Tropical forests around the world were destroyed at an increasing rate in 2020 compared with the year before, despite the global economic downturn caused by the pandemic, which reduced demand for some commodities that have spurred deforestation in the past.
Worldwide, loss of primary old-growth tropical forest, which plays a critical role in keeping carbon out of the atmosphere and in maintaining biodiversity, increased by 12 percent in 2020 from 2019, according to the World Resources Institute, a research group based in Washington that reports annually on the subject.
Overall, more than 10 million acres of primary tropical forest was lost in 2020, an area roughly the size of Switzerland. The institute’s analysis said loss of that much forest added more than two and a half billion metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, or about twice as much as is spewed into the air by cars in the United States every year.
pro-development policies of the country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, led to continued widespread clear-cutting. Surging forest losses were also reported in Cameroon in West Africa. And in Colombia, losses soared again last year after a promising drop in 2019.
a severe fire season, with 16 times more forest loss in 2020 than the year before.
anecdotal reports from Brazil and other countries suggested that deforestation was rising because of the pandemic, as the health crisis hampered governments’ efforts to enforce bans on clear-cutting, and as workers who lost their jobs because of the downturn migrated out of cities to rural areas to farm. But Mr. Taylor said the analysis showed “no obvious systemic shift” in forest loss as a result of the pandemic.
If anything, the crisis and the resulting global economic downturn should have led to less overall forest loss, as demand, and prices, for palm oil and other commodities fell. While falling demand may have helped improve the situation in Indonesia and a few other countries, Ms. Seymour said that globally it was “astonishing that in a year that the global economy contracted somewhere between 3 and 4 percent, primary forest loss increased by 12 percent.”
Global Land Analysis and Discovery laboratory at the University of Maryland, who have devised methods for analyzing satellite imagery to determine forest cover. The World Resources Institute refers to their findings as “forest cover loss” rather than “deforestation” because the analysis includes trees lost from plantations and does not distinguish between trees lost to human activities and those lost to natural causes.
OTTAWA — In a decision that marked an important victory for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s climate change agenda, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled that the federal government’s imposition of carbon taxes in provinces that oppose them was constitutional.
Citing Parliament’s power to legislate on matters related to “peace, order and good government,” the court said that fighting climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions was a matter of “national concern” protected under the Constitution.
“This matter is critical to our response to an existential threat to human life in Canada and around the world,” the court wrote in its 6-to-3 decision. “Climate change is real. It is caused by greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities and it poses a grave threat to humanity’s future.”
The concept of carbon pricing has been widely endorsed by economists and, according to the World Bank, some form of it has been carried out or is in development in 64 countries, either through direct taxes on fossil fuels or through cap-and-trade programs.
notably California. Money and tax credits to address climate change are expected to underpin much of President Biden’s coming spending proposals, which aides and documents suggest could cost as much as $4 trillion over the next decade.
But several people familiar with the forthcoming infrastructure package in the United States said that there are no plans currently to price carbon emissions. Instead, the president plans to greatly raise fuel efficiency standards for cars, forcing automakers toward electric vehicles through regulation, not legislation. Similarly, Mr. Biden plans to reimpose strict emissions regulations on electric power plants to move the sector away from coal.
Republicans in Congress remain firmly opposed to a carbon tax and have voted repeatedly and nearly unanimously over the years to bar the government from imposing one.
Parliament’s budget watchdog found that most households are paid more in rebates than they spend on carbon taxes. Households can boost that bonus by further cutting emissions by using more efficient or electric vehicles or improving their heating systems.
Jason Kenney, the premier of Alberta, who canceled his province’s program, told reporters that he was disappointed with the decision but declined to say if his province will come up with a carbon pricing system to replace the federally imposed one. “We’re going to consult with Albertans and talk to our allied provinces to determine the best way forward,” he said.
The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law in part because the federal plan only kicks in if provinces do not set up their programs, thus maintaining the shared jurisdiction the two levels of government hold on environmental issues.
It also concluded that setting a single national minimum price for carbon is necessary for effectively reducing greenhouse gases, or GHGs, which makes federal involvement essential
“Addressing climate change requires collective national and international action,” the court wrote. “This is because the harmful effects of GHGs are, by their very nature, not confined by borders.”
Lisa Friedman contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.
The Earth’s average temperature unexpectedly leapt 0.4 degrees Celsius on Saturday afternoon, putting the planet on the brink of catastrophe. Within hours, millions of people would be displaced, crops would fail and sea levels would rise.
Until, that is, Matt Leacock realized that the four people playing Climate Crisis, a board game he is developing, had gotten the rules wrong.
