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2020 in review: On climate, action fell short — but some efforts forged ahead

© Charlie Shoemaker for Conservation International

Nature saw its ups and downs in 2020, and Conservation News was there for it all. This month, we are revisiting some of the most interesting and significant stories we covered in the past year. 

A pandemic slowed the pace of life. It did not, however, slow climate breakdown. With only a decade left to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, stalled action in 2020 provided a setback just when progress was needed most.  

This year, we covered how global climate action plateaued; how some governments, businesses and individuals forged ahead despite the pandemic; and what needs to happen next.  

Before COVID-19 appeared on anyone’s radar, world leaders and climate activists declared 2020 a “super year for nature," with several global climate conferences set to chart a course for slowing climate change and protecting biodiversity over the next decade. With all events on hold, our climate experts shared the steps that countries and individuals must take to ensure that postponing climate conferences doesn’t mean postponing action.

Read more here.

To slow climate breakdown, there are certain places on Earth that we simply cannot afford to destroy, according to new research by Conservation International scientists. We spoke to these scientists about where these places are — and what humanity can do to protect them. 

Read more here.

In a historic vote, the global civil aviation industry approved two forest-carbon programs from which airlines can buy carbon credits, which represent a reduction of climate-warming carbon emissions to compensate for emissions made somewhere else. According to experts, this decision could pave the way for airlines to help neutralize their climate footprint by protecting forests. 

Read more here.

“Mom, what’s climate change?” Teaching kids about such a complex and unsettling issue can be daunting for any parent. Never fear: Our climate expert has five tips to keep it simple — and optimistic. 

Read more here.

Humanity has cleared nearly half of the world’s forests. But what would happen if we let many of these lands grow back naturally — and how much climate-warming carbon would they absorb? To find the answers to these questions, Conservation International’s Bronson Griscom helped create a global map that pinpoints exactly which forest areas have the most potential to combat climate change over the next 30 years if they are simply left alone to function as nature intended.

Read more here.

Kiley Price is a staff writer at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates here. Donate to Conservation International here.

Cover image: Chyulu Hills, Kenya (© Conservation International/Charlie Shoemaker)

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