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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 26th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Climate conference makes progress on key dispute.

By (AP) Published: 2008-08-23, ACCRA, Ghana.
Delegates at a key U.N. climate conference made headway Friday on a plan to encourage developing countries to regulate carbon emissions by focusing on their largest industries.

The emerging plan sidesteps objections from countries like India and China, which refuse to accept national targets for the overall emission of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

How to get developing countries to commit to reducing pollution levels has deeply divided countries seeking to craft a new climate change agreement to succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.



The meeting of 1,600 delegates and environmentalists from 160 countries was the third conference this year working on the accord, due to be adopted in Copenhagen in December 2009.

The Accra meeting also was discussing ways to integrate the conservation of the world’s ever-shrinking forests into the Copenhagen agreement, as well as studying ways to raise and distribute the tens of billions of dollars needed annually to help poor countries deal with the consequences of climate change.

Under the Kyoto pact, only 37 industrial countries committed to meet specific targets. Together, they were required to cut emissions by an average 5 percent from 1990 levels by 2012. The United States refused to participate in the Kyoto regime because it excluded China and other large newly powerful economies from any obligation.

Korea, which is not one of the 37, surprised delegates by announcing that next year it will adopt a target for reducing its carbon emissions by 2020, but declined to give specifics. Earlier this year, South Africa also said it would embrace self-imposed targets, peaking its emissions by 2025.



Under the “sectoral approach” now taking shape, developing countries would set pollution targets for specific industries, like cement, steel or aluminum. Unlike the 37 industrial countries, they likely would not be punished for missing their goals.



“Something quiet but quite dramatic is happening,” said David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “People are now talking about the same idea in the same language.”

India voiced reservations, but did not reject the concept. As for China, Doniger said the plan fit neatly with Beijing’s intention to increase the efficiency of its key industries, which produce the bulk of its carbon emissions.

Details of any agreement on the new approach would be complex and difficult to reach, and it is only one of many disputed components of a post-2012 pact.

But consensus appeared to coalesce around the notion that industrial countries will remain legally bound to meet a national cap on their carbon emissions, while developing countries would have flexibility in deciding which industries would be controlled and at what levels.

A critical element calls for advanced countries to provide the technology and funding to help other countries curb emissions in heavily polluting industries.

***

“There is now a basis for discussion,” said Katrin Gutmann, policy coordinator of the WWF Global Climate Initiative. “Before, we worried there would just be more clashes,”

But financing remains unresolved and it was unclear how governments would move forward, she said.

Japan, which advanced the proposal earlier this year to a chorus of criticism, said it was pleased with the response in Accra after it dropped several components that aroused objections.

Developing countries had feared the Japanese proposal was a backdoor device to impose binding targets that would limit their economic development.

“That is a great advancement compared with the beginning of this year,” Japanese delegate Jun Arima told the conference.

——————

From:  sniffenj at un.org
Subject: Cutting Fossil Fuel Subsidies Can Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Says UNEP Report
Date: August 26, 2008 10:21:12 AM EDT

UNEP NEWS RELEASE

Cutting Fossil Fuel Subsidies Can Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Says UN
Environment Programme Report.

Meanwhile, New Assessment of Clean Development Mechanism Shows
Climate-Friendly Energy Projects Achieving Lift-Off in Sub Saharan Africa.

ACCRA/NAIROBI, 26 August 2008 — Scrapping fossil fuel subsidies could play
an important role in cutting greenhouse gases while giving a small but not
insignificant boost to the global economy, a new report by the UN
Environment Programme (UNEP) says.

The report challenges the widely held view that such subsidies assist the
poor, arguing that many of these price support systems benefit the
wealthier sections of society rather than those on low incomes.

They are also diverting national funds from more creative forms of pro-poor
polices and initiatives that are likely to have a far greater impact on the
lives and livelihoods of the worse-off sectors of society.

Globally, around $300 billion or 0.7 per cent of global GDP is being spent
on energy subsidies annually.

The lion’s share is being used to artificially lower or reduce the real
price of fuels like oil, coal and gas or electricity generated from such
fossil fuels.

Cancelling these subsidies might reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much
as 6 per cent a year while contributing 0.1 per cent to global GDP.

***

The report acknowledges that some subsidies or mechanisms, whether in the
form of tax breaks, financial incentives or other market instruments, can
generate social, economic and environmental benefits.

A case in point are feed-in tariffs that have kick-started a renewable
energy revolution in countries such as Germany and Spain.

The report also accepts that there may be cases where some subsidies can,
if well- devised and time-limited, meet important social and environmental
goals — for example, ones to encourage a switch from dirty,
health-hazardous or environmentally harmful fuels such a charcoal.

The report also cites the case of Chile where well-devised subsidies have
increased rural electrification from around 50 per cent to over 90 per cent
of the population over 12 years.

But the report argues that many seemingly well-intentioned subsidies rarely
make economic sense and rarely address poverty. The report, therefore,
challenges the widely-held myth that scrapping fossil fuel supports would
hit the poor.

The report cites liquid petroleum gas (LPG) subsidies in India where $1.7
billion was spent in the first half of the current financial year on trying
to get the fuel into poor households. “LPG subsidies are mainly benefiting
higher-income households. … Despite the ineffectiveness of the subsidy the
programme is being extended until 2010″, says the study.

