Kavya Gopal

A push to make ecocide an international crime: Among the sea of activists present at Climate Week in New York City, was Stop EcocideJulia Jackson, one of Project Regeneration’s founding directors, chairs the US chapter of the movement, which marched from Foley Square to Battery Park in Manhattan to demand ecocide be recognized as an international crime. The campaign to make ecocide a crime was the life’s work of the late barrister Polly Higgins, who presented a definition of ecocide to the UN Law Commission in 2010: Ecocide is extensive loss, damage or destruction of ecosystems of a given territory(ies)… such that the peaceful enjoyment of the inhabitants has been or will be severely diminishedJojo Mehta, co-founder, and Executive Director carries forward this legacy by growing global support for the movement. Stop Ecocide advocates for the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the only global mechanism with directly accesses the existing criminal justice systems of its 123 member states, to be amended. While nearly two-thirds of these countries would need to approve the amendment, Stop Ecocide estimates that about two dozen countries have already expressed interest in the concept, including Chile, Iceland, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom. As Jojo Mehta says in her statement “We have to prevent mass damage and destruction of the living world…Ecocide law is a powerful solution to protect nature, climate, and our future while providing a guiding legal framework for positive change.”

 Robert Denney

Strong bipartisan support to pass the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. If enacted into law, this statute would be the biggest piece of wildlife legislation in the U.S. since the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973. Specifically, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) would provide close to $1.4 billion a year to restore at-risk wildlife populations around the country, particularly through the development of state wildlife action plans for threatened and endangered species. RAWA was passed with bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives in June, and the Senate is expected to vote on the bill any day now. And a recent survey found that 70% of Americans from across the political spectrum support the proposed legislation.

 Tim Treuer

The US Senate ratifies international climate agreement in bipartisan vote: This week, the Senate ratified something called the Kigali Amendment, in a vote of 69 to 27. Indulge me in a quick story that explains why that bit of news makes me so happy: in grad school, I took a seminar on global environmental governance. After a particularly gloomy guest lecture from an economist about why game theory means a binding climate treaty would never work, the only real objection we could muster was the Montreal Protocol. The Montreal Protocol is the global treaty that saved the ozone layer and was signed just 14 years after the initial discovery that certain aerosols were putting our critical UV shield at risk. In 2016, it was extended through the Kigali Amendment to cover an incredibly potent class of greenhouse gases called HFCs that don't actually harm the ozone layer at all (though they are the replacement for CFCs, which did). That single binding amendment will reduce warming in 2100 by 0.35-0.5℃, which is in the same ballpark as any round of new non-binding commitments made under the Paris Climate Accord. In a fraught era of polarization and climate denialism, somehow the Montreal Protocol still delivers!

 Amy Boyer

Keeping it cool: In the US, cooling centers often aren't used because they're uncomfortable and don't respond to needs other than temperature management, but community centers that build in climate readiness, including effective cooling measures, do not only keep people physically safe but also meet needs like social interaction, job training, or food distribution. Elsewhere, those glass-and-steel high-rises that have popped up worldwide rely on air conditioning to manage the heat that builds up behind the glass in warm weather. But biomimicry and traditional features like carefully placed windows and ventilation ports can keep buildings cool without extra energy.

 Claire Krummenacher

Indigenous leaders' victory successfully halts offshore drilling project: This week, an Australian court revoked Santos Limited's permit to drill in the Barossa offshore gas field, ruling in favor of Indigenous leaders from the Tiwi Islands who challenged the oil and gas producer on the grounds that their proposal was developed without consultation with all of the relevant stakeholders. If approved, the Barossa project would threaten the Tiwi peoples' homeland and become one of Australia's highest-emitting gas projects; however, the company has now been ordered to cease drilling and must submit a redrafted environmental plan that meets stricter carbon emissions targets than the original in order to proceed. In addition to establishing a precedent of recognizing Indigenous sovereignty in Australia, the victory also has potential international ramifications as similar court cases continue in Canada and South Africa.

 Courtney White

Electric Planes on the horizon: While the electric vehicle industry continues to generate good news – the NY Times reports that more EVs will be sold in China this year than in the rest of the world combined (there are 300 EV companies in China) – there is buzz building in another transportation sector: electric planes. Last week, Air Canada announced it would buy thirty battery-powered planes from a Swedish company for short-haul flights. There are a variety of models being tested, including hybrid versions, for longer flights. But don’t expect to catch a flight soon. Regular use is still years off and faces challenges, including overcoming public skepticism. In the meantime, you can catch a ride in this short video.

 Juliana Birnbaum

Pollinator-friendly bus shelters:  Having worked on the Nature of Cities Nexus, I was immediately drawn by this urban initiative to develop living rooftops on bus shelters, or “Buzz Stops,” already established in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden and spreading to the UK, France, Belgium, and North America.  The number of flying insects in Britain and many other regions has declined by around 60% since 2004, but Dutch cities have managed to stabilize urban bee populations in recent years.  Utrecht, which I recall visiting as a teenager, has a “no roofs unused” policy in which every roof must either be fitted with solar panels or greened with vegetation.  One of the items on my Project Regeneration punch list is to make my garden more pollinator-friendly (I’ve found that salvias qualify, are beautiful, and are deer-resistant) and I’ve noticed more hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies already this year.

Take Action on Nexus

Did you know that replacing just 0.2-1% of the diet of cattle can reduce their methane production by 80% or more? 
Nearly a third of all methane being added to the atmosphere by human activity comes from cattle and other domesticated animals that digest plants in a special stomach called a rumen. The process of enteric fermentation in ruminant animals is not just a climate issue, but also robs livestock of up to 12% of energy in their diet. 
Find out how a type of red algae in the genus Asparagopsis is one of the most promising solutions to reducing methane emissions and improving livestock productivity. 

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