links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic

Follow us on Twitter

GuatemalaBelizeEl SalvadorHonduras
NicaraguaCosta RicaPanama

Central America:


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

One of the two last side events on the last Friday of  the second Informal-Informal reading of the draft to Rio 2012 (RIO+20) was about the place of Mother Nature as seen by indigenous cultures that still respect the holiness of the Earth and by intellectuals that are ready to stop a minute and contemplate about the superiority of earth oriented cultures.

Moderated by Lisinka Ulatowska, Coordinator, Major Group Cluster on the Commons, this side event discussed a number of initiatives to create commons-based economies, and how these can be expanded and built upon.

Mario Ruales, Advisor to the Ecuadorian Minister of Coordination of Heritage, highlighted the adoption of a new constitution in 2008, which recognized the rights of Mother Earth. He emphasized the role of natural and indigenous peoples to respect and protect the ecosystem, saying that the constitution has a lot of processes that would allow this to be pursued. He noted Ecuador’s call for a new development architecture, saying that this has been proposed for Rio+20.

Leon Siu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hawaiian Kingdom, outlined his work for reinstating the independent nation state of Hawai’i, saying that should this occur, many of the traditional practices for land management, agriculture and conservation of natural resources will return. He lamented the marginalization of the indigenous peoples, saying that reinstating the independent nation state of Hawai’i would rectify this problem.

Rob Wheeler, Global Ecovillage Network, outlined that the commons-based approach is one where the land and its resources are cooperatively owned, managed and shared among those living on the commons. He noted that ecovillages, which are based on such a model, are among the most sustainable communities in existence. He noted that many lessons on sustainability can be learnt from ecovillages, underscoring their ability to minimize waste, promote clean, renewable energy and ensure the sustainable consumption of natural resources.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates addressed the different financing systems that could be used for implementing a commons-based model. They also discussed referencing the rights of nature in the Rio+20 outcome document.

Ecuador is a member of the ALBA group of Latin and Caribbean Nations like Bolivia. Both countries were left with strong lodes of indigenous people and the governments attempt to speak for them. The Kingdom of Hawaii does still exist even though Hawaii has become a US State and thus does not recognize a King. Nevertheless, You can still see a functioning royal House on the main Hawaii Island.


As it happened, on the following day, Saturday May 5th, 2012, I had to be in Washington DC and made it also my business to go to visit the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian at 4th Street & Independence Avenue S,W. At the door I saw the announcement that the next weekend Saturday, May 12 – Sunday May 13, 2012, 10 am – 5:30 pm they will celebrate the BOLIVIAN SUMA QAMANA FESTIVAL – sponsored by the Embassy of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

“Discover Bolivia’s Magic, culture, Heritage, Joy of Living Well.”

The Museum doors are etched with sun symbols and open to the east to greet the rising sun as do many traditional Native houses. Native people honor the sun as a life-giver and calendar – instructing when to plant, harvest, conduct ceremonies. The American Indian is responding to Environmental Challenges and the Museum has established a special website for this –

At present the museum has two special exhibits. One is very appropriate to present American Indian culture as it evolved in the last 250 years – the interaction with horses and the way they viewed these large and friendly animals. The show is dedicated to “A SONG FOR THE HORSE NATION” and here this Nation are the horses themselves taken as if they were like humans.

The other show includes just one item and I stood there in state of shock. The title is HUICHOL ART ON WHEELS.” Its exhibition is planned from March 20 to May 6th 2012 – so let me say without any hesitation – good ridance before the Bolivian event next week.

Why am I quite angry at this exhibit covered with Huichol Art? Let me make sure that there should be no misunderstanding – it is not because of the Huichols. These are people from the West-Central Mexico who are known for their beadwork. Sometimes they take an object and cover it with colorful beads. The Huichol call themselves in their own language the Wixaritari people and I bought items from them years ago in a store they managed in Porto Vallarta, Jalisco.

The problem with this exhibition of one single item is that it is what they call – a VOCHOL – now that is a common Beetle Volkswagen that was completely covered in beads. Again – not that this car is bad looking – but why in this world in which the indigenous people do every possible effort to tell us that they understand the environment and suffer from climate change, and then bring into this interesting museum a common motor-vehicle that when operated uses gasoline?

WHY BEAD A BUG? asks the museum brochure and proceeds to answer:
The Vochol demonstrates the complex intersections of traditional and modern cultures. It serves as opportunity to bring attention to contemporary indigenous art while also highlighting Wixaritari culture and talent. The project is a collaboration between the Association of Friends of the Museo de Arte Popular, the Museo de Arte Popular, and the state governments of Nayarit and Jalisco, home to the Wixatari people. And let me add here that it must be also home of the assembly plants of Volkswagen Beetle in Mexico. Further – it must be friends of the US Oil industry and the US Auto Manufacturers that convinced that this big piece of art covering the auto-monster vehicle got into the American Indian Museum in order to soften our resistance to fossil fuels transportation – albeit by a reasonably small vehicle.

The Wixatari artist Francisco Bautista used 2,277,000 glass seed beads to cover this beetle, and he finished the work in 2010 according to the license plate attached to the car. Then, let me never forget what my friend Professor Jad Neeman from the Tel Aviv University told me when we went to see a particular exhibition of what looked to me as unused canvases – the main role of modern art is to make us angry so we are moved from our position of not caring. If that is what the exhibitors had in mind – so this was very great art, because it made me care very much – when I concluded that this did not belong into this particular museum.

In above context let me also write here what I found in the permanent exhibit on the 4-th floor – a stoty about another beetle:

This comes from the Cherokee Nation. They tell that “Long ago – all things existed above the sky, from horizon to horizon. The bird and animal people (you remember the horse people I mentioned earlier?) wondered about the water-covered world below and sent Water-Beetle to explore. He descended and returned with a small piece of mud that spread over the water.”

This obviously was another beetle – the one we like for itself.

Further, in a story from the Campo Indians North of San Diego. They ended up being the address where the San Diego garbage was sent for landfill that gave them the Golden Acorn Casino not far from the Mexico border. The local Amerindians did not agree but got it anyway.

The Environmentalists tell them that they show  who they are with appropriate ways of viewing their land as one of their greatest assets.

Their lands are being decimated under them, but the indigenous people make serious attempts to survive.

The IOWA say – Our Songs and Our Ceremonies Enable Us To Survive.

The Nahua state – Our Laws and way of thinking shall continue.

The Cherokees state simply – WE ARE STILL HERE!


Posted on on April 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

What Legacy Do You Want To Leave To Your Children? Have A look At What You Have And  Be Thankful.

Ode_to_N.pps Ode_to_N.pps
6499K   View Download


Posted on on April 9th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Secretary Clinton’s Participation in “Brazil-U.S.: Partnership for the 21st Century” Conference.

Office of the Spokesperson
US Department of State
Washington, DC
April 9, 2012
Today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participated in and delivered opening remarks at the “Brazil-U.S.:
Partnership for the 21st Century” conference, alongside Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota.

This conference takes place during Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s visit to the United States and reflects the depth and positive focus of the bilateral relationship.

The Partnership for the 21st Century conference is a joint effort to continue to grow commercial, economic, educational, and innovation ties between our two countries. The event includes panel discussions on business and trade advancements and on education and innovation cooperation, including President Obama’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas goal and President Rousseff’s Science without Borders initiatives.

Various documents and agreements were signed on the margins of the conference.

These included an Aviation Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MOU),

an MOU on State and Local Cooperation,

an MOU on Trilateral Cooperation on Food Security in Haiti and Honduras,

an Action Plan on Science and Technology Cooperation,

an MOU between Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Brazil’s Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES),

and a Fulbright-Science without Borders Scholar and Distinguished Chair agreement between CAPES and the U.S.-Brazil Fulbright Commission to expand research exchanges.

Other interagency agreements related to education, culture, environment, sustainable development, and trade were also signed.


Democracy in AmericaAmerican politics

Dilma Rousseff’s visit to America – Our friends in the South.

April 7th 2012, in THE ECONOMIST blog from Sao Paulo – in print Monday April 9, 2012 as “DILMA WHO?”|newe|4-9-2012|1340212|37415992|

BRAZIL has probably never mattered more to America than it does now. America has probably never mattered less to Brazil. Not that relations are bad between the two countries—far from it; they are increasingly cordial and productive. But America has finally, belatedly, woken up to the fact there is a vast, stable country to its south as well as its north; a country, moreover, with a fast-growing and voraciously consuming middle class that seems to offer salvation to American businesses struggling in a moribund domestic market. Brazil, meanwhile, neither needs loans from American-dominated global financial institutions, nor is it otherwise beholden to the country. The United States is no longer even its biggest trading partner. China took that spot in 2009.

A more balanced relationship may be a more fruitful one too. Since Barack Obama’s visit to Rio de Janeiro and Brasília last year, America has delighted Brazil by removing import tariffs on its ethanol and piloting a scheme to make it easier for Brazilians to get visas—two long-standing bugbears. Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, makes a return visit to Washington in the coming week, and there is much to talk about still. What Brazil wants from America above all is endorsement for a seat on the UN Security Council. Britain has already backed its bid, and during his visit to Brazil Mr Obama made baby steps in the same direction, acknowledging Brazil’s “aspiration”, though stopping short of full support.

That support is unlikely to be forthcoming, at least in the near future. Though Brazil is hardly geopolitically troublesome, its worldview—a hard-to-pin-down blend of pragmatism, relativism and a seemingly indiscriminate willingness to be friends with everyone—is unappealing to the United States. The previous president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was flexible enough to be “my man” to Barack Obama and “our brother” to Fidel Castro.

In 2010 Lula stuck his neck out trying to co-broker, with Turkey, an anti-proliferation agreement with Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That infuriated countries far more important to Brazil’s strategic interests, and left Lula looking silly when Mr Ahmedinejad made no concessions in return. Ms Rousseff has rowed back from that friendship, but it reinforced an impression that Brazil is unpredictable and naive.

Mr Obama will surely want to know, too, what exactly Brazil means by its big new foreign-policy idea. That is to complement the UN’s justification for intervention in another country’s affairs under the rubric “Responsibility to Protect” with “Responsibility while Protecting” after it has gone in.

Since Brazil tends not to support going in in the first place, when would it want to see this new responsibility kick in? Even some experienced and sympathetic diplomatic observers in Brasília say they have no idea what concrete difference this would make on the ground.

For America, trade, not diplomacy, will surely be top of the agenda. Judging from the number of American investors turning up in São Paulo every week, Mr Obama must hear about the glowing opportunities Brazil presents in just about every time he meets businessfolk. But with the most overvalued currency of any big economy, Brazil’s own industrialists are prodding the government to keep imports out. It has hiked already-high tariffs on many imports even further, and is taxing foreign-currency inflows increasingly heavily to keep out speculative inflows. Brazil has made it clear it only wants long-term investment, and is only interested in foreign businesses that are willing to make whatever it is they want to sell in Brazil.