Indeed the report concludes that in many developing countries the real
beneficiaries of such subsidies are neither the poor nor the environment
but well-off households; equipment manufacturers and the producers of the
fuels.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director,
said: “In the final analysis many fossil fuel subsidies are introduced for
political reasons but are simply propping up and perpetuating
inefficiencies in the global economy—they are thus part of the market
failure that is climate change.”

“There are now less than 500 days before the crucial UN Climate Change
Convention meeting in Copenhagen in late 2009. Governments should urgently
review their energy subsidies and begin phasing out the harmful ones that
contribute to the wasteful use of finite resources and delay the
introduction of renewables or more efficient forms of generation while
creating disincentives and barriers to public transport up to energy saving
appliances”, he added
.

***

The new UNEP report– Reforming Energy Subsidies: Opportunities to
Contribute to the Climate Change Agenda—was released today at a meeting in
Accra, Ghana of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Here Governments have gathered to continue negotiations under the Bali Road
Map towards a conclusive and far-reaching new climate deal by Copenhagen
2009.

***

CDM Takes Off in Sub-Saharan Africa:
Today UNEP also presented new findings on the penetration of the Clean
Development Mechanism (CDM) in sub-Saharan Africa.

The CDM, part of the Convention’s Kyoto Protocol agreed in 1997, allows
developed nations to offset some of their greenhouse gas emissions by
funding cleaner energy projects in developing countries that generate
carbon credits known as certified emission reductions.

These can range from wind and biomass energy projects to ones that tap
methane from rubbish tips and schemes that encourage the use of less
polluting fuels or power plants.

There has been concern that the benefits of the CDM, a contrasting example
of a policy tool aimed at wider social, economic and environmental benefits
when compared with fossil fuel subsidies, have been by-passing countries in
Africa.

The main countries benefiting to date have been the rapidly developing
economies such as China, Brazil, and India.

The new figures, compiled by the UNEP Risoe Centre on Energy, Climate and
Sustainable Development in Denmark, indicate that this is changing with the
first CDM projects emerging over the past 18 months in six countries– the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique,
Mali and Senegal.

These include an oil well, gas flare reduction project in the DRC and a
river hydroelectric project in Madagascar.

In Kenya new projects include a 35MW extension of geothermal, hot rocks,
generation and a sugar cane waste-into-energy project with Mumias Sugar
Company.

Mr. Steiner added: “Whereas fossil fuel subsidies are an example of a
blunt policy instrument, perpetuating old and inefficient economic models,
the CDM is an example of a more intelligent, market-based mechanism that is
fostering the transition to a modern Green Economy.”

He said the uptake in Africa was due, in part, to the impact of the UN’s
Nairobi Framework initiative launched in 2006.

Here UNEP, along with partners including the UN Development Programme
(UNDP), have been working to build the human and regulatory capacity of
poorer countries to access carbon financing.

Other measures have included awareness-raising among banks and industry
players on the continent to new green finance opportunities.

The UNEP Risoe Centre has been monitoring global trends in CDM investment
and the impacts of these activities for some time.

“Excluding South Africa, there were only six CDM projects in five
sub-Saharan countries in 2006. Now there are 49 projects in 12 countries,
South Africa included”, says Lars Appelquist, a researcher at the Centre.

This still remains low compared to a global tally of close to 3,500 CDM
projects, but does mark a departure from the very low levels of the past.

“As new policy drivers and planned capacity development activities bear
fruit, the market will likely exhibit exponential growth like other
regions”, says Glenn Hodes, CDM Programme Manager at UNEP Risoe. Indeed,
assuming Governments agree on a deep and decisive new climate agreement in
2009, Africa overall could see roughly 230 projects by 2012, according to
Hodes’ and Appelquist’s calculations.

These could cumulatively generate over 65 million certified emission
reductions, worth close to $1 billion at a conservative carbon credit price
of $15.

“Compared to CDM prodigies like India, Africa is poised to be the late
bloomer”, says Hodes.

—————————-

Notes to Editors:


“Reforming Energy Subsidies: Opportunities to Contribute to the Climate
Change Agenda” was commissioned by UNEP’s Division of Technology, Industry
and Economics. The principal author is Trevor Morgan of Menecon Consulting
and now with the International Energy Agency (IEA).

It says that Russia has the largest subsidies in dollar terms amounting to
around $40 billion a year and mainly spent on making natural gas cheaper.

Iran comes second with around $37 billion; six countries, spending in
excess of $10 billion on subsidies, come next. These are China, Saudi
Arabia, India, Indonesia, Ukraine and Egypt.

The report can be downloaded at www.unep.org

The new data and estimated take up of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
projects in Africa can also be downloaded at www.unep.org

For more information, please contact: Nick Nuttall, Spokesperson/Head of
Media, UNEP Nairobi, on Tel: +254-20-762-3084, Mobile: +254-733-632755 or
+41-79-596-5737, E-mail:  nick.nuttall at unep.org;
Or Anne-France White, Associate Information Officer, UNEP Nairobi, at Tel:
+254-20-762-3088, Mobile: +254-72-8600-494, or E-mail:
 anne-france.white at unep.org

=========

 www.SustainabiliTank.info is specially gratified by the UNEP press release – this because it mentioned the wrong way established in India under the leadership of Dr. Pachauri, the US sponsored head of the IPCC Panel and of the Tata Research Institute of India. He was the one to suggest a distribution network of Kerosene and LPG for India, this rather then Renewable energy, and then pushed UNDP to suggest same thing in its global work. This was nothing less then an attempt to open new markets for the petroleum refiners, like his bosses at the Tata group of industries. The US & Middle East Oil Exporters that lead the Energy Sector at the UN like at UNDP, UNIDO etc., fell imediately in line, and several times I personally raised questions at UN meetings – sometimes I even was deemed out of order. For reference I mention here Austrian Government official, Dr. Irene Freudenschus-Reichel.

