Some strategies to offset the effects of climate change already existed before COP26 – Nach Welt

TWH – The UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow and the process of finding common ground to combat the climate ended 24 hours later than planned and to the disappointment of many. The conference won many commitments but only reached a partial agreement, with many, but not all, countries pledging to halt carbon emissions by the 2040s.

Unfortunately, several key players in the coal industry have not signed up – Australia, China, India and the US – all of which have not signed up. Even today, the Biden administration keeps what is called Historic sale of gas and oil leasing contracts. However, with gas prices soaring, several nations have the Development of their strategic oil reserves, an act that is unlikely to happen much to change gas prices but will continue to underline the global dependence on fossil fuels.

Even before the world summit in Glasgow, many of those affected examined strategies for coping with the climate crisis. This article focuses on two of them. One strategy involves divesting fossil fuel investments. The other concerns the controversial technique of genetically modifying food crops to deal with drafts.

While many pagans are benevolent of the abandonment of fossil fuels, enthusiasm for the genetic modification of food crops may be less.

Public-sector pension funds as an instrument

In August the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies (HBCLS) published a report: “Power in retirement: work, private equity and the climate crisis. A report on private equity fossil fuels, the role of workers’ retirement capital, and the impact on marginalized communities and the environment. “

The report questions tax caution when investing in fossil fuels. When a union invests its members’ pension funds, it has a heavy fiduciary burden. Union workers pay a portion of their wages into a pension fund, and then the union invests those funds to grow over time and overcome inflation.

HBCLS reported that public sector unions have 20 million members. These members include “teachers, public finance professionals, landscapers, firefighters and others”. Public sector pension funds run around $ 4 trillion.

Unions invest these funds in listed stocks and bonds, as well as in private equity funds. Private equity funds are different from publicly traded funds. They are less regulated than listed funds, and less regulation often makes them less transparent.

HBCLS argues that private equity firms rely heavily on leverage. They also engage in aggressive cost-cutting measures. Under pressure, publicly traded companies have withdrawn funds from investments in fossil fuels. Shielded by a lack of transparency, private equity firms are much less under pressure.

For example, HBCLS reported that Blackstone Group, a private equity firm, claims that “environmental, social and governance principles have been an integral part of Blackstone’s corporate strategy.” However, in 2017 Blackstone invested $ 1.6 billion in the Rover natural gas pipeline, which is a 1,126.5 km long pipeline with all the problems of pipelines.

Are fossil fuels a bad investment?

HBCLS said that companies and political institutions have started phasing out fossil fuels. At the same time, renewable energy sources have become cheaper. The UK has called for all cars sold after 2030 to be hybrids. California banned the sale of all-gasoline cars after 2035. In January 2021, General Motors announced that it would phase out internal combustion engines by 2035.

Paul Finch of the British Columbia General Employees’ Union conducted a risk assessment for investing in fossil fuels. As a result of this analysis, Finch withdrew $ 20 million from fossil fuel stocks and bonds in 2014. Since that sale, his union has made 12.5% ​​a year on its investments.

Public sector union members face another problem. In the US, state governments have to pay to clean up environmental disasters. That would mean less money spent on pay rises and health care for public workers.

Mitch Vogel of Illinois State University’s Pension Scheme (ILSURS) spoke about a private equity firm. ILSURS had invested in this company. It operated an old Goodyear rubber factory near the Illinois River. However, LSURS found out about the private equity firm’s plans for those great returns. These plans included firing the plant’s union members and dumping toxic waste in the Illinois River.

Vogel said: “We have chosen not to invest in investments in non-renewable energies, which harm society as a whole.” ILSURS withdrew its funds.

The HBCLS report cites that Deloitte, a global provider of financial and risk advisory and related services, is forecasting a sustained decline of up to 4-7%, based on reports from independent energy research and analysis firm Rystad Energy.

British Petroleum in their “Energy outlook 2020“Predicts that fossil fuel consumption will continue to decline over the next 30 years, with less expensive renewables replacing fossil fuels.

