Snippets for 27 October 2022



Thanks for reading our Snippets newsletter this week. We hope you find it interesting.


New Zealand is putting its hand up and saying yes to renewables. Not just in electricity but in all energy consumption, with a 50% target by 2035. And to further advance the journey to low emissions, a new, somewhat controversial, cow greenhouse gas tax is also being proposed. With the next COP happening in Egypt in a couple of weeks, all possible ways to minimise emissions must be considered, and pledges from previous COP's acted upon. The world must come together in cooperation on common goals. There is hope, seen in the determination shown by delegations including NZ’s, as to what can be done.


Feeding the world’s rapidly growing population is problematic, with climate change causing all sorts of issues. Colombia is using their seed bank to find strains of crops that are more adapted to the new conditions; and others are investigating undomesticated plants that have characteristics that could, if bred together, help currently farmed crops develop resistance to the extremes they are experiencing. Of course, good soil health and resilience is essential too. And an interesting alternative in a drought-stricken world could be algae.


Indigenous people are well aware of the environment and the need to protect forests, and we have a couple of articles around their involvement in this area, followed by one that tells us how the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may be making trees grow faster, using more CO2 in the process. Is nature adapting?



The terms of reference for the New Zealand Energy Strategy released last Friday sets a target of 50% renewables for total energy consumption by 2035. This target addresses the renewables share of total energy, not just electricity, which is in itself 100%. To underpin these targets, the government aims to have a national Energy Strategy in place by 2024, with plans to fast-track the rollout of renewables, grid adaptation, and the phase-out of fossil fuels in energy generation, transport and industry. Read more....


New Zealand has also proposed a tax on burping and peeing farm animals in a bid to combat climate change. Farm animals produce gases that warm the planet, particularly methane from cattle burps and nitrous oxide from their urine. The government has pledged to make the country carbon neutral by 2050. Part of that pledge is a plan to reduce methane emissions from farm animals by 10 per cent by 2030 and by up to 47 per cent by 2050. Read more....


Delegates and leaders from around the world can seize an opportunity at COP 27. This platform represents a unique opportunity for the world to come together, recognise common interests, and restore multilateral cooperation. The article discusses the role that both developed and developing countries have to play in the fight against climate change. Read more....




With temperatures having already risen by 1.1 C (relative to pre-industrial levels), it is vital to secure both the food system and farmers’ livelihoods. The Future Seed gene bank uses high-tech methods such as robotics, AI and machine learning to understand the genetics of plants, and create insurance for the future, as it preserves and holds genetic secrets of about 67,000 samples of beans, cassava, and forages that include plants found in pastureland. Read more....


Some 10 to 50 plant species together provide about 95% of the world’s caloric intake. This concentration on using only a few species is a key element of the vulnerability, of the world's food supply, to the impact of climate change. Crop Wild Relatives (CWR) are the 'cousins' of our cultivated crops, which can be useful in creating diversity and resilience in the food supply in the long run. Read more....




Having enough, and healthy, soil is vital to human survival. If we can’t grow crops, it means less food. Bali is attempting to create more food security but overseas investments in property, meaning loss of farming land, and the good soil that goes with it, are not helping. ‘Western’ farming practices aren’t helping either. But ‘Astungkara Way’ founder Tim Fijal is hoping to change that. Read more....




Traditional crops may not be enough to feed the planet’s ever expanding human population, so why not look to alternatives, such as algae. It could be the ‘magic crop’ required as climate change takes further hold. Algae is already used as animal feed and nutritional supplements, and it is gaining attention as a sustainable food for humans. Algae is pretty much the most efficient organism at converting sunlight into nutrients and is packed with many things humans need. More companies are now looking to provide algae based food types. Read more....

Currently, tropical deforestation puts only slightly less carbon pollution into the atmosphere than the entirety of the United States. It’s clear that if we’re to meet our climate targets, we need to protect tropical forests. The big question is: how do we do this? In Ecuador several NGOs are working alongside Indigenous communities to protect forests. Indigenous communities know the area, they have motivation to protect the forests, and they have the tools to implement lasting change - making them excellent guardians. Read more....


On the other side of the world, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a group of 500 women are protecting and restoring a portion of the Congo rainforest. Since the programme began in 2014, the women have planted over 100,000 trees, all by hand. They also learn about food security and how to prevent deforestation, and they grow a variety of trees in nurseries that are not only for reforestation, but also for medicine, food and fuel. Read more....



The benefits seen from protecting forests and planting trees may be even larger as the carbon concentration in the atmosphere goes up. Researchers at Ohio State University found that the rate and size, at which forests are growing, speeds up when the trees encounter larger quantities of carbon dioxide. They do this by increasing their rate of photosynthesis. Though the findings are preliminary, they are intriguing, and add credence to the idea that protecting trees is essential in the fight against climate change. Read more....








This week we have a few innovation articles we hope you find interesting:






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