If Mr Obama tries to argue for freer trade, he will get short shrift.

Both Ms Rousseff and her finance minister, Guido Mantega, regard the floods of cheap money being pumped out by the Fed and the European Central Bank as a far worse trade distortion than Brazilian barriers, which they term “safeguards” rather than “protectionism”.

Brazil’s drift towards protectionism is in fact becoming a problem for its own economy. But that is an argument for another day. Mr Obama will surely be aware there is still a lot of mileage to be got out of helping American companies to set up shop in Brazil.


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

As they say in Bhutan, Tashi Dalek! (roughly translates as “Blessings and good luck”).


New York City, In and around the UN Headquarters, April 2-4, 2012.


Experts and representatives from all sectors of society gathered at the United Nations, Monday, April 2, 2012 for a landmark day-long conference and two subsequent days of working groups on “Happiness and Well-being; Defining a New Economic Paradigm,” hosted by the Royal Government of Bhutan.  The landmark gathering addressed next steps towards realizing the vision of a new development paradigm that replaces the present narrow system based on GDP (Gross Domestic Product) with a “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) model.

The current measurement as defined by GDP is dysfunctional, based on the pursuit of material wealth, and the unsustainable premise of limitless growth on a finite planet, while the Bhutan-originated GNH model is holistic, integrating economic, environmental and social measures and objectives.

“A great beginning has been made but it is the end that we must strive for,” Bhutan’s Prime Minister, Jigmi Yoezer Thinley, said at the conclusion of the three-day discussions. “I hope that by 2015 the international community will have adopted a sustainability-based economic paradigm committed to promoting true human well-being and happiness, and ensuring at the same time, the survival of all species with which we share this planet.”

Gross National Happiness is defined by the Bhutan government as a holistic philosophy or development paradigm based on the belief that the ultimate goal of every human individual is happiness, so governments must ensure this human right and take responsibility to create those conditions that will enable citizens to pursue this value and goal.

The conference identified four dimensions for the proposed new economic development paradigm: well-being and happiness; ecological sustainability; fair distribution; and efficient use of increasingly scarce resources. “The new economy will be an economy based on a genuine vision of life’s ultimate meaning and purpose ? an economy that does not cut us off from nature and community but fosters true human potential, fulfillment, and satisfaction,” said Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley.

The historical meeting brought together a select but representative group of government officials, United Nations staff, diplomats, Nobel Laureates, scholars in diverse fields, leading economists and psychologists, representatives of non-governmental organizations, think tanks and advocacy centers, and spiritual and civil society leaders. Panelists and attendees were from both – from developed and developing nations.

The extent of global support for Gross National Happiness was evident in the participation at Monday’s conference of high level representatives from countries around the world, including Finland, India, Japan, Israel, Costa Rica, Thailand, Morocco, Australia. and the United Kingdom.

Noting India’s cultural ties with Bhutan, Mrs. Jayanthi Natarajan, India’s Honorable Minister of State for Environment and Forests, endorsed the need for a new economic paradigm, quoting Mahatma Ghandi, father of the Indian nation, as saying, “Nature provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” She pledged India’s cooperation in the effort.

Remarks by eco-feminist Dr. Vandana Shiva, Founder of Navdanya, Recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, which supports farmers, highlighted the concordant need to attend to the world food problem, and received considerable approbation by the audience.

Mr. Joe Nakano, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, expressed appreciation for ongoing support to Japan in the wake of last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake. He emphasized the importance of bonds that matter most to people (“kizuna” in Japanese), and the “Paradox of Happiness,” in which, in many developed countries, happiness is not proportional to economic wealth.  A Council on National Strategy and Policy is now following up with visions and concrete measures for government policy-making based on a study published by a Japanese government commission last December, which proposed 130 well-being indicators focusing on bonds between families, communities and nature.  Japan also hosted an Asian-Pacific Conference on Measuring Well-being and Fostering the Progress of Societies in cooperation with the Asian Development Bank and other entities.

Parliamentary speaker Mr. Eero Heinaluoma of Finland pointed out that Finland was one of the first countries to agree on a national set of sustainable development indicators and tools for such measurement in the late 1990s, and committed his country to mainstreaming new measures in its policy-making.

Other addresses were delivered by the Honorable Tim Fischer, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, a country which has implemented carbon taxes to reduce carbon emissions; Mr. Gilad Erdan, Minister of Environmental Protection for the Government of Israel, who spoke of their leadership in alternative energy and clean technology, especially in regard to water shortages; from the Kingdom of Morocco; High Commissioner for Planning Mr. Ahmed Lahlimi Alami, whose country has taken major steps to reduce poverty; the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs from Thailand, Mr. Jullapong Nonsrichai, who referred to the Thai concept of “sufficient economy”; and Lord Gus O’Donnell, Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, who related its new well-being policy and measures. The British Government has instructed its office for National Statistics to begin measuring well-being in the United Kingdom.  The commitment of Great Britain to the Bhutan initiative was confirmed by the Prince of Wales who said in a video message that such a new paradigm is “an essential task that cannot be ignored.”

“Happiness is a sentiment that nests within each person,” said the President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla Miranda, in her keynote address. “There are many paths to reach it.  But human history, as well as current realities, teaches us that the paths to Well-being are deeply connected to the respect for dignity and the creation of opportunities to freely pursue our full and harmonious realization as part of the natural and social milieu.” Costa Rica, recognized for its exemplary sustainable development record, was the top-rated nation on the Happy Planet Index, combining its green ecology with reports of high levels of life satisfaction by its citizens.

The meetings were endorsed by the Member States of the United Nations General Assembly, reflected in Resolution 65/309 passed July 2011, when 68 countries co-sponsored the  Bhutan-initiated resolution titled “Happiness: Toward a Holistic Approach to Development.”

Support from the United Nations was also evident in the participation of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, President of the General Assembly Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, and President of the Economic and Social Council, Mr. Milos Koterec, all of whom gave opening comments. The Administrator for the United Nations Development Fund, Helen Clark, served as moderator.

“Gross National Product has long been the yardstick by which economies and politicians have been measured,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his inaugural address to the conference, “yet it fails to take into account the social and environmental costs of so-called progress.”

Four panels made presentations on ecological sustainability, efficient use of resources, fair distribution, and well-being and happiness, including presentations by the President of the Centre for Bhutan Studies Karma Ura and the Secretary of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Commission, Karma Tshiteem.

Well-being is postulated as an important social indicator of development, which adds value to purely economic indicators; this is viewed as especially important for policy makers in this development model in which public happiness and well-being are their goals.

Eminent expert speakers represented the two aspects of the initiative – economic and psychological.  Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz, endorsing the value and importance of the concept of well-being, said “Whatever the indicators we use, whether it’s Well-being or others, we have to be very conscious that …people are experiencing different things, and our commitment to equitable development means that we have to focus on the experiences not of the average but on what’s happening to all of our citizens, including those at the bottom and middle.” According to Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of British Columbia, John F. Helliwell, the world is moving toward both a green economy as well as policies that pay more attention to the quality of people’s lives.

Noted psychologist Martin Seligman founder of Positive Psychology (based on tenets of empathy, resilience, positive thinking, traits, relationships and institutions), emphasized the importance of Gross National Happiness in the mental health of peoples around the world.  Alarmingly high rates of depression worldwide underscore the relevance of such an index.

Happiness is a state and a trait and a skill and can be learned, noted Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs.

In an appeal for a more green economy as well as concern for common good, David Cadman said, “We are living in a rock star mentality, as if there were no tomorrow.”

Prayers were given throughout the meetings by spiritual leaders from Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist faiths.

While happiness has been critiqued as a naïve concept that cannot be measured, presentations at a pre-conference meeting at Columbia University refuted that idea.  Economists and experts from many fields presented “the “World Happiness Report,” released to coincide with the conference.  The report lends considerable credibility to a happiness index by presenting methodological approaches and measurement tools to assess development.  The result was extensive country rankings along nine “domains” or well-being indices, including community vitality, cultural and ecological diversity and resilience, good governance, health, education, living standards, time use, and psychosocial well-being (e.g. “life satisfaction” and “positive affect”). The report is co-edited by Professor Emeritus of Economics John F. Helliwell, Director of the Well-being Programme at the London School of Economics Lord Richard Layard and The Earth Institute Director Jeffrey D. Sachs.

Countering critiques about limits of measurement of well-being and happiness, Chief Statistician from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, Ms. Martine Durand, described their “Better Life Initiative in Measuring Well-being and Progress.”

Although Bhutan is a small country, larger developed nations and their leaders are already committed to the new ways of measuring development and progress, including the British Prime Minister David Cameron, and France’s President Nikolas Sarkozy.  Both leaders commissioned Nobel Prize-winning economists Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen to examine new ways of measuring social progress. Sarkozy has said that the focus on GDP as the main measure of prosperity helped trigger the financial crisis; he ordered France’s statistics agency to integrate the findings of the study into future economic analysis.

The Gross National Happiness model has already been applied in cities, communities and corporations and schools in Brazil, a country that sent a considerable number of attendees to the conference. Susan Andrews, founder of the Brazil-based Fortune Vision Institute, showed a film about a large-scale effort in a Brazilian city whose students polled citizens about their happiness.

In two subsequent days, volunteers participated in break-out groups and came together to share plans and progress to help advance the Happiness agenda in four areas: strategic planning, expert and scholars, civil society involvement, and communications.

The planned outcomes were to submit a report on the conference to the Secretary General of the United Nations; to distribute a set of recommendations for national economic policies based on happiness and well-being to heads of governments around the world; to draft a new development paradigm; and to design a communications strategy to enhance the global understanding of well-being and happiness.

“Happiness is a way of being that comes with genuine altruistic love – serenity – that can be cultivated as a skill day after day, month after month,” said Buddhist scholar Matthieu Ricard. “Now one thing that is clear is that the pursuit of happiness is intimately linked with altruism. There’s no such thing as a successful selfish happiness… Happiness and altruism are not a luxury, they are a necessity.”

The movement has already spawned civil society organizations committed to the cause, including Gross National Happiness World Project, Gross National Happiness USA, a government-sponsored Happiness Project in Japan, the London-based Action for Happiness and the Observatoire International du Bonheur in France (Happiness Observatory), which offers legal tools and research on happiness, as well as entrepreneurship enterprises like GNHappiness, which provides consultation for business transformation.

