MILESTONES

eLibrary MILESTONES. Updated 28 July 2022

On the way to COP27

Most of us engage in discussions on climate change on the basis of newspaper or magazine articles. This section provides direct links to the main international agreements and authoritative assessments on three interlinked policy issues in order to provide the opportunity to read the complete studies (or at least parts thereof). The three areas are:

CLIMATE CHANGE

BIODIVERSITY

INFRASTRUCTURE

MILESTONES

26 JULY European Central Bank and European Systemic Risk Board report The macroprudential challenge of climate change (129pp) argues that climate-related financial risks has highlighted analytical gaps in knowledge necessary for financial contingency planning. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

22 JUNE NATO Secretariat Climate Change and Security Impact Assessment (12pp) argues that climate change is a ‘threat multiplier’ with that has significant security implications for NATO on a tactical, operational and strategic level. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

7 JUNE IPBES Thematic assessment of the sustainable use of wild species – Summary (33pp) downloadable here suggests that without urgent action now the World risks losing 12% of its wild tree species and more than 1,000 wild mammal species. [BIODIVERSITY]

5 JUNE UNFCCC’s report Dimensions and examples of the gender-differentiated impacts of climate change, the role of women as agents of change and opportunities for women

16 MAY An interdisciplinary team from MIT’s The Future of Energy Storage (404pp) examines the important role of energy storage in future decarbonized electricity systems. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

12 MAY IFPRI 2022 Global Food Policy Report: Climate Change and Food Systems (189pp) argues that climate change has already started to reduce agricultural productivity and suggests six policy priorities for accelerating food systems transformation. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

9 MAY UNCCD Drought in Numbers 2022 – restoration for readiness and resilience (51pp) presents conclusive evidence of an upward trajectory in the duration of droughts and the severity of impacts, not only affecting human societies but also the ecological systems upon which the survival of all life depends. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

4 APRIL The third IPCC report, Climate Change 2022. Mitigation of Climate Change (2913pp) and summary (64pp) deals with…. ALSO Chapter by Chapter here https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg3/ warns that  Greenhouse gas emissions need to peak by 2025 to limit global warming close to 1.5 degrees Celsius – fat chance! [CLIMATE CHANGE]

24 MARCH The report by the Network for Greening the Financial System, Central banking and supervision in the biosphere: An agenda for action on biodiversity loss, financial risk and system stability (108pp) warns central banks that that financial institutions and businesses were destroying the natural assets that they depend on by failing to appreciate the severity of the biodiversity crisis. [BIODIVERSITY]

21 MARCH Global Alliance for the Future of Food published Untapped Opportunities For Climate Action. An Assessment of Food Systems in Nationally Determined Contributions (46pp) looks at 14 countries to determine the role the role food systems play in the national climate change plans, finding that many countries overlook opportunities for reducing green-house gas emissions… and some that don’t. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

18 MARCH IEA’s A 10-Point Plan to Cut Oil Use (17pp) published against the background of the invasion of Ukraine, this reports recommends how each of us could cut the used of fossil fuels by adjusting our means of getting from A to B. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

17 MARCH UNEP and ARENDAL’s Spreading like Wildfire: The Rising Threat of Extraordinary Landscape Fires (126pp) suggest that, because of climate change and changes in land use, the incidence severe fires will increase by 30% over the next thirty years and recommends that government policy switch attention to prevention rather than response. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

15 MARCH Clyde & Co’s Biodiversity liability and value chain risk (58pp) can be ordered free from here. The report suggests that there is an increase in the scrutiny of both the dependencies and impacts that companies have on biodiversity and of the increasing harms caused by biodiversity loss, placing new responsibilities on business leaders. [BIODIVERSITY]

9 MARCH WWF’s Bridging the Gap: Translating Political Commitments into an Ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework (28pp) argues that the first draft of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework falls far short of the highest level of ambition to which governments have already committed. Brands action from governments as limited and unambitious. [BIODIVERSITY]

28 FEBRUARY IPCC’s Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (3675pp) and Executive Summary (36pp) looks at the causes, impacts and solutions to climate change. It gives the clearest indication to date of how a warmer world is affecting all the living things on Earth. The outlook is bad, but the authors say that there is still a brief window of time to avoid the very worst. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

23 FEBRUARY UNDESA’s Global Population Growth and Sustainable Development (124pp) argues that although population growth magnifies the harmful impact of economic processes on the environment, the rise in per capita income has been more important than population growth in driving increased production and consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases. {CLIMATE CHANGE]

23 FEBRUARY The IEA’s latest Global Methane Tracker (36pp) documents the largest emitters of this gas which is responsible for 30% of global warming, but suggests that it could be virtually eliminated at no net cost. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

17 FEBRUARY Business for Nature’s Financing Our Survival: Building a Nature Positive Economy through Subsidy Reform (13pp) reviews a wide range of environmentally harmful subsidies across sectors and estimates that the world is spending at least $1.8 trillion a year, equivalent to 2% of global GDP, on subsidies that are driving the destruction of ecosystems and species extinction. [BIODIVERSITY]

16 FEBRUARY CUBE Data Report Climate Change Risk: The Race to Regulation (28pp) shows that a lack of global standardization for climate-related financial regulation has created a confusing, disconnected (and easy to ignore) cross-border compliance landscape. The lack of standardization globally highlights the chasm between what regulators are saying and what they are enacting in the form of rules, regulations and legislation. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

13 FEBRUARY UNEP’s Noise, Blazes And Mismatches Emerging Issues Of Environmental Concern (59pp) warns that life-cycle changes driven by warming temperatures and extreme weather patterns are affecting the natural rhythms of species around the world, often too quickly for them to adapt.[CLIMATE CHANGE/BIODIVERSITY]

