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Posted on on March 29th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (




A worker at a hydraulic fracturing operation in Rifle, Colo. Natural gas production releases methane, which contributes to greenhouse gas pollution. Credit Brennan Linsley/Associated Press



WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday announced a strategy to start slashing emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas released by landfills, cattle, and leaks from oil and natural gas production.

The methane strategy is the latest step in a series of White House actions aimed at addressing climate change without legislation from Congress. Individually, most of the steps will not be enough to drastically reduce the United States’ contribution to global warming. But the Obama administration hopes that collectively they will build political support for more substantive domestic actions while signaling to other countries that the United States is serious about tackling global warming.


In a 2009 United Nations climate change accord, President Obama pledged that by 2020 the United States would lower its greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels. “This methane strategy is one component, one set of actions to get there,” Dan Utech, the president’s special assistant for energy and climate change, said on Friday in a phone call with reporters.

Environmental advocates have long urged the Obama administration to target methane emissions. Most of the planet-warming greenhouse gas pollution in the United States comes from carbon dioxide, which is produced by burning coal, oil and natural gas. Methane accounts for just 9 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution — but the gas is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, so even small amounts of it can have a big impact on future global warming.

And methane emissions are projected to increase in the United States, as the nation enjoys a boom in oil and natural gas production, thanks to breakthroughs in hydraulic fracturing technology. A study published in the journal Science last month found that methane is leaking from oil and natural gas drilling sites and pipelines at rates 50 percent higher than previously thought. As he works to tackle climate change, Mr. Obama has generally supported the natural gas production boom, since natural gas, when burned for electricity, produces just half the greenhouse gas pollution of coal-fired electricity.

Environmental groups like the Sierra Club have campaigned against the boom in natural gas production, warning that it could lead to dangerous levels of methane pollution, undercutting the climate benefits of gas. The oil and gas industry has resisted pushes to regulate methane leaks from production, saying it could slow that down.

A White House official said on Friday that this spring, the Environmental Protection Agency would assess several potentially significant sources of methane and other emissions from the oil and gas sector, and that by this fall the agency “will determine how best to pursue further methane reductions from these sources.” If the E.P.A. decides to develop additional regulations, it would complete them by the end of 2016 — just before Mr. Obama leaves office.


Among the steps the administration announced on Friday to address methane pollution:

–  The Interior Department will propose updated standards to reduce venting and flaring of methane from oil and gas production on public lands.

–  In April, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management will begin to gather public comment on the development of a program for the capture and sale of methane produced by coal mines on lands leased by the ederal government.

–  This summer, the E.P.A. will propose updated standards to reduce methane emissions from new landfills and take public comment on whether to update standards for existing landfills.

–  In June, the Agriculture Department, the Energy Department and the E.P.A. will release a joint “biogas road map” aimed at accelerating adoption of methane digesters, machines that reduce methane emissions from cattle, in order to cut dairy-sector greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

Advocates of climate action generally praised the plan. “Cutting methane emissions will be especially critical to climate protection as the U.S. develops its huge shale gas reserves, gaining the full greenhouse gas benefit from the switch away from coal,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former White House climate change aide under President Bill Clinton, now with the German Marshall Fund.

Howard J. Feldman, director of regulatory and scientific affairs for the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for oil and gas companies, said he hoped the steps would not lead to new regulations on his industry. “We think regulation is not necessary at this time,” he said. “People are using a lot more natural gas in the country, and that’s reducing greenhouse gas.”

Since cattle flatulence and manure are a significant source of methane, farmers have long been worried that a federal methane control strategy could place a burden on them. But Andrew Walmsley, director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said that his group was pleased that, for now, the administration’s proposals to reduce methane from cattle were voluntary.

“All indications are that it’s voluntary,” he said, “but we do see increased potential for scrutiny for us down the line, which would cause concern.”


Related Coverage:


Photographs: Rising Seas,



Asia Pacific

Borrowed Time on Disappearing Land:

Facing Rising Seas, Bangladesh Confronts the Consequences of Climate Change

Bangladesh, with its low elevation and severe tropical storms, is among the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, though it has contributed little to the emissions that are driving it. Credit Kadir van Lohuizen for The New York Times

DAKOPE, Bangladesh — When a powerful storm destroyed her riverside home in 2009, Jahanara Khatun lost more than the modest roof over her head. In the aftermath, her husband died and she became so destitute that she sold her son and daughter into bonded servitude. And she may lose yet more.

Ms. Khatun now lives in a bamboo shack that sits below sea level about 50 yards from a sagging berm. She spends her days collecting cow dung for fuel and struggling to grow vegetables in soil poisoned by salt water. Climate scientists predict that this area will be inundated as sea levels rise and storm surges increase, and a cyclone or another disaster could easily wipe away her rebuilt life. But Ms. Khatun is trying to hold out at least for a while — one of millions living on borrowed time in this vast landscape of river islands, bamboo huts, heartbreaking choices and impossible hopes.

Play Video

Home in the Delta — Like many of her neighbors, Nasrin Khatun, unrelated to Jahanara Khatun, navigates daily life in a disappearing landscape.

As the world’s top scientists meet in Yokohama, Japan, this week, at the top of the agenda is the prediction that global sea levels could rise as much as three feet by 2100. Higher seas and warmer weather will cause profound changes.

Climate scientists have concluded that widespread burning of fossil fuels is releasing heat-trapping gases that are warming the planet. While this will produce a host of effects, the most worrisome may be the melting of much of the earth’s ice, which is likely to raise sea levels and flood coastal regions.

Such a rise will be uneven because of gravitational effects and human intervention, so predicting its outcome in any one place is difficult. But island nations like the Maldives, Kiribati and Fiji may lose much of their land area, and millions of Bangladeshis will be displaced.

“There are a lot of places in the world at risk from rising sea levels, but Bangladesh is at the top of everybody’s list,” said Rafael Reuveny, a professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University at Bloomington. “And the world is not ready to cope with the problems.”

The effects of climate change have led to a growing sense of outrage in developing nations, many of which have contributed little to the pollution that is linked to rising temperatures and sea levels but will suffer the most from the consequences.

A woman stood where her house was before Cyclone Aila destroyed it in 2009. Scientists expect rising sea levels to submerge 17 percent of Bangladesh’s land and displace 18 million people in the next 40 years. Credit Kadir van Lohuizen for The New York Times

At a climate conference in Warsaw in November, there was an emotional outpouring from countries that face existential threats, among them Bangladesh, which produces just 0.3 percent of the emissions driving climate change. Some leaders have demanded that rich countries compensate poor countries for polluting the atmosphere. A few have even said that developed countries should open their borders to climate migrants.

“It’s a matter of global justice,” said Atiq Rahman, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies and the nation’s leading climate scientist. “These migrants should have the right to move to the countries from which all these greenhouse gases are coming. Millions should be able to go to the United States.”

River deltas around the globe are particularly vulnerable to the effects of rising seas, and wealthier cities like London, Venice and New Orleans also face uncertain futures. But it is the poorest countries with the biggest populations that will be hit hardest, and none more so than Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated nations in the world. In this delta, made up of 230 major rivers and streams, 160 million people live in a place one-fifth the size of France and as flat as chapati, the bread served at almost every meal.

A Perilous Position

Though Bangladesh has contributed little to industrial air pollution, other kinds of environmental degradation have left it especially vulnerable.

Bangladesh relies almost entirely on groundwater for drinking supplies because the rivers are so polluted. The resultant pumping causes the land to settle. So as sea levels are rising, Bangladesh’s cities are sinking, increasing the risks of flooding. Poorly constructed sea walls compound the problem.

The country’s climate scientists and politicians have come to agree that by 2050, rising sea levels will inundate some 17 percent of the land and displace about 18 million people, Dr. Rahman said.

Bangladeshis have already started to move away from the lowest-lying villages in the river deltas of the Bay of Bengal, scientists in Bangladesh say. People move for many reasons, and urbanization is increasing across South Asia, but rising tides are a big factor. Dr. Rahman’s research group has made a rough estimate from small surveys that as many as 1.5 million of the five million slum inhabitants in Dhaka, the capital, moved from villages near the Bay of Bengal.

The slums that greet them in Dhaka are also built on low-lying land, making them almost as vulnerable to being inundated as the land villagers left behind.

Ms. Khatun and her neighbors have lived through deadly cyclones — a synonym here for hurricane — and have seen the salty rivers chew through villages and poison fields. Rising seas are increasingly intruding into rivers, turning fresh water brackish. Even routine flooding then leaves behind salt deposits that can render land barren.

Making matters worse, much of what the Bangladeshi government is doing to stave off the coming deluge — raising levees, dredging canals, pumping water — deepens the threat of inundation in the long term, said John Pethick, a former professor of coastal science at Newcastle University in England who has spent much of his retirement studying Bangladesh’s predicament. Rich nations are not the only ones to blame, he said.

In an analysis of decades of tidal records published in October, Dr. Pethick found that high tides in Bangladesh were rising 10 times faster than the global average. He predicted that seas in Bangladesh could rise as much as 13 feet by 2100, four times the global average. In an area where land is often a thin brown line between sky and river — nearly a quarter of Bangladesh is less than seven feet above sea level — such an increase would have dire consequences, Dr. Pethick said.

“The reaction among Bangladeshi government officials has been to tell me that I must be wrong,” he said. “That’s completely understandable, but it also means they have no hope of preparing themselves.”

Dr. Rahman said that he did not disagree with Mr. Pethick’s findings, but that no estimate was definitive. Other scientists have predicted more modest rises. For example, Robert E. Kopp, an associate director of the Rutgers Energy Institute at Rutgers University, said that data from nearby Kolkata, India, suggested that seas in the region could rise five to six feet by 2100.

“There is no doubt that preparations within Bangladesh have been utterly inadequate, but any such preparations are bound to fail because the problem is far too big for any single government,” said Tariq A. Karim, Bangladesh’s ambassador to India. “We need a regional and, better yet, a global solution. And if we don’t get one soon, the Bangladeshi people will soon become the world’s problem, because we will not be able to keep them.”

Mr. Karim estimated that as many as 50 million Bangladeshis would flee the country by 2050 if sea levels rose as expected.

Continue reading the main story
Disappearing Land

Losing Everything

Already, signs of erosion are everywhere in the Ganges Delta — the world’s largest delta, which empties much of the water coming from the Himalayas. There are brick foundations torn in half, palm trees growing out of rivers and rangy cattle grazing on island pastures the size of putting greens. Fields are dusted white with salt.

Even without climate change, Bangladesh is among the most vulnerable places in the world to bad weather: The V-shaped Bay of Bengal funnels cyclones straight into the country’s fan-shaped coastline.

Some scientists believe that rising temperatures will lead to more extreme weather worldwide, including stronger and more frequent cyclones in the Bay of Bengal. And rising seas will make any storm more dangerous because flooding will become more likely.

Bangladesh has done much to protect its population by creating an early-warning system and building at least 2,500 concrete storm shelters. The result has been a vast reduction in storm-related deaths. While Cyclone Bhola in 1970 killed as many as 550,000 people, Cyclone Aila in 2009 killed 300. The deadliest part of the storm was the nearly 10-foot wall of water that roared through villages in the middle of the afternoon.

