Renewable Natural 

Resources Foundation


U.S. Deviates from Climate Consensus at Arctic Council Meeting


The Arctic Council, a high-level intergovernmental forum comprised of the eight countries with territory in the Arctic Circle, ended its ministerial on May 14, 2019, without a joint declaration spelling out its priorities. This was because the United States objected to any mention of climate change or the Paris Climate Agreement. President Trump intends to remove the U.S. from the agreement, although he cannot legally do so until November 4, 2020, one day after the U.S. Presidential election. This is the first time since the Arctic Council was formed in 1996 that the body could not agree on a joint declaration.

This is especially notable because climate change continues to have a disproportional impact on the Arctic when compared to the rest of the world. Arctic temperatures are increasing at twice the rate of the rest of the planet, causing serious risk to the region’s ecosystems and infrastructure.

While U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned that “the Trump Administration shares your deep commitment to environmental stewardship,” his real focus seemed to be elsewhere. He warned Russia and China against “aggressive” behavior in the region. This was a surprise to all since the Arctic Council’s mandate explicitly excludes military security...

Read more on RNRF’s blog, the Renewable Resources Report, by clicking here.


New UN Report Details Unprecedented Decline in Biodiversity

Coral Reef

A new report released by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) gives a harrowing summary of the challenges to sustaining the Earth’s biodiversity. The most comprehensive assessment of its kind, this report estimates that one million species are threatened with extinction due to five factors (listed in descending order of impact):

1) Changes in land and sea use;
2) Direct exploitation of organisms;
3) Climate change;
4) Pollution;
5) Invasive alien species

The report comprehensively describes the threats to biodiversity, the drastic scope of the problem, its implications, and potential policy solutions.

The report distinguishes itself from past works by making a direct connection between biodiversity and human wellbeing. While land-use change and resource exploitation have been the underpinnings of the modern global economy, they are causing losses of biodiversity that will be increasing harmful to society. The predicted loss of species diversity would result in a significant reduction of necessary ecosystem services such as the regulation of air and water quality, pollination and dispersal of seeds, and regulation of hazards and extreme events, among others. On the world’s current trajectory, biodiversity loss will make goals related to poverty, hunger, health, and water far more difficult to achieve...

Read more on RNRF's blog, the Renewable Resources Report, by clicking here.

Harvard University's Environmental Policy Initiative is tracking the Trump Administration's environmental rollbacks.  Click here to learn more.


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  Bill Moran Speaks on Open Access at RNRF Round Table

Bill Moran

Bill Moran, publisher of the Science family of journals of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), hosted the Washington Round Table on Public Policy of the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation (RNRF) on May 6, 2019. He spoke about issues and recent developments related to implementing Open Access to research published in scientific journals.

AAAS CEO Rush Holt and 30 representatives of scientific societies and publishers were present. Holt supplemented Moran’s presentation with some observations, and attendees asked numerous probing questions.

Moran began with a description of Open Access, emphasizing that in many cases, the adoption of the OA model is a fundamental change to publishing business models. Adopting an OA policy means that all articles are available openly and at no cost, under a Creative Commons license, allowing for the greatest degree of adaptation and reuse. However, this means that publishers no longer charge subscription fees, instead collecting an Article Processing Charge (APC). These charges are covered by authors, their institution, or research funders, in contrast to publishing costs being covered by subscribers under traditional subscription-based models.

There are three different types of OA models. In Green OA, an author self-archives a version of their paper in a repository, keeping it subject to their own copyright and re-use terms. This type of OA is mandated by most funders and many institutions. Gold OA is when journals make final versions of their article fully accessible with few restrictions. In these cases, APCs are paid upon an article’s acceptance to the journal. Journals that use Hybrid OA models offer a Gold OA option, alongside a traditional subscription-based option.

The global policy landscape for Open Access publishing is in a state of flux, largely due to the EU’s recent adoption of Plan S, which was created to require that all scientific research that results from public grant funding be published in Open Access journals or platforms. Under this plan, authors will retain copyright, and publishing fees will be paid by funders or universities, not by individual researchers. There will also be a three- to four-year transitionary period when Hybrid OA models will be acceptable, after which all journals will be fully OA. However, Hybrid models were not originally allowed, and policies still may be changed. Plan S is supported by 15 national funders (cOAlition S) and five charitable funders.

Moran listed a series of concerns with the Plan S model. Primarily, he said that AAAS is concerned about quality. In an Open Access journal, APCs cause revenues to rise if more articles are published, since the journal is receiving a fee for every article they publish. Therefore, OA journals can easily become more concerned with quantity than quality when evaluating articles for publishing.

Another concern with Plan S is that it uses Gold OA as its standard, when Green OA is a more common policy in the rest of the world. Additionally, it mandates that authors and publishers relinquish control of publication rights, including commercial use and adaptations of their work. It also can stifle international cooperation on science. Overall, Plan S undermines the existing publishing system without having a comprehensive plan on how to replace it.

Plan S currently only applies in EU countries, and The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has indicated that it has no intention of following suit with an OA mandate. However, some American publishers are exploring OA options for their journals regardless of OSTP pronouncements. This takes place in the form of transformative agreements being executed, new journal launches that are fully OA, flipping existing subscription journals to OA, and adding additional revenue sources through submission fees...

Read more on RNRF's news page here.

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