of the Global Solar Council, a body that represents the solar industry, told Climate Home that financial incentives provided by the public sector could help de-risk renewables projects for private investors.

“We need to get MDBs (multilateral development banks) leaning into big renewables projects and taking on some of the risk, which can then attract private finance,” she said, adding that governments in all countries must also play their part in creating policy environments that support and incentivise investment.

Grids and permitting barriers

Grids and permitting for renewables projects also pose major practical challenges, particularly in developed countries.

According to REN21, the potential renewable capacity that is ‘stuck’ waiting to be connected to grids around the world is equivalent to three times the amount of wind and solar power installed in 2023.

For Dunlop, the solution to grid congestion is more storage – batteries for short-term storage and other technologies for longer-term storage, such as storing electricity as heat or pumping water uphill that can then be released to produce hydroelectricity.

Beyond lithium: how a Swedish battery company wants to power Europe’s green transition with salt

Complex planning processes can also mean it takes longer to get planning permission for projects, such as wind farms, than it does to build them – if they even get approval at all.

For Douglas, something as simple as hiring more staff to process project applications in grid and planning authorities could begin to unlock thousands of gigawatts of renewable power.

Energy efficiency overlooked

Although renewables are growing faster than any other energy source, companies and governments are boosting investments in fossil fuels at the same time.

The use of fossil fuels for electricity generation continues to grow, while renewables only provide 6.3% of the energy required for heat, which is mainly used in buildings and industrial operations.

Electricity generation by energy source

Chart courtesy of IRENA

“We are not moving fast enough to fully meet the staggering rise in energy demand, let alone replace existing fossil fuels,” said REN21 Executive Director Rana Adib in a statement on the group’s recent statistics.

Another – neglected – solution is energy efficiency, experts said. The Global Renewables Alliance is running a ‘double down, triple up’ campaign, which calls on countries not only to triple renewables by 2030, but also to double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency, to reduce emissions and help stem energy demand – another goal countries signed up to at COP28.

“We absolutely need that doubling of energy efficiency as well,” said Dunlop. “That isn’t discussed enough.”

(Reporting by Daisy Clague; editing by Megan Rowling)

The post Global goal of tripling renewables by 2030 still out of reach, says IRENA  appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

Climate will run AMOC across Europe

Ecologist - Wed, 07/10/2024 - 07:59
Climate will run AMOC across Europe Channel News brendan 10th July 2024 Teaser Media
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What 70 Celebrity Tortoises Can Teach Us About Conservation Stories

The Revelator - Wed, 07/10/2024 - 07:00

Last November conservationists carefully carried 70 young, critically endangered Mojave Desert tortoises to the reptiles’ natural habitat on Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California. The tortoises had been hatched and reared in captivity, and the team — a collaboration between U.S. Air Force officials at the base, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, and The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Springs — were hopeful that the animals would survive the rigors of life in the wild, where ravens would try to peck through their shells and coyotes could attack them.

It would take a while to learn how they fared: Soon after their release, the reptiles would hide in underground burrows and go into brumation, a state of inactivity, for the winter.

But six months later, this past April, news of their fate came out: The tortoises had emerged from their burrows healthier and stronger than ever, a notable milestone in the ongoing tortoise conservation story.

Photo: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

The news quickly made headlines around the country. Local outlets covered the outcome, as did the Associated Press, which transmitted it internationally. Even celebrity-focused People magazine profiled the project. The media blitz demonstrated that even though conservation projects can be expensive and time- and energy-intensive, concerted efforts to help species come back from near extinction, and even thrive, can work.

Dozens of conservation success stories come out every year, from bald eagle population surges to black-footed ferret births, zebra shark releases to red wolf habitat protections. Yet few get as much publicity as the tortoises did in the spring.

So why did the story of the tortoises resonate so widely when so many other conservation stories fail to reach the public? The answer may reflect not only the state of human views on our effect on the environment, and our opinions of animals, but also the state of the news industry and what we cover.

