The Climate Change Thread

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Re: The Climate Change Thread

Post by wosbald » Tue Nov 24, 2020 12:34 pm

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EarthBeat Weekly: World's hunger for gold deadly for miners, environment
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A new area of unregulated gold mining in Peru's Madre de Dios region leaves a barren, cratered scar in the forest. (Photo/Barbara Fraser)
Ecuador landslide kills 5, leaves more than 60 homeless

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Editor's Note: EarthBeat Weekly is your weekly newsletter about faith and climate change. Below is the Nov. 20 edition. To receive EarthBeat Weekly in your inbox, sign up here.

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Four women and an adolescent boy were killed, several more people were injured and more than 60 were left homeless by a landslide Wednesday at a gold mine in the Esmeraldas region on Ecuador's north coast. There are more than 50 small mines in the same area — some legal, many illegal, and all operating under conditions that are hazardous for the workers and their families.

Even the legal mines should not be operating now, because of court injunctions dating back a decade and because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Fr. Enry Armijos, coordinator of Ecuador's National Ecological Ministry Network, which was launched three years ago by the Catholic Church, but which also includes other organizations.

Government officials know the mines are functioning, but turn a blind eye, Armijos told me the day after the landside. "No one says anything, except when a catastrophe like this happens," he said.

Meanwhile, backhoes gouge craters in the mature tropical forest in the remote region near the Colombian border. The dream of a fortune draws Ecuadorians and Colombians from far away, especially now that other jobs have vaporized with the pandemic. Miners and their families live near the craters in shacks made of plastic tarps.

Stripped of trees, the soil is unstable, and little or nothing is done to shore up the sides of pits like the one that collapsed on Wednesday. Heavy rains cause landslides and wash silt, often combined with the mercury and cyanide used to process the gold, into a nearby river.

[…]

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Rescuers search for bodies after landslide trapped miners in Ecuador. (Photo/Courtesy of RENAPE)

The story is not uncommon. With international gold prices high, this kind of low-tech, high-risk mining has spread around the globe. The World Bank estimates that this style of mining employs at least 40 million people worldwide, in most of Africa, all of the Amazonian countries, Central America, Indonesia and other Asian nations.

[…]

But the cost is high. Camps around unregulated mines tend to be lawless, violent places where women and girls are trafficked for sex and bandits ambush miners heading to town to sell their gold. The business, which some say is more lucrative than the illegal drug trade, is linked to organized crime and illegal groups, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which launder money through the mining operations and use the gold to finance their activities.

The environmental damage from this kind of mining, where workers use backhoes to dig huge pits or blast away the soil with high-pressure hoses, is also extensive. Along with deforestation, mercury from gold processing accumulates in fish — and in the bodies of people who eat them. (That's also a legacy of the California gold rush, by the way.)

Of course, there would be no gold rush if no one bought gold. But despite consumer-awareness campaigns and increased official scrutiny, illegal gold is "laundered" through legal refineries in places like Switzerland and the U.S., making it appear to be legal. This award-winning multimedia report by journalists Paula Dupraz-Dobias and Dominique Soguel provides a striking close-up view of how the process works.

[…]

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"[T]he emergency of irregular migration has to be met with justice, solidarity and mercy. Forms of collective expulsion, which do not allow for the suitable treatment of individual cases, are unacceptable."
— Pope Francis, Morocco

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Re: The Climate Change Thread

Post by Jester » Mon Nov 30, 2020 1:03 pm

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Re: The Climate Change Thread

Post by wosbald » Thu Dec 17, 2020 10:13 am

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Loyola Chicago launches School of Environmental Sustainability as center for research, action [In-Depth]
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Until September, the School of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola University Chicago was known by another name. That month, the board approved a plan to elevate it from an institute into a full academic school, the first of its kind within the global Jesuit university network. (NCR photo/Brian Roewe)

Loyola University Chicago boosted its commitment to addressing environmental and climate change issues with the unveiling Dec. 14 of its new School of Environmental Sustainability.

