Climate change news from the ground, in a warming world
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Laurie Goering
Climate editor

The United States is back in the Paris Agreement on climate change - a shift President Joe Biden set in motion on his first day in office, reversing Donald Trump's decision to abandon the pact.

Having the world's second-biggest emitter back at the negotiating table, promising net-zero emissions by 2050, could help drive more ambitious action around the globe - including potentially in India, analysts say.

It also is likely to move climate change up the U.N. Security Council agenda, as members meet today to consider how a hotter planet it driving worsening conflict, displacement and insecurity.

Biden's return to the accord might also open the international climate finance tap a turn or two, getting more cash to poorer countries that need it to grow cleanly and adapt to extreme weather and rising seas.

The slogan "Climate action" is projected on the Eiffel Tower as part of the U.N. climate change conference 2015 in Paris, France, December 11, 2015. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Could Biden also use foreign and trade policy to tackle the thorny issue of rising deforestation in the Amazon, such as by blocking U.S. imports of timber, soy and beef, whose production threatens rainforests?

The Lacey Act - which already bans the import of illegally trafficked wildlife, plants and timber - could be expanded to prohibit imports of agricultural commodities grown on illegally deforested land, analysts say - and U.S. firms could be required to report on deforestation in their supply chains.

That is particularly important with many of the world's tropical forests - and people living in them - imperilled by legal rollbacks as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,  and as Myanmar's forests come under growing threat as a result of the military coup and economic sanctions.

A steel worker of Germany's industrial conglomerate ThyssenKrupp AG takes a sample of raw iron from a blast furnace at Germany's largest steel factory in Duisburg, Germany, January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

In fossil fuel-rich Russia, meanwhile, authorities in the country's remote far east have launched an unexpected effort to test carbon trading and reach net-zero planet-heating emissions by 2025.

"This experiment will allow us to try various measures to regulate carbon and evaluate their effectiveness, for later scaling up at the national level," Russia's economic development minister said.

But transitioning to a cleaner economy isn't easy, particularly when workers in heavily climate-polluting industries like coal and steel wonder if new "green" jobs will pay as well.

"You have people who say, 'I want to do it and can - I have the skills. But can I afford it?'," said an official from Thyssenkrupp, Europe's second-biggest steel producer. "This is exactly why this transition issue is so complicated."

Ever pondered tracking and cutting your own carbon footprint? Our reporter Umberto Bacchi gave it a try - and found the results weren't quite what he expected.

See you next week!



Smart weather app helps Kenya's herders brace for drought
As climate change brings more weather extremes, access to village-level drought updates and advice via smartphones is helping under-pressure pastoralists cope

'Can I afford it?' Workers fear squeeze from green energy transition
Creating a "just transition" to a cleaner economy will require listening to worried workers - and providing social safety nets and retraining to help them

With U.S. return to Paris Agreement, stars align for accelerated climate action
The United States re-enters the Paris Agreement on climate change on Friday, setting the stage for a boost in global efforts to meet the pact's goals to curb planetary heating

Russia's far east aims for unexpected climate target: net zero by 2025
The Sakhalin region plans to move away from fossil fuels and pilot the first carbon market in an oil and gas-rich country widely seen as unambitious on climate action

Climate change: 5 places where global warming is a security risk
As the U.N. Security Council meets to discuss growing threats from a heating planet, here are some places where storms, wildfires and drought are fuelling security risks

As U.S. rejoins Paris pact, hopes rise for reopening of climate finance tap
As wealthy governments fall behind on a 2020 promise of climate funding for vulnerable countries, calls are growing for the U.S. to make up for lost time

Military coup, economic sanctions hike threats to Myanmar's forests
Forestry experts say Myanmar's army may revert to logging if trade restrictions push it into doing more business with countries and companies lacking environmental standards

How Biden could use foreign and trade policy to protect the Amazon rainforest
To tackle rising deforestation in the Amazon, experts urge U.S. climate diplomacy to focus on trade policies, economic incentives and new coalitions

World's tropical forests and people imperiled by legal rollbacks under COVID-19
Brazil, Indonesia, Colombia, Peru and DR Congo have weakened regulations to boost economic growth

I tried to cut my carbon footprint for a month. Here's how I did
I signed up for the Giki Zero app, which helps people curb their planet-warming emissions. The first thing I learned? I am a big polluter

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