10 FEBRUARY CDP’s 2021 report, Engaging the chain: driving speed and scale (32pp) analyses over 11,000 companies and finds that only 28% of companies reported having a low-carbon transition plan in place to meet their climate goals while finds that more than half of suppliers (56%) did not have any climate targets at all. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

8 FEBRUARY WWF’s Impacts of Plastic Pollution in the Oceans on Marine Species, Biodiversity and Ecosystems (228pp) and Executive Summary (10pp) reveals the alarming impact and scale of plastic pollution on ocean species and ecosystems. By 2050 plastic pollution in the oceans could quadruple… and the bad news is that it is irreversible. [BIODIVERSITY]

8 FEBRUARY UNDP’s  New Threats to Human Security in the Anthropocene (188pp) warns that climate change likely to become a leading cause of death worldwide, and could be responsible for 40 million deaths before the end of the century. It calls for a new concept of ‘progress’ and demands greater solidarity across borders to tackle the disconnect between development and perceived security [CLIMATE CHANGE]

7 FEBRUARY The Rights and Resources Initiativ’s Reconciling Conservation and Global Biodiversity Goals with Community Land Rights in Asia (80pp) argues that the fact that globally the territories of indigenous peoples cover 36% of intact forest landscapes and 80% of remaining biodiversity is ignored by exclusionary western policies, undermining grass-roots preservation initiatives. [BIODIVERSITY]

7 FEBRUARY New Climate Institute, Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor (128pp) attempts to measure the difference between bold pledges of 25 major multinationals from their actual performance. Demonstrates clearly that pledges are often misleading and action lethargic. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

3 FEBRUARY Columbia University’s Centre on Global Energy Policy’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions from State-Owned Enterprises: A Preliminary Inventory (38pp) identifies gaping holes in disclosure but suggests that while some are large sources of emissions, others are major providers of low-carbon alternatives. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

27 JANUARY National Academies’ Biodiversity at Risk. Today’s Choices Matter (53pp) provides an easy-to-read examination of the causes of biodiversity loss and it presents actions that can be taken at all levels to stop this decline [BIODIVERSITY]

27 JANUARY WFF/UN’s The State of Finance for Nature in the G20 (44pp) argues nature conservation spending must triple but G20 countries are spending less than half (42%) of what is needed to address the interrelated climate, biodiversity, and land degradation crises, and the gap in the rest of the world is even greater [CLIMATE CHANGE/BIODIVERSITY]

26 JANUARY Hot on the heels of the McKinsey report on net-zero transition, (see immediately below) Deloitte’s analysis The turning point. A new economic climate in the US (52pp) underscores the point that the cost of inaction could cost more than theinvestent needed for a more climate friendly and resilient economy [CLIMATE CHANGE]

25 JANUARY McKinsey’s The net-zero transition What it would cost, what it could bring (224pp) executive summary (64pp) suggests that will require the nations of the world to invest $9.2 trillion a year 2021-2050 to transition to a low carbon economy that runs on 100% renewable energy, though extra net investment is a more manageable $3.5 trillion – a lot but it costs more not to do it. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

19 JANUARY The Circular Economy’s annual report The Circular Gap Report 2022 (48pp) argues that circular solutions can make a major difference to climate change trajectories. The Global economy is consuming 70% more virgin resources than it can replenish, yet we recycle, yet 90% of what we produce goes to waste. It offers 21 solutions to keep global warming to 1.50C [CLIMATE CHANGE]

18 JANUARY Deloitte’s 2022 CxO Sustainability Report: The Disconnect Between Ambition and Impact (23pp) suggests that over the past year business leaders’ apprehensions about the planet’s climate have increased but so too has their optimism. It argues that commitment to decelerate climate change is palpable, and businesses’ actions are gaining momentum. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

18 JANUARY The Environmental Investigation Agency’s Connecting the Dots. Plastic Pollution and the Planetary Emergency (20pp) demonstrates that plastic waste is literally everywhere and is a major threat to all forms of life. It argues the need for a binding treaty governing both plastic production and waste. Soon, the mass of plastic in the oceans will exceed the biomass of the entire fish stock. [BIODIVERSITY, ENVIRONMENT]

10 JANUARY Copernicus Climate Change Service’s press release showed that the last seven years were the world’s warmest “by a clear margin” in records dating back to 1850 and the average global temperature in 2021 was 1.1-1.2C (1.98-2.16F) above 1850-1900 levels. The release gives access the datafiles. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

7 JANUARY Polar Portal’s Season Report 2021 publishes its annual look at state of the Arctic Ice Sheet. It is not good news that it has been losing ice cover, without remission, for the last 25 years. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

2021

27 DECEMBER Christian Aid’s Counting the cost 2021: A year of climate breakdown (22pp) charts ten climate-events, each causing more than $1.5 billion (insurance) losses. Financial costs, which are usually higher in richer countries because they have higher property values and can afford insurance, some of the most devastating extreme weather events in 2021 hit poorer nations, which have contributed little to causing climate change. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

16 DECEMBER UNECE’s Life Cycle Assessment of Electricity Generation Options (107pp) analyzes the environmental profiles of the full lifecycle of various technologies in order to evaluate their “all in” environmental costs and concludes that nuclear is the most environmentally friendly. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

15 DECEMBER American Metrological Society’s Explaining Extreme Events in 2020 from a Climate Perspective presents 18 peer-reviewed analyses of extreme weather across the world in 2020, demonstrating that human influence is creating a new climate. The articles have to be downloaded separately. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