“A Huge Downer”

Research published in 2022 by Carlos Corvalan, an advisor on risk assessment and global environmental change at the World Health Organization, suggested that people often feel overwhelmed by today’s biodiversity and climate change crises, which can lead to feelings of helplessness and result in people taking less action, not more.

Bad news about habitat destruction, the effects of greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere, and struggling species abound. The public, it seems, is hungry for positive stories.

“In this time, in all times, conservation can be a huge downer,” says James Danoff-Burg, director of conservation at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. The tortoise story, however, was about how the reptiles did well in their new environment after months in brumation. “This,” he says, “is a success.”

Another reason that the tortoise story got so much traction may be because they’re cute and unthreatening. Unlike endangered predators, tortoises won’t hurt anyone or take down prey with their fangs. Studies on stories about hyenas and sharks, for example, show that conservation focused on those species is less popular among certain age groups who think of them as scary.

Although tortoises may not qualify as charismatic megafauna — typically thought of as popular, attractive, and well-known animals — they have endearing features and are charmingly awkward.

“We relate to those big eyes,” says Danoff-Burg. “Tortoises, they’re just so funny and odd and alien, but adorable. I think that sold the story as much as anything.”

Photo: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

The groups involved also have communications departments that helped narrate the story of the species the organizations care for. Typically it’s up to the researchers themselves to relate successes in the field, but media departments can help tell those stories to a wider audience, says Melissa Merrick, associate director of recovery ecology at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

“They really did a great job in elevating the work that we’ve been doing,” she says. “Not every organization is fortunate to have such a great communications team, and that’s really something that’s overlooked in a lot of conservation work, the importance of getting the story out there and letting people know some of the wins.”

Can the Tortoises’ Media Success Be Duplicated?

If conservationists or public relations professionals want to replicate the Mojave Desert tortoise story success, the task may be difficult, says Betsy Hildebrandt, senior vice president of external affairs for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. “A great, compelling story often doesn’t land, while one that seems insignificant can have legs,” she says.

In her more than three decades in communications, she’s seen how uncontrollable factors often influence the amount of publicity a study or a success will have in the media. Those can include a heavy news cycle, whether a reporter or editor has interest in a particular species, or whether viewers think the species is cute and cuddly.

“The best a PR department can do is put together a compelling pitch, be smart and target reporters who may have covered something similar in the past, [and] try an ‘exclusive,’ which you can then promote on social media to get further pickup,” she says.

Success Stories Have Power

In the void of good news, the doom and gloom stories often earn more attention, so the conservation community should promote even small victories.

“There are so many successes out there,” Danoff-Burg says. “We just don’t tell those stories very well.” We often fail to advertise minor wins in a conservation success story, such as efforts to mitigate threats like roads or poaching.

Some in the media understand that dynamic, which has led organizations like the Solutions Journalism Network to advocate for stories with a positive message that can show readers why, and how, people responded to a particular problem.

Sure, sometimes even good-news stories fail to make a splash. But even if a conservation story doesn’t grab the public’s attention the first time there’s a breakthrough, a species’ comeback could become an even more compelling narrative over time.

Take the black-footed ferret, for example. The species was thought to be extinct by the early 1980s, until a rancher’s dog found one in the wild a few years later. Biologists named the ferret Willa and collected her genetic material. Decades later they created her genetic clone in 2021 to help the species recover. The news of the genetic advance made national headlines in places like Science, National Geographic, and Smithsonian Magazine. Biologists just recently used that same genetic material to create two more younger sisters, also clones, generating yet more headlines.


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The organizations that contributed to the Mojave Desert tortoise success could have more news to promote in the future, too, as they continue their research, like what makes a tortoise clutch successful, whether specific females are likely to produce young that succeed in cold weather, and whether individual differences in behavior change how they respond to predators. That could all make conservation efforts more effective on a faster timeframe, Danoff-Burg says.

As researchers and biologists increase their knowledge of how to best protect and support lots of other threatened and endangered species — and the habitats they rely on — conservationists will have more tales to tell of their successes. That could benefit both humans and animals alike.

After all, everyone loves a good story.