The poverty of people like Ms. Khatun makes them particularly vulnerable to storms. When Aila hit, Ms. Khatun was home with her husband, parents and four children. A nearby berm collapsed, and their mud and bamboo hut washed away in minutes. Unable to save her belongings, Ms. Khatun put her youngest child on her back and, with her husband, fought through surging waters to a high road. Her parents were swept away.

“After about a kilometer, I managed to grab a tree,” said Abddus Satter, Ms. Khatun’s father. “And I was able to help my wife grab on as well. We stayed on that tree for hours.”

The couple eventually shifted to the roof of a nearby hut. The family reunited on the road the next day after the children spent a harrowing night avoiding snakes that had sought higher ground, too. They drank rainwater until rescuers arrived a day or two later with bottled water, food and other supplies.

The ordeal took a severe toll on Ms. Khatun’s husband, whose health soon deteriorated. To pay for his treatment and the cost of rebuilding their hut, the family borrowed money from a loan shark. In return, Ms. Khatun and her three older children, then 10, 12 and 15, promised to work for seven months in a nearby brickmaking factory. She later sold her 11- and 13-year-old children to the owner of another brick factory, this one in Dhaka, for $450 to pay more debts. Her husband died four years after the storm.

In an interview, one of her sons, Mamun Sardar, now 14, said he worked from dawn to dusk carrying newly made bricks to the factory oven.

He said he missed his mother, “but she lives far away.”

Play Video

A Day’s Work:  At a brickmaking factory in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, Mamun Sardar works long hours to pay his family’s debts.

Impossible Hopes

Discussions about the effects of climate change in the Ganges Delta often become community events. In the village of Choto Jaliakhali, where Ms. Khatun lives, dozens of people said they could see that the river was rising. Several said they had been impoverished by erosion, which has cost many villagers their land.

Muhammad Moktar Ali said he could not think about the next storm because all he had in the world was his hut and village. “We don’t know how to support ourselves if we lost this,” he said, gesturing to his gathered neighbors. “It is God who will help us survive.”

Surveys show that residents of the delta do not want to migrate, Dr. Rahman said. Moving to slums in already-crowded cities is their least preferred option.

But cities have become the center of Bangladesh’s textile industry, which is now the source of 80 percent of the country’s exports, 45 percent of its industrial employment and 15 percent of its gross domestic product.


Rising Seas

Some areas of the globe are especially vulnerable to rising sea levels and inhabitants are being forced to make stark changes in their lives.

OPEN Photographs

In the weeks after the storm, the women of Dakope found firewood by wading into the raging river and pushing their toes into the muddy bottom. They walked hours to buy drinking water. After rebuilding the village’s berm and their own hut, Shirin Aktar and her husband, Bablu Gazi, managed to get just enough of a harvest to survive from their land, which has become increasingly infertile from salt water. Some plots that once sustained three harvests can now support just one; others are entirely barren.

After two hungry years, the couple gave up on farming and moved to the Chittagong, Bangladesh’s second-largest city, leaving their two children behind with Mr. Gazi’s mother.

Mr. Gazi found work immediately as a day laborer, mostly digging foundations. Ms. Aktar searched for a job as a seamstress, but headaches and other slum-induced health problems have so incapacitated her that the couple is desperate to return to Dakope.

“I don’t want to stay here for too long,” Mr. Gazi said. “If we can save some money, then we’ll go back. I’ll work on a piece of land and try to make it fertile again.”

But the chances of finding fertile land in his home village, where the salty rivers have eaten away acre upon acre, are almost zero.

Dozens of people gathered in the narrow mud alley outside Mr. Gazi’s room as he spoke. Some told similar stories of storms, loss and hope, and many nodded as Mr. Gazi spoke of his dreams of returning to his doomed village.

“All of us came here because of erosions and cyclones,” said Noakhali, a hollow-eyed 30-year-old with a single name who was wearing the traditional skirt of the delta. “Not one of us actually wants to live here.”


Produced by Catherine Spangler, David Furst, Hannah Fairfield, Jacqueline Myint, Jeremy White and Shreeya Sinha.

A version of this article appears in print on March 29, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: As Seas Rise, Millions Cling to Borrowed Time and Dying Land.



Posted on on August 20th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Source: Al Jazeera

Bangladesh is struggling to generate the electricity needed to meet the demand of its 150 million people.

Most Bangladeshis are not even connected to the national grid. Those who are, suffer from long and frequent power outages.

Recently several suburbs of in the city of Chittagong went without electricity for four consecutive days. Local residents stormed the power supply building in protest.

According to government calculations, the country needs 6,750 megawatts (MW) of electricity to meet the current energy demand but it can only supply 5,500MW. The shortfall means they are looking for alternative solutions.

Authorities in Dhaka are now beginning to use solar energy. The panels are set to control traffic lights. Authorities say the system will reduce traffic jams and well-lit streets will protect people from getting mugged.

But as Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque reports from the Bangladesh capital, keeping residents safe and happy is expensive: each panel costs $5,000 to install. Plans are underway to expand the project and make 10 per cent of Bangladesh’s power supply green and renewable by 2020.


Posted on on July 8th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Professor Uriel Safriel of the Center for Environmental Conventions, Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Sede Boqer Campus, Israel – said June 2012 at the Rio Convention in talks about FEED THE WORLD AND PROTECT THE PLANET, that The three Rio Conventions are expected to Jointly protect the ENVIRONMENT So it can support the other two pillars Of sustainable development – The ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL PILLARS.

Protecting the Land from Degradation is major part of the effort to feed the World.

Rio 1992 – by establishing the three Conventions dealing basically with topics – on Climate, Biodiversity, and Desertification Avoidance – has created a backdrop for the environment so it forms a solid pillar to help the tripod on which was planned to seat Planet Earth in our pedicure efforts of Sustainable Development.

The three Conventions provided an opportunity for Synergism between them and as the developing countries were demanding, when built into environment theory and practice – will thus enable us all to talk productively about the Social and Economic Pillars of Sustainability.

The Conventions are thus critical to achieve development and poverty eradication.

On Sede Boqer Campus, The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel is running a series of conferences, every other year, started in 2006 – A Conference on the Challenges and the Potential of Developing Arid Lands, Sede Boqer, Israel, November 6-9, 2006.

The Second International Conference – “The Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification Conferences” was  December 14-17, 2008.

In 2010 there was The Third International Conference on Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification at The Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Sede Boqer, Israel – November 8-11, 2010. That ended up with:

This year there will be the fourth conference in the series – and it will be a post-RIO+20 Conference:

Fourth International Conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification: Implementing Rio+20 for Drylands and Desertification – 12-15 November 2012.

Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Israel Eliashiv,  is involved in policy issues at the University and in following changes at the UN.

The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, along with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Israeli Foreign Ministry, are orgainzing the Fourth International Conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification (DDD). This conference will gather scientists, field workers, industry representatives, government workers, civil society organizations, international development aid agencies and other stakeholders from over 60 countries to discuss issues related to land degradation in the drylands, and their sustainable use and development. The 2012 conference will focus on the outcome of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) and will consider the science required for implementing the UNCSD’s recommendations relevant to drylands and desertification. Local case studies will be highlighted alongside success stories from around the world with an emphasis on indicators of progress. Additional sessions will be held considering a broad range of topics associated with sustainable living in the drylands and the means to address desertification, as well as achieving the target of zero net rate of land degradation. Registration opens on 1 April and the abstract submission deadline is 17 June.

dates: 12-15 November 2012   venue: Sede Boqer campus of Ben Gurion University   location: Israel   additional: Sede Boqer   contact: Dorit Korine, Conference Coordinator   phone: +972 (8) 659 6781   fax: +972 (8) 659 6772  e-mail: www:


Further, we think appropriate to mention that while the Israelis are working on Arid and Semi-Arid Lands policy, they in effect are very much involved in disseminating technologies that Israel developed years ago and continues to develop today.

China is a ready made customer, as Africa was in past years.

Our web-site has followed Mr. Raanan Katzir in projects he did in various parts of the World – and today he is focused on China. We just updated the posting about him as we got an inquiry from Africa, and we realized that we neglected for a while the management of dry lands.


Posted on on June 7th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

RIO+20 got the money for the upcoming conference in order to look at what was achieved and what is yet to be achieved from those items codified in AGENDA 21, and within the guidelines of the 1992 Rio Principles. The money was not given to the organizers of the 2012 Conference in order to re-invent the wheel. Also, that Algerian diplomat who abused the chair in Working Group II last month, by sitting there and putting brackets around the word SUSTAINABLE when it was written in front of DEVELOPMENT – was demonstrating that he was still in the mid 1970s – that is the RIO-20 period or the STONE AGE of DEVELOPMENT.  We hope thus that countries like Bangladesh, Mexico, Brazil, and the smaller States of the SIDS, will eventually walk out from those G-77 and create a progressive G that knows what is needed and will insist at the effort to get it!

Power to those that understand what they demand!


Pacific Civil Society Releases Rio+20 Statement: The Future We Demand!

Pacific civil society organizations have released an urgent appeal to UN Member States attending the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012. “The Future We Demand” is signed by local, national and regional organizations, networks and allies, including the Pacific Network on Globalization, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, the Pacific Conference of Churches, and Development Alternatives for Women with Women for a New Era (DAWN).

The statement calls for strong political leadership, and urgent action towards real and transformative solutions. It reaffirms the Rio Principles and Agenda 21, and highlights the fragility and resilience of Pacific Island States, and makes a strong call for results at Rio: “The future that the peoples of the Pacific demand in solidarity with others around the world, is one of social justice and human rights for all, and a recognition of the need to balance the three pillars of sustainable development – environmental, social and economic sustainability.”

Click here to read the Pacific statement.


Posted on on June 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Bonn Climate Change Conference – May  14-25, 2012 tells us that the while attention is riveted to RIO+20 in effect not only the UN Commission on Sustainable Development is bankrupt, but also the process that was started by the UN Convention on Climate Change is also bankrupt. THAT IS WHY WE SAY FOR A WHILE THAT THE MEETING IN RIO 2012 IS IN EFFECT A RIO MINUS TWENTY.

The following is the Analysis of the May 2012 Bonn Meeting as suggested by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin.

The Bonn Climate Change Conference took place from 14 to 25 May 2012 in Bonn, Germany. The conference comprised the 36th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). It also included the 15th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (AWG-LCA), the 17th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP).

Under the SBI, key issues discussed included loss and damage, national adaptation plans (NAPs), and reporting by Annex I and non-Annex I parties. The SBSTA focused on agriculture, research and systematic observation, and methodological guidance on REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries). Technology and response measures were considered under both the SBI and SBSTA.

Under the AWG-KP, the focus was on issues that need to be finalized to adopt a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and for the AWG-KP to conclude its work at the eighth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 8). These include: matters relating to quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives (QELROs) with a view to adopting these as amendments to Annex B to the Kyoto Protocol and carry-over of assigned amount units (AAUs). While discussions under the AWG-KP advanced understanding of these issues, many outstanding questions remain, including the length of the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and carry-over of surplus units.