“No, divide it by four!” he told the players, who were testing the game. They had been counting a pile of brown cubes, representing greenhouse gas emissions, to calculate how much the world’s temperature would increase. They’d just forgotten to divide the figure by the number of players.
The players — all experts from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center, playing online and linked up via a video call — looked relieved. But it wasn’t all good news. “There might be some forest fires in China, and Europe and the United States soon,” Leacock said.
Elizabeth Hargrave, the creator of Wingspan, in which players compete to attract birds to nature reserves. “It’s hard to wrap my head around how to make a game about a real life — very dire — situation fun,” she added.
But, she said, “If anyone can do it, it’s Matt Leacock.”
Leacock first considered making a game about climate change in August 2019 after a British academic sent him an email suggesting that he tweak Pandemic to make it about that theme. Leacock dismissed the notion, he said, “but then another person reached out with that idea, then another person.”
Last March, he decided to give it a go. So as much of the world went into lockdown and looked for escapist entertainment, he began reading extensively on climate change.
“I immediately fell into a big trough of despair,” Leacock said. “Climate crisis books are a rough bunch, in that they all start with laying out the crisis, trying to make you realize the gravity of the situation.”
He dragged himself out of that hole, he said, only after he began collaborating with Matteo Menapace, an Italian game designer in London. Together, they investigated proposed solutions to the crisis, reading up on things like clean energy rollouts and geoengineering projects that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Vital Lacerda, another game designer.
Lacerda made his own climate change game, called CO2, and its rule book stretched to 26 pages, he said. (The game’s audience was small, he added.)
Erin Coughlan de Perez, who was playing the United States, said the tumbling crises were “an excellent way of showing the feedback loops involved in climate change.”
Yet her smile as the disaster unfurled was a sign of something else: She was enjoying the game.
LONDON & MADRID–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Värde Partners, a leading global alternative investment firm, today announced that one of its portfolio companies, Vía Célere, has issued the first green bond by a residential real estate developer in the Euro market.
Vía Célere is the largest homebuilder in Spain by units delivered in 2020, with a deep residential land bank in key markets across Iberia.
The 5-year €300 million 5.25% high yield bond issued at par received strong demand from international investors. It was issued in accordance with the Green Bond Principles, as published by the International Capital Market Association, and reviewed by Sustainalytics, the independent global provider of ESG and corporate governance research and ratings.
The successful bond issue diversifies Vía Célere’s funding sources and supports its growth strategy in the Iberian market. The proceeds will be used, among other things, to fund cash on balance sheet and re-finance existing indebtedness, each in connection with the construction of energy efficient residential buildings in Vía Célere’s portfolio across Iberia. The developments must meet the green bond’s eligibility framework by achieving an Energy Performance Certificate rating in the top 15% of local housing.
“This is an important milestone for Vía Célere and reinforces the company’s commitment to create more sustainable housing, with greater energy efficiency and reduced carbon footprint,” said Tim Mooney, Partner and Global Head of Real Estate at Värde. “Through the lifespan of our investment, we have worked closely with Vía Célere to put in place a robust governance framework, strengthen the management team and enhance the company’s operating model.”
Vía Célere had a strong year in 2020, despite the challenges caused by Covid-19. The company led the Spanish residential market, delivering 1,932 homes, 65% more than in 2019, and has already sold 78% of the units to be delivered in 2021. 88% of developments currently under construction have Energy Performance Certificates rated A or B, with buildings emitting 89% less carbon dioxide emissions than the minimum requirement under Spanish regulations. Vía Célere continues to maintain a robust balance sheet with low leverage and high interest coverage.
Background to Värde’s investment in Vía Célere
In 2014 Värde began buying the debt of Grupo San Jose (GSJ), a large, publicly listed Spanish construction company and real estate developer that was in distress following the long-term impacts of the global financial crisis on the Spanish housing market.
Between December 2015 and July 2017 through a series of restructurings, acquisitions and capital increases, Värde ultimately took control of GSJ’s real estate development business and executed a reverse merger with Vía Célere, a smaller Spanish residential developer that Värde had acquired separately. By 2019, following the acquisition of land bank assets from Aelca – a real estate developer and asset manager – Vía Célere had established itself as Spain’s largest homebuilder.
About Värde Partners
Värde Partners is a leading global alternative investment firm with roots in credit and distressed. Founded in 1993, the firm has invested $75 billion since inception and manages more than $14 billion on behalf of a global investor base. The firm’s investments span corporate and traded credit, real estate and mortgages, private equity and direct lending. Värde employs more than 300 professionals worldwide with offices in Minneapolis, New York, London, Singapore and other cities in Asia and Europe. For more information, please visit www.varde.com.
