Tagged with ' climate change'

Kenya: Growing traditional crops help cope with climate change

Many households in sub-Saharan Afria struggle with poverty and food insecurity. Now climate change hit their harvests and makes life even harder. But finding new markets for hardy indigenous grains like millet, that can better stand up to extreme weather and changing pests, and produce a reliable harvest, can help, agricultural scientists say.

Patrick Maundu, an ethnobotanist at the National Museums of Kenya and an honorary fellow with Bioversity International, an organisation that promotes agricultural biodiversity, said millet is a traditional Kenyan crop - just one that, over the years, lost ground to maize.

The change came as a result of the intense promotion of maize production by governments, research groups and multinational companies selling products in Africa, he said.

"Millet is well adapted to dry parts of Africa but has been neglected because of ... key policies focused on maize, taking over indigenous cereals," he said in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

But in the recent years, wilder weather linked to climate change and the high cost of farm inputs - which farmers can struggle to pay if harvests fail - has made maize farming less reliable, particularly for small-scale farmers like those in Embu, Maundu said.

That has pushed many farmers to diversify back into drought-resistant traditional crops. The amount of farm acreage planted with maize in Kenya has therefore fallen by about a quarter in recent years, according to data from Kenya's Ministry of Agriculture.

Still, finding a ready market for crops like millet - and getting people to resume eating them - can be a challenge.

But Kenyan millet farming entrepreneurs now say that the key to making the new crops pay is adding value to what was harvested. One example is the thriving use of millet instead of maize for popcorn.

The puffed millet, besides being tasty, has boosted employment opportunities in Embu and helped reduce food waste because it can be stored longer.

Stella Gathaka 30, who formerly worked as a food vendor, is now one of four workers at small factory making puffed millet.

Besides earning a salary, her new job allows her children to eat the millet snacks, which are more nutritious than their previous snack of sweet wheat biscuits.

These days, "I'm very knowledgeable on the importance of millet as a nutritious crop," she said.

Daniel Kirori, operations director at DK Engineering Ltd., which assembles the popping machines, said his company had sold about 15 of them so far to women's groups and other entrepreneurs around Kenya.

According to a 2017 United Nations report on the state of food security and nutrition, climate change pressures, from worsening droughts to floods, heatwaves and storms, are a key reason about 800 million people still lack access to enough food. Producing more millet and other traditional hardy crops, and finding ways to process them to produce more income, is one way of doing that.

Emily Wawira, a small-scale millet farmer in Embu who sells her produce to Gichangi, said she sells 10 to 20 sacks of grain each year, each weighing 90 kilos, and earns $25 to $30 per sack.

That income "is enough to pay school fees," she said - and an improvement on her former loss-making maize farming.

Source: Reuters

Science based companies dedicated 18 billion on climate spending

The impact of the Science-Based Target initiative launched in 2015 reveals wide-ranging action from large companies to become climate neutral.

 

Today corporates striving to become sustainable have tough criteria to gain approval from the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTI). Those companies which have succeeded to improve their climate imprint  according ti the Science-Based Targets criteria, will now drive $18bn of investment in climate change mitigation measures, boosting renewable electricity generation by up to 90TWh a year in the process, according to a new analysis of corporate climate action from the Science-Based Target initiative (SBTi).

The SBTi was launched in 2015, providing an independent mechanism to validate whether companies emissions reduction targets were in line with the Paris Agreement goal to keep global temperature rises to 'well below' 2C. Targets are assessed by an independent panel of experts to ensure they are ambitious enough. 

The SBTi tightened its rules in line with the landmark report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the risks of exceeding 1.5C of warming so that all companies with new targets validated under the scheme must now publish goals in line with a 1.5C trajectory. 

According to the report out today, 285 companies now have their targets approved by the SBTi, including 76 with goals deemed to be compatible with less than 1.5C of warming. Together they account for emissions totalling 752 million metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent - greater than the carbon output of France and Spain combined.

If all the approved companies meet their targets, 265 million metric tonnes of emissions would be eliminated, equivalent to closing 68 coal-fired power plants, the report calculated.

