From coffee to cosmetics, companies are looking for ways to protect the plants their products are made from

December 6, 2019 by  
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As crop varieties disappear, boosting biodiversity becomes smart business.

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From coffee to cosmetics, companies are looking for ways to protect the plants their products are made from

Alliance of more than 11,000 scientists warns that our planet faces a climate emergency

November 6, 2019 by  
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At our current climate trajectory, humanity will likely face “untold suffering,” as reported in a new study signed by more than 11,000 scientists around the globe. Moral obligation has prompted this Alliance of World Scientists to “tell it like it is,” by issuing a warning that human activity is accelerating the climate emergency “faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity.” The First World Climate Conference, which took place in 1979 at Geneva, recognized disturbing trends in climate change , sounding the first alarm. Several other warnings were made again during the 1992 Rio Summit, 1997 Kyoto Protocol and 2015 Paris Agreement. However, the climate crisis has continued to worsen. The study laments, “Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations, with few exceptions, we have generally conducted business as usual and have largely failed to address this predicament.” Related: IPCC landmark report warns about the state of the oceans, polar ice content and the climate crisis “Business as usual” and human consumption threaten our world biosphere, the study continues. “Especially worrisome are potential irreversible climate tipping points and nature’s reinforcing feedbacks (atmospheric, marine and terrestrial) that could lead to a catastrophic ‘hothouse Earth,’ well beyond the control of humans. These climate chain reactions could cause significant disruptions to ecosystems, society and economies, potentially making large areas of Earth uninhabitable.” To mitigate the climate crisis, the study recommends changing economic and energy policies. Thus, energy conservation practices can be enhanced by fossil fuel divestments and shifts toward cleaner renewable energy sources. Wealthier nations likewise need to assist less affluent countries in transitioning away from fossil fuels. Doing so can help reduce short-lived pollutants like black carbon (soot), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and methane, thereby slowing climate feedback loops and minimizing any warming trends. The scientists also urge for more effective protection and restoration of our planet’s ecosystems on both land and sea. Habitat and biodiversity losses must be avoided by curtailing forest overharvesting and mismanagement. Besides, forests rapidly sequester and capture carbon, so increasing reforestation measures is advantageous to the environment and climate. Similarly, socioeconomic shifts regarding food and population can be natural climate solutions. For instance, shifting to plant-based diets reduces carbon footprints . Slowing the human population boom via improved family-planning and better access to education can help reverse the climate crisis, too, by not overwhelming our ecosystems. Essentially, the study states that a more sustainable future for all living things on our planet can be secured by altering “how we live.” + BioScience Image via NASA

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Alliance of more than 11,000 scientists warns that our planet faces a climate emergency

Ski atop the worlds cleanest waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen

October 9, 2019 by  
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Six years after breaking ground, CopenHill — a waste-to-energy plant topped with a year-round ski slope — is officially open, marking a major milestone in Copenhagen’s journey to becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025. Bjarke Ingels Group , SLA, AKT, Lüchinger+Meyer, MOE and Rambøll designed the new architectural landmark that they describe as the cleanest waste-to-energy plant in the world. The building includes an environmental education hub as well as a landscaped roof for urban recreation including skiing, hiking and climbing. Designed to replace the neighboring 50-year-old waste-to-energy plant, the 41,000-square-meter CopenHill — also known as Amager Bakke — boasts state-of-the-art technologies in waste treatment and energy production. BIG, which won the 2011 international competition for the power plant, drew inspiration from the industrial waterfront of Amager that is now a hub for extreme sports. “CopenHill is a blatant architectural expression of something that would otherwise have remained invisible: that it is the cleanest waste-to-energy power plant in the world,” says Bjarke Ingels in a press release. “As a power plant, CopenHill is so clean that we have been able to turn its building mass into the bedrock of the social life of the city — its façade is climbable, its roof is hikeable and its slopes are skiable. A crystal clear example of Hedonistic Sustainability — that a sustainable city is not only better for the environment — it is also more enjoyable for the lives of its citizens.” Related: Are bioenergy facilities the solution to the growing garbage problem? In addition to the 9,000-square-meter ski terrain, visitors can enjoy hiking the building’s summit with the 490-meter-long hiking and running pathway landscaped with 7,000 bushes and 300 trees to mimic the look of a lush mountain trail. Soaring to a height of 85 meters, the 10,000-square-meter green roof also includes a rooftop bar, cross-fit area, climbing wall and observation area that can be reached via lift or glass elevator that provides views inside the 24-hour operations of the waste-to-energy plant that converts 440,000 tons of waste annually into enough clean energy to power 150,000 homes. The building also houses ten floors of administrative space for the ARC team and a 600-square-meter education center for academic tours, workshops and sustainability conferences. + BIG Images by Laurian Ghinitoiu, Aldo Amoretti, Dragoer Luftfoto, Rasmus Hjortshoj. and Soren Aagaard

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Ski atop the worlds cleanest waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen

30 of world’s largest cities have hit peak greenhouse gas emissions milestone, C40 analysis shows