The mouse embryos looked perfectly normal. All their organs were developing as expected, along with their limbs and circulatory and nervous systems. Their tiny hearts were beating at a normal 170 beats per minute.
But these embryos were not growing in a mother mouse. They were developed inside an artificial uterus, the first time such a feat has been accomplished, scientists reported on Wednesday.
The experiments, at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, were meant to help scientists understand how mammals develop and how gene mutations, nutrients and environmental conditions may affect the fetus. But the work may one day raise profound questions about whether other animals, even humans, should or could be cultured outside a living womb.
In a study published in the journal Nature, Dr. Jacob Hanna described removing embryos from the uteruses of mice at five days of gestation and growing them for six more days in artificial wombs.
Two other papers published in Nature on Wednesday report on attempts that edge near creating early human embryos in this way. Of course, Dr. Meissner said, creation of human embryos is years away — if it is permitted at all. And for now, international regulations prohibit studying human embryos beyond 14 days of fertilization.
In the future, Dr. Tesar said, “it is not unreasonable that we might have the capacity to develop a human embryo from fertilization to birth entirely outside the uterus.”
Of course, even the suggestion of this science fiction scenario is bound to horrify many. But it is early days, with no assurance human fetuses could ever develop entirely outside the womb.
Even assuming they could, Dr. Tesar noted, “whether that is appropriate is a question for ethicists, regulators and society.”
Few materials are more essential than steel, yet steel mills are among the leading polluters. They burn coke, a derivative of coal, and belch millions of tons of greenhouse gases. Roughly two tons of carbon dioxide rises into the atmosphere for every ton of steel made using blast furnaces.
With climate concerns growing, a crunch appears inevitable for these companies. Carbon taxes are rising, and investors are wary of putting their money into businesses that could be regulated out of existence.
None of this has been lost on the giant steel maker ArcelorMittal.
For half a century, Lakshmi Mittal devoted himself to building and running what became the world’s largest empire of huge steel mills, employing nearly 170,000 people.
Now his son, Aditya Mittal, 44, who recently succeeded his father as chief executive, says the industry that has made the family’s name and fortune needs to change its polluting ways.
Europe’s carbon trading program and other measures will rise rapidly in the coming years, cutting into steel makers’ already slim profits.
“Everyone expects the regulations to be imposed to be very strict,” said Akio Ito, a senior partner at the consultants Roland Berger in Munich.
Mr. Ito said that in a few years, the carbon tariff might increase to as much as €150 per ton of steel, around 20 percent of the current price of a ton of the metal. If so, it could become too costly to make steel in Europe, he said.
In 2019, ArcelorMittal’s global operations made 90 million metric tons of steel, about 5 percent of the world total, while producing 185 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Mr. Mittal is moving cautiously, trying several approaches. The company’s flagship mill near Ghent in Belgium is central to this effort. In one of several experiments, workers are erecting large tanks where bacteria will feast on carbon dioxide from plant exhaust and turn it into ethanol, which can then be used in making chemicals. At another plant, in Hamburg, Germany, the staff has run laboratory tests using hydrogen, which is gaining favor as a clean fuel in place of coke. Mr. Mittal is also contemplating hooking up the company’s electric furnaces, which are cleaner than blast furnaces, to a source of renewable power to produce steel branded as low-carbon.
Executives indicate that using hydrogenmay eventually be the best solution but is many years away. Hydrogen made without causing emissions is expensive and limited.
“Today, this is impossible, because there is no hydrogen,” said Geert Van Poelvoorde, chief executive of ArcelorMittal Europe.
ArcelorMittal says up to €40 billion of investment will be needed over the next three decades to remove the emissions from steel making in Europe alone, depending on the methods. The cost of producing steel will also rise sharply.
At least one European steel company, SSAB of Sweden, may be making progress. With government backing, the company plans to eliminate fossil fuels by using hydrogen made from electricity generated by water power. If all goes well, a large-scale plant could begin operating in around five years.
“In the beginning, it might cost some more, said Martin Pei, the company’s chief technology officer. He added that the company would gain a new product that it could sell for a premium.
ArcelorMittal is a giant in the industry, but even it cannot afford to throw money around. For 2020, when economies were shut down because of the pandemic, the company reported a $733 million net loss. It has been concerned about debt, and last year sold much of its business in the United States.
How to pay for reducing emissions is the subject of complex negotiations between the industry and governments, including the European Union. Governments may want to clean up steel, but they also will be wary of jeopardizing an industry that employs about 330,000 people in the region. In addition, if European steel moves elsewhere, the likely result would be higher emissions.
