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The UN Calls for Holistic Approach on Climate, Biodiversity, Pollution

Sustainability News
by Tim Wenger Feb 26, 2021

This is The Climate Win, the most positive sustainability news around the world every week.

When you think of the general issue of “climate change,” it’s easy to cast the problem of a warming planet in broad strokes and mathematical formulas. A hotter world melts polar ice caps, sea levels rise, and as a result, coastal cities flood. The same hotter world means shorter winters, which diminishes snowpack in mountainous areas, leading to strained river basins and expansive wildfires.

This is one way to gain an understanding of how climate change impacts the planet and why it’s so concerning. Because they’re so mathematical and documented, these issues also make great talking points for those who disbelieve climate science or pull out the tried-but-proven-false “we can’t destroy the economy” line when asked why they don’t support action to address climate change. The economy of the future, in fact, depends entirely upon sustainable business and government practices.

But a changing climate is far more complex than rising temperatures and shorter winters. It turns out that it’s indelibly linked to other aspects of our environment. As David Attenborough pointed out in his film A Life On Our Planet, protecting biodiversity can actually help slow down the changing climate. Tackling the climate crisis requires an all-in approach to restoring eco-balance across the world, in an effort to protect our climate, wild spaces, and yes, the global economy we depend on.

It’s good news that the United Nations has incorporated the latest science and has announced a more holistic approach to addressing the climate crisis. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released a new report outlining a call to action to address climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution in a post-pandemic world. The report came following the Fifth United Nations Environment Assembly, UNEA-5, which took place this week. The group adopted an increasingly aggressive strategy to address the climate crisis through 2025 that will see them engage deeper with UN member states, agencies, the private sector, and youth.

“This strategy is about providing science and know-how to governments. The strategy is also about collective, whole-of-society action — moving us outside ministries of environment to drive action,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen in a press release.

Andersen noted a renewed commitment to building a global “circular economy” that drastically reduces waste and pollution, and to increase the use of forests as emissions reducers, taken in context to mean efforts to flip the switch on deforestation. The coming years will tell how active and effective their efforts are, but the UNEA-5 summit appears to be a turning point for global cooperation in addressing the climate crisis.

It’s happening here in the United States, too. An “America Is All In” effort has been launched by private groups and businesses to coincide with the US’ rejoining of the Paris Agreement. The group includes cities, counties, and businesses across the country. You can add your name or business to America Is All In and join the movement.

More climate wins

Public lands advocates, raise a toast this weekend. William Perry Pendley is out at the Bureau of Land Management. The longtime activist for the privatization of public lands is being replaced by Nada Culver, a Denver-based environmental attorney who has spent her career advocating for environmental causes. The Colorado Sun reported this week that Culver will become acting deputy director until a permanent director is hired.

Virginia’s senate this week approved a bill to boost EV deployment in the state and to enforce stricter tailpipe emissions standards on other vehicles within the state. The Virginia House of Delegates will now approve amendments, before being sent to Governor Ralph Northam for his signature into law.

Tea company Tazo has partnered with the nonprofit group American Forests to increase tree cover in low-income neighborhoods across the country, Fast Company reported this week. This could reduce temperatures in those neighborhoods and make them more equitable, along with having cleaner air — a big step in addressing environmental justice in urban areas.

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