For publications earlier than 2019, view our publications archive.
| Diluiso, Francesca; et al,: Coal transitions—part 1: a systematic map and review of case study learnings from regional, national, and local coal phase-out experiences. In: Environmental Research Letters, vol. 16, no. 11, pp. 113003, 2021, (authors include Nemet). (Type: Journal Article | | )|
A rapid coal phase-out is needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, but is hindered by serious challenges ranging from vested interests to the risks of social disruption. To understand how to organize a global coal phase-out, it is crucial to go beyond cost-effective climate mitigation scenarios and learn from the experience of previous coal transitions. Despite the relevance of the topic, evidence remains fragmented throughout different research fields, and not easily accessible. To address this gap, this paper provides a systematic map and comprehensive review of the literature on historical coal transitions. We use computer-assisted systematic mapping and review methods to chart and evaluate the available evidence on historical declines in coal production and consumption. We extracted a dataset of 278 case studies from 194 publications, covering coal transitions in 44 countries and ranging from the end of the 19th century until 2021. We find a relatively recent and rapidly expanding body of literature reflecting the growing importance of an early coal phase-out in scientific and political debates. Previous evidence has primarily focused on the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany, while other countries that experienced large coal declines, like those in Eastern Europe, are strongly underrepresented. An increasing number of studies, mostly published in the last 5 years, has been focusing on China. Most of the countries successfully reducing coal dependency have undergone both demand-side and supply-side transitions. This supports the use of policy approaches targeting both demand and supply to achieve a complete coal phase-out. From a political economy perspective, our dataset highlights that most transitions are driven by rising production costs for coal, falling prices for alternative energies, or local environmental concerns, especially regarding air pollution. The main challenges for coal-dependent regions are structural change transformations, in particular for industry and labor. Rising unemployment is the most largely documented outcome in the sample. Policymakers at multiple levels are instrumental in facilitating coal transitions. They rely mainly on regulatory instruments to foster the transitions and compensation schemes or investment plans to deal with their transformative processes. Even though many models suggest that coal phase-outs are among the low-hanging fruits on the way to climate neutrality and meeting the international climate goals, our case studies analysis highlights the intricate political economy at work that needs to be addressed through well-designed and just policies.
| Pelton, Rylie E O; Spawn-Lee, Seth A; Lark, Tyler J; Kim, Taegon; Springer, Nathaniel; Hawthorne, Peter; Ray, Deepak K; Schmitt, Jennifer: Land use leverage points to reduce GHG emissions in U.S. agricultural supply chains. In: Environmental Research Letters, vol. 16, no. 11, pp. 115002, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Recognizing the substantial threats climate change poses to agricultural supply chains, companies around the world are committing to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Recent modeling advances have increased the transparency of meat and ethanol industry supply chains, where conventional production practices and associated environmental impacts have been characterized and linked to downstream points of demand. Yet, to date, information and efforts have neglected both the spatial variability of production impacts and land use changes (LUCs) across highly heterogeneous agricultural landscapes. Developing effective mitigation programs and policies requires understanding these spatially-explicit hotspots for targeting GHG mitigation efforts and the links to downstream supply chain actors. Here we integrate, for the first time, spatial estimates of county-scale production practices and observations of direct LUC into company and industry-specific supply chains of beef, pork, chicken, ethanol, soy oil and wheat flour in the U.S., thereby conceptually changing our understanding of the sources, magnitudes and influencers of agricultural GHG emissions. We find that accounting for LUC can increase estimated feedstock emissions per unit of production by a factor of 2- to 5-times that of traditionally used estimates. Substantial variation across companies, sectors, and production regions reveal key opportunities to improve GHG footprints by reducing land conversion within their supply chains.