9 DECEMBER FAO State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture – Systems at Breaking Point (82pp) suggests climate change and feedback loops between climate and land present agriculture with amplified levels of risk that need to be managed. A convergence of factors is putting unprecedented pressure on land and water resources, leading to a set of human impacts and shocks in the supply of agricultural products, notably food. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

8 DECEMBER National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration (301pp) and Summary (requires one-off free registration) observes that world’s oceans function as a massive carbon sink, capturing about a quarter of all man-made emissions and offers a ragme of potential solutions to enhance its effects. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

7 DECEMBER FAO’s Assessment of agricultural plastics and their sustainability – A call for action (160pp) observes that soils are one of the main receptors of agricultural plastics and contain larger quantities of microplastics than the oceans.  Agricultural and food packaging use almost 50 million tonnes of plastic products. Asia is responsible for half of the total. Very little is satisfactorily disposed of. [ENVIRONMENT]

6 DECEMBER EU Environmental Bureau’s Removable, Replaceable and Repairable Batteries (61pp) shows that most rechargeable batteries in consumer electronics and e-bikes or scooters are either non-replaceable or non-repairable, resulting in shorter product lifetimes, increased electronic waste, loss of rare materials, and unnecessary expenditure for consumers. [ENVIRONMENT]

1 DECEMBER America’s EPA report From Farm to Kitchen: The Environmental Impacts of Food Waste (113pp) shows that one third of food produced in the USA is not consumed – a figure one third higher than in other richer nations. This report analyses the impact on climate and biodiversity along the value-chain. [CLIMATE CHANGE/BIODIVERSITY]

1 DECEMBER EU, as part of its G7 commitment in July, launches its Global Gateway strategy to boost smart, clean and secure links in digital, energy and transport, and to strengthen health, education and research systems across the world. Aims at mobilising €300 billion in investments between 2021 and 2027. [INFRASTRUCTURE]

30 NOVEMBER Basic, CCFD-Terre Solidaire and Pollinis Pesticides A model that’s costing us dearly (83pp) provides new data on the costs and benefits of the pesticide sector in Europe and on an analysis of recent trends among its main players (BASF, Bayer, Corteva, Syngenta). It suggests that in Europe the costs directly attributable to pesticides are twice as high as the net profits directly made by the industry. [BIODIVERSITY]

29 NOVEMBER Flora & Fauna International New perspectives on an old fishing practice: Scale, context and impacts of bottom trawling (44pp) shows that bottom trawling accounts for 26% of total marine catch but contributes to the decline of fisheries through overfishing, the bycatch of non-target species, and damage to the seabed. [BIODIVERSITY]

26 NOVEMBER CCAG Earth’s Aftermath. Reflecting on COP26 (18pp) blames lack of trust among nations for the disappointment of COP26 as a result of ‘institutionalised unfairness, amplified by criticism of poorer countries.’ At the core lay a failure of richer countries to live up to their financial promises. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

23 NOVEMBER LDES Council’s Net-zero power: Long duration energy storage for a renewable grid (76pp) asserts that by 2040, 10% of all electricity generated could be stored at some stage, and argues that, with support, batteries could achieve considerable cost reductions – no mention of where the raw materials will come from. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

23 NOVEMBER UNDP’s Creating a Nature Positive Future (55pp) shows that, at present, 16.8% of non-Antarctic land and 8.0% of the ocean are protected in some way. It argues for an improvement in the quality of such status, rather than looking only at the quantity. [BIODIVERSITY]

22 NOVEMBER Floundering Around: An assessment of where European retailers stand on the sourcing of farmed fish (36pp) suggests that 76% of the major food chains to have a ‘near-total lack’ of ‘substantive policies’ environmental and ethical issues in fisheries. Especially critical in catching fish for use as fish- or animal-feed. [BIODIVERSITY]

22 NOVEMBER The Global Fishing Index 2021 (31pp) shows that 49% (not one third, as previously assumed) of the world’s assessed fish stocks are now overfished and that a tenth of fish stocks globally are now on the brink of collapse, It argues policies are inadequate in 20 of the 25 main fishing nations. Also has an attractive interactive page [BIODIVERSITY]

17 NOVEMBER IEA’s annual report, Energy Efficiency 2021 (103pp) is the first to incorporate the climate pledges made in COP26. It still sees improvements in energy efficiency, but investment would need to triple if zero emissions are to be reached by 2050. Look here for summary. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

17 NOVEMBER Centre for Biological Diversity and Collective Fashion Justice’s Shear Destruction: Wool, Fashion and the Biodiversity Crisis (30pp) shows that wool comes with ‘a heavy price tag of greenhouse gas emissions, land use, biodiversity loss and pollution’. Nonetheless the industry is still successful in ‘pulling the wool overpeoples eyes.’ A real eye-opener. [BIODIVERSITY]

15 NOVEMBER UK’s Chatham House COP26: What happened, what does this mean, and what happens next? considered that new initiatives have the potential to accelerate decarbonization, but monitoring their implementation and holding governments to account will be critical, and that future COPs provide a platform for doing this.

