World Bee Day – 20 May

For centuries bees, among the hardest working creatures on the planet, have benefited people, plants and the environment. By carrying pollen from one flower to another, bees and other pollinators enable not only the production of an abundance of fruits, nuts and seeds, but also more variety and better quality, contributing to food security and nutrition.

Pollinators such as bees, birds and bats, affect 35 percent of the world’s crop production, increasing outputs of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide, plus many plant-derived medicines. Three out of four crops across the globe producing fruits or seeds for human use as food depend, at least in part, on pollinators.

Bee engaged – Celebrating the Diversity of Bees and Beekeeping Systems

Beekeeping is a widespread and global activity, with millions of beekeepers depending on bees for their livelihoods and well-being. Together with wild pollinators, bees play a major role in maintaining biodiversity, ensuring the survival and reproduction of many plants, supporting forest regeneration, promoting sustainability and adaptation to climate change, improving the quantity and quality of agricultural productions.

This year FAO celebrates World Bee Day through a virtual event, under the theme ‘Bee Engaged: Celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems’

The event featuring bee and pollinator experts and practitioners from across the world is open with a video message by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu. The event raises awareness on the importance of the wide variety of bees and sustainable beekeeping systems, the threats and challenges they face and their contribution to livelihoods and food systems.

The event is available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Russian languages.

Why a World Bee Day?

By observing World Bee Day each year, we can raise awareness on the essential role bees and other pollinators play in keeping people and the planet healthy, and on the many challenges they face today. We have been celebrating this day since 2018, thanks to the efforts of the Government of Slovenia with the support of Apimondia, that led the UN General Assembly to declare 20 May as World Bee Day.

The date for this observance was chosen as it was the day Anton Janša, a pioneer of modern apiculture, was born. Janša came from a family of beekeepers in Slovenia, where beekeeping is an important agricultural activity with a long-standing tradition.

Today bees, pollinators, and many other insects are declining in abundance. This day provides an opportunity for all of us – whether we work for governments, organizations or civil society or are concerned citizens – to promote actions that will protect and enhance pollinators and their habitats, improve their abundance and diversity, and support the sustainable development of beekeeping.

Timeline Leading to World Bee Day

20 May 1734 – Breznica, Slovenia Birth of Anton Janša, who came from a long line of beekeepers, became a pioneer of modern apiculture. Bees were a frequent topic of conversation with neighbouring farmers, who would gather at the village and discuss farming and bee-keeping practices.

1766 – Anton enrolled in the first bee-keeping school in Europe.

1769 – Janša worked fulltime as a beekeeper.

1771 – Published the book Discussion on Bee-keeping in German.

2016 – At the FAO Regional Conference for Europe, the Republic of Slovenia proposed World Bee Day to be celebrated on 20 May each year, with the support of Apimondia, the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Association.

2017 – Proposal for World Bee Day was submitted for consideration at the 40th Session of FAO Conference.

2017 – UN General Assembly unanimously proclaimed 20 May as World Bee Day.

20 May 2018 – First Observance of World Bee Day.

Natura 2000 Awards: The Bulgarian Project “Natura 2000 – New Horizons” of the “Green Balkans” Won Communication Award


On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the creation of the Natura 2000 network, the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius announced the winners of the 2022 edition of the Natura 2000 Awards. The six winners include projects from Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal, Spain and a cross-border project from Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

The Natura 2000 Awards recognise conservation success stories across the EU and raises awareness about one of Europe’s outstanding achievements – the Natura 2000 network of protected areas.

In addition to conservation on land, communication, socio-economic benefits, and cross-border cooperation, this year the Awards are handed out to an additional category – Marine Conservation. This is to raise the profile of the many important efforts going on all around the Union to step up protection for marine and coastal species and habitats. Furthermore, the Citizens’ Award goes to the winner of the online vote.

Commissioner Sinkevičius said:

Protecting and restoring the EU’s natural heritage and biodiversity is crucial to mitigate and adapt to climate change while preserving life on Earth for generations to come. For the last 30 years, thousands of conservation professionals, volunteers and stakeholders have worked to protect and restore nature, preserving the benefits it brings. These people have made the network the success it is today.  In competitions, the trophy always goes to one, but we should all feel winners today because, when nature is protected, the benefits are there for all of us.