More than 90 per cent of the companies have also set emissions reduction targets for their supply chains, SBTi added. 

The combination of emissions goals for suppliers and multi-billion dollar investment programmes in support of the approved targets suggests the initiative is delivering on its aim of catalysing the development of low carbon technologies and business models.

The report also found that more than 20 per cent of large companies in fashion, biotechnology, food and beverage, healthcare, hospitality, information technology, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications have set Science-Based Targets, indicating that they are becoming standard business practice in some sectors of the economy.

UK to de-list companies not acting on climate change

In a major election campaign speech on the economy, the British Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said Labour would amend legislation to force listed firms to take action on climate change or face expulsion from the London Stock Exchange.

The Labour Party first promised to de-list companies for climate reasons in June 2019. McDonnell presented the pledge a second time today as part of Labour's vision to improve long-term thinking in the financial industry. It now promises to be a key plank of the Party's economic policy.

"If we are to meet the climate change target to keep global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, we need to ensure that companies are also working alongside government. Many now are," McDonnell said. "But business bodies themselves are calling for companies to improve climate-related financial reporting, and for all companies to bring forward their decarbonisation plans. And we support those proposals. But for those companies not taking adequate steps under Labour, we believe those companies should be de-listed from the London Stock Exchange," he continued.

The environment has already proved to be a major issue in the election campaign, with Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives and the Green Party all promising to tackle the climate emergency.

The U.S. central bank takes climate change risk into its assessments of financial stability

Severe weather carries economic and financial stability risks and major central banks have already made climate change an explicit part of their financial stability remits. Despite the fact that President Donald Trump’s administration still denies climate change exist, the U.S. central bank now also consider taking climate change risk into its assessments of financial stability, and may even take it into account when setting monetary policy.

It seems the reality of the climate crisis is too much for the Federal Reserve to ignore anymore. Scientists all over the world are in broad agreement that carbon dioxide from cars, power plants and other human sources are behind the climate change that’s already making powerful hurricanes, severe drought, and other weather extremes more frequent.

“To fulfill our core responsibilities, it will be important for the Federal Reserve to study the implications of climate change for the economy and the financial system and to adapt our work accordingly,” Fed Governor Lael Brainard said in remarks released at the start of the Fed’s first-ever conference on climate change and economics in San Francisco, Reuters reports.

The Fed, she said, will need to look at how to keep banks and the financial system resilient amid risks from extreme weather, higher temperatures, rising sea levels and other effects of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The attention for the San Francisco conference was so big that it was oversubscribed. Due to this a webcast was created to meet demand. Papers presented at the conference showed how climate change has crimped growth and presented ideas on how policy, including monetary policy, can be used to mitigate harm.

Ms. Brainard said the central bank now discuss how it might participate in a network of about 40 global central banks that was created in 2017 to promote climate-related financial and macroeconomic issues. The goal of becoming more active with the Central Banks and Supervisors Network for Greening the Financial System, she said, would be to “learn from our international colleagues’ approaches to measuring and managing climate risks in the financial system.”

As social norms have shifted, the Fed has talked about inequality more openly and regularly without a backlash. A similar evolution seems to be underway when it comes to the climate.

“Climate change is an issue we can’t afford to ignore,” San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly said at the start of the conference. “This is not a hypothetical risk of the future...the risks are here, we have to deal with them.”

Opec blame young activists for decreased investments in oil

The trillion-dollar Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) highlights the growing reputational concerns of oil companies as insurance companies are increasingly pulling investment from fossil fuel assets. 

Mohammed Barkindo, the secretary general of Opec, said the growing mass mobilisation of world opinion against oil is “beginning to … dictate policies and corporate decisions, including investment in the industry”.

He blamed the striking students and said the pressure was even being felt within the families of Opec officials because their own children “are asking us about their future because … they see their peers on the streets campaigning against this industry”.

Greta Thunberg and other climate activists have said it is a badge of honour that the head of the world’s most powerful oil cartel believes their campaign may be the greatest threat to the fossil fuel industry.

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