OK, Oil eventually floats up when spread on water – so Ahim Steiner, when you know to read the release, has in effect pointed out now that Pachauri misled the UN. Pachauri is one of those that shared the Nobel Prize with Al Gore and we wondered all the time why? That gold medal belonged to the previous IPCC head Bob Watson, who got fired from his position by President Bush’s Intervention.

We suggest the reading of this posting of ours, as obligatory for next occupant of the Washington White House.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 13th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Time short for climate pact, draft by mid-09 – an Interview with UN Head of this Topic.

13 Aug 2008, Reuters – Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent.
OSLO, Aug 13 (Reuters) – Time is short to work out a new treaty to fight global warming as planned by the end of 2009 because drafts of a deal must be ready in less than a year, the U.N.’s top climate change official said on Wednesday.

Negotiators from almost 200 nations will meet in Accra, Ghana, from Aug. 21-27 to discuss elements of a future pact such as deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, ways to slow deforestation and aid for developing nations to adapt.


“Time is short,” Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, told Reuters of a timetable meant to end with agreement on a new climate treaty to succeed the existing Kyoto Protocol at a meeting in Copenhagen in late 2009. “If you are going to negotiate something in Copenhagen in December in 2009 the elements of that negotiation have to be available six months before,” he said. So far, only vague proposals have been floated at the talks.

Asked about what Accra would achieve, de Boer said: “To make a squirrel analogy I hope we gather more nuts. I hope we get more specific proposals.” The talks are the third session this year to work out a pact to slow rising temperatures blamed by the U.N. Climate Panel on greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels that could bring desertification, shift monsoons, and raise world sea levels.
De Boer said he did not believe the collapse of the world trade talks last month and an economic slowdown in many rich nations would derail efforts to confront climate change. “Business is still calling for clarity and ambition,” he said. Many industries want to know the long-term rules to decide, for instance, whether to build a coal-fired power plant or a wind farm.

LOUDER VOICE!
He said that the breakdown of the World Trade Organisation talks in Geneva illustrated that developing nations needed a stronger voice in international bodies, such as the U.N. Security Council.
{Now That Is A First – Will The Developing Nations That Suffer Because of Climate Change Get a Voice in the UN Security Council? – Good Luck! Those we hope that they will become additional UNSC Permanent Members will get there because of a totally diffeent set of reasons. That is A Sustainable Development.info comment}

“If you are asking major developing countries to engage on a topic like climate change in a serious way, don’t they also deserve a serious place in the governance? I think that’s something to think about,” he said.

The Accra meeting will be the first since the Group of Eight industrialised nations agreed a vision last month of cutting world greenhouse gases by 50 percent by 2050.

De Boer said it was unclear, however, whether the 2050 target would help. He has called 2050 too distant and urged nearer-term goals to force politicians to act now, rather than leave cuts to a future generation.
“In order to know if it’s a help or not I’d need clarity on a couple of things,” he said, saying it was not clear if the vision of halving emissions would be non-binding or a firm goal.

And he noted that the G8 text did not name a base year for cuts — the European Union favours 1990 but Japan wants it to be from current levels.

The base year makes a big difference because world greenhouse gas emissions leapt to 49 billion tonnes in 2004 from 39 billion in 1990, according to the U.N. Climate Panel.

The Kyoto Protocol binds all developed nations except the United States to cut emissions by an average of 5 percent by 2008-12 below 1990 levels. The new deal aims to include all countries in a successor pact that would start from 2013.

— For Reuters latest environment blogs click on: blogs.reuters.com/environment/ (Editing by Mary Gabriel)

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UN Lets China Import African Ivory As It Did For Japan In 1999.

ELIANE ENGELER, Associated Press, July 15, 2008 from GENEVA.

A U.N. panel granted China permission today to import elephant ivory from African government stockpiles despite opposition from some countries and environmental groups.

The standing committee overseeing the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, voted 9-3 with two abstentions that China qualified for the exception needed for the one-time auction because it has dramatically improved its enforcement of ivory rules.



Ivory trade was banned globally in 1989, but reviving elephant populations allowed African countries to make a one-time sale a decade later to Japan, the only country which had previously won the right to import. Now, about after another 10 years, China joins the infamy.

Last year, CITES authorized Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to make a second sale of 108 tons of government stocks.

The body’s spokesman, Juan Carlos Vasquez, said after today’s vote that China and Japan would bid for their share of ivory at an auction later this year.

The stocks approved for sale include around 44 tons from Botswana, 9 tons from Namibia, 51 tons from South Africa and 4 tons from Zimbabwe.

CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers said the body will closely supervise the sale.

“We will continue monitoring the Chinese and Japanese domestic trade controls to ensure that unscrupulous traders do not take this opportunity to launder ivory from illegal origin,” he said in a statement.

China was pleased with the decision. “China has strived for this status for a long time,” said Wan Ziming, a member of the Chinese delegation.

Still, there was opposition to China’s inclusion in the latest auction from African countries Ghana and Kenya, which joined Australia in trying to block the decision. Those in favour included Britain, the European Union and Japan.