Youth involvement was an important goal identified by the planning working group, consistent with the emphasis on youth by many United Nations initiatives. At the concluding ceremony, student Latoya Mistral Ferns presented her model of an interactive television show, currently being piloted at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, in which youth interview the public on the topic of happiness.

Since governments can make laws, but citizens must abide by them, reactions were important to gauge. Comments and questions from participants, interspersed between panelist presentations, revealed widespread enthusiasm and commitment to the GNH campaign.

In the year 2015, the Millennium Development Goals, as outlined by the United Nations, will formally come to an end (these include the eradication of poverty, improving maternal and child health, promoting gender equality, and combating HIV/AIDS malaria and other communicable diseases); the governments of the world will consider new Sustainable Development Goals for the years to follow.  Looking towards this time, Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley said, “I hope that by the year 2015, the international community would have integrated a sustainability-based economic paradigm committed to promoting true human well-being and happiness, and insuring at the same time the survival of all beings on this planet.”

Commentary is presented on the website of the Centre for Bhutan Studies. Opinions and outcomes of the conference are being collated to present at the new economic paradigm at the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+20”) to take place in Brazil this June.


For inquiries, please contact the official site of the Bhutan Government GNH Project.



Posted on on October 13th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Climat : la réunion de Panama maintient l'incertitude sur l'avenir des négociations

Climat : la réunion de Panama maintient l’incertitude sur l’avenir des négociations

Après une semaine de discussion, l’issue des négociations apparaît toujours aussi incertaine. Le prolongement du protocole de Kyoto et l’adoption d’un nouveau mandat de négociation sont au centre des divergences.

Réunis du 1er au 7 octobre 2011 à Panama City (Panama), les délégués des Etats membres de la Convention-cadre des Nations Unies sur les changements climatiques (CCNUCC) ont une nouvelle fois tenté de progresser sur les principaux sujets qui doivent être tranchés lors de la 17ème Conférence des parties (COP 17) qui se tiendra à Durban (Afrique du Sud) du 28 novembre au 9 décembre.

Cette réunion est la dernière rencontre officielle organisée par le CCNUCC dans le cadre de la préparation de son sommet annuel.…


L’UE, seul soutien au protocole de Kyoto:

{it says the EU is the only body backing Kyoto but as we wrote already, in reality this backing, by its demand that makes it contingent on the US and China coming on board – is effectively burrying the subject as things are at this time.}

L’avenir du Protocole de Kyoto reste toujours aussi hypothétique. Le Canada, le Japon et la Russie ont d’ores et déjà indiqué être opposés à une deuxième période d’engagement. Les Etats-Unis, qui n’ont pas ratifié le protocole, appellent à négocier sur la base de l’accord signé à Copenhague (Danemark), laissant de côté le protocole.

Seule l’Union européenne (UE) ne ferme pas la porte à une nouvelle période d’engagement. Une position qui doit beaucoup au fait qu’elle devrait respecter l’objectif assigné pour la première période et à la place prise par lesmécanismes de flexibilité du protocole dans la mise en œuvre de son marché carbone. En effet, un débat oppose les négociateurs sur la possibilité de préserver ces mécanismes sans prolongement du protocole. Pour les pays émergents, le sujet est entendu : sans prolongement du protocole, il n’est pas possible de les préserver.


Vers un nouveau mandat de négociation ?

Par ailleurs, l’UE conditionne le prolongement du protocole à la poursuite des négociations en vue d’“un accord mondial équilibré”. L’adoption à Durban d’un mandat clair vers un tel accord pourrait constituer un point de départ satisfaisant. Une hypothèse qui prend corps avec la publication mi-septembre d’une proposition rédigée par l’Australie et la Norvège. Les deux pays proposent d’adopter d’ici 2015, pour une entrée en vigueur en 2018, un accord global contraignant qui inclurait les principales économies. Onjectif :fixer des engagements standardisés de limitation des émissions de GES et établir un mécanisme de vérification commun. Les engagements pourraient prendre la forme d’objectif d’intensité carbone des économies en se basant sur des indicateurs communs et des années de références communes.

Reste que la proposition australo-norvégienne met fin au protocole de Kyoto au profit d’un cadre unique d’engagement et de mesurabilité, reporting et vérification (MRV) des actions entreprises. Des défauts qui pourraient être rédhibitoires pour les pays émergents.


Le respect des engagements reste problématique

Comme à l’accoutumé, pays en développement et pays développés se sont opposés sur la mise en œuvre contraignante des engagements affichés par les parties à la Convention dans le cadre de l’accord de Copenhague en 2009 et confirmé à Cancun en 2010. La différence de nature des engagements, les procédures de vérification et la révision à la hausse des engagements actuels restent les principaux points de blocage vers l’accord contraignant recherché depuis la conférence de Bali en 2007.

Parmi ces sujets, la question de la mesurabilité, du reporting et de la vérification (MRV) des engagements reste la pierre d’achoppement qui entrave la voie vers un futur accord. En l’état, il est envisagé que pays développés et en développement rendent compte du respect de leurs engagements tous les deux ans. Les pays industrialisés se plieraient à une procédure internationale d’évaluation et d’examen (IAR) et les pays du Sud se conformeraient à une procédure internationale de consultation et d’analyse (IAC). Deux mécanismes MRV parallèle dont la similitude irait à l’encontre du principe des responsabilités communes mais différenciées qui constitue une des bases de la CCNUCC.


L’objectif de Copenhague s’éloigne

S’agissant des engagements proposés par les principaux émetteurs, les délégués ont pu une nouvelle fois mesurer l’écart qui les sépare de l’objectif visant à maintenir en deçà de 2°C la hausse de la température moyenne mondiale en 2100 par rapport à l’ère préindustrielle. Selon le Climate Action Tracker, qui synthétise l’ensemble des engagements, la planète se dirige vers une hausse de 3,2°C (avec une fourchette comprise entre 2,6°C et 4°C).

En l’état, les chercheurs d’Ecofys, de Climate Analytics et du Potsdam Institute for Climate, estiment que si les engagements les plus ambitieux sont tenus, les émissions de gaz à effet de serre (GES) devraient atteindre en 2020 quelque 54 milliards de tonnes de CO2 équivalent (tCO2eq), soit 10 à 14 milliards de tonnes d’excédent par rapport à l’objectif fixé.

Toujours selon le Climate Action Tracker, la Chine “est sur la bonne voie pour respecter, voire dépasser, certains de ses engagements pris à Cancun même si actuellement ses émissions augmentent plus rapidement que prévu” du fait d’une croissance économique supérieure aux attentes. Pour leur part, les Etats-Unis affichent “un retard persistant dans l’application de leur objectif”. Le Brésil a pour sa part rehaussé de 18% ses prévisions tendancielles d’émissions de GES pour 2020, rehaussant d’autant le niveau qui serait atteint si elle respectait ses engagements.


Dernières actualités sur la CCNUCC

Révision du système national d’inventaires des émissions à l’atmosphère – 14/09/2011Réchauffement climatique : +2°C en 17 ans au Canada – 08/09/2011Climat : les pays émergents épinglent l’Union européenne avant la conférence de… – 30/08/2011NKM lance le comité “Trajectoires 2020-2050 – Vers une économie décarbonée” – 28/06/2011Politique climatique de l’UE : aucun progrès attendu sous la présidence polonaise – 23/06/2011Toutes les infos sur la CCNUCC


Posted on on October 4th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Interactive users’ guide to climate planning tools
23 September 2011 – A new, interactive users’ guide to tools for climate and development planning has now been launched by Ecofys and the Institute of Development Studies, with the support of CDKN. It helps developing country decision-makers figure out how climate compatible development can be planned and implemented in different contexts. There are many dozens of tools and methodologies to help guide decision-makers through the challenges of development planning in a changing climate. More on the project Visit the users’ guide

Rural areas show major potential for reducing greenhouse gases in Europe
21 September 2011 – Europe’s rural areas can play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A switch from heating oil and coal to renewable energy sources or low carbon fuels in rural areas could reduce carbon emissions from households and services in five EU countries by up to the equivalent of 3500 small towns (35 megatonnes CO2). These are the main findings of a study carried out by global consultancy Ecofys and commissioned by the FREE initiative (Future of Rural Energy in Europe). The results are presented in Brussels today. Please read the press release. The full report is available for download.

CDKN stands for  Climate and Development Knowledge Network

ECOFYS is a company of consultants out to make profits by doing the right things called for by the climate change reality and economics and acts according to the –

Rgough it all looks as if a new alphabet-soup is being cooked up – we find in all of this a path to salvation and want thus to publicize a meeting that was called for at the Panama City ongoing exercise:

All participants to the Panama Climate Change Conference are invited to a side event hosted “Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions – an overview”, which will be held on

Tuesday, 4 October, from

20:00 to 21:30, in

Room Miraflores (Hotel Sheraton, in front of the ATLAPA Convention Centre).

Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) are currently developed in many countries. The side event will launch the, provide an overview of the activities worldwide and present some lessons learned.

We are looking forward to meeting you there.

Best regards.

Niklas Höhne for


What above means to us is that the UNFCCC was able to bring out the need to deal with Climate Change by decreasing energy use dependence on fossil fuels – but obviously – at the UN as such no solution is possible. Nevertheless, the locus of UNFCCC became a magnet for private people that are capable to consult individual governments and true environmental and socio-economic NGOs to move in the right direction.

Now, with the creation of a network of countries ready for National programs, there might indeed be born that nucleus for action that we are all waiting for.

True – from Durban we will get no satisfaction – but the meeting of the minds of people on the periphery there, and on the sidewalks of the road to Durban, there might be enough interest to start activities in States with positive attitudes to life and the future of mankind.

NAMA stands for Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions on Climate Change. They will meet on the sideline in Panama City, Tuesday, October 4, 2011.



Posted on on September 22nd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (


Costa Rica envoy makes energy pitch.

from Japan we learn that –  The new Costa Rican ambassador to Japan, Alvaro Antonio Cedeno Molinari, said his mission here is to raise awareness of investment opportunities in renewable energy.

He also wants to attract more Japanese tourists to Costa Rica — a country with a rich variety of bird species, rain forests and kayaking spots that make it a prime ecotourism destination.

In a courtesy call Wednesday to The Japan Times, Cedeno Molinari stressed that diplomacy in the next few decades “should focus on green economy, sustainable development, happiness and prosperity.”

He emphasized that Costa Rica “generates 95 percent of its electricity from renewable, clean and safe resources.”

Cedeno Molinari, 36, also said although 50 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product is related to tourism, only a small number who visit hail from Japan.

He also said he would push for a free-trade pact with Japan.



