Over 1.4 million young students in over 300 cities across the world took to the streets in the first ever global climate strike on March 15. Galvanised by teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg, the schoolgirl now nominated for a Nobel peace prize, the “Fridays For Future” climate strikes reached a global crescendo on March 15.
In France alone, 1,95,000 schoolchildren gathered in over 110 cities, while 1,50,000 students marched through Montreal’s streets, and thousands others joined in Milan, Mexico, Cape Town. In New York City, children performed a die-in at the UN HQ, and in Australia, they marched against the “Fossil Fools”. Students also gathered in Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Brazil, Iran and Nepal, while New Zealand’s PM supported the teen strike. India’s youth weren’t far behind as students in over 15 cities skipped classes from Allahabad to Hyderabad, in protest. They took to the streets in Shillong, Jamui (Bihar), Kolkata and Mumbai. Over 500 students walked in Delhi, some of them demanding a ban on coal.
Rights group to UN: India’s draft forest policy may harm indigenous people
An international rights group has written to the UN to request the Indian government to drop the draft national forest policy, saying it violates the rights of indigenous people. International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), wrote to the United Nations’ Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) saying that once the policy is adopted, the government will abuse the power and will try to bring the forest and the tribes, currently under the control of the gram sabhas, within the ambit of the National Community Forest Management (CFM) Mission. The rights body says it fears the forest will be thrown open to commercialisation and the $15 billion Compensatory Afforestation Fund, assigned for afforestation programmes, will be misused. The campaigners want the government to involve indigenous people in the compensatory afforestation programme.
World Bank chief: US hasn’t interfered in our climate action policies
World Bank’s interim chief Kristalina Georgieva has said that while the US owns the highest number of shares in the World Bank, the country has not tried to interfere in the World Bank’s policies on climate action, reported Financial Times. The interim president said that although the US has decided to quit the Paris Agreement, and her organisation may get a senior Trump government official to lead the institution, the WB will continue to support climate action. “‘The US, as a shareholder, has signed on to our capital increase package, including climate action”, she said.
Should geoengineering be regulated by the UN? No consensus yet
Switzerland had no choice but to withdraw its resolution seeking regulation of geoengineering (using technology to cool down Earth’s temperature) after countries failed to arrive at a consensus at the recent UN meeting in Kenya. The Economist explained the “bitter irony” behind the countries failure to reach a compromise and wrote: “The only reason the world may need geoengineering is that talks about cutting emissions have gone on so long but achieved so little…” Climate Home News quoted sources saying: “…the US and Saudi Arabia opposed any move that could crimp their ability to tackle climate change through geoengineering – and continue producing fossil fuels.”
ICAO agrees to prevent double counting of aviation’s emissions offsets
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has agreed to stop the counting of civil aviation’s carbon emission offsets as part of national targets. This means that emission reduction achieved by countries’ civil aviation sectors will only be considered as contributions over and above the countries’ national targets – which will still have to be met by other measures.
However, while the ICAO is committed to carbon-neutral growth from 2020, modelled projections of sharp expansion in global civil aviation suggest airlines will emit close to 2,000 million tonnes (MT) of CO2 by 2050. The figure amounts to roughly 800 MT for 2020. Airlines will therefore be required to pay for carbon offsets by other industries.
ISA gets French boost, Macron pledges additional 500 million euros
The India-France initiative, International Solar Alliance (ISA), got a financial boost for the weekend. France committed 500 million euros more last Friday. French President Emmanuel Macron also pledged funds to save Africa’s biodiversity by creating a 10-million euros facility. “The best response to climate change is not words, but actions,” Macron said.
The ISA funds tech-based energy transition of the global electricity market from fossil fuel to renewables. The India-France initiative is supported by 121 nations.
World Bank, AfDB commit $47 billion to African climate finance, Solar
The World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have together pledged over $47 billion (WB $22.5 billion, AfDB $25 billion) by 2025 to help African countries fight climate change impacts. Africa’s coastal region is most at risk of rising sea levels and dying coral reef, while other countries on the continent are battling frequent droughts, desertification and floods. AfDB said its funds would be mostly dedicated to boost solar power plants.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the market model of bringing energy to all villages in Africa should change its focus to climate. “We must put the fight against global warming and biodiversity at the heart of each investment, business choices, the choices of our countries and our cities.” Macron said.
Dutch introduce corporate CO2 tax over fears of missing climate targets
Companies will have to pay a carbon tax to the Netherlands, as the country fears it may not meet its current targets to cut emissions. The country’s recently adopted plan to cut emissions will cost the Dutch government around 5.2 billion euros ($6 billion) over the next 10 years, but it won’t meet the 49% cut in CO2 emission target by 2030, the top advisory body CPB said. The Netherlands is one of the Europe’s most polluting countries with higher CO2 emissions per capita and a lower use of sustainable energy than almost everywhere in the European Union, Reuters reported.
Rethink methodology to assess forest cover: Panel to India’s environment ministry
An expert committee report released last week has highlighted the ongoing criticism of India’s definition of forest cover. The report, which assessed ways India can develop a ‘strategy to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 and 3 billion tonnes of CO2 from forest and tree cover’, asked the government to rethink its methodology to assess such cover, Hindustan Times reported. It recommended separately mapping out areas under monocultures plantations such as teak, sal, chir, bamboo, tea and coffee, among others, which are currently included under forest cover reported by the Forest Survey of India (FSI).
The latest report echoes last year’s assessment of India’s submission on forest covers by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which recommended plantation areas be segregated from forest cover and be assessed separately for their carbon stocks. An Indian Institute of Science study, in 2014, similarly argued India’s definition of forest cover ‘masked deforestation’ as, it said, about 12.7% of the total forest cover could be plantations or orchards.“Since all such areas also contribute for the carbon sink…and are going to play a very important role in meeting carbon sequestration targets envisaged under India’s nationally determined contributions (under Paris Agreement), a separate and detailed assessment of these landscapes is important for transparent reporting of the forest and tree resources of the country,” the report released last week said.
Chile to host next UN climate summit
UN officials have announced the dates and venue for its next climate summit – COP25. It will be held in the Chilean capital of Santiago from 2-13 December, 2019. The summit was previously scheduled to be held in Brazil, but the incoming Jair Bolsonaro government refused to host. While plenty of climate action is expected, much like predecessor COP24, this year’s summit also marks the first time a woman will oversee negotiations in eight years – Chile’s environment minister Carolina Schmidt, who led the country’s bid to host the summit.
Schmidt, who has previously headed the National Office for Women, has a record of focusing on introducing gender issues into the climate debate.