B4E, the Business for Environment Global Summit, is the world's leading international conference for dialogue and business-driven action for the environment. The summit addresses the most urgent environmental challenges facing the world today. Important topics on the agenda include resource efficiency, renewable energies, new business models and climate policy and strategies. CEOs and senior executives join leaders from government, international agencies, NGOs and media to discuss environmental issues, forge partnerships and explore innovative solutions for a greener future.
Guy has been involved in the energy sector since 1984 working initially in the oil and gas industry as an exploration geologist for Amoco before joining the newly formed PowerGen in 1990. At PowerGen Guy worked initially in the UK core business before transferring to be part of the International expansion of developing conventional power stations in Portugal, Germany and Eastern Europe.
Pete is the Programme Director for Transport at the European Climate Foundation, where he has worked since 2011. Prior to that, he spent 10 years analysing and reporting on politics, business and markets for the international newswire Reuters. Since 2008, he has been living in Brussels, focusing on the European politics of climate and energy. He has published several books and papers on ecology, travel and communications.
Aled has 15 years’ experience in the development of regional sustainability policies and programmes in the UK and Europe. He started his career in local government working on the EU Structural Fund programme for West Wales and the Valleys before moving to the Wales office in Brussels as a policy adviser on regional and environmental policies. He returned to the UK to work for the Regional Development Agency for the West Midlands on its low-carbon development projects.
This article was originally published on Mongabay and is republished with permission.
The palm oil industry’s rapid growth in Southeast Asia brought with it massive amounts of deforestation and associated impacts on local communities and biodiversity. So, as oil palm operations proliferate across the tropics, it’s perhaps no surprise that the impacts of palm oil production outside of Southeast Asia are the subject of increasing scrutiny.
For instance, a study published earlier this month in the journal Environmental Research Letters by researchers with the University of Puerto Rico looks at the types of land being converted to oil palm plantations in Latin America. The area of land planted with oil palm has doubled in Latin America since 2001, but the study finds that most plantations were established on land that had already been cleared.
The majority of the land in the region that has been turned over to palm oil production was originally cleared by ranchers so they could graze their cattle on it, according to the study. If palm oil continues to replace pastures instead of forests, the authors suggest, Latin America may be well positioned as a regional producer of sustainable palm oil.
“After the environmental devastation witnessed in Asia, the big question was whether Latin America would do palm oil right,” Paul R. Furumo, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Environmental Science at the University of Puerto Rico and the lead author of the study, said in a statement. Latin America is home to the world’s largest forested area with conditions suitable for palm oil agriculture, Furumo added.
While “sustainable” palm oil production is a complex issue, it can certainly be said to begin with the type of land use changes made in order to plant a new oil palm plantation. “When forests are cut down, it is a long-term loss of both species and communities, but intensifying production on previously degraded lands may create a huge opportunity for conservation in this sector,” Furumo said.
Previous research has suggested that deforestation was playing a less pronounced role in Latin American palm oil production than in the Southeast Asian countries of Indonesia or Malaysia, which collectively produce about 80 percent of the world’s palm oil. But Furumo and co-author T. Mitchell Aide, of the Department of Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, are the first to identify the specific types of land uses that have been converted to palm oil production.
Furumo and Aide integrated MODIS satellite imagery with high-resolution Google Earth images to map nearly 540 million hectares (about 1.3 million acres) of oil palm in 10 different Latin American countries. They then used Google Earth to look backwards in time and determine what the most recent land use and land cover was before any particular area was planted with oil palm.
They found that 79 percent of the time, oil palm had been planted on lands already heavily impacted by human activities, such as pastures and croplands. The other 21 percent of the time, oil palm plantations replaced what was classified as “woody vegetation,” which includes but is not limited to forests.
Cattle pastures alone accounted for as much as 56 percent of oil palm expansion. Croplands made up another 18 percent, and banana plantations four percent.
These findings at the regional level did not necessarily hold true at the national level in all cases, however. Peru had the highest rate of deforestation for palm oil production out of all the countries studied, with 76 percent of detected oil palm plantations replacing forests, the researchers determined. This finding is in-line with other studies that have shown palm oil to be an emerging threat to the Peruvian Amazon.
And while only 24 percent of palm oil expansion in Guatemala came at the expense of forests, 89 percent of that expansion occurred in the country’s Petén department, which contains the Mayan Biosphere Reserve. The authors of the study said that weak local governance and land tenure laws were to blame, which, they argue, points up the importance of industry oversight by international certification programs.
All the same, given the current land use dynamics around oil palm plantations in Latin America, the region could come as close to achieving sustainable palm oil production as the world has ever seen if future expansion were to be guided by sustainability initiatives like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Furumo and Aide argue.