Posted on on September 21st, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

to open the UN General Assembly. “It is with personal humility, but with my justified pride as a woman, that I meet this historic moment,” said Rousseff as she opened the general debate. “I share this feeling with over half of the human beings on this planet who, like myself, were born women and who, with tenacity, are occupying the place they deserve in the world. I am certain that this will be the century of women.”   —-    Rousseff can also be found on the cover of this week’s Newsweek, with a profile by Mac Margolis.


l aunched the Open Government Partnership (OGP) while in New York on Tuesday. The OGP’s goal is to give citizens tools to monitor   elected leaders and achieve more transparent governance. Mexico is one of the additional six founding members and other Latin American countries that have pledged to sign on to the partnership are: Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Uruguay.
This is a smart program for U.S. policy in the hemisphere and a great leadership role for Brazil to play,” reports Bloggings by Boz, who links to commitments and plans from Brazil, Mexico, and the United States.


Colombia, a member of the Security Council, is very important in this because an attempt is being made to negate to the Palestinians a simple majority in the SEcurity Council in order to avoid a US veto.
This attempt revolves around three Member States and Colombia is one of them.  Rather then attending President Obama’s speech to the General Assembly, Mr. Netanyahu  was at that time in a meeting with the President of Colombia promoting such a move.


drilling for oil in the Florida Straits between the Florida Keys and Cuba as early as mid-December. It is estimated Cuba may hold anywhere from 5 billion to 20 billion barrels of oil in offshore reserves.

In a piece for CNN’s Global Public Square program and blog, Fareed Zakaria warns: “Our trade embargo on Cuba not only prevents us from doing business with our neighbor but it also bars us from sending equipment and expertise to help even in a crisis. So, if there is an explosion, we will watch while the waters of the Gulf Coast get polluted.”

We watched that program on Sunday, September 18th and it is crystal clear that the US has now to end the embargo on Cuba. We know that election season in the US has just started – but it seems that moves by President Obama on this issue would be right in place and would improve relations within the Western Hemisphere where all countries now side with Cuba.


Posted on on September 1st, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

It came to our attention that this posting is used as reference in Wikipedia’s title “Pink Tide” –  and we feel this is required reading when thinking of the place of the US in the world – going into the 21st century. The US back-yard is Latin America and President Obama in rewriting US economic policy ought to pay attention to needs of the democratizing Latins. We decided thus to repost this from May 28, 2008.


Johann Hari: Why bananas are a parable for our times.
Thursday, 22 May 2008

Below the headlines about rocketing food prices and rocking governments, there lays a largely unnoticed fact: bananas are dying. The foodstuff, more heavily consumed even than rice or potatoes, has its own form of cancer. It is a fungus called Panama Disease, and it turns bananas brick-red and inedible.

There is no cure. They all die as it spreads, and it spreads quickly. Soon – in five, 10 or 30 years – the yellow creamy fruit as we know it will not exist. The story of how the banana rose and fell can be seen a strange parable about the corporations that increasingly dominate the world – and where they are leading us.

Bananas seem at first like a lush product of nature, but this is a sweet illusion. In their current form, bananas were quite consciously created. Until 150 ago, a vast array of bananas grew in the world’s jungles and they were invariably consumed nearby. Some were sweet; some were sour. They were green or purple or yellow.

A corporation called United Fruit took one particular type – the Gros Michael – out of the jungle and decided to mass produce it on vast plantations, shipping it on refrigerated boats across the globe. The banana was standardised into one friendly model: yellow and creamy and handy for your lunchbox.

There was an entrepreneurial spark of genius there – but United Fruit developed a cruel business model to deliver it. As the writer Dan Koeppel explains in his brilliant history Banana: “The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World,” it worked like this. Find a poor, weak country. Make sure the government will serve your interests. If it won’t, topple it and replace it with one that will.

Burn down its rainforests and build banana plantations. Make the locals dependent on you. Crush any flicker of trade unionism. Then, alas, you may have to watch as the banana fields die from the strange disease that stalks bananas across the globe. If this happens, dump tonnes of chemicals on them to see if it makes a difference. If that doesn’t work, move on to the next country. Begin again.

This sounds like hyperbole until you study what actually happened. In 1911, the banana magnate Samuel Zemurray decided to seize the country of Honduras as a private plantation. He gathered together some international gangsters like Guy “Machine Gun” Maloney, drummed up a private army, and invaded, installing an amigo as president.

The term “banana republic” was invented to describe the servile dictatorships that were created to please the banana companies. In the early 1950s, the Guatemalan people elected a science teacher named Jacobo Arbenz, because he promised to redistribute some of the banana companies’ land among the millions of landless peasants.

President Eisenhower and the CIA (headed by a former United Fruit employee) issued instructions that these “communists” should be killed, and noted that good methods were “a hammer, axe, wrench, screw driver, fire poker or kitchen knife”. The tyranny they replaced it with went on to kill more than 200,000 people.

But how does this relate to the disease now scything through the world’s bananas? The evidence suggests even when they peddle something as innocuous as bananas, corporations are structured to do one thing only: maximise their shareholders’ profits. As part of a highly regulated mixed economy, that’s a good thing, because it helps to generate wealth or churn out ideas. But if the corporations aren’t subject to tight regulations, they will do anything to maximise short-term profit. This will lead them to seemingly unhinged behaviour – like destroying the environment on which they depend.

Not long after Panama Disease first began to kill bananas in the early 20th century, United Fruit’s scientists warned the corporation was making two errors. They were building a gigantic monoculture. If every banana is from one homogenous species, a disease entering the chain anywhere on earth will soon spread. The solution? Diversify into a broad range of banana types.

The company’s quarantine standards were also dire. Even the people who were supposed to prevent infection were trudging into healthy fields with disease-carrying soil on their boots. But both of these solutions cost money – and United Front didn’t want to pay. They decided to maximise their profit today, reckoning they would get out of the banana business if it all went wrong.

So by the 1960s, the Gros Michel that United Fruit had packaged as The One True Banana was dead. They scrambled to find a replacement that was immune to the fungus, and eventually stumbled upon the Cavendish. It was smaller and less creamy and bruised easily, but it would have to do.

But like in a horror movie sequel, the killer came back. In the 1980s, the Cavendish too became sick. Now it too is dying, its immunity a myth. In many parts of Africa, the crop is down 60 percent. There is a consensus among scientists that the fungus will eventually infect all Cavendish bananas everywhere. There are bananas we could adopt as Banana 3.0 – but they are so different to the bananas that we know now that they feel like a totally different and far less appetising fruit. The most likely contender is the Goldfinger, which is crunchier and tangier: it is know as “the acid banana”.

Thanks to bad corporate behaviour and physical limits, we seem to be at a dead end. The only possible glimmer of hope is a genetically modified banana that can resist Panama Disease. But that is a distant prospect, and it is resisted by many people: would you like a banana split made from a banana split with fish genes?

When we hit up against a natural limit like Panama disease, we are bemused, and then affronted. It seems instinctively bizarre to me that lush yellow bananas could vanish from the global food supply, because I have grown up in a culture without any idea of physical limits to what we can buy and eat.

Is there a parable for our times in this odd milkshake of banana, blood and fungus? For a hundred years, a handful of corporations were given a gorgeous fruit, set free from regulation, and allowed to do what they wanted with it. What happened? They had one good entrepreneurial idea – and to squeeze every tiny drop of profit from it, they destroyed democracies, burned down rainforests, and ended up killing the fruit itself.

But have we learned? Across the world, politicians like George Bush and David Cameron are telling us the regulation of corporations is “a menace” to be “rolled back”; they even say we should leave the planet’s climate in their hands. Now that’s bananas.

To purchase ‘Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World’, click here.

 j.hari at


Posted on on September 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

CRITERIO AMBIENTAL FILM FESTIVAL – First International Environmental Film Festival at La Fortuna De San Carlos, at the feet of the Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica. September 25 to October 1, 2010.

Last night we saw Franny Armstrong´s “AGE OF STUPID.”

Tonight we will have “BIG RIVER MAN” with Martin Strel, the Slovenian swimmer, present.

Strel was the first person known to have swam along the whole Amazonas river.
He will be swimming along the Laguna de Arenal this morning,
all that in order to publicize pollution of the world sweet waters.
This Laguna was man-made after the eruption of Arenal six years ago
and replaced six villages that were in that place earlier. I am
looking forward discussing these events with Strel and will report later.

Now I am off to interesting nature trails with the Caravanas Tour.
Talk to you later.


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

Climate change, natural disaster and the triple crises of food, finance and fuel jeopardize sustainable development gains made by many developing nations.

We add here that Climate Change, Loss of Biodiversity, and the slow-down in Poverty Reduction are inter-related – talking about one of them while ignoring the others is counter-productive. And what do you know – Climate Change imposed on others by our own excesses is it not, indeed, a novel way of terrorism?


Peruvian President Alan García told the General Assembly today that terrorism and climate change, as well as other global illnesses, require that the United Nations be the forum for world cooperation.

Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández  called for the creation of a new global coalition under United Nations auspices of nations at risk of catastrophe to share experiences and knowledge. He told General Assembly, on the first day of its annual high-level segment,that this year alone – up to now – there have been 47 floods and landslides; 12 hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons; eight serious droughts followed by fires; seven earthquakes; and volcanic eruptions.

“Additionally, we have to include the numerous cold waves, floods, and storms that have occurred as well as the epidemics that took place as a result, particularly cholera in Africa and dengue in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Dr. Fernández proposed the establishment of a World Alliance of Countries at Risk which would be “a great contribution towards designing and implementing policies to help save lives and minimize material damages.”

Many natural disasters, he pointed out, are caused by climate change, underscoring the need to set guidelines to regulate carbon emissions and protect the planet’s biodiversity.


Calling for a new mechanism to stave off the worst effects of natural disasters at the Assembly debate today was Turkish President Abdullah Gül.

“This would also help maintain international peace and security by mitigating the threats stemming from weak governance, collapse of public order and domestic or inter-State conflicts over diminishing natural resources,” he noted.

Dedicating just a small fraction of nations’ defense expenditures to financing this new mechanism could more cost-effectively achieve results in maintaining global peace and stability, he said.

“Moreover,” the Turkish leader said, “If we could pool some of our defense equipment that lost its effective utilization in military terms but are still relevant disaster relief operations, we would swiftly build the said rapid reaction capability.


Climate change, natural disaster and the triple crises of food, finance and fuel jeopardize sustainable development gains made by small island developing States (SIDS), according to a new United Nations report.

The report points out that these events exacerbate the vulnerability of the SIDS due to their small size, remoteness, susceptibility to shocks and narrow resource bases, the publication says.

In some instances, it points out, improved economic and governance capacity in SIDS has been offset by reduced resilience to external shocks.

“Although SIDS are confronted with increasing challenges, the growing international consensus surrounding the need to support SIDS offers an unprecedented opportunity to advance their sustainable development efforts,” the report says.