Natura 2000 is an EU wide network of nearly 27 000 protected sites that covers more than 18% of EU land territory and about 9% of its marine areas. The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of our most valuable and threatened species and habitats. It is also the result of a unique process of cooperation between stakeholders at national levels, and among EU Member States, which demonstrate the value of EU cooperation. The good management of the network is at the core of the ambitious protection and restoration targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030which aims to put biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030, with benefits for people, climate and the planet.

About the winners:

This year, the European Citizen’s Award went to the project “Flora—Empowering Conservation Entrepreneurs in Austria”, led by the Blühendes Österreich and Birdlife Austria. The project aimed to secure long term management of high nature value farmland in Natura 2000 sites in Austria through the creation of specially-created partnerships with NGOs, communities and farmers, “the conservation entrepreneurs”. These areas are key to ensure the health of agroecosystems, which are vital for agricultural production and food security. The partnerships received financial support, technical advice and zoological-botanical monitoring to implement flagship projects. Over seven years FLORA supported 28 nature conservation projects, resulting in the enlargement and improvement of 19 protected habitat types and hundreds of species.

The winners in the other five categories are:

The Conservation on Land Award went to the project “Adaptation of Eleonora’s falcon to climate change led by the University of Patras in Greece. This EU LIFE-funded ElClimA project implemented a range of actions aimed to facilitate Eleonora’s Falcon adaptation to climate change focusing on the improvement of its breeding performance over seven Natura 2000 sites. These actions included a rat eradication programme to prevent egg predation, installing artificial nests for optimal egg temperature regulation, and ensuring food sources from passerine birds by planting fruit trees, bushes and cereals to increase stopover times. The actions resulted in an impressive 42% increase in breeding success of the Eleanora’s falcons across the seven sites.

The Bulgarian communication campaign “Natura 2000 in Bulgaria: new horizons”, implemented by Green Balkans, won the Communication Award. This high-profile communication initiative funded by the EU LIFE Programme sought to raise awareness about the Natura 2000 network in Bulgaria using flagship species and habitats to communicate key aspects of Natura 2000. The estimated outreach is 4.5 million people through its work. The campaign produced and distributed audio, visual and written content through online streams, daily and weekly newsletters and a YouTube channel. National events and webinars were also organised. These efforts have resulted in nature-related issues receiving more attention in the media, and in the public as a whole.

The Socio-Economic Benefits Award, which recognises initiatives that demonstrate that nature conservation and economic development can go hand-in-hand, went to “Social inclusion and managing invasive alien species”. This project, led by the AMICA association and supported by the EU LIFE funding programme, aimed to eradicate pampas grass from five coastal Natura 2000 sites in Cantabria in Spain, while also addressing the serious difficulties faced by people with disabilities in entering the labor market. The project employed 22 people with disabilities to remove the invasive grass and replant natural vegetation, encouraging capacity building and social integration in addition to habitat conservation. In addition to the employees, a further 40 people with disabilities gained experience through volunteer activities.

The Marine Conservation Award went to the achievements of “Fishermen and seabirds, allies for the sea”, implemented by SPEA – Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves. This initiative, funded by the EU LIFE Programme and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, addressed the threats to seabirds posed by commercial fishing nets or hooks, by developing various mitigation measures. Through working closely with fishermen, one a device was developed which is highly effective in reducing bird by-catch. This device, dubbed the “scary bird decoy” scared seabirds away from fishing equipment and significantly reduced the number of birds caught in the gear. As the device is simple to use and highly effective, all fishermen involved in the trial continue to use it, and further work is being done to extend its use to other fishing vessels.

Evaluate the dark side with the CaveLife app”, led by the German Speleological Federation, won the Cross Border Cooperation and Networking Award. The project developed the CaveLife smartphone app, which allows amateur cavers to contribute to the assessment of underground habitats and species by uploading data to a centralized database. Few official assessments of underground habitats exist, and this application allows hundreds of volunteer speleologists across Europe to contribute to building a database of cave knowledge. This data can then be used by conservation authorities to make more informed decisions in their work. The app is available in English and German and is already being used in Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and Switzerland; a French version of the app is being developed.


The Award is open to anyone directly involved in management of or communication about the EU’s Natura 2000 network – businesses, government bodies, NGOs, volunteers, land owners/users, educational institutions or individuals. This year, a total of 40 applications from across Europe were received, out of which 21 projects were shortlisted. A high-level jury then selected the winners.

