standard COP16 update

Despite severely cold weather in the UK and other parts of the world, 2010 is one of the top three warmest years on record. (World Meteorological Organisation)

This year is one of the warmest years on record and 2001-2010 is the warmest decade in history, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.  New developments in COP16 thus far include Japan saying it will no longer back the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012, the first international agreement to reduce carbon emissions that was founded in Kyoto.  Although Japanese officials say that they would sign on to a new legally binding agreement with other countries that also pledge to reduce their emissions over time.  This may send the wrong message to large developing countries such as India and China who are equally if not more concerned about rich nations doing their part to combat the rise in global temperature.

Satellite image of rainforest deforestation in Brazil.

The media has caught onto Brazil’s announcement of reducing rainforest deforestation, currently at its lowest level since satellite image recording of the rainforest began 23 years ago.  Still, 6400 km of the Amazon was decimated between August 2009 and July 2010, but according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, this area of destruction is 13.5% smaller than what was destroyed 12 months ago.  A preliminary survey shows a 47.5% decline over the past 12 months (based on low-resolution imaging that only accounts for large clear-cuts).  This decline in deforestation is perhaps largely due to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) that uses marketing and financial incentives to reduce greenhouse emissions from deforestation and degradation.  REDD is being used in countries throughout the world to reduce deforestation and is also coordinated by the UN (see UN-REDD).  Although whether it will include input from local indigenous people who live in the rain forests is another story and REDD has received criticism of this in the past.

The UK has also had its share of deforestation and not long ago its ancient woodlands were reported to be ‘lost faster than the Amazon’ based on a report by the Woodland Trust.  The rise in global temperature is viewed by researchers to be a major culprit in species migration and extinction.  According to Natural England: ‘24% of butterflies, 22% of amphibians, 15% of dolphins and whales, 14% of stoneworts, 12% of terrestrial mammals and 12% of stoneflies have been lost from England’ (see full report).  The IHRR programme of research, Ecosystems and Climatic Change is particularly keen on developing adaptive management strategies as climate change continues to threaten biodiversity.  Some of this research was reported in this post — Mapping Climate Space.

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