In 2006, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia jettisoned two centuries of legal precedent to redefine “Waters of the United States” as only being rivers, streams, and lakes. It’s a definition that left 98 percent of the country’s waters unprotected by federal federal agencies, but was largely ignored – until Donald Trump ordered the EPA to make it the law of the land.
As carbon standards like the Verified Carbon Standard and the Gold Standard expand their coverage to compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals, old names often no longer apply. To reflect that, the Verified Carbon Standard, which began as the Voluntary Carbon Standard, has now changed its name to “Verra”.
Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, but it was slowly amended and refined. By 2000, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency had settled on clear definitions of what constitutes “waters of the United States”. Not everyone, however, agreed with them.
Last week, New York Attorney General Eric Scheiderman filed suit against the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to block the Trump administration’s suspension of guidance on clean water. In this three-part series, we examine the convoluted history of water regulation in the United States
Shareholders are gradually demanding more corporate disclosure on climate risk, and which Mike Bloomberg’s Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures says is the greatest threat to financial stability. Now the Wilderness Society is demanding that same transparency from the US Department of Interior, which overseas federal public lands, and where, the Society says, oil and gas companies are generating 20 percent of US emissions.
From the moment Donald Trump won the election as President of the United States, analysts warned that any effort to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement would isolate him and his country in global trade talks. Now, as the president sticks to his 2020 pull-out date, trade isolation is becoming a very real – and even probable – possibility.
Billions of dollars in finance are now tied to the UN’s Stainable Development Goals, but how do you measure compliance? The Verified Carbon Standard is asking for public comments on project requirements it’s developing for a framework of sustainability criteria called the Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard (SD VISta).
While the Trump administration purges all mention of climate change at the federal level, state legislators from eight US states have introduced bills calling for a price on carbon, and a ninth state has bills in the drafting stage while three states have bills in the works.
Several European NGOs are experimenting with voluntary carbon markets to drive down greenhouse-gas emissions, often in cooperation with state and federal governments. The Dutch effort is called the “Green Deal”, and proponent Jos Cozijnsen hopes to make it work by making carbon trading fun.
Carbon standards provide a science-based way of establishing the climate impact of any given carbon offset project, and now standards providers are bringing that same rigor to the Sustainable Development Goals. In the coming week, we’ll explore two such efforts and how they can be applied beyond carbon markets to help investors, activists, and companies compare their progress towards sustainable development.
Ethiopia plans to be climate-neutral by the year 2025, and it aims to generate jobs in the process. How? By overhauling its rural economy to support more sustainable agriculture and regenerate millions of hectares of degraded forest.
After a decade of lower and lower rates of deforestation, the Amazon forest is again under threat. Scientists say a new development project could become a contentions issue in 2018 as an expanded highway slices the forest in half.
Industrial farming requires massive inputs of nitrogen and other fertilizers, yet still depletes soil, while labor-intensive practices like agroforestry and organic farming can actually restore it. But can regenerative agriculture be scaled up to feed the world? Yes, argues Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association and Regeneration International.
Indoor air pollution kills more than 4 million people per year, and clean-burning cookstoves are one solution. Donors now rank stoves based on effectiveness – but a key criteria may be missing.
The $25 billion US ecological restoration industry is heading into 2018 with an ambitious agenda. In a few weeks, industry leaders will convene in Washington, DC for a policy conference that aims to position restoration right at the center of responses to the country’s mounting infrastructure and environmental resilience challenges.
Chocolate is a global commodity, but the cacao it’s made from comes in different varieties of varying quality. As consumers discover the subtle flavors of single-source cocoa, this company is working to make sure that demand lifts the fortunes of small producers around the world.
This past year was a turbulent one, with Donald Trump doing everything in his power to dismantle the federal US environmental protection apparatus, and most media finding themselves too enthralled with the Trump Show to focus on climate change and its solutions. Still, here’s a look back at the stories that stood out in the year past.