European Maritime Day in My Country 2022

For another year, the Via Pontica Foundation is participating in the European Commission’s initiative “European Maritime Day in my country” on the occasion of the European Maritime Day 2022.

The European Maritime Day (EMD) is an annual two-day event during which Europe’s maritime community meets to network, discuss and outline joint action on maritime affairs and the sustainable blue economy. This year’s edition will take place in Ravenna, Italy on 19-20 May. The theme for 2022 is ‘Sustainable blue economy for green recovery’.

But stakeholders don’t have to wait until the main event in May to get involved in the EMD’s 2022 activities. In fact, from 1 April ‘EMD In My Country’ events will start all over Europe. Continuing until 31 October, these events will take place in physical, virtual and hybrid formats. Last year, a record 2021 EMD In My Country events were held across 25 countries and all EU sea basins. As 2022 is the European Year of Youth, the organisers are notably looking for events focused on youth activities.

On this occasion, the Via Pontica Foundation organized an Eco Workshop – creating art objects with waste materials in the Vaya Ecopark for Biodiversity and Alternative Tourism, with an emphasis on the birds in the Ecopark.

Children and parents who have an interest in the environment are invited to participate in the nature conservation, waste processing and their transformation into useful and beautiful things. The Eco Workshop aims the visitors not only to develop their aesthetics and skills in the production of various items from waste materials , but to build a worldview and desire to protect nature and to be convinced that every small step taken in this direction is positive influence.

Healed Birds Were Released into the Lake Vaya


Healed birds, cured with the help of the team of the Wildlife Rescue Center – Stara Zagora, were released today at the Ecopark “Vaya” near Burgas.
Vaya Ecopark for Biodiversity and Alternative Tourism is located near the Vaya Lake of the same name, which is the largest natural lake in Bulgaria. It is part of Natura 2000 and is a protected area.


The cooperation with the Wildlife Rescue Center – Stara Zagora of the NGO “Green Balkans” is very active and as a result the lake often provides shelter for birds rescued from poaching and is a natural environment and safe place to restore cured birds, injured migrants and rare birds in trouble.


79 NGOs and Farmers Associations, Including Via Pontica, Call for Meaningful Pesticide Statistics

Together with 78 environmental and farming organisations, Via Pontica Foundation signed a letter calling for strong farming pesticide statistics.

Plant protection products (PPPs) are pesticides used to protect crops. The EU framework aims to achieve sustainable use of PPPs by reducing risks and impacts on human health and environment and promoting integrated pest management. The Commission and Member States have taken action to promote the sustainable use of PPPs but there has been limited progress in measuring and reducing the associated risks.

Applying integrated pest management is compulsory for farmers, but not a requirement for receiving payments under the common agricultural policy and enforcement is weak. Available EU statistics and new risk indicators do not show how successful the policy has been in achieving a sustainable use of PPPs.

The revised Statistics on Agricultural Input and Output Regulation is in the final stages of the legislative process. While the European Parliament adopted a position that makes farm statistics fit for the future and meaningful to the public and for drinking water suppliers, Member State proposals fall far short of the Commission proposals and would make it impossible to measure progress towards the objectives set in the Farm to Fork Strategy.

NGOs and farmers’ associations make recommendations related to the verification of integrated pest management at farm level, the improvement of statistics on plant protection products and the development of better risk indicators. The same applies to biocides, fertilizers, animal health products and antibiotics in feed.

Better data will benefit everyone, from the general public, via farmers to drinking water suppliers. Let’s seize this opportunity!

Open letter from 79 organisations on the EU reform of pesticides statistics 25.02.2022

Anniversary Coin with Great Crested Grebe


Jubilee commemorative coin of high public and world importance, promoting the huge bird wealth of Bulgaria will be issued by the Bulgarian National Bank on the occasion of World Wetlands Day 2022. The silver coin, depicting a Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus), will have a face value of BGN 10 and a one-time weight of 23.33 g.

The issue was initiated by the Via Pontica Foundation with the support of the Municipality of Burgas and is based on the fact that most of the feathered diversity of Bulgaria is found near the Burgas Lake Complex, which includes the largest Bulgarian lake Vaya. The main stop on the Via Pontica – an ancient Roman road, coinciding with the invisible celestial highway of birds migrating from Europe to Africa, it can be called “Eldorado” of waterfowl, many of which are rare in Bulgaria, Europe and 9 of them for the world.