Under the AWG-LCA, parties initially debated the agenda and whether it adequately reflected progress since the adoption of the Bali Action Plan at COP 13 in 2007. After agreement on the agenda, debates continued on which issues require consideration so that the AWG-LCA can finalize its work at COP 18 in Doha. Developed countries stressed “significant progress” and the various new institutions established in Cancun and Durban. They called for a focus on specific tasks mandated by Decision 2/CP.17 (Outcome of the work of the AWG-LCA). Developing countries identified the need to continue discussing issues, such as finance, technology, adaptation, capacity building and response measures in order to fulfill the mandate in the Bali Action Plan.

Under the ADP, discussions centered on the agenda and election of officers. After nearly two weeks of discussions, the ADP plenary adopted the agenda and agreed on the election of officers during the final day of the conference.

At the close of the Bonn Conference, many felt that the atmosphere had been “tense,” especially under the ADP. They expressed hope that this would not have a lasting impact, putting at risk efforts to rebuild trust in the process over the past two years since Copenhagen and the “delicate balance” of interests reflected in the Durban Package.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin Summary of this meeting is now available in PDF format at and in HTML format



Six months ago, many delegates left the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban basking in the warm glow of success, imbued with the infectious spirit of  “Ubuntu,” or unity and interconnectedness. The conference had agreed on several landmark decisions including: the establishment a new Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) and “a process to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force applicable to all parties” to come into effect from 2020 onwards; a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol; and agreement to terminate the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) and Ad Hoc Working Group on Annex I Parties’ Further Commitments under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) in Doha. Many saw these decisions as heralding a new era of multilateralism and turned to 2012 with anticipation, vigor and purpose.

Six months later, the pressure was on delegates in Bonn to live up to the promise of Durban. Delegates faced a heavy workload, including the tasks needed to operationalize the institutions and mechanisms established in Cancun and Durban. Parties also had to try to demystify what it was they had actually agreed to during the waning hours of the frenzied COP 17. However, negotiations in 2012 got off to an inauspicious start and the Bonn Climate Change Conference was marred by mistrust and unabashed posturing. The meeting was almost paralyzed by prolonged procedural wrangling, which many described as “unprecedented.” This analysis will discuss the underlying reasons for the disputes in Bonn and examine the implications for COP 18 in Doha, Qatar, in another six months.


Many could not begin to imagine how difficult it would be to begin implementing the Durban decisions. The new platform established in Durban introduced the notions of a “post-2012 or pre-2020” landscape; and a “post-2020” period, that will be covered by the new “protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all parties” to be developed by the ADP.

The Durban Package, which had been negotiated sensitively to accommodate the myriad of parties’ interests, presented challenges and complexities in Bonn, when parties began the business of interpreting its ambiguous language. For example, while many parties see mitigation as the core of the ADP, some developing countries insisted that all elements, including financing, adaptation, capacity building and technology transfer, should also be central to the ADP’s mandate.

For many, enhancing ambition to close the “mitigation gap” was a crucial part of Decision 1/CP.17. The decision establishes that the ADP process for the post-2020 regime shall raise the level of ambition and also launches a post-2012 work plan on enhancing mitigation ambition for all parties. However, the decision does not stipulate when and which body will implement the work plan. While some developing parties supported addressing pre-2020 mitigation ambition under the AWG-LCA, many others insisted on addressing it under the ADP.

The reason why some preferred to address enhancing mitigation ambition under the AWG-LCA is that the Bali Action Plan affirms the Convention’s core principles, including common but differentiated responsibilities. This implies that developed countries have commitments, while developing countries only take nationally appropriate mitigation actions contingent on support from developed countries. This level of comfort is missing under the ADP for developing countries. Indeed, the decision adopting the ADP does not include references to the Convention’s principles nor does it make a distinction between developed and developing countries. As one insider highlighted, “some parties have started to panic about the ADP; they feel as if they are walking into a dark room and don’t know if there is anything there or where anything is.” This uncertainty manifested in disagreements over both the AWG-LCA and the ADP agendas. On the ADP agenda, parties ultimately agreed to address two work streams, one on the post-2020 regime and the other on the post-2012 work plan on enhancing the level of ambition.

Uncertainties also arose when considering the termination of the AWG-LCA in Doha. Decision 1/CP.17 extends the AWG-LCA’s “mandate for one year in order for it to continue its work and reach the agreed outcome pursuant to decision 1/CP.13 (Bali Action Plan)”, until COP 18 at which it “shall be terminated.” However, Durban left room for different interpretations on how to proceed with the inconclusive work beyond Doha. The lack of clarity on the AWG-LCA termination provided room for discussions on whether the AWG-LCA should finish after the Bali Action Plan was accomplished or if the Bali Action Plan was accomplished by the termination of the AWG-LCA. Some parties, particularly a group of developing countries, wanted to assess the progress achieved toward fulfilling the Bali Action Plan, including some elements that were not agreed upon in Durban but were reflected in a compilation document referred to as “CRP.39,” such as intellectual property issues in relation to technology, rights of Mother Earth, trade, and response measures. Meanwhile, many developed countries wanted to focus on specific issues mandated by COP 17. They highlighted that many issues mandated by the Bali Action Plan had already been properly addressed and forwarded to the permanent subsidiary bodies or other relevant institutions created for that purpose, such as the Technology Executive Committee, the Green Climate Fund, the Adaptation Committee and the Durban Forum on Capacity Building.

Nevertheless, the extent to which the permanent subsidiary bodies and the new bodies can address these issues is limited to their technical nature or their particular mandate. Moreover, many of the established bodies still need to be operationalized, as many highlighted. The fact that progress towards their operationalization was not achieved in Bonn did not help to enhance the environment of cooperation. On finance, the Philippines provided examples of this phenomenon, underscoring that the GCF is still “an empty shell, and the Standing Committee is not standing.”

In Durban, under the AWG-KP track, parties agreed to “decide that the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol shall begin on 1 January 2013.” However, it is clear to everybody that to “really adopt” the second commitment period parties will have to agree on its length, put forward QELROs and adopt the necessary amendments to the Kyoto Protocol in Doha. Some questions remain on key issues such as how to ensure a smooth transition to the second commitment period, how to deal with excess units from the first commitment period, how rules can be continued and, in particular, how to continue with the flexibility mechanisms, including who will be able to participate, given that some countries indicated they would not be part of a second commitment period. In Bonn, developing countries reiterated that parties intending to participate in the second commitment period should submit ambitious QELROs in line with the goal of limiting temperature increase to below 2°C. Venezuela vociferously demanded that Annex I parties “show their QELROs” as opposed to pledges. The EU highlighted their submission of QELROs and also called upon his Annex B colleagues to follow suit.

Moreover, in order to finish shaping the second commitment period and properly adopt it in Doha, parties have to agree on its length and on the text of the Kyoto Protocol amendment, but negotiations in Bonn did not lead to any further progress in this regard. With so many relevant details to be defined before Doha, developing countries expressed fear that parties are “jumping from the Kyoto Protocol ship” by shifting the focus on the ADP. The EU and other developed countries argued, in turn, that their agreement on a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol was based on a transition to a global and comprehensive post-2020 climate treaty to be negotiated under the ADP.


If anything, the Bonn session brought to the fore the universally acknowledged fact that the UNFCCC, drafted in 1992, reflects a reality light years away from the 2012 global landscape. Since the negotiation of the Convention, the outlook for many G-77/China members has changed dramatically and resulting tensions from these divergences are increasingly playing out in the negotiating rooms. For several years now, many have been wagering bets on how long the G-77/China tinderbox diplomacy can prevail, when it is evident that many of the members appear to sit uncomfortably around the same table. A discernible chasm was evident in Bonn. As one delegate said, “Members of the group are now washing their dirty linen very publically.” The group did not have a common negotiating position on the ADP and many other issues. Moreover, they had trouble agreeing on fielding one non-Annex I candidate for the position of ADP Chair. As one practitioner explained, the UNFCCC governance structure assumed certain things, including that parties fall neatly into two groups: Annex I and non-Annex I countries. This “binary” dynamic has changed. As one delegate noted: “GRULAC and the Asian Group are the dominant forces but they do not represent the interests of the entire group.” This means that, in addition to the traditional distinction between developed and developing countries, a third category of “emerging developing countries” or “advanced developing countries” may need to be factored into the mix.

Ultimately, the specter of having to vote for the ADP officers and the resulting damage to the process proved too much for parties to stomach, and they eventually agreed to a “delicate arrangement,” where the candidate from the Asia-Pacific Group will serve an initial one year term from 2012-2013, with his counterpart from an Annex I party, and the subsequent Co-Chair from GRULAC will serve for a term of 18 months. Many said that creating a voting precedent under the UNFCCC would be difficult, almost unfathomable but, at times during the meeting it appeared as if the taboo would be broken.

Other dynamics also played out within the G-77/China, which caught many practitioners by surprise. Bonn witnessed the emergence of a group of approximately 40 countries primarily comprised of the Arab Group, Latin American countries, including Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, as well as India and China, who, on the face on things, appear to have forged an alliance to uphold the Convention’s principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and equity, as well as developed countries’ historical responsibility for climate change. They maintain that any outcome under the ADP must be equitable so that “universality of application” does not become “uniformity of application.”

In contrast, another group of developing countries, including members from AOSIS, LDCs, and some Latin American countries, such as Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Peru and Panama, are looking for such action on mitigation from developed and developing countries and for action to be “incentivized for all countries,” which they describe as the “beginning of a new paradigm for responding to climate change.”

Reflecting on the developments within the G-77/China, one insider said “history is being made and the wedge within the group is helping to bring about an exciting geo-political shift, which is about how countries deal with each other politically and economically and also a reflection of where they are and where they will be.”


Bonn demonstrated that, as many have said, Durban was a carefully negotiated package contingent on all elements of the outcome moving forward in tandem. However, what is clear is that parties have a very different perspective of what the future looks like in terms of, inter alia, the ADP’s mandate, how to terminate the AWGs and what to focus on for effectively addressing climate change. As evidenced in Bonn, constructive ambiguity results in uncertainty that can sometimes breed mistrust. This mistrust is often manifested through disputes over procedure and consequently hampers progress. Looking ahead, parties have their work cut out to accomplish tasks they agreed to in Durban. They will need to exercise goodwill, integrity and congeniality in order to deliver on the ultimate objective of meaningful mitigation action for the post-2012 era.


Posted on on April 18th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

OPEN DEMOCRACY has Two Interesting Articles on Bangladesh.

Partnership or PR? Chevron in Bangladesh.

Katy Gardner, 17 April 2012  Discordant Development: Global Capitalism and the Struggle for Connection in Bangladesh (Anthropology, Culture and Society) was published earlier this year by Pluto Press. You can read more about Katy’s work

Chevron are investing in communities and promoting human rights in Bangladesh, claiming that partnership with communities is not just good business practice, but crucial for social progress. But are these real partnerships – publishing what they pay, supporting anti-corruption measures and being accountable?

What do such corporate ‘partnerships’ involve? Viewed in the unflattering light of reality rather than the shimmery vista of PR, is there any evidence that relationships with communities could be described as involving the shared goals, co-operation, mutual respect and equality that the term implies? In research in the villages surrounding the Bibiyana Gas Field in Bangladesh, we found few people who would refer to Chevron as partners. Instead, the majority spoke of their fears of corruption, environmental damage and their sense of injustice at the profits made by foreign multinationals exploiting local resources.

