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COP28 Nibbles Around the Edges of Climate Action
From Stephanie Feldstein, Population and Sustainability Program Director
After years of being virtually ignored, the critical role food and agriculture play in the climate crisis finally got a seat at the table at COP28. During the global climate conference’s first-ever day dedicated to food, agriculture, and water, the United Nations released a roadmap to align food system emissions with the targets set by the Paris Agreement. Unfortunately the roadmap fails to identify the necessary reductions in meat and dairy and instead detours toward false solutions like biogas.
As I pointed out in my op-ed in The Hill, focusing on food could push us in the wrong direction if we’re served up false solutions like biogas, regenerative agriculture, “carbon farming,” offset schemes, “sustainable intensification,” and carbon credit. Bringing food systems into the conversation is a key step in fighting the climate crisis, but it needs to be paired with action and accountability for the biggest polluters.
Read on to learn more about COP28’s gender agenda, how climate change affects our reproductive decisions, and some last-minute tips to simplify the upcoming holidays.
Though it’s a well-known fact that PFAS chemicals pose a threat to people and the planet, a new analysis finds that these “forever chemicals” are harming wildlife, from sea turtles to polar bears. Researchers found serious conditions in wildlife caused by PFAS exposure — including liver damage and developmental and reproductive issues — putting threatened and endangered species at even greater risk.
Have a Holly Jolly Sustainable Holiday
The materialism of the winter holidays can threaten to overshadow the cheer and joy of the season. As we reach the final weeks of 2023 and prepare to ring in the new year, the Center is encouraging people to choose more joy and less stuff this time around.
Population and Sustainability Media Specialist Kim Dinan wrote in Business Insider about how to cut down on waste during the holidays when you have kids, including how to encourage others to support your eco-friendly wishes.
“Toys don’t last, but memories do,” writes Dinan. “Giving experiences instead of stuff is a great way to make the holidays more sustainable.” And Center organizer Malia Becker shared tips and tricks with Earth911 on how to entertain sustainably during the holiday season. “It may be a change from what we’re used to,” writes Becker. “But alternative gifts, DIY decorations, and simplifying how we entertain will add tremendous joy and meaning to holiday celebrations.”
Here’s one thing you can do: Visit our Simplify the Holidays website for last-minute sustainable gift ideas and other sustainable holiday hacks.
Climate change exacerbates gender inequality and disproportionately affects the livelihood, health, and safety of women and girls around the world. On the frontlines of the climate crisis, women have invaluable experiences and expertise to advance a just transition. This year’s climate conference recognized the crucial role of women with dozens of events on how inclusive, gender-responsive climate action can create a just, equitable, and feminist future.
Center campaigner Kelley Dennings joined a COP28 panel alongside Indigenous leaders to discuss how burning fossil fuels harms reproductive health. Dennings also published an op-ed in Environmental Health News about how extreme heat, pollution and other factors in climate change harm pregnant people and their babies. These connections show how reproductive justice is climate justice.
Here’s one thing you can do: Listen to Dennings talk about how the climate crisis is a reproductive health issue on a recent episode of the “Nurses for Justice” podcast.
Climate Change Influences Reproductive Decisions
A growing number of people are considering climate change before deciding whether to start a family. A newly published systematic review of climate change, mental health and reproductive decision-making in the Global North reveals that climate change concerns resulted in less positive attitudes toward reproduction and a desire and/or intent for fewer children or none at all.
The authors found four themes that explained the relationship between climate change and reproductive decisions: uncertainty about the future of an unborn child, environmentalist views centered on population and overconsumption, meeting family subsistence needs, and environmental and political sentiments.
Here’s one thing you can do: Watch The Climate Baby Dilemma panel discussion from our recent film series to hear different perspectives on having children in the age of climate crisis.
The Fallacy of Climate-Friendly Beef
The Center has long maintained that there’s no such thing as climate-friendly beef. Animal agriculture, with beef as the main offender, produces 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a leading source of methane and deforestation, accelerating warming and destroying ecosystems necessary to mitigate climate change. But the truth is that the only way to make beef climate-friendly is to produce a whole lot less of it.
A new article in Truthdig takes a hard look at how industrial-scale cattle farming hurts the planet. As Senior Food Campaigner Jennifer Molidor writes, “Cattle can be considered an invasive species. The more cattle we produce, the more the land suffers.”
Here’s one thing you can do: Read more about how cattle drive climate change.
Costco: Stop Lobster Sales to Save Whales
Millions of traps are set each year in critical whale habitat to catch American lobsters. Fishing lines connect traps to the ocean’s surface and create difficult, dangerous mazes for right whales and other wildlife to navigate.
Despite having seafood sustainability commitments in place, Costco continues to sell American lobster from fisheries that put critically endangered North Atlantic right whales and other marine species at risk of entanglement, injury and death. That’s why we’re asking Costco to put whales first and stop all purchases of American lobster from fisheries that fail to protect imperiled marine species from fishing gear.
Here’s one thing you can do: Add your name to the growing list of advocates asking Costco to stop lobster sales to save whales.
Wildlife Spotlight: Wolverine
Wolverines are known as fierce critters who’ll take on animals several times their size. But they’re no match for the threat of massive habitat loss due to climate change. And wolverines depend on deep snow through late spring to dig dens in the snowpack so they birth and raise their young.
After more than a century of trapping and habitat loss, wolverines today exist only as small, fragmented populations in the contiguous United States. Scientists estimate that no more than 300 wolverines remain in the lower 48 states.
But more than a decade of campaigning by the Center and other conservation groups has finally paid off. In late November the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will protect wolverines in the lower 48 states as threatened under the Endangered Species Act — a decision that will give these rare carnivores the protection they need to recover.
Center for Biological Diversity | Saving Life on Earth
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Photo credits: Cattle via Canva; green sea turtle by Mark Sullivan/NOAA; holiday table setting by ProFlowers/Flickr; climate rally by Jean Su/Center for Biological Diversity; protest sign that reads "Nobody puts (my unborn) baby in a climate emergency" by John Englart/Flickr; beef cattle feedlot courtesy USDA; North Atlantic right whale by Allison Henry/NOAA Fisheries; wolverine by William F. Wood/Wikimedia Commons.
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