Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a new feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.
The Washington Post’s Anna Fifield (@annafifield) reports on an agreement struck last week aims to save the world’s fast-dwindling stocks of prized bluefin tuna.
The story: The pact includes several large tuna-consuming countries as well as the two main bodies that manage tuna fisheries in the Pacific. It aims to rebuild bluefin stocks — currently at less than 3 percent of their historic size — to 20 percent of historic levels by 2034. And it allows countries such as Japan — which consumes some 80 percent of the world’s bluefin — to continue to catch the delicacy.
The big picture: For tuna, 2017 could well turn out to be an auspicious year. In June, the Tuna Traceability Initiative was announced, billed as the first step toward total sustainability in the global commercial fishing industry. “Once you have traceability, everything else falls into place,” Greg Stone, executive vice president at Conservation International, told Human Nature in June: “You can determine whether there’s a sustainable stock or not; you can determine whether there’s human rights abuses going on in the supply chain; you can determine product freshness.”
A U.S. Senate committee on Thursday voted to contribute USD$ 10 million to the United Nations climate change agency, The Hill’s Timothy Cama (@Timothy_Cama) reported.
The story: The payments, which the U.S. had made yearly since joining the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992, were slated to be eliminated. Although the United States announced in June it would no longer be a party to the Paris climate agreement, a pact that nearly 200 countries approved in 2015 to combat global warming, it has said it will continue to observe the ongoing negotiations, according to Reuters.
The big picture: “The U.S. contribution to the framework convention maintains this country’s seat at the table in promoting conservation of tropical forests, mangroves, and other natural ecosystems,” said Justin Ward, senior director of U.S. government policy at Conservation International. “This benefits American economic and national security interests in addition to reducing threats to the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change impacts.”
Speaking of climate change: A study published last week shows that deforestation and subsequent use of those lands for agriculture or pasture, especially in the tropicals, contribute more to climate change than previously thought.
The story: In the paper, researchers from Cornell University wrote that the impact of land-use change on the climate has been underestimated: Even if all fossil fuel emissions are eliminated, they found, if current tropical deforestation rates hold steady through 2100, there will still be a 1.5-degree Celsius increase in global warming.
The big picture: The findings only underscore the importance of forests in the climate equation. “In the global effort to address climate change, the most effective tool may also be the most overlooked,” Conservation International climate policy expert Shyla Raghav wrote in June. “By preventing deforestation and restoring degraded lands, nature can provide at least 30 percent of the emissions reductions needed to stay within the goals set by the Paris Agreement.”
Bruno Vander Velde is Conservation International’s editorial director.
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