News Digest | 1-15 December

How does climate change affect food security?

Climate change is endangering the world’s capacity to produce enough nutrient-dense food and guarantee that everyone has access to it, as effects from protracted droughts to intense heat intensify. The first official acknowledgment of mounting concerns about food security and planet-heating emissions from agriculture at a UN climate summit came on Friday at COP28 in Dubai, when over 130 national and international leaders urged for a rethinking of national and global food systems to address climate change. Increased extreme weather, such as heatwaves, droughts, and torrential downpours, are being caused by fossil fuel emissions, which are also slowly raising the sea level. These can all have an impact on crops, destroy farmland, and make farming more difficult for farmers. In addition to destroying more crops and lowering yields, a warming environment is also facilitating the spread of pests and crop diseases and increasing the intensity of infestations. Globally, farmers are adjusting to climate extremes through many means, such as excavating irrigation ponds to retain floodwater and using it during dry spells, implementing novel climate-smart seed varieties, and resurrecting resilient customary crops. However, certain difficulties are more difficult to overcome, including the increasingly frequent and intense heatwaves that can make it challenging for farmers to work outside. Additionally, there is a severe lack of funding to assist small-scale farmers, who produce roughly a third of the world’s food, in adapting to climate threats. Growing more food has long been accomplished by increasing the amount of area cultivated, increasing the usage of fertilizers derived from fossil fuels, and creating new crop kinds. However, the growth of agricultural land frequently comes at the price of forests and other natural ecosystems, which are vital to protect since their flora stores and absorbs carbon dioxide emissions that warm the planet to thrive, thereby slowing down climate change. 

Climate finance in China: How are 23 pilot cities doing?

The Bank of China has granted a local energy company in Chongqing, the southwest megacity of China, a 470 million yuan (US$60 million) loan to finance the construction of a combined cooling, heat, and power (CCHP) station. The project qualifies as a climate investment, meaning a significant discount on market loan rates, because it intends to help local businesses increase their energy efficiency. A project official said that more than 40 million yuan might lower annual finance expenses with one percentage point less interest. The local government particularly developed a “government–bank–business” framework to facilitate offering preferential loans to finance climate investments. The platform in Chongqing, which is supervised by regional environmental officials, is open to banks and enterprises alike. In the climate finance trials, one common tool is the Chongqing platform. Following China’s announcement of its goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, the central government released guidelines in October 2020 aimed at advancing climate finance. With local funding and investment pilot programs setting the standard, it asked for investments to support China’s national climate action plan or its Nationally Determined Contribution in UN jargon. Since China has been developing a framework for “green finance” since 2016, the word is more widely known there than it is for climate finance. “Support environmental improvements, combat climate change, and make efficient use of resources” is how official documents describe its goals. Green development funds, green bonds and shares, green insurance, and green loans are all considered forms of green finance. In the process of creating that framework, the government released taxonomies of green industries to aid in project evaluation, qualifying project selection for green bonds, and sector selection.

Indian farmers rack up carbon credits with climate-conscious ways

Situated in the northern state of Haryana, one of the primary rice and wheat-growing regions of India, Singh’s 80-acre (32.4-hectare) farm is a part of the gradual transition of Indians from a model that is water- and fertilizer-intensive to more natural, climate-friendly methods of cultivating their key crops. The potential to gain from another emerging movement—producing carbon credits through sustainable agriculture to sell for extra money—was what persuaded middle-aged traditional farmer Singh to alter the way he farms rice. Several private companies have surfaced in India in the last few years, partnering with farmers such as Singh to produce carbon credits, despite concerns about the effectiveness of voluntary carbon offsetting in lowering emissions that contribute to global warming. These firms are working with farmers that grow resource-intensive commodities like sugarcane, rice, and cotton across the nation. They encourage these farmers to adopt practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and in exchange, they are creating credits for the reduced carbon and methane emissions from their farms. In 2019, a representative of Grow Indigo, a recent supporter of agriculture-based carbon offset projects in India, informed Singh about the carbon credit program for the first time. Producing and distributing farm-linked carbon credits, Grow Indigo is a joint venture between US-based Indigo Ag and India-based Mahyco Grow, a seed manufacturer. Singh experimented with a novel method of rice cultivation on 20 acres of his farm with Grow Indigo’s assistance. Generally, one carbon credit is produced for every tonne of CO2 that is avoided or reduced through greenhouse gas emissions. Singh, for example, can produce one carbon credit per acre when he doesn’t till the soil to trap carbon or reduce the amount of methane emissions from his rice farming. Grow Indigo uses satellite monitoring and sampling techniques to measure this carbon storage over time. A third-party auditor then verifies the results. Buyers, including people and corporations, who wish to offset their carbon emissions can acquire the credits once they have been verified and registered on an official registry.

COP28: UN says staggering $7 trillion spent every year on investments that fuel climate change

The State of Finance for Nature study this year emphasizes the need to address the interconnected problems of climate change, biodiversity loss, and land degradation. It is the first survey of its kind to focus on what is known as “nature-negative finance flows.” The research also emphasized how these efforts paled in comparison to the nearly $200 billion that was invested annually in nature-based solutions last year. It was released in conjunction with a day dedicated at the most recent UN climate summit for talks on nature and land use. The private sector provides an astounding $5 billion of these nature-negative finance flows, which is 140 times greater than private investments in nature-based solutions. Of these, only 5 industries account for nearly half of the total: real estate, construction, electric utilities, oil and gas, food, and tobacco. The director of UNEP’s Nature for Climate Branch, Mirey Atallah, stated during a news briefing in Dubai that the study shows how the climate issue is still outperforming efforts to contain it.  At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, she stated that money is “the great enabler, and without money flowing in the right direction, we cannot achieve the targets we have set” to solve the interconnected problems of climate change, desertification, and biodiversity loss. Although the research might draw some extremely depressing conclusions, Ms. Atallah emphasized that COP28 needs to be the tipping point and that UNEP wants to utilize the data to highlight that money being used to harm the environment can and must be repurposed to have a positive impact. Putting in place the required legal frameworks to enable allocating cash towards nature-positive solutions is vital, she said, to persuade private enterprises to make the proper investments.


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