Climate News

Travel support available for Adaptation Network members

The Adaptation Network has a limited amount of funds available to support members to attend meetings and conferences on behalf of the Network.  This may be used, for example, for attending climate change related stakeholder meetings at national and provincial level, or could go towards costs for international conferences such as the UNCCD or UNFCCC COPs this year.  Any member who is actively involved in such national and international processes and who is willing to engage as a member of the Network and report back to it on activities and outcomes is welcome to apply. Although there is no deadline, once all funds have been allocated, the offer will be closed for the year.  If you would like to apply for support for all or part of the cost of travel, accommodation and/or subsistence, please write to us directly.

If you would like to apply please write to Rehana Dada: dada@adaptationnetwork.org.za


 

Update on Adaptation Fund Small Grants Facility

One of the projects approved by the Adaptation Fund for South Africa is a small grants project called ‘Taking Adaptation to the Ground: A small grants facility for enabling local level responses to climate change’.  The small grants mechanism is designed to empower rural poor communities in the most climate vulnerable areas to directly access finance for adaptation, with the Adaptation Fund interested in supporting projects that build resilience to climate change in agriculture, human settlements, and livelihoods. Provision will be made for at least 12 small grants for community-based adaptation projects in the Namakwa and Mopani Districts. Conservation South Africa and CHoiCe Trust are the local facilitators. The project intends to begin formal activities within the year, which places impetus on interested parties to begin project development and planning.  The project is led by SANBI as the National Implementing Entity for the Department of Environmental Affairs with SouthSouthNorth appointed as the Executing Entity.

For more information in the Namakwa District please contact Amanda Bourne: abourne@conservation.org or Tel 027 718 1565.

For the Mopani District please contact Nikki Stuart-Thompson: nikki@choicetrust.co.za or Tel 015 307 6329.


 

Chinese emissions shown to be lower than previously estimated

Research published in Nature this month show that China’s carbon emissions are substantially lower than previously estimated. For the period 2000-2012, China’s energy consumption was higher than reported by the country, but emissions for coal were on average 40 per cent lower than estimates used by the IPCC, and from cement production, 45 per cent lower. A key contributor to the new estimates was consideration of fuel quality.  The new study estimates that China’s carbon emissions from fossil fuel and cement in 2013 is 2,49 Gt, which is 14 per cent lower than previous estimates used for the IPCC AR5, and 10 per cent lower than the estimate given in the Global Carbon Project. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Research points out that there are still uncertainties, but refining estimates of carbon emissions enable more accurate climate projections, and better-informed policy.  The research team includes researchers from Harvard University, the University of Easy Anglia, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tsinghua University and 15 other international research institutes.

The paper, Reduced carbon emission estimates from fossil fuel combustion and cement production in China is published in Nature on 20 August 20 2015.


 

Renewable energy contributed about R4 billion to South Africa’s economy so far this year

During the first half of the year, renewable energy from South Africa’s first wind and solar projects created more financial benefits to the country than they cost, according to a study by the CSIR’s (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) Energy Centre.  The benefits are derived from savings in diesel and coal fuel costs, and unserved energy that was avoided as a result of renewable energy contributions.  “Unserved energy” refers to energy that would not have been delivered due to inability to meet demand, in other words energy that would have been subject to load shedding. Fuel cost savings amount to R3.6 billion, and avoided unserved energy (totalling 203 hours) resulted in a saving of R4.6 billion.  Tariff payments to wind and photovoltaic independent power producers amounted to R4.3 billion during this time.  Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz of the CSIR’s Energy Centre says that these estimates are conservative, and the actual cost savings of renewable energy are presumed to be higher than the study shows.

More information is available at: www.csir.co.za


 

A drier future for the Central Andes

By the end of the century, the Central Andes of Peru and Bolivia could experience a drop in precipitation by up to 30 per cent, according to a paper published in Environmental Research Letters. The research team compared tree ring and ice core data of the past 1,000 years with model calculations for the future, showing an unambiguous trend towards greater aridity in the Andes.  Current precipitation is within the normal fluctuation range for recent centuries, but by the end of the century the probability of dry years will be four times higher than pre-industrial times, and there could be a noticeable drop in precipitation during the rainy season within the next two decades. Global warming is likely to strengthen the westerly winds over the Central Andes, and stronger westerly winds in the upper troposphere reduces the flow of humid air from the Amazon regions into the Andes, resulting in greater aridity. Factors such as deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and lower levels of glaciation meltwater could exacerbate this trend.


 

North America lizard embryos highly susceptible to warming

Biologists at Arizona State University say that the impact of warming on North American lizards could be more severe than previously thought.  Lizard embryos die when subjected to temperatures of about 40 degrees Celsius, even for a few minutes, and repeated exposure to above normal temperatures, even in shaded nests, can result in physiological and behavioural complications.  Mothers can protect their eggs by digging nests deeper or in shadier soils, but even cooler nests might be exposed to excessive temperatures, and hatchlings might be challenged in finding their way out of deeper nests. Lizards also lay their eggs in one clutch so an entire clutch could be lost in a single heat wave.  The implications for predator species and broader biological systems could be significant.  The research is published online in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


 

Interest in methane absorbing bacteria in Arctic soils

A group of researchers at Princeton University show that a type of bacteria that occurs in carbon-poor Arctic soils is able to remove methane from the atmosphere, and also becomes more efficient as temperatures rise.  They claim that if Arctic temperatures rise by 5 to 15 degrees Celsius over the next century, the methane-absorbing capacity of these soils could increase 5 to 30 times.  These carbon-poor soils make up nearly 90 per cent of soils in permafrost regions. It is not clear if the “methane-hungry” bacteria will still be as functional in a future warmer world, and the researchers say they do not have a direct answer as to whether these soils can offset global atmospheric methane emissions.  The research is published in ISME Journal.


 

Adaptation through a dog’s lens

Researchers at Brown University and the American Museum of Natural History reveal that modern day dogs began to evolve from their mongoose-like ancestors in response to climate change about 40 million years ago.  At that stage North America’s heartland was warm and wooded, and the dog’s ancestor was adapted for an ambush-type predation style.  Its forelimbs had the flexibility to grapple with prey, more like a cat’s.  As the global climate cooled and forests gave way to open grasslands, they evolved over time into pursue-pounce predators like coyotes or foxes.  Their forelimbs became longer and more suitable for running long distances.  Over the same period, their teeth evolved to be more durable, which the researchers attribute to a shift to prey that had been rolled around on gritty savannah rather than soft forest floor.  The results were reached through examination of the elbows and teeth of 32 species of dogs over the period 40 million years ago to 2 million years ago.  Although herbivores were evolving longer legs over that time, the researchers shows that the dog’s evolution was more closely correlated with climate related changes to their habitat than to anatomical change of their prey.  The team intends to now explore potential changes in modern day predators in response to anthropogenic climate change.  Their research is published in Nature Communications.