The research involved two villages close to the gas field where, after large scale protest against the loss of land as the installation was being constructed, Chevron were now investing in health, education and alternative livelihoods projects as part of their Community Engagement Programme. In their Dhaka offices, the executives involved were keen to talk the talk: the initiatives were to be sustainable, the poor were to be ‘helped to help themselves.’ As one official put it, “we want to empower people.”

It sounds good. But before rushing to congratulate multinational energy corporations for their progressive investments, we need to look closely at the relationships they glibly describe as ‘partnerships’. If the ability to hear and be heard is a basic component of a healthy partnership, we saw little in the way of Chevron hearing the concerns of the poor. People told us that although initially there were ‘community consultation meetings’, once the land acquisition process was complete, community liaison staff retreated behind the high wire fence of the enclave and only the elite leaders had any means of contacting them. There are no grievance procedures and no open meetings. Whilst the company did respond to farmers’ complaints of damage to the environment, they acted without consulting the farmers. The main issue was the installation’s high banked roads, which prevent water from flowing evenly over rice fields during the wet season. Chevron built culverts in the roads, but these were too small and became blocked with weeds. A year later, no further action had been taken.

Meanwhile, whilst officials talk of ‘empowerment’ they have no experience of social development and show little awareness of the root causes of poverty: inequality, injustice and a lack of rights. Though the support given to small rural businesses is useful, the programmes are carried out via Village Development Organisations that are composed of self selected leaders from the local elite, thus strengthening rather than challenging local hierarchies. It was these leaders who were informed of the controlled flaring that was to take place one night. Community Engagement officials imagined that they would spread the message to the wider population. They didn’t and the result was mayhem. When people woke to the huge flames, they assumed there had been an accident and panicked, running from their homes in terror.

Even more worrying are issues of transparency. Whilst Chevron has a relatively good reputation for its levels of disclosure ‘at home’, the company’s record with regards to its overseas operations leaves much to be desired. This is all the more disappointing when it has enthusiastically signed up to the core aims of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. According to a report published by Revenue Watch / Transparency International, Chevron scored 88% for organisational disclosure (compared to the industry average of 65%), but only 8% for country level disclosure (compared to the industry average of 16%).

Within Bangladesh, the details of deals made with the government are secret, as are the company’s environmental, social and health impact assessments. Yet speak with ordinary Bangladeshis and they will tell you that government corruption and lack of transparency in deals with the extractive industries are of vital importance to the national interest. This surely, is where multinationals could make a real contribution to social progress: publishing what they pay, supporting the government and other agencies in anti-corruption measures and being accountable to the populations where they work, would be real steps towards supporting human rights and justice, rather than funding NGOs to carry out small scale projects that provide plenty of photo opportunities for the PR machine, but little in the way of real partnership.


Bangladesh: journey of fear towards an uncertain future.

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury17 April 2012…

About the author:  Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the editor of the Bangaldeshi tabloid, The Weekly Blitz, a columnist, author and peace activist who won the PEN USA Freedom to Write award in 2005, the first of a series of awards for moral courage in the media.

The two large parties in Bangladesh have already turned to the worst sort of dynastic politics. At the same time, Islamist influences and left wing groups are becoming ever more involved with the dominant political forces. Alongside this, parliament has become totally ineffective.

The Arab Spring has brought the issue of constitutional rights, and their violation, to the fore in Egypt, Tunisia, and most recently in Syria. Now this problem is affecting a country further East, Bangladesh, for the first time since it gained independence. Bangladesh’s ruling party, Awami League, claims to espouse Abraham Lincoln’s vision of government for, by and of the people, but has instead shown the worst face of autocratic leadership. It has used its own party hooligans as enforcers and made the capital Dhaka into a dangerous place.

The government has also imposed restrictions on all electronic media and used its intelligence forces to hinder the broadcasting of a major speech by the Leader of the Opposition. He had addressed a mammoth rally of at least five hundred thousand people, gathered to express their frustration and anger at a series of failures by the government. Three private television channels were switched off by the intelligence agencies without any prior notice simply because these channels were broadcasting footage of the rally in Dhaka. Through these actions, which violate articles 36 and 37 of the Bangladeshi constitution, the Awani League has finally revealed itself as an opponent of the people.

Following these incidents on March 12 of this year, Mahfuz Anam, a respected journalist and editor of The Daily Star, wrote a front page editorial expressing anger over these violations of rights of the country’s citizens. In an article titled “Awami League’s Moral Defeat”, he wrote:

“When does a government strangulate its capital city by preventing almost all modes of transport from reaching it? When does a government bring to a virtual halt almost all internal city movements? When does a government create such a panicky situation that traders do not open shops out of fear of vandalism? When does a government prevent its own citizens from carrying out their day to day activities? When do government leaders tell blatant lies on television while the truth is clearly the opposite? When does a ruling party let loose its goons upon normal citizens on suspicion that they might attend the opposition rally? When does an elected government adopt the most oppressive measure to prevent the opposition from holding a public rally?”

“Only when it is unsure of itself. A party confident of its popular base, sure of its public support, certain of the efficacy of its policies and surefooted about its public record would never have done what the ruling Awami League did yesterday to prevent the BNP from holding its public rally. What the ruling party did over the last two days to prevent mass participation in the opposition rally reveals a political party frightened of the strength of the opposition and loath to allow it to show it. In its massive show of strength the Awami League looked its weakest.”

Return of the hartal ghost to a troubled economy:

While journalists, think tanks, other members of civil society and the general populace are angered at the hostility of the ruling party towards the citizens of the country, they are also unhappy with the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party [BNP] and its coalition partners for calling a general strike on March 29. General strikes, known as hartal, are the most disruptive and destructive activities undertaken by opposition parties in Bangladesh. When the Awami League was in opposition, it also followed the same route of calling regular hartals day-after-day, causing tremendous damage to the country’s economy in the process.

It is worth noting that the Bangladeshi economy is in a worse state than it has been for several years, due to a major decrease in foreign exchange earnings as well as a lack of foreign investment in the country caused by an acute power crisis. The current government has totally failed to cope with the power shortage in the country over three and half years, and has not delivered on the specific promises made in its electoral manifesto made before winning a landslide victory. (Opposition parties have always rejected this huge victory, saying the election was ‘engineered’ by the policymakers of the military controlled interim regime, which now evidently enjoys a cosy relationship with the ruling party.

Even the foreigners are not safe:

For the duration of the current government’s administration, the law and order situation in the country has gone from bad to worse. Incidences of campus violence perpetrated by the ruling party’s student front, extortion, abduction, murder, extra-judicial killing, rape, oppression of religious minorities, and harassment of citizens have each surpassed all previous records. In one recent incident, the ruling party failed on all counts to properly investigate the murder of a journalist couple in Dhaka. Though the Home Minister and the Prime Minister repeatedly made commitments to investigate the case fully, there have in reality been no developments, which has already forced the journalistic community in Bangladesh to unite in demanding an investigation aimed at targeting the perpetrators. It was rumoured in the media that influential members of society were behind this brutal murder, with the blessing of the ruling party.

The worst insight into the country’s current law and order situation came to light when a Saudi diplomat was murdered in the diplomatic enclave in the capital city. Khalaf bin Mohammed Salem al-Ali (45), was killed by unidentified gunmen during the late hours of March 5, 2012. This is the first time in the history of the country that a foreign diplomat has been killed in the capital. Referring to the diplomat’s killing, opposition chief Khaleda Zia once again claimed that the law and order situation in the country is in a bad way. “The country is in a very precarious condition today. The lives and properties of the people are not safe. There is no security at our homes or outside. Even the foreigners are not safe,” she said.

Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation, enjoys good relations with Saudi Arabia, which is a top destination for Bangladeshi migrant workers. Moreover, Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest donors to Bangladesh. Following the murder of the Saudi diplomat, a real crisis is feared, if the government fails to identify the culprits within a short space of time. Should the government demonstrate the same inability or unwillingness to progress this investigation as they did with the murder of the two journalists earlier in the year, the primary concern is that the Saudi authorities will be offended and expel the two million plus Bangladeshi workers currently working in their country.

Since the current government came to power in January 2009, the flagrant robbery of small investors is taking place on the Bangladesh stock exchange. The government has not taken any action against the culprits, again believed to hail from the inner circles of the ruling party. Another scheme to embezzle wealth comes from the fraudulent multi-level marketing companies now in operation in the country. To give a sense of the scale of this embezzlement, one of the biggest multi-level marketing companies in Bangladesh, Destiny 2000 Limited, is believed to have already robbed $8bn from the people by selling fake schemes.

Uncertainty reigns:

A huge question mark hangs over what happens next in Bangladesh and what the fate of the country’s democracy will be. People were already frustrated with the political parties, which fail to impose due democratic processes even in their own internal setups. The two large parties in Bangladesh have already turned to the worst sort of dynastic politics. At the same time, Islamist influences and left wing groups are becoming ever more involved with the dominant political forces. Alongside this, parliament has become totally ineffective due to the opposition’s year-long boycott of the sessions. There is a bleak set of circumstances at play, and the people of Bangladesh are journeying towards a future of uncertainty and fear.


Posted on on September 26th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Ditching water-sharing deal, India fumbles historic opportunity to reshape neighborhood.

Special to The Japan Times,  Monday, Sep. 26, 2011.

Harsh V. Pant teaches at King’s College, London.

Manmohan Singh was visiting Dhaka to take forward the process of restoring credibility to Delhi-Dhaka ties initiated by his Bangladeshi counterpart during her visit to New Delhi in July 2010.

Singh’s visit came 12 years after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Dhaka in 1999. High-profile visits including those by Sonia Gandhi (all-powerful leader of the ruling Congress Party), the Indian external affairs minister and the Indian home minister had preceded the prime minister’s visit, laying the groundwork for a possible historic shift in Delhi-Dhaka ties.

When Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited New Delhi in 2010, she decided to go for a big gamble by putting all outstanding issues on the table and making it clear that Dhaka was a serious partner of New Delhi in counterterror operations and an economic bridge between India and its northeastern region.

New Delhi tried to seize this opportunity and decided to give Hasina’s offers substantive weight by deciding to open Indian markets for Bangladeshi textiles and offering to resolve the dispute over how to share use of the Teesta and Feni rivers.

Boundary issues have also been moving toward some sort of a resolution as the two sides move ahead in resolving the issues of small enclaves in each other’s territory.

Insurgents operating in Indian’s northeast have tended to find a safe haven in Bangladesh for some decades now, but the Hasina government has taken a hard line against them, satisfying one of India’s major long-standing demands.

India, for its part, has given strong instructions to its Border Security Force against shooting unarmed Bangladeshi civilians along the border areas even if they are found crossing the borders illegally.

By restoring transborder connectivity via the northeast, India and Bangladesh will be laying the groundwork for larger regional economic integration involving Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar.

Even as the Indian prime minister was about to make his maiden voyage to Bangladesh, it was being suggested that India’s eastern neighborhood stood on the threshold of a remarkable transformation.

However, Manmohan Singh’s visit fell much short of expectations. The two states did sign the landmark agreement on the demarcation of land boundaries and the exchange of adversely held enclaves, thereby settling the decades-old vexed border issue. Singh also announced 24-hour access for Bangladeshi nationals through the Tin Bigha corridor in addition to duty-free access for 46 textile items, effective immediately.