Scroll down to find our “Republish” button Previously in The Revelator:

Breeding the ‘Snot Otter’

The post What 70 Celebrity Tortoises Can Teach Us About Conservation Stories appeared first on The Revelator.

Categories: H. Green News

The Loss and Damage Fund must not leave fragile states behind 

Climate Change News - Wed, 07/10/2024 - 06:11

Adrianna Hardaway is senior policy advisor for climate with humanitarian aid agency Mercy Corps.

As the Loss and Damage Fund’s board meets this week, it is addressing key issues such as selecting a host country, how to disburse its financial resources, and lobbying for more funding from donors. However, the agenda currently doesn’t address the challenges communities in fragile contexts will face in accessing the fund. This oversight mirrors a recurring pattern in international climate talks, where the needs and realities of fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCS) often receive little to no attention. 

FCS, as defined by the World Bank, experience high levels of institutional and social fragility and violent conflict. These nations, which include Afghanistan, Mali and Niger to name a few, often face extreme climate hazards and struggle to cope due to weak institutions, poor governance, and ongoing conflict.  

Together, fragility and climate risks make these countries particularly vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis. Because of their vulnerability, fragile contexts are frequently deemed too risky for climate finance investments, as project partners find it challenging to operate and donors are concerned about their return on investment.   

A simmering conflict over one of Latin America’s biggest wind hubs confronts Mexico’s next president

While the Paris Agreement prioritizes Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) for international climate finance, LDCs and SIDS with additional challenges like violent conflict and fragility face barriers, receiving significantly less financing than more stable regions.  

Mercy Corps’ analysis reveals that the 10 most fragile states received only $223 million in climate adaptation financing in 2021, less than 1% of total flows. Without prioritizing the unique needs of fragile contexts, the Loss and Damage Fund risks excluding these climate-vulnerable communities once again. 

Action needed from the start

There are no references to fragility or conflict in the COP decision that established the Loss and Damage Fund or the Governing Instrument, which sets the Fund’s rules and practices. Additionally, there is no mention of how fragile or conflict-affected places in more “stable” countries will receive financing through the Fund.  

Fragility and conflict can limit how communities and institutions across a particular country respond to climate impacts. For example, in Northern Kenya, where Mercy Corps implements several climate adaptation and food security programs, unpredictable rainfall affects water resources, creating pressure on pastoral livelihoods and leading to conflict over water and pasture. Relatively weak institutions at the local government and community level lack the capabilities and resources to plan and implement climate adaptation interventions.

If the Loss and Damage Fund does not address how to support both fragile states and contexts like Northern Kenya now, it will be hard to incorporate these considerations later.   

New South African government fuels optimism for faster energy transition

Advocating for specific challenges in fragile contexts during the Fund’s initial setup is crucial, as evidenced by Mercy Corps’ experience with the multi-billion-dollar UN-backed Green Climate Fund (GCF). Although the GCF has made strides to consider communities affected by climate change, conflict, and fragility through its policies and programs, including endorsing the UAE’s Declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery, and Peace at COP28 last year, it still struggles to effectively serve communities in fragile contexts.  

Prioritizing finance for those who need it most

At the second meeting of the Loss and Damage Fund’s board this week, its members should take the following steps to realize the Fund’s promise and ensure loss and damage financing reaches those who truly need it most: 

  1. Designate a board member for fragile and conflict-affected situations: This idea, initially proposed by Afghanistan for the GCF, was never fully realized. Board Members play an important role in shaping the policies and procedures of the Loss and Damage Fund and in the future, approving projects. Additionally, an active observer from civil society can represent the views of FCS at Board meetings.
  2. Develop a framework to identify “particularly vulnerable” countries: The Loss and Damage Fund board will need to determine which countries are particularly vulnerable to climate change and thus, eligible to receive financing. To ensure a comprehensive understanding of vulnerability, the LDF must include fragility metrics such as economic, political, social cohesion, and security dimensions in any forthcoming vulnerability framework. 
  3. Develop and approve operational policies and frameworks for fragile contexts: To effectively utilize loss and damage finance, the Fund should adopt policies and tools that allow fragile contexts to flexibly respond to shocks and disrupt the climate-conflict cycle. Mercy Corps’ Assessment for Adaptation to Conflict and Climate Threats, for example, examines the dynamics between climate change and conflict, and identifies entry points and approaches to interrupt the cycle of fragility. In Mali and Niger, where we piloted this tool, program participants identified the rainy season – especially the beginning and the end – as the time when many of the land-based conflicts take place between farmers and herders. It is being used by the UK government to plan ways to resolve tensions and support women who are particularly vulnerable.   