October 9, 2019 by  
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The international community has collaboratively crusaded to quickly reach peak global greenhouse gas emissions . By doing so, they hope to alleviate worldwide temperature rise and related climate disasters. A recent report confirms that 30 of the world’s largest cities — all members of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group — have completed their peak greenhouse gas emission milestones. What does it mean when a country or city “peaks” its greenhouse gas emissions? As part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement , first enacted in 2016, countries across the globe — and their respective cities, some of which are members of the C40 — have agreed to decrease global warming by keeping the collective planet-wide temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. To ensure this, the countries that have signed the Paris Agreement have set goals to drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. When a country’s emissions levels have reversed substantially, they are described as having “peaked” at last, so they are now capable of industrially operating at emissions levels far below their “peak” point. Related: Cities around the world lay the groundwork for a zero-waste future According to the World Resources Institute (WRI) , “peaking” really began even before the Paris Agreement was established. For instance, by 1990, 19 countries were documented to have peaked their greenhouse gas emission levels . By 2000, an additional 14 countries reached their critical milestones. A decade later, in 2010, 16 more countries joined the list of countries that have peaked, including the United States and Canada, which both peaked in 2007. Meanwhile, in 2005, the multinational organization now known as C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, or C40 for short, was founded when representatives from 18 mega-cities cooperatively forged an agreement to address widespread pollution and climate change. The group began with 18 cities and has grown significantly since then. Interestingly, the C40, on its 10th anniversary back in 2015, was instrumental in shaping the Paris Agreement prior to its 2016 ratification. Now, ahead of the C40 World Mayors Summit, a new analysis just revealed that 30 of the world’s largest and most influential cities — all members of C40 — have each achieved their respective peak greenhouse gas emissions goals. The 30 cities include Athens, Austin, Barcelona, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Copenhagen, Heidelberg, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Milan, Montreal, New Orleans, New York City, Oslo, Paris, Philadelphia, Portland, Rome, San Francisco, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto, Vancouver, Venice, Warsaw and Washington, D.C. The C40 analysis further disclosed that these 30 influential cities have helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 22 percent, which is encouraging. “The C40 cities that have reached peak emissions are raising the bar for climate ambition, and, at the same time, exemplifying how climate action creates healthier, more equitable and resilient communities,” said Mark Watts, executive director of C40 Cities.  To further its endeavors, C40 has launched the C40 Knowledge Hub . It is an online platform dedicated to informing and inspiring policies to ramp up global climate initiatives that can encourage even more sustainable changes to protect the planet. + C40 Image via Anne Hogdal

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30 of world’s largest cities have hit peak greenhouse gas emissions milestone, C40 analysis shows

Danone cultivates multinational effort to restore biodiversity

October 2, 2019 by  
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What’s at stake: the future of farming.

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Danone cultivates multinational effort to restore biodiversity

More than half of Europes native trees face extinction

September 30, 2019 by  
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Europe’s endemic trees are threatened by extinction, states a recent International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) assessment on biodiversity. The unfortunate decline is due to the combination of three paramount factors: problematic invasive species , unsustainable deforestation from logging and wood harvesting and urban development. According to the IUCN’s European Red List , there are 454 native European tree species, of which 265 species are found nowhere else on the planet except in continental Europe, and 252 species are found only in the 28 European Union (EU) member-states. Of these, 168 species (or 42 percent) are regionally threatened with extinction. Related: Ireland will plant 440 million trees in 20 years Circumstances adversely affecting European trees include changes in forest and woodland management. More poignant is the significance of ecosystem modification, as in the case of forest fire, land abandonment, agricultural encroachment, livestock farming and even tourism. But the three most hazardous are invasive species, deforestation and urban development. “It is alarming that over half of Europe’s endemic tree species are now threatened with extinction ,” said Craig Hilton-Taylor, head of the IUCN Red List Unit. “Trees are essential for life on Earth, and European trees, in all their diversity, are a source of food and shelter for countless animal species, such as birds and squirrels, and play a key economic role. From the EU to regional assemblies and the conservation community, we all need to work together to ensure their survival.” The IUCN report calls for more data gathering and analysis, especially regarding overlooked species. By improving knowledge of all these “overlooked” European species, the continent’s biodiversity can be better managed and protected. Tree species , unfortunately, are rarely prioritized in conservation planning and policy making. But it is hoped that the recent disclosure of the IUCN’s European Red List findings will change that. Growing public awareness can help galvanize urbanization control, conservation action and sustainable management. “This report has shown how dire the situation is for many overlooked, undervalued species that form the backbone of Europe’s ecosystems and contribute to a healthy planet,” explained Luc Bas, director of IUCN’s European Regional Office. “We need to mitigate human impact on our ecosystems and prioritize the protection of these species.” + IUCN Images via Noël Zia Lee

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More than half of Europes native trees face extinction

Climate Week: Big companies, big commitments

September 27, 2019 by  
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The historic announcements and procurements from businesses showed that climate action is picking up pace, but is it fast enough?

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Climate Week: Big companies, big commitments

Could planting 1 trillion trees counteract climate change?

September 20, 2019 by  
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The U.N. suggests that adding 2.5 billion acres of forest to the world could limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. But some researchers aren’t so sure.

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Could planting 1 trillion trees counteract climate change?

Can the gene editing technology CRISPR help reduce biodiversity loss worldwide?

September 20, 2019 by  
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Though scientists are optimistic that CRISPR could help, they also emphasize caution and community engagement in order to get it right.

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Can the gene editing technology CRISPR help reduce biodiversity loss worldwide?

The climate solutions beneath our feet

August 15, 2019 by  
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if 2020 is about ending deforestation, 2030 must be about eliminating indiscriminate conversion of land for agricultural purposes.

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The climate solutions beneath our feet

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