The school, Loyola's 11th, upgrades the status of its seven-year-old Institute for Environmental Sustainability, which already was one of only a handful of such programs at U.S. Catholic colleges. It is the first environmental sustainability school in the global Jesuit academic network.

In remarks at the virtual grand opening, Loyola Chicago president Jo Ann Rooney said the School of Environmental Sustainability "reflects the centrality of caring for our planet to our Jesuit mission." She added that it "reflects the urgency of our deepened commitment to address climate change in all of its aspects: scientific, economic, social and cultural."

Nancy Tuchman, founding dean of the institute-now-school, called the launch "a milestone accomplishment in the university's 16-year sustainability initiative."

Although the institute has always had its own faculty and granted degrees, Tuchman told EarthBeat before the event that the change in status raises its stature within the university, which is marking its 150th anniversary. The school plans to add new research labs and double its faculty and staff. It also has set a goal of tripling its undergraduate and graduate enrollment.

The school has played a leading role in Loyola's own sustainability plans, continuing efforts headed by the institute, including progress toward the university's goal of eliminating its carbon dioxide emissions — which have been halved since 2008 — by 2025.

Its two teaching labs and other programs have transformed the university in other ways — running a local farmers market, hosting an annual climate conference, converting food waste into fuel for its shuttlebuses and even producing hand sanitizer during the coronavirus pandemic.

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At Loyola University Chicago's School of Environmental Sustainability, students in the Searle Biodiesel Lab convert waste vegetable oil from the cafeteria fryers into biodiesel to fuel the school's shuttlebuses. (NCR photo/Brian Roewe)

[…]

Reflecting the Jesuit mission

Tuchman said the decision, approved unanimously by the board of trustees in September, reflects the urgency of addressing problems like climate change and environmental degradation. Such concerns, she added, are central to the mission of the Society of Jesus — which last year made protecting creation one of its four apostolic priorities — and were articulated by Pope Francis in his 2015 encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home."

"The pope has really made a beautiful road map for the work of Catholic colleges, universities, schools — all Catholic organizations if they care to take it up — and we certainly are highly motivated to take up the pope's road map to an integral ecology," she said.

[…]

Research leads to greener campuses

Under Tuchman's leadership, the Institute of Environmental Sustainability established six undergraduate degree programs and two graduate tracks. The new school will continue the institute's leading role in modeling the principles it teaches, especially in the greening of campus infrastructure.

Eight of the buildings on Loyola's three campuses have green roofs, and the School of Environmental Sustainability is housed in one of seven LEED-certified buildings on campus, meeting standards for energy efficiency and environmental design set by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Those efforts have helped slash the campus carbon footprint by more than half since 2008, and the university has committed to achieving LEED certification with all new construction, as well as with renovations, where possible.

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In the 3,100 square-foot "ecodome" greenhouse, students at Loyola University Chicago's School of Environmental Sustainability grow lettuce, rhubarb and other produce using a variety of aquaponics techniques. (NCR photo/Brian Roewe)

The new school's 3,100-foot "ecodome" greenhouse serves as a learning environment for students, while its sloped roof collects rainwater for reuse, after ultraviolet disinfection, in the greenhouse and for flushing toilets.

The School of Environmental Sustainability and adjacent San Francisco residence hall are also heated and cooled by the Chicago region's largest geothermal energy system, which circulates water through pipes from 91 wells — each 500 feet underground, where temperatures remain around 57 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.

The water draws heat from the surrounding soil in the winter to warm the buildings, while the soil cools the water in the summer.

"So the earth is acting almost like a battery where it holds that heat energy for us. And we need it in the winter, but we pack it back in, we recharge it again all summer long," Tuchman said.

[…]

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Along with its own cafeterias, the biodiesel lab at Loyola University Chicago collects waste vegetable oil from other institutions around Chicago, such as the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium. (NCR photo/Brian Roewe)

[…]

"It's using and reusing. So we don't bring soap in, we don't bring fossil fuel-based diesel, but instead we're using waste products to run the campus," Tuchman said.

And the lessons are resonating.

