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Video: Wal-mart takes on deforestation

Week in Forests, Oct 22, 2010

Biodiversity conference opens

Delegates representing 192 nations gathered in Nagoya, Japan for the meeting of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity.

The CBD aims to curb biodiversity loss, but expectations are low for this particular meeting.

Nevertheless a spate of reports was released during the first days of the conference including a new study from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, which estimated the value of ecosystem services — such as water purification, pollination of crops and climate regulation — between $2 trillion and $5 trillion a year.

Walmart takes on deforestation

Walmart announced new sourcing criteria for commodities closely associated with deforestation: palm oil and beef from the Amazon.

The world’s largest retailer will require sustainably-sourced palm oil for all its private brand products globally by the end of 2015, a move that will provide critical support for initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of palm oil, which has been linked to large-scale deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia over the past 20 years. Walmart says the move will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5 million metric tons by the end of 2015 for its U.K. and U.S. private brand products alone.

The retail giant also said it will expand Walmart Brazil’s beef sourcing practices to all Walmart companies worldwide by the end of 2015. Walmart Brazil has pioneered a traceability system to ensure that beef does not contribute to Amazon deforestation.

Walmart Brazil’s beef traceability program, known as “Selected Quality, Guaranteed Origin”, allows a consumer, using a cell phone, to track the origin of beef products in the store all the way back to its source ranch.

Cattle production accounts for 60-80 percent of all deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.

Earlier this year Walmart committed to reducing 20 million metric tons of CO2 emissions from its private label products and supply chain by the end of 2015.

Bill Gates supports California climate initiative

Bill Gates contributed $700,000 to the “No on 23” campaign, giving a boost to an effort to fight a ballot proposition that would suspend California’s rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions until state unemployment levels fall below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.

Suspension of the so-called Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 would slow California’s efforts to incorporate tropical forest conservation into a state strategy for reducing CO2 emissions.

Greenpeace ship barred from Indonesian waters

Environmental group Greenpeace suffered a setback last week when its flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, was barred from entering Indonesian waters. The ship would have supported Greenpeace in its campaign against deforestation, which is Indonesia’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Indonesian government said Greenpeace failed to fully clarify the purpose of the ship’s visit.

Americans don’t know much about climate change

Most Americans don’t understand the basics of climate change, finds a new poll by researchers at Yale University.

While 63% of Americans say that the planet is warming, only half attribute that trend to human activities. 19 percent of those polled stated that the climate was not warming. 15 percent believe the world is cooling despite long-term scientific data that shows it is warming.

While most Americans identified emissions from burning fossil fuels and deforestation as causes of climate change, a majority also believed, erroneously, that the hole in the ozone layer, aerosol spray cans, and acid rain contributed to warming temperatures worldwide.

Surprisingly, only a quarter of Americans have ever heard of ocean acidification or coral bleaching.

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