Day 4 at COP26 – #NaturePositive highlights

This news piece is an excerpt from the COP26 Daily Newsletter that Nature4Climate is publishing.

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Well, with only 2 lateral flow tests left in the container this morning, that means it must be Friday. Yesterday was Energy Day. We saw more countries and organisations signing up to hasten the end of coal and 20 countries committing to ending finance for overseas fossil fuel projects, among a range of other announcements.

But lots to talk about on the NBS front as well. Before we jump into yesterday’s round-up, we wanted to let you know that the past daily briefs are now up on the N4C website, for reference.

We’d also like to make a correction to yesterday’s brief: the full list of organisations involved in the process to build consensus for what “high-integrity” credits from tropical forest protection look like is: EDF, COICA, IPAM, TNC, WCS, WWF, CI and WRI. Again, we look forward to tracking the progress of this important initiative.

What’s the story with Indonesia?
Indonesia’s environment minister issued a statement criticising the language of the Glasgow Declaration on Forests, just days after her government signed up. She said: “Forcing Indonesia to (reach) zero deforestation in 2030 is clearly inappropriate and unfair. The massive development of President Jokowi’s era must not stop in the name of carbon emissions or in the name of deforestation.” This was reported in the BBC, Financial Times, and Reuters and a range of other outlets. Though this statement is a disappointment, and has understandably caused confusion, it is also important to recognise that these issues are extremely sensitive in countries where there are strong – and necessary – rural development and growth agendas. The recently published TFA report paints a picture of the increasing competing demands on tropical forests landscapes, including Indonesia – and lays out why policies need to be designed that enhance rural livelihoods, ensure food security, support economic development while also keeping forests standing. It is also important to note that corporate players and investors will take up more action to alleviate deforestation risks in the country. A mix of strong government regulation supported by implementation of corporate commitments and NGO pressure have helped bring down Indonesian deforestation in recent years. Increased engagement from investors and companies in all the agricultural commodity sectors can continue to slow deforestation. The companies and their investors are actually on a path that supports the zero-deforestation goal, a very important trend. With the increasing attention to the material financial risks associated with deforestation and its associated climate impacts, the companies that are not currently changing their practices will feel the pressure to reduce their exposure to deforestation.

The Physical Science Basis: IPCC on AFOLU
The SBSTA held a special meeting with many of the scientists involved in Working Group 1 of the IPCC Sixth Assessment report, which highlighted the importance of the forest and land use sector in both contributing to and helping fight climate change. The report shows AFOLU activities are major contributors to emissions of the three main gasses that contribute to global warming — carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide — through land use change, livestock, nitrogen fertilizers, and manure. Scientists also highlighted the importance of our natural systems in helping adapt to a world impacted by climate change: land absorbs 5% of the extra heat produced by GHGs and uptakes 31% of annual CO2 emissions, while the ocean absorbs 91% of this extra heat and uptakes 23% of annual CO2 emissions. However, as the temperature and emissions increase, ocean and land carbon sinks are expected to be less effective, leaving a larger percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere. Additionally, the report shows that AFOLU sectors have a lot to lose. The authors of Working Group 1 Report highlighted changes that will have particular impacts on agriculture and forestry: the shifting climatic zones; changes in growing seasons; decreases in available water (from increased evaporation and plant transpiration); increased instances of agricultural and ecological drought; and changes in precipitation and soil moisture. For more information, Working Group 1 has created an interactive atlas and datasite which allows you to explore the impact of various climatic impact-drivers for different regions at different temperature increase scenarios, available at https://interactive-atlas.ipcc.ch/.

AIM for Climate 
In case you missed it (like we did), on November 2, the US and United Arab Emirates officially launched the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) alongside 31 countries and over 48 non-government partners.  In remarks at the World Leaders Summit, President Biden announced that the United States intends to mobilize $1 billion in investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation over five years (2021-2025). AIM for Climate is uniquely focused on increasing investment and enabling greater public-private and cross-sectoral partnerships, intended to both raise global climate ambition, and underpin transformative climate action in the agriculture sector in all countries.  AIM for Climate has already mobilized $4 billion in increased investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation over five years.

10 New Insights 
The 10 New Insights in Climate Science, a synthesis of the most robust climate-related research findings available today, was released by the WMO co-sponsored World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), Future Earth and the Earth League. The report is based on an assessment made by more than 60 world-leading academic experts, with a scoping process that reaches several thousands of scientists working on fields related to climate change. One of the key insights in the report is that “Nature-based solutions are critical for the pathway to Paris – but look at the fine print.”

Gabon in the spotlight 
Outside of the negotiations, there have been two pieces of reporting that have come out in the past week that have put the spotlight on Gabon. The first, in the Economist, describes the argument that the country is making: “large rainforests such as those in the Congo basin provide a service to the world by sucking millions of tonnes of carbon from the air. Since performing this service provides no income, there has been little incentive for poor countries to protect their forests when they could instead profit by chopping them down for timber or clearing them for farming.” This is why the country is eager to offer to protect the country’s forests in exchange for cash from rich countries. The second, a long-form piece in the Globe and Mail, focuses on Gabon’s green logging laws. “If the government of Gabon has its way, this could become the future of rain-forest logging: highly selective, relatively slow, carefully documented, independently certified and fully traceable. The strategy aims to preserve the forests of the Congo Basin in equatorial Africa, boosting their absorption of carbon emissions from the world’s industries.”

Peat ban
National Trust organisations from around the world have teamed up to call for an urgent ban on the use of peat in compost as part of an international effort to tackle the effects of climate change. Organisations from 19 countries including those from Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Guernsey, Indonesia and Jersey were among those adding their call to a ban to tackle the nature and climate crises.

This news piece is an excerpt from the COP26 Daily Newsletter that Nature4Climate is publishing.

Sign up here to get the full newsletter direct to your inbox.

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