The creation of the Loss and Damage Fund was a significant victory for nations that have contributed the least to climate change yet bear the brunt of its impacts. The board of the Loss and Damage Fund now has a critical opportunity to ensure inclusion and equity by guaranteeing that all communities, especially those in fragile and conflict-affected states, have access to the necessary funding to address loss and damage. It is imperative that no one is left behind in this global effort to combat the climate crisis.

The post The Loss and Damage Fund must not leave fragile states behind  appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

Sponsors' Olympic smoke rings

Ecologist - Wed, 07/10/2024 - 02:30
Sponsors' Olympic smoke rings Channel News Andrew Simms 10th July 2024 Teaser Media
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As World's Springs Vanish, Ripple Effects Alter Ecosystems

Yale Environment 360 - Wed, 07/10/2024 - 01:05

Springs, which bring groundwater to the surface and support a host of unique species, are disappearing globally, victims of development and drought. Researchers are working to document and map these life-giving habitats in an effort to save them before they are gone.

Read more on E360 →

Categories: H. Green News

Farmers and residents find common ground

Ecologist - Tue, 07/09/2024 - 23:00
Farmers and residents find common ground Channel News brendan 10th July 2024 Teaser Media
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A simmering conflict over one of Latin America’s biggest wind hubs confronts Mexico’s next president

Climate Change News - Tue, 07/09/2024 - 10:20

Following years of violence surrounding one of Latin America’s largest wind energy projects, local residents in southern Oaxaca state are cautiously optimistic that Mexico’s incoming president understands their anger over what they call poor consultations and environmental damage.

Claudia Sheinbaum will be sworn in as Mexico’s first female president on October 1 with a broad electoral mandate. Before entering politics, she was a scientist studying renewable energy, including the ongoing conflict over wind farms on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The tensions have spawned deadly violence, and lawsuits from Oaxaca City to Paris.

One of Mexico’s windiest areas, energy companies have flocked to the strip of land between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean since 2006, making it one of the most important locations for renewable energy in the world’s 13th largest country.

Supporters say projects like this are crucial for transitioning Mexico away from fossil fuels and creating green jobs based on renewable energy. Opponents are concerned about wind turbines harming migratory birds, land access, revenue sharing and – most importantly – problems related to Indigenous community consultations over the investments.

Bloody conflict

In several cases, anger sparked by the projects has turned bloody, including at least 15 killed in a dispute over the wind farms in 2020.

Today, more than 2,000 turbines cover the land, according to data from Amnesty International, leading to “dispossession” and violations of the “collective rights of Indigenous communities”, the rights charity says. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in the projects, mostly by European energy companies.

Anti-wind farm activist Guadalupe Ramirez poses for a picture inside her home in Union Hidalgo, Mexico. (Leon Pineda/Climate Home)

Guadalupe Ramirez is an Indigenous Zapotec farmer who grows pumpkins and corn on a communal plot in the town of Union Hidalgo, a hub for wind energy.  She told Climate Home that “at first, they (wind companies) said they would just take a little piece of the land but they ended up destroying a big piece”.

“The companies started dividing families,” said Ramirez, who also complained about local environmental disruption from the projects. “We were very mad about this. I have hope with Sheinbaum.”

Ramirez expects the new president and former Mexico City mayor may have some unique insights on the problems her community faces. The academic turned politician co-authored a study analysing the unrest over wind projects in Oaxaca state.

“Although wind energy has numerous benefits, [the] concerns of the local people have to be taken seriously,” Sheinbaum wrote in 2016. “Far from the old-fashioned thinking of looking at social acceptance of renewable technologies as a NIMBY (not in my backyard) problem… information, consultation, and participation are key elements to the success and acceptance of wind farm projects.”