Its release comes ahead of a high-level General Assembly gathering to review progress towards sustainable development made in these nations. The two-day meeting kicks off tomorrow.

In the past nearly four decades, SIDS including Samoa, Grenada, Vanuatu and Maldives top the list of 180 countries recording the highest economic losses in relative terms due to natural disasters.

In Samoa, a 1983 tropical storm and forest fire, along with three tropical storms in the late 1980s, may have set its capital stock back more than 35 years.

Despite advances made towards realizing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight globally-agreed targets with a 2015 deadline, in areas such as health and gender equality, the eradication of poverty is still a major hurdle for small island nations.


In a side event at the UN, Dr. Christiana Figueres, the top UN climate change official, today stressed the urgent need for governments to move forward in their negotiations ahead of the Cancun, Mexico, meeting where the UN contends that she is expected to conclude agreements related to issues such as technology transfer, mitigation and adaptation, and funding.

“We are barely two months away from the UN climate change conference in Cancun, the place where Governments need to take the next firm step on humanity’s journey to meet the full-scale challenge of climate change,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Ahead of the next conference of parties to the Convention, to be held in November in Cancun, governments will hold a negotiating session in Tianjin, China, next week.

It is in Tianjin, said Ms. Figueres, that they will need to “cut down the number of options they have on the table, identify what is achievable in Cancun and muster the political compromises that will deliver those outcomes.”

She told a news conference at UN Headquarters that governments are converging on the need to mandate a full set of ways and means to launch a new wave of global climate action.

“On the whole, governments have been cognizant this year that there is an urgent need to move forward and they have been collaborating in moving beyond their national positions to begin to identify common ground so that they can reach several agreements in Cancun.”

The UN climate change chief said that negotiations are on track towards reaching agreements on the sharing of technology, jump-starting activities in developing countries dealing with reducing deforestation and degradation, setting out a framework for adaptation, and establishing a fund that would help developing countries with their mitigation and adaptation efforts.

“Let me be clear: there is no magic bullet, no one climate agreement that will solve everything right now,” she said.

“To expect that is naïve. It does not do justice to the crucial steps already achieved since the beginning of the Convention and it dangerously ignores the need to keep innovating.”

She noted four major trends shaping the future – energy supply and security; natural resource depletion; population growth; and climate change.

“An unchecked climate change is the flame that would make the other three burn most seriously,” said Ms. Figueres. “Governments can either stand together to turn these four threats into a new development paradigm that harnesses the full power of society, science and business, or they will fail divided.”

But let us not think that Dr. Figueres believes in the “Seal the Deal” mantra – she is on the record of having said earlier that she does not expect a Kyoto Protocol kind of agreement to emerge from Cancun – so the Tianjin meeting is very important in order to avoid renewed failure because of exaggerated expectations.


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

Israeli-owned Ormat Technologies Inc. harnesses energy from water heated by chambers filled with molten rock deep beneath the ground. They put volcanoes or potential volcanoes to work.
The company has been operating two plants in Guatemala for three years and wants to expand but is weighing the risks of drilling more costly exploratory wells.

Reuters writes from Guatemala – “There’s a phase where you just have to drill and see,” Ormat’s representative in Guatemala, Yossi Shilon, said – The problem is that you risk a very expensive investment and are not always satisfied with the results.”

Ormat’s project is only a 20 MW station but Guatemala says the country has the potential to produce up to 1000 MW of geothermal energy, a third of projected energy needs in 2022.

Other Central American countries are already forging ahead in this emerging technology.

More than a fifth of El Salvador’s energy needs come from two geothermal plants with installed capacity of 160 MW and investigations are being carried out to build a third.

Costa Rica, which has 152 megawatts of capacity in four geothermal plants, is due to bring a fifth plant online in January 2011 and is looking into building two more.

Nicaragua generates 66 MW from geothermal energy and in the next five years plans an increase to 166 MW.

Guatemala only produces a tiny amount of its own oil and spends about $2 billion a year on imports. The aim is to save money on energy costs and join international efforts to cut green house gas emissions, issues that will be on the table at global climate change talks this November in Cancun, Mexico.

Dotted with active volcanoes, Central America is seeking to tap its unique geography to produce green energy and cut dependence on oil imports as demand for electricity outstrips supply.

Sitting above shifting tectonic plates in the Pacific basin known to cause earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the region has huge potential for geothermal power generated by heat stored deep in the earth.

Geothermal power plants, while expensive to build, can provide a long-term, reliable source of electricity and are considered more environmentally friendly than large hydroelectric dams that can alter a country’s topography.

Guatemala, Central America’s biggest country, aims to produces 60 percent of its energy from geothermal and hydroelectric power by 2022.

The government is offering tax breaks on equipment to set up geothermal plants and electricity regulators are requiring distributors buy greater proportions of clean energy.

Some 1,640 feet below the summit of Guatemala’s active Pacaya volcano, which exploded in May, pipes carrying steam and water at 347 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius) snake across the mountainside to one of two geothermal plants currently operating in the country.


Central America, heavily dependent on agriculture, is feeling the effects of extreme weather. Tropical Storm Agatha killed nearly 200 people in the region earlier this year.

The largely poor countries are highly reliant on hydroelectricity, the number two source of energy after oil, but environmental activists and energy experts say harnessing geothermal energy has distinct advantages over dams.

Hydroelectricity depends on rainfall and is vulnerable to hurricanes that can wash mud and debris into rivers and clog dams. Such storms are expected to increase in the frequency and intensity as the planet warms.

“With climate change there’s uncertainty over the future behavior of water resources,” said Eduardo Noboa, a renewables expert at the Latin American Energy Organization, or OLADE. “We’re going to see a vulnerability in hydroelectric systems.”

Dams, which can flood vast areas of land during their construction, are unpopular in rural areas where families rely on farming and have trouble finding arable land.

In Guatemala, hydroelectric projects have a haunted past after hundreds of Mayan villagers protesting the building of a dam on the Chixoy river were massacred by security forces in 1978 at the height of the country’s civil war.

The dam and its reservoir, which now generates around 15 percent of Guatemala’s electricity, displaced thousands of people in the country’s central highlands.

Geothermal plants by contrast are compact and companies, learning from the mistakes of the past, say they are making an effort to provide nearby towns with easy power access.


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

With many Heads of State in New York for the UNGA “High Level” meeting, it is the September 21-23, 2010 CGI where networking to help achieve some set goals may show results. Indeed, some may say that the GPI is built on the participation of volunteers and as such it is somewhat disorganized, but nevertheless – the truth is that nobody smiles in disbelief like at the UN. People just do not say – oh well – “palabra, palabra” – the feeling is that words do actually matter. The motto is – “Turning Ideas Into Actions” – and the website –

On Monday September 20th, green vehicles were showcased on 7th Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets – Green Technology Automotive (GTA) “My Car” and the Hybrid-Sports, a Nissan Leaf, a Toyota Prius Plug-in and a Diesel-from-algae fueled car displayed by Solayzime. There were also folding bicycles from BigFish Bikes – clearly an important vehicle in our world when we are finally broke from buying oil.The UN did not think of offering such displays to its bankrupt members.

The real meetings started on Tuesday the 21st. Former President Clinton sat there for the opening session with Tarja Halonen, the present President of Finland, Melinda French Gates of the Microsoft-made money Foundation, Robert McDonald of Procter & Gamble, and Eric Smith, CEO of Google. It was declared that with 67 current and former Heads of State present – some 600 business leaders, 500 NGO and philanthropists, circa 300 commitments are expected, and relief for the stricken Haiti, Pakistan, and the US Gulf Coast, will be forthcoming. Real money will be spoken here – this as in the 2005-2008 period $57 billion were raised at these CGI meetings.

The first day Keynote Lunches were called for: (1) Economic Empowerment (not just to benefit women anymore), (2) Education (to benefit everyone and the future), and (3) our favorite – Environment and Energy with The Former President of Costa Rica, Jose Maria Figueres and Richard Branson towering over the proceedings. Even Ms. Christiana Figueres, the daughter of Jose Maria, now Head of Global Climate, came by on a break from the UN before rejoining the UN for a briefing to governments by Mexico –  on the Cancun COP 16 of the UNFCCC.

The lunch Plenary was about Empowering Women and Girls and a special guest was Former First Lady and present Secretary of State – Ms. Hilary Clinton. For correctness sake, also Former First Lady Barbara Bush was at the dais.

The four afternoon Special Sessions included a very special session – one on “Peace and Beyond in the Middle East. it was Chaired by the Crown Prince of Bahrain and had Mr. Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority and Shimon Peres, the President of Israel. That was clearly a session that allowed Mr. Clinton maximum push for good sense. He is definitely in better position to do so today then a sitting President or the unbridled UN. Simply said – Bill Clinton can show both sides how much they can gain from working together, and his two mild partners are well trained to try and see what it is there for them.

The other three session dealt with women issues and included among the participants  really unexpected persons – former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, and journalists Tina Brown and Nicholas Kristof.

The day still had a Special Sessions on how to profit by running Microfinance systems and then many small groups for action networking, and eventually seven groups for official “Topic Dinners.” One interesting example with Duke Energy as host – “The Climate War – Can it be Won?”

To those that are interested – there are two more days and evenings – “Chuck full of Nuts” like the above.


Posted on on August 1st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Extraordinary times in Cuba

Laura Pollan, leader of Las Damas de Blanco, marches along Quinta Avenida in Havana on Sunday.

There has been a flurry of news in Cuba. First came the Cuban government’s decision to release 52 political prisoners over the next three months. Then came the extradition of Francisco Chavez Abarca, a Salvadoran accused of carrying out violent attacks against Cuba.

More news came today when Fidel Castro’s photographer son Alex posted photos showing the former Cuban president visiting a research center in Havana. Alex Castro shot the pictures last week at the National Center for Scientific Investigation in Havana. One news report said Castro used a cell phone camera to take the pictures; I haven’t confirmed that.

Photos by Alex Castro. Source: CubaDebate

News of Fidel Castro’s rare public appearance comes days after the Cuban government said it would free 52 prisoners held since a government crackdown on dissidents in March 2003.
Guillermo Fariñas announced he’d end his 134-day hunger strike after Cuban authorities announced the release. Fariñas is a dissident and independent journalist in the central town of Santa Clara. He began his protest after dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo died in February after an 86-day hunger strike.

More than a dozen reporters and photographers showed up to cover the Damas’ march on Sunday. The women marched without any interference. A passing motorist yelled something like, “Those people aren’t news.” Another shouted, “Mariconas,” which means lesbians.

