What does 2017 hold for our environment?

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Courtesy of CoirGreen

The dawn of a New Year always brings with it new promises. Yet, what does 2017 hold for our environment? How would climate change impact agriculture and farming, water management, and food consumption? What are the key trends and issues that will dominate global discussions? We’ve pulled together several articles that provide some answers to these questions.

Can cooler temperatures be expected?

Looking back at 2016, this Guardian article highlights the negative impacts of the end of El Nino that resulted in droughts, high temperatures and food shortages in much of Africa, Latin America and south-east Asia. Later in the year, however, La Nina conditions were reported, and a weak La Nina can be expected in 2017. A natural cooling of Pacific Ocean waters, this can bring average rainfall and cooler temperatures across much of the globe. However, these conditions can fade away early in the New Year. Forecasters in Washington have said that while “ocean temperatures need to drop by an average of half a degree for at least six months”, it is probable that this may not happen. Farmers, especially in countries in Latin America, will be adversely impacted by these changing conditions as they compete for international markets.

More worries for farmers?

In Australia, water will be a key issue when it comes to agriculture, with discussions on water reforms entering a crucial phase. But, this is not the only concern. Rising power costs and rising temperatures are resulting in challenges for farmers. Trade and investment is high on the agenda, with 2017 being the deadline for a free-trade agreement with Indonesia, and agriculture commodities is expected to be a key point in these negotiations.

Water conservation as a key trend?

Speaking of water, Ford has predicted water conservation to be a key trend in 2017. This article captures efforts by large corporations to address challenges in climate change, health, and labour, among others. The corporations gathered agreed to “support meaningful carbon pricing, help smallholder farmers, reduce food waste by half, and set ambitious water-management goals”.

The need for more data on food consumption and inequality

In this interview, Mark Watts, the Executive Director of C40, draws attention to issues of food consumption and inequality as influencing climate politics in the coming year. Watts highlights the need to rethink urban food issues, noting that food consumption will be a critical challenge in the near future. Yet, closely linked to this is the need to tackle inequality. He highlights the need to look deeper at the linkages between inequality and climate change, for example, the need for more “analysis and data on the economic and social benefits of actions taken largely to achieve a climate outcome”.

How will political developments shape climate discussions?

This article highlights some of key political and policy developments that will shape 2017, including the changes in government in Washington, and larger discussions around Brexit. With Germany, the US, Mexico, and Canada having begun to look at a future without fossil fuels, the G7 aims to look at these transition plans. Importantly, 2017 will also see greater discussions around the Paris Agreement. Further, the new UN Secretary General taking office this year, has characterised climate action as ‘unstoppable’. It would be crucial to see how these changes will impact climate decisions at policy level, and how they will be translated at the local level.

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