That would certainly be a development welcomed by companies that have pledged to clean up their palm oil supply chains and committed to ramping up their use of certified sustainable palm oil. Recent research has found that there may not actually be enough certified sustainable palm oil available for all of those companies to meet their targets.
“The present trend of oil palm expanding onto previously cleared lands, guided by roundtable certifications programs, provides an opportunity for more sustainable development of the oil palm sector in Latin America,” Furumo and Aide write in the study.
Oil palm plantation and forest in Costa Rica. Photo by Rhett Butler.
By CK STAFF
This article was originally published on Corporate Knights and is republished with permission.
The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority signed a deal in September to set up an environmental impact bond, the first of its kind in the United States.
Goldman Sachs’ Urban Investment Group and the Calvert Foundation purchased the $25 million (U.S.) bond, which will pay for the construction and maintenance of green infrastructure intended to reduce storm water runoff during periods of heavy precipitation. At present, overflowing drainage infrastructure leads to over two billion gallons of sewage flowing into the Anacostia and Potomac rivers each year.
A twist on the pay-for-performance bonds most commonly associated with social impact bonds (see here), the municipal government will pay for the installation of the green infrastructure. If it fails to meet performance targets, the two bondholders will pay D.C. Water a risk share payment of $3.3 million, allowing the municipality to hedge its bets. If the infrastructure hits tier-2 performance, the investors are paid their principal and 3.43 per cent interest. With tier-1 performance, which involves a reduction of stormwater runoff greater than 41.3 per cent, the investors receive an outcome payment of $3 million.
The project was also supported by a federal Social Innovation Fund Pay for Success Grant, which is looking to support pilot projects around pay-for-performance initiatives across the nation. “In launching a project that is the first of its kind in the nation, D.C. Water has opened the door for others to follow their example,” said Dave Wilkinson, director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation.
By Terry Macalister
This article was originally published on Climate News Network and is republished with permission.
World-renowned British scientist Martin Rees has urged the UK government to prioritise global warming, and warns of the danger of not taking urgent action.
LONDON, 2 February, 2017 – One of Britain’s most senior scientists has expressed concern that action to tackle global warming is sliding down the government’s list of priorities despite its ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
“I worry that we have to wait till the downsides of climate change are even more apparent than they are today before action is taken,” he says.
“It may be slipping down the agenda and may not get much ideological support, and that is why I have been banging on about increasing research and development of clean energy, which gets broad support even from those who are not so enthusiastic about climate action.
“They [many politicians] like hi-tech, and they are right to think that the quickest way to bring down emissions is by accelerating the development of efficient, clean energy.”
Lord Rees was talking in support of a new UK initiative, the Cambridge Climate Lecture Series.
The town-and-gown project, aimed at members of the University of Cambridge and the residents of the city, is trying to kickstart an urgent new round of public debate on action to reduce carbon emissions in the UK and globally.
The world-renowned cosmologist and astrophysicist will join a panel debate on 16 March, following a series of three talks starting on 23 February. The talks will be held in a university venue and will be open to all. Live-streaming will make them available to a global audience.
Rees has welcomed the initiative, the brainchild of Tony Eva, an earth scientist, and Hugh Hunt, reader in engineering dynamics and vibration from the university’s engineering department.
“It is hard to be optimistic about these issuesbecause it is hard to engage politicians withsomething that is not only long-term but also global”
“It’s very important to get outside our academic bubble, because those who work in academia are in touch with experts among climate scientists, and they are getting very concerned,” says Rees.
“We need to ensure that this concern is widely disseminated. Academics themselves cannot determine national policies. We have to make sure these issues are discussed and debated widely, and especially among young people.
“That’s because, although the short-term effects have already affected some regions, what we worry most about is what will happen in the second half of the century and even after that, when we may cross tipping points and see irreversible changes in the global climate.”
Action on global warming
He says it is key to start a political discourse followed by action on global warming at a time when Brexit and other issues are hogging the limelight.
“Hopefully the public will help us debate this, firm up our ideas and interact with the political process,” Rees says, “because for politicians the urgent issues tend to be higher on the list and you have to work hard to get them to think about an issue that affects people in 50 years or more.
“You have to convince them it is important – indeed, essential – to pay an insurance premium now if we are to remove a potential very serious risk to people in the second half of the century.
“We should not listen to the siren voices that say we can avoid doing very much now because there will be advanced technology in 50 years’ time and everyone will be richer … we have to make a start.
“It is hard to be optimistic about these issues because it is hard to engage politicians with something that is not only long-term but also global, and therefore what we do in this country does not have any more specific benefit to this country than it does to Australia.” – Climate News Network
© Copyright 2013. B4E Summit by Global Initiatives. All rights reserved.