The United States may have withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement, but national and regional leaders from across the Americas have vowed to “Make the Planet Great Again” by embracing a price on carbon at the One Planet Summit in Paris.
When Latin Americans offset their greenhouse-gas emissions, they usually do so by purchasing offsets generated by saving or restoring forests. But the producers of Lollapalooza Chile and other major events are bucking the trend by partnering with a hydropower plant – albeit one that doesn’t create reservoirs and does support indigenous people.
Brazilian authorities are investigating an apparent assassination attempt against indigenous leader Narayni Surui and his wife, award-winning teacher Elisângela Dell-Armelina Surui. The couple were fired on while entering the indigenous territory after members of the Paiter-Surui ejected illegal loggers from the territory.
The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has been a staunch supporter of indigenous rights, but their recent report on indigenous rights and carbon finance gets a lot of very basic facts wrong, argues Chris Meyer of the Environmental Defense Fund.
We can’t beat climate change without saving the world’s forests, and tropical forest countries are ready to do their part, but they can’t fix the mess without help from the countries whose imports are driving the deforestation. The Paris Agreement offers several mechanisms for using carbon finance to save forests, and the European Union has a moral obligation to use them, argue two former climate negotiators.
The Southeastern United States produces 12 percent of the world’s wood, pulp, and paper – fueling an economic engine that’s pulverizing forests faster than it’s restoring them. Here’s how environmental NGOs like the Dogwood Alliance are teaming up with retail giants like Staples to try and prevent that engine from overheating.
Climate negotiators spent the last two weeks in Bonn sketching out the roadmap for achieving the ambitions laid out in Paris. It’s the kind of tedious work that doesn’t generate headlines, but it’s what can be the difference from reaching your destination and ending up in a ditch.
Indigenous people of the Amazon are beginning to unite around efforts to save their forests, but they still face threats from outside their territories, according to Tuntiak Katan, who emerged as a leading indigenous voice at climate talks in Bonn. There, he urged the global community to keep giving indigenous people a global voice
Farmers have always been leery of climate commitments, in part because they feared they’d end up subjected to unrealistic burdens. Under the Paris Agreement, however, a consensus on climate-safe agriculture emerged, setting off a cycle of talks that resulted in negotiators agreeing to a more streamlined process moving forward – one that could unleash billions of dollars going forward.
Climate negotiators are meeting in Bonn this week to refine rules for tracking progress under the Paris Climate Agreement, but one organization got things off to a rocky start by trying to trademark the term “REDD+”. The application was denied, but the attempt highlights public confusion over terms.
Up to a quarter of national climate action plans involve forest carbon projects. New research, however, says that when it comes to monitoring, reporting, and verifying forest carbon, even the world’s most rigorous standard needs to strengthen the auditing process for avoided deforestation projects.
Twenty US states have pledged to make sure the United States keeps its Paris Agreement pledge to reduce emissions 28 percent, as have more than 50 major cities and 60 major corporations, representing a $10 trillion economy. Today, California Governor Jerry Brown and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg unveiled the plan for getting there.
As of 2020, international airlines will be mandated to offset large parts of their greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a mandate that could pump tens of billions of dollars into protecting the Brazilian Amazon, but the country’s Brazil’s climate negotiators would rather favor scandal-plagued national power company Eletrobrás and Amazon mega-hydroelectric projects.
The United States has no official pavilion at year-end climate talks, but the “We Are Still In” Coalition officially opened its US Climate Action Center today just outside the main convention hall. Here’s how you can follow events there.
This year’s climate talks may not be as glamorous or high-profile as the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that adopted the historic Paris Agreement two years ago, but the agenda for COP23 that starts Monday in Bonn is packed with key issues that need to be resolved to fully implement the Agreement.
Forests hold 40 percent more carbon than all the known fossil fuel deposits worldwide — nearly five times more carbon than can be added to the atmosphere without exceeding the Paris Agreement’s 2°C goal, according to a new paper.