ArcelorMittal and other companies are applying for funding from European programs for their efforts to reduce carbon. The steel industry is also pressing for what it calls border adjustments, which would levy tariffs on steel imports from countries with fewer environmental regulations — an approach that risks trade friction and could leave European steel less competitive in export markets.
Without financial support from governments, Mr. Mittal said, “the incentive to produce steel in Europe would not exist.”
By 2030, Mr. Mittal wants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Europe by 30 percent compared with 2018; he hopes the whole company will be carbon-neutral by 2050. In the meantime, the company is trying to cater to growing customer demand for low-carbon steel by making modest investments, like using natural gas in place of coke at a plant and then selling an amount of steel equivalent to the carbon saved as “green steel.”
An early customer for this niche product, which differs from ordinary steel only in labeling, is Jean-Christophe Vigouroux, chief executive of Ateliers 3S, a supplier of custom roof material and facades in Clermont-Ferrand, France. In an interview, Mr. Vigouroux said he had ordered 1,000 tons of green steel at a roughly 10 percent premium over the market price.
“Clients increasingly appreciate the eco-design aspects of our products,” Mr. Vigouroux said.
Mr. van Poelvoorde said that being able to sell the material at a premium was a pleasant surprise that would help finance lower emissions. More important, he said, offering a product labeled green shows customers and the authorities, who are considering funding these efforts, “we are very serious, that it is not only talking.”
Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, has promoted an uplifting vision for growth increasingly freed from greenhouse gas pollution, but turning that plan into action is already proving contentious.
The big issue is coal.
Mr. Xi’s climate-saving ambitions are a pillar of a plan for the country’s post-pandemic ascent that was endorsed by China’s Communist Party-controlled legislature days ago.
The plan is designed to steer the country toward two signature commitments that Mr. Xi made last year. China’s emissions of carbon dioxide would peak before 2030, he said, and the country would reach net carbon neutrality before 2060, meaning it would emit no more of the greenhouse gas than it takes from the atmosphere by methods like engineering or planting forests.
But unusually sharp debate has risen in China over how aggressively it should cut the use of coal, which has fueled its industrial takeoff yet made it the world’s top-polluting nation in recent decades.
Leon Clarke, a professor at the University of Maryland and a leading co-author of a recent study on China’s options for curtailing emissions. “On the one side, there’s a sense that coal has driven the economy and you don’t want to give that up. On the other hand, coal is the biggest target for climate action, particularly in the near term.”
China’s environmental pressures were brought to life last week as a thick smog hung over Beijing, reflecting an uptick in industrial pollution.
28 percent of the global total, roughly the same as the next three biggest emitters combined: the United States, the European Union and India. The accumulated emissions of the United States and other rich economies across the entire industrial era, though, remain much bigger than China’s.
Representatives of the coal industry attending the national legislative session in Beijing argued that China needs to keep burning coal, albeit in cleaner, more efficient plants.
The China National Coal Association issued a report this month proposing modest increases in its use for the next five years, reaching 4.2 billion metric tons by 2025, and also said China should create three to five “globally competitive world-class coal enterprises.”
“The principal status of coal in our national energy system, and its role as ballast, will not shift,” the association said in an earlier position paper about the industry’s outlook in the next five years.
Provincial governments have recently proposed more new coal mines and power plants, while vowing that their projects will limit emissions. In answer to the call for a carbon peak, Shanxi Province, one of China’s biggest coal producing areas, announced plans for 40 “green,” efficient coal mines.
Chinese officials in such areas also worry about losses of jobs and investment and the resulting social strains. They argue that China still needs coal to provide a robust base of power to complement solar, wind and hydropower sources, which are more prone to fluctuating.And many energy companies backing these views are state-owned behemoths that have easy access to political leaders.
Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Helsinki. “The central contradiction between expanding the smokestack economy and promoting green growth appears unresolved.”
China’s new plan appears to give the different camps in the carbon debate a foothold. The plan promises green growth and expansion of hydro, solar and wind power, in addition to nuclear power plant construction. By 2025, the plan says, non-fossil fuel sources will provide one-fifth of China’s energy.
Yet the plan also appeared to hearten defenders of coal and disappoint environmental groups and climate policy experts. It did not include an absolute ceiling on annual carbon dioxide emissions and indicated that coal-fired power stations would keep being built.
“Many areas still believe that before 2030 they can keep substantially increasing fossil fuel use,” Wang Jinnan, the president of the government’s Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning and a senior member of the national legislature, said in an interview with a Chinese magazine posted on the academy’s website. “This will have a big negative impact on China reaching carbon neutrality before 2060.”
