Q. What about agriculture? Current conventional practices often lead to land degradation and massive deforestation. What is happening to address non-sustainable agriculture on a global scale?
A. The environmental pressures from global agriculture are indeed enormous.
The demand for food is rising, in large part because of population growth and rising incomes that give millions of once-low income people the means to eat richer diets. Global demand for beef and for animal feed, for instance, has led farmers to cut down huge chunks of the Amazon rain forest.
Efforts are being made to tackle the problems, and a slew of announcements are coming this week at the Paris climate conference.
The biggest success has arguably been in Brazil, which adopted tough oversight and managed to cut deforestation in the Amazon by 80 percent in a decade. But the gains there are fragile, and severe problems continue in other parts of the world, such as aggressive forest clearing in Indonesia.
Last year, scores of companies and organizations, including major manufacturers of consumer products, signed a declaration in New York pledging to cut deforestation in half by 2020, and to cut it out completely by 2030. The companies that signed the pact are now struggling to figure out how to deliver on that promise.
Many forest experts at the Paris conference see the pledge as ambitious, but possible. And they say it is crucial that consumers keep up the pressure on companies from whom they buy products, from soap to ice cream.
While Gauteng has briefly enjoyed some much needed rainfall (and hail), the water crisis in the country is expected to continue into 2016.
South Africa has experienced little to no rainfall since the beginning of the year, and as a result, drought conditions are being experienced across the country.
To date, five provinces are severely affected by the drought and have been declared disaster areas, with KwaZulu Natal the worst affected. Other provinces include Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West.
According to the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWA), South Africa experienced its worst drought in 1983 with the national average dam level at 34.0%.
“Currently our national average dam level is sitting at 63.3%. This means that our regional water supply dams and schemes remain water secure sitting with positive water balance,” it said.
South Africa receives an annual rainfall of 492 millimetres, close to half of the global average of 985 millimetres. It is therefore classified as a water-stressed nation.
To compound matters, the country’s water distribution is split between east and west – 43% of South Africa’s total rainfall occurs on only 13% of the land according to the DWA.
The DWA forecast in the mid-2000s that water demand would outstrip supply in Gauteng by 2013 – and the rest of the country by 2025 – but little has been done by industry and individuals to curb water wastage.
Water levels in South Africa 2015
Who’s using all the water
There are six major water use sectors, namely, irrigation, urban use, rural use, mining and bulk industrial, power generation, and afforestation.
Studies done by the department show that the vast majority of water in South Africa is used in agriculture, with over 60% of all available water going into the sector for irrigation.
As much as 30% of water in SA is for urban and rural use (including domestic use), while the rest is split among industrial, power generation and afforestation uses.
|Mining and Bulk Industrial use||5.7%|
About 12% of all water is used for domestic (home) use, in the country.
Urbanisation is a major problem – putting pressure on water systems, while growing cities leads to deforestation and an increase of pollution, which ruins water quality, too.
While the profiles for rural and urban home use of water are very different, flushing toilets is the biggest water user in both areas.
|Bath and Shower||19%||32%|
|Other (Cooking, Cleaning, Washing Dishes, Drinking, etc)||8%||14%|
Looking at homes with gardens, up to 46% of all water is used up taking care of it.
|Homes with Gardens||%|
|Other (See above)||54%|
Progress in reducing carbon intensity in the travel and tourism industry can be attributed to several actions, according to a new report by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
“Our report notes that the impacts of climate change are already beginning to be experienced with lower crop yields and more intense storms and heat waves.
The overall warming across the past three decades has been concentrated in oceans, leading to expansion that is eroding coastlines and increasing sea levels. It is also leading to acidification, which threatens marine life,” David Scowsill, president and CEO of the WTTC, told Fin24.
“The confluence of these factors may result in serious socio-economic ripple effects, which will bring challenges to food supply, health problems, displacement of people, increased poverty and geopolitical conflicts related to energy and natural resources.”
The latest report shows that many large role players in the industry have already improved their carbon efficiency by 20% in the last ten years and are on course to reach the target of a 25% reduction by 2020.
According to the report the global travel and tourism industry has made strong progress with accountability and responsibility, for instance, particularly in admitting to the challenge of tackling climate change and setting out plans to address and measure it.
WTTC members also demonstrated community engagement, charitable contributions, disaster relief or conservation efforts – deforestation in particular – while others focus on preserving coral reefs, hosting bee colonies on rooftops, managing waste, or ensuring sustainable sourcing.
The report, which comes in the run up to the COP21 climate change talks in Paris at the end of this year, also found that most travel and tourism companies now have branded sustainability programmes, often including customer engagement programmes. Most WTTC member companies have achieved green certification of some type.