| Holloway, Tracey; Bratburd, Jennifer: The Four Things to Know about Satellite Data for Air Quality Management. In: Environmental Manager (EM) Magazine, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | )|
| Nemet, Gregory F.: Improving the crystal ball. In: Nature Energy, vol. 6, no. 9, pp. 860-861, 2021, ISSN: 2058-7546. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Understanding future costs of energy technologies is crucial for making good decisions about the energy transition. A new paper shows that some types of forecasts have done better than others.
|Z. Burivalova,; Hart, S. J.; Radeloff, V. C.; Srinivasan, U.: Early warning sign of forest loss in protected areas. In: Current Biology, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
As humanity is facing the double challenge of species extinctions and climate change, designating parts of forests as protected areas is a key conservation strategy.1, 2, 3, 4 Protected areas, encompassing 14.9% of the Earth’s land surface and 19% of global forests, can prevent forest loss but do not do so perfectly everywhere.5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 The reasons why protection only works in some areas are difficult to generalize: older and newer parks, protected areas with higher and lower suitability for agriculture, and more and less strict protection can be more effective at preventing forest loss than their counterparts.6,8,9,12, 13, 14, 15, 16 Yet predicting future forest loss within protected areas is crucial to proactive conservation. Here, we identify an early warning sign of subsequent forest loss, based on forest loss patterns in strict protected areas and their surrounding landscape worldwide, from 2000 to 2018.17,18 We found that a low level in the absolute forest cover immediately outside of a protected area signals a high risk of future forest loss inside the protected area itself. When the amount of forest left outside drops to <20%, the protected area is likely to experience rates of forest loss matching those in the wider landscape, regardless of its protection status (e.g., 5% loss outside will be matched by 5% loss inside). This knowledge could be used to direct funding to protected areas threatened by imminent forest loss, helping to proactively bolster protection to prevent forest loss, especially in countries where detailed information is lacking.
| Patz, Jonathan A.; Siri, José G.: Toward Urban Planetary Health Solutions to Climate Change and Other Modern Crises. In: Journal of Urban Health, vol. 98, no. 3, pp. 311-314, 2021, ISSN: 1468-2869. (Type: Journal Article | )|
| Holloway, T.; Miller, D.; Anenberg, S.; Diao, M.; Duncan, B.; Fiore, A. M.; Henze, D. K.; Hess, J.; Kinney, P. L.; Liu, Y.; Neu, J. L.; O'Neill, S. M.; Odman, M. Talat; Pierce, R. B.; Russell, A. G.; Tong, D.; West, J. J.; Zondlo, M. A.: Satellite Monitoring for Air Quality and Health. In: Annual Review of Biomedical Data Science, vol. 4, pp. 417-447, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Data from satellite instruments provide estimates of gas and particle levels relevant to human health, even pollutants invisible to the human eye. However, the successful interpretation of satellite data requires an understanding of how satellites relate to other data sources, as well as factors affecting their application to health challenges. Drawing from the expertise and experience of the 2016–2020 NASA HAQAST (Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team), we present a review of satellite data for air quality and health applications. We include a discussion of satellite data for epidemiological studies and health impact assessments, as well as the use of satellite data to evaluate air quality trends, support air quality regulation, characterize smoke from wildfires, and quantify emission sources. The primary advantage of satellite data compared to in situ measurements, e.g., from air quality monitoring stations, is their spatial coverage. Satellite data can reveal where pollution levels are highest around the world, how levels have changed over daily to decadal periods, and where pollutants are transported from urban to global scales. To date, air quality and health applications have primarily utilized satellite observations and satellite-derived products relevant to near-surface particulate matter <2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Health and air quality communities have grown increasingly engaged in the use of satellite data, and this trend is expected to continue. From health researchers to air quality managers, and from global applications to community impacts, satellite data are transforming the way air pollution exposure is evaluated.