15 NOVEMBER European Environment Agency briefing Health impacts of air pollution in Europe, 2021 shows that GhG emissions are killing us! Over 350,000 deaths in the EU in 2019 (and that was an improvement over 2018). Coincidentally, the Lancet Countdown Policy Brief for India (6pp) shows over 900,000 premature deaths from anthropogenic PM2.5 alone. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

15 NOVEMBER FAO Forest products in the global bioeconomy (168pp) reviews the quantitative and qualitative understanding of the environmental impacts and benefits of substituting fossil fuel-based or -intensive products with forest-based products. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

13 NOVEMBER. The ‘Glasgow Climate Pact’ with its calls, invites, notes, reaffirms, requests, urges, etc. is the landmark ‘agreement’ after two weeks of talks. No matter that there is no monitoring, no obligation and no cash, the COP ‘process’ registers another success. As the gap between action and result widens, we roll on to next year’s jaunt in Egypt (don’t forget the sun-screen). The Washington Post published a clause-by-clause annotated text. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

10 NOVEMBER. UNU-EHS Interconnected Disaster Risks (62pp) shows the interconnectivity of ten disasters around the world in 2020, making it clear that interconnected solutions, such as nature-based solutions, deserve more attention. Accompanied by a neat infographic. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

9 NOVEMBER The title of Environmental Investigation Agency’s Lethal Remedy. How the promotion of some traditional Chinese medicine in Africa poses a major threat to wildlife (22pp) really needs no further explanation. A few weeks, later it followed up this report with Vietnam’s Footprint in Africa. An analysis of the role of Vietnamese criminal gangs in wildlife trafficking (32pp). [BIODIVERSITY]

9 NOVEMBER. Germanwatch’s latest Climate Change Performance Index is a composite measure combining performance and policies to rank 61 countries. Some people like these things – I don’t. By the way, the Australian government’s policy ranked last. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

9 NOVEMBER. Climate Action Tracker Glasgow’s 2030 Credibility Gap (32pp) projects that with current policies we are heading for a temperature rise of 2.70C and that even if all the pledges and targets for 2030 made are actually met (optimistic scenario) the temperature rise would still be 2.10C. It warns that targets risk just being “lip service to real climate action. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

9 NOVEMBER. CIVICUS Monitor Defenders of our Planet: Resilient in the face of restrictions (28pp) shows how everywhere environmental protests are being criminalised and met with repression – restrictions on protests; judicial harassment and the use of violence, including targeted killings. A total of 227 activists were murdered in 2020 alone. [CLIMATE CHANGE/ENVIRONMENT]

8 NOVEMBER. GI-TOC Plastic for Profit. Tracing illicit plastic waste flows, supply chains and actors (58pp) maps the web of brokers, middlemen, legitimate recycling companies and organized crime groups responsible for shipping plastic waste to poorer countries that had agreed not to accept it. [ENVIRONMENT]

8 NOVEMBER. Christian Aid Lost & Damaged: A study of the economic impact of climate change on vulnerable countries (22pp) warns that, even if temperature rise is held to 1.5oC the most vulnerable nations face a reduction of potential GDP by 13% by 2050 (and almost 20% if policies remain unchanged). [CLIMATE CHANGE]

8 NOVEMBER. WHO 2021 Health and Climate Change Survey Report (96pp) shows that, among the 94 countries surveyed most are becoming more aware of the impact of climate on healthcare regimes, but that poorer countries especially lack the information and the means to do much about it. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

7 NOVEMBER. Accenture/UN Special Sustainability Report Climate Leadership at the Eleventh Hour (41pp) reports on interviews with 1,200 CEOs from 113 countries and 21 industries. Over half believe they are working towards Paris target, but only 2% have set science-based targets. Technology is the future, the problem is to know which to choose and affording it. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

7 NOVEMBER. Washington Post (article by subscription only) suggests that national reports of GhG emissions understate the scope of the problem by 16-23%. ‘If we don’t know the state of emissions today, we don’t know whether we’re cutting emissions meaningfully and substantially and asks how we can counter the problem if we don’t know its size’. Details of the methodology and some findings can be found here. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

5 NOVEMBER. Compassion in World Farming’s Breaking the Taboo: Why Diets Must Change to Tackle Climate Emergency (12pp) states that food production is responsible for one third of GhG emissions, (of which 75% comes from livestock) and that governments are ‘reckless’ in ignoring this. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

4 NOVEMBER. Climate Analytic’s Why gas is the new coal (69pp) argues against the myth that gas is a cleaner ‘bridging fuel’ and observes that it is still a fossil fuel, and should be treated as such. With present trends, by 2030 it will be responsible for 70% of fossil fuel emissions, and will then need to be reined back sharply – it is a bridge to nowhere. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

4 NOVEMBER. The COP26 pledges are becoming weaker. The non-binding Global Coal to Clean Power Statement attracted only 23 national signatories (minus the top six nations using coal-powered generators, responsible for just over 80% of the total) and only after the 2030 commitment was watered down to the 2030’s and 2040’s with a rider ‘or as soon as possible thereafter’. See also Ember’s Global Electricity Review 2021[CLIMATE CHANGE]

4 NOVEMBER. Although the results of Influence Map’s Corporate Climate Policy Footprint (27pp) are fairly predictable, the report switches the focus from countries to businesses and also pulls away the curtain from powerful cross border business associations lobbying against change. Free registration required for download. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

4 NOVEMBER. UNEP’s most recent Adaption Gap Report, The Gathering Storm. Adapting to climate change in a post-pandemic world (104pp) estimates that adaptation costs in developing countries are five to ten times greater than current public adaptation finance flows, and that the gap is widening. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

2 NOVEMBER. Over one hundred nations, but (note!) responsible for only half of global methane emissions, sign-up to the Global Methane Pledge (EU press release here) to reduce emissions by 30% by 2030. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

1 NOVEMBER. UNIFAD Building climate resilience in Asia and the Pacific region (52pp) reviews the outcomes of a UN-funded climate change mitigation programme involving over 500,000 small-holders, identifying many innovations that could successfully be scaled-up, as a foundation for a more ambitious programme. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

