Sustainability Reads: March 30- April 5

March 31st was the deadline for countries to submit their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) for the UN climate talk in Paris this December. The deadline was set so far ahead of the conference in order to determine whether the reduction commitments were sufficient. The countries that met the March 31st deadline include the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Mexico, U.S., and Russia. WRI has a great map showing the countries submitted their INDCs as well as an outline of what the country proposed to reduce. Check out the map here.

RTCC also provided a great live update of submitted INDC contributions. As most countries that had submitted INDCs did so before March 31st, the two countries that submitted theirs on Tuesday were the U.S. and Russia. The U.S. pledged cut of 26-28% of 2005 levels by 2025, while Russia pledged 70-75% of 1990 levels by 2030. By Ed King at RTCC.

To get more details on the U.S.’s submitted INDCs and climate policy, check out Obama’s New Climate Change Plan in Two Charts by Eric Roston at Bloomberg.

Climate change: Embed the social sciences in climate policy
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is becoming irrelevant to climate policy, according to the author of this piece. Victor pinpoints the IPCC’s weaknesses, many of which are rooted in the lack of perspectives from the social sciences (such as political science, sociology, and anthropology) in IPCC assessments. Furthermore, the extensive oversight from governments in the report process has resulted in the elimination of controversial topics and outputs that don’t say anything specific about a particular country or action. ‘Insights such as which policies work (or fail) in practice are skirted. Caveats are buried or mangled.’ However, not all is lost; Victor says it’s possible to address such weaknesses in next assessment cycle which runs until 2022. Here’s what the IPCC needs to do:

  • Ask questions that social scientists can answer
  • Become a more attractive place for social-science and humanities scholars who are not usually involved in the climate field and might find IPCC involvement daunting
  • Recognize that a consensus process cannot handle controversial topics such as designing international agreements or governing geoengineering. A a parallel process will be needed to address these controversial policy-relevant questions.By David Victor in Nature.

Governor Brown Direct First Ever Statewide Mandatory Water Restrictions
Better late than never? An executive order (EO) was signed last week in California requiring a 25% reduction in water use in the state. EO calls to:

  • Replace 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought tolerant landscaping in partnership with local governments;
  • Directs the creation of a temporary, statewide consumer rebate program to replace old appliances with more water and energy efficient models;
  • Requires campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes to make significant cuts in water use; and
  • Prohibits new homes and developments from irrigating with potable water unless water-efficient drip irrigation systems are used, and ban watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.

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