The irreversible damage of climate change, the end of plastic pollution in sight and a discussion on the contribution of agroforestry to gender equality
This week current climate, which every Saturday brings you a balanced view of the news of sustainable development. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every week.
The latest IPCC report on impact of climate change on people and the planet makes dark reading in a week already dominated by the suffering humans inflict on other humans. But it’s also a necessary reality check. First thing to recognize: some of the damage caused by human activity, such as coral bleaching, may be irreparable even if by the end of the century we significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent an increase global temperature over 1.5 degrees before industrial levels. Adaptation will be necessary to some extent, but not all approaches offer good solutions.
There is still so much to defend and preserve. The Ukrainian people’s fierce resistance to the Russian invasion reminds us that no matter how tough the battle, fighting may offer a better chance of survival than surrender. A way to resist both climate change and a certain Russian tyrant is to wean our society from its dependence on fossil fuels.
Other stories I highlight this week discussing a landmark UN resolution on ending plastic pollution and how a Colombian town lost its beautiful beaches to coastal erosion.
For Climate Talks, to mark International Women’s Day, I spoke to Martina Fondi, forestry manager at Italian B-Corp Treedom, which manages the financing and remote monitoring of tree planting projects around the world, about the contribution of agroforestry to gender equality as well as other key sustainability goals.
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The new frontier of electric vehicles: trains with batteries powerful enough to power small towns
Following the lead of automakers and truck makers, locomotive manufacturers and railroads are turning to powerful batteries to reduce carbon and diesel emissions, while maintaining an edge in fuel efficiency.
The largest share of greenhouse gases emitted in the fashion industry occurs in the material supply chain. Next generation materials such as recycled textiles, bio-based materials and plant-based leather can help reduce environmental damage from industry.
More than 170 nations around the world have backed a landmark UN resolution to put an end to plastic pollution, with a legally binding international agreement to be in place by 2024.
By mid-February, most of the United States was experiencing some level of drought, according to the US Drought Monitor. Not only does this impact wildfire risk and water shortages, but it is also a concern for farmers as they prepare for the upcoming planting season.
The beaches of Palomino, Colombia, are considered among the most beautiful in the country. But in just a few years, as property developers removed the mangroves (and their sand-clinging roots), the sea reclaimed the sand, foreshadowing the changes expected in beach communities around the world.
The other great read
Wildfire season is year-round. How to keep the lights on and businesses running
Climate change is causing wildfire season to last year-round in the western United States, prompting power companies and businesses to innovate.
In the decade since its inception, Treedom has grown 3 million trees around the world. The B-Corp is growing rapidly, with 1 million trees planted in the past eight months and a €10 million ($11 million) Series B funding round secured in October from some of the men in the business. most influential businessmen in Italy, as well as a green technology investor and former F1 driver Nico Rosberg.
Forestry manager Martina Martina, who worked to set up Treedom’s partnership with the NGO AMKA to support women’s involvement in agroforestry in Guatemala, explains how the social and economic benefits of plantation projects trees can go hand in hand with environmental objectives.
Treedom’s projects are mainly based in African and Latin American countries. Why did you choose to focus on these regions?
We started overseas because [Treedom] The founders were working on environmental projects in Cameroon, where they witnessed illegal logging and the impact of deforestation. Biodiversity loss and climate change are particularly visible in tropical and subtropical countries, and this is where our action is most needed.
How do you select the projects to propose to those who wish to finance them?
We always try to have a bottom-up and personalized approach, as different places have different environmental needs. We have to find the right solutions for the right place—the same model is not usable for, say, Honduras and Nepal. We usually discuss in depth with our partners about logistics, nurseries, seedling production, drawing, water tank, program schedule, farmer training, etc., etc. This type of activity takes a lot of time. We also travel a lot, even if in the past it was a bit difficult, it’s important. Even though we have local partners there, we have to monitor remotely and in person.
What happens if a natural disaster destroys one of your projects, as happened last summer with some of the forests that were part of corporate carbon offsets?
We have already faced many challenges. What we do is always try to be prepared. We do not produce carbon credits, it is not part of the business. We run small-scale projects, so it’s easier to take care of these activities instead of having a giant forest. We are producing additional trees in our nurseries. We have many more trees than we are going to sell, so we can replace any trees that might die. My approach is to have a Plan A, a Plan B, a Plan C, a Plan D… Whatever happens, we have a backup solution.
What goes into the pricing of planting a tree that people need to consider before, say, planting a tree for $1?
Planting a tree is not always a good idea. Planting trees requires thinking about the right trees for biodiversity, ie not monoculture, not extensive planting or other destructive activities. We never just plant trees. We grow trees, which is a totally different approach. We also focus on post-planting care, cultural care, farmer training and other types of benefits, like building tree nurseries – which we don’t just do for our projects, these activities are intended for our partners. We want to create a sustainable ecosystem, both environmentally and economically. This is why we focus on agroforestry. We don’t want to plant trees just to absorb more CO2; we also have social and economic benefits for those affected.
How does this approach advance gender equality?
We work in quite a few different countries and cultures, so we’re careful in our approach – we can’t tell people what to do, that’s not how it works. We must work together. Our approach is generally to give opportunities to everyone, men and women, which is not necessarily common in some of these countries. Trees can provide such an opportunity, because it is [seen as a] a very caring industry, and caring work is something that is generally seen as female work. So, in almost every culture, caring for trees is something that women are allowed to do. Once involved in the project, they will receive training. They will acquire skills. They will have a better diet, thanks to the fruits of the trees. Moreover, they will sell fruits at the market, so they will earn some money. Education and money are generally essential to help women grow and give them the opportunity to learn, to face and overcome challenges and to have more confidence. It’s a process, but in the long term, you can see that something is changing.
Martina Fondi’s responses have been condensed and edited for brevity and clarity.
on the horizon
Oil tycoon Harold Hamm’s Continental is one of the companies investing in a $4.5 billion project to capture 8 million tons a year of carbon dioxide, move it across five states via a 2,000-meter pipeline miles and inject it into a highly porous and permeable rock formation. over a mile under North Dakota farmland.