| Edwards, Morgan R.; Giang, Amanda; Macey, Gregg P.; Magavi, Zeyneb; Nicholas, Dominic; Ackley, Robert; Schulman, Audrey: Repair Failures Call for New Policies to Tackle Leaky Natural Gas Distribution Systems. In: Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 55, no. 10, pp. 6561-6570, 2021, ISSN: 0013-936X. (Type: Journal Article | )|
| Smith, Matthew R; Stull, Valerie J; Patz, Jonathan A; Myers, Samuel S: Nutritional and environmental benefits of increasing insect consumption in Africa and Asia. In: Environmental Research Letters, vol. 16, no. 6, pp. 065001, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Most global dietary forecasts predict a reduction in nutritional deficiencies over the next several decades driven by significant increases in environmentally unsustainable livestock and animal source food consumption. Here, we explore a more environmentally sensitive alternative to improve global nutrition, consuming insects. Our study focuses on Africa and Asia, two continents with a history of eating insects and high rates of nutritional deficiency. We model the impact of adding modest amounts (2.5, 5 and 10 g per day, dry weight) of regionally appropriate and farmable species on total nutrient intake and population-wide risk of deficiency for specific nutrients of concern: protein, zinc, folate, and vitamin B12. We also estimate the total potential change in dietary iron. Five grams per day of insect consumption could alleviate a considerable amount of risk of nutritional deficiency: 67 million (95% uncertainty interval: 49–84 million) fewer people at risk of protein deficiency, 166 million (120–220 million) fewer people at risk of zinc deficiency, 237 million (120–439 million) fewer people at risk of folate deficiency, and 251 million (28–2271) fewer people at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency. For iron, per capita supplies could increase by 3% (0.8%–6.0%) with insects, and even more so for vulnerable groups in countries currently suffering severe rates of anemia: 4.2% (0.5%–8.8%) for women of childbearing age and 4.1% (0.4%–10.0%) for children under 5. Doubling or halving insect intake per capita causes the benefits for nutritional deficiency risk to roughly double or halve accordingly. Effects are most pronounced in South and Central Asia, though sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, and Southeast Asia also see considerable reduction in nutritional risk. These results demonstrate the potential for insects to fill a crucial role in providing nutrition for these populous and rapidly developing regions while safeguarding the global environment.
| Zhang, Xuesong; Lark, Tyler J; Clark, Christopher M; Yuan, Yongping; LeDuc, Stephen D: Grassland-to-cropland conversion increased soil, nutrient, and carbon losses in the US Midwest between 2008 and 2016. In: Environmental Research Letters, vol. 16, no. 5, pp. 054018, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
After decades of declining cropland area, the United States (US) experienced a reversal in land use/land cover change in recent years, with substantial grassland conversion to cropland in the US Midwest. Although previous studies estimated soil carbon (C) loss due to cropland expansion, other important environmental indicators, such as soil erosion and nutrient loss, remain largely unquantified. Here, we simulated the environmental impacts from the conversion of grassland to corn and soybeans for 12 US Midwestern states using the EPIC (Environmental Policy Integrated Climate) model. Between 2008 and 2016, over 2 Mha of grassland were converted to crop production in these states, with much less cropland concomitantly abandoned or retired from production. The net grassland-cropland conversion increased annual soil erosion by 7.9%, nitrogen (N) loss by 3.7%, and soil organic carbon loss by 5.6% relative to that of existing cropland, despite an associated increase in cropland area of only 2.5%. Notably, the above estimates represent the scenario of converting unmanaged grassland to tilled corn and soybeans, and impacts varied depending upon crop type and tillage regime. Corn and soybeans are dominant biofuel feedstocks, yet the grassland conversion and subsequent environmental impacts simulated in this study are likely not attributable solely to biofuel-driven land use change since other factors also contribute to corn and soybean prices and land use decisions. Nevertheless, our results suggest grassland conversion in the Upper Midwest has resulted in substantial degradation of soil quality, with implications for air and water quality as well. Additional conservation measures are likely necessary to counterbalance the impacts, particularly in areas with high rates of grassland conversion (e.g. the Dakotas, southern Iowa).