1 NOVEMBER. Over one hundred nations, responsible for managing 85% of world’s forests agree Declaration on Forests and Land Use, to stop deforestation by 2030, but it is not legally binding and the pledge is formulated in aggregate, rather than national, terms. Better than nothing? [CLIMATE CHANGE] No sooner is the ink dry than Indonesia’s environment minister was clawing back on its commitment. A week later a group of Brazilian senators explained that their country’s commitment referred only to illegal deforestation

1 NOVEMBER. The OECD’s report Managing Climate Risks. Facing up to Losses and Damages (360pp) predicts that risks will increase but that they are disproportionately distributed, with the poorest countries hit hardest. Free version only available for online reading. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

31 OCTOBER. UNEP An Eye on Methane: International Methane Emissions Observatory 2021 Report (124pp) shows that methane contributes a quarter to current GhG emissions and plans a new, more transparent, souped-up monitoring tool. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

31 OCTOBER. WMO released its provisional report State of Climate in 2021: Extreme events and major impacts (47pp) showing the last seven years to have been the hottest on record, with rapidly rising sea levels and increasing ‘anomalies’ in weather patterns. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

29 OCTOBER. IOM Institutional Strategy on Migration, Environment and Climate Change 2021–2030 (56pp) outlines a strategy whereby migrants, diasporas and their communities directly contribute to climate action and sustainable development in places of origin and destination. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

29 OCTOBER. Save the Children Walking into the Eye of the Storm: How the Climate Crisis is Driving Child Migration and Deplacement (94pp) observes that three times as many migrants move for climate change reasons than from violence and war, with children bearing the brunt of the problems through malnutrition, disease and mental trauma. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

28 OCTOBER. UNESCO World Heritage forests: Carbon sinks under pressure (31pp) suggest that ten of the 257 forests surveyed are now net contributors to GhG emissions, due to human activity exacerbated by extreme weather leading to wildfires and droughts. Even so, the Heritage forests together remove 190 million tons of CO2 a year. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

28 OCTOBER. UNCTAD Trade and Development Report 2021. From Recovery to Resilience: The Development Dimension (83pp) observes that current funding is less than a quarter of what is needed to reach the 2030 target of $300 billion annually and warns that private finance will not be sufficient for the neediest countries and proposes a five-point plan to ensure a development-led approach to climate adaptation [CLIMATE CHANGE]

28 OCTOBER. CMCC (Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change) G20 Climate Change Atlas (459pp) gives detailed projections for the world’s 20 largest economies but also in the more digestible form of an interactive site. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

27 OCTOBER. China’s State Council Responding to Climate Change outlines the principles guiding China’s policies and emphasises that the country is ‘walking the talk’ towards carbon neutrality. Announces that China is working with relevant partners to build a green silk road’. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

27 OCTOBER. World Resources Institute State of Climate Action 2021. Systems Transformations Required to Limit Global Warming to 1.5°C (249pp) assesses 40 transitions required to avoid the worst climate impacts. Of the 40 indicators assessed, none are on track to reach 2030 targets. Change is heading in the right direction at a promising but insufficient speed for only 8 and in the right direction but well below the required pace for another 17. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

27 OCTOBER. World Resources Institute 9 Facts About Community Land and Climate Mitigation (23pp) demonstrates how securing land and forest rights of Indigenous peoples and other local communities (IPLCs) prevents deforestation and destruction contributing to climate change. This is supported by PRISMA Territorial Finance. Empowering Grass Roots Climate Action (40pp) call for redressing a situation whereby IPCLs hold 25% of global carbon but receive less than 1% of official global financial assistance for climate change. [BIODIVERSITY/CLIMATE CHANGE]

27 OCTOBER. Global Center on Adaptation State and Trends in Adaptation in Africa Report 2021 – How Adaptation Can Make Africa Safer, Greener and More Prosperous in a Warming World shows that Africa will experience higher relative impacts (relative to GDP) than most other world regions, even though it is less responsible for GhG emissions. Action now will cost considerably less than the costs of inaction at a ratio of 12.1. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

26 OCTOBER. UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2021: The Heat Is On – A World of Climate Promises Not Yet Delivered (112pp) shows that even with existing national pledges for net zero emissions by 2030, there is a 66% chance of the world hitting a global temperature rise of 2.7°C by the end of the century. Additional implementation of net-zero targets could reduce this figure to 2,2oC but those plans are currently ambiguous. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

25 OCTOBER. TNI’s Global Climate Wall. How the world’s wealthiest nations prioritise borders over climate action (65pp) suggests that richer nations are failing to provide necessary climate finance, yet seem to have limitless budgets for borders and immigration enforcement. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

25 OCTOBER. UNDP G20. The Peoples’ Climate Vote (60pp) opinions poll reveals the gaps between what the younger generation want from climate action versus the agendas their governments are pursuing. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

25 OCTOBER. UN’s Nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement Revised synthesis report (FCCC/PA/CMA/2021/8/Rev.1) provides the updated synthesis report on national commitments, confirming what we already knew – countries are increasing their pledges on paper, but not enough to meet the targets and unlikely even to meet their own national targets. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

22 OCTOBER. WWF Deforestation Fronts. Drivers and Responses in a Changing World (125pp) describes how conditions in half of the 24 ‘deforestation fronts’ investigated had deteriorated this century, driven largely by land clearance for agriculture and plantations. [BIODIVERSITY]

21 OCTOBER. UNEP From Pollution to Solution: A global assessment of marine litter and plastic pollution (151pp) and Synthesis (44pp) shows that plastics constitute 85% of all marine waste and threatens all ecosystems from source to sea. [BIODIVERSITY]

21 OCTOBER. US Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) Climate Change and International Responses Increasing Challenges to US National Security Through 2040 (27pp) paints a bleak picture of a world failing to co-operate, leading to dangerous competition and instability, with implications not just for the USA. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