Mr. Xi may face calls from abroad to offer more ways to curb emissions as China turns the plan into actual policies. For China, action on climate change is also a way of building good will, including with the United States and the European Union.
international pact to limit global warming this century to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and to 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible, is not possible without more urgent efforts from China and the other major powers to reach carbon neutrality by around midcentury.
“The longer the delay, the harder it is to achieve those midcentury targets. It’s just math,” said Kelly Sims Gallagher, a professor at the Fletcher School of Tufts University who studies China’s climate policies. China’s plan, she said, “will not have the effect of injecting new momentum into the global climate negotiations.”
Mr. Xi has a political stake in the issues. He has promoted himself and China as guardians of an “ecological civilization” and has made cleaning China’s air, water and soil a basis for public appeal. When he announced China’s pledge last year to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, he also called for a “green recovery” from the Covid-19 pandemic.
China’s air pollution has eased markedly in recent years. Mr. Xi created environmental inspection teams to pressure officials usually fixated on economic and political goals. The inspectors flashed their teeth early this year when they issued strikingly blunt criticisms of the National Energy Administration, which helps oversee power plant approvals.
“Environmental protection has not been given the high priority it should be accorded,” the inspectors wrote in their report on the administration. They criticized the administration for letting coal power projects go ahead in eastern China, where stringent pollution limits are supposed to apply. In recent days, the environmental authorities also cracked down on steel makers in Tangshan, a northern industrial city, that were found breaking pollution curbs, including submitting fake data.
to the Rhodium Group, an economic research firm.
To transit away from coal, China must confront the costs of closing mines and plants, including the needs of millions of potentially displaced miners and other workers. Many coal-dependent regions and their workers seem unprepared for that possible shift.
“I’ve never thought about the coal mine shutting down, never thought about leaving,” Gui Lianjun, a 39-year old miner in Shenmu, a coal city in northwest China, said by telephone. He sounded nonplused when asked about the link between coal and global warming.
“The government close down a mine because of global warming? I don’t think that’s possible,” he said. “I’ve never heard of that reason.”
With a million species at risk of extinction, dozens of countries are pushing to protect at least 30 percent of the planet’s land and water by 2030. Their goal is to hammer out a global agreement at negotiations to be held in China later this year, designed to keep intact natural areas like old growth forests and wetlands that nurture biodiversity, store carbon and filter water.
But many people who have been protecting nature successfully for generations won’t be deciding on the deal: Indigenous communities and others who have kept room for animals, plants and their habitats, not by fencing off nature, but by making a small living from it. The key to their success, research shows, is not extracting too much.
In the Brazilian Amazon, Indigenous people put their bodies on the line to protect native lands threatened by loggers and ranchers. In Canada, a First Nations group created a huge park to block mining. In Papua New Guinea, fishing communities have set up no-fishing zones. And in Guatemala, people living in a sprawling nature reserve are harvesting high-value timber in small amounts. In fact, some of those logs could end up as new bike lanes on the Brooklyn Bridge.
several scientific studies. Indigenous-managed lands in Brazil, Canada and Australia have as much or more biodiversity than lands set aside for conservation by federal and other governments, researchers have found.
That is in stark contrast from the history of conservation, which has a troubled record of forcing people off their land. So, it is with a mixture of hope and worry that many Indigenous leaders view this latest global goal, known as 30×30, led by Britain, Costa Rica and France. Some want a higher target — more than 50 percent, according to Mr. Díaz Mirabal’s organization — while others fear that they may once again be pushed out in the name of conservation.
Defending Land, Protecting Vital Forests
In the Brazilian Amazon, Awapu Uru Eu Wau Wau puts his life on the line to protect the riches of his ancestral lands: jaguars, endangered brown woolly monkeys, and natural springs from which 17 important rivers flow. His people, the Indigenous Uru Eu Wau Wau, have legal right to the land, but must constantly defend it from armed intruders.
murdered last April, part of a chilling pattern among land defenders across the Amazon. In 2019, the most recent year for which data is available, at least 46 were murdered across Latin America. Many were Indigenous.
The community’s efforts have outsized benefits for the world’s 7.75 billion people: The Amazon, which accounts for half the remaining tropical rainforest in the world, helps to regulate Earth’s climate and nurtures invaluable genetic diversity. Research shows Indigenous property rights are crucial to reducing illegal deforestation in the Amazon.