The Damas kneeled in front of Santa Rita Church and prayed after finishing their march, then they chanted “Freedom! Freedom!” A few minutes later as they gathered at a nearby park and some of them repeated the chant. A man who was shooting video missed that shot and asked the Damas to repeat it. One prominent member of the group refused, saying that these chants “come from the soul” and aren’t meant to be repeated just because someone asks.

The cameraman asked if, well, the Damas could please be inspired again to feel it “from the soul.” More than a half dozen of the women complied, chanting “Freedom! Freedom!” once again, then told the cameraman that they hoped he was satisfied.


Posted on on July 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

What makes a good UN story? We hinted at the Kevin Rudd idea earlier but we were still waiting for further developments.

Are we seeing here rumors because of infighting in Australia on the way to their National elections August 21, 2010?

Are we on the trail of rumors intended to save the Ban Ki-moon reelection to a second term?

Are we watching an Obama approach to create a new environment to save negotiations on climate?

Kevin Rudd would be an excellent choice to extricate the UN from the hole it created in the “Seal the Deal” charade when every child could have seen that the G192 is no environment to talk about Sustainable Energy options.

Australia is no good example either – but Kevin Rudd was ready to step out of his nation’s “is” and aim for a better future.

He got punished for this and perhaps is now ready for revenge by working on a global level that will then sweep with him his own country as well.

With his experience as Australia’s Prime Minister with-vision that was cut short from bringing his own country into the group of real leaders for tomorrow, he can work with President Obama and perhaps the other four leaders that hammered out the Copenhagen platform that is not dependent on all climate mongers of the UN circuit. As a fresh figure, he could perhaps sit down with the ALBA folks and take the best ideas they have and incorporate them also in a new recipe under the SUSTAINABILITY big sky of the future.

Will the UN accept him as a new Super Czar of a combined  UNCSD and UNFCCC – or let him form a new structure so these older structures will just wilt away into oblivion slowly? Who knows? But let us follow this new world hype.

The subject having slowly boiled in the PRESS has reached also – so it is time for us to try out the waters ourselves also. This then reinforced the UNelections interest in the issue as per added –


Click here to read “Kevin Rudd could be offered UN role before end of election campaign” – Herald Sun, July 29, 2010

Kevin Rudd could be offered UN role before end of election campaign

Kevin Rudd at the UN

Kevin Rudd talks with UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon / AP Source: AP

KEVIN Rudd’s new United Nations post could be announced before the end of the election in what looms as another major embarrassment for Julia Gillard.

The Herald Sun can reveal the UN body Mr Rudd is being considered for is being set up under the working title High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability.

Mr Rudd is believed to have been backed for the post by the UN’s chief climate adviser, Janos Pasztor, and is odds-on to be offered the job.

Diplomatic sources said the decision could be made within weeks, which raises the spectre of an appointment before the election.

“It’s on the cards,” a source said of a pre-election announcement.

The Herald Sun believes Mr Rudd is favoured in part because he will have direct access to resources paid for by the Australian taxpayer.

This is on the assumption that the former prime minister is re-elected to Federal Parliament on August 21, 2010.

Related Coverage

Climate change reform will be the centrepiece of the panel, virtually guaranteeing conflict with a Gillard government, assuming Labor is re-elected.

Sources said it would be created to look at climate change in the context of broader sustainable development, and would be part-time.

Mr Rudd has declined to say whether the appointment would be paid.

If he were to be paid, this could raise allegations he would be a part-time MP.

Mr Rudd’s spokesman directed questions to the UN, declining to say whether he already had accepted the position.

Mr Rudd has previously said he would serve a full term in Parliament and that any UN position would be part-time.

“It is a matter, of course, for the United Nations Secretary-General to clarify what roles would be played by any individual on such a panel,” Mr Rudd said on July 22.

The biggest political risk for the Government is that the UN body clashes on climate change policy backed by Ms Gillard.

Mr Rudd previously backed a 5 per cent emissions cut on 2000 levels by 2020 as well as a so-called cap-and-trade scheme, which involves setting limits on carbon emissions but allowing heavy polluters to buy permits to allow them to emit more carbon.

Mr Rudd dropped his legislation this year when it was blocked by the Coalition in the Senate and his handling of the issue was considered crucial to him being dumped as PM.


  1. News for “Kevin Rudd” at the UN?

    ABC Online
    UN role awaits Rudd? – 1 day ago

    KEVIN Rudd’s new United Nations post could be announced before the end of the election in what looms as another major embarrassment for Julia Gillard.

    Herald Sun1876 related articles »

  2. Kevin Rudd “in line for UN climate job” | Australian Climate Madness

    Jul 22, 2010 Our socially-disfunctional-verging-on-autistic ex-PM would fit right in at the UN, spouting platitudes about saving the planet and the evils

  3. Kevin Rudd could be offered UN role before end of election

    Jul 29, 2010 KEVIN Rudd’s new United Nations post could be announced before the end of the election in what looms as another major embarrassment for…/kevin-ruddun…/story-fn5ko0pw-1225898207146

  4. [PDF]


    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
    SPEECH BY PRIME MINISTER KEVIN RUDD TO THE. UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY. Acknowledgement. Mr President. I would like to congratulate you on your

  5. United Nations wants Kevin Rudd for top climate job | The Daily

    Jul 22, 2010 KEVIN Rudd has confirmed he has been approached to take up a job with the United Nations.…/united-nationskevin-rudd…/story-fn5zm695-1225895300050

  6. Kevin Rudd considering UN job as climate adviser

    Jul 22, 2010 Latest news, breaking news – Kevin Rudd considering UN job as climate Ousted Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is considering a UN…/650285/Cached

  7. Bangkok Post : Ex-Australian PM Rudd in talks over UN role

    Jul 22, 2010 Ousted Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd Thursday confirmed talks over a possible United Nations role but said he did not plan to quit…/ex-australian-pm-rudd-in-talks-over-un-roleCached

  8. Kevin Rudd tipped for top UN climate job – Developmental Issues

    Jul 22, 2010 Australian ex-prime minister Kevin Rudd is angling for the post of a climate change adviser to the United Nations, news reports said…/Kevin-RuddUN…/6201236.cmsCached

  9. Kevin Rudd tipped for UN climate job | Perth Now

    Jul 22, 2010 KEVIN Rudd is being considered by the United Nations for a top-level job that would force him to leave Australia.…/kevin-ruddun…/story-e6frg15u-1225895337247

  10. Rudd confirms UN talks – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting

    Jul 22, 2010 Kevin Rudd has confirmed he has been sounded out about the possibility of a job with the United Nations, but says he is still committed to

  11. Kevin Rudd confirms talk with UN boss |

    Jul 22, 2010 OUSTED prime minster Kevin Rudd has confirmed he has spoken with the United Nations Secretary-General about a possible appointment.…/kevin-rudd…talk…un…/story-e6frfku0-1225895627286

  12. Videos for “Kevin Rudd” at the UN?


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

Climate Extremes Fuel Hunger in Guatemala.
By Danilo Valladares

GUATEMALA CITY, Jul 28, 2010 (IPS) – “Three-quarters of the fields are still under water. Maize, plantains, okra and pasture are all lost,” José Asencio told IPS at the village of Santa Ana Mixtán in southern Guatemala, the area worst affected by tropical storm Agatha.

The villagers have been working for food in order to survive. “We’ve been shoring up the banks of the Coyolate and Mascalate rivers, and the mayor has been giving us food rations, although we haven’t received any for the past two weeks because supplies have run out,” he said.

Asencio said that food shortages and unemployment, caused by the extreme weather and the floods, have worsened the plight of the 373 families in the village, which is part of the municipality of Nueva Concepción in the department (province) of Escuintla, in the far south of the country.

The same dramatic situation is seen in Madronales, a village in the coastal municipality of Ocós in the southwestern province of San Marcos. “The fields sown with maize and plantain are flooded; we need food aid,” community leader Amparo Barrios told IPS.

Tropical storm Agatha flooded the crops that are the mainstay of 210 families, and “the little that was spared was destroyed by Atlantic storm Alex,” which hit the country a month later, she complained.

Agatha departed from Guatemala May 30, leaving behind 165 people dead and over 100,000 affected by destruction of their homes, crops or livelihoods. One month later, Alex added two more to the death toll and 2,000 to the number of material victims, according to the National Disaster Reduction Coordination agency (CONRED).

The storms also hit El Salvador and Honduras, where at least 29 people died and thousands were left homeless, according to disaster relief agencies.

But the worst hit by the double whammy of the storms was Guatemala, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, where half the population live on incomes below the poverty line and 17 percent are extremely poor, according to United Nations statistics.

“Climate change is exacerbating the conditions of poverty and extreme poverty in the country, and above all is complicating the lives of the most vulnerable,” Carlos Mancilla, head of the Climate Change Unit at the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry (MARN), told IPS.

Flooding is not the only concern. Paradoxically, one of the main chronic problems in Guatemala is drought, in the “dry corridor” in the north and east of the country.

“Adapting to drought is not as easy as coping with floods. How can the social fabric destroyed by a drought be repaired? What happens when the head of a family has to migrate? In contrast, if a bridge is washed away by the rains, it can simply be rebuilt,” Mancilla said.

The General Directorate of Epidemiology reported that at least 54 children died of hunger in 2009 because of the drought, which was described as the worst in 30 years. Meanwhile, 2.5 million people went hungry due to the food crisis, the U.N. reported.

Just under 50 percent of children in Guatemala are malnourished, the highest rate in Latin America and one of the highest in the world, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

But in Mancilla’s view, adaptation to climate change must be broader in scope than just dealing with the food crisis, because inappropriate location of human settlements and the construction methods used compound the risks.

In addition to its economic vulnerability, Guatemala has unstable geology, with a high risk of disasters from volcanic activity, geological faults and its many mountains and rivers.

For example, the Pacaya volcano, 30 kilometres from the capital, erupted May 27 and rained ash over Guatemala City, killing one person and affecting thousands of others.

Among the government measures taken to adapt to the climate emergencies, Mancilla mentioned the creation of an inter-institutional Climate Change Commission, made up of 17 secretariats and ministries, that is “assessing the impact, including on food production, within the different sectors.” In this way “we examine how each one can contribute” to overcoming the challenge, he said.

Sucely Girón, coordinator of the non-governmental Observatory on the Right to Food Security (ODSAN), told IPS that the country “is not investing in prevention,” in spite of having passed a law on food and nutrition security.

“The main thrust of the reconstruction budget is replacing infrastructure. They forget that Agatha and Alex left people with no crops and no jobs that would enable them to buy food,” she said, referring to the announcement by the government of social democratic President Álvaro Colom that it needs one billion dollars to reconstruct the country.

Girón said that crop diversification and alternative economic activities need to be promoted, in order to reduce Guatemala’s dependence on agriculture.

