GoBarefoot: Here is a list of some of the top environmental and climate stories that made the news in September 2016.
• Giant Pandas, no longer endangered – Originally found in Chinese Bamboo forests, these black and white bears were declared as no longer being endangered on the IUCN’s (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species. Even though there was a noticeable 17% rise in Giant Panda’s population in the wild over the last decade that has led to the change in threatened status, the species is still marked as vulnerable. WWF cites the significant decrease in poaching and expansion in the species’ habitat as reasons behind the population increase.
• U.S.A and China sign the Paris Climate Agreement – Earlier this month, U.S.A and China formally joined the Paris global climate agreement. The agreement focuses on keeping the global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius; reducing greenhouse gas emission by having a balance of sinks and sources; review progress every five years, and providing a $100 billion climate finance to developing countries. The Paris agreement requires 55 countries, representing 55% of global emissions to ratify the deal, in order to come into force. The U.S and China together currently produce 40% of the global emissions and their signing of the agreement is a significant step towards making the deal enforceable.
• New low in levels of Arctic ice sheets – Due to a rapid loss in ice sheets during the beginning days of September, this month had the second lowest record of ice extent, tied with levels in 2007. There is to be a further predicted dip in ice levels due to higher temperatures over the Arctic, thinner ice, increased warm ocean current action, and other oceanic factors as well as higher levels of greenhouse gases over the Arctic Ocean. The subsequent levels of effect of this sea water rise on lands and climate change are yet to be seen.
• Three nations come together to protect Ocean life – Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Colombia announced a historic joint agreement to protect the marine areas shared by the three countries. The marine reserve in the Pacific Ocean covers over 83,600 miles and are a habitat to various species of sharks, sea turtles, fish, and other marine life. The expansion of protected areas and sanctuaries through this agreement covers the three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Galapagos, Malpelo, and Cocos.
• Focus on Clean Energy, this International Day of Peace – Every year International Day of Peace is celebrated on September 21st, and this year the United Nations used this opportunity to shed light on Goal 7 of Sustainable Development Goals – Clean Energy. An important way to foster global peace is to provide accessible, affordable, sustainable and modern energy for all which is the focus of goal 7. By providing access to electricity for all, homes are made more comfortable and individuals are provided with more opportunities for economic growth. At the same time, there should be efforts to ensure the electricity is clean and efficient in order to not pollute and exacerbate climate change.