When students overseeing the school's aquaponics system found that plant leaves were yellowing because of a lack of iron in the water, they elected to try dropping discarded iron bolts from the facilities department into the water instead of ordering iron from a chemical supply house. Sure enough, the iron levels rose and the leaves turned green again.

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Several aquaponics systems throughout the School of Environmental Sustainability allow students to study and apply urban agriculture practices. (NCR photo/Brian Roewe)

Building on sustainability principles

The School of Environmental Sustainability will also continue the institute's commitment to the sustainability principles of reduce, reuse and recycle.

Students have worked with vendors at athletic events to achieve zero landfill waste with steps like eliminating single bags of chips. The school competes in a national "zero waste" competition for colleges and holds its own "WasteWeek." When students leave for the summer, the school collects used clothing and unopened food and toiletries for donation to local charities and schools. It also tracks and analyzes Chicago's air and water quality.

Plans for the future include new research labs focusing on biodiversity, ecological restoration and environmental health, as well as greater interdisciplinary collaboration. There are already dual degree programs with the Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health and the Quinlan School of Business, including a sustainable business MBA.

The new school is also working with the Vatican's Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development to develop evaluation criteria for schools taking part in its Laudato Si' Action Platform, which encourages Catholic institutions to make seven-year plans to achieve "total sustainability" by meeting a set of benchmarks across seven goals inspired by the encyclical.

[…]

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"[T]he emergency of irregular migration has to be met with justice, solidarity and mercy. Forms of collective expulsion, which do not allow for the suitable treatment of individual cases, are unacceptable."
— Pope Francis, Morocco

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Re: The Climate Change Thread

Post by wosbald » Fri Dec 25, 2020 1:25 pm

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Pope Francis: Vatican City commits to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050
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Solar panels are seen on the roof of the Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican in this Dec. 1, 2010, file photo. In a video message, Pope Francis told the Virtual Climate Ambition Summit that Vatican City is aiming for net zero carbon emissions. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis pledged Vatican City State would achieve net-zero carbon emissions before the year 2050, and he urged everyone in the world to be part of a new culture of care for others and the planet.

“The time has come for a change in direction. Let us not rob the new generations of their hope in a better future,” he said in a video message for a global summit.

Pope Francis was one of about 75 leaders who contributed to the Climate Ambition Summit, which was held online Dec. 12. Co-hosted by the United Nations, the United Kingdom and France, and in partnership with Chile and Italy, the meeting marked the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

During the meeting, the leaders renewed or strengthened investment pledges and commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality.

[…]

In his message, Pope Francis said everyone has a responsibility “to promote, with a collective commitment and solidarity, a culture of care, which places human dignity and the common good at the center.”

That means there are some measures that can no longer be postponed, he said, including implementing strategies to reduce net emissions to zero.

The Holy See is committed to this objective, he said.

Vatican City State will work to reduce net emissions to zero by 2050, he said, and it will continue to strengthen and expand its efforts toward greater energy efficiency, improved resource management, sustainable transportation and waste management, and reforestation.

The Holy See also is committed to promoting a greater understanding of integral ecology, he said.

“Politics and technology must unite behind an educational process which favors a cultural model of development and sustainability focused on fraternity and an alliance between human beings and the environment,” he said.

In a written message for the summit, Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said more must be done to help the poor and the planet.

“God has entrusted us with this planet and its wonderful resources,” he wrote, appealing to world leaders to look at earth’s assets as a common good for all people and to focus much more on those who are the poorest and most vulnerable.

Governments should also stop investing in fossil fuels and help poor communities who need sustainable and “green” energy.

“We are one human family and we can only count on each other for taking care of our common home,” he added.

