links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter


 
Grenada:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 17th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

If interested – please read:  http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/10/travel/mardi-gras-parade-tips/index.html

This is clearly the best event in North America – if you want to top it you will have to go to Brazil.

Years ago we visited and wrote about a simpler and perhaps more genuine event in Carriacou, Grenada, in the Caribbean.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 14th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

KIMO’s IISD Reporting Services of the ENB (Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI International Institute for Sustainable Development Environmental News Bulletin) provided the unofficial definitive report of the Durban Climate Change Conference – COP17/CMP7.

This is an invaluable unofficial document that will guide negotiators and participants in the intricate steps of governments dealing with the threats of Global Warming and Climate Change.

KIMO makes it clear that South Africa’s determination not to have the Kyoto Protocol die on African soil, and the determination of EU Commissioner for Climate Action,  Connie Hedegaard, to keep it alive, that eventually won the final night in the INDABA Diplomacy and kicked the ball down the road towards the next series of stops.
We provide here the link to this KIMO document that was prepared by about a dozen members of the IISD team, and supported with funds by a long list of Governments, that nevertheless do not interfere with the running of the reporting system nor with its conclusions, as it is understood by all that a professional team of reporters, outside the UN system, is imperative to provide the information Government negotiators, as well as Civil Society, must have, in order to be able to be effective in these intricate negotiations.

We hope our readers will take the time to read the report:

 mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#inb…

Fast reading, noting that there were  12,480 registered participants, among them  over 5400 government officials, 5800 representatives of UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, and more than 1,200 defined as media, leads to the conclusion that it was a multi-level chess game that somehow ends up making some sense when seen as a whole. Indeed, the final outcome is to be blessed upon in the sense that it returned the game to the true players by creating new alliances. and it is evident that there is a sense now that the problem is real and something will have to be done about it.

An un-united Europe with its allies from the AOSIS and LDC groups cannot bring about a solution, but nevertheless was able to form a new bloc that can stand at those INDABAs to negotiate with India, China, the US, and Brazil. We accept this as an admonishment to our past postings, but will continue to write that a truly united Europe could be much more effective. Let us remember, though it was not mentioned in the Kimo report – Ms. Connie Hedegaard, a Danish politician, former member of the Conservative Party in the Danish Prliament, journalist,  and public intellectual, was Danish Minister for Climate and Energy, and  Danish Minister for the Environment, and honed her knowledge of the issues when she hosted  the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009. She was there at the time the EU fell of the negotiation table and believed that in Brussels she could redress this. We give her now credits for having done the best she could with her divided flock of Ministers. Oh Well!

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 11th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

As per the UNFCCC website: The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Durban 2011, brought together representatives of the world’s governments, international organizations and civil society. The discussions sought to advance, in a balanced fashion, the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Bali Action Plan, agreed at COP 13 in 2007, and the , Cancun Agreements, reached at COP 16 last December.

In Durban’s COP 17  of the UNFCCC – according to fair weather forecasters – a marathon UN climate conference approved on Sunday – December 11, 2011 – with an overtime two days – the DURBAN PLATFORM,  that according to the South African hosts, includes a roadmap towards an accord that for the first time will bring all major emitters of greenhouse gases under a single legal roof. If approved as scheduled in 2015, the pact will be operational from 2020 and become the prime weapon in the fight against climate change.

 www.mysinchew.com/node/67640  http://unfccc.int/2860.php

The UN Secretariat wants us to believe that Durban was a great success and the tremendous expense – financially and in terms of CO2 emitted by the 15,000 participants – was justified.

We did not post much about this meeting as we easily predicted that the two UNFCCC conferences – of 2010 at Cancun and 2011 at Durban – will not lead to advances beyond what was achieved at Copenhagen in 2009 – thus we stopped our count at COP15, and called the Cancun meeting as Copenhagen 2 and the Durban meeting as Copenhagen 3 – with the hope that these meetings will continue to shape an eventual global agreement that became possible thanks to President Obama, who went to Copenhagen via Beijing, and was able for the first time in the history of the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC, to convince the Chinese government to accept the responsibility of becoming an active participant. Yes – the results were still an incomplete but had to be fleshed out in future meetings with the understanding that the original Kyoto Protocol was dead.

Looking at the Durban Platform – the name of the Durban outcome – we say that the Copenhagen opening is still just that – only the opening to future decisions.

We are astonished that the UNFCCC offices in Bonn, as per the above first paragraph,  make reference to the meeting of 2008 in Bali and the 2010 meeting in Cancun, but somehow forgot to mention the Copenhagen meeting. What does this say about the UNFCCC?

The UNFCCC also does not mention that Canada, Russia, Japan, and New Zealand have announced in Durban that they are pulling out from the Kyoto Protocol at the end of the year – this and the fact that the US has never ratified Kyoto, and China has not moved yet to make measurable commitments, makes it obvious that KYOTO IS DEAD and any talk of extending it is really nothing more then so much hot air.

—-

From the dispatches being released by the UN we will pick the one released by UNEP – this because we hold Mr. Achim Steiner in high esteem.
Please see:  http://www.unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentID=2661&ArticleID=8984&l=en

“Climate Talks End With Hope for a New More Comprehensive Legally-Binding Agreement.”

Yes – HOPE for an agreement – but HOPE is not an agreement,  and honest Mr. Steiner – the former head of the Gland, Switzerland, based IUCN, continues via the UNEP press release –

“Significant Emissions Gap However Remains With Doubts on How it Will be Decisively Bridged by 2020 – the Kyoto Protocol to Continue-But Covers Only a Fraction of the Necessary Global Emissions…The key question of the Durban outcome is whether what has been decided will match the science and lead to a peaking of global emissions before 2020 to maintain the world on a path to keep a temperature increase below 2° Celsius.”

The honest answer is that postponing taking decisions is not a decision. Setting time for next meeting is also not a decision – agreeing to continue to talk makes for great tourism – and next stop will be in the country of the UN Secretary-General that will be thus the next beneficiary of this tourism largesse.

Mr. Steiner states further – “The Government of South Africa and the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change should be congratulated for what has been achieved, given the low expectations in the months and weeks before Durban,”

“Today the European Union and several other countries agreed to continue the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 if other governments, including major emitters from developed and developing ones, agreed to negotiate a new legally binding treaty with deeper emission reductions by 2015 to come into force afterwards.

The continuation of the Kyoto Protocol during this new negotiation phase means the provisions of this existing emission reduction treaty, ranging from emissions trading to the Clean Development Mechanism, will also continue providing some benefit to the climate and the ambitions of developing economies over the near term.”

All right – the Kyoto Protocol will continue with smaller participation until a replacement agreement can be forged.

Two additional topics were on the table and as well will continue to roll on:

(1) In Durban governments agreed to establish an Adaptation Committee and a process that will lead to the establishment of a Climate Technology Centre and Network with likely funding from the Global Environment Facility.

(2) a Yearly $US 100 billion (twice the size of the yearly World Bank disbursements)  to support developing countries by 2020 with a GREEN CLIMATE FUND (GCF) continues to roll on as well – but in these days of Global Economics Crisis – the money is not on the table yet.

No agreements were reached not only on the money sources, but even on the location of these institutions. The feeling is that above all there was a lack of trust in the negotiating partners.

The laque covered statements sound like this:

“We came here with plan A, and we have concluded this meeting with plan A to save one planet for the future of our children and our grandchildren to come,”said  South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

“We have made history,” she said, bringing the hammer down on more than two weeks of sometimes fractious talks.”

The deal was welcomed by Brazil, one of the globe’s emerging economic powers.

“I am relieved we have what we came here to get. We have a robust outcome, an excellent text about a new phase in the international fight against climate change. It clearly points to action,” said Brazil’s climate envoy Luiz Alberto Figueiredo.

—-

The European Union pushed for strong wording and the three biggest emitters the United States, China and India resisted.

“We’ve had very intense discussions, we were not happy with reopening the text, but in the spirit of flexibility and accommodation shown by all, we have shown our flexibility, we have agreed to the words you just mentioned and we agree to adopt it,” said India’s Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan. {sorry – but this alone means that the agreement was void of content – our editorial comment}

But environmentalists and small island states, which fear they literally could sink under the rising sea levels caused by climate change, have said it is still not strong enough.

So – what happened indeed?

Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who co-chaired the UN’s high-level climate finance advisory group, echoed this sentiment, saying the debt crisis had underlined the fact that countries should look for funding both from public and private sources. He said it was “challenging but feasible” to mobilise the $100-billion needed but that the key to raising the funds would be to introduce a price on carbon.

It’s been suggested that the price of carbon be pegged at about $25 per tonne. Most of this could be incorporated into the national fiscus while a small percentage is channelled into climate finance.

mg.co.za/article/2011-12-08-un-chief-upbraids-dithering-nations-over-climate-fund

That was fun – just think what the US can say about a carbon tax in this year of Presidential elections.

The Chinese delegation head Xie Zhenhua created a stir by saying China might be willing to sign a legally binding agreement for reducing emissions, post-2020 — if other countries keep their commitments, and depending on China’s state of development, and a laundry list of other pre-conditions.

