Op Sargasso besteden we regelmatig aandacht aan klimaatverandering en falende overheden om dat tegen te gaan. Maar als het om klimaat/milieu gaat, is het niet alleen maar kommer en kwel. Zusterblog Mongabay maakte een top 10 van vrolijk milieunieuws van het afgelopen jaar.
1. China begins to tackle pollution, carbon emissions
As China’s environmental crisis worsens, the government has begun to unveil a series of new initiatives to curb record pollution and cut greenhouse emissions. The world’s largest consumer of coal, China’s growth in emissions is finally slowing and some experts believe the nation’s emissions could peak within the decade. If China’s emissions begin to fall, so too could the world’s.
2. Zero deforestation pacts
Two major commodity producers in Asia announced zero deforestation pacts, while several buyers also established safeguards for commodity sourcing. Both Asia Pulp & Paper, a paper products giant widely condemned by environmentalists for its destructive forest practices, and Wilmar, a Singapore-based agribusiness giant that accounts for 45 percent of global palm oil production, committed to progressive forest policies that exclude conversion of forests with more than 35 tons of above ground biomass, peatlands, and habitats with high conservation value. The moves are part of a broader shift among major commodity producers toward adopting social and environmental safeguards. The transition has been hastened by targeted activist campaigns.
3. REDD+ approved
Negotiators at climate talks in Warsaw reached agreement on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), a program that aims to compensate tropical countries for protecting their forests. Importantly, the REDD+ framework includes provisions on safeguards; addressing drivers of deforestation like conversion for plantations; measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) of forest-related emissions; reference levels for measuring reductions in emissions from deforestation; and finance. Formal recognition of REDD+ could help clean up the forest carbon sector, which has suffered from an influx of “carbon cowboys” who have at times put profit before people, resulting in projects of questionable value to the climate or the environment.
4. CO2 emissions rise more slowly
Is the rise in global carbon emissions finally slowing down? That’s the tentative conclusion from a report released this year that found CO2 emissions rose only 1.1 percent in 2012 (as compared to the decadal average of 2.9 percent) even as the global economy grew 3.5 percent, pointing to a possible decoupling between CO2 emissions and the global economy. Scientists say emissions must peak within a few years and then rapidly decline if we are to have a fair shot at avoiding catastrophic climate change.
5. Sharks and rays win protection at CITES:
After years of mass-slaughter for shark-fin soup that has put many shark species at the risk of extinction, CITES has finally taken action. The animal trade group protected five shark species and two manta rays from international trade this year. In other good news, China has banned shark-fin soup from official state banquets. At its height, conservationists estimated that 90 million sharks were being killed annually for shark-fin soup, though there are signs that demand is slowing.
6. Indonesia’s indigenous people win forest rights
In May, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court invalidated a portion of the country’s 1999 forestry law that classified customary forests as state forests. The ruling is significant because Indonesia’s central government has control over the country’s vast forest estate, effectively enabling agencies like the Ministry of Forestry to grant large concessions to companies for logging and plantations even if the area has been managed for generations by local people. In practice that meant ago-forestry plots, community gardens, and small-holder selective logging concessions could be bulldozed for industrial logging, pulp and paper production, and oil palm plantations. In many cases, industrial conversion sparked violent opposition from local communities, which often saw few, if any, benefits from the land seizures.
7. Scientists make one of the biggest animal discoveries of the century
In what will likely be seen as one of the most astounding taxonomic discoveries of this century, scientists in Brazil have uncovered a new species of tapir. Although weighing a hefty 250 pounds, this is the world’s smallest tapir and some have already dubbed it a dwarf tapir. The new megafauna was discovered by following the lead of local knowledge: indigenous people in the area have been hunting this animal for millennia, and considered it different from the other tapir in the region, the Brazilian tapir (Tapirus terrestris). Almost nothing is known about the behavior of the new tapir—the world’s fifth—but conservationists believe it is endangered due to habitat destruction in the region.
8. Europe bans pesticides linked to bee collapse
The EU has approved a partial ban on pesticides that have been increasingly blamed by scientists for the collapse in bee populations. The 28-member states agreed to ban three neonicotinoid pesticides (imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam) for two years on flowering crops. Recent research has shown that while the pesticides rarely kill bees outright they impact their brain functioning and disrupt natural behavior, a process that may eventually lead to collapsing colonies. Neonicotinoids are also believed to impact other wild pollinators, such as butterflies while the European Food Safety Authority recently warned that neonicotinoids may harm the brains of unborn children as well.
9. Divestment campaign full-steam ahead
The divestment campaign against fossil fuels is only a little over a year old, but has already achieved some major commitments and, perhaps more importantly, has raised awareness about the role of fossil fuel corporations in pushing us toward catastrophic climate change. The movement has spread from college campuses to cities, religious institutions, NGOs, and even zoos and aquariums. To date, eight colleges, 22 cities, two counties, and 18 religious institutions have committed to divesting. The campaign stated in the U.S., but this year moved into the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
10. Leatherback sea turtle no longer Critically Endangered:
Conservation efforts in the U.S., Caribbean, and Central America have pulled the leatherback sea turtle back from the brink of extinction. A new assessment of the species by the IUCN Red List has moved the world’s largest marine turtle from Critically Endangered to Vulnerable. However, while the subpopulation in the western Atlantic Ocean is growing, other populations are plunging. Pacific populations are rapidly declining, while populations along the west coast of Africa—the world’s largest—lack good data. Much more needs to be done, but the species is unlikely to vanish anytime soon thanks to relentless conservation work.