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"[T]he emergency of irregular migration has to be met with justice, solidarity and mercy. Forms of collective expulsion, which do not allow for the suitable treatment of individual cases, are unacceptable."
— Pope Francis, Morocco

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Re: The Climate Change Thread

Post by Goose55 » Sun Dec 27, 2020 11:56 am

Raising Florida Keys roads for sea level rise could cost $1.8 billion.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/raising-keys ... 31462.html
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Re: The Climate Change Thread

Post by wosbald » Mon Dec 28, 2020 11:08 am

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Vatican City State is pesticide-free, imports green energy
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Solar panels are seen on the roof of the Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican in this Dec. 1, 2010, file photo. (Credit: CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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ROME — Reaching “zero emissions” for Vatican City State is an achievable goal and is another green initiative it has been pursuing, said the head of its department of infrastructure and services.

The Vatican’s reforestation program has seen 300 trees of various species planted over the past three years, and “an important milestone” is the tiny nation “has achieved its goal of being pesticide-free,” Father Rafael Garcia de la Serrana Villalobos, told Vatican News in mid-December. He also said the electricity the Vatican imports is produced entirely from renewable sources.

The walled-in area of Vatican City State covers about 109 acres, including extensive gardens, and the papal property at Castel Gandolfo extends over 135 acres, including about 17 acres of formal gardens, residences and a working farm.

De la Serrana said their new watering system for the Vatican Gardens has saved about 60% of water resources.

“We are promoting green economy policies, that is, circular economy policies, such as the transformation of organic waste and bio-waste into quality compost, and a waste management policy based on the concept of considering it not as waste but as a resource,” he said.

The Vatican no longer sells single-use plastic products and about 65 percent of regular waste is being successfully separated for recycling, he said; the goal for 2023 is to reach 75 percent.

About 99 percent of its hazardous waste is properly collected, “allowing 90 percent of waste to be sent for recovery, thus giving value to the policy of treating waste as a resource and no longer as waste,” he said.

Used cooking oils are collected to produce fuel, and the Vatican is studying other ways to further recover urban waste so it can be “transformed into a resource, both thermal and electrical, as well as the transformation of hospital waste into fuel, thus avoiding its management as hazardous waste,” he said.

“There will be a gradual replacement of the car fleet with electric or hybrid-powered vehicles,” he said.

These and other projects are part of the Vatican’s goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions. Pope Francis pledged the city state would reach this goal before 2050.

[…]

De la Serrana told Vatican News that “climate neutrality can be achieved by Vatican City State primarily through the use of natural sinks, such as soil and forests, and by offsetting emissions produced in one area by reducing them in another. Of course, this is done by investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency or other clean technologies such as electric mobility.”

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"[T]he emergency of irregular migration has to be met with justice, solidarity and mercy. Forms of collective expulsion, which do not allow for the suitable treatment of individual cases, are unacceptable."
— Pope Francis, Morocco

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Re: The Climate Change Thread

Post by wosbald » Mon Jan 04, 2021 8:49 am

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Extreme heat, wildfires, storms marked advance of climate change in 2020 [In-Depth, Year-End News Roundup]
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People in Yorba Linda, Calif., are seen near the Blue Ridge Fire Oct. 26, 2020. (CNS/Reuters/Ringo Chiu)

CLEVELAND — Extreme global temperatures, wildfires and hurricanes continued to plague the planet during 2020, prompting U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appeal to the world to end its "war on nature."

In a speech at Columbia University Dec. 2, Guterres warned that continued growth in fossil fuel extraction and usage would feed a growing cycle of warming that will place all of humanity in danger.

"The state of the planet is broken. Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal," he said.

Guterres' concern emerged as the World Meteorological Organization projected that 2020 would end about 1.2 degrees warmer than the last half of the 19th century when industrialization led to increased usage of oil, coal and natural gas. Climate scientists expect 2020 to be one of the three hottest years on record.

Ecologists also expressed concern that widespread deforestation is leading to diminished biodiversity and increasing the risk of disease pandemics such as COVID-19.

A study published in the Aug. 5 issue of the science journal Nature added to a growing body of evidence that connects trends in human development and biodiversity loss to disease outbreaks.

[…]

Citing how climate change most negatively affects poor and marginalized communities, Pope Francis continued speaking of the importance of caring for creation while questioning the benefits of increased consumerism and the burning of fossil fuels.