India also declared that it help Bangladesh develop its ports and infrastructure as well as customs points and would supply bulk power to Bangladesh by connecting the two national grids.

But Bangladesh was not satisfied, as a last-minute scrapping of the Teesta water-sharing deal — because of objections from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to the draft of the agreement — left a bad taste. If these objections are not resolved soon, they might provide ammunition to anti-India elements in Bangladesh.

Clarification was sought from the Indian envoy by the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry as to why India decided not to sign the treaty at the very last minute. The India-Bangladesh summit meeting came very close to collapsing.

Sheikh Hasina’s visit had imparted a new direction to the course of Delhi-Dhaka ties. And Bangladesh has been rightly upset at the slow pace of implementing deals signed during Hasina’s visit. Hasina has taken great political risk to put momentum back into bilateral ties. But for a long time, there has been no serious attempt on India’s part to settle outstanding issues.

Bureaucratic inertia and lack of political will has prevented many of the deals from following through. As India failed to reciprocate fully to Hasina’s overtures, the main opposition in Dhaka, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), started using India-Bangladesh bonhomie under Hasina to attack the government for toeing India’s line. India-Bangladesh ties reached their lowest ebb during the 2001-2006 tenure of the BNP government.

The BNP and its fundamentalist allies remain opposed to normalization of Delhi-Dhaka ties and have demanded that all bilateral deals be made public first. The country remains deeply divided.

In India, too, various constituencies have stymied Delhi-Dhaka rapprochement. The Indian prime minister was to be accompanied by the chief ministers of five states bordering Bangladesh.

But Mamta Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal, decided not to go at the very last minute, expressing her disapproval of the final draft of the Teesta river water agreement. Moreover, domestic textile producers in India have been lobbying hard to resist opening up of Indian markets more fully to Bangladeshi goods.

There is no doubt that India, as the larger economic power, should be magnanimous toward its neighbors. India remains fixated on its western border, but there is very little that India can do to change the regional dynamic there.

It is India’s eastern neighbor that India should focus on and go the extra mile for.

If India fails to swiftly capitalize on the propitious political circumstances in Bangladesh today, it will be damaging its credibility in the region even further. New Delhi’s window of opportunity with Dhaka will not last forever.

Anti-Indian sentiments can be marginalized if India allows Bangladesh to harness its economic growth and presents it with greater opportunities. Yet, India remains overly obsessed with Afghanistan and Pakistan, and has failed to give due attention to its eastern frontier with Bangladesh.

India is witnessing rising turmoil all around its borders, and therefore a stable, moderate Bangladesh as a partner is in its long-term interest.

Constructive Indo-Bangladesh ties could be a major stabilizing factor for the South Asian region as a whole.


Posted on on June 30th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

We have already written about the potential horror scenes when 100 million Bangladeshis storm India borders because of the loss of land due to events caused by the global effects of climate change. A General from Bangladesh laid out this scenario in Washington DC at a conference on Security issues. Now the the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s news website draws our attention at two topics the Bangladeshis are dealing with these days:

Bangladesh looks likely to be the first country to include in its constitution a provision for redressing damage resulting from climate change.

Power-hungry Bangladesh has doubled the number of homes with solar-generated electricity systems to 800,000 over the last year. Demand for the systems is growing as the country curbs new connections to its overburdened power grid and as costs for the solar panels come down, according to a range of non-profit groups now providing them across the country.


Barriers preventing the transfer of clean technologies to help nations like India adopt low-carbon development  must be removed if the world is to successfully address climate change, a new study warns.


Posted on on June 6th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

[gu-new] (20110606) Concept papers of GEWS/GUS projects for Bangladesh, DRC, Nigeria and Rwanda.

<<20110606>> Archived distributions can be retrieved at;
<> This archive includes a html version of this
list distribution and its MS/WORD version with its filename as
³year-month-date.doc.² You can also access all of its attachments, if any.


> (a) Concept Paper to Create a South Asian Hub of Global Early Warning System
> and Global University System in Bangladesh (June 6, 2011)
> (b) Concept Paper to Create a Central African Hub of Global Early Warning
> System and Global University System in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (May
> 9, 2011)
> (d) Concept Note: The Global Early Warning System (GEWS) with Global
> University System (GUS) In Rwanda (May 1, 2011)

Dear E-Colleagues:

(1) I just came back from my very fruitful, two weeks trip to Japan.

(2) The References above are the concept papers of our GEWS/GUS projects in
Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, and Rwanda.

I sincerely thank you for those people who contributed to produce those
excellent concept papers.

(3) We will then forge ahead to raise funds with those papers.

(4) Pls feel free to contact me if you have any comments and suggestions to
improve them, and of course, any ideas about possible funding sources.

Best, Tak

* Takeshi Utsumi, Ph.D., P.E., Chairman, GLOSAS/USA
* (GLObal Systems Analysis and Simulation Association in the U.S.A.)
* Laureate of Lord Perry Award for Excellence in Distance Education
* Founder and V.P. for Technology and Coordination of
*   Global University System (GUS)
* 43-23 Colden Street, #9L, Flushing, NY 11355-5913, U.S.A.
* Tel: 718-939-0928; Skype: utsumi
* Email:, Web:
* U.S./IRS Employer ID: 11-2999676 <>
* New York State Tax Exempt ID: 217837 <>
* Brief bio and photo: <>
* CV: <>


Posted on on June 5th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

This is something we do very seldom – take a comment that was originally intended to be added to a previous article and actually post it as well as an individual posting – this because of its actual informative value.

Comment from Robert del Rosso on June 5, 2011

RE our posting #18081 of August 20, 2010 – on the PAKISTANI FLOODS OF 2008  –

“August 19, 2010, before the UN started its meetings, the Asia Society in New York opened the discussion on the Pakistan Flood response by diving right to the bottom truth – the latest mega-disasters have one common cause – human induced climate change. It was Financier George Soros who injected the topic and the media was allowed by Ambassador Holbrooke to follow up. See what you can do when you go outside the UN!”



COLUMBUS , Ohio – Ice cores drilled last year from the summit of a Himalayan ice field lack the distinctive radioactive signals that mark virtually every other ice core retrieved worldwide.

That missing radioactivity, originating as fallout from atmospheric nuclear tests during the 1950s and 1960s, routinely provides researchers with a benchmark against which they can gauge how much new ice has accumulated on a glacier or ice field.

Lonnie Thompson made public that –  a joint U.S.-Chinese team drilled four cores from the summit of Naimona’nyi, a large glacier 6,050 meters (19,849 feet) high on theTibetan Plateau. The researchers routinely analyze ice cores for a host of indicators – particulates, dust, oxygen isotopes, etc. — that can paint a picture of past climate in that region.

Scientists believe that the missing signal means that this Tibetan ice field has been shrinking at least since the A-bomb test half a century ago. If true, this could foreshadow a future when the stockpiles of freshwater will dwindle and vanish, seriously affecting the lives of more than 500 million people on the Indian subcontinent.

“There’s about 12,000 cubic kilometers (2,879 cubic miles) of fresh water stored in the glaciers throughout the Himalayas – more freshwater than in Lake Superior,” explained Lonnie Thompson, distinguished university professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University and a researcher with the Byrd Polar Research Center on campus. “Those glaciers release meltwater each year and feed the rivers that support nearly a half-billion people in that region. The loss of these ice fields might eventually create critical water shortages for people who depend on glacier-fed streams.”


Posted on on August 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (


Aug 13, 2010

Fasting this Ramadan? Follow these few key guidelines to eating well and staying healthy during the holy month.

(Photo by ulterior epicure/Flickr)

(Photo by ulterior epicure/Flickr)

By Rafaya Sufi

Fasting this Ramadan? Or have friends who are? Follow these few key guidelines to eating well and staying healthy during Ramadan.

Since its foundation, Ramadan is celebrated with vigor amongst Muslim communities. A typical day of fasting consists of consuming an overnight breakfast at dawn, restricting any food and drink till sunset. Muslims may continue to eat and drink after the sun has set till the next morning’s fajr prayer at dawn.

The key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the month depends on a few practical points.

1. Water: For starters, proper hydration is essential. Fasting does not mean that all bodily functions stop requiring water. Headaches, fatigue, fuzzy thinking, irritability, and illness are often caused by inadequate hydration. We need half our body weight each day to just maintain normal bodily functions. To determine your water needs, use this simple formula:

Your body weight in pounds/2 = The amount of water you need to drink in ounces a day

So, If you weigh 180 lbs/2 = 90 oz/day, minimum

2. Replace Sugar With Fruit (when possible): What’s better than eating a delicious slice of cake (or baklava, or brownie, or some chocolate mousse, or….) once you break your fast? Fruit! Yes, this is a hard one, so quit complaining and follow these instructions for healthier you. You may think you deserve a piece of your favorite dessert after all those hours of restraining, but sugar robs our bodies of minerals and vitamins. During a period of fasting, our bodies need to hold on to as many minerals and vitamins as possible, so don’t let them escape just by giving in to your craving (after all, this is a month of self-restraint). Try baking this nutritious Fried Banana recipe at home as an alternative to sugar-loaded desserts.

3. Soup: A quick, easy, and nutritious food to consume during Ramadan is soup. Soup provides deep nourishment and is easily absorbed by the body. It is also a great way to meet your water needs, and if you blend all the good stuff together, picky eaters will never question what they are eating! After you break your fast, have some soup, and make it a staple diet for the month. Try making some delicious, vitamin-packed Mulligatawny soup at home.

4. Eat Slowly/Don’t Overdo It: What’s the rush? You have all evening! There is a tendency to eat really fast amongst people breaking their fasts. Trying to pack in 101 activities within the first few minutes of breaking your fast, which includes eating 101 foods, can cause some serious indigestion. Avoid that awful feeling by slowing down. Take small bites so you can chew well. The longer you chew your food, the less work your digestive track needs to do and you absorb more nurturance. So overall, it’s a win-win situation.

5. Vitamins and Minerals: Load up on them! Unfortunately, food today is not as nutritious as it was once. Unless you’re consuming 100 percent organic foods, you’ll probably need to replenish your body with lost electrolytes and vitamins. The top nutrients to look at are vitamins C, B-complex, zinc, E, and A. Vitamins C, A, and E along with zinc are known as antioxidants, and unless you’re living under a rock, antioxidants are in–they’re the latest health trend these days because they do wonders for your body. Eat fresh fruits, berries, and vegetables in abundance! B-complex vitamins are great at relieving stress, so be generous with those. Most Americans are already deficient in the B-complex vitamins due to eating high amounts of refined and processed foods, so skip the white bread, and opt for a whole-wheat option instead. Enjoy this healthy Ginger Tea to combat that tired feeling after fasting all day.

That’s all for now, folks. Have a healthy Ramadan!

Watch and learn how to make Harira soup

Traditional Moroccan Soup (Ramadan Special)



Posted on on August 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

August 19, 2010, before the UN started its meetings, the Asia Society in New York opened the discussion on the Pakistan Flood response by diving right to the bottom truth – the latest mega-disasters have one common cause – human induced climate change. It was Financier George Soros who injected the topic and the media was allowed by Ambassador Holbrooke to follow up. See what you can do when you go outside the UN!