| Scott, Melissa; Sander, Robert; Nemet, Gregory; Patz, Jonathan: Improving Human Health in China Through Alternative Energy. In: Frontiers in Public Health, pp. NA, 2021, ISSN: 22962565, (Brief article). (Type: Journal Article | )|
| Jung, Suhyun; Dyngeland, Cecilie; Rausch, Lisa; Rasmussen, Laura Vang: Brazilian Land Registry Impacts on Land Use Conversion. In: American Journal of Agricultural Economics, vol. n/a, no. n/a, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Voluntary land registries can affect land use by facilitating both the public's ability to monitor land use and farmers' access to credit. We estimate the impacts of participation in a land registry on the conversion of natural vegetation to agricultural land use by examining the impacts of the rural environmental registry (CAR) in Brazil, using a dynamic land use model. We show that although participation in the CAR does not significantly affect crop area, it does influence pasture expansion, with variation by farm size and environmental compliance level. Our results provide insights for agricultural land-use policies by illuminating how the intended environmental objectives of land registry programs might be undermined by credit policies.
| Plowright, Raina K; Reaser, Jamie K; Locke, Harvey; Woodley, Stephen J; Patz, Jonathan A; Becker, Daniel J; Oppler, Gabriel; Hudson, Peter J; Tabor, Gary M: Land use-induced spillover: a call to action to safeguard environmental, animal, and human health. In: The Lancet Planetary Health, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. e237-e245, 2021, ISSN: 2542-5196. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
The rapid global spread and human health impacts of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, show humanity's vulnerability to zoonotic disease pandemics. Although anthropogenic land use change is known to be the major driver of zoonotic pathogen spillover from wildlife to human populations, the scientific underpinnings of land use-induced zoonotic spillover have rarely been investigated from the landscape perspective. We call for interdisciplinary collaborations to advance knowledge on land use implications for zoonotic disease emergence with a view toward informing the decisions needed to protect human health. In particular, we urge a mechanistic focus on the zoonotic pathogen infect–shed–spill–spread cascade to enable protection of landscape immunity—the ecological conditions that reduce the risk of pathogen spillover from reservoir hosts—as a conservation and biosecurity priority. Results are urgently needed to formulate an integrated, holistic set of science-based policy and management measures that effectively and cost-efficiently minimise zoonotic disease risk. We consider opportunities to better institute the necessary scientific collaboration, address primary technical challenges, and advance policy and management issues that warrant particular attention to effectively address health security from local to global scales.
| Rausch, Lisa L; Gibbs, Holly K: The Low Opportunity Costs of the Amazon Soy Moratorium. In: Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, vol. 4, pp. 21, 2021, ISSN: 2624-893X. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Brazil’s Amazon Soy Moratorium (ASM) contributed to overall reductions in Amazon deforestation since its implementation in 2006. Under the ASM, the Amazon soy sector maintains access to the growing share of the market that operates under zero-deforestation commitments. The ASM has been criticized as unfair to law-abiding producers. Only 1% of the approximately 14,000 soy farms in the Amazon Biome have soy-suitable, forested areas that could be deforested lawfully (49,273 ha). More than half of Amazon soy farms have soy-suitable areas that were deforested before 2008 and used for soy in 2019 (1.7 Mha). Taken together, these findings suggest that the opportunity costs of the ASM on current soy farms are low relative to the market access benefits.