“China is open,” Xie told reporters, sounding a world apart from the positions of fellow major polluters including the United States and Canada.

The United States, wants all polluters to be held to the same legal standard on emissions cuts, and China and India which want to ensure their fast growing economies are not shackled.

These stands led back to the old standstill but now it is given a target end by a prospective 2015 for negotiations 2020 to start inactment.

The Copenhagen US+BASIC seems to have broken up into a US, India, China group of which South Africa and Brazil took a tactical distance. Brazil perhaps aiming at replacing China as leader of the solid G77.

As before, the EU had no place at the table of those biggies.

The EU came down to Durban like a flock of fighting vultures rather then as a united power that can sit at the table of those biggies.

As I write this sitting in Vienna, I want to go on record that what I saw in Durban was an alliance of the European Archipelago with the group of Small Island States. It was indeed a Grenada led  AOSIS alignment with the 27 individual Member States of the EU that called for the UN LDCs (Least Developed Countries) and African States, to take away the fire from the old China and  G77 in their opposition to the major polluters of the US+BASIC group.

It seems to us that an enlargement of the Small Island Independent States with the inclusion of this European Archipelago of the rather small individual Europeans, will just not be able to come up with an effective platform.
To be effective there is a need is to have a forward looking strong United Europe in order to champion climate causes in wrestling matches with the biggest polluters at these Climate meetings. We are not impressed see
ing a battalion of European officials accompany 27 Ministers of Environment and other Nationals plus powerless transplanted EU officials whose role is totally unclear, hover around those conference halls and sending home reports of empty achievement. Yes – the Europeans were of positive complexion in Durban, but the resulting PLATFORM they fought for is Flat.

Next, and probably last chance to do something about Climate Policy is available at the RIO + 20 meeting in Rio de Janeiro – June 2012 – let us not waste it as well.


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


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 Sustainabilitank.info on June 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Probe at UN climate talks after Saudi sign smashed

Saturday, 12 June 2010 10:06
author:Reuters
POLITICS & ECONOMICS / NEWS
by Reuters, Saturday, 12 June 2010

SAUDI STANCE: Saudi angered many by blocking study of global  warming. (Getty Images)

SAUDI STANCE: Saudi angered many by blocking study of global warming. (Getty Images)

UN climate negotiators agreed to an investigation on Friday after protesters smashed a sign emblazoned “Saudi Arabia” and dropped it in toilet after Riyadh blocked a study of deeper cuts in greenhouse gases.

Many countries condemned the protest, after Saudi Arabia blocked a request by small island states at the May 31-June 11 talks for a study of tougher cuts in greenhouse gases to help slow a rise in world sea levels.


Mexico’s delegate Luis Alfonso de Alba, whose country will host the main climate talks in late 2010, said he was initiating an investigation by the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat.

Pieces of the smashed Saudi Arabia sign – about 30 cm and placed on a table to identify the delegation during negotiations – were dropped in a toilet and then photographed, delegates said. The pictures were then put up on some walls.

“This is a serious incident. We should fully support that the secretariat should carry out an investigation and the result should be informed to the parties,” Chinese delegate Su Wei said.

Lebanon’s delegate also said that the Saudi flag was abused during a protest in the conference hall after Saudi Arabia blocked the small island state’s push.

Saudi Arabia has often expressed worries at U.N. climate negotiations that a shift towards renewable energies will undermine its oil export earnings.

It opposed the small island state’s push for a study of limiting global warming, saying that wider issues such as the impact on exporters, also had to be taken into account.

———————————-

Sabotage to blame for World Cup fiasco – Al Jazeera.

by Andy Sambidge, ArabianBusiness.com, Friday, 11 June 2010

 www.arabianbusiness.com/590311-te…

 www.arabianbusiness.com/590345-al…

Al Jazeera Sport, which suffered major technical problems during its broadcast of the FIFA World Cup to Middle East viewers, has blamed “a deliberate act of sabotage”.

Its exclusive coverage of the South Africa versus Mexico match on Friday was hit by regular transmission problems with fan across the region unable to enjoy the spectacle.

“Al Jazeera Sport would like to condemn the actions of those involved in the deliberate attempts to block its signal during its World Cup broadcasts yesterday,” Al Jazeera Sport said in a statement published by media in Qatar on Saturday.

“Despite its considerable efforts to bring the best coverage to the most possible fans across the Middle East and North Africa including 18 free-to-air games from the group stages, Al Jazeera Sport viewers repeatedly lost their signal through the course of yesterday’s opening fixture,” the statement added.

“This loss of signal was completely beyond Al Jazeera Sport’s control and they share in the frustrations of all those whose enjoyment was spoiled by what was a deliberate act of sabotage.”


Football fans across the Middle East cried foul on Friday as the start of Al Jazeera’s broadcast of the FIFA World Cup was hit by blank screens. Fans across Dubai, including thousands watching at special events across the emirate, reported technical problems.

Hundreds of fans also complained about the problems on Twitter.

Technical problems hit the beginning of the coverage by the Qatar based TV station with its special World Cup channels frozen or broadcasting in the wrong language in a number of countries, including the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Egypt.

For most of the first half an hour of the first game between hosts South Africa and Mexico, viewers were left with no picture or a frozen screen.

The issues appeared to have been sorted out shortly before half time but problems persisted throughout the second half of the match.

Broadcasts on the English language channel morphed into French commentary from the start and then the channel went blank. The English commentary only appeared much later in the first half of the game.

The only coverage working throughout was the HD channel broadcasting in Arabic only.

Broadcasting rights across the region are owned by Al Jazeera Sport, and can currently be accessed either by purchasing an Al Jazeera Sports card or through Etisalat’s pay TV E-Vision.

————————

Al Jazeera has ‘FIFA backing’ to tackle World Cup woes

by Andy Sambidge, Saturday, 12 June 2010, ArabianBusiness.com

BACKUP PLAN: Al Jazeera Sport has implemented its contingency plan  to minimise future World Cup disruption which has been blamed on  saboteurs. (Getty Images)
BACKUP PLAN: Al Jazeera Sport has implemented its contingency plan to minimise future World Cup disruption which has been blamed on saboteurs. (Getty Images)

The general manager of Al Jazeera Sport said on Saturday that the company had implemented a “back up plan” to minimise future disruption to its FIFA World Cup coverage, adding that it had the full backing of FIFA to tackle the problem.

Nasser Al Khelaifi told Arabian Business in a telephone interview that the people responsible for “destroying our signal” would be found “very soon”.

However, later on Saturday, the broadcaster experienced further technical problems, notably during the Argentina v Nigeria match, as protests mounted up on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Al Khelaifi said that the TV station had the “full backing” of World Cup organisers FIFA to find the culprits he accused of deliberately jammed the Nilesat and Arabsat satellites.

In a statement, FIFA said: “FIFA is supporting Al Jazeera in trying to locate the source of the interference in the broadcast of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. FIFA is appalled by any action to try to stop Al Jazeera’s authorised transmissions of the FIFA World Cup as such actions deprive football fans from enjoying the world game in the region. It is not acceptable to FIFA.”

Al Jazeera Sport suffered major technical problems during its broadcast of the opening World Cup match between South Africa versus Mexico on Friday.

Al Khelaifi said: “The people who were responsible did not steal the TV rights of Al Jazeera yesterday, they stole the viewers’ rights because this was a match that was being broadcast free to everyone. Of course we have been in contact with FIFA and they are supporting us to find them [the people responsible].”

He added that Al Jazeera was working with “a number of international specialised companies” to track down the culprits and that he was confident they would be found soon.

In a statement released earlier, the TV company said: “Al Jazeera Sport would like to condemn the actions of those involved in the deliberate attempts to block its signal during its World Cup broadcasts yesterday”, adding that it was a “deliberate act of sabotage”.

Al Khelaifi told Arabian Business that its contingency plan to minimise future disruption was now in operation but added that he could not say if future satellite attacks would happen during the football tournament.

“I think these people are sick,” he said, adding that everything was being done to ensure the best possible TV coverage for the rest of the tournament.

Technical problems hit the beginning of the coverage by the Qatar based TV station with its special World Cup channels frozen or broadcasting in the wrong language in a number of countries across the Middle East.

For most of the first half an hour of the first game between hosts South Africa and Mexico, viewers were left with no picture or a frozen screen.

The issues appeared to have been sorted out shortly before half time but problems persisted throughout the second half of the match.

The second match of the night – France v Uruguay – was unaffected.

Al Khelaifi could not put a figure on how many viewers were affected by the disruption on Friday but said that 85m people had tuned in for Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Champions League Final last month.

Broadcasting rights across the region are exclusively owned by Al Jazeera Sport

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UNEP leads 27 countries of the Wider Caribbean on  “land-based pollution” at an International Maritime Organization (IMO) meeting in Panama City based on the ISTAC of Kingston, Jamaica (Interim Scientific, Technical and Advisory Committee to the Cartagena Convention. Will they touch nevertheless the menacing Deep-Water Oil-Well Blow-Out?

from: James Sniffen <sniffenj@un.org>

UNEP/CEP PRESS RELEASE: REGIONAL GOVERNMENT POLLUTION EXPERTS MEET IN PANAMA.