Ambassador Dr. Richard C. Holbrooke, former Chairman of the Board of the Asia Society, and now US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan,  chaired the 8:30 am event at his New York home – the Asia Society – on the day when for 3:00 pm the UN General Assembly scheduled a pledging event for funding Pakistan relief. At the UN, for the US, spoke Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton, and I saw on TV  the complete  Asia Society American team sitting in the hall. The team included also Judith A. McHale, US Department of State Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Dr. George Erik Rupp, a theologian, President of the International Rescue Committee and former President of Rice University and Columbia University, and Raymond Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America.

The opening speaker after Ambassador Holbrooke was Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and the panel included also USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah. Then there was a list of guests that made their comments, followed by questions from the floor and answers from Administrator Dr. Shah and Ambassador Qureshi.


enlarge image
L to R: USAID’s Dr. Rajiv Shah, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke. (Else Ruiz/Asia Society)
Judith A. McHale, a former media head herself ( President and Chief Executive Officer of Discovery Communications – 1987 to 2006), and now with the US Government, said that information is critical. “We work with the government of Pakistan to provide the critical information on the ground. It is posted on

Among the guests were Financier George Soros, whose Open Society Institute and Soros Foundations work on the ground in Pakistan – he announced that he adds another $5 million to the funds that his foundation will work with in helping directly civil society in Pakistan,  Christopher MacCormac of the Asian Development Bank, which is leading the effort to assess the flood damage, said much of the economic infrastructure of the area has been destroyed. 2 million ha. of crops were lost and livestock have been devastated, which has taken a large toll on Pakistan farmers. ADB has said that after the immediate contribution of $3 million from the ASia-Pacific Disaster Fund, it would loan Pakistan $2 billion to help the country rebuild, and Pakistan’s rock star turned political activist Salman Ahmad, known as Pakistan’s Bono, or as Holbrooke pointed out, “Bono is the Irish Salman Ahmad,” pointed out a very important topic:

“This is a defining moment in Pakistan,” Ahmad said. “This flood has set back Pakistan in a huge way. Out of 175 million people, 100 million are under 25. Those young people are skeptical, and they feel abandoned by the world. The international community has to win hearts and minds of those 100 million youth in Pakistan.” “If there is a sluggish response the terrorists/extremists win.” He also said that last year he had a concert at the UN to show to the young people in Pakistan that there was hope – he said that he is sure the international community will react positively.

Ambassador Holbrooke said that in the catastrophe there is also an opportunity, that we should not miss –  the people in Pakistan should see that the world is ready to help. He found that these elements of hope in opportunity were missing in the day’s article in The New York Times.

For the US the strategic implications are clear. The US pulled out helicopters from the military effort in order to help in the rescue effort. Will the Taliban take advantage of this? A US transport ship with materials arrived to Karachi, and Japan will now also send helicopters to help in the rescue effort.

The meeting was summarized by The Asia Society and there is also the full tape at –…

Further, Ms. Nafis Sadik from the UN, now a Trustee Emeritus of the Asia Society and Chair of the Pakistan Foundation at the Asia Society called for Ramadan giving to the Foundation. Other Pakistan-Americans spoke and told of their own efforts to raise funds for the Pakistan relief program as the State’s capacity to meet the challenge has been overstretched. Today Pakistan , one fifth of its territory submerged, 68 million of its people affected, and 1,600 people dead, crops, animal stock, and infrastructure devastated – Pakistan is calling – humanity is calling they said. We saw a video proving every point. The Pakistan-American Foundation was inspired by Hilary Clinton’s “Pakistani Peacebuilders.”

Oxfam America was joined by “Save the Chidren” NGO  representative Gorel Bogarde said the obvious – what children most need is food, clean drinking water and shelter. She is most concerned for the moment about the outbreak of water-bourne diseases, such as cholera.

We will not repeat here further figures of loss and the size of the calamity. We assume that these are known by our readers by now – we want rather to point out the blunt comments that resulted from the statement by Mr. Soros who linked what happens to our lack of readiness to do something about the human-made climate change. Pakistan is the biggest of the recent disasters he said and we must deal with the root causes he continued. CLIMATE CHANGE IS THE ROOT CAUSE FOR ALL THESE RECENT DISASTERS. Mr. Soros spoke of the coincidence of the Himalaya glaciers melting and the monsoons getting stronger at the same time.

He also said “there is a certain amount of fatigue in responding to these disasters… [but] we have to come to terms with the fact that they are in fact connected, that there is climate change.”

At the Q & A part of the program, I asked the last question that was intended to bring the attention back to what Mr. Soros said.
My question was something like – I am with Sustainable Development Media and I wonder what Pakistan thinks about Mr. Soros’ statement about climate change – the reason being that the present calamity will repeat itself, so how does one do reconstruction work that makes sense?

Ambassador Holbrooke said Thank You and addressed the question first to Mr. Rajiv Shah.

When asked if there was a connection between the floods and climate change, USAID’s Shah said “while it’s very hard to attribute any single event to what we’re doing to our global environment it is very clear that that trend is leading to a greater number of large hurricanes, a greater number of floods, hotter and dryer conditions in places that are dependent on weather and rainfall for agriculture, and it’s making it very difficult for the least resilient, the most lower income communities of the world to survive.”

We heard from Mr. Christopher MacCormac that after the Earth Quake of 2005 the rebuilding of houses was done according to higher standards – so what we need here in the response to the present calamity is also to build better – but he did not specify, neither did Mr. Holbrooke. This, with the understanding that the increased monsoon floods,  joined with the melting of the Himalaya Glaciers, is indeed not a one time shot – but the beginning of a trend – leaves us with very bad premonitions about the future of Pakistan and other low lying lands of the region. This  has  clearly left me thinking about what means building better? Are we going to take into account these new phenomena resulting from global use of fossil fuels when going from the immediate reaction to the suffering from the floods to the longer range rebuilding stage? This is clearly an area that will be written up much more in the foreseeable future.

Ambassador Qurashi was asked by Mr. Holbrooke to react to the climate change implications. Are there additional run-off from the Himalayas?

The answer included: The Glaciers melt and what we have in Pakistan are Monsoon water plus glacier melts combined. We have above normal moisture.

He also said that “There are local NGOs in Pakistan that help push back the extremists and you have shown the world that you are a helping Nation.”


Posted on on August 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

from: K N Vajpai (Climate Himalaya Initiative) <>

August 19, 2010

Climate Change Updates from Himalayan Mountains on Various Climate Change Issues.

For your information, the Climate Himalaya Initiative has a dedicated news portal , that updates the Climate Change related news on regular basis from Himalayan Mountains.

Those interested in Climate Change related issues and Mountains, can get regular updates by subscribing or becoming member.

The ongoing issues includes; Pakistan Floods, Leh Cloud Burst, Climate Change Modeling, Domestic Actions by countries, Actions by Asian countries, Cancun Climate Summit, Criticism of IPCC, etc…..!

There are options for subscription, membership, tweeting, facebook, among others….!

You can visit and explore at

from – K N Vajpai
Convener and Theme Leader

Climate Himalaya Initiative
C/O Prakriti a mountain environment group
P.O. Silli, Agastyamuni, Rudraprayag
Uttarakhand, India PIN 246421


Posted on on August 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The ordeal in Pakistan reminded us of the –

Climate Himalaya Initiative.

An Initiative Towards Sustainable Development in Himalayan Mountains.
{This is linked to the reality of melting glaciers and increased severity of monsoon rains. Understanding the underlying causes of the present calamity is needed in order to go for long term help to the region. Talking of return to previous lives is not realistic.}

June 2, 2010

Himalayan countries must set aside their differences and  collaborate on science in order to avoid a common water crisis, says a report.

Environmental pressures, including those from climate change, could have unprecedented effects on the livelihoods of millions of people in the Hindu-Kush Himalaya region, according to the study, published by the UK-based Humanitarian Futures Programme, the Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre, and China Dialogue. Yet scientific research is either non-existent or, where it exists, is not shared beyond a country’s borders, said the report, ‘The Waters of the Third Pole: Sources of Threat, Sources of Survival’. And scientists are failing to communicate what they do know to the public and policymakers, it added.

The Hindu-Kush Himalaya region provides water for one fifth of the world’s population including countries stretching from Pakistan to Myanmar. “This region is a black hole for data,” said Isabelle Hilton, editor of China Dialogue and a contributor to the report.

“Managing this water requires knowledge and cooperation,” she said at the launch of the report last week (19 May) in the United Kingdom. But the region “lacks the institutions and in some cases the political will to address issues cooperatively”. History, diverse languages and cultures, and military conflicts are behind the lack of a concerted effort to study the waters, she said, and now “a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach is needed” to catch up. But this is not high on the public agenda, she said.

Stephen Edwards, an earth scientist and research manager at the Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre, called for more high-quality, peer-reviewed data. “We need to understand problems before we know how to manage them,” he said. But science itself is not enough, he added, “scientists have to interact with economists and policymakers — we need proper dialogue”.

Andreas Schild, director general of the Nepal-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, agreed with the report’s conclusions.”Water is one of the most important resources,” he said. “Traditionally there has been no free exchange of information on water discharge and this is practically still the case today. “It is not just a concern between countries, but even within countries, as between the individual states of India.

“Researchers in all concerned countries are very interested in having cross-border collaboration and exchange of information,” he told  SciDev.Net. “But when it comes to cooperation on concrete issues at the level of government institutions, we face a completely different situation, where agreements with various other partners in the country are required.”If you want to close the knowledge gap here in the Himalayas then you have to strengthen the institutions [there].”

Otherwise, short-term foreign development funds mean there is no consistent long-term data and continuity in research by the institutions based in the region, said Schild. But he added that European organisations, with “Europe-centric” research methods, must share the blame.

“A lot of research conducted on this region by European universities and other institutions is often not shared. Sometimes we even get the impression that they are only looking for a partner in the South to use as Sherpas.”

Link to full ‘The Waters of the Third Pole: Sources of Threat, Sources of Survival’ report


Posted on on July 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

WORLD NEWS – JULY 29, 2010…
Climate report shows Earth has heated up over 50 years.

Which in the printed Wall Street version was rechristened – “CLIMATE STUDY CITES 2000 as WARMEST DECADE.” This appropriate to the US inward look of New York, while the above title is clear better positioned for the world at large –


A new assessment concludes that the Earth has been getting warmer over the past 50 years and the past decade was the warmest on record.

The State of the Climate 2009 report, published Wednesday as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, was compiled by 300 scientists from 48 countries and drew on measures of 10 crucial climate indicators.

Seven of the indicators were rising, including air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, sea level, ocean heat and humidity. Three indicators were declining, including Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere.

“Each indicator is changing as we’d expect in a warming world,” said Peter Thorne, senior researcher at the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites, a research consortium based in College Park, Md., who was involved in compiling the report.

The report’s conclusions broadly match those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body, which published its last set of findings in 2007. The IPCC report contained some errors, which further stoked the debate about the existence, causes and effects of global warming.

The new report incorporates data from the past few years that weren’t included in the last IPCC assessment. While the IPCC report concluded that evidence for human-caused global warming was “unequivocal” and was linked to emissions of greenhouse gases, the latest report didn’t seek to address the issue.

The report “doesn’t try to make the link” between climate change and what might be causing it, said Tom Karl, an official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration involved in the new assessment.