A Collapse of Nature
Nature is under assault because humans gobble up land to grow food, harvest timber and dig for minerals, while also overfishing the oceans. Making matters worse, the combustion of fossil fuels is warming up the planet and making it harder for animals and plants to survive.
conservationists, has been taken up by a coalition of countries. It will be part of diplomatic negotiations to be held in Kunming, China, this fall, under the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity. The United States is the only country, apart from the Vatican, that has not joined the convention, though President Biden has ordered up a plan to protect 30 percent of American waters and lands.
Indigenous communities are not recognized as parties to the international agreement. They can come as observers to the talks, but can’t vote on the outcome. Practically though, success is impossible without their support.
They already protect much of the world’s land and water, as David Cooper, deputy executive secretary of the United Nations agency for biodiversity, pointed out. “People live in these places,” he said. “They need to be engaged and their rights respected.”
agreement to protect at least half of the planet. Scientific research backs them up, finding that saving a third of the planet is simply not enough to preserve biodiversity and to store enough planet-warming carbon dioxide to slow down global warming.
Creating a New Kind of Park
A half century ago, where boreal forest meets tundra in Canada’s Northwest Territories, the Łutsël K’é’ Dene, one of the area’s Indigenous groups, opposed Canada’s efforts to set up a national park in and around its homeland.
“At that time, Canada’s national parks policies were very negative to Indigenous people’s ways of life,” said Steven Nitah, a former tribal chief. “They used to create national parks — fortress parks, I call it — and they kicked people out.”
But in the 1990s, the Łutsël K’é’ Dene faced a new threat: Diamonds were found nearby. They feared their lands would be gutted by mining companies. So they went back to the Canadian government to revisit the idea of a national park — one that enshrined their rights to manage the land, hunt and fish.
The park opened in 2019. Its name, Thaidene Nëné, means “Land of the Ancestors.”
Collaboration among conservationists, Indigenous nations and governments holds a key to protecting biodiversity, according to research.
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Without local support, creating protected areas can be useless. They often fail to conserve animals and plants, becoming so-called “paper parks.”
Making a Living From Nature
Researchers have found that biodiversity protection often works best when local communities have a stake.
On islands in Papua New Guinea, for example, where fish is a staple, stocks had dwindled in recent decades. Fishers ventured farther from shore and spent more time at sea, but came back with smaller catches. So they partnered with local and international nonprofit groups to try something new. They changed their nets to let smaller fish escape. They reduced their use of a poison that brings fish to the surface. Most critically, they closed some waters to fishing altogether.
Meksen Darius, the head of one of the clans using these measures, said people were open to the idea because they hoped it would improve their livelihoods.
“The volume, the kinds of species of fish and other marine life, they’ve multiplied,” Mr. Darius, a retired lawyer, said.
Recent research from around the world shows that marine protected areas increase fish stocks, ultimately allowing fishing communities to catch more fish on the edges of the reserves.
To Iliana Monterroso, an environmental scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research in Lima, Peru, what matters is that people who live in areas of high biodiversity have a right to manage those areas. She pointed to the example of the Mayan Biosphere Reserve, a territory of two million hectares in Guatemala, where local communities have managed the forest for 30 years.
Under temporary contracts with the national government, they began harvesting limited quantities of timber and allspice, selling ornamental palms and running tourism agencies. They had an investment to protect. “The forest became the source of livelihood,” Dr. Monterroso said. “They were able to gain tangible benefits.”
Jaguars, spider monkeys and 535 species of butterflies thrive there. So does the white-lipped peccary, a shy pig that tends to disappear quickly when there’s hunting pressure. Community-managed forests have fewer forest fires, and there is almost zero rate of deforestation, according to researchers.
Erwin Maas is among the hundreds of Guatemalans who live there, too. He and his neighbors run a community-owned business in the village of Uaxactún. Mahogany is plentiful, but they can take only so much. Often, it’s one or two trees per hectare per year, Mr. Maas said. Seed-producing trees are left alone.
“Our goal is to sustain ourselves with a small amount and always take care of the forest,” he said.
$1.9 trillion stimulus plan, combined with a rapid vaccine rollout, ignites a powerful recovery from the pandemic, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Tuesday.
But countries that are stumbling in the pace of their vaccination campaigns, especially those in Europe, risk falling behind in the global recovery as a failure to beat back the spread of the virus forces governments to keep swaths of their economies closed, delaying the chance for people to get back to normal lives, the organization said.
In its half-year outlook, the organization said the United States would expand 6.5 percent this year, up sharply from 3.2 percent forecast in December. The surge in the world’s largest economy will generate enough momentum to help lift global output 5.6 percent, from a 3.4 percent contraction in 2020.
China, which contained the virus earlier than other countries, remains a big global winner, with growth of 7.8 percent forecast.
