The EU has recently published a “Circular Economy Package”, introducing various measures designed to advance the transition to a circular economy. Among these is a monitoring system that can assess progress towards a circular economy. The foundations for this monitoring framework were developed by the Institute of Social Ecology in Vienna in collaboration with the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Ispra.
Human biomass utilization reduces global carbon stocks in vegetation by 50%, implying that massive emissions of CO2 to the atmosphere have occurred over the past centuries and millennia. The contribution of forest management and livestock grazing on natural grasslands to global carbon losses is of similar magnitude as that of deforestation. Currently, these effects are underappreciated in existing global carbon models and assessments of the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from land-based production. Without full consideration of land management effects, global climate forecasts and calculations of the GHG effects of future bioenergy policies are error prone, seriously jeopardizing the robust evaluation of measures that would help achieving the 1,5°C target of the Paris Agreement. These are some of the result of a study headed by Karl-Heinz Erb from the Institute of Social Ecology, published in the scientific journal “Nature” on 20.12.2017.
In November 2016, the Constitutional Court of Colombia decided to grant the Río Atrato personality rights. The judgement was published in May 2017. As part of his doctoral thesis, the geographer Moremi Zeil is investigating the framework conditions, causes and – above all – the consequences of this judgement.
In many industrialised countries, forests are starting to regrow after centuries or millennia of large-scale deforestation. This appears positive for the global climate system, because forests sequester carbon that would otherwise accumulate in the atmosphere. However, forest regrowth may not necessarily be a viable strategy for climate-change mitigation. Simone Gingrich has been awarded a prestigious ERC Starting Grant and plans to use it to identify and analyse the “hidden emissions” of reforestation processes.