The report said, “Global average surface and lower-troposphere temperatures during the last three decades have been progressively warmer than all earlier decades, and the 2000s (2000-09) was the warmest decade in the instrumental record.” The troposphere is the lowest layer of the atmosphere.

The scientists reported that they were surprised to find Greenland’s glaciers were losing ice at an accelerating rate. They also concluded that 90% of planetary warming over the past 50 years has gone into the oceans. Most of it had accumulated in near-surface layers, home to phytoplankton, tiny plants crucial to virtually all life in the sea.

A new study has found that rising sea temperature may have had a harmful effect on global concentrations of phytoplankton over the past century.



You will also see there the Washington rot as in the following: Myron Ebell, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in the US, formerly in charge of energy with the powerful CSIS, said the new report would not change people’s minds. “It’s clear that the scientific case for global warming alarmism is weak. The scientific case for [many of the claims] is unsound and we are finding out all the time how unsound it is.”

You will find that there was no doubt about the implication that it is humans who did it except in the words of that outspoken minority of industry lobbyists that hold power over Washington.


NOAA finds “human fingerprints” on climate

July 28th, 2010  by Fiona Harvey

A report from the NOAA in the US has found that data from ten key climate indicators all point to the same finding: the scientific evidence that our world is warming is unmistakable.

It is the first major piece of new research since the “Climategate” scandals.

It found that, relying on data from multiple sources, each indicator proved consistent with a warming world. Seven indicators are rising: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, ocean heat, humidity, and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere closest to the earth’s surface. Three indicators are declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the northern hemisphere.

Read the full report here:…

Research says climate change undeniable

By Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent

Published: July 28 2010 – print and on-line.

International scientists have injected fresh evidence into the debate over global warming, saying that climate change is “undeniable” and shows clear signs of “human fingerprints” in the first major piece of research since the “Climategate” controversy.

The research, headed by the US National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration, is based on new data not available for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report of 2007, the target of attacks by sceptics in recent years.

The NOAA study drew on up to 11 different indicators of climate, and found that each one pointed to a world that was warming owing to the influence of greenhouse gases, said Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring at the UK’s Met Office, one of the agencies participating.

Seven indicators were rising, he said. These were: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, ocean heat, humidity, and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere closest to the earth’s surface. Four indicators were declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers, spring snow cover in the northern hemisphere, and stratospheric temperatures.

Mr Stott said: “The whole of the climate system is acting in a way consistent with the effects of greenhouse gases.” “The fingerprints are clear,” he said. “The glaringly obvious explanation for this is warming from greenhouse gases.”

Environment ThumbnailSome scientists hailed the study as a refutation of the claims made by climate sceptics during the “Climategate” saga. Those scandals involved accusations – some since proven correct – of flaws in the IPCC’s landmark 2007 report, and the release of hundreds of emails from climate scientists that appeared to show them distorting certain data.

“This confirms that while all of this [Climategate] was going on, the earth was continuing to warm. It shows that Climategate was a distraction, because it took the focus off what the science actually says,” said Bob Ward, policy director of the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics.

But the report nonetheless remained the target of scorn for sceptics.

Myron Ebell, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in the US, said the new report would not change people’s minds. “It’s clear that the scientific case for global warming alarmism is weak. The scientific case for [many of the claims] is unsound and we are finding out all the time how unsound it is.”

Pat Michaels, a prominent climate sceptic, ex-professor of environmental sciences and fellow of the Cato Institute in the US, said the NOAA study and other evidence suggested that the computerised climate models had overestimated the sensitivity of the earth’s temperature to carbon dioxide. This would mean that the earth could warm a little under the influence of greenhouse gases, but not by as much as the IPCC and others have predicted.

“I think it is the lack of frankness about this that emerged with Climategate, and that seems to continue [that make people doubt the findings],” he said.

Steve Goddard, a blogger, said the conclusion that the first half of 2010 showed a record high temperature was “based on incorrect, fabricated data” because the researchers involved did not have access to much information on Arctic temperatures.

David Herro, the financier, who follows climate science as a hobby, said NOAA also “lacks credibility”.

But Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of NOAA, said the study found that the average temperature in the world had increased by 0.56° C (1° F) over the past 50 years. The rise “may seem small, but it has already altered our planet … Glaciers and sea ice are melting, heavy rainfall is intensifying, and heat waves are more common.”


Developing Nations See Cancun Climate Deal Tough.

Date: 29-Jul-10
Country: MEXICO
Author: Brian Ellsworth

Reaching a binding climate deal at the upcoming U.N. conference in Mexico will likely be difficult, delegates from a group of developing nations said on Monday, spurring further doubts about a global climate accord this year.

Environment ministers from Brazil, South Africa, India and China — known as the BASIC group — meeting in Rio de Janeiro said developed nations have not done enough to cut their own emissions or help poor countries reduce theirs.

Delays by the United States and Australia in implementing schemes to cut carbon emissions has added to gloomy sentiment about possible results from the Cancun meeting.

“If by the time we get to Cancun (U.S. senators) still have not completed the legislation then clearly we will get less than a legally binding outcome,” said Buyelwa Sonjica, South Africa’s Water and Environment Affairs minister.

“For us that is a concern, and we’re very realistic about the fact that we may not” complete a legally binding accord, she said.

BASIC nations held deliberations on Sunday and Monday about upcoming climate talks, but the representatives said those talks did not yield a specific proposal on emissions reductions to be presented at the Cancun meeting.

“I think we’re all a bit wiser after Copenhagen, our expectations for Cancun are realistic — we cannot expect any miracles,” said Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

He added that countries have failed to make good on promises for $30 billion in “fast track” financing for emissions reduction programs in poor countries.

“The single most important reason why it is going to be difficult is the inability of the developed countries to bring clarity on the financial commitments which they have undertaken in the Copenhagen Accord,” he said.

Hopes for a global treaty on cutting carbon emissions to slow global warming were dealt a heavy blow last year when rich and poor nations were unable to agree on a legally binding mechanism to reduce global carbon emissions.

More than 100 countries backed a nonbinding accord agreed in Copenhagen last year to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, but it did not spell out how this should be achieved.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday postponed an effort to pass broad legislation to combat climate change until September at the earliest, vastly reducing the possibility of such legislation being ready before the Cancun conference begins in December.

Australia has delayed a carbon emissions trading scheme until 2012 under heavy political pressure on from industries that rely heavily on coal for their energy.

The U.N.’s climate agency has detailed contingency options if the world cannot agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, whose present round expires in 2012 with no new deal in sight. {But the article does not spell them out and we wonder if they are any different from what we suggested – moving the deliberations away from the UNFCCC – to a much smaller group of Nations modeled along the lines on the evolving G20 with a united EU and a representation of AOSIS/SIDS and Highest suffering countries like Bangladesh on-board,}

Kyoto placed carbon emissions caps on nearly 40 developed countries from 2008-2012. {But Left out any responsibilities for the remaining countries including the above BRICS. Copenhagen was a success in the sense that it made it clear that the BRICS must be part of any agreement if it is going to happen – so, in this trspect, at Copenhagen there was progress – the first time since the beginning of the negotiations within UNFCCC.}


The comments in green are those made by us – the editor of

From the Wikipedia: Karen Christiana Figueres Olsen (born August 7, 1956) was appointed Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 17 May 2010, succeeding Yvo de Boer[1] [2]. She had been a member of the Costa Rican negotiating team since 1995, involved in both UNFCCC[3] and Kyoto Protocol[4] negotiations. She has contributed to the design of key climate change instruments.[5] She is a prime promoter of Latin America’s active participation in the Convention,[6] a frequent public speaker,[7] and a widely published author.[8] She won the Hero for the Planet award in 2001.[9]

For Latin America, in the BASIC group, speaks Brazil which has created for itself the image of an oil-rich country. This might create further difficulties for Ms. Figueres and we do not yet say that Brazil steaked out a final position for Cancun. In effect, the October 3, 2010 elections will have brought to the fore-front a new President for Brazil and we are yet to see his or her position.


Posted on on July 16th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Assistant Secretary of Energy for Policy & International Affairs David Sandalow.

TOPIC:              Upcoming Clean Energy Ministerial July 19-20th

This is written on the basis of a US Department of State Press Conference  – Thursday, July 15, 2010.


This article follows our posting of July 14, 2010:

The Major 17 Economies were joined by Bangladesh, Denmark, Barbados, Ethiopia, Singapore and the UAE at the recent Rome meeting – to be followed by a July 19-20, 2010 Washington DC Meeting on Clean Energy – all this to build a program for Cancun.  Posted on on July 14th, 2010 by Pincas Jawetz ( PJ at

We said at the time that the July 19 – 20, 2010  Washington DC Ministerial meeting will be a sequel – now we are convonced that is actually a different kind of meeting and I do not think that its eyes will be towards Cancun.


The Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs, David Sandalow, gave a background briefing and answered questions on the web regarding the importance of the upcoming Washington DC – Clean Energy Ministerial meeting. He discussed Energy Secretary Chu’s hopes on what will be accomplished.

The following countries will be represented:  Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, the European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Korea, Japan, Mexico, Norway, the Russian Federation, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, the U.A.E. and the U.K.

This list excludes Indonesia from the Major Economies Forum which are 16 + The EU and then at their Rome meeting of June 30 – July 1, 2010, added on Ministers from a variety of representative smaller economies: Bangladesh, Denmark, Barbados, Ethiopia, Singapore, UAE.

This list includes in addition to the EU also all The Scandinavian States: Denmark, Norway, Spain and Sweden. As well it includes Belgium and Spain. It does not include Bangladesh, Barbados, Ethiopia, Singapore which were part of the meeting of June 30 – July 1, 2010 but it does include from that meeting Denmark that was a participant because of its hosting the Copenhagen meeting, and the UAE that seemingly represents the oil exporting countries.

The Washington meeting includes also Belgium because by now they have become the half year Presidents of the EU for July 1 till  December 31, 2010, and it retains Spain that held this position during the first half of 2010. To top this there is also an actual EU delegation at the table besides the temporary Presidents. We assume that this delegation is there because Malta, Cyprus and other EU delegations are not there. Place was also found for all major four Scandinavian Countries – Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden – surely nice people all of them.

I write all of this in order to say that some better way has to be found on how to treat the EU and the World, when the Obama Administration wants indeed to show that it is serious about climate change by inviting just the large emitters that total 80% of the global emissions, or, if intent to bring in also some small representation of the small countries, that do not have substantial emissions, but proportionately are going to bear a major part of the suffering, the Rome initiative of having present also Bangladesh, Barbados and Ethiopia would have been just fine – and the total figure would have been then 16 + 1 (the EU) + 3 (this for Bangladesh, Barbados, Ethiopia) and it obviously would have included as part of the 16 also Indonesia.

For more information, the link to the website is:


At question time I asked from Mr. Sandalow why is Indonesia not at the meeting, and why was the symbolic, but important participation of the small number of really very small economies dropped?

The answer was that Indonesia said they are not coming because they participate at that time at a South  Asia meeting. The fact that the small economies were dropped is “because this is for the large energy markets – for 80% of the ENERGY MARKET  and not for the whole world.”  THE IDEA IS COME UP WITH ACTIONS TO PROMOTE CLEAN ENERGY, he said.