Panama City, 24th May, 2010:

Over 50 pollution control experts from 27 countries of the Wider Caribbean
gather today (Monday 24th May) in Panama City at the invitation of the
United Nations Environment Programme’s Caribbean Environment Programme
(UNEP CEP) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The gathering of experts for the 5th Meeting of the Interim Scientific, Technical and Advisory Committee (ISTAC) to the Protocol concerning pollution from land-based sources, commonly known as the LBS Protocol, will last for five days.  The CEP is the Secretariat for this Protocol and is based in Kingston, Jamaica.

The LBS Protocol is one of three agreements under the Convention for the
Protection and Development of the Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean
Region (the Cartagena Convention).  It establishes regional guidelines and
standards for reducing the impact of pollution on the coastal and marine
environment, and on human health.   Over 80% of the pollution of the marine
environment of the Wider Caribbean is estimated to originate from land
based sources and activities.

Panama, the host country, is one of only six countries to have ratified the LBS Protocol.  The others are Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Saint Lucia, France and the United States.  Discussions during the meeting will focus on measures to increase the region’s commitment to ratify the Protocol, and have it enter into force and become international law as soon as possible.

In support of regional cooperation, UNEP CEP is partnering with the IMO and their joint Regional Activity Centre for Oil Spills (RAC REMPEITC) to bring together experts from environmental agencies, maritime authorities and port administrations for this 5th LBS ISTAC.

Delegates are expected to identify practical measures to improve the implementation of marine environmental agreements including the IMO London Convention on the control of pollution from dumping of wastes at sea and the MARPOL Convention on the prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships.

According to Nelson Andrade, Coordinator of UNEP CEP”   “It is vital that
Governments adopt a more integrated approach to reducing pollution from
land and marine based sources”.  He noted that the continued partnership
between UNEP and IMO will help to effectively implement the Cartagena
Convention and its three Protocols and to reduce marine contamination.

Meeting Participants are also expected to review recent achievements of the
UNEP CEP to reduce and control marine pollution and to endorse a new work
plan and budget for 2010-2011.

For additional information, please contact:

Christopher Corbin,Programme Officer,
Assessment and Management of Environment Pollution (AMEP),
Regional Co-ordinating Unit, UNEP CEP
Kingston, Jamaica
Telephone: (876) 922-9267 — Fax: (876) 922-9292
www.cep.unep.org; cjc@cep.unep.org;

About UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) –  The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) in 1976 under the framework of its Regional Seas Programme.   It was based on the importance and value of the Wider Caribbean Region’s fragile and vulnerable coastal and marine ecosystems including an abundant and mainly endemic flora and fauna,

A Caribbean Action Plan was adopted by the Caribbean countries and led to the adoption, in 1983, of the only current regional, legally-binding agreement for the protection of the marine environment, the Cartagena Convention.  The Convention and its first Protocol (Oil Spill) entered into force in 1986.

Two other protocols were developed by the region – the Protocols on Special Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) and the Control of Pollution from Land Based Sources (LBS) in 1990 and 1999 respectively.

The SPAW Protocol entered into force in 2000, whereas three ratifying countries are still needed for the LBS Protocol.

The Caribbean Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP-CAR/RCU) serves as the Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention and is based in Kingston, Jamaica.

Each Protocol is served by a Regional Activity Centre.  These Centres are
based in the Netherlands Antilles (Regional Marine Pollution Emergency
Information and Training Center for the Wider Caribbean, RAC/REMPEITC) for
the Oil Spills Protocol, Guadeloupe (RAC/SPAW) for the SPAW Protocol, Cuba
(Centre of Engineering and Environmental Management of Coasts and Bays) and
Trinidad & Tobago (Institute of Marine Affairs) for the LBS Protocol.

*****
Jim Sniffen
Programme Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094/8210
info@nyo.unep.org
www.nyo.unep.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 7th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The SIDS just cannot be told that their consumption is a reason for their suffering from climate change. If their islands go under it is not because of their sins, but because of our way of life – right here in New York, in Beijing and in Brussels, Johannesburg, Tokyo, New Delhi, Sao Paulo and in most developed and developing countries. The Commission on Sustainable Development makes sense for them only if it is ready to talk about climate change. For the SIDS, the avoidance of global warming caused by us is a matter of survival for them. That is why they practically walked out from the G-77 – this because the concept of development – if not sustainable – is poison to the SIDS. On the other side, some of the developing countries still think in terms of “development for us” is an indisputable or inalienable right.

Vanuatu, the Maldives, and Grenada are breaking the UN taboo that keeps Sustainable Development and Climate Change on different tracks, and will burst into the proceedings on Monday May 10th. Will UNSG Ban Ki-moon listen to what they have to say? Will he listen to their advice when picking his new Climate Chief?

We will not be there because the UN DPI is not interested in our coverage. In effect, some three years ago, when Ambassador Angus Friday of Grenada brought me in to this same kind of Press Conference, as the SIDS and AOSIS had at that time, he was reprimanded by UN officials Ahmad Fawzi and Gary Fowley who did not think that coverage has to go beyond the few UN journalists they blessed with their accreditation. Climate change or sustainable development was just a matter for the unruly NGOs they thought. Luckily not all the world goes by censorship rules of Egypt or China, but the success of this kind of rules brought down the UN to its present low relevance and when it comes to reporting on what goes on in this world.

Nevertheless, we bring here the announcement of that Press Conference as interested readers could follow on the webcast, what eventually will be said by the Small Islands, and we will have also material on the SIDS position that we will try to obtain directly from them.

————————

Press Conference on the challenges facing Small Island Developing States
18th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development – 10 May 2010

WHAT:         Commission on Sustainable Development to discuss challenges facing Small Island Developing States

WHO:       The Honorable Sela Molisa, Minister of Finance and Economic Management, Republic of Vanuatu;

H.E. Amjad Abdullah, Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives

H.E. Ambassador Dessima Williams, Permanent Representative, Grenada

WHEN:                 Monday, 10 May 2010 at 1:00 p.m.

WHERE:                 Library Auditorium, United Nations Headquarters

BACKGROUND :

Small Island Developing States are very vulnerable and face unique and special challenges. Their social, economic and natural systems are among the most at risk in the world. The main question being discussed at the current session of the Commission on Sustainable Development is how to move from disaster management towards sustainable development.

The press conference will focus on the special vulnerabilities of SIDS, such as those to climate change and natural disasters. They will also focus on ways to address these challenges through international cooperation efforts, platforms and mechanisms, such as those offered by the five-year review process of the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation.

Leading up to this meeting, one full day (10 May) during this Commission on Sustainable Development will be devoted to discussing preparations and ensuring that the key issues at the heart of the sustainable development challenge of SIDS are addressed.

Live webcast: www.un.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Small economies make Major Economies Forum list

By Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post blog Post Carbon, April 19, 2010.

The Major Economies Forum–the occasional meeting that tries to hash out international climate policy in an informal setting–invited some small economies to attend the session the U.S. hosted Sunday night and Monday.

{The 17 major economies participating in the MEF, launched on March 28, 2009, are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Denmark, in its capacity as the President of the December 2009 Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the United Nations have also been invited to participate in this dialogue – www.MajorEconomiesForum.org}

Colombia, Yemen and Grenada were there, along with the 17 usual attendees and a representative from the United Nations. This amounted to a peace offering, because the U.S. and other industrialized countries came under fire in Copenhagen for cutting deals without an adequate number of representatives from the developing world.

Each of the countries represented a certain constituency: Yemen is the head of the G-77, the group that represents developing nations within the U.N.; Grenada represents small island nations; and Colombia brings the concerns of Latin American countries to the table, though it’s far friendlier to the U.S. than critics such as Bolivia and Ecuador.

Denmark, which chaired last year’s U.N.-sponsored talks, also participated in the session.

Both Deputy National Security Adviser Michael Froman and U.S. special climate envoy Todd Stern said the meeting was helpful, but did not divulge many details on how much progress the delegates made. Indian environment minister Jairam Ramesh and several others had to participate via videoconference because of flight problems stemming from last week’s volcanic eruption in Iceland.

“Today’s conversation was candid and constructive,” Froman said. “There were areas where there was convergence and areas where further work remains to be done.”

Stern said much of the talk focused on the “fast-start” funding rich countries have pledged to give poor ones between this year and 2012 to cope with climate change. The U.S. even handed out a fact sheet detailing its pledge.

“There is an appreciation, really by everybody in the room, that it is important to make good on that commitment,” Stern said of the short term funding.

views.washingtonpost.com/climate-change/post-carbon/2010/04/small_economies_make_mef_list.html

—————

Statement of the Chair of the Leaders’ Representatives of the
Major Economies Forumon Energy and Climate on
Global Partnership Technology Action Plans and Clean Energy Analysis

In July 2009 at L’Aquila, Italy, the Leaders of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) announced a Global Partnership to drive transformational low-carbon, climate-friendly technologies. The Leaders welcomed efforts among interested countries to advance actions on a range of important clean technologies. It was noted that lead countries would develop action plans.