20 OCTOBER. GreenPeace’s Unearth team reports on a second leak of thousands of documents which illustrate how governments are attempting to water down the IPCC’s conclusions in the build-up towards the COP26 summit. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

19 OCTOBER. UNEP Production Gap Report 2021 (104pp) reviews the fossil-fuel plans of fifteen major producing countries and shows that (by 2030) they are on line to be producing twice as much fossil-fuel as would be consistent with the 1.5C warming target. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

18 OCTOBER. Science Panel for the Amazon releases the executive summary of its Amazon Assessment Report. 2021 (42pp). Despite its bleak description of the degradation of 17% of the forest, its message for building a ‘liveable and sustainable’ Amazon is surprisingly upbeat. [CLIMATE CHANGE/BIODIVERSITY]

18 OCTOBER. World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) State of Climate in Africa (44pp) highlights Africa’s disproportionate vulnerability and shows that rising temperatures and more extreme weather contributed to mounting food insecurity, poverty and displacement. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

14 OCTOBER. NYDF Taking Stock of National Climate Action for Forests (60pp) examines the progress of 32 forest nations towards the undertakings they accepted back in 2014. No surprise that at the time only ten even bothered to adopt measurable targets. Conclusion – ‘there is a yawning gap between where governments are and where they need to be’ [CLIMATE CHANGE]

14 OCTOBER. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Nuclear Science and Technology for Climate Adaptation and Resilience A Reference Document (41pp) promotes nuclear energy’s potential contribution to mitigating the effects of climate change. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

13 OCTOBER. After much haggling over the language, one hundred nations endorse the Kunming Declaration pledging the protection of habitats. However, the text contains no specific targets and makes no binding commitments. They meet again in April 2022. Look here for a critical blog-post. [BIODIVERSITY]

13 OCTOBER. European Commission’s Review of the application of Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species shows that, since 2015, the regulation has indeed helped limit the spread of invasives. The regulation covers 30 animal species and 36 plant species and the report records 57(of135) cases where invasives have been detected and eliminated. [BIODIVERSITY]

13 OCTOBER. EY and Microsoft’s Waking up to nature – the biodiversity imperative in financial services calls for financial service sector to adopt a more pro-active approach to supporting nature whilst recording that the world’s investment banks invested $2.6 trillion in destructive investments in 2019 alone. [BIODIVERSITY]

13 OCTOBER. IEA (International Energy Agency) World Energy Outlook 2021 (386pp) suggests that current pledges at greenhouse gas reductions from the energy sector are less than one fifth of those requited to meet the Paris Accords target for 2030. See also the useful executive summary. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

12 OCTOBER. NRDC’s A Bad Biomass Bet. Why the leading approach to biomass energy with carbon capture and storage isn’t carbon negative (9pp) study of the USA, incorporating the whole supplychain, shows that burning biomass for electricity will worsen climate change, rather than reduce carbon emissions. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

11 OCTOBER. WHO The Health Argument for Climate Action (82pp) observes that increasingly frequent extreme weather events kill thousands and threaten healthcare systems. Changes in climate jeopardises food security and drives up food-, water- and vector-borne diseases. Every year, air pollution from burning fossil fuels causes almost seven million deaths worldwide. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

8 OCTOBER. State Council Biodiversity Conservation in China pledges to treat biodiversity conservation as an important part of eco-civilization, and continue to modernize its biodiversity governance system and capabilities. [BIODIVERSITY]

7 OCTOBER. IEA Curtailing Methane Emissions from Fossil Fuel Operations (56pp) suggests policies to cut methane emissions by 75% by 2030. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

7 OCTOBER. The IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) published The Biodiversity Advantage (52pp) which highlights five of its regional biodiversity projects to emphasise the importance of biodiversity for the sustainability of small-scale agriculture. [BIODIVERSITY]

5 OCTOBER. WMO (World Meteorological Organisation) publishes 2021 State of Climate Services (46pp) shows that since 2000, flood-related disasters have increased by 134%, and the number and duration of droughts also increased by 29%. However, the majority of the world’s countries are unlikely by 2030 to hit the goal of sustainably managing their water resources. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

21 SEPTEMBER. OXFAM’s media briefing Confronting Carbon Inequality (14pp) makes clear the contribution of the richest nations/peoples to the accumulation of GhG emissions -the richest 1% responsible for 15% of cumulative GhG added to the atmosphere 1990-2015. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

14 SEPTEMBER. Meat Atlas 2021 (76pp) published jointly by Heinrich Böll Stiftung and Friends of the Earth translated the direct and indirect GhG from meat and dairy back to the companies involved. The five biggest meat and dairy firms together have a larger carbon footprint than oil giants such as ExxonMobil or BP. [CLIMATE CHANGE] See earlier report March 2018

11 SEPTEMBER WWF Living Planet Report 2020. Bending the curve of biodiversity loss (83pp) Uses multiple models and newly developed scenarios to explore how addressing increased conservation efforts and a transformation in the food system (reducing waste and changing diets) in an integrated way might help reverse the trend of biodiversity loss. [BIODIVERSITY]

10 SEPTEMBER. 6th IUCN Red List 2017–2020 Report provides the most up-to-date list of endangered species, with as many as 28% of all identified species threatened with extinction. (Access to their database is free, after registration). [BIODIVERSITY]

7 SEPTEMBER. The GCRMN (Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network) published the Status of Coral Reefs on the World, 2020 (180pp) the first global report in thirteen years. It showed that in the last decade hard coral coverage had declined by 14% whilst the algae cover had increased by 20% – neither trend was good. The largest damage was in the seas of South Asia and Australia. [BIODIVERSITY]