“It’s very evident that China has made an enormous commitment,” Tom Milliken, a senior investigator at Traffic, the world’s largest wildlife trade monitor, said Monday. “Seizures are occurring at a very fast clip these days. The government is putting a lot more in enforcement efforts.”

Mr. Wan said the Chinese would do their best to ensure that “illegal ivory cannot enter into the legal market.”

But some environment groups disagreed and said their case was strengthened by the Chinese government’s revelation that it lost track of 121 tons of ivory over a dozen years that probably was sold on illegal markets.

China told the CITES in 2003 that the “shortfall” – equal to the tusks from about 11,000 dead elephants – was accumulated between 1991 and 2002. The Associated Press obtained the document last week from the Environmental Investigation Agency, a watchdog based in Washington and London that was seeking to prevent China from gaining permission to trade ivory.

Allan Thornton, the agency’s chairman, said last week that China had left too many questions unanswered to be given the right to import. He said trading of ivory – a booming black market commodity, with tusks, jewellery and trinkets bringing in millions of dollars for smugglers and sellers since the 1989 ban – was “out of control.”

The agency said more than 20,000 elephants a year are killed illegally in Africa and Asia for the ivory black market, and that Chinese nationals have been implicated in illegal ivory seizures in more than 20 African nations.

Mr. Milliken, who was part of CITES’ original mission to China in 2005, disagreed.

“Does illegal trade continue? Yes. But that’s probably inevitable,” Mr. Milliken said, adding that Japan showed that one-time ivory sales had no correlation with a rise in illegal smuggling.

Trade in elephant ivory far eclipses any demand for other animals’ tusks.

Much of the ivory destined for China is carved into jewellery and ornaments bought by tourists from other parts of Asia.

After the sale, the four southern African countries will not be allowed to export ivory again for nine years and must use the sale proceeds for programs to protect their elephant populations.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 30th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS), the world’s leading provider of information on global issues, is backed by a network of journalists in more than 100 countries.
Its clients include more than 3,000 media organizations and tens of thousands of civil society groups, academics, and other users.

IPS focuses its news coverage on the events and global processes affecting the economic, social and political development of peoples and nations.

Visit Inter Press Service at www.ipsnews.net

Rome, Italy, is where the headquarters are. Much of the news come from the 4th floor of the UN Headquarters in New York.


Today’s News from IPS in its Media Section – MEDIA: IPS Has New Chairman.

By Sabina Zaccaro

fmayor.jpg
Federico Mayor


ROME, Jun 25 (IPS) – The IPS International Association has chosen Federico Mayor as new chair of its Board of Directors. He replaces Mario Soares, former President of Portugal (1986-1996), who has been guiding the IPS Board since 2002.

IPS also elected its Board of Trustees, which includes two former U.N. secretaries general, Kofi Annan and Boutros Boutros-Ghali; two former presidents, Mario Soares (Portugal) and Martti Ahtisaari (Finland); two former prime ministers, Toshiki Kaifu (Japan) and Inder Kumar Gujral (India); and IPS founder Roberto Savio.

Federico Mayor, born in Spain in 1934, served as Director General of the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) from 1987 to 1999.

Mayor was earlier a member of the Spanish Parliament (1977-1978), Minister for Education and Science (1981-1982) and member of the European Parliament (1987).

After deciding not to run for a third term at UNESCO, he returned to Spain in 1999 to create the Foundation for a Culture of Peace. In 2005, the United Nations Secretary-General designated Mayor as Co-President of the High Level Group for the Alliance of Civilisations.

He is also member of the Honorary Board of the International Coalition for the Decade for the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence.

Mayor, who has worked on peace-related issues for more than 30 years, says the role of a news agency such as IPS in promoting peace is “essential, because the media power today is enormous, and we receive much partial and biased information.

“It is time for action and change, and to transform reality we must know reality in-depth,” he told IPS.

During his 12 years as head of UNESCO, Mayor’s work focused on the promotion of peace, tolerance, human rights and peaceful coexistence. Under his guidance, UNESCO created the Culture of Peace programme aimed at education for peace; human rights and democracy; the fight against isolation and poverty; the defence of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue; and conflict prevention and the consolidation of peace.

Access to independent information can make a strong contribution to handling the world’s conflicts, he said. “It has been misleading information that has led to war and invasions such as the one of Iraq.

“The present crisis shows how far unrestricted freedom of expression and media pluralism are crucial to overcome the present situations, particularly the food crisis, and start the process for the other possible world of which we dream,” Mayor said.

As new chair of the IPS Board of Directors, he said he will aim “to follow exactly the objectives of IPS, which are transparency, accuracy and farsightedness.”

mlubetkin.jpg
Mario Lubetkin

The recent triennial election of the IPS International Association appointed Mario Lubetkin Director General of IPS for a third term. A Uruguay born journalist, Lubetkin has served as correspondent for several Italian and Latin American print media, and as communications adviser for various U.N. agencies and regional integration organisations in Latin America.

“The key challenge before IPS today is to strengthen its role as a leading news agency covering all development and civil society issues. But our aim is also to get deeper analysis of globalisation’s impact, particularly from the South perspective,” Lubetkin said.

The IPS International Association also elected a new 16-member Board of Directors, with a geographical and gender balance. The Board includes journalists, academics, communications experts, and specialists in international cooperation.

———————

But when it comes to reporting about areas of conflict, IPS journalism is not imune of physical search:


MIDEAST: Israelis Assault Award Winning IPS Journalist.