Sheinbaum celebrates her election victory in Mexico City on June 3, 2024. (REUTERS/Raquel Cunha TPX)

Those are exactly the elements Ramírez and many of her neighbours say were missing when they were first approached by energy companies back in 2009.

From there, the conflict escalated, said Carlos Lopez, who has experienced it firsthand. As an activist and community journalist in Union Hidalgo, he said he was threatened by masked men toting automatic weapons. He suspects they were hired by landowners or corrupt local politicians who wanted windmills erected in the area in order to receive rent from companies.

“They were killing people here,” Lopez told Climate Home, during an interview in a crumbling building which had been a community radio hub in Union Hidalgo as it underwent renovations.

In 2013, for instance, he said local fishermen and hunters were working in an area near Union Hidalgo coveted by wind investors, when they were accosted by masked men with heavy weapons. The fishermen then fled to the radio station, so Lopez could broadcast what was happening.

Deadly violence

“They [investors and their supporters in government] don’t respect the vision and culture of the original peoples of the Isthmus and want to push through these megaprojects,” said Lopez, sitting on a plastic chair  next to pictures of Che Guevara and posters for protest movements.

Posters are displayed inside a community radio station in Union Hidalgo (Picture: Leon Pineda)

Residents later set up barricades around six areas they considered sacred sites to stop encroachment by companies, he added, as threats continued and violence simmered.

In 2020, for instance, at least 15 people were killed in San Mateo del Mar, a coastal community in Oaxaca and a hotbed of Indigenous opposition to wind projects. Campaigners said they were stopped at a coronavirus checkpoint and shot at by supporters of a local mayor who backed the wind projects.

Last month, a French court allowed a civil case against the energy giant EDF to proceed after Indigenous people in Oaxaca argued the company failed to prevent violence and intimidation of wind farm opponents.

The violence has quietened down in the past few years due to national government policy changes and several court cases limiting new wind investment in the area, said local residents, including both critics and supporters of the projects.

Opposition is “political”

Not everyone in Union Hidalgo is opposed to the wind farms. On a rainy Saturday on his mango, avocado and guava farm, Dueter Toledo Ordonez told Climate Home: “These projects aren’t bothering me.”

“Some people don’t like it,” he said, with wind turbines in the distance, “but it’s all political … It’s clean energy; it’s the future.”

His father, who farms a nearby plot, had a contract with an energy company to install windmills on his land, added Ordonez, “but something happened with the politics and people said they were polluting” so the company stopped construction.

Deuter Toledo Ordonez tends to crops on his land in Union Hidalgo on June 8, 2024. (Photo: Leon Pineda)

Juqulia Elizabeth Lopez Ruiz, a spokesperson for the secretary of renewable energy for Juchitan district, told Climate Home the 28 wind parks in Tehuantepec bring a lot of jobs.

But she acknowledges some farmers aren’t happy about the projects. “To respond to these concerns: we have Indigenous assemblies where we decide the correct way to act with these wind farms,” she said.

As for concerns raised by wind farm opponents that some municipal lawmakers have been corrupted by energy companies, Lopez Ruiz said this was “just speculation”.

“At one point there was a candidate who had the support of the companies but he stopped being a candidate,” said the local government spokesperson, without naming the politician or discussing specifics of the case.

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Eduardo Martinez Noriegua is  an ecologist with the environmental group Ecological Forum in Juchitan, which has conducted some monitoring around the projects.

He said local anger over potential disruptions to migratory bird populations from wind farms, increased litter, and soil and water contamination from the oil lubricating the turbines is justified.

“I believe the government is being very permissive with the quality control for these operations,” he said.

Energy nationalisation

When Sheinbaum takes office, she will be leading a country that gets nearly 80% of its electricity from fossil fuels and is one of only two G20 countries without a commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions.

Her key political backer – the popular current president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) – invested heavily in new oil infrastructure, and asserted greater national control over the electricity market.