The commitment of the Via Pontica Foundation to biodiversity and conservation of the planet has been shared with many governmental and non-governmental organizations and is highly appreciated not only in Bulgaria but also worldwide, as the Via Pontica Foundation was appointed NGO Coordinator of CEPA of the Ramsar Convention for 2018-2020.

Together with one of the most active municipalities in the field of environmental protection in Bulgaria, given as an example of active work and good administrative capacity – Burgas Municipality, Via Pontica Foundation successfully implements national and international projects in the field of environmental protection and sustainable use of natural resources.

This Year We Celebrate February 2, World Wetlands Day, under the Auspices of the United Nations


General Assembly of the United Nations, in its 75th session of 30 August 2021, adopted the Resolution on World Wetlands Day. The Resolution was co-sponsored by 75 Member States and can be found in the six official languages of the United Nations at the following address:

The Secretariat is bringing the present Resolution to the attention of all Member States, the organizations of the United Nations system and other relevant stakeholders, including civil society organizations, academia and the private sector, for appropriate observance.


The General Assembly,

Reaffirming its resolution 70/1 of 25 September 2015, entitled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, in which it adopted a comprehensive, far-reaching and people-centred set of universal and transformative Sustainable Development Goals and targets, its commitment to working tirelessly for the full implementation of the Agenda by 2030, its recognition that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, and its commitment to achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental – in a balanced and integrated manner, and to building upon the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals and seeking to address their unfinished business,

Reaffirming also its resolutions 53/199 of 15 December 1998 and 61/185 of 20 December 2006 on the proclamation of international years, and Economic and Social Council resolution 1980/67 of 25 July 1980 on international years and anniversaries, particularly paragraphs 1 to 10 of the annex thereto on the agreed criteria for the proclamation of international years, as well as paragraphs 13 and 14, in which it is stated that an international day or year should not be proclaimed before the basic arrangements for its organization and financing have been made,

Reaffirming further that wetlands are critical to people and nature, given the intrinsic value of these ecosystems, and their benefits and services, including their environmental, climate, ecological, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic contributions to sustainable development and human well-being,

Acknowledging that wetlands are among the ecosystems with the highest rates of decline, loss and degradation, and considering that indicators of current negative trends in global biodiversity and ecosystem functions are projected to continue in response to direct and indirect drivers such as rapid human population growth, unsustainable production and consumption and associated technological development, as well as the adverse impacts of climate change,

Taking into account that wetlands are essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals related to poverty eradication, food and nutrition, healthy living, gender equality, water quality and availability, energy supply, the reduction of natural disasters, innovation and the development of appropriate infrastructure, sustainable and resilient human settlements, the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, oceans, seas and marine resources, biodiversity and the sustainable use of ecosystems,

Recalling Sustainable Development Goal 6, which focuses on ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, and its target 6.6, which seeks to protect and restore water-related ecosystems; Goal 14, on the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, including its target 14.2, which seeks to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems; and Goal 15, related to life on land, and its target 15.1, which seeks to ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, including wetlands, in line with obligations under international agreements,

Reaffirming the important role of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat[1] (Ramsar Convention) in ensuring the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, and its contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world,

Taking into account that the secretariat of the Ramsar Convention is co‑custodian of Sustainable Development Goal indicator 6.6.1, which monitors change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time, and that the Convention is a partner agency for indicators 6.5.1, 14.5.1 and 15.1.2,

Noting decision III/21 of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, of 15 November 1996,[2] recalling the role of the Ramsar Convention as the lead partner in the implementation of activities related to wetlands under the Convention on Biological Diversity,[3] and recognizing the important contribution that the Ramsar Convention has made towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020,[4]

Recognizing that 171 States had become Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat as of July 2021 and that the secretariat of the Ramsar Convention provides outreach materials to help to raise public awareness of the importance and value of wetlands on 2 February each year, the anniversary of the date of adoption of the Convention, in 1971,

Taking note of the outcome of the thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat, held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 21 to 29 October 2018, and in particular its resolution XIII.1, in which the Conference invited the General Assembly to recognize 2 February of each year, the date of adoption of the Convention on Wetlands, as World Wetlands Day,