By Mel Frykberg, IPS, June 30, 2008

GAZA CITY, Jun 28 (IPS) – Mohammed Omer, the Gaza correspondent of IPS, and joint winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, was strip-searched at gunpoint, assaulted and abused by Israeli security officials at the Allenby border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank on Thursday as he tried to return home to Gaza.

Omer, a resident of Rafah in the south of Gaza, and previous recipient of the New America Media’s Best Youth Voice award several years ago, was returning from London where he had just collected his Gellhorn Prize, and from several European capitals where he had speaking engagements, including a meeting with Greek parliamentarians.

Omer’s trip was sponsored by The Washington Report, and the Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv was responsible for coordinating Omer’s travel plans and his security permit to leave Gaza with Israeli officials.

Israel controls the borders of Gaza and severely restricts the entrance and exit of Gazans allegedly on grounds of security. Human rights organisations accuse the Israelis of using security as a pretext to apply collective punishment indiscriminately.

While waiting in Amman on his way back, Omer eventually received the requisite coordination and security clearance from the Israelis to return to Gaza after this had initially been delayed by several days, he told IPS.

Accompanied by Dutch diplomats, Omer passed through the Jordanian side of the border without incident. However, after arrival on the Israeli side, trouble began. He informed a female soldier that he was returning home to Gaza. He was repeatedly asked where Gaza was, and told that he had neither a permit nor any coordination to cross.

Omer explained that he did indeed have permission and coordination but was nevertheless taken to a room by Israel’s domestic intelligence agency the Shin Bet, where he was isolated for an hour and a half without explanation.

“Eventually I was asked whether I had a knife or gun on me even though I had already passed through the x-ray machine, had my luggage searched, and was in the company of Dutch diplomats,” Omer said.

His luggage was again searched, and security then proceeded to go through every document and paper he had on him, taking down the names and numbers of the European parliamentary officials he had met.

The Shin Bet officials then started to make fun of the European parliamentarians, and mocked Omer for being “the prize-winning journalist”.

The Gazan journalist was repeatedly asked why he was returning to “the hell of Gaza after we allowed you to leave.” To this he responded that he wanted to be a voice for the voiceless. He was told he was a “trouble-maker”.

The security men also demanded he show all the money he had on him, and particular attention was paid to the British pounds he was carrying. His Gellhorn prize money had been awarded in British pounds but he was not carrying the entire sum on him bodily, something the investigators refused to believe.

After being unable to produce the prize money, he was ordered to strip naked.

“At first I refused but then I had an M16 (gun) pointed in my face and my clothes were forcibly removed, even my underwear,” Omer said.

At this point Omer broke down and pleaded for an end to such treatment. He said he was told, “you haven’t seen anything yet.” Every cavity of his body was searched as one of the investigators pinned him down on the floor, placing his boot on Omer’s neck. Omer began vomiting, and fainted.

When he came round his eyelids were being forcibly opened and his eardrums probed by an Israeli military doctor, who was also armed. He was then dragged along the floor by his feet by the Shin Bet officials, with his head repeatedly banging on the floor, to a Palestinian ambulance which had been called.

“I eventually woke up in a Palestinian hospital with the doctors trying to reassure me,” Omer told IPS.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry at the Hague told IPS that Foreign Minister Maxime Zerhagen spoke to the Israeli ambassador to The Netherlands and demanded an explanation.

The Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv has also raised the issue with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which in turn has promised to investigate the incident and get back to the Dutch officials.

Ahmed Dadou, spokesman from the Dutch Foreign Ministry at the Hague told IPS, “We are taking this whole incident very seriously as we don’t believe the behaviour of the Israeli officials is in accordance with a modern democracy.

“We are further concerned about the mistreatment of an internationally renowned journalist trying to go about his daily business,” added Dadou.

A spokeswoman at the Israeli Foreign Press Association said she was unaware of the incident.

Lisa Dvir from the Israeli Airport Authority (IAA), the body responsible for controlling Israel’s borders, told IPS that the IAA was neither aware of Omer’s journalist credentials nor of his coordination.

“We would like to know who Omer spoke to in regard to receiving coordination to pass through Allenby. We offer journalists a special service when passing through our border crossings, and had we known about his arrival this would not have happened.

“I’m not aware of the events that followed his detention, and we are not responsible for the behaviour of the Shin Bet.”

In the meantime, Omer is still traumatised and in pain. “I’m struggling to breathe and have pain in my head and stomach and will be going back to hospital for further medical examinations,” he said

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 13th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The following is from today, Friday, June 13th  unnews at un.org
Subject: UN DAILY NEWS DIGEST.

It Deals with the LATEST UN CLIMATE CHANGE TALKS END WITH CALLS FOR SPEEDIER NEGOTIATIONS.

If you are not a total fool – this means that no achievement what-so-ever has been reported. The message says:

“The latest round of United Nations-sponsored global climate change talks ended today in Bonn, Germany, with calls to step up the pace of negotiations in the run up to next year’s crucial summit in Copenhagen.

‘We now have a clearer understanding among governments on what countries would ultimately like to see written into a long-term agreement to address climate change,’ said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). ‘But with a little more than a year to go to Copenhagen, the challenge to come to that agreement remains daunting,’ he added.

The talks, which brought together participants from 170 countries, led, among other things, to an agreement that practical technology transfer efforts would be scaled up – in particular for Africa, small island developing States and least developed countries.

‘What is ultimately required is a clever financial architecture to generate the money developing countries will need to green their economies and adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change,’ Mr. de Boer said.