She mentioned tourism, fish farming and craft making as possible ways of earning incomes for families whose crops have suffered from climate change impacts.

The programme on Strengthening Environmental Governance in the face of Climate Change Risks in Guatemala, an initiative of government and non-governmental organisations, community organisations and international aid agencies, aims at sustainable agriculture.

Leonel Jacinto, coordinator within the project for the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), told IPS that food security for the population is being sought through agricultural best practices.

In the central province of Baja Verapaz, affected by drought, the programme encourages avoidance of slash-and-burn techniques, and promotes agroforestry (combining trees and shrubs with crops and/or livestock) and preserving and making use of stubble, in order to improve water retention in the soil.

The project, which is to benefit 791 families directly and another 100,000 families indirectly, promotes the recycling of water used for washing clothes to irrigate vegetable plots. It also encourages energy generation in biodigesters, which produce biogas from organic waste materials.

Jacinto said programmes like this one can change the face of agriculture in Guatemala and make it more resistant to climate change. But it needs to be extended across the country and to be sustained over time, he stressed.


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 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Much of the UN rebuttal is mush and we will report on how this unfolds.


Departing U.N. official calls Ban’s leadership ‘deplorable’ in 50-page memo.

Inga-Britt Ahlenius wrote a 50-page memo upon the end of her term  as head of the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services.

Inga-Britt Ahlenius wrote a 50-page memo upon the end of her term as head of the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services. (2008 Photo By Mark Garten/Associated Press)

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 20, 2010

UNITED NATIONS — The outgoing chief of a U.N. office charged with combating corruption at the United Nations has issued a stinging rebuke of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, accusing him of undermining her efforts and leading the global institution into an era of decline, according to a confidential end-of-assignment report.

The memo by Inga-Britt Ahlenius, a Swedish auditor who stepped down Friday as undersecretary general of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, represents an extraordinary personal attack on Ban from a senior U.N. official. The memo also marks a challenge to Ban’s studiously cultivated image as a champion of accountability.

Shortly after taking office in 2007, Ban committed himself to restoring the United Nations’ reputation, which had been sullied by revelations of corruption in the agency’s oil-for-food program in Iraq.

But Ahlenius says that, rather than being an advocate for accountability, Ban, along with his top advisers, has systematically sought to undercut the independence of her office, initially by trying to set up a competing investigations unit under his control and then by thwarting her efforts to hire her own staff.

“Your actions are not only deplorable, but seriously reprehensible. . . . Your action is without precedent and in my opinion seriously embarrassing for yourself,” Ahlenius wrote in the 50-page memo to Ban, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post. “I regret to say that the secretariat now is in a process of decay.”

Ban’s top advisers said that Ahlenius’s memo constituted a deeply unbalanced account of their differences and that her criticism of Ban’s stewardship of the United Nations was patently unfair.

“A look at his record shows that Secretary General Ban has provided genuine visionary leadership on important issues from climate change to development to women’s empowerment. He has promoted the cause of gender balance in general as well as within the organization. He has led from the front on important political issues from Gaza to Haiti to Sudan,” Ban’s chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar, wrote in a response.

“It is regrettable to note,” Nambiar added, “that many pertinent facts were overlooked or misrepresented” in Ahlenius’s memo.

The departure of Ahlenius, 72, coincides with a period of crisis in the United Nations’ internal investigations division. During the past two years, the world body has shed some of its top investigators. It has also failed to fill dozens of vacancies, including that of the chief of the investigations division in the Office of Internal Oversight Services. That post has been vacant since 2006, leaving a void in the United Nations’ ability to police itself, diplomats say.

“We are disappointed with the recent performance of [the U.N.’s] investigations division,” said Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations. “The coming change in . . . leadership is an opportunity to bring about a significant improvement in its performance to increase oversight and transparency throughout the organization.”

The U.N. General Assembly established the Office of Internal Oversight Services in 1994 to conduct management audits of the United Nations’ principal departments and to conduct investigations into corruption and misconduct. The founding resolution granted the office “operational independence” but placed it under the authority of the secretary general and made it dependent on the U.N. departments it policed for much of its funding and administrative support.

The dispute between Ahlenius and Ban has underscored some of the resulting tensions and exposed a protracted and acrimonious struggle for power over the course of U.N. investigations.

While Ahlenius cited Ban’s move to set up a new investigations unit as a sign that he was seeking to undermine her independence, Nambiar said that it was intended to strengthen the United Nations’ ability to fight corruption.

Ahlenius also clashed with Ban over her efforts to hire a former federal prosecutor, Robert Appleton, who headed the U.N. Procurement Task Force, a temporary white-collar crime unit that carried out aggressive investigations into corruption in U.N. peacekeeping missions from 2006 to last year. The unit’s investigations led to an unprecedented number of misconduct findings by U.N. officials and prompted federal probes into corruption.

Ban’s advisers said they blocked Appleton’s appointment on the grounds that female candidates had not been properly considered and said that the final selection should have been made by Ban, not Ahlenius.

“The secretary general fully recognizes the operational independence of OIOS,” Nambiar said. But that, he said, “does not excuse her from applying the standard rules of recruitment.”


The above story, as per – also echoed in Vienna.

Scheidende UNO-Diplomatin rechnet mit Ban ab.

Die scheidende Chefkontrolleurin der Vereinten Nationen geht laut Medienberichten mit Generalsekretär Ban Ki Moon hart ins Gericht. Ban habe ihre Arbeit als oberste Korruptionsbekämpferin unterlaufen und die UNO in eine Ära des Niedergangs geführt, schrieb Inga-Britt Ahlenius laut einem Bericht der „Washington Post“ gestern in einem vertraulichen Memorandum.

Entgegen seinen Ankündigungen zum Amtsantritt 2007 habe Ban die durch mehrere Affären angeschlagene Reputation der Vereinten Nationen nicht mit allen Mitteln geschützt.


Vielmehr habe er ihr Amt der Chefrevisorin mehr und mehr geschwächt, schreibe Ahlenius in dem 50-Seiten-Papier an Ban: „Ihr Handeln ist nicht nur bedauerlich, sondern sogar verwerflich.“ Es sei beispiellos und „meiner Meinung nach für Sie selbst beschämend“. Das Blatt zitierte: „Ich bedaure es, sagen zu müssen, dass das Sekretariat in einem Zerfallsprozess ist.“

Kritiker werfen Ban seit langem vor, die UNO nur zu verwalten und vor wirksamen politischen Initiativen zurückzuschrecken. UNO-Mitarbeiter wiesen die Vorwürfe in der „Washington Post“ als „unfair“ zurück. Ban habe mehrere politische Schwerpunkte gesetzt, etwa beim Klimaschutz und bei der Gleichstellung der Frau. Die Abrechnung der scheidenden Schwedin sei ein „höchst unausgewogener Ausdruck ihrer Differenzen“ mit Ban.,


Posted on on July 15th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

CENTRAL AMERICA:  Doors Wide Open for Renewable Energy.
By Danilo Valladares

GUATEMALA CITY, Jul 15, 2010 (IPS) – Heavy reliance on petroleum imports, the need for electricity in rural areas, and the ongoing effort towards sustainable development have focused Central America’s attention on renewable energy. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t opposition.

This year, Honduras plans to have one of the largest wind energy farms in Latin America up and running, with an output of 100 megawatts of electricity.

Located in the municipality of Santa Ana, 24 kilometres from the Honduran capital, it cost 250 million dollars, according to owner Energía Eólica Honduras (Wind Energy Honduras), subsidiary of Mesoamerica Energy, made up of 15 business groups from the region.

In addition, Honduras will invest 2.1 billion dollars in 52 hydroelectric projects between 2010 and 2016, each with the capacity to generate five megawatts, announced the Honduran Association of Small Producers of Renewable Energy in early June.

“We based our efforts on three aspects: energy security by avoiding dependence on international petroleum prices, improving access to energy in rural zones, and sustainable development,” Association president Elsia Paz told IPS.

According to Paz, promotion of renewable energy has been important for achieving a balanced diversification of the Honduran energy matrix, as 70 percent comes from fossil fuels, “a resource that is imported and leads to capital flight.”

Honduras is typical of Central America’s high reliance on oil for generating electricity.

In the 1980s, about 75 percent of the region’s electricity came from renewable sources — primarily hydroelectric dams. That portion has now dropped to 50 percent, according to the non-governmental Energy Network Foundation BUN-CA, based in Costa Rica. The rest comes from hydrocarbon- based sources.

Nicaragua, meanwhile, through its Ministry of Energy and Mines, announced in May that all of the energy generated in 2016 would come from renewable sources through the implementation of the National Programme for Sustainable Electrification and Renewable Energies.

Similar to Honduras, 70 percent of Nicaragua’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels, and 30 percent from renewable resources, according to official figures.

To improve that ratio, construction is under way of the Tumarín hydroelectric dam, the largest in the country, in the South Atlantic Autonomous Region. Behind the project, which will produce 220 megawatts, is the Brazilian consortium Quieroz Galvão-Electrobras.

But Tumarín has come under fire from the surrounding communities, which say they were not consulted about the project and it will have negative consequences for the entire Río Grande de Matagalpa watershed. The dam, which requires an investment of more than 600 million dollars, will change hands to be administered by the Nicaraguan government in 30 years.

Meanwhile, the Amayo I and II wind park, with U.S., Guatemalan and Nicaraguan capital, is so far the largest operating in Central America.

Located along the shore of Lake Nicaragua, in the southern province of Rivas, it generates 63 megawatts of electricity.

Luis Molina, of the environmental control unit of Nicaragua’s Ministry of Energy and Mines, told IPS that his country aims to implement renewable energy projects in order to reduce emissions of greenhouse-effect gases, which cause global warming, and to decrease the portion of the national budget going to the purchase of fossil fuels.

He said that at the “macro” level, the main objective is to achieve 100 percent energy from renewable sources, while at the “micro” level the goal is to extend the electrical network in rural areas.

About 10 million people in Central America, of a total population of 40 million in the region, do not have electricity in their homes.

In El Salvador, which is already producing biofuels and has tapped into solar and geothermal energy, the Japan International Cooperation Agency will finance 1.5 million dollars for drafting a master plan for developing renewable energies, to begin at year’s end.

Approximately 60 percent of the region’s energy potential lies in possible hydroelectric dams.

Of the 22,000 megawatts of potentially exploitable hydro-energy, the Central American isthmus has developed just 17 percent, according to the Central American Electrification Council.

Costa Rica is the region’s leading producer of clean energy, with 80 percent coming from hydroelectric sources, according to the governmental Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE).

President Laura Chinchilla announced that she wants to make Costa Rica the first country in the world to run 100 percent on renewable energy.

