Roots & Shoots opens an Indigenous-led office in the Amazon - Primatologist and activist extraordinaire Jane Goodall has launched a branch of her successful youth education and empowerment program Roots & Shoots in the Amazon, as this recent Mongabay article explains. Begun in 1991 in Tanzania with twelve local teenagers, Roots & Shoots has expanded to more than sixty nations, including a large program in the U.S. The new program in Brazil will be Indigenous-led with a focus on connecting youth to traditional knowledge, Indigenous rights, and land protection. Indigenous-led efforts to end deforestation in the Amazon have been credited with slowing and stopping the loss of critical rainforest. Environmental education is often overlooked as a regenerative climate solution. Many efforts are underway to change this situation. The annual Native Youth Climate Adaptation Leadership Congress brings together future leaders from across the U.S. In Canada, the nonprofit First Nations gives grants to educational projects through its Native Youth and Culture Fund. In Africa, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation has developed a conservation curriculum for primary school students. The Nature Conservancy has launched a youth conservation science program they call an externship (because it’s outdoors) emphasizing on-the-job training. Here is a list of organizations for Gen-Z provided by Climate Change Resources.
The transformational power of local food policies - The global food system is currently responsible for about a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, and this year’s UN Climate Conference in Dubai will be the first to dedicate an entire day to the issue. Some city and regional governments are leading the way in reducing food-related emissions with people-centered practices that also improve residents’ health and lessen food inequality. In the mega-city of São Paulo, the Connect the Dots program shields the surrounding Atlantic forest from deforestation, protects nearby farms from urban development, and trains family farmers in sustainable practices while connecting them with urban buyers. Meanwhile, in France, local food policies in the town of Mouans-Sartoux have reduced meat consumption and increased seasonal and local food consumption in sixty percent of its residents, leading to a 19 percent decrease in carbon emissions. To prevent food waste, the Belgian city of Bruges initiated Food Winners, a food waste campaign that has trained over 5,000 ambassadors in food preparation and storage, cut food waste by over half, and produced a manual of best practices for other cities. By collaborating across departments, establishing robust planning and evaluation mechanisms, and creating inclusive partnerships, local governments have been able to take highly effective climate action all along the supply chain, and they could generate an even greater impact with federal funding to scale up their efforts. To learn more, see the Wasting Nothing Nexus.
Peace and conflict on the COP agenda for the first time - The first explicit discussion of peace and conflict in the history of the UN climate talks has taken place at COP28 in the UAE. Given that half of the countries most vulnerable to global heating also experience conflict – and, on average receive half the financing for climate adaptation than countries at peace - this is highly significant. During a day of events dedicated to the climate-conflict nexus, seventy countries and thirty-nine organizations signed a declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace (CRR&P), recognizing that “enhanced support is urgently needed” for countries threatened or affected by conflict. Although the link is complex and multifaceted, climate change and conflict are mutually reinforcing, with ecological distress playing an increasingly significant role in many of today’s conflicts. The Declaration is clearly a step in the right direction, with experts calling for the climate-conflict nexus to be a core part of COP negotiations from now on.
Virtual Power Plants gain momentum in decentralizing energy grid - A Virtual Power Plant (VPP) is a distributed network of small-scale energy production and storage– such as wind farms or solar arrays– that is then aggregated for the purpose of distribution. At present, they are very useful in supplementing energy produced by conventional power plants during times of peak usage or during emergencies like storms or heat waves when more energy may be needed by consumers. In Vermont, Green Mountain Power’s new “resiliency zone” initiative leases solar panels and batteries to households and then pays them when it needs to utilize extra stored energy for redistribution to other customers. The company just released plans to install batteries for two hundred and seventy thousand homes in the next decade. Santa Barbara, California, is working with Scale Microgrids to implement a 30-megawatt light industrial VPP and Electriq Power to establish residential VPPs; both projects are steps toward having the city run on 100% clean power. Residents will be safer and protected from outages by ending reliance on the single corridor of lines that currently provides all of their electricity.
Shai Weiss, Chief Executive Officer at Virgin Atlantic. Heathrow Airport, London.
Runway to Jet Zero - The world’s first low-emissions transoceanic passenger flight was completed last week on a Virgin Atlantic plane that took off from London and landed in New York carrying a small group of people, including the airline’s billionaire founder. The Boeing 787 jet was completely powered by Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), a kind of biodiesel made from waste oils and animal fat that is said to reduce emissions by around seventy percent. According to the International Air Transport Association, next-generation SAF could achieve up to 95 percent emissions reduction and will be key to reaching its 2050 net zero target, but critics have called the demonstration flight a gimmick. The UK Royal Society published a report earlier this year arguing that there is no single alternative fuel that could support the current level of flying and that more research is needed into other options, including green hydrogen, ammonia, synthetic fuels, and other biofuels. Aviation is just one piece of transition, but the good news is that this may be the year the world reaches peak CO2 emissions from energy and industry.
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