This past summer, California legislators voted to extend the state’s cap-and-trade program through the year 2030. With the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario joining in 2018, the Carbon Trust estimates nearly $5 billion in new demand for offsets, explains the Trust’s Peter Weisberg.
Our natural world and climate are experiencing catastrophic change, largely because it’s more profitable to destroy ecosystems than to conserve them. We can begin to redress this imbalance by using conservation finance to support opportunities that protect ecosystems and generate some form of return. Here’s how that can work in the UK.
Worldwide, we’ve spent $20 billion since 2010 to save forests. Unfortunately, we’ve spent $777 billion to grind them into pulp or clear them for agriculture. The result? Deforestation rates are now 35 percent higher than they were in the first decade of the new millennium.
Nearly all economists agree that if you want to end climate change, you need to put a price on carbon and then integrate that price into the economy — whether via offsets that pay for emission-reductions elsewhere or via a carbon tax.
Forests, farms, and fields can absorb massive amounts of greenhouse gasses, while unhealthy ones emit emit them. Now a new study says that nature can offer up to 37 percent of the solution for keeping global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius or below — making it more critical than ever to fix the financing systems that are degrading our land.
In the last few years, tropical forests have shifted from being our greatest carbon sinks to being a net source of greenhouse gas emissions. The news comes as 250 organizations – ranging from environmental NGOs to governments and major corporations – have identified 10 time-tested activities that can be scaled up to purge deforestation from four key supply chains.
Indonesia sometimes generates 40 percent of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions from deforestation, and the country’s federal government is powerless to reverse it. That’s because true power in the land of a thousand islands lies with hundreds of regents, or “bopatis”, who are driving one of the world’s most calamitous environmental disasters.
Many countries have ended deforestation domestically, only to import it from other countries through lax regulation. Now six Asian countries have joined the 28 Member States of the European Union, the United States, and Australia in vowing to prevent timber harvested illegally from finding its way into their domestic markets.
Donald Trump says he’s saving jobs and money canceling Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, but Trump’s actions will stifle a vibrant, clean energy sector to win points from a dirty and dying sliver of the economy.
The UN’s Green Climate Fund closed out the year by approving 11 new projects designed to help developing countries mitigate and and adapt to climate change, including an historic $500 million to save forests.
Hundreds of companies have pledged to slash greenhouse-gas emissions and purge deforestation from their supply chains, but most are struggling to meet their commitments. Those that succeed have done so by establishing sustainability as a core goal and then looking for innovative ways of achieving it. Here are three components of any innovation strategy.
The UN’s Green Climate Fund closed out the year by approving 11 new projects designed to help developing countries mitigate and and adapt to climate change. Here is a rundown of the projects.
We talk a lot about the “green economy”, but what exactly does that mean? The Green Economy Coalition defines it as “an economy that provides prosperity for all within the ecological limits of the planet”, and it has provided this handy primer that breaks it into five broad themes.
The Yanawawa people of Brazil have have resisted the temptation to chop their forest, choosing instead to conserve and manage it sustainably at great cost to themselves. Now they’ve joined the Brazilian state of Acre and the German government in a fascinating experiment to see if their plan can have a verifiable, measurable impact on the forest. A new short film brings you into their world.
British Telecoms giant BT Group says it will slash its greenhouse gas emissions a staggering 87 percent by 2030, and it will do so by embracing new technologies. Food giant Mars says it will slash its emissions 67 percent by 2050, and it will do so by restructuring its commodity supply chain. Both say they’ll probably hit their targets, and both say it’s because their targets are science-based. But what does that mean?
Impact investors have funneled more than $100 billion into projects designed to make money by doing good, and $8 billion of that flowed into projects that improve the way we manage land. AlphaSource Advisors has been in the impact space for over a decade, and they’ve learned a few things along the way.
New York Climate Week wraps up on Sunday, and we’ve been covering it mostly from afar this year. Here’s a quick look at some of the most promising land-use stories we’ve seen to-date. It’s by no means a complete list, so feel free to let us know if we’ve missed anything.