  1. Decides to proclaim 2 February, the date of adoption of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention), as World Wetlands Day;
  2. Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other global, regional and subregional organizations, as well as other relevant stakeholders, including civil society, international and national non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe and raise awareness of World Wetlands Day in an appropriate manner, in accordance with national priorities;
  3. Stresses that the cost of all activities that may arise from the implementation of the present resolution should be met from voluntary contributions, and that such activities would be subject to the availability and provision of voluntary contributions;
  4. Invites the secretariat of the Ramsar Convention, in collaboration with relevant organizations of the United Nations system, to facilitate the implementation of World Wetlands Day, mindful of the provisions contained in the annex to Economic and Social Council resolution 1980/67, and also invites the secretariat of the Ramsar Convention to inform the General Assembly at its seventy-sixth session about the implementation of the present resolution;
  5. Requests the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of all Member States, the organizations of the United Nations system and other relevant stakeholders, including civil society organizations, academia and the private sector, for appropriate observance. X/2, annex.

Five Ways We Can Stem Global Warming


The Earth is getting warmer and time is running out to prevent irreversible damage to our planet. The average surface air temperature has risen about 1°C since 1900, with over half the increase coming since the mid-1970s, as human activity has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide by 40% since the start of the 20th century. This has warmed the oceans, caused sea levels to rise, decreased coverage of snow and ice in the Northern Hemisphere and melted sea ice in the Arctic.

But while the situation is dire, it’s not hopeless. There are solutions in our grasp to slow or even reverse climate change. Below, find five things that we – businesses and individuals – can do to make things better today and how technology can put us on a path to healing the earth.

Support Efforts to Reduce Deforestation
Forests absorb carbon dioxide, generating and releasing oxygen in its place. They also store carbon in their trunks and roots as well as in the soil below them. When trees are cut down, they release their stored carbon into the environment as CO2. For these reasons the quest to reduce deforestation was a focus for governments at COP26 and affects every person on earth.

“The underground biomass retains vast quantities of carbon,” says Jocelyne S. Sze, a Ph.D. candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Sheffield’s School of Biosciences at the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures. “And it’s not just the trees that sequester carbon, it’s also the fungi and bacteria and the whole ecosystem on the ground.”

Illegal logging is one of the threats against the trees, but there is good news. Climate warriors are already taking the problem on. For instance, the charity Rainforest Connection (RFCx), in conjunction with partners including Huawei, is creating and deploying remote mobile listening devices to detect illegal logging.

RFCx installs solar powered audio monitoring systems called Guardians, which are computers housed in weatherproof boxes with solar panels, an antenna and a microphone, in forests across the world. These Guardians can “listen” in on the forest sounds and send messages to rangers when sounds of logging are detected.

“Sound is a really good way to expose illegal activities,” explains Chrissy Durkin, director of international expansion at Rainforest Connection. “You can detect the sound of a chainsaw from quite far away. Chainsaws have really low frequency sounds, and we can detect them and stop logging immediately.”

Protect Wetlands
Wetlands – which are saturated areas of land such as marshes and swamps – are extraordinary stores of carbon. The plants and grasses that grow there absorb carbon and store it in their roots and adjacent soil. But they are at risk of being lost forever due to infill and development, which causes carbon to be released into the environment. It also eliminates future carbon storage and can cause widespread fires and devastation, says Sze.

One of the most effective ways to protect wetlands is conservation and Huawei has recognized this by developing technologies to support these conservation efforts, says Victor Zhang, vice president of Huawei. In Lake Neusiedl in Austria, the tech giant is helping tackle biodiversity loss by using 70 Guardian listening stations to identify species and create adaptive conservation management.

“We believe that technology will provide the answers to reducing CO2e emissions but with the climate crisis already upon us, there is no time to waste in ensuring these solutions are developed as quickly as possible,” Zhang said.

Work from Home
Working from home is one way that individuals and businesses can make an immediate impact on global warming. A report commissioned by Huawei found that remote working could contribute 5% of the reduction in transport emissions required for the UK’s net-zero transport objective.

“The reduced emission that comes from being online and working more from home is about 24 megatons of carbon,” says Luca Schiavoni, senior analyst at Assembly Research.

Of course, working from home requires good connectivity, something that everyone can support and campaign for with the UK needing to move faster in adopting the best available connectivity technology, according to Zhang.