It would have been easier to accept that answer had the US also kept out the additional 6 EU States that were not among the original 16 + EU. We also would like to ask why UAE – though we think that they clearly are a better choice then Saudi Arabia – but still not exactly your ideal partner when you try to disengage from oil even though they do in effect – as holders of serious financial reserves – also participate in the financial benefits from looking for a cleaner future.

The above, because after Copenhagen we hoped for the involvement of business interests in order to create the working alternative to the Kyoto process – the interest of business in going green. For this to be effective one must have at the table mainly the real big emitters who indeed coincide with the biggest economies.

We thought that amounted to the maximum of 16 and – under EU conditions – just one more chair for the EU. Now there will be 23 chairs at the Washington table. The higher number decreasing the chance for success.

Monday, July 19, 2010 at 9am there will be an open press conference when the meeting starts.


Posted on on July 14th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate Discusses Advancing Agreement at COP 16

1 July 2010: The seventh Meeting at the Leaders’ representative level of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate took place in Rome, Italy, from 30 June-1 July 2010.

The meeting was attended by representatives from the 17 major economies, UN officials, and representatives from Bangladesh, Denmark, Barbados, Ethiopia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Participants discussed various issues related to the international climate change negotiations and, according to the Chair’s Summary, they emphasized the importance of quickly implementing the Copenhagen Accord’s fast-start financing provisions, highlighting that maximum clarity and transparency will build international confidence and be an essential part of a balanced outcome of the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 16) to be held Cancun, Mexico, in late 2010.

Participants exchanged ideas on Annex I Parties mitigation and support. They also addressed non-Annex I Parties mitigation, highlighting that it should be party-driven, non-politicized, have a “multilateral anchor” and be based on national communications. Participants discussed whether the targets and actions included in the Copenhagen Accord may be reflected in a future outcome and whether such outcome will be legally binding and contained in a single instrument or two. Extensive discussion focused on progress on measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) at COP 16 with regard to: Annex I Parties mitigation; financial and technological support of non-Annex I Parties mitigation; and non-Annex I Parties mitigation. Participants also emphasized the need to focus adaptation efforts on vulnerable countries.

Follow-up meetings were also announced, including: a Clean Energy Ministerial meeting to be held from 19-20 July 2010, in Washington, DC, US, to follow up on the Technology Action Plans of the Global Partnership launched by G-8 leaders in L’Aquila, Italy,  in 2009; and a ministerial meeting on technology to be co-hosted by Mexico and India from 8-9 November 2010.
[Co-Chair’s Summary] [Major Economies Forum website]


The Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) was launched on March 28, 2009.

The MEF is intended to facilitate a candid dialogue among major developed and developing economies, help generate the political leadership necessary to achieve a successful outcome at the December UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, and advance the exploration of concrete initiatives and joint ventures that increase the supply of clean energy while cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The 17 major economies participating in the MEF are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. That is 16 + EU + Denmark as host to the Copenhagen Meeting.

Denmark, in its capacity as the President of the December 2009 Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the United Nations have also been invited to participate in this dialogue.


Posted on on July 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (


10 July 2010, The San Francisco Sentinel.



Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad questioned the historic dimensions of the Holocaust but rejected the label of an anti-Semite, the Fars news agency reported Friday.

“The West made a claim – about the Holocaust – and urges all the people in the world to accept it or otherwise go to prison,” Ahmadinejad told a group of Islamic scholars Thursday in Nigeria, where he attended a summit of the Developing Eight, a group of countries with large Muslim populations.

»Don’t miss The June 15 Condemnation Of Israel – The Worldwide Ignorance – The San Francisco Board Of Supervisors – The Sentinel Opinion

“The West allows everybody to question prophets and even God but not to pose a simple question and open the black box of a historic event,” he charged.

Ahmadinejad had earlier sparked international fury by calling for the eradication of Israel from the Middle East and its relocation to Europe or North America and by describing the murders of 6 million European Jews by Germany’s Nazi regime as a “fairy tale.”

He said Thursday that the Holocaust was an excuse for Israel and the West to take land away from millions of Palestinians and give it to Israel.

Iran does not recognize Israel and maintains that a referendum by all Palestinians, including refugees, and Jews should decide the future fate of a Palestinian state.

“We are after a diplomatic settlement through a referendum, but they [the West] say Ahmadinejad wants to kill people and is an anti-Semite,” the Iranian president said.

“No, this is wrong,” he added. “I love all Muslims, Christians and Jews. What I dislike are the Zionists, which are a party that has availed itself of the Holocaust as an excuse to establish the illegitimate state of Israel.”

The West fears the political differences between Iran and Israel might lead to a military confrontation between the two countries.

The international concern has increased amid fears that Iran might be using its nuclear program to make an atomic bomb.

Iran possesses 2,000-kilometer range missiles capable of targeting any part of Israel.

Tehran has said it has no secret nuclear projects and all its military capabilities were merely for the purpose of self-defense and deterrence.

But Tehran also warned that if Israel attacks the country’s nuclear sites, Iran would use its missiles to bomb Israel in retaliation.


Developing Eight summit in Nigeria.
Published: July 8, 2010.

ABUJA, Nigeria, July 8 (UPI) — Improved trade and better visa arrangements for business people are among the discussion topics for the Developing Eight, meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is among dignitaries in Abuja for the meeting of the Developing Eight, a consortium of the world’s largest Muslim countries, includes Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey, Radio France Internationale reported. Turkish President Abdullah Gul also was attending the summit.

Because Turkey and Indonesia also are members of the G20, Egyptian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohamed al-Oraby said they would be asked to convey concerns of developing countries {it does not say Islamic here} during the next G20 meeting, scheduled for South Korea in November 2010.


Interesting to note – these Big Eight Islamic States include only Egypt from among the Arab States; neither was included India which has the second largest Islamic population among UN Member States and is a true democracy.

On the other hand, how would you react if the Big Eight from among the Christan majority States would meet, or “God-forbids” – whatever God – the biggest Eight Countries with Chinese Communities meet and criticize some white (read European) intruder? Just think the meaning of it all! We really would like to hear from you on this.

This brings us back to the notion that time has come for the Biggest Eight Democracies to meet
and see how they can establish solid leadership for the UN!



Posted on on June 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The UN may even do good things once in a while – but then its Department of Public Information hides them from the world at large by not opening its doors to the interested media. Those they invite are  those that are not interested in publicizing suggestions that can work when the world is called to disengage from its addiction to oil.

The following is a positive in the UNDP cap but when we asked to be invited to participate in the following Press Conference we did not even get the honor of a reply. So much about the UN – but we promise nevertheless to honor our readers by covering the issues even if the UN DPI prefers we did not exist. As we are busy today with the New York Forum, we will approach Mr. Olav Kjorven at a later date in order to cover at length the case of Nepal and other work under his leadership.
We told him in the past that his words will not get world distribution if presented only via the UN DPI chanel.

Now we post the information we received so our readers can have the appropriate links right away.


UNDP SAYS — Clean energy access in Nepal possible model for acceleration of progress towards MDGs:
Early investment in capacity development crucial to success.

As the 2010 MDG Summit approaches, UNDP’s on-the-ground experience in providing access to clean energy indicates a promising way of stepping-up progress towards achieving the MDGs. Currently, almost half of humanity —3 billion people— are energy poor. They live without access to modern energy for lighting, cooking, heating and mechanical power. For 250,000 people in remote rural communities in Nepal, this has changed.

What: Briefing at the UN DPI Briefing Room for which special DPI accreditation is required – on an effective energy programme that can help alleviate poverty and improve lives of poor communities around the world.

Who:               Olav Kjorven, UNDP Director of Policy and UN Assistant Secretary-General

H.E. Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Nepal Mission to the UN

Kiran Man Singh, Project Manager, Rural Energy Development Programme

When: Tuesday, 22 June, 15.00 – 15.45

Where:            Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium

Through a pioneering partnership between UNDP and the Government of Nepal, the installation of micro-hydro plants has given them access to clean energy, creating jobs and incomes, opportunities for women and girls and improved school enrollment, among other benefits. Fundamental to this success has been the early investment in capacity development —in other words, helping people in the national government and in the communities themselves develop the knowledge, skills, institutions and regulatory environment needed for the emergence of both local demand for energy services and a local supply.

Nepal is now expanding the programme to bring energy to tens of millions of people. Kenya and other countries are interested in applying the same strategy. The approach could help accelerate progress towards the MDG’s and achieve the universal access to modern energy services by 2030, as proposed by the Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change.

*** *** ****

Hard copies of the report “Capacity development for scaling up decentralized energy access programmes” will be made available at the briefing, and will also be available later today at

Media queries: Please contact Charles Dickson of UNDP’s Environment and Energy Group at or 212-906-6041.


Posted on on June 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Study concludes – Melting Mountains Put Millions At Risk in Asia.

Date: 11-Jun-10
by David Fogarty, Climate Change Correspondent, Asia, Reuters.

Increased melting of glaciers and snow in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau threatens the food security of millions of people in Asia, a study shows, with Pakistan likely to be among the nations hardest hit.

A team of scientists in Holland studied the impacts of climate change on five major Asian rivers on which about 1.4 billion people, roughly a fifth of humanity, depend for water to drink and to irrigate crops.

The rivers are the Indus, which flows through Tibet and Pakistan, the Brahmaputra, which carves its way through Tibet, northeast India and Bangladesh, India’s Ganges and the Yangtze and Yellow rivers in China.

Studies in the past have assumed that a warmer world will accelerate the melting of glaciers and snow in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau, which act like water towers, the study published in the latest issue of the journal Science says.

But a lack of data and local measurement sites has hampered efforts to more precisely figure out the magnitude of climate change impacts on particular countries, the numbers of people affected in coming decades and the likely effects on crops.

The issue is crucial for governments to assess the future threats from disputes over water, mass migration and therefore political risk for investors.

Lead author Walter Immerzeel and his team conducted a detailed analysis looking at the importance of meltwater for each river, observed changes to Himalayan and Tibetan glaciers and the effects of global warming on the water supply from upstream basins and on food security.

Immerzeel, a hydrologist at Dutch consultancy FutureWater and Utrecht University, said he believed his team was the first to use a combination of computer modeling, satellite imagery and local observations for all major Asian basins.

They found that meltwater was extremely important for the Indus basin and important for the Brahmaputra basin, but played only a modest role for the Ganges, Yangtze and Yellow rivers.



The Brahmaputra and Indus basins are also most susceptible to reductions of flow because of climate change, threatening the food security of an estimated 60 million people, or roughly the population of Italy.

“The effects in the Indus and Brahmaputra basins are likely to be severe owing to the large population and the high dependence on irrigated agriculture and meltwater,” the authors say in the study.

For the Yellow River in northern China, the reverse appeared true with climate change likely to lead to more rainfall upstream, which, when retained in reservoirs, could benefit irrigation downstream.

The findings are a warning signal for Pakistan in particular whose growing population of 160 million people is heavily dependent on the Indus to grow wheat, rice and cotton from which the nation earns hard currency.

Immerzeel said adaptation was crucial.

“The focus should be on agriculture as this is by far the largest consumer of water,” he told Reuters in an email interview.

“You could think of measures such as different crop varieties which are less water consuming, different water management, or by providing economic incentives to farmers to use less water.”