Although a global recovery is in sight, spending by governments intended to jump-start their economies will have limited impact unless authorities accelerate national vaccine rollouts and relax virus containment measures, the report added. If vaccination programs aren’t fast enough to cut infection rates, or if new variants become more widespread and require changes to vaccines, consumer spending and business confidence would be hit.
“Stimulus without vaccinations won’t be as effective because consumers won’t go out doing normal things,” Laurence Boone, the O.E.C.D.’s chief economist, said in an online news briefing. “It’s the combination of health and fiscal policy that matters.”
That is especially the case for Europe, and Germany and France in particular, where a mix of poor public health management and slow vaccination programs are weighing on a recovery, despite billions in government support. Such spending “won’t be fully effective as long as the economy doesn’t reopen,” Ms. Boone said.
The euro area economy is expected to grow 3.9 percent this year, slightly more than forecast in December but slower than the United States. In Britain, which sped a national vaccination rollout late last year, the economy is expected to grow 5.1 percent, up from a 4.2 percent forecast.
India’s economy is expected to grow 12.6 percent after a 7.4 percent fall in 2020, the organization added.
Stocks around the world rose on Tuesday as bond yields fell back from their recent highs. Tech stocks regained their footing, leading Wall Street higher.
The S&P 500 rose 1 percent in early trading, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 2.5 percent. The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.9 percent, led by utilities and tech stocks.
The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes fell 6 basis points, or 0.06 percentage point, to 1.53 percent.
Tech stocks have borne the brunt of the stock market volatility in recent weeks amid rising bond yields and inflation fears. There has been some concern that stronger economic growth will lead to inflation, and that central bankers would respond by tightening monetary policy. On Monday, the Nasdaq dropped 2.4 percent, ending the day more than 10 percent off its January peak. A drop that large is known as a correction. The S&P 500 fell 0.5 percent on Monday.
These concerns appeared to have been set aside on Tuesday, as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said it expected the American economy to grow 6.5 percent this year because of the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package and the widening availability of coronavirus vaccine. That’s more than double the pace of growth the organization predicted in December.
In other upbeat economic news, there was an unexpected increase in German exports in January. Analysts at Citigroup said they had expected the pandemic and supply chain disruptions to cause exports to drop alongside imports. Instead, this data is a “large upside risk” to their G.D.P. forecasts for the first three months of the year, the analysts said.
It remains to be seen whether more market participants will buy the message from central bankers that the risks of high and sustained inflation are low. On Monday, Janet L. Yellen, the Treasury secretary and former chair of the Federal Reserve, also said she didn’t believe the stimulus package would lead to higher inflation. “I really don’t think that is going to happen,” Ms. Yellen said on MSNBC, adding that she expected the economy to be back to full employment by next year. She added, though, that there were tools available if the spending did prove to be inflationary.
On Wednesday, U.S. inflation data for February will be published. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast the annual inflation rate will climb to 1.7 percent from 1.4 percent.
The basic experience of sitting in a single line of cars, speaking into a sometimes garbled intercom and pulling up to a window to pay for your food before driving away is poised to be demonstrably altered for the first time in decades, Julie Creswell reports for The New York Times.
“The drive-through has been one of those places that hasn’t changed in decades,” said Ellie Doty, the North American chief marketing officer for Burger King. “But with Covid, we’re seeing the dramatic acceleration of directions we were already going.”
Applebee’s is testing its first drive-through in Texarkana, Texas. Shake Shack is experimenting with a number of new designs and plans, including walk-up windows and curbside pickup.
More restaurants are trying to encourage customers to use ordering apps, which improve the accuracy of orders. They are also trying to figure out how to best speed consumers through the drive-through or pickup process.
Some restaurants, like McDonald’s and Burger King, are adding multiple drive-through lanes. Burger King is running three-lane tests in the United States, Brazil and Spain. In the United States and Spain, the third lane is “express” for advance orders made through the app. In Brazil, the lane takes delivery drivers to a pickup area with food lockers or shelves.
Burger King is also looking to propel its drive-throughs into the future with a Big-Brother-like artificial intelligence system, Deep Flame.
Right now, roughly half of Burger King’s drive-throughs with digital menu boards are using Deep Flame’s technology to suggest foods that are particularly popular in the area that day. It also uses outside factors, like the weather, to highlight items like an iced coffee on a hot day.
Burger King is testing a Bluetooth technology that will be able to identify customers in Burger King’s loyalty program and show their previous orders. If a customer ordered a small Sprite and a Whopper with cheese, hold the pickles, the last three visits, Deep Flame will calculate that chances are high that the customer will want the same order again.
