Ecologic Institute Newsletter No 230 – November 2021
Nature as a key
- Ecologic Institute Newsletter
COP26: Nature recognized as key in addressing the climate crisis
This month, the world's eyes were on Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). The pressure on countries to present ambitious plans to reduce carbon emissions in the coming decade was greater than ever before, with the freshly released UNEP Emissions Gap Report revealing that the world is headed for a catastrophic warming of at least 2.7°C degrees this century. If fully implemented, the announcements made at the COP26 – e.g. the Global Methane Pledge or India's plan to obtain 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 – will edge the world closer to reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement. However, they are still clearly insufficient to limit warming to 1.5°C degrees compared to preindustrial levels.
At the COP26 summit, the synergies between protecting the world's ecosystems and climate mitigation and adaptation objectives were highlighted in several ways. A total of 137 countries (accounting for more than 90% of the world's forests) committed to halting and reversing deforestation and land degradation by 2030 in the Glasgow Leaders' Declaration on Forests and Land Use. The importance of protecting, conserving, and restoring nature and ecosystems to achieve the Paris Agreement temperature goals was emphasized in the COP decision text. The increased interest in ecosystem restoration and nature-based solutions in the context of climate mitigation highlights the importance of clearly defining such solutions and ensuring that individual interventions fulfil basic standards and criteria to avoid greenwashing and their misuse. This issue is discussed in Ecologic Institute's and Öko-Institut's forthcoming publication "Nature-based solutions and global climate protection". The importance of ensuring that nature-based solutions designed to address climate change do not adversely affect biodiversity is also discussed in our policy brief focusing on urban nature.
With nature and ecosystem restoration now being recognized as indispensable pieces of the puzzle in addressing the climate crisis, it is crucial to understand how we can mainstream nature-based solutions in a variety of ecosystems and across diverse regions. At COP26, Ecologic Institute brought together different sector practitioners (cities, entrepreneurs, engineers) and policy experts from local governments and international institutions such as UNEP and IUCN, to discuss why and how we can bring more nature into urban areas. The discussants highlighted the importance of innovative governance arrangements, connecting communities with nature, strengthening the connections between cities and wider ecosystems, workforce training, and scaling up the number of organizations and businesses that work on nature-based solutions. The importance of innovative and inclusive governance for urban nature-based solutions was also discussed by Ecologic Institute's McKenna Davis at the Next Level 2021 conference. The discussions built on the ongoing work that Ecologic Institute is doing in the field of nature-based solutions and urban ecosystem restoration, for instance within the INTERLACE and CLEVER Cities projects.
Recognition of the interconnectedness between climate change and biodiversity loss at the world's biggest climate conference is a step in the right direction to move the discourse beyond just the conservation community. Now it is important to ensure that the high-level announcements are put into action through the development of implementation plans, appropriate finance flows and targeted action from the national to the local levels.
According to a recent EEA report co-authored by Ecologic Institute, water stress has become a serious problem across Europe that will be further exacerbated by climate change. The report "Water resources across Europe – confronting water stress: an updated assessment" calls for a shift from crisis management to risk management to prevent irreversible negative consequences for nature and society. The report emphasizes the need for greater water-use efficiency and improved ecosystem resilience, as water resources become insufficient to meet the joint demand of humans and nature. The report is available for download.
This research report studies the Asian perspectives on a global plastic pollution treaty in the context of a growing momentum for the establishment of a negotiation process during the second part of the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) in February 2022. It identifies solutions already pursued by Asian countries to tackle marine plastic pollution, describes the challenges and needs expressed by government officials from the region and discusses possible treaty elements, taking into account experiences of countries in the Asian region. The report is available for download.
In this review, Ecologic Institute's Doris Knoblauch and Linda Mederake analyze the subject focus of 45 articles (published 2019–2021) dealing with government action to regulate plastic pollution. Policies described in the articles and introduced between 2016 and 2021 are clustered in four categories: production, consumption, disposal and circular approaches. The article is open access and available for download.