Greening supply chains is another aspect WTTC members focus on, developing practical tools to help procurement from local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as part of this.
“While the sector has grown, added more jobs and contributed billions of dollars to economies all over the world, we have seen real commitment to sustainability from business as companies innovate and collaborate with others to reduce their overall impacts.”
In his view the next 20 years will be characterised by the industry fully integrating climate change and related issues into its business strategy, supporting the global transition to a low carbon economy, strengthening resilience at a local level against climate risks, promoting the value of responsible travel, and greening entire supply chains.
“To reach these long term goals, much still needs to be done across travel and tourism and other sectors, but we now have a common understanding and are ever-closer to agreement on the global actions necessary,” said Scowsill.
The WTTC report outlines five priority areas for the travel and tourism industry to support the overall target of halving emissions by 2035.
The first is to integrate climate change and related issues into business strategy. This can be done by disclosing climate change issues in mainstream financial reporting, utilising recognised frameworks and collaborating to harmonise the approach for disclosure within the industry.
Secondly, the leading practice of establishing an internal price of carbon, focusing on renewables for new investments, seeking low carbon financing mechanisms, contributing to local economies with carbon mitigation and catalysing the economies of scale to create a virtuous circle, must be followed.
The value that local natural and cultural heritage has for travel and tourism and forging partnerships to build resilience against climate risks, is the fourth priority area stipulated in the report.
Fourthly, travellers must be provided with the tools to be responsible travellers and be offered new experiences tied directly to low carbon solutions.
Last, there must be engagement across the value chain by focussing efforts on the biggest opportunities to reduce carbon emissions through mechanisms such as supplier screening and local procurement.
“Travel and tourism is in a unique position to build consumer awareness of the world’s key supply chain threats by engaging travellers to link the destinations they visit with the issues back home in their own purchasing decisions as consumers and professionals,” the report states.
For a tourist climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, some of the breathtaking tourism attractions feature is the permanent glaciers on the Mountain peaks.
Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA)
Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG)
Why concerted efforts are needed to conserve the Mountain
Provision of social services
Efforts by Kilimanjaro National Park to address the situation
Smoking out the poachers and cattle
About community projects
The views of the government
As negotiators gather in Peru, we count the cost of carbon emissions and ask what can be done to combat climate change.
Global climate negotiators have gathered in Lima, Peru, for the annual United Nations climate change conference COP 20, to discuss how to combat climate change and who should pay for curbing the world’s fossil fuel emissions.
There is a prevailing theory it should be the rich industrialised nations as they have been responsible for the majority of greenhouse gases. And five years ago, they were pledging to increase funding by $100bn a year by the year 2020.
The UN estimates as much as $175bn has been transferred over the last two years to developing nations, although there is a dispute about whether it is on track to hit that 2020 target.
Developing nations are stepping up but not together. China has said emissions will peak by 2030, while India chose to put economic growth ahead of emissions caps.
Low-lying nations may never be saved as sea levels rise and it is in Asia where some of the poorest nations will be hardest hit by climate change.
The capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, is a city under threat as it is sinking at a rate of seven centimetres every year. By 2030, according to experts, half of the city will be below sea level. Step Vassen reports from the Indonesian capital.
So what can be done to combat climate change? Will world leaders ever manage to act together? And why is it so difficult to reach a consensus on climate change?
Griffin Carpenter from the New Economics Foundation joins Counting the Cost to talk about COP 20 and the climate challenge.
The danger of deforestation
The preservation of the Amazon rainforest is considered central in the battle against global warming. But in Peru, the venue for this year’s crucial climate change conference, illegal logging continues at unprecedented rates.
“Mostly everyone here makes their money from illegal logging. You pay off the police and the right people,” Romelo Sangan, an illegal logger from Peru told Al Jazeera.
Deforestation has many causes – from slashing and burning for agriculture, to harvesting precious hardwoods for the construction industry.
In South Sudan, many people are chopping down trees just to exist. The country’s oilfields generate billions of dollars a year, but all the oil is exported, leaving millions of people to rely on wood and charcoal for fuel. The current rate of deforestation will mean no forest will be left in South Sudan within three or four decades.
Al Jazeera’s environment editor Nick Clark reports more on illegal logging in Peru and deforestation in South Sudan.
Oil and ISIL: The business behind the violence
As the armed group ISIL pushes to dominate more territory in Iraq and Syria, many think that the fighters who have joined ISIL must be motivated by a fanatical commitment to ideology.
But in an extraordinary look inside ISIL with rare access to key figures in the organisation, Al Jazeera correspondent Nick Shifrin found that ISIL’s management, organisation, and wealth are all dependent on foot soldiers whose main motivation is income.
Source: Al Jazeera