Install Solar
The energy supply sector is the largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for about 35% of total emissions, according to the IPCC. We can eliminate much of those emissions by switching from fossil fuels to solar energy systems, also called photovoltaic systems (PV). These systems collect energy emitted by the sun and convert it into electricity that’s stored on-site in special batteries without any combustion.

There are big benefits to going solar. In the Middle East, Huawei Digital Power has partnered with Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Energy Storage Project to deliver the world’s largest energy storage project in the world, consisting of 400 MW of PV and a 1.3 GWh battery energy storage system. It will meet the future energy requirements of millions of people including supplying NEOM, a new coastal city that is set to be the first in the world to be powered completely with renewable energy.

To date, Huawei Digital Power has helped generate 443.5 billion kWh of green power, save 13.6 billion kWh of electricity, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 210 million tons – equivalent to planting 290 million trees.

Switch to Electric Vehicles
After energy, transport is the next largest cause of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for more than a quarter of the UK’s total. A simple way to reduce emissions is by switching from petrol or diesel-powered vehicles to electric vehicles – and this transition is already under way, with a ban on the sale of new combustion-engine vehicles coming into force in 2030. But there’s another way too: by creating connected, integrated transport systems.

“Connectivity is part of the path to net-zero,” says Schiavoni. He and other researchers like him envision a world where our cars, vans and lorries are connected into a larger transport ecosystem in which they can instantly and automatically improve the way they drive, cutting emissions by between 13% and 45%.

“Connected vehicles won’t accelerate and stop as much as current cars and that will reduce emissions dramatically because a lot the emissions of cars come from inconsistency in speed,” he says. “We’re going to see cars that are able, for example, to detect slowdowns in traffic far away. The vehicles will talk to each other and talk to a transport system that will co-ordinate traffic.”

While the targets for net-zero may still seem a long way off, the initial steps towards that transition need to be taken now. And with every step we take, technology, such as those being developed by Huawei, will be there to support us and make the journey faster and smoother for everyone.

Climate Change in 2021: There’s No Turning Back Now

Climate activists hold a demonstration through the venue of the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Friday, Nov. 12, 2021.  (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)


Across a quarter century of U.N. climate conferences tasked with saving humanity from itself, one was deemed a chaotic failure (Copenhagen in 2009), another a stunning success (Paris in 2015) and the rest landed somewhere in between.

This year’s COP26 inspired all these reactions at once.

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, leading a 100,000-strong march through the streets of Glasgow, Scotland, dismissed the two-week meet as a “greenwashing festival.”

But dedicated experts in the negotiating arena hailed solid — even historic — advances in beating back the existential threat of global warming.

More often than not, observers vacillated between approval and criticism, hope and despair.

“The Glasgow Climate Pact is more than we expected, but less than we hoped for,” said Dann Mitchell, head of climate hazards at Britain’s Met Office.

Gauging the efficacy of measures announced at the COP26 summit largely depends on the yardstick used to measure them.

Compared to what came before, the first-ever call by 196 countries to draw down coal-fired power, or a promise to double financial aid each year — to roughly $40 billion — so poor nations can brace for climate impacts, are giant steps forward.

Likewise, a provision obliging countries to consider setting more ambitious targets for reducing carbon pollution every year rather than once every five years.

But all these hard-won gains at COP26 shrivel in significance when stacked up against hard science.

Glasgow exit lane

An unbroken cascade in 2021 of deadly floods, heat waves and wildfires across four continents, combined with ever more detailed projections, left no doubt that going beyond the 1.5 degrees Celsius heating limit envisioned in the Paris Agreement would push Earth into the red zone.

“As a lifelong optimist, I see the Glasgow outcome as half-full rather than half-empty,” said Alden Meyer, a senior analyst at climate and energy think tank E3G.

“But the atmosphere responds to emissions — not COP decisions — and much work remains ahead to translate the strong rhetoric here into reality.”

This year also saw Part 1 of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) first comprehensive synthesis of climate science in seven years.

It found that global heating is virtually certain to pass 1.5 C, probably within a decade. Meanwhile, ocean levels are rising faster than anticipated, and will do so for centuries.

And forests, soil and oceans — which absorb more than half of humanity’s carbon pollution — show signs of saturation.

Then there is the threat of “tipping points” that could see permafrost release massive amounts of carbon dioxide and methane, the Amazon basin transformed into savannah and ice sheets shedding enough mass to submerge cities and deltas home to hundreds of millions.