Mexico nationalised its oil industry in the 1930s, and AMLO has taken a similar approach to key materials for the energy transition, cancelling lithium mining concessions granted to foreign firms and creating a new national company to extract the critical mineral.

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The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), a state agency, was also given more control over power generation and distribution.

Sheinbaum has signalled she will continue her predecessor’s policies of state dominance in the energy sector.

Despite the government’s “quest to nationalise electricity generation”, Marilyn Christian, an advisor to the Mexican Centre for Environmental Law, an advocacy group, said the CFE doesn’t currently have the technology to rapidly increase renewable power production. Instead, as demand grows, it has turned to fossil fuels to generate electricity.

“Emissions in the electricity sector … have been on the rise since 2021 – that is bad news for our commitments on reducing carbon emissions,” she said. “We have many expectations with Claudia Sheinbaum. She has a solid academic background in environmental issues … [but] Claudia is also a politician. She has a clear position and ideology.”

Christian said she supports the idea of public control over electricity in principle, an effective option in some European countries, but it will only work if the CFE has the capacity to deliver.

Back in Union Hidalgo, most wind farm critics said their views wouldn’t change if a public institution like the CFE, rather than private companies, managed the projects, posing another complication for generating more renewable power.

But some of the changes recommended by Sheinbaum in her study on Oaxaca – including deeper consultation with communities living nearby and taking their concerns seriously – could help smooth things out, Ramirez said.

“We are not totally against this kind of green energy,” she said as hundreds of white windmills whirred in the distance. “It’s about how they do business.”

(Reporting by Chris Arsenault and Philippe Le Billon, editing by Joe Lo and Megan Rowling)

The travel and reporting for this story were funded by a grant from the Global Reporting Centre and Social Sciences Humanities and Research Council.

The post A simmering conflict over one of Latin America’s biggest wind hubs confronts Mexico’s next president appeared first on Climate Home News.

Categories: H. Green News

First Solar-Covered Canal in U.S. to Go Online This Summer

Yale Environment 360 - Tue, 07/09/2024 - 06:14

Work is nearly complete on a pilot project erecting solar canopies over a canal on tribal land south of Phoenix. When finished, it will be the first solar-covered canal in the U.S.

Read more on E360 →

Categories: H. Green News

Private sufficiency and public luxury

Ecologist - Mon, 07/08/2024 - 23:00
Private sufficiency and public luxury Channel Comment brendan 9th July 2024 Teaser Media
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Meet the Malaysian Conservationist Devoting Her Life to Protecting Fireflies

The Revelator - Mon, 07/08/2024 - 07:00

When I was a child, my mother instructed me to stop playing outside and come home at the sight of the first twilight firefly. For many years I believed what most children believe: that when darkness falls, the day’s fun is over. It wasn’t until my stint as a Student Conservation Association intern at Arches National Park, many moons ago, that I began to explore the night sky and all the secrets it holds.

Dr. Wan Faridah Akmal Jusoh had a similar experience. As the Malaysian conservation scientist recounted in a talk at TED Women in Atlanta, Georgia, last fall, she and her siblings grew up in a “superstitious, conservative community” and were always told to return home at sunset. “This particular rule made the night seem mysterious to me,” she recounted at the conference, where we first met. “I spent my school years admiring the dark, but never got around to really exploring it.”

When she was a young scientist, that began to change. On a late-night boat ride through a mangrove estuary one evening, she found herself surrounded by thousands of fireflies, all blinking in unison. As she said in her TED talk, “That is the moment I will never forget — the moment I officially fell in love with kelip-kelip,” the local name for fireflies.

Now a senior lecturer in biodiversity and conservation at Monash University in Malaysia, Jusoh has dedicated her career to firefly research and conservation. Among her accomplishments, she recently coauthored a paper outlining firefly threats and conservation strategies around the world.

Another area of Jusoh’s research focuses on the genus Pteroptyx, also known as congregating fireflies. Like the insects she saw that fateful night, Pteroptyx gather in large swarms in trees and shrubs along tidal rivers in mangrove swamps and flash their lights in nearly perfect synchronicity. Because of these displays, the IUCN refers to them as “icon species.”