But it is no easy task. Guatemala’s renewable energy coordinator at its Ministry of Energy, Otto Ruiz Balcárcel, told IPS that there is a great deal of misinformation about renewable energy, which limits investment in the sector.

“There are towns that think water gets contaminated from the hydroelectric turbines, and investors have not been able to communicate how it works,” he cited as one example.

However, he believes Guatemala is on the road to expanding clean energy, primarily through more hydroelectric dams.

Of a different opinion is Oscar Conde, activist with the group Madreselva de Guatemala, who told IPS that renewable energy projects like hydroelectric dams alter ecosystems and affect rural communities, who are not taken into account when the dams are built.

“They are transnational or national businesses that use the water for their own benefit, and the communities just watch it go by,” he said.


Posted on on July 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

This is a sequel to:

“Will a new Energy Policy Institute, by studying complex systems, to be established at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, be a factor in the saving of the US and the World?”

It is written after we received two very interesting documents:

(a) The Workshop Summary of the Washington December 8-9, 2009 meeting on “Developing Sustainable Human Space Exploration Policy.”

(b) the powerpoint part of a June 22, 2010 presentation titled “JOULE: Joining Our Understandings to Leverage Energy Analyses, Decisions, Engineering, Technology, and Policy” at the University of Alabama Huntsville Center for Eystems Studies, the Shelby Center, Huntsville.

First let me say that I love this new meaning for JOULE – “JOINING OUR UNDERSTANDING TO LEVERAGE ENERGY – analysis, decisions, engineering, technology and policy.”

This is actually exactly what we started out by hoping that it might take hold of the opportunities that became available at Huntsville.

The workshop makes it clear that the present situation of Huntsville is under attack in Washington, and the powerpoint presentation shows that Huntsville is looking at acceptable new outlets and they came up with a start.


From the December 2009 very defensive Washington workshop, that by the way happened by coincidence at the same time the Climate meeting was going on in Copenhagen, but made no single reference to anything that could have been helpful to the US position in Copenhagen, we pick up, talking just of Human Space Exploration – the following points – and please note – not in any original order:

“The human space exploration program is a highly visible, although very small, percentage of federal expenditures, engaging a highly technical workforce nationwide. Human space exploration amounts to approximately 2/3 of NASA’s budget which itself is less than 1%  of the total federal budget.”

“The country has strategic, geopolitical interests in being a leader, that is, in sustaining or increasing its capacity to act independently, effectively, and impressively on the world stage. Nations which operate on frontiers create power, influence, and propagate values. Space exploration is one such frontier.”

“Research and development programs carry strategic implications as demonstrations of national vision, will, and organizational and human capital prowess, and as sources of technology which can yield a competitive advantage militarily and economically.”

“Historically every presidential administration since Eisenhower has re-examined the purpose, value, and direction of human space exploration, without meaningfully departing from the original rationale and plan.”
“Human space exploration is one of a very limited number of ways for the country to demonstrate technological leadership in a non-military way (that is, to do difficult things well, to advance knowledge, and to provide quality-of-life improvements for its citizens). “There are ways to compete without pointing missiles at each other.””

“Technological leadership motivates other countries — developed and developing — to collaborate with the United States, on scientific, economic, and military fronts. These partnerships promote a longer term form of (inter)national security through complementary, trust-building pursuits and economic interdependence. Space exploration can be a policy tool to create a multi-lateral world of nations with stakes in each others’ success.”

And the complaints:
The nation now finds itself in the position of having a $75B+ international space station without a credible plan to sustain or, worse, access it after completion. The situation could not have been envisioned 15 years ago, especially if following a rational investment strategy. It is fair to ask: could a process be defined that fosters continuity of investment in human space exploration?” “In addition to the financial toll, there are opportunity costs: the erosion of the aerospace workforce, the ceding of strategic ground, and the creation of a reputation for unreliability among international space partners.”
“Election turn-over challenges policy continuity because it introduces the need to inform and educate newcomers on programs’ purpose, value, and needs.” “Annual appropriations and the norm of ‘divided government’ (split party control of the White House and Congress) create yearly opportunities for change.”
“The level of scientific/technological literacy in government can create a gap in understanding and in values
between the Agency and its governing stakeholders. For example, scientists and engineers are common in
Chinese and Indian governing bodies. By way of contrast, the {current} U.S. Congress has fewer than a half-dozen
scientists or engineers.”
The Agency is not currently viewed widely as an effective instrument for addressing foreign and domestic policy
priorities. The tenuous or indirect relevance of its mission to significant problems of the day — energy, climate
change, health, resources management, global development — threaten to diminish further the Agency’s position in the country’s research and development portfolio.”

And the plea for a modicum of rationality being asked from Washington, and the example of scientific thought:

The United States Science Decadal Survey Process.
The United States astronomy community for five decades has used a self-governing survey process to achieve unity of thought leadership on scientific priorities for the next decade and to accomplish significant scientific progress.

Three agencies (NASA, NSF, and Department of Energy) sponsor the work by the National Academy of Science’s National Research Council, which has a reputation for independent, objective, and non-partisan scientific and technical advice.
“Each decadal survey incorporates unstarted projects from the previous survey and considers the changed economic and political environment. A select number of scientific questions are posed to organize the priorities within five sub-disciplines.”

“Scientists are the end-users or customers for the federal investment in science programs and they are directly involved in setting the priorities.” “The process effectively corrals divergent opinions and encourages ‘self-policing’ of consensus; the opportunity for everyone to be heard and considered creates consensus behind the recommendations.” “The process is viewed as independent from the implementing agencies (the public and agencies are informed simultaneously), and the decadal committee is highly respected; and the process helps develop a sustainable story and case for Congress and the public because compelling scientific questions are posed.”

The decadal process can break down when the scientific community ‘breaks ranks’ and works outside the process to secure funding (e.g., by ear-marking). This break-down may occur when members of the science community lose faith that the plan will be followed or when the science budget faces dramatic changes (such as cuts or reallocations between missions).”

In discussion, it was pointed out that the ’policing’ of the community by its own members can lead to undesirable conformity and the exclusion of scientists with worthy, iconoclastic ideas. It was also noted that defining “good” exploration is more difficult than defining “good” science and that the science discipline communities represent narrow special interests, in contrast to the human space exploration community.”

We feel that he above brings us back full circle and the question opens up – are we doomed to a political “cul de sac” that will not let us make progress anymore unless a Kennedy comes and lays down the rules? We think that the Alabama people that participated at the Washington Workshop –  Dr. Michael Griffin and Dr. Elizabeth Newton felt the same way.

We think that the second document came about as a reaction to the above, and it shows an effort to break with the past and look for new vistas in a situation that creates not just dangers for the existing Space Program, but what is even worse,  for the existing well trained technical personnel that if not given new jobs that can use their technical expertize, will dissipate to never reconstitute again.

Also,  just think of what could have happened to the Soviet nuclear personnel had not one man – George Soros – not moved in and tried to provide for them, when the Soviet Union collapsed,  and they would have picked places of the worst kind in uncontrolled regimes?
On the other hand, we are missing some aspects of plans for the future that hardly came up in Washington. Frankly – all what we hoped to see is what we marked in color above – energy, climate change, health, resources management, global development – and that was the only time these words were mentioned.

Joining Our Understandings to Leverage Energy Analyses, Decisions, Engineering, Technology, and Policy.

A Straw-man Program/Project Concept in Energy Domain Awareness and Understanding for DOE.

David B. Williams, Ph.D., Sc.D.

John M. Horack, Ph.D.

Michael D. Griffin, Ph.D.

Elizabeth K. Newton, Ph.D

University of Alabama in Huntsville

June 22, 2010

Dr. David B. Williams, the President of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and his team looked at the 20th Century Energy Decisions and discovered the obvious – whatever was talked about was pedestrian indeed – the effort to continue the “is” with minimum effort at thinking of alternatives. it started with the Sweater and the Thermostat and moved to ethyl gasoline versus regular gasoline. it stayed at coal, hydroelectric and nuclear  – these might be oversimplified views of life – but this was life  at the 1970s and not much was changed in our thinking since. You know what ?  They are right!

They look at the movie “It’s Complicated” and say the same.

Then they turn around and suggest we tackle the Complexities of our current Energy Systems: Partly Comprised of Complex Systems created by Humans, Partly Comprised of Complex Systems created by Mother Nature, and Partly Comprised of the Complexities of Human Interactions. We have a complex triangular system in which above three complex circles intersect. So far so good.


Then we find: The suggestion comes here…to create Improved Energy Domain Understanding with the:

UAHuntsville Center for System Studies

In partnerships with:

Department of Energy
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

UT Baker Center for Public Policy

University Science, Engineering, and Research Partners

  • SERVIR, in partnership with NASA, USAid
      • Environmental Domain Awareness, for climate change, disaster response, and sustainability in Central America
      • Core Nodes in Alabama, CATHALAC/Panama, expansion to Africa and Nepal.
      • Decision support for governments and first responders across the region, in the presence of complexity.
  • PEOPLE, JCTD Program, in partnership with VCSI, AMRDEC, others
      • Arctic Environmental and Security Domain Awareness
      • Sponsored by NorthCom and EuCom for FY11 start
      • Integrates Observation, Analysis, Partnership Capacity Development, Research, and relationships for decision-making in the presence of complexity.

JOULE could be a collaborative next-step in the integration of observations, analysis, and input from multiple disciplines, to address the complexities of energy domain decision-making.

No other university is meeting the need for such workforce training & the advancement of the state-of-practice.

Mission: To contribute to national policy-making by framing issues, performing analysis, articulating options & priorities, and providing ‘institutional memory’ for policies of national importance.

They talk of Sustainability, Aerospace, and Innovation.

and offer their –

  • New $25M flagship building to house Center for System Studies ($8M state of Alabama investment; $17M federal)
Our own reaction to the above, is that we think it would be more beneficial for JOULE to establish a relationship with DOD – The Department of Defense – as the people on the Pentagon know a thing or two about Security issues of Climate Change, as well as of dependence on oil – be it produced around the US or in potentially hostile countries. This besides the obvious – DOD also has a thing or two to say about the military bases around Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal.

So, as we described in our original posting,  The Energy Policy Institute,  to be part of the Huntsville Center for System Studies,  within the Washington bureaucracy,  would best be positioned at DOD.

Further, the question of the manned Space Flights is one thing,  but the issue of Energy from Space is a new mission that obviously was not part of the original space mission. This, and the problems of Climate Change, when specifically included in the lingo of complex systems and energy policy,  would make the DOD based Huntsville Center a true global focal point for the 21st Century.
All of this can be introduced in the refinements to the first proposed,  two-weeks old, Straw-man Program/Project Concept.