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A child pushes a bicycle through a flooded road in Marcovia, Honduras, Nov. 18, 2020, after the passing of Huricane Iota. (CNS/Reuters/Jorge Cabrera)

"Now is the time to abandon our dependence on fossil fuels and move, quickly and decisively, toward forms of clean energy," Pope Francis said as he marked the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation Sept. 1.

“We have caused a climate emergency that gravely threatens nature and life itself, including our own,” the pope said.

Acknowledging the pope's longstanding concerns for the environment, global observances took place for the fifth anniversary of his encyclical, ‘Laudato Si'’, on Care for Our Common Home.

[…]

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Firefighters in Detroit, Ore., assess damage to a church Sept. 14, 2020, in the aftermath of the Beachie Creek Fire. (CNS/Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

[…]

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"[T]he emergency of irregular migration has to be met with justice, solidarity and mercy. Forms of collective expulsion, which do not allow for the suitable treatment of individual cases, are unacceptable."
— Pope Francis, Morocco

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Re: The Climate Change Thread

Post by wosbald » Wed Jan 06, 2021 10:19 am

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Cross-shaped solar array lights up Mundelein Seminary for New Year [In-Depth]
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A 300-kilowatt solar energy project went into commercial operation Dec. 25 on the campus of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. (UMSL/Mundelein Seminary)

The Christmas star shining over Mundelein, Illinois, this season was the sun, as a 300-kilowatt solar energy project went into commercial operation Dec. 25 on the campus of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary.

The project was inspired by Pope Francis' encyclical ‘Laudato Si'’: on Care for Our Common Home, as well as by Cardinal Blase Cupich, who as leader of the Chicago Archdiocese has stressed the importance of energy efficiency, university president and seminary rector Fr. John Kartje told EarthBeat.

It is the first solar energy generating plant on a U.S. Catholic seminary campus and the first in the Chicago Archdiocese, according to a statement from the university.

Because the once-rural campus includes some 1,300 acres of land, and solar technology has become both more economical and more efficient, Kartje and other administrators decided to look seriously at the possibility that the school could generate some of its own power.

The solar array, which took about a year to plan and build, will generate 20-25% of the kilowatt hours of electricity that the university and seminary use.

It is expected to recover the initial $800,000 investment in fewer than 10 years, and it will save the school $1 million in energy costs over the next 35 years, according to David Brochu, CEO of PureGen Power, a local solar energy development firm that provided the technical expertise for the project.

[…]

A mechanical engineer who has been working in the solar energy field since 2007, Brochu took the lead in bringing together a group of investors who were supportive of the seminary, as well as in planning and design, obtaining the necessary permits, and overseeing installation.

The Mundelein project takes advantage of "Illinois Shines," a state-managed incentive program that provides credits for solar energy systems. Program participants can either install a solar energy system on their own property to offset their energy use, as Mundelein did, or subscribe to a community solar project in exchange for a share of the electricity it generates.

In Mundelein's case, the utility company buys back the credits from a group of investors who formed a limited liability company, USML Laudato Si' Solar, which takes its name from the university and the encyclical.

That company owns the solar energy system, leasing the land from the university. In turn, it sells the electricity generated by the solar array to the seminary at a discounted rate. The university eventually will take ownership of the facility.

"What it allows us to do is build a solar power plant and sell the electricity back to the university, so that they save money over the life of the project," Brochu told EarthBeat.

[…]

The campus will draw energy from the system during the day, supplementing it with electricity from the conventional grid if necessary. It will also draw from the conventional grid at night. On a very sunny day, excess energy that is generated can be exported to the grid, further offsetting costs under the metering system used in Illinois.

The original design called for a rectangular array of solar panels, but when Brochu saw it would not occupy the entire area set aside for the project, he changed the design to a cross.

"I thought it would be a great idea [for] a Catholic seminary, and I think it's a great tribute to our Lord," he said.

"If you're flying into O'Hare [Airport], anybody coming in from the northwest or northeast [will] see it if it's daytime," he added.