Improving the Commission's Proposal to Amend the Climate Action Regulation for Europe (CARE) – Document
On 14 July 2021, the EU Commission proposed amendments to the Regulation 2018/842. Covering more than 60% of the EU greenhouse gas emissions, this regulation and its reform are essential elements of the Fit for 55 package. A paper by Ecologic Institute presents amendments to the Commission's proposal. The main purpose of these amendments is to ensure that all EU climate policy contributes to climate neutrality by 2050 and net negative emissions thereafter. The paper is available for download.
Citizens' councils are on the rise. Citizens' forums are now under way at the EU level as well. A first step has been taken, but it is still a long way to go for the EU Panels to be successful, according to Dr. Nils Meyer-Ohlendorf from the Ecologic Institute and Felix Nasser from the German Bürgerrat Klima in the Tagesspiegel Background. They make three suggestions for the success of the EU Citizens Panels. The article is available online.
The EU's debate on carbon dioxide removals (CDRs) is gaining momentum, but important parts of it remain a mystery. The basics of an EU framework for CDR remain unclear. An EU CDR Strategy could demystify CDRs and help trigger the necessary political debate on CDRs. This paper by Ecologic Institute discusses a CDR strategy for the EU. It examines why the EU should have a CDR strategy and explores the main elements of a CDR strategy. The discussion paper is available for download.
The funding call "Municipal Networks" is part of the National Climate Initiative (NCI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. Since 2008, the NCI funds climate protection projects throughout Germany, thus contributing to the achievement of the Federal Government's climate protection goals. The funding call pursues the economic and sustainable unlocking of saving potentials in the field of energy efficiency, resource efficiency and climate-friendly mobility through cooperation between municipalities and administrative units. The results are shown by Ecologic Institute's multi-year evaluation. The summary report and all individual evaluations are available for download.
The funding call for the Innovative Climate Protection Projects is part of the National Climate Protection Initiative (NCI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. Innovative climate protection projects impart new or disseminate existing knowledge to change behavior, purchasing decisions, practices and processes. To this end, the projects run campaigns or provide direct advice, facilitate knowledge exchange and help with capacity building and education in the diverse climate-relevant fields of action. The results are shown by Ecologic Institute's multi-year evaluation. The summary report and all individual evaluations are available for download.
The globalization of agriculture means that cities are no longer primarily supplied by their surrounding areas. Yet, regional structures can help to make food more sustainable and environmentally friendly. In this podcast, detektor.fm presenter Charlotte Thielmann asks Stephanie Wunder from Ecologic Institute whether regional food is the answer to the problems of the food industry.
Nature-based solutions (NbS) are crucial for cities to jointly address the climate and biodiversity crises, while creating quality green jobs and wellbeing for local communities. This COP26 EU Side Event featured different sector practitioners (policy makers, entrepreneurs, international organizations) delivering inspiring presentations and engaging in a panel discussion highlighting a variety of perspectives on key challenges, opportunities, and pathways to mainstream urban NbS and boost local economies. A recording of the event is available online.
The climate crisis is impacting cities and communities across the globe. As extreme weather events become increasingly frequent, cities must work together to find effective nature-based solutions (NBS) to adapt to their changing climates. As lead partner in the BEGIN project, the Dutch city of Dordrecht welcomed cities, practitioners, researchers and citizens to join the conversation on the future of livable cities. To this end, the NEXT LEVEL 2021 conference was held as a hybrid event on the 20th of October 2021. Ecologic Institute's McKenna Davis was invited as an expert to present on NBS governance and policy. The full agenda of the event and McKenna Davis's presentation are available for download.
On 13 October 2021, Mandy Hinzmann, Fellow at the Ecologic Institute, gave a presentation at a scientific session of the World Resources Forum. She presented key policy options on how to foster the circular economy in the European textiles sector. She also participated in the discussion session after the presentations. Her presentation was based on findings of the study "Technical, Regulatory, Economic and Environmental Effectiveness of Textile Fibres Recycling", commissioned by the European Commission. The presentation slides are available for download.