Two further rounds of UN-sponsored negotiations will take place this year in Ghana and Poland.

A further series of major UNFCCC negotiating sessions are planned for 2009, culminating at the UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009.

The aim of the negotiations is to create a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, on greenhouse gas emissions reduction.”

————–

So, back to what we said since the beginning of this year – unless in the November 2008 Presidential elections in the US there is finally a President elect that cares about bringing the US back to a World Leadership position, all UN inspired meetings on climate change are plain waste of time. For one thing, the all important Poznan COP 14 of the UNFCCC should be postponed to February 2009 from December 2008. We pity the CO2 emissions of bringing 5000 people to a do nothing event. The Accra, Ghana meeting could go on – there at least the Africans will have the chance to present their complaints. Who knows, perhaps former UNSG Kofi Annan will also show up and say something quotable?

 

 

 

Africa: Seeking a Common Position On Climate Change.

Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)
12 June 2008
Posted on IPS June, 13, 2008.
Newton Sibanda, Johannesburg.

The Twelfth African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) ended five days of deliberations today with governments and civil society agreed — separately — on the importance of developing a common position for Africa at next year’s climate change talks in Copenhagen.

“Climate change is the defining human development and security issue of our generation. Those responsible should compensate the people whose livelihoods have been destroyed as a result,” said Ewah Eleri, director of the International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development in Nigeria.

Eleri was speaking at a joint press briefing on the sidelines of the conference by 20 civil society organisations (CSOs) from across the continent. The groups said Africa contributes least to greenhouse gas emissions, yet millions of Africans were being forced to daily deal with devastating impacts of climate change. Eleri said mandatory compensation must be paid to Africa by global polluters.

He was particularly critical of the suggestion that African governments should obtain loans to fund climate change adaptation. “You don’t burn someone’s house and then offer them a loan to rebuild it,” said Eleri. Omokaro Osayade, project officer for environmental group Friends of the Earth Nigeria agreed. “Just as Africa is emerging from a horrible debt trap, we could be re-indebted by developed countries and told to use loans to deal with the horrible damage that has been done to us. We are opposed to re-indebting of the African people by way of climate adaptation loans.”

The CSOs called on developed countries to contribute at least one percent of their gross domestic product to the climate change adaptation fund. It is estimated that at least $1 billion is needed to help Africa adapt to climate change.
{We find this amount as ridiculously low when compared with the trillion that the Iraqi oil cost the US -www.SustainabiliTank.info}

Environmental groups raised several key issues for African governments to address such as the failure of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to deliver the benefits promised to African countries. They said that the CDM simply allows rich countries to continue polluting in exchange for funding projects in developing countries.

They also identified a need for investment in affordable renewable energy technologies so that African states can develop their economies with low carbon emissions, and called for precautionary regulations to ensure that the development of biofuels does not threaten food security in Africa.

 

Inside the conference proper:

The formal outcome of the conference was in some ways more circumspect. African environment ministers agreed to establish a work programme with clear milestones for the development of a common position. Delegates proposed that an African expert panel on climate change be formed, on which senior officials will work in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme, the New Economic Partnership for African Development secretariat and the Commission of the African Union to define African focal points for the Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Algeria will host the first meeting of the panel in October 2008; and a special session of environment ministers to adopt a final common position at the end of June 2009 in the margins of the 13th African Union Summit. { ?? }

The conference proposed that Africa should seek agreement on a future global emissions reduction regime under which all developed countries would by 2020 reduce their emissions to 35-40 percent below 1990 levels, and by 2050 have cut emissions dramatically to between 5 and 10 percent of the 1990 baseline. These emissions targets are what is believed to be necessary to stabilise the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at 450 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent in the atmosphere — the level which scientists at the influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimate global warming will cause no more than a 2 degrees celsius change in global average temperature and thus avoid catastrophic effects.

“The Bali Action Plan and Bali Roadmap offered Africa the opportunity to build consensus on the complex issues of climate change and sustainable development, to the benefit of the continent,” said South Africa’s environment minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk. He succeeds the Republic of Congo’s Environment minister, André Okombi Salissa, as chair of AMCEN for the next two years.

“We will ensure that we go to the negotiations united because that is what we want as Africans to be united. A lot of countries in Africa have already committed themselves to cutting carbon emissions by 2050. We want developed countries to commit themselves to the 2025 emission targets,” van Schalkwyk said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 23rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UN MEETING EXPLORES HOW TO BOOST ECONOMIES OF LANDLOCKED DEVELOPED COUNTRIES

Experts from Asia and Europe have gathered at a United Nations-backed meeting which opened today in Bangkok to discuss progress made in efforts to link landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) in the Asia-Pacific region to sea ports.

The two-day talks will centre around assessing developments since the adoption of the UN’s Almaty Programme of Action in 2003, which is the first global action plan negotiated at the ministerial level that provides a framework for cooperation between landlocked and the transit access developing countries, promising reductions in red tape and transportation costs and time.

The meeting has been organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), along with the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).

Presentations will be made by LLDC Member States of ESCAP – Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – and by transit countries, including China, Iran and Russia.



Also kicking off in Bangkok today is a meeting of 40 representatives from the Asia-Pacific region to confer on how to boost employment in the Pacific islands.

The Special Body on Pacific Island Developing Countries of ESCAP meets every two years, and the current gathering will take place from 22-23 April.

Participants will talk about policies – including transport infrastructure and promoting entrepreneurship and private sector growth – to spur economic growth, which is key in creating jobs.