But even these icons are in trouble. Last month, just a few days before World Firefly Day on July 6, the IUCN Firefly Specialist Group announced that four congregating species — the Comtesse’s firefly (Pteroptyx bearni), synchronous bent-wing firefly (P. malaccae), perfect synchronous flashing firefly (P. tener), and nonsynchronous bent-winged firefly (P. valida) — have been assessed as vulnerable to extinction, one step above endangered. (The extinction risk of the majority of firefly species has yet to be assessed, something the Specialist Group is working to address.)

On the day of the IUCN Red List announcement, Jusoh and I reconnected over video to discuss her work.

Wan Faridah Akmal Jusoh speaks at TEDWomen 2023. Photo: Erin Lubin / TED


There are more than 2,200 known species of firefly. They’re found on every continent except for Antarctica. And each type serves as an indicator of its habitat. Why is this important?

Fireflies are so important. I think the first thing that we talk about is balancing the ecosystem. There are also other insects that play a role like that, but if you look at fireflies, their life stage has [a] different role.

When we talk about firefly larvae, we are also talking about maintaining good habitat for their prey. So, for example, we’re talking about firefly larvae eating snails. The snails require good water quality. When you don’t have good water quality, the snail population will decrease and the fireflies’ population will also decrease.

But I also like to talk about specific fireflies — for example, the aquatic firefly. We don’t have many, at least not all over the world, but there are aquatic fireflies [who] can swim. They require high quality water to actually live in the water.

It’s not just about fireflies alone. When you remove the firefly from the ecosystem, you are disturbing the other parts of the food chain.

For those of us who are not scientists and have not devoted our lives to fireflies, what can we do to help foster healthy habitats so that the widest range of species of fireflies can thrive?

This might be funny, but as a collective group of firefly researchers we all say that the first, very simple thing that you can do is turn off the lights when you don’t use them.

That’s the easiest thing that we can do as citizens because fireflies are talking to each other using signals. And when you have the light too bright, you will see decreased number of fireflies because you disrupt their communication.

And number two, if we cannot contribute scientifically, we can always go for a citizen science program. There are national recording systems, or something like iNaturalist. People [like me] actually get the data. Sometimes [users] will ask, “hey, what is this species?” Then experts try to identify it. And that’s very, very helpful. We can see that [and say] “oh, I have never seen this firefly, maybe next time I should visit this place.”

I think awareness, education, is very important. And in terms of contribution, nowadays almost every country has a citizen science program.

Maybe we think that it’s quite slow. Maybe we don’t see the return on investment in this kind of work. But in the long term it creates guardians, the people who one day, when they know there are fireflies here, will become the eyes and ears for scientists to help protect them.

A mangrove forest in Thailand at twilight. Photo credit: Banthoon Pankaew.


You’ve spoken of the moment that you first saw the kelip-kelip dancing, and how it was a moment of wonder and excitement. And that moment has led to your entire life’s work. What would you say to people who have maybe not experienced that wonder? Where would they start to find wonder in nature?

I think it’s really hard to answer this. I think it really depends on how much you’re willing to be open to curiosity, open to new experiences. If you’re into nature, or if you have a high curiosity, you’re probably easily attracted to that kind of mystery. The message can be really powerful. But I think fireflies have a strength here that even by looking at them, you always have that magical moment.

In your talk you spoke of how coming home at twilight meant the night was mysterious to you. And that’s something shared by children around the world. How would you recommend we foster wonder of the dark in children?

People talk about the safety issue, of children being out at night, and that makes sense. But then when you grow up — and it was always instilled since you were young that you cannot go out — it feels dangerous. For you to get out and explore, there’s always many layers of doubt. But there are always ways to do it.

Nowadays we have a lot of opportunities to go explore an area that has already been established — for example, an ecotourism area. If we are not sure yet — and especially if we have that fear about about night — you can go with your family, ask your friends to come. The more the merrier.

Watch Dr. Jusoh’s TED Women talk below:

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Categories: H. Green News


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