Demand, as well as oil prices, fell dramatically during the peak of the pandemic in 2020. While demand and prices should recover somewhat, 2019 was likely the high point in both cases.

According to the HBCLS report: “In February 2021, Royal Dutch Shell and other oil companies announced that the world had peaked oil production in 2019 and expected annual declines in the future.”

Investing in fossil fuels is a threat to indigenous peoples

HBCLS spoke about a private equity firm, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR). The company invested $ 6.6 billion to build the Coastal Gas Link (CGL) pipeline. The pipeline would run through Wet’suwet’en Nation in British Columbia, Canada.

The Wet’suwet’en Nation has opposed this violation of its sovereignty. They delayed the construction of the pipeline for at least a year. This delay costs KKR money. HBCLS found that this opposition made union pension fund investments a less prudent investment.

Sleydo ‘(Molly Wickham), spokeswoman for the Gidimt’en checkpoint on Wet’suwet’en territory, said that her nation had never approved the construction of CGL. It would run through Wedzin Kwah, the headwaters of the Wet’suwet’en Nation watershed.

Sleydo ‘said the CGL pipeline is threatening spawning of the Pacific Coho salmon. She said, “If this pipeline goes through, it will destroy our ability to drink the water from our river forever. It will disrupt our salmon populations … Our children and grandchildren may never be able to try the salmon that is essential to us as a nation. “

Adaptability and genetic modification of Atacama plants

Climate change models predict increasing drought in parts of the world. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) published a related article: “Plant Ecological Genomics at the Frontiers of Life in the Atacama Desert.“

The article described an observational study of the genetics of vegetation at one of the driest points on earth. The researchers identified specific genes that enabled the plants to adapt to extremely dry conditions.

For example, scientists could use genome editing technologies to make plants more drought-resistant.

Typical landscape of the Atacama Desert, the driest place in the world, 50 kilometers northeast of Calama, Chile – Image source: Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0]

The Atacama Desert in Chile is the driest desert in the world outside of the polar ice caps. Around 50% of all precipitation falls within five days in January and February. In addition to the drought, the Atacama also has large temperature fluctuations within a day. Plants in the Atacama had to adapt to an extremely dry and hostile climate.

One of the authors of the PNAS journal article, biologist Gloria Coruzzi said, “In an era of accelerated climate change, it is critical to uncover the genetic basis to improve crop production and resilience in arid and nutrient-poor conditions.”

Scientists learn about differences by comparing two groups. They looked for the genes that enabled the Atacama plants to adapt to the harsh environment. The PNAS article reported that researchers sequenced the genes of 32 Atacama plants. These genes formed a group called the “dry” group. For the other group, they needed genes from closely related plants that lived in more humid environments. Scientists have already sequenced the genes of many plants. Genes from plants that live in moist environments made up the “wet” group. Genetic differences between the two groups could identify the adaptive genes.

The scientists found 265 genetic differences. Not all of these differences would give desert life an evolutionary advantage. Some differences would. Fortunately, some of these adaptive genes were identical to the genes from a heavily studied plant species, Arabidopsis. For this species, scientists have learned about the genetic function of many of their genes. Some of these genes increase survival in intense sunlight and temperature stress. Others are “critical for water and nutrient uptake”.

This discovery suggests a technical, if somewhat controversial, way to increase drought resistance in food crops. Chilean biologist Rodrigo Gutiérrez told ScienceAlert: “Since some Atacama plants are closely related to staple foods like cereals, legumes and potatoes, the candidate genes we have identified represent a genetic goldmine to develop more resilient plants, a necessity in the face of increasing desertification our planet. “

Not everyone will be comfortable with the idea of ​​genetically altering food crops, and some may even be appalled. Delays or failure to address climate change on a variety of levels are likely to limit the options available to mitigate the effects. Maintaining the food supplies necessary to support human and animal populations may rely on the ability to genetically modify plants to meet those needs as the climate continues to warm and change.

The HBCLS report is based on a forum. This forum is now called YouTube-Video.

Note to Editors: Manny Tejeda-Moreno contributed to this article.

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