They will also discuss how the UN can support efforts towards sustainable development in the region.

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POOREST COUNTRIES HAVE YET TO BENEFIT FROM TRADE LIBERALIZATION – UN OFFICIAL

Landlocked and least developed countries (LDCs) have been further marginalized as a result of trade liberalization, which has led to increased growth in many parts of the world, a senior United Nations official has said.

Addressing the 12th UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), taking place in Accra, Ghana, Cheick Sidi Diarra lamented the fact that many of these countries have experienced a further loss of their market share as a result of trade liberalization.

Mr. Diarra, the UN’s High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, noted that globalization, which is supposed to lead to economic growth and reduce poverty, has served to deepen the disparities between and within countries.

To further integrate LDCs into the world economy, he called for domestic policies that support technological progress and innovation, as well as employment creation and upgrading of physical infrastructure. This must be accompanied by the creation of an enabling global environment, he added.

Landlocked developing countries are particularly marginalized in the international trading system, Mr. Diarra pointed out, owing to their remoteness from major world markets and excessive transit transport costs.

The High Representative said that addressing this situation requires the establishment of viable transit transport systems and the building up of export capacity.

He also expressed support for the Aid-for-Trade (AFT) initiative – launched at the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial Conference – which aims to scale up international financial assistance for building up trade capacity in developing countries.

Mr. Diarra hoped the Accra gathering would help focus attention on the urgent need for greater support for the LDCs and landlocked developing countries in the area of international trade.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 3rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Kofi gets his Bounce Back.
An excerpt from Comment is Free, Guardian, March 25, 2008, by Ian Williams.

Last week, previous and present UN secretary generals Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon appeared together at the Waldorf Astoria on the occasion of the MacArthur Foundation’s presentation of its first International Justice Award to Annan. It was pretty much their first public appearance since Annan handed over the reins to Ban on January 1, 2007, and it was a significant occasion for both them and the UN itself.

The explanations for Annan’s absence vary. Certainly, in his ineffably polite way, he did not want to cramp his successor’s style, but also in the early stages of Ban’s tenure, his team paid too much attention to the “American” view – as expressed by the former unconfirmed US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, and the Murdoch press.

The vitriolic prejudice and attacks on Annan from Bolton and … did much to redeem the Ghanaian’s reputation with the rest of the world, but clearly influenced Ban’s team when they arrived, basically clutching Bolton’s “reform” plan in their hands. Their experience at the UN has clearly taught them a lot, not least about the qualities of the former secretary general.

It was Ban who approached Annan to undertake what seems to have been a remarkably successful mission to Kenya, and in fact leaned hard on the Kenyans to accept him.

In fact Ban and Annan have much in common. Both are humble men, in the best possible sense, confident enough in their own dignity to be approachable and personable, and they both have a strong moral sense that they do not brandish ostentatiously but manifest when needed.

In fact, a just criticism of both would be that they let their diplomatic duties muffle their use of the bully pulpit that the office provides. Even so, when he was campaigning for the office, Ban expressed his support for the “responsibility to protect” (R2P), and the International Criminal Court – anathema to Bolton, who had spent years trying to strangle it. { In effect, Ban may also have picked up from Annan on Climate Change after the subject was presented to him as a most important item for the future of the human ibvolvement with life on earth.}

Ban reiterated that support at the presentation last Thursday, giving due credit to Annan, whose chief legacy was indeed getting the whole membership of the UN to agree to R2P. In effect, at the sixtieth anniversary of the organisation the membership agreed to reinterpret the UN charter so that threats to international peace and security against which the security council can take action included humanitarian disasters within states where the governments concerned had failed in their responsibility to protect their own people.

Of course, with the bleating from Belgrade about “sovereignty”, the repression in Tibet or the continuing disaster in Darfur, and events in Palestine, a cynical and superficially appropriate response would be “Big deal! So what?”

Certainly there has been a loss of momentum behind the idea, not least as the non-aligned and African states that Annan recruited to the concept have stepped back in the face of western double standards. Now that a rested and recuperated Annan is back on the world stage, allied with Nelson Mandela, an equally respected world figure, he can return to advance the work he started.

It will not be quick. It has taken several thousand years for the precept “thou shalt not kill” to gain acceptance, and the R2P may take some more. However there are signs. Already, in Sudan for example, China cannot preach absolute sovereignty to excuse Khartoum, so it has come under heavy pressure for its abuse of its veto.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 10th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

And we were told that the Africa trip was about African AIDS and US AID. Now THE WEEK tells us how really others thought about that trip. It was about African Oil and US Military Strategy to take possession of that oil.

Had the US wanted to do something for a sustainable development of Africa – African Jobs could have been created by helping them become independent of oil in their National development programs. After all, drilling for, and producing oil for export, has the side effect that it destroys the fabric of African Society and the environment that has allowed for communities in such places as the Niger delta. The effect of oil production was the enriching of a few, and the destruction seen by the great majority of those that live in the producing regions. China’s road building, by its military engineers, to facilitate access to the oil, and in order to open the way for exports of cheap Chinese goods, is something that will be going on, and the US simply cannot induce the African Governments to do without it. Neither will AFRICOM be able to fight this economic intrusion managed by the Chinese military.

africa-oil003.gif

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 23rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

nbsp;www.theelders.org/elders/

 www.theelders.org

 www.theelders.org/supporters/

THE ELDERS -well known people gathered by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in order to provide counsel in areas of conflict or on subjects that impact human life, human rights, the right to development etc.
The activity that brought to our attention this group centers now on the attempt to resolve the Kenya crisis. Among Their supporters is the UN Foundation and individuals like Richard Branson.