| Cui, Ryna Yiyun; Hultman, Nathan; Cui, Diyang; McJeon, Haewon; Yu, Sha; Edwards, Morgan R.; Sen, Arijit; Song, Kaihui; Bowman, Christina; Clarke, Leon; Kang, Junjie; Lou, Jiehong; Yang, Fuqiang; Yuan, Jiahai; Zhang, Weirong; Zhu, Mengye: A plant-by-plant strategy for high-ambition coal power phaseout in China. In: Nature Communications, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 1468, 2021, ISSN: 2041-1723. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
More than half of current coal power capacity is in China. A key strategy for meeting China's 2060 carbon neutrality goal and the global 1.5 degrees C climate goal is to rapidly shift away from unabated coal use. Here we detail how to structure a high-ambition coal phaseout in China while balancing multiple national needs. We evaluate the 1037 currently operating coal plants based on comprehensive technical, economic and environmental criteria and develop a metric for prioritizing plants for early retirement. We find that 18 percent of plants consistently score poorly across all three criteria and are thus low-hanging fruits for rapid retirement. We develop plant-by-plant phaseout strategies for each province by combining our retirement algorithm with an integrated assessment model. With rapid retirement of the low-hanging fruits, other existing plants can operate with a 20- or 30-year minimum lifetime and gradually reduced utilization to achieve the 1.5 degrees C or well-below 2 degrees C climate goals, respectively, with complete phaseout by 2045 and 2055.
| Graham, Emily B.; Averill, Colin; Bond-Lamberty, Ben; Knelman, Joseph E.; Krause, Stefan; Peralta, Ariane L.; Shade, Ashley; Smith, A. Peyton; Cheng, Susan J.; Fanin, Nicolas; Freund, Cathryn; Garcia, Patricia E.; Gibbons, Sean M.; Goethem, Marc W. Van; Guebila, Marouen Ben; Kemppinen, Julia; Nowicki, Robert J.; Pausas, Juli G.; Reed, Samuel P.; Rocca, Jennifer; Sengupta, Aditi; Sihi, Debjani; Simonin, Marie; Słowiński, Michał; Spawn, Seth A.; Sutherland, Ira; Tonkin, Jonathan D.; Wisnoski, Nathan I.; Zipper, Samuel C.; Consortium, Contributor: Toward a Generalizable Framework of Disturbance Ecology Through Crowdsourced Science. In: Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | )|
| Moore, Eli K; Kriesberg, Adam; Schroeder, Steven; Geil, Kerrie; Haugen, Inga; Barford, Carol; Johns, Erica M; Arthur, Dan; Sheffield, Megan; Ritchie, Stephanie M; Jackson, Carolyn; Parr, Cynthia: Agricultural data management and sharing: Best practices and case study. In: Agronomy Journal, vol. n/a, no. n/a, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Abstract Agricultural data are crucial to many aspects of production, commerce, and research involved in feeding the global community. However, in most agricultural research disciplines standard best practices for data management and publication do not exist. Here we propose a set of best practices in the areas of peer review, minimal dataset development, data repositories, citizen science initiatives, and support for best data management. We illustrate some of these best practices with a case study in dairy agroecosystems research. While many common, and increasingly disparate data management and publication practices are entrenched in agricultural disciplines, opportunities are readily available for promoting and adopting best practices that better enable and enhance data-intensive agricultural research and production.