1 SEPTEMBER. Botanical Gardens Conservation International State of the World’s Trees (52pp) reports that one third of the world’s trees are in danger of extinction in the wild. The main drivers are crop production, timber logging and livestock farming, increasingly exacerbated by climate change. [BIODIVERSITY]

31 AUGUST WMO Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes (1970–2019) (90pp) calculates that calculated that disasters caused by weather have multiplied and are causing seven times more damage today than in the 1970s. On the positive side, improved early warnings and better emergency management practices have slashed disaster related death rates. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

18 AUGUST. Scientist Rebellion release a leaked draft of Chapter One and Summary of IPCC Climate Change 2021: Mitigation. Without a systemic shift in energy production and use, it is impossible to avert temperature rises substantially higher than 1.50C… but the draft shows that it is possible, f we act decisively and (very, very) soon. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

7 AUGUST. IPCC Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis (3939pp) or the Summary for Policy Makers (42pp). The report demonstrates that the combined effects of human activity have already increased the global average temperature by about 1.1°C above the late 19th-century average. All five of the report’s temperature scenarios show the 1.5°C marker will be passed by 2040. Only one suggests that it could cool down afterwards. NOTE This report was only concerned with the science behind climate change. The report on mitigation is not expected until February 2022. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

JULY. UN Working Group present their First Draft of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (12pp) for the Kunming Conference, aiming at conserving at least 30% of the world’s land and oceans, at eliminating plastic waste and reducing the use of pesticides by at least two thirds. [BIODIVERSITY]

17 JUNE UNDRR GAR Special Report on Drought 2021 (210pp) predicts that most of the world will be living with water stress within the next few years. Demand will outstrip supply during certain periods, and there will be land degradation and declines in the yield of major crops. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

13 JUNE. G7 communique after their meeting in Cornwall (UK) Our Shared Agenda for Global Action to Build Back Better confirms their commitment towards greener economic development and includes a pledge to create values-driven and transparent partnership to provide infrastructure to low- and middle-income countries (although China’s BRI is not specifically mentioned). [INFRASTRUCTURE]

27 MAY. UNEP State of Finance for Nature (65pp) pleads for more ‘nature-based solutions’ to mitigate impact of climate change. At present $113 billion annually spent, over a third on the protection of biodiversity and landscapes and nearly two-thirds on forest restoration, peatland restoration, regenerative agriculture, water conservation and natural pollution control systems [CLIMATE CHANGE]

6 MAY. CCCA and UNEP Global Methane Assessment (173pp) suggests that if methane emissions (far more powerful than carbon but shortlived) are reduced by 45%, it can prevent a 0.30C rise in global temperatures and prevent a quarter of a million deaths per year. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

MARCH. Yale University’s map of Life project launches a Map of Undiscovered Life, indicating the probable unexplored areas for terrestrial species. [BIODIVERSITY]

2020

SEPTEMBER. The European Commission, reacting to Feasibility and Scoping Study for the Commission to Become Climate Neutral by 2030. Final Report (292pp) determined to convert the recommendations into European law Stepping up Europe’s 2030 climate ambition Investing in a climate-neutral future for the benefit of our people COM/2020/562 final. The measures would help achieve a higher target for a reduction of GhG emissions (from 40% to 55%) compared with 1990 levels and for the European Union to become carbon neutral by 2050. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

15 SEPTEMBER. Paulson Institute Financing Nature. Closing the Global Biodiversity Financing Gap (262pp) calculates that it would cost US$ 722-967 billion each year over the next ten years to reverse the decline in biodiversity by 2030, five times the rate of current expenditure. [BIODIVERSITY]

10 SEPTEMBER. WWF Living Planet Report 2020. Bending the Curve of Biodiversity Loss (83pp) shows that planet’s wildlife populations have now plummeted by 68% since 1970 – and there are no signs that this downward trend is slowing. Suggests that the main cause of the dramatic decline in species populations on land is habitat loss and degradation, including deforestation, driven by how we as humanity produce food. [BIODIVERSITY]

AUGUST. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity published its fifth Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 (211pp) confirming that species were declining at an unprecedented rate, and with no signs of any abatement. [BIODIVERSITY]

JULY. The Living Planet Index (Lpi) For Migratory Freshwater Fish, suggest that the global population of migratory fish has declined by 76% since 1970, with Europe and Latin America the worst affected. [BIODIVERSITY]

MAY. FAO and UNEP The State of the World’s Forests 2020. Forests, biodiversity and people (214pp) reported (good news) that the rate of forest loss is slowing but (bad news) it is still continuing and there is no chance at all of meeting the UN goal of increasing global forest acreage by 3% by 2030. [BIODIVERSITY]

2019

SEPTEMBER. World Energy Council World Energy Scenarios 2019. Exploring Innovation Pathways to 2040 (152pp) offers three scenarios for energy output, each with different balances between fossil fuel use and renewables. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

MAY. IPBES Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Summary (60pp) describes how ecosystems and biodiversity are deteriorating faster than at any time in human history and stresses that only urgent action can avoid

APRIL. UN Secretary-General António Guterres Remarks at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation endorses China’s BRI as ‘an important space where green principles can be reflected in green action’. [INFRASTRUCTURE]

FEBRUARY. FAO The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture (576pp) points out that more than one million animal and plant species are at risk of extinction over the next few decades. Climate change is the direct cause of decreasing biodiversity. Further causes include changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation of organisms, pollution and invasive species. [BIODIVERSITY]

2018

OCTOBER. IPCC Special Report. Global Warming of 1.5°C (630pp) Go here for Summary for Policymakers. The report suggests that a failure to meet the 1.5°C target, even by 0.5°C would have severe and dangerous consequences. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

