Norway Funds Satellite Mapping Project / American Forests Corporation’s Pledge to Restore California Forests, China’s Announcement of Green Revolution / Japan’s Pledge to go Carbon Neutral by 2050

by | Feb 5, 2021 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Norway funds satellite mapping project of the world’s tropical forests, plus the American Forests non-profit corporation pledges to restore fire-ravaged California forests. China announces its green revolution and a commitment to net-zero carbon by 2060. And not to be outdone, Japan pledges to be net-zero by 2050.



A unique satellite dataset on the world’s tropical forests is now available for all to see and use. It’s a high-resolution image map covering 64 countries that will be updated monthly. It’s so precise, the map actually resolves down to an individual tree’s canopy! 

Anyone who wants to understand how trees are being managed will be able to download the necessary information for analysis – for free.  The Norwegian government is funding the project through its International Climate and Forests Initiative (NICFI). The dataset should be an enormous help in the fight against deforestation, said Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment. 

“There are many parts of the world where high-resolution images simply aren’t available, or where they are available – the NGOs, communities, and academia in those countries can’t afford them because they’re quite expensive. “So, we’ve decided to foot the bill for the world, basically,” he recently told BBC News. 

The NICFI has awarded a $44m contract to Earth-observation specialists Airbus, Planet and Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) for access to their pictures and expertise. European aerospace giant Airbus is opening up its Spot image archive going back to 2002.  

US-based Planet operates the single biggest constellation of imaging satellites in orbit today. The San Francisco firm acquires a complete picture of the Earth’s land surface daily (cloud permitting), and it will provide the bulk of the data for the monthly map going forward. KSAT will tie the information together and provide the technical support for users.  

For Planet CEO Will Marshall, the new project encapsulates what his company is about. The idea was framed around the concept that stakeholders need to be able to see what’s happening at the individual tree level and need a rapid revisit to stop deforestation in the act, instead of just counting the lost trees at the end of the year. 

“It’s important to remember that a lot of the deforestation we’re seeing in many countries is illegal deforestation,” Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment said. “So, it’s not deforestation that governments are pushing for, or endorsing. Rather, it’s illegal actors; and governments themselves need mechanisms to see where the problems are, where they need to put in law enforcement, and where things are going in the right direction.”  




Keeping the news on forests — As temperatures continue to rise, experts foresee increased wildfires as one of the many effects of global warming, particularly for forests in hotter and drier climates. According to California state officials, a record breaking 4 million acres of land burned in 2020 so far.

However, one non-profit is working with the Bureau of Land Management to rebuild and re-engineer California forests to be more fire resistant. Reported by Fast Company, the non-profit American Forests, is focused on replanting the forests in groups with different kinds of trees and distanced apart. Forests are typically replanted in rows like farm crops. But, American Forests has found that grouping and distancing trees can help prevent wildfires from spreading and potential droughts.

In an interview with Fast Company, the senior manager of forest restoration at American Forests, Austin Rempel said, “It’s very common to look at what was there before the fire and just say, let’s replace that one for one—try and get the exact same seed, exact same trees, and replant them. But that doesn’t make sense when looking out 30, especially 60 years from now.”

As fire season comes to an end, these replanting processes will begin shortly. The Climate Daily will be sure to keep you up-to-date on news regarding this year’s extensive forest restoration in California.  

DEEPER DIVE: Fast Company, Good News Network, California Fire



With a single shock announcement at the United Nations, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has brought the end of the fossil fuel era into view. At a recent speech at the UN General Assembly, Xi spoke of a “green revolution” and committed his nation, the world’s largest carbon emitter, to reaching net-zero emissions by 2060.

“The writing [for fossil fuels] is on the Great Wall,” an expert in the matter said.  Looking over recent events in China, Xi’s direction makes great sense. In 2020 alone, flooding in China has hit 27 provinces killing at least 219, leaving 4 million in need of evacuation and costing the economy $US25 billion, according to The Lancet Planetary Health journal. Experts attribute increased rainfall and flooding to climate change, which they also blame for increased water insecurity in China, in large part due to retreating glaciers in the Himalayas.

When stability in China is threatened, the Chinese Communist Party tends to act forcefully. With China now broadly in line with Europe, a third of the world’s population now has governments backing mid-century net-zero targets.

According to Niklas Hohne of Germany’s NewClimate Institute, with Europe, if the US and China were to act in concert with pledges already made, the world would be 63 per cent of the way towards the emission reductions needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees celsius.

China has the economic and industrial scale to drive down the cost of crucial low emission technologies and bring forward the end of fossil fuels acting on its own.  “It is probably one of the most important statements made in the global energy industry for a long time.”, said the Australian Climate Council member, Cheryl Durrant, said of the announcement. 

DEEPER DIVE: Sydney Morning Herald, Scientific American



So, not only has China acted on carbon neutrality, but Japan has too! Around the world, governments have been forced to accelerate mitigation efforts as the effects of climate change worsen. In late October, Japan, the world’s third largest economy, and South Korea pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050. 

As the world’s fifth-largest greenhouse gas contributor, Japan’s plan also aligns with the European Union’s target for zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Reported by mainstream media outlets including The Washington Post, the announcement comes nearly one month after China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas contributor, pledged carbon neutrality by 2060.

In a policy speech addressed to Japan’s parliament, Japan’s prime minister said, “Responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth. We need to change our thinking to the view that taking assertive measures against climate change will lead to changes in industrial structure and the economy that will bring about growth.”

Japan’s commitment to carbon neutrality comes with “green investment” plans in research and development, specifically for solar cells and carbon recycling. 

DEEPER DIVE: Positive News, Reuters, Washington Post