Welcome Elders Latest Events Global Village Press Our Supporters History

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 6th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Kyodo News Reports, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2008

Japan selects 41 countries for priority climate aid: The government has selected 41 priority countries for assistance under its “financial mechanism” on climate change for developing countries in hopes of taking a lead in the battle against global warming, government sources said Saturday.

China and India, two of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, are included among the 41, which are mainly in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America, the sources said.

Eleven of the countries, including Kenya, have been designated as “early implementation” countries.

By demonstrating the effectiveness of the mechanism in helping developing nations, Japan hopes to gain international support for initiatives on dealing with global warming.

The government is planning to speed up consultations with each country to hammer out the details, such as how to provide assistance and how much, the sources said.

The financial mechanism on climate change for developing countries is aimed at supporting developing countries that have the “will and ambition” to combat global warming by implementing energy-saving projects and specific action plans, among other steps.



In selecting the 41 priority countries, the government took into account their funding needs, their own undertakings to combat global warming, their international influence, and the degree of their understanding of and cooperation with Japan’s initiatives. China and India are expected to be key to Japan’s plan.

“It is impossible to resolve the problem of global warming without the active participation of both countries,” a Foreign Ministry official said of the two rapidly developing powerhouses. “It is important to show a cooperative stance on the financial aspect.”

Divided by region, the 11 “early implementation” countries are:

Kenya, Ethiopia, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Madagascar;

Indonesia and Malaysia;

Guyana and Mexico;

and Micronesia.

Japan and Indonesia have already reached a basic agreement on the framework for financial assistance, the sources said.

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Six of the countries are in Africa, then there are Guyana and Micronesia, but what is most important is that Japan will cooperate with China, India, Mexico, Indonesia, and Malaysia – all upper tier countries that have high growth rates.

The key for doing anything on climate change revolves around these countries and starting with them cooperative programs before the July G8 meeting, will be very significant for the success of that meeting.

Also, interesting to see that Japan intends to cooperate with Mexico – a country member of NAFTA – thus in the backyard of the US.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 19th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

OCTOBER 19, 2007, A report by the International Action Network on Small Arms, Saferworld, and Oxfam International, states that Armed Conflict Costs Africa $18 Billion Each Year.
Between 1990 and 2005, 23 African nations have been involved in armed conflict. The list includes Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan and Uganda.
During the past 15 years, almost $300 billion has been squandered on armed conflict in Africa, capital that could have been used to lift the continent out of extreme poverty and to prevent continued disease epidemics, a new study revealed.

The estimated $18 billion per year “is a massive waste of resources—roughly equivalent to total international aid to Africa from major donors during the same period. It is also roughly equivalent to the additional funds estimated to be necessary to address the problems of HIV and AIDS in Africa, or to address Africa’s needs in education, clean water and sanitation,” the report stated.

In effect, 38% of the world’s armed confrontations take place on African soil.

In addition, the report highlighted that “the average annual loss of 15 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) represents an enormous economic burden—this is one and a half times average African spending on health and education combined.” “This is money Africa can ill afford to lose,” Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf stated in the introduction of the report.

“The sums are appalling; the price that Africa is paying could cover the cost of solving the HIV and AIDS crisis in Africa, or provide education, water and prevention and treatment for TB and malaria. Literally thousands of hospitals, schools, and roads could have been built, positively affecting millions of people. Not only do the people of Africa suffer the physical horrors of violence, armed conflict undermines their efforts to escape poverty.”

President Johnson-Sirleaf understands the huge loss it represents for the continent, including her own country. Since 1991, Liberia has been one of the African nations that has been the target of armed combat and widespread civil strife. Although conditions for peace in the country were established in 2003 after President Charles Taylor left office, Liberia continues to experience political and economic perils, including the challenge of accommodating thousands of Liberian refugees who have returned to their homeland since the war ended.

However, it is not only robbed human lives and financial resources stolen in conflict that continue to cause the most damage to the continent, but the intangible daily mental and physical effects felt by the people themselves—and in some cases, other nations around them not directly involved in the conflict itself.

According to the report, African countries involved in conflict have, on average, “50 per cent more infant deaths, 15 percent more undernourished people, life expectancy reduced by five years, 20 percent more adult illiteracy, 2.5 times fewer doctors per patient, and 12.4 per cent less food per person.”

In the report, experts conclude that the majority of the problem lies in poor regulation of arms movement across borders—approximately “95 per cent of Africa’s most commonly used conflict weapons come from outside the continent.” These include the Kalashnikov assault rifle, more commonly known as the AK-47.

Also of primary concern is the tendency for regionalized conflicts to be magnified into international ones. According to the report, the situation in Darfur has already “drawn in neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic,” and other clashes in the area have caused similar situations.

Additionally, the economies of countries in armed skirmishes become intertwined. “In 2002, when fighting in Cote d’Ivoire made access to the key Ivorian seaport of Abidjan virtually impossible, foreign trade was disrupted in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger,” the report stated. And in Somaliland and Mozambique, “informal economies that provided a basic means of survival in wartime have been partly responsible for the collapse of formal rural market networks and have been an obstacle to post-conflict resolution,” the report said.

071019-001-africawar_small.jpg

Source: MCT

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 10th, 2005
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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