“Make no mistake, we are still on the road to hell,” said Dave Reay, head of the University of Edinburgh’s Climate Change Institute.

“But Glasgow has at least created an exit lane.”

Permanent breaking story

Part 2 of the IPCC report on climate impacts, seen exclusively by AFP ahead of its February 2022 publication, reveals another yawning gap between the baby steps of COP26 and what is needed in the long term

Helping vulnerable nations cope, to the multiplier effect of global heating on extreme weather could soon require trillions of dollars per year, not the tens of billions put on the table at COP26, a draft version of the report makes clear.

“Adaptation costs are significantly higher than previously estimated, resulting in a growing ‘adaptation finance gap’,” said an executive summary of the 4,000-page report.

The failure of rich nations to deliver $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries makes it hard to imagine where these trillions will come from.

Glasgow marked the transition from fleshing out the rules for the 2015 Paris treaty to implementing its provisions.

But unlike the aftermath of other major COPs, the climate crisis will remain front-and-center, and this permanent breaking story is not going to recede into the background anytime soon.

How that saga unfolds will depend a lot on the world’s four major emitters, collectively responsible for 60% of global carbon pollution.

The United States and the European Union have pledged carbon neutrality by 2050 and recently set more ambitious emissions reduction targets for 2030, but refused to set up a fund demanded by more than 130 developing countries to help pay for climate damage already incurred.

All sectors, all countries

China and India — accounting for 38% of global emissions in 2021, and rising — have resisted pressure to pledge a shift away from fossil fuels.

Beijing has steadfastly refused to do what scientists say is doable and necessary to stay under 2 C: peak their emissions far earlier than 2030.

If climate politics remain stymied, however, global capital is already flowing into what some have called the most massive economic transformation in human history.

In Glasgow, former Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney boasted that nearly 500 banks, insurers and asset managers worth $130 trillion were ready to finance climate action.

“If we only had to transform one sector, or move one country off fossil fuels, we would have done so long ago,” commented Christiana Figueres, who headed the U.N. climate convention when the Paris deal was struck.

“But all sectors of the global economy have to be decarbonized, and all countries must switch to clean technologies.”

Where some of that money might flow — and who might get left out — has also come into focus, with major investment deals announced for South Africa, and others in the pipeline for emerging economies such as Indonesia and Vietnam.

But there is little incentive for private capital to help the poorest and most climate vulnerable countries to cope with climate ravages and shore up their defenses.

“We cannot just wait for open market incentives to have their way, we need to set prices on carbon globally, we need to set science-based targets that become climate laws,” said Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Lobsters, Octopus and Crabs Recognised as Sentient Beings


Amendment to Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill following LSE report on decapod and cephalopod sentience

  • Crabs, octopus and lobsters to be recognised as sentient beings in government policy decision making
  • Decapod crustaceans and cephalopod molluscs will be recognised under the scope of the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill
  • Amendment to Bill follows London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) scientific research findings on decapod and cephalopod sentience
  • Existing industry practices will not be affected and there will be no direct impact on shellfish catching or in restaurant kitchens

The scope of the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill has today been extended to recognise lobsters, octopus and crabs and all other decapod crustaceans and cephalopod molluscs as sentient beings.

The move follows the findings of a government-commissioned independent review by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) which concluded there is strong scientific evidence decapod crustaceans and cephalopod molluscs are sentient.

The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill already recognises all animals with a backbone (vertebrates) as sentient beings. However, unlike some other invertebrates (animals without a backbone ), decapod crustaceans and cephalopods have complex central nervous systems, one of the key hallmarks of sentience.

Animal Welfare Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said:

The UK has always led the way on animal welfare and our Action Plan for Animal Welfare goes even further by setting out our plans to bring in some of the strongest protections in the world for pets, livestock and wild animals.

The Animal Welfare Sentience Bill provides a crucial assurance that animal wellbeing is rightly considered when developing new laws. The science is now clear that crustaceans and molluscs can feel pain and therefore it is only right they are covered by this vital piece of legislation.

The Bill, when it becomes law, will establish an Animal Sentience Committee made up of experts from within the field. They will be able to issue reports on how well government decisions have taken account of the welfare of sentient animals with Ministers needing to respond to Parliament.