On behalf of the MEF Leaders’ representatives, we are pleased to announce the development of these Technology Action Plans (TAPs), along with an executive summary. The Global Partnership TAPs focus on: Advanced Vehicles; Bioenergy; Carbon Capture, Use, and Storage; Energy Efficiency – Buildings; Energy Efficiency – Industrial Sector; High-Efficiency, Low-Emissions Coal; Marine Energy; Smart Grids; Solar Energy; and Wind Energy.

Leaders also agreed in L’Aquila to dramatically increase and coordinate public sector investments in research, development, and demonstration of transformational clean energy technologies. To help inform this effort, the International Energy Agency developed a preliminary analysis titled, “Global Gaps in Clean Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration (RD&D).”

Following the agreement in L’Aquila and building on these Technology Action Plans and clean energy analysis, efforts can now move toward the consideration of activities to promote technology development, deployment, and transfer. The United States is planning to invite energy ministers and other relevant ministers from MEF countries, as well as other countries actively working to advance climate-friendly technologies under the Global Partnership, to meet and discuss how to promote progress in these areas.

The MEF Technology Action Plans and Executive Summary, and the clean energy analysis are available at: www.majoreconomiesforum.org.

Technology Action Plans:

Executive Summary

Advanced Vehicles

Bioenergy

Carbon Capture, Use & Storage

Cross Cutting R&D

Energy Efficiency – Buildings Sector

Energy Efficiency – Industrial Sector

High-Efficiency, Low-Emissions (HELE) Coal Technologies

Marine Energy

Smart Grids

Solar Energy

Wind Energy

————————

views.washingtonpost.com/climate-change/ is the Washington Post Planet Panel blog to which the  Post Carbon views.washingtonpost.com/climate-… is a staff blog run by Juliet Eilperin.

We recommend these as best informed sources of Washington DC information.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 7th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From Nanette Woonton, Kya Orana from the Pacific:

ISLAND STATES OUTRAGED AT ATTEMPTS TO UNDERMINE COPENHAGEN OUTCOME.

6 November, Barcelona – The 43-member Alliance of Small Island States
(AOSIS) today expressed outrage at attempts this week to steamroll the
worlds most vulnerable countries into accepting a watered down political
agreement at the Copenhagen Climate Summit this December, rather than
internationally legally binding outcomes.

Brushing aside suggestions at this weeks climate talks in Barcelona that
it would be impractical or unrealistic to agree this year on legally
binding instruments for post-2012, AOSIS demanded the immediate
engagement of world leaders to break the deadlock in negotiations, and
urged heads of state and government to come to Copenhagen ready to sign
onto robust and legally binding commitments.

Ambassador Dessima Williams, Permanent Representative of Grenada to the
United Nations and current AOSIS Chair, said Many states put forward
their proposed treaty texts nearly six months ago. There are no
practical obstacles whatsoever. All thats lacking now is the political
will to finish the job. Weak political declarations are not the
solution. Leaders must come to Copenhagen ready to sign on to new
targets under the Kyoto Protocol, and a new broader treaty to bind all
countries.

It is widely accepted that only legally binding commitments are
sufficient to seal the deal on deep emission cuts and the finance
commitments necessary to protect those already suffering the early
impacts. For most states, legally binding outcomes are a prerequisite
for a new multilateral deal on climate change.

AOSIS applauded UK Prime Minister Gordon Browns recent promise to attend
the climate talks in Copenhagen, and today welcomed similar calls to
world leaders from Brazilian President Lula da Silva and German
Chancellor Angela Merkel late yesterday. Confirming her own Prime
Ministers attendance in Copenhagen, Ambassador Williams said With just
four weeks to go before Copenhagen, it is high time to set aside narrow
national interests and focus on saving the planet from the
fast-approaching climate catastrophe.

Small island nations, joined by the Group of Least Developed Countries
and other vulnerable nations more than 80 in total continue to call for
global warming to be limited to well below 1.5C above pre-industrial
temperatures.

Large polluters have indicated a preference for a 2C limit, but recent
science indicates that the higher limit would threaten the existence of
a number of low-lying island states, and cause suffering, loss of life
and irreparable damage to the worlds coral reefs.

Contact

Dr Albert Binger
Permanent Mission of Grenada to the United Nations
Email:yengar@hotmail.com <mailto:yengar@hotmail.com>

###

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

WIP on our website means WORK (WRITING) IN PROGRESS – or simply unfinished article. When finished the WIP will be taken off but the article will stay in place without the UPDATED designation. Nevertheless, theses introductory lines will remain as a reminder that the article had a long birth.

***

The meeting, August 15, 2008 was chaired by the Ambassador For Palau. Present were also the Ambassadors from Nauru and from Fiji. Many other Missions were represented – some of these missions have representatives on the working committee. Involved are also some of the active NGOs.

At present the sponsors of a resolution to be brought before the UN General Assembly are 11 from among the 14 Pacific Small Island Developing States – Fiji, Marshall Islands, The Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu; the Maldives and Seychelles from non-Pacific SIDS; Canada, the Philippines from among larger States. But these 15 States will pick up many more co-sponsors. Mentioned were Turkey, the EU, Austria and Iceland that have expressed their eagerness to join. There is no opposition we were told – but only some hesitation because it is seen as a new approach to the problem of the humanitarian impact of climate change that goes on already – this while in major UN institutions the debate has not led yet to action. The inhabitants of the small islands of the Pacific are the first to lose their habitat – and what we see is the eradication of UN Member States by this predictable catastrophe.

On our website we announced this encounter between the proponents of the resolution and the NGOs:

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 15th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)We also pointed out the topically relevant event at the Lincoln Center’s “Mostly Mozart Festival” when Lemi Ponifasio’s REQUIEM had its two evenings before a New York audience.The history of this special effort by the Pacific SIDS started on February 15, 2008, in a speech by Ambassador Stuart Beck of Palau, before the UN General Assembly:www.palauun.org/news_archive.cfm?news_id=189Palau Calls for Security Council Action to Protect Island Nations From Sea-Level Rise.

NEW YORK, NY,  www.islandsfirst.org February 15, 2008 — Addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations at the High Level Debate on Climate Change, H.E. Stuart Beck, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Palau, citing the “life or death” nature of sea-level rise for the world’s island nations, urged the Security Council to utilize its powers under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to address this threat to member states by imposing mandatory greenhouse gas emission standards on all member states, and utilizing the power to sanction, if necessary, to encourage compliance with such standards.

He said:
“The waters continue to rise in Palau, and everywhere else…Though this litany of disasters has become well known in these halls, no action with remedial consequences has been taken…We take this opportunity to respectfully call upon the Security Council to react to the threat which we describe. Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?”

States reacted swiftly to the statement. This week, Ambassadors are meeting in New York to draft a General Assembly Resolution requesting Security Council intervention to prevent an aggravation of the climate change situation caused by greenhouse gas emissions by states. Pacific Island states will be in the forefront of the effort, since they are both the most vulnerable states, and amongst the least responsible for the problem.

Last year, the Security Council debated the security implications of climate change. Its then President, Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett of the United Kingdom, affirmed that climate change is a threat to “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”. Chapter VII of the UN Charter conveys to the Security Council the necessary tools to address the problem, as it has done so in recent years in connection with terrorism and HIV/AIDS. No other international body has the power to mandate change in an effort to save the threatened island cultures of the world.

The full text of Ambassador Beck’s remarks at the UN Climate Change debate is as follows:

“Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, friends:

The waters continue to rise in Palau, and everywhere else. Salinization of fresh water and formerly productive lands continues apace. The reefs, the foundation of our food chain, experience periodic bleaching and death. Throughout the Pacific, sea level rise has not only generated plans for the relocation of populations, but such relocations are actually in progress. Though this litany of disasters has become well known in these halls, no action with remedial consequences has been taken. Larger countries can build dikes, and move to higher ground. This is not feasible for the small island states who must simply stand by and watch their cultures vanish.

Is the United Nations simply powerless to act in the face of this threat to the very existence of many of its member states? We suggest that it is not.

Last April, under the Presidency of the United Kingdom, the Security Council took up the issue of climate change. At that time, while there were some expressions of discomfort with the venue of the debate, a discomfort which we decidedly did not share, there was general agreement with the notion expressed by the President of the Security Council, UK Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett that climate change is a threat to “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”.

Islands are not the only countries whose existence is threatened. Ambassador Kaire Mbuende of Namibia characterized climate change as a ” a matter of life or death” for his country, observing that ” the developing countries in particular, have been subjected to what could be described as low-intensity biological or chemical warfare. Greenhouse gases are slowly destroying plants, animals and human beings.”

Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum at last years Security Council debate Ambassador Robert Aisi, of Papua New Guinea observed that climate change is no less a threat to small island states than the dangers of guns and bombs to larger countries. Pacific Island countries are likely to face massive dislocations of people, similar to flows sparked by conflict, and such circumstances will generate as much resentment, hatred and alienation as any refugee crisis.

Ambassador Aisi observed then, and we reiterate now, that it is the Security Council which is charged with protecting human rights and the integrity and security of States. The Security Council is empowered to make decisions on behalf of all States to take action on threats to international peace and security. While we applaud the efforts of the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary General to shine a light on this awful problem, we take this opportunity to respectfully call upon the Security Council to react to the threat which we describe. Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?

Under Article 39 of the Charter, the Security Council “shall determine the existence of any threat to peace…and shall make recommendations…to maintain or restore international peace or security”. We call upon the Security Council to do this in the context of climate change.

Under Articles 40 and 41 of the Charter, it is the obligation of the Security Council to “prevent an aggravation of the situation” and to devise appropriate measures to be carried out by all States to do this. While we Small Island states do not have all the answers, we are not unmindful of the scientific certainty that excessive greenhouse gas emissions by states are the cause of this threat to international security and the existence of our countries. We therefore suggest that the Security Council should consider the imposition of mandatory emission caps on all states and use its power to sanction in order to encourage compliance.

We further propose that under Article 11 of the Charter, the General Assembly is empowered to call to the attention of the Security Council “situations which are likely to endanger international peace and security” and, at the appropriate time, we will call upon this body to do so. In the event that the General Assembly chooses not to avail itself of this right, then we will call upon the countries whose very existence is threatened to utilize Article 34 of the Charter, which empowers each Member State to bring to the attention of the Security Council any issue which “might lead to international friction”.
I think we can all agree that international friction is a mild term to describe the terrible plight in which the island nations now find themselves.

Our Charter provides a way forward. Our Security Council has the wisdom and the tools to address this situation. And while we debate, the waters are rising.

Thank you.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 29th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Opinion: Polar Race.
Monday 28 July 2008
by: Guy Taillefer, Le Devoir

 www.truthout.org/article/polar-ra…

Guy Taillefer argues in Le Devoir that the US Geological Survey’s most recent evaluation of the polar depths – that they contain 412 billion barrels of oil, or a third of the planet’s proven reserves – will put additional strain on the already-fragile international understandings with respect to polar sovereignty and development.

The North Pole. Guy Taillefer writes, “Northern governments and oil companies have never salivated to quite the same extent over the Arctic, which becomes all the more hospitable to them as the ice melts … If one were a cynic, one would say that in this instance it is altogether to Ottawa’s advantage to drag its feet in the fight against greenhouse gases …”
Four hundred and twelve billion barrels of oil. A third of the planet’s proven reserves. That’s what the depths of the Arctic contain, according to the US Geological Survey’s most recent evaluation. One may count on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to take advantage of the opportunity to reassert Canada’s “unquestionable” sovereignty over the North – and to reduce the debate over the development of the circumpolar world to a war of flags and icebreakers.
Last Wednesday, after four years of research, the US Geological Survey, the American scientific agency specialized in hydrocarbons, delivered the first exhaustive estimate of potential oil and gas situated north of the polar circle: 90 billion barrels of crude, three times as much natural gas, 20 percent of the probable global reserves of liquefied natural gas…. The news is guaranteed to have a strong impact, given the present context of tightening energy supplies, surging prices at the pump, and the extraordinary growth of demand in developing countries. Northern governments and oil companies have never salivated to quite the same extent over the Arctic, which becomes all the more hospitable to them as the ice melts…. If one were a cynic, one would say that in this instance it is altogether to Ottawa’s advantage to drag its feet in the fight against greenhouse gases.
Moreover, quite by chance, the US Geological Survey estimates were made public one year, almost to the day, after two little Russian sailors dove to a depth of 4,000 meters in the beginning of August 2007 to plant a flag on the North Pole. This striking gesture – without any legal effect, however – relaunched the debate on the subject of sovereignty over the Arctic in great style.

Cut to the quick, then-Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay decreed that the region Russia coveted was “unquestionably” Canadian.
Unquestionably? That remains to be seen. Experts from the UN, guarantors of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, will say between now and 2013 which between Ottawa and Moscow has the better-founded pretensions from a scientific perspective. At the moment, however, it seems that Russia is better placed to prove geologically that the Lomonossov Dorsal, a chain of undersea mountains that cross the Arctic, is the prolongation of the Russian continental plateau, and not of the Canadian plateau.
Politicians, unfortunately, don’t bother much with such scientific details in their communications with the electorate, preferring to play a nationalistic rhetoric that is easily digested. So the bad scenario would be that, in this race for the summit of the world, the sharing of the Arctic will be less the result of a UN judgment and multinational dialogue than of power struggles between the five countries involved – Canada, Russia, the United States, Denmark, and Norway. That scenario is altogether plausible.
“The Canadian Arctic is at the heart of our national identity,” Stephen Harper declared last year. He has announced, among other military measures in the last year, an investment of $7 billion over 25 years for buying naval patrol boats. A depressing prospect: that Canada seeks to take on its northern identity is laudable, that it proposes to get there by emphasizing military defense to the detriment of social, ecological and diplomatic initiatives, is much less so. It is difficult in any case to imagine that pugnacious Prime Minister-President Vladimir Putin will allow himself to be intimidated.
Nonetheless, the Harper way remains very questionable, in that it is a thousand leagues from the Canadian Way – based on dialogue and cooperation. Still, the most recent decades have demonstrated that it’s by balancing its own interests with those of its circumpolar neighbors – and not by sticking out its chest – that Canada has succeeded in preserving its Arctic sovereignty.
Moreover, in order to calm tensions, the five held a big meeting last spring, which ended in the participants’ commitment to settle any litigious question “in an orderly way,” to “strengthen their cooperation based on mutual trust and transparency” and to “assure the protection and preservation of the fragile marine environment of the Arctic Ocean.” Empty phrases? The future will show how these beautiful promises that we’d like to see kept will withstand the lust for 412 billion barrels of oil.
———————

We posted several days ago: “Reuters Reports That China Is Planting its Flag in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions. Actually they started already at least in 2003, so this is not just a reaction to the Russian Flag-posting of August 2007.”

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 27th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz ( PJ at SustainabiliTank.com)

So, face up to it – China is also in this game. And why should not Nauru or Grenada also be entiled to some of the profits? if they cannot afford the expense of drilling – bet you Brazil or Japan, even Korea and India, and who knows who else – can!

OK – Now Let Us Sit Down And Talk. For Once We Are Behind China and Expect The Dragon To Stand Its Ground.

a1_072908f.jpg
The North Pole. Guy Taillefer writes, “Northern governments and oil companies have never salivated to quite the same extent over the Arctic, which becomes all the more hospitable to them as the ice melts … If one were a cynic, one would say that in this instance it is altogether to Ottawa’s advantage to drag its feet in the fight against greenhouse gases …” (Photo: NASA GSFC Direct Readout Laboratory / Allen Lunsford).

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 18th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

may-15004.gif

May 15, 2008 was the main Hooray of CSD 16. In Conference Room 4 was going on “at High Level” – Deputy Assistant Secretary of a Ministry, and Second Secretary of a Permanent Mission to the UN – the “Thematic Cluster for the implementation cycle 2008/2009 – review session. But outside that room there were so many true high level parallel side events, CSD Related Events, Learning Center Sessions, and Other UN Activities, that trying to cover that whole gamut of events, I had to walk in and out – choosing particular presentations, and obviously loosing out on much of the discussion.

I will proceed now to try to give some proof why I still think that the UN CSD has to be saved – rather then walked away from with disgust.

First, under the category of Other UN Activities, during the UN lunch break 1:15 – 2:30 pm, in conference room 7, UNCTAD, with invitation to everybody interested, this including the CSD participants, had a “
Briefing on the outcome of the 12-th session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development that was held in Accra, Ghana, April 20-25, 2008.

I picked up the documents, listened to the opening, and when the first speaker started to show the touristic markets of Accra, I left. I had later the chance to find out that someone connected to UNCTAD did in effect not know the name of one of the first that did run that organization. I am attaching here the “Accra Declaration” and note that UNCTAD, that was created as an antidote to the World Trade Organization, has worked itself into a corner of irrelevance. My belief is that it should be merged into the CSD as trade is definitely part of development, and it   has thus to be pursued in the context of Sustainable Development. Again, if the CSD is aching but needed, it can be improved eventually if less outside organizations are let to run around lose – turning themselves into touristic experiences.

unctad001.gif

Also a general UN event held during the lunch-time UN recess:

unctad005.gif

This event was sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the Philippines as per UN General Assembly Resolution 55/282.
Actually, the organizers had invited Mr. Kiyotaka Akasaka, the USG for Communications and Public Information. Seemingly busy he delegated participation to a much more eager and UN troubleshooter Mr. Eric Falt who has been brought in this year – as Director of the Outreach Division of DPI, to help save the UN from itself.