On 9 and 13 December 2021, a two-part webinar series, organized by Ecologic Institute, will discuss the challenges that power grid operators and electricity producers face in Germany and the United States with a changing climate, as well as policy and measures for adaptation and resilience. The goal is to share knowledge and best practices, foster transatlantic dialogue and connections and to think critically about how best to safeguard critical energy infrastructures. We are looking forward to your registration until 7 December 2021.
National climate actions pledged under the Paris Agreement are not yet sufficient to limit the long-term global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius or 1.5 degrees Celsius. On 24 November 2021, a virtual conference will take place with the aim of sharing ideas for advancing additional multilateral action in support of the goals of the Paris Agreement and discussing them with international experts.
Concepts for Climate Justice: How do we empower the most vulnerable? – Webtalk Series "Totally Glocally"
The economies and populations that are the main contributors to the climate crisis are least affected by the consequences. With the European Green Deal, the EU claims for itself a pioneering role in climate protection, but does it have solutions ready that do justice to the structural inequality and unfair distribution of social, economic and political opportunities between the communities that populate the earth? On 24 November 2021, the discussion will draw on Concepts for Climate Justice, featuring Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Ecuadorian diplomat, politician, academic and former president of the 73rd UN-General Assembly. We are looking forward to your registration.
People in the Global South are already exposed to drought, forest fires, flooding and water shortages. According to the UN, there were some 270 million migrants worldwide in 2020. Recent forecasts predict that the climate crisis will force up to 1.2 billion people to leave their home countries by 2050. On 1 December 2021, the issue of "Migration and Climate Crisis: Challenges and Perspectives" will be discussed. The discussion will be based on inputs by Writer Parag Khanna and human rights and environmental activist Kumi Naidoo from South Africa. We are looking forward to your registration.
The network of independent institutes for environmental and sustainability research marks its tenth anniversary. In 2011, eight non-profit scientific institutions – including Ecologic Institute – joined forces to form the Ecological Research Network (Ecornet). Their goal: to further bring scientific work on sustainability, environmental, climate and resource protection into the public and political spotlight. In the context of the new developments in federal politics, scientists from Ecornet will, in this anniversary year, discuss which challenges the future federal government will have to address.
The interview with Mario Delgado Galarraga, International Climate Protection Fellow at Ecologic Institute, touches upon issues concerning International Environmental and Climate Change Law. It briefly refers to the general background of the last COP, its possible outcomes, and the ongoing climate issues according to the IPCC. The interview was conducted and broadcast by the Ecuadorian TV station Telesucesos and is available online.
- Water Resources Across Europe – Confronting water stress – Report
- A Global Treaty on Plastic Pollution – Report
- Government Policies Combatting Plastic Pollution – Article
- Improving the Commission's Proposal to Amend the Climate Action Regulation for Europe (CARE) – Document
- EU Citizens' Councils on Climate and their Success Factors – Article
- Carbon Dioxide Removal Strategy for the EU – Discussion Paper
- Municipal Energy Efficiency Networks – Report
- Innovative Climate Protection Projects – Report
- Food System Transition – Regionally implemented – Podcast
- Presentations and Events
- Nature for Climate & Biodiversity in Cities – COP26 EU Side Event
- Taking Nature-based Solutions to the Next Level
- Fostering the Circular Economy in the Textiles Sector
- Register now!
- Climate Proofing the Electric Sector – Transatlantic Dialogue
- Accelerating Global Climate Action Before 2030 – Conference
- Concepts for Climate Justice: How do we empower the most vulnerable? – Webtalk Series "Totally Glocally"
- Migration and Climate Crisis: Challenges and Perspectives – Webtalk Series "Totally Glocally"
- Knowledge for Change: Ten Years of Ecornet
- COP26, Rights of Nature, and Environmental Courts – Interview