SEPTEMBER. Global Wetland Outlook: State of the World’s Wetlands and their Services to People (88pp) reports that since 1970 the world has lost 35% of its wetlands, leaving 25% of wetland dependent species threatened with extinction. Although 2,300 sites world-wide are listed as important, less than half have an effective management plan. [BIODIVERSITY]

AUGUST. IPBES The Assessment Report on Land Degradation and Restoration (748pp) observes that land degradation affects livelihoods of 3.2 billion people and is responsible for 10 per cent of global biodiversity loss [CLIMATE CHANGE/BIODIVERSITY]

MARCH. World Bank’s Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration (256pp) shows that in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America over 148 million people (2.8% of their populations) could be forced to abandon their homes due to effects of climate change. [CLIMATE CHANGE] See Follow-up 13 September 2021

2017

SEPTEMBER. The UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework (9pp) aimed at reducing desertification by improved land and water management, but lacking targets and teeth. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

JULY. G20 Global Infrastructure Outlook (220pp) report published, estimating the global need for infrastructure by 2040 at $94 trillion (plus a further $3.5 trillion to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals) but there was a finance gap of $15 trillion. In 2018 the estimates were finetuned, and a few more countries added to the detailed breakdown. The searchable database is here. NOTE: China accounts for $28 trillion of the investment and the developed countries for another $33 trillion. Together they also account for $7.2 trillion of the finance gap. [INFRASTRUCTURE]

MAY. Asia Africa Growth Corridor, Partnership for Sustainable and Innovative Development. A Vision Document (16pp) stemmed from a joint India/Japan summit six months earlier, committing the two countries to pursue developmental cooperation ‘responsive to the needs of African countries.’ At a speech the following month President Shinzo Abe stressed the need to keep infrastructure construction open, transparent, fair and financially feasible for recipient nations. [INFRASTRUCTURE]

APRIL. UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030 (16pp) aimed at increasing global forest cover by 3% by 2030, but without any regional breakdown of responsibilities. [BIODIVERSITY]

APRIL. CPC Central Committee and State Council Guidance on Promoting Green Belt and Road committing the government to regulate BRI projects abroad with the aim of protecting biodiversity and the environment but stopping short of applying Chinese standards on projects abroad. [INFRASTRUCTURE]

2016

MAY. Japan proposes an Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure (5pp) and pledges $200 billion for the project. [INFRASTRUCTURE]

2015

DECEMBER. United Nations Paris Agreement (27pp). 195 nations agreed that the world would strive to limit the global rise to 1.5°C but the individual pledges were so modest that it was always unlikely that the target would be reached. In June 2017, the USA withdrew from the agreement only to re-join in April 2021. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

JUNE. Articles of Agreement of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. A separate text on interpretation of the articles was included. The AIIB was a Chinese initiative to direct international funding towards infrastructural projects. The USA and Japan were the main countries not to join. [INFRASTRUCTURE]

MARCH. Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. The first statement of intent of China’s BRI, though oriented more inwards towards China itself, so we remained none the wiser. NOTE As construction loans and contracts multiplied, it was clear that the operation involved spending on a massive scale, but there has never been an official clarification of what constituted a BRI project nor an official list of projects. The conflation of development loans and FDI makes quantitative analysis almost impossible. [INFRASTRUCTURE]

2014

NOVEMBER. UN Strategic Plan for Migratory Species 2015-2023 (30pp). The report implied criticism of the of the UN’s ‘institutional’ approach in favour of a realistic approach to protecting migratory routes and conserving endangered species. [BIODIVERSITY]

JANUARY. IPCC Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (167pp). A cautious statement that ‘It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.’ The estimates for the effects remained largely unchanged from those made seven years earlier. [CLIMATE CHANGE]

2013

SEPTEMBER. President Xi Jinping Speech at Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan (summary). See also whole speech in Video. This speech marked the official launch of China’s infrastructure and connectivity plan for Eurasia, later known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). [INFRASTRUCTURE]

2011

MARCH. Yale University’s Map of Life project constructed a database (and searchable map) of all recorded life on the planet. [BIODIVERSITY]

2010

OCTOBER. UN Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity (15pp). Members agree to a fair and equitable sharing of genetic resources as a means towards their conservation and sustainable development. At the same meeting they adopted The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (13pp). Most of the targets were (deliberately) vaguely formulated and even so, none of them were met. [BIODIVERSITY]

PREHISTORIES

It is intended, eventually, to stretch these milestones backwards in time. But, for now, we have provided a short pre-history.

CLIMATE CHANGE. Against a backdrop of news stories on retreating icecaps, in 1988 the UN created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Its first reports tentatively suggested that human action might have been responsible. By 1997 the evidence was sufficient to prompt governments to agree the Kyoto Protocol (whereby richer countries undertook to reduce their green-house gas emissions relative to the levels of 1990) although the agreement, minus the USA, only took effect in 2005. By that stage, scientists were convinced that the world would be lucky to hold temperature increases to less than 1.5°C.

BIODIVERSITY. The growing awareness that the use of pesticides and the destruction of habitat was leading to the endangerment and disappearance led the UN in 1993 to endorse a Convention on Biodiversity, that urged upon countries the need for sustainable development and species preservation.

INFRASTRUCTURE. For centuries economists have recognised that the provision of infrastructure was a necessary but insufficient condition for economic development. By the early 1980’s, however, the World Bank began to place more emphasis on governance as a precondition for providing development assistance (the famous ‘Washington consensus’) and reined back on the provision of infrastructure. The Asian Development Bank was an exception and in 2009 it published a report suggesting that the continent would need $13 trillion in infrastructural investment over the following decade.