Lots of attention is being paid to carbon capture as a way to meet the targets in the 2016 Paris climate agreement. The idea sounds deceptively simple: Divert pollutants before they can escape into the air, and bury them deep in the ground where they can do no harm.
But the technology has proved to be hugely expensive, and it has not caught on as rapidly as some advocates hoped, Stanley Reed reports for The New York Times.
The oil giant BP is leading a project in England to collect emissions by pipeline from a group of chemical plants in northeast England and send it to a reservoir deep under the North Sea. BP hopes it can achieve sufficient scale to make a profitable business.
BP and its partners propose to build a very large electric power station fueled by natural gas near a shuttered steel mill at the mouth of the river. The plant would help replace Britain’s aging fossil-fuel-burning power stations and provide essential backup electricity when the country’s growing fleet of offshore wind farms are becalmed. Equipment would remove the carbon dioxide from the power station’s exhaust.
Pipes would run through the area rounding up more carbon dioxide from a fertilizer plant and a factory that makes hydrogen, which is winning favor as a low-carbon fuel. BP also expects to connect other plants in the area. Pipes would take the carbon dioxide 90 miles out under the North Sea, where it would be pumped below the seabed into porous rocks.
Four other oil giants — Royal Dutch Shell, Norway’s Equinor, France’s Total and Italy’s Eni — are also investors in the plan, although the final go-ahead awaits a financial commitment from the British government. The price for the initial stage could approach $5 billion.
Numbers alone cannot capture the scope of the losses that have mounted in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Data sets are crude tools for plumbing the depth of human suffering, or the immensity of our collective grief.
But numbers can help us comprehend the scale of certain losses — particularly in the travel industry, which in 2020 experienced a staggering collapse.
Around the world, international arrivals are estimated to have dropped to 381 million in 2020, down from 1.461 billion in 2019 — a 74 percent decline. In countries whose economies are heavily reliant on tourism, the precipitous drop in visitors was, and remains, devastating.
According to recent figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the decline in international travel in 2020 resulted in an estimated loss of $1.3 trillion in global export revenues. As the agency notes, this figure is more than 11 times the loss that occurred in 2009 as a result of the global economic crisis.
one out of every 10 jobs around the world. In many places, though, travel plays an even greater role in the local economy.
Consider the Maldives, where in recent years international tourism has accounted for around two-thirds of the country’s G.D.P., when considering direct and indirect contributions.
As lockdowns fell into place worldwide, international arrivals in the Maldives plunged; from April through September of 2020, they were down 97 percent compared to the same period in 2019. Throughout all of 2020, arrivals were down by more than 67 percent compared with 2019. (Arrival numbers slowly improved after the country reopened in July; the government, eager to promote tourism and mitigate losses, lured travelers with marketing campaigns and even courted influencers with paid junkets.)
more than 50 percent in 2020.
And the effects could be long-lasting; in some areas, travel is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
fell by 65.9 percent as compared to 2019, the largest year-on-year decline in aviation history.
Carbon Monitor, an international initiative that provides estimates of daily CO2 emissions, worldwide emissions from aviation fell by nearly 50 percent last year — to around 500 million metric tons of CO2, down from around 1 billion metric tons in 2019. (Those numbers are expected to rebound, though the timing will depend largely on how long corporate and international travel remain sidelined.)
All told, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels dropped by 2.6 billion metric tons in 2020, a 7 percent reduction from 2019, driven in large part by transportation declines.
outbreak aboard the Diamond Princess.
scathing rebuke of the industry issued in July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention blamed cruise companies for widespread transmission of the virus, pointing to 99 outbreaks aboard 123 cruise ships in U.S. waters alone.
While precise passenger data for 2020 is not yet available, the publicly disclosed revenues — which include ticket sales and onboard purchases — from three of the largest cruise lines offer a dramatic narrative: strong revenues in the early months of 2020, followed by a steep decline.
Third-quarter revenues for Carnival Corporation, the industry’s biggest player, showed a year-to-year decline of 99.5 percent — to $31 million in 2020, down from $6.5 billion in 2019.
The outlook remains bleak for the early months of 2021: For now, most cruise lines have canceled all sailings into May or June.
Arrivalist, a company that uses mobile location data to measure consumer road trips of 50 miles or more in all 50 U.S. states.
state and local restrictions fell into place, followed by a gradual rise to around 80 percent of 2019 levels.
Some national parks located near cities served as convenient recreational escapes throughout the pandemic. At Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 2020 numbers exceeded 2019 numbers from March through December. At Great Smoky Mountains National Park, numbers surged after a 46-day closure in the spring and partial closures through August; between June and December, the park saw one million additional visits compared to the same time period in 2019.