This event will have a follow up of sorts on May 21, 2008 with the help of the SUSTAINABLE FUTURE CAMPAIGN www.sustainablefuturecampaign.com and the UN Youth and Student Association of Austria www.afa.at
We will mention here that youth is a CSD “Major Group” and 14 delegations prided themselves with having had a youth representative at CSD 16. The youth had also a desk in the corridor and did their naive best to try to convince those present at the CSD meetings to take their task seriously.

may-15001.gif

But from all of these activities, as said, the most impressive were the four parallel events of the “Side Events” to   CSD 16 that were held during the lunch-time intermission:

may-15005.gif

===================

The event in Conference room 2 was organized by the ICLEI of the EU showing off an integrated sustainable development program in the “County of the South East” of the Spanish Island of Gran Canaria (Gran Canaria Sur Este, Spain, that includes the communities of – Aguimes, Ingenio, and Santa Lucia.   www. surestegc.org The event’s   shepherd was   Mr. Jan-Gustav Strandenaes, Senior Policy Advisor, The Northern Alliance for Sustainability, (ANPED}, The Stakeholder Forum, and the Partnerships for Sustainable Development.

may-15006.gif

may-15009.gif

===========================

The event in Conference Room 4 was a high powered technical event organized by Greece and involving the European Commission’s Mediterranean initiative with special emphasis on the Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources in the region. The event, besides the EU, also involved the Arab Network for Environment and Development (RAED) a high official of Tunisia, and the leader on Environment issues for the UN Economic Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA) thus bypassing an Israeli participation. This was unfortunate because in other Mediterranean fora there is a very positive history of cooperation between Israel and the Arab States – including in fora organized by the EU under Spanish leadership. The unfortunate part is in the participation of ESCWA that is located in Damascus, even though in the past, in private discussion, upon a question about the need of regional cooperation on subject of Middle East environment, I remember that Dr. Hosni Khordagui told me that he cooperates regularly with Israeli scientists.

Originally, invited were also a representative of Lebanon, the African Development Bank, and the World Bank – but they did not confirm their participation and did not show up.may-15010.gif

Professor Scoulos pointed out that ” some non-EU members of the group have yet to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, others have difficulties in implementing it correctly.” Recently the Mediterranean countries have adopted the Almeria Declaration to the Barcelona Convention of 2005, identifying a number of measures and common actions on climate change.

He pointed out that the Mediterranean area can expect by 2100 a temperature increase of 2.2 -5.1 degrees C and total precipitation drop of 4-27% In the Middle East there will be competition over water resources. There will be migratory pressure from South and East.   www.mio-ecsde.org and www.gwpmed.org

=============================

The Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium event organized by the Norway, dealt with our need to change the ways of economic development, what technically is called MITIGATION of climate change – and the need for ADAPTATION in order to handle disasters caused by climate change. This was the downside of climate change – the recognition that we have done very little to avoid it and very little to help those most threatened.

may-15011.gif

With opening statements from the Norwegian highest ranking UNDP official, Director of the Bureau for Development Policy, Mr. Olav Kjorven, and the Panel Chair, Ambassador Mona Elisabeth Brother from the Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs foreign aid programs, and the Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN (Ambassador Carsten Staur) it was for the Permanent Representatives of Haiti (Ambassador Leo Merores, President of ECOSOC) and Grenada (Ambassador Angus Friday, Chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States – AOSIS) to state the obvious facts that it is the weakest States that are the first to suffer from the effects of climte change.

The Heads of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery at UNDP, The new office of Climate Change effects established by UNSG Ban Ki-moon, and Field Support team of the Red Cross (IFRC) were there to point out the Human and Security problems that will be resulting from climate change induced massive migration. There is very little heartening that can be expected with such visions. Norway is there to worn us with the need to prepare to act.

===============================

The fourth among the “Side Events” during the lunch time break of May 15th, – held in room 6 – the smallest of the rooms – was probably the most important from all the four important events. This was the reason we decided on our title for this posting, and as we will eventually see from the reporting dealing with the following day’s closing of CSD 16, it will become clear that I do regard the penultimate day to be of higher value,   that might show more lasting effect.

may-15012.gif

The two main presentations were by Ahim Steiner and Michel Jarraud, but to us the special thing was the position taken by Josue Dione. He came out saying that for food security Africa has to develop it by themselves, and he gave the example of Malawi who did the right thing and now are not short of food anymore, In effect they do export food now to neighboring countries. The point is that Africa must stop complaining and start digging themselves out from hunger by themselves. Sure it needs help but Africa has to do the work.

Among the material I picked up here was a set of data collected by the UN as Energy Indicators for Sustainable Development for: Brazil, Cuba. Lithuania, Mexico, Russia, Slovakia, Thailand.

And two recent volumes published by Springer which I intend to review separately:

a – “Climate and Land Degradation” edited by Mannava V.K.Sivakumar and Ndegwa Ndiang’ui.

b – “Managing Weather and Climate Risks in Agriculture” edited by Mannava V.K. Sivakumar and Raymond P. Motha.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 7th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Back from the Bangkok meeting, Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, will be passing through New York on Thursday April 10, 2008.

He will be summing up before the ten members of world media, a fracture of the 90 members of the UN Correspondence Association, that will be present in the building at that time, the outcomes of last week’s United Nations Climate Change Talks in Bangkok, the first major UN climate change meeting this year.

The Press Briefing will be held in room S-226 at the UN headquarters in New York – the second floor, the UN Secretariat Building where floors 2-4 are partly turned over to the press accredited with the UN.   The briefing will take place on: Thursday,   April 10, 2008, at 12:30 p.m.
In Bangkok, delegates from 162 countries gathered to map out their work programme leading to a long-term international climate change agreement in Copenhagen by the end of 2009. The Bangkok meeting had its hot and cold times; the opinions about the results verry vary. The UN declared roses, but others see only positioning towards the precipice. We trust that Mr. de Boer wants to present his point of view, and he needs thus more attention then the dried up UN press corps is allowed to provide him with.
The briefing will be webcast and in Manhattan you can watch it on UNTV, Channel 78.

Mr. de Boer is also available for interviews and media opportunities – the problem is that the UN Department of Information Control allows him to do all of this only in relation to those the Department selected for accreditation to the UN. We know that Mr. de Boer, in order to succeed in his job, must have wider access to the public. The fact that UNFCCC will allow for a webcast, and UNTV, unless it cuts of the program because of some activity at the UN Security Council that is deemed by DPI as more important – is also a possibility for some to get his input. But this does not make for a vibrant press coverage. Media is about asking questions – not just a conduit of information from the UN tub to the gasping mouth of the uninformed. Our website is full of examples of what I am talking here about. The last time we wrote about this it was in the context of the Japanese preparations for media contact at this year’s upcoming G8, that by the way, will have a lot to do also with our interest in climate change policy.

In short – what Mr. de Boer needs to do is to have a press conference also outside the UN confines – a place where every correspondent active in New York, every blogger interested in the subject, can come – listen, ask, be informed, and tell then his readers, listeners, watchers – this because the subject of climate change is of interest not just to the governing elites of 192 UN Member Governments, but to every Joe and Jane who will be in the end those that pay for inaction of the few – and watch what I am saying – it is these folks that need the information in order to help them impact policy.

Just watch this simple fact: The New York Times has an excellent experienced scientist/blogger – Andy Revkin – who covers climate change. But when there will be the April 10th briefing, Mr. de Boer will be lucky to see in the room Mr. Warren Hoge, who has the regular UN beat for the paper. Andy willl not be there, because he is not the regular NYT UN accredited reporter. So the readers of the NYT will at best find a note that Mr. Boer made a presentation in New York, and they will have lost the chance to find out what could have been a news breaking answer to a good question from Andy. Needless to say that less famous bloggers have no back up whatsoever – and today news are spread by the blogs!
Background:
At the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali last year, countries agreed to step up international efforts to combat climate change and to launch formal negotiations to come to an agreement on long-term cooperative action. They decided on the ambitious time-line to conclude negotiations by the end of 2009 and identified the main elements for discussion, including a shared-long term vision and enhanced action on adaptation, mitigation, technology and finance. The new working group that was mandated in Bali to lead the work has met in Bangkok for the first time with the intention of spelling out the steps needed to come to the envisaged agreement.

Furthermore, talks in Bangkok advanced work on the rules through which emission reduction targets of developed countries can be met.   This work was taken up by an already existing working group in which discussions take place on further commitments for Annex I countries under the Kyoto Protocol.

The Problem is how and when will the developing countries join above effort. Clearly, they cannot be asked to carry the brunt of the responsibility even though they are the growing new polluters on the bloc. On the other hand, governments like the US, Japan, Germany, these days say that there is a need to expand the responsibility also to the major economies of the front-runners among the now developing countries – China, India, Brazil. But what about the Small Island States, The Least Developed States, the Naurus and Bangladesh of this world? They stood up to speak for themselves at Bangkok because of the long existing truth that the G77 does not back their needs. After all, it is not the economic loss of the oil exporters that the submerging islands should be asked to worry about.

