Science-Based Targets Network publishes new framework on nature
The Science Based Targets Network has launched the first corporate science-based targets for nature. These build on the existing climate targets set by over 2,600 companies through the Science Based Targets initiative, and have been developed to incorporate nature into wider decarbonisation efforts. The targets will give these companies a framework for assessing, measuring, acting and reporting on their work towards a nature positive future.
The first nature targets will help companies improve their impacts on freshwater quality (specific to nitrogen and phosphorus) and freshwater quantity as well as protect and restore land ecosystems. An initial group of 17 companies, including Nestlé, H&M Group, Tesco and AB InBev, have been selected to pilot the methodology this year. The target validation process and a first version of the land targets are anticipated to be rolled out in early 2024.
France implements ban on short-haul flights
In a decisive move to reduce carbon emissions, the French government under Emmanuel Macron has implemented a ban on domestic short-haul flights, where train alternatives are available. Two years after initial approval, the law will now prohibit air travel between Paris and cities like Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux, if the same journey could be completed within two-and-a-half hours by train. Connecting flights will be exempt from the rule.
Some critics have argued that this is a symbolic ban, unlikely to have any real impact on global CO2 emissions. An earlier draft of the legislation would have put a restriction on any journey that could be completed by train in less than four hours. This proposal was met with fierce opposition by an aviation industry already crippled by the pandemic-caused shortfall in flights. Many have praised the ban and held it up as evidence that government can, and must, implement unprecedented policies to tackle the climate crisis.
Greenland’s Rock ‘flour’ can capture significant CO2
Scientists have found
that rock "flour" produced by grinding under Greenland's glaciers, can capture significant CO2 and aid in mitigating climate change. The process, known as enhanced rock weathering (ERW), involves the breakdown of rock powder through natural chemical reactions, which then locks carbon from the air into new carbonate minerals, flowing as mud from beneath the glaciers. The weathering process takes place over decades, but the researchers theorise that this could still have a real impact in meeting net zero emissions by 2050. Harnessing ERW to capture carbon would be a complementary measure in addition to fossil fuel reduction, rather than a silver bullet solution.
Further to its potential to remove billions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, scientists have found that the glacial rock flour also has benefits as a fertiliser, helping to improve crop yields when scattered on farmlands. Yields were significantly increased when the substance was spread over fields in Denmark, including those growing barley for Carlsberg.
With an essentially unlimited supply of rock flour from Greenland's one billion tonnes produced annually, scientists see great potential in this simple and scalable solution.
UNEP releases Global Roadmap for Circularity in the Textile Value Chain
The textile sector is framed as ‘a sector struggling to address its contributions to the triple planetary crisis on climate change, nature loss and pollution’. The report highlights that throughout the year, the sector is responsible for 2-8% of the world’s greenhouse gases. It uses natural water resources equal to 86 million full-sized swimming pools and contributes 9% of ocean microplastic pollution. Acknowledgement is also given to the social impacts of the value chain for vulnerable textile workers, and particularly women.
The new publication addresses what each stakeholder group in the value chain can do individually and collectively to scale circularity and improve conditions. The roadmap breaks the work down into nine building blocks that each stakeholder can focus on, with priority actions for each group. Further stakeholder-specific annexes will be released in the coming months, at key events and meetings for the apparel sector.