Sustainability Reads: September 26- October 2

Earth’s CO2 Passes the 400 PPM Threshold—Maybe Permanently
We are definitely starting out with the bad news here: The amount of carbon in the atmosphere didn’t drop below 400 parts per million this September, which is usually the lowest concentration of the year. This article even starts out with “In the centuries to come, history books will likely look back on September 2016 as a major milestone for the world’s climate.” We know, this is really depressing as the high concentration this year is likely to be the new norm, that carbon will not dip below 400ppm again, not even in September after the Northern Hemisphere’s summer in which plants grow and remove carbon from the atmosphere. Data is from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, article by Brian Kahn on Scientific American / Climate Central.

2 Birds, 1 Stone: Achieving the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals Together
Yet there is still hope when it comes to climate change: World leaders have committed to climate change mitigation and adaptation through both the Paris Agreement and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A working paper by the World Resources Institute explores the alignment between the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) submitted as part of the agreement and the 17 SDGs with their 169 targets. The takeaway is that they align significantly: the climate actions communicated in INDCs align with at least 154 of the 169 SDG targets (see graph below for more specifics). Paper by Eliza Northrop, Hana Biru, Sylvia Lima, Mathilde Bouyé and Ranping Song at World Resources Institute.


Despite the bad news of the possibly permanent 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere,  in regard to the ratification of the Paris agreement, countries are making serious progress, and it looks like the international climate change agreement will be put into force before the end of 2016. In mid-September during the UN General Assembly, 31 countries officially ratified the agreement, including Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. Today (October 2nd) India ratifies it (although with conditions if Trump makes it to presidency) and the EU looks to fast-track its ratification to get it approved by next week. Once the EU ratifies, the Paris agreement’s threshold will be reached, and the global deal will be enter into force (countries representing 55% of global emissions need to ratify it for it to enter force).  This is exciting news. It is really inspiring to see countries making such fast progress of ratifying the monumental Paris Agreement, particularly after decades of gridlock and inaction.

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