Bubbles float all over the UN – plain talk is what is needed. I know that Mr. de Boer knows that and we want the opportunity to ask him direct questions that are not monitored by the UN Secretariat political appointees.Will Mr. de Boer stand up to this challenge and have please a press briefing outside the UN?

How does Mr. de Boer expect to handle in December 2008, at this Conference of the Parties to UNFCCC and the meeting of the members to the Kyoto Protocol, when in November there was a Presidential election in the US   and the man in the White House has really just a few more days – not the years needed for him to be a serious player in the negotiations?

Above is a question that will not be asked at the UN – But for the Planet’s sake – there must be somewhere space to allow such a question – or really lots of travel just produces lots of emissions.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 18th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Imagine Everyone Was Equal, in Emissions.
By Andrew C. Revkin, on www.DotEarth.com, February 15, 2008.


In a three-day summit at the United Nations on global warming this week, a parade of representatives from developing countries expressed growing discontent with the lack of action by rich ones to start curbing emissions of greenhouse gases that, in the long run, are likely to exact the most harm in the world’s poorest places.

India, China, and other poorer countries with fast-growing economies said they were ready to limit their own emissions, keeping them lower, on a per person basis, than those in the already-industrialized North. This Associated Press story conveyed their stance:

Chinese envoy Yu Qingtai told The Associated Press that China would try to keep a lid on its growing gas emissions when compared to U.S. per capita emissions.

“I cannot accept the argument that I, as a Chinese, am only entitled legally to one quarter of what you are entitled to,” he told AP. But, he added, “being equal to an American when it comes to per capita emissions would be a nightmare for the Chinese.”

So that keeps the ball in the court of the industrial powers. One of the grand challenges in the climate debate remains clarifying the different responsibilities of countries that have already built their prosperity and quality of life on coal (and to a smaller extent oil) and those on the verge of doing so.

* * *

On a per-person basis, responsibility for greenhouse-gas emissions is no contest. The rich dominate. Right now, the average United States citizen generates about 20 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year through the use of electricity, heating and cooling, vehicles, manufacturing and the other energy-intensive facets of modern daily life. For various reasons, Japan and Europe have far lower emissions, with Japan and Britain, for example, just under 10 tons per person per year. In China, the number is about 3.8 tons. In India, it’s 1.2 tons per person.

* * *

This gets back to a central question here on Dot Earth — how much is too much?

Some libertarian critics have implied I’m supporting a Draconian push back to sweaters and bicycles (see Ron Bailey’s recent critique of my “Unnecessary Things” post). [UPDATE: Draconian by some of their standards, not mine.] Some environmentalists say I’m too gloomy about the chances that humanity will resolve to share responsibility for limiting climate risks.

In the end, my goal is to be an equal-opportunity explorer of ideas as various as the need for more global governance to protect the commons, and the free-market mantra, that all will be well if people are left to pursue prosperity and comfort by whatever means they can afford.

But getting back to that baseline question, if everyone gets to emulate the established emitters, what will the atmosphere be like?

* * *

I did a brief thought experiment last night. Where would carbon dioxide emissions be if everyone on Earth was using fossil fuels at the same pace, per capita, as the United States is now? Or let’s take, say Britain, as a kind of middle case, presuming that the United States will find ways to trim its emissions (a 50-percent cut taking us to Europe’s level).
It’s simple multiplication. Right now, the sum of global emissions of carbon dioxide by a world population of 6.6 billion, very-unequal humans, is about 29 billion tons a year.

If everyone was emitting at the British level, it’d be 66 billion tons a year.

Okay, let’s try the United States. That’d be 132 billion tons of carbon dioxide at the US level – released into the atmosphere each year, if everyone on Earth had an equal carbon footing.

So clearly something has to give, presuming the countries of the world are serious about accepting the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which they all did, ostensibly, last year).

Vaclav Smil, a reality-based energy expert at the University of Manitoba who has studied this issue long and hard, said the following in an email when I was working on my 2006 story on declining research on new energy options:
“We have the know-how to consume, in rich countries, only half as much [energy] as we do without lowering our REAL quality of life (REAL does not include unlimited SUVs, 15,000 sq. ft. custom-built houses etc, etc), and to provide everybody, even in the most desperate parts of Africa with enough for a decent life. But we prefer to waste enormously, and Africans prefer endless bouts of civil wars. This is not primarily a technical problem…. This is primarily an ethical, moral problem (i.e., we have only one biosphere).”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 17th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

in www.sustainabilitank.info/categor… we made the following announcement and we also posted the program of that very unusual event that used the UN as a stage:

February 14, 2007, Investor Summit On Climate Change to Follow Upon the UNGA President’s Summit at the UN in New York City.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2008, by Pincas Jawetz ( PJ at SustainabiliTank.com)

“The following meeting represents stock-holder power of about $30 trillion, as per a statement made today by Fiona Harwey of the London Financial Times, at the meeting in the UN Trusteeship Council Auditorium at the UN Headquarters. The President of the UN General Assembly, Dr. Srgjan Kerim, called for this meeting in order to build synergism that helps further progress on the road from Bali to Copenhagen. The idea is that business, NGOs, academia and media are needed in this transition – not only the government representatives. Now business will be the first to pick up, already this Thursday, that is after the Monday-Wednesday official meetings. Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers Holdings, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse Group, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs Group, UBS, Bank of America, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Caterpillar, DuPont, are part of this exercise.

Today, February 11, 2008, at a press conference, Sir Richard Branson called for the creation of a WAR ROOM to fight global warming/climate change. The enemy in this war is the fossil carbon being pushed into the atmosphere. He, and later Mr. Yvo de Boer of the UNFCCC refused to put their finger on three countries that refuse to do something positive about the issue, but suggested that an international system must be put in place with incentives for business to start moving in the right direction. Sir Richard even said that he has already 5 people in his mind that could head this War Room – Al Gore is one of them. This will be people with business savvy and he expects to put in the leaders hand half a billion dollars as a stimulant. There was a lot of talk of business that moved away from ignorance and embraced now awareness – and this is not just “greenwash.” OK – the Thursday meeting is now just-in-time to prove the point.”

We said that we expected to be there and report on the proceedings – we were thanks to an invitation from the organizers – and now we will try to put forward some of our impressions. We did not cover the February 11-13, 2008 UN exercise from inside the UN, this because of the UN Department of Communications and Public Information long-standing position that our writing truth about sustainable development and climate change issues is not to the liking of some of these employees of the UN.

Ceres (pronounced “series”) is a national network of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies and investors to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change. Formerly the Valdez Principles, now called the CERES Principles for environmentally sound business practices were drafted by a Coalition of environmental organizations, environmentally friendly businesses, and labor unions.

Things are confusing a bit. The Letters CERES also stand for California Environmental Resources Evaluation System headquartered in Sacramento California. But the CERES of our meeting has its headquarters now in Boston Massachusetts, though it started out as an organization that was tied together by the San Francisco headquartered Sierra Club and other San Francisco based organizations. Please see www.ceres.org.

In our case here Ceres or CERES stands for – Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies and we know that some might get confused. We will thus use plain CERES and expect that the content of the message fits for both meanings.

The CERES Principles:

In the fall of 1989, Ceres announced the creation of these Principles, a ten-point code of corporate environmental conduct to be publicly endorsed by companies as an environmental mission statement or ethic. Imbedded in that code of conduct was the mandate to report periodically on environmental management structures and results. In 1993, following lengthy negotiations, Sunoco became the first Fortune 500 company to endorse the Ceres Principles. Today, the tide has changed dramatically. Over 50 companies have endorsed the Ceres Principles including 13 Fortune 500 firms that have adopted their own equivalent environmental principles.

By endorsing the Ceres Principles or adopting their own comparable code, companies not only formalize their dedication to environmental awareness and accountability, but also actively commit to an ongoing process of continuous improvement, dialogue and comprehensive, systematic public reporting. Endorsing Ceres companies have access to the diverse array of experts in our network, from investors to policy analysts, energy experts, scientists, and others.

The Ceres Principles are:

1. Protection of the Biosphere
We will reduce and make continual progress toward eliminating the release of any substance that may cause environmental damage to the air, water, or the earth or its inhabitants. We will safeguard all habitats affected by our operations and will protect open spaces and wilderness, while preserving biodiversity.

2. Sustainable Use of Natural Resources
We will make sustainable use of renewable natural resources, such as water, soils and forests. We will conserve non-renewable natural resources through efficient use and careful planning.

3. Reduction and Disposal of Wastes
We will reduce and where possible eliminate waste through source reduction and recycling. All waste will be handled and disposed of through safe and responsible methods.

4. Energy Conservation
We will conserve energy and improve the energy efficiency of our internal operations and of the goods and services we sell. We will make every effort to use environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources.

5. Risk Reduction
We will strive to minimize the environmental, health and safety risks to our employees and the communities in which we operate through safe technologies, facilities and operating procedures, and by being prepared for emergencies.

6. Safe Products and Services
We will reduce and where possible eliminate the use, manufacture or sale of products and services that cause environmental damage or health or safety hazards. We will inform our customers of the environmental impacts of our products or services and try to correct unsafe use.

