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Top Sustainability News #9

Alexandre Risser
You don't want to miss out on the latest news related to carbon markets and sustainable development. Find out our Top Sustainability News! 

“Russia Wants to Use a Forest Bigger Than India to Offset Carbon”

According to the Climate Action Tracker, the sustainability strategy of Russia is "critically insufficient." 

"Russia, the world's biggest energy exporter and one of its largest polluters, is creating a digital platform to collect satellite and drone data about the CO₂ absorption capacity of the region's forests. The aim ostensibly is to monetize an area nearly twice the size of India by turning it into a marketplace for companies to offset their carbon footprint." To answer the international community's growing pressure, Russia wants to show that its position toward Climate Change has changed, through this initiative that has the objective of strengthening its environmental policy. Russia has a large amount of  forests, with more than 640 billion trees; however, a large part of them are poorly managed and thus do not optimize their carbon sequestration potential. One important consequence of this lack of management is the increasing number of forest fires due to global warming. 

This policy will allow organizations to offset their emissions through the support of the management of these forests. "Russia's managed forests are estimated to have absorbed nearly 620 million tons of CO₂ equivalent in 2018, according to the nation's latest data, enough to offset around 38% of national emissions." 

Nevertheless, several criticisms have emerged. Mainly, they concern the lack of data regarding the forests, which is key to show ‘additionality’, as well as information that shows the amount of CO2 captured as a result of forest management.  Interesting to note that Canada is also planning a similar initiative. More and more countries see the carbon offset market as a solution to preserve their forests.

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“New study calls on sports to end sponsorship deals with ‘high carbon polluters”

Sport is bound to sponsorships to become economically attractive. To meet the Paris Agreement, all actors of society should become more sustainable. This new study wants to raise awareness of athletes and organizations to reduce their dependence on high carbon polluters practicing "sport-wash." But what is "sport-wash"? " ' Sports-wash' happens when heavily polluting industries sponsor sport to appear as friends of healthy activity, when in fact they're pumping lethal pollution into the very air that athletes have to breathe and wrecking the climate that sport depends on."

The report highlights the importance of consistency between setting sustainability goals and choosing the appropriate sponsors. For example, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is supported by Toyota and Emirates airline, while it is also part of the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework and aims to become carbon neutral. This shows the types of controversies we might encounter in Sport.

"'Many high carbon companies controversially sign onto scientifically dubious carbon offsetting programs, while keeping their core business practices largely unchanged,' the study said. 'It's equally questionable for sports organizations to claim climate neutrality while accepting money from companies who are directly undermining their climate commitments." Increasingly sports clubs are committing themselves to the UN’s Climate Action Initiative, such as Arsenal; however, climate awareness and sustainable practices should continue to be promoted. 

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“China, US to set up joint working group on climate change — report”

In most cases, China and the United States stand on opposite sides; however, it seems that common ground has been found to fight climate change. This first meeting in Alaska between President Biden and Xi Jinping could announce the good news to have further ambitious climate actions. It is important to note that to remember both countries represent more than 40% of world CO2 emissions. In addition, both countries  have significant soft power and can influence many other countries' behavior. To fight global warming we will need action from all nations, but especially from those two superpowers. 

"The incredible and rapid growth of wind power in the region has been led by China, which now has more wind power capacity than Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America combined." China stands nowadays as a major renewable energy producer, especially for wind power, and has already pledged to become carbon neutral by 2060. During the Trump administration, this strong commitment from China and the withdrawal from the USA's Paris Agreement will force the Biden administration to start a tremendous shift in the United States' environmental policy. The US has already come back to the Paris Agreement a few hours after President Biden took office, showing its importance. 

A race toward sustainability and climate action between the USA and China could benefit the fight against global warming. Who do you think will be the sustainable leader of tomorrow? 

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Article written by Alexandre Risser