| Amintas Brandão Jr., Jr.; Rausch, Lisa; Durán, América Paz; Ciniro Costa Jr., Jr.; 1, Seth A. Spawn; Gibbs, Holly K: Estimating the Potential for Conservation and Farming in the Amazon and Cerrado under Four Policy Scenarios. In: Sustainability, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 1277, 2021, ISSN: 2071-1050. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Since 2013, clearing rates have rapidly increased in the Amazon and Cerrado biomes. This acceleration has raised questions about the efficacy of current regional public and private conservation policies that seek to promote agricultural production while conserving remnants of natural vegetation. In this study, we assessed conservation and agricultural outcomes of four potential policy scenarios that represent perfect adherence to private sector, zero-deforestation commitments (i.e., the Amazon soy moratorium—ASM and the Amazon cattle agreements—CA) and to varying levels of implementation of the Brazilian Forest Code (FC). Under a zero-clearing scenario, we find that the extent of croplands as of 2017 within the two biomes (31 MHa) could double without further clearing if agriculture were to expand on all previously cleared land that is suitable for crops. Moreover, at least 47 MHa of land that is already cleared but unsuitable for crops would remain available for pasture. Under scenarios in which only legal clearing under the FC could occur, 51 MHa of additional natural vegetation could be cleared. This includes as many as 1 MHa of nonforest vegetation that could be cleared in the Amazon biome without triggering the ASM and CA monitoring systems. Two-thirds of the total vegetation vulnerable to legal clearing is located within the Cerrado biome, and 19 MHa of this land is suitable for cropland expansion. Legal clearing of all of these areas could reduce biodiversity persistence by 4% within the two biomes, when compared with the zero-clearing scenario, and release up to 9 PgCO2e, with the majority (75%) coming from the Cerrado biome. However, when we considered the potential outcomes of full implementation of the FC, we found that 22% (11 MHa) of the 51 MHa of vegetation subject to legal clearing could be protected through the environmental quotas market, while an additional 1 MHa should be replanted across the two biomes, predominantly in the Amazon biome (73% of the area subject to replanting). Together, quotas and replanting could prevent the release of 2 PgCO2e that would otherwise be emitted if all legal clearing occurred. Based on our results, we conclude that ongoing legal clearing could create additional space for cropland and cattle production beyond the substantial existing stocks of cleared areas but would significantly impair local carbon and biodiversity stocks.
| Santika, Truly; Wilson, Kerrie A.; Law, Elizabeth A.; John, Freya A. V. St; Carlson, Kimberly M.; Gibbs, Holly; Morgans, Courtney L.; Ancrenaz, Marc; Meijaard, Erik; Struebig, Matthew J.: Impact of palm oil sustainability certification on village well-being and poverty in Indonesia. In: Nature Sustainability, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 109-119, 2021, ISSN: 2398-9629. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has emerged as the leading sustainability certification system to tackle socioenvironmental issues associated with the oil palm industry. However, the effectiveness of certification by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil in achieving its socioeconomic objectives remains uncertain. We evaluate the impact of certification on village-level well-being across Indonesia by applying counterfactual analysis to multidimensional government poverty data. We compare poverty across 36,311 villages between 2000 and 2018, tracking changes from before oil palm plantations were first established to several years after plantations were certified. Certification was associated with reduced poverty in villages with primarily market-based livelihoods, but not in those in which subsistence livelihoods were dominant before switching to oil palm. We highlight the importance of baseline village livelihood systems in shaping local impacts of agricultural certification and assert that oil palm certification in certain village contexts may require additional resources to ensure socioeconomic objectives are realized.
| Jemaa, Hsan Ben; Nefla, Aymen; Bouragaoui, Zakher; Nouira, Said: Breeding biology of the Eleonora’s falcon, Falco eleonorae within the Galite archipelago. In: Biologia, vol. 76, pp. 1491–1499, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
This study was carried out at Galite archipelago over two consecutive breeding seasons (2014 and 2015). We investigated the breeding ecology of Eleonora’s falcon population in Galite archipelago by providing detailed data on its breeding biology and assessing the nesting parameters. Overall, 127 Eleonora’s falcon breeding pairs were recorded in all six islets of the archipelago. The eastern part of the archipelago hosted the highest number of breeding pairs with the highest density recorded at Gallo island (5.93 pairs/ha). Eleonora’s falcon breeding pairs mainly used the protected crevices non-exposed to sun and wind. The overall mean clutch size (mean ± SE) was 1.78 ± 0.10 eggs per clutch. Clutches of two eggs and one egg were the most frequent at Gallo and Fauchelle, respectively. The average hatched eggs per clutch and fledglings per brood were 1.29 ± 0.10 and 1.24 ± 0.10, respectively. The brood size varied significantly with clutch size and nest exposition being higher related to not exposed nest and two as the clutch category was greater. Likewise, the number of fledglings significantly increased with increasing clutch category and was higher in not exposed nests. In fact, hatching or fledging probability increased significantly as nests were not exposed.