[…]

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"[T]he emergency of irregular migration has to be met with justice, solidarity and mercy. Forms of collective expulsion, which do not allow for the suitable treatment of individual cases, are unacceptable."
— Pope Francis, Morocco

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Re: The Climate Change Thread

Post by wosbald » Fri Jan 15, 2021 11:25 am

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Biden administration signals commitment to Paris climate deal [In-Depth, Interview]
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A coal-fired power-plant is seen along the Ohio River in Moundsville, W.Va., in this 2017 file photo. A preelection poll finds that a large majority of Catholic voters have some concern about climate change. (Credit: Brian Snyder/Reuters via CNS)

YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon — Joe Biden’s promise to return the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement will hopefully lead “a new level of diplomatic engagement and additional climate finance resources.”

Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 United Nations deal aimed at limiting the increase of the global temperature to 1.5° Celsius (2.7 °Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

“The good news is that since the signing of the Paris Agreement, the long-term outlook has improved, and we have seen some signs of progress,” said Marilyn Shapley, a senior policy and legislative specialist for the Catholic Relief Services, the development aid agency of the U.S. bishops.

“President-elect Biden has signaled he will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and renew and strengthen U.S. climate commitments,” she added.

“However, countries must continue to take bolder collective actions to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, especially to try to limit the global warming to 1.5° Celsius,” she told Crux.

The developed world promised to provide $100 million for the climate mitigation needs of the developing world by 2020, something Shapley says hasn’t been done.

“According to reports by the Office for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and others, the $100 million commitment has not been met. While there was a promising 11 percent increase according to OECD’s 2017 report, only about 20 percent was for adaptation, when ideally it would have been 50 percent,” she said.

What follows are excerpts of her conversation with Crux.

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Crux: The Paris agreement allocated money to the climate mitigation needs of developing countries. Developed countries had pledged to ramp up climate financing by $100 million by 2020. Has that commitment been met?

Shapley: No. According to reports by the Office for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and others, the $100 million commitment has not been met. While there was a promising 11 percent increase according to OECD’s 2017 report, only about 20 percent was for adaptation, when ideally it would have been 50 percent.

In addition to pushing for the $100 million commitment to be met, countries should also work on how to better track the resources being committed. And there is increasing evidence that the public finance going to the least developed countries should ideally be in the form of grant instruments instead of loans, especially given the burden of debt many countries have, and the budget constraints emerging as countries continue responding to COVID-19.

The argument in Africa is that if rich nations fail to pay to save the rainforests, then they will have to cut down the forests to build their economies …

In line with Pope Francis’s call for us to not ‘rob the new generations of their hope in a better future,’ there are alternative ways to grow an economy without causing irreversible damage to the rainforests. Economic models have shown that there is economic gain to be had with bold climate action.

Along those lines, recognizing the need for urgent action, the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group, which is made up of more than 40 of the world’s least developed countries, including more than 30 countries in Africa, is pushing other countries around the world to increase their climate solutions ambitions. These countries are leading by example by making their own commitments.

In places like Madagascar and Central America, CRS is seeing ways to help communities tackle poverty while still caring for creation. For example, in Madagascar, which has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, we’re working with farming communities on ways to improve their income while at the same time preserving the surrounding rainforest.

Global carbon emissions in 2015 stood at about 50 billion tons. By 2019, the figure had increased to 55 billion tons. Does this signal the Paris Agreement is failing?

The good news is that since the signing of the Paris Agreement, the long-term outlook has improved, and we have seen some signs of progress. However, countries must continue to take bolder collective actions to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, especially to try to limit the global warming to 1.5° Celsius.

[…]

How does the promise of America’s return to the climate agreement affect things?

President-elect Biden has signaled he will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and renew and strengthen U.S. climate commitments. Hopefully, this renewed focus leads to a new level of diplomatic engagement and additional climate finance resources, especially for the Green Climate Fund and adaptation efforts focused on meeting the needs of the most vulnerable.

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"[T]he emergency of irregular migration has to be met with justice, solidarity and mercy. Forms of collective expulsion, which do not allow for the suitable treatment of individual cases, are unacceptable."
— Pope Francis, Morocco

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