7. Environmental Restoration
We will promptly and responsibly correct conditions we have caused that endanger health, safety or the environment. To the extent feasible, we will redress injuries we have caused to persons or damage we have caused to the environment and will restore the environment.

8. Informing the Public
We will inform in a timely manner everyone who may be affected by conditions caused by our company that might endanger health, safety or the environment. We will regularly seek advice and counsel through dialogue with persons in communities near our facilities. We will not take any action against employees for reporting dangerous incidents or conditions to management or to appropriate authorities.

9. Management Commitment
We will implement these Principles and sustain a process that ensures that the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer are fully informed about pertinent environmental issues and are fully responsible for environmental policy. In selecting our Board of Directors, we will consider demonstrated environmental commitment as a factor.

10. Audits and Reports
We will conduct an annual self-evaluation of our progress in implementing these Principles. We will support the timely creation of generally accepted environmental audit procedures. We will annually complete the Ceres Report, which will be made available to the public.


CERES’ Mission:
Integrating sustainability into capital markets for the health of the planet and its people.

Accomplishments: At its founding in 1989, Ceres introduced a bold new vision to the business community. That vision is of a world in which business and capital markets promote the well being of human society and the protection of the earth’s biological systems and resources. Ceres advances its vision by bringing investors, environmental groups and other stakeholder together to encourage companies and capital markets to incorporate environmental and social challenges into their day-to-day decision-making. By leveraging the collective power of investors and other key stakeholders, Ceres has achieved dramatic results, among those:

  • Recipient of numerous awards including the 2006 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and the Fast Company/Monitor Group Social Capitalist award, and was named one of the 100 most influential players in the corporate governance movement by Directorship Magazine.
  • Launched the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), now the de-facto international standard used by over 1200 companies for corporate reporting on environmental, social and economic performance.
  • Joined with Yale University and insurance firm, Marsh, to create the Sustainable Governance Forum on Climate Risk, a unique leadership development program designed to help corporate leaders address the problem of climate risk.
  • Spearheaded dozens of breakthrough achievements with companies, such as Nike becoming the first global apparel company to disclose the names and locations of its 700-plus contract factories worldwide in 2005, Dell Computer agreeing in June 2006 to support national legislation to require electronic product recycling and “takeback” programs, and Bank of America announcing a $20 billion initiative in March 2007 to support the growth of environmentally sustainable business activity to address global climate change.
  • Brought together 500 investor, Wall Street and corporate leaders at the United Nations in 2005 to address the growing financial risks and opportunities posed by climate change. The ground-breaking meeting included 28 U.S. and European investors approving a 10-point action plan seeking stronger analysis, disclosure and action from companies, Wall Street and regulators on climate change. Another investor summit will be held in February 2008.
  • Launched and directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a group of more than 60 leading institutional investors with collective assets of over $4 trillion.
  • Published cutting-edge research reports to help investors better understand the implications of global warming. Among those: a January 2007 report, Climate Risk Disclosure by the S&P 500, an August 2006 report, From Risk to Opportunity: How Insurers Can Proactively and Profitably Manage Climate Change, and a March 2006 report, Corporate Governance and Climate Change: Making the Connection, which analyzed how 100 of the world’s largest companies are addressing the business challenges from climate change.

After the February 14, 2008 event at the UN – Ceres Press people provided the following press release:

Peyton Fleming, Ceres, 617-733-6660,  fleming at ceres.org
Patricia Charles, UN Foundation, 440-506-9564,  patricia at unfoundation.org

U.S. and European Investors Tackle Climate Change Risks and Opportunities. Investors Make Bold Commitments to Energy Efficiency and Other Clean Technologies, Require Closer Scrutiny of Carbon-Intensive Investments

NEW YORK CITY, NY — Nearly 50 leading U.S. and European institutional investors managing over $1.75 trillion in assets today released a climate change action plan at the United Nations that will boost investments in energy efficiency and clean energy technologies and require tougher scrutiny of carbon-intensive investments that may pose long-term financial risks. Additionally, European investors managing $6.5 trillion in assets supported the action plan “in principle.”

The action plan was announced at the Investor Summit on Climate Risk, hosted by Ceres and the United Nations Foundation, attended by more than 450 investor, financial and corporate leaders from around the world. Signatories to the action plan include state treasurers, controllers, pension fund leaders, asset managers and foundations from London, California, Florida, New York, Connecticut, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and a dozen other states.

“Our goal is to transform the world economy into one that is clean, green and sustainable,” said California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, one of the 49 signatories, who serves on the board of the leading pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, which collectively manage more than $500 billion in assets. “California’s public pension funds have already committed over $800 million to this effort through investments in environmental technology. And they are actively pressing the corporate world to fully assess and disclose the risks and opportunities climate change presents for their business operations.”

“With today’s action plan, investors are advancing the need for closer scrutiny of investments to include the financial risks of climate change, while also harnessing emerging opportunities,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink. “Florida is on board as the first State Treasury in the nation to require fund managers to disclose how they incorporate climate risk into prudent investment management.”

Noting that climate change presents both material risks and significant opportunities, the investors pledged to collectively invest $10 billion in clean technology opportunities over the next two years and to incorporate green building standards — such as LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design) and Energy Star — into their investment decisions. Calling energy efficiency “one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to significantly reduce emissions and improve the bottom line,” the investor group pledged to reduce energy use in core real estate holdings by 20 percent over the next three years.

A new McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, also announced at the investor summit, concludes that major investments over the next decade in energy productivity — the level of output achieved from the energy consumed — could earn double-digit rates of return for investors. Such investments would cut global energy demand growth by at least half and achieve up to half of the reductions of greenhouse gas emissions that experts say is required to prevent the world’s mean temperature from increasing by more than 2 degrees centigrade.

The action plan calls for a series of specific steps by investors to address the growing risks and opportunities from climate change. The nine goals include policy actions aimed at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Congress, engagement with companies to improve their disclosure and responses to climate change, minimizing climate investment risks and maximizing climate-related investment opportunities. Among the investor commitments:

  • Support clean technology, with a goal of deploying $10 billion collectively over the next two years.
  • Aim for a 20 percent reduction in energy used in core real estate investment holdings over a three-year period, and consider green building standards in making investment decisions.
  • Require and validate that investment managers, investment consultants and advisors report on how they are assessing climate risks in their portfolios, whether from new carbon-reducing regulations, physical impacts or competitive risks.
    Encourage Wall Street analysts, rating agencies and investment banks to analyze and report on the potential impacts of foreseeable long-term carbon costs, in the range of $20 to $40 per metric ton of CO2, particularly on carbon-intensive investments such as new coal-fired power plants, oil shale, tar sands and coal-to-liquid projects.
  • Push the SEC to issue guidance leading to full corporate disclosure of climate risks and opportunities.
  • Push Congress for a mandatory national policy to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the 60-90 percent reductions below 1990 levels by 2050 that scientists suggest is urgently needed to avoid the worst and most costly impacts from climate change.

“This action plan reflects the many investment opportunities that exist today to put a dent in global warming pollution, build profits and benefit the global economy,” said Mindy S. Lubber, president of the Ceres investor coalition and director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk. “Leveraging the vast energy efficiency opportunities at home and abroad holds especially great promise for investors.”

“Thanks to the leadership of many participating at this summit, the idea that climate risk affects many industries around the world that are embedded in our portfolios is being absorbed into the very fiber of our financial markets, from banking to investment, from insurance to re-insurance,” said Connecticut State Treasurer Denise Nappier.

“As institutional investors, we need solid information about a company’s environmental risks and opportunities so that we can grow our bottom line while shrinking our carbon footprint,” said California Controller John Chiang.

“Energy efficiency provides the biggest opportunity for helping developed and developing countries alike,” said Timothy Wirth, president of the United Nations Foundation. “Investors have a critical role in helping drive this new energy economy forward. Their commitments here today are groundbreaking and will not only reduce the devastating impacts of climate change but will help grow the global economy at the same time.”

The summit comes as worldwide investor attention on climate change dramatically increases. In the last two years, investor and asset manager participation in the Investor Network on Climate Risk has more than doubled, to more than 60 institutional investors and with collective assets totaling $4.5 trillion. At today’s summit, Deutsche Asset Management, which manages over $800 billion in assets, announced it was joining INCR, increasing INCR’s total member assets to over $5 trillion.

Today’s climate risk meeting was hosted and organized by the United Nations Foundation, the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships and Ceres, which directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk. Ceres is a U.S. coalition of investor and environmental leaders that has spearheaded national and international investor activity on climate risk issues. A webcast of the summit and press conference can be found at www.un.org

###

About Ceres and INCR

Ceres is a leading coalition of investors, environmental groups and other public interest organizations working with companies to address sustainability challenges such as climate change. Ceres also directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR). For more information, visit www.ceres.org and www.incr.com
About the United Nations Foundation:

The UN Foundation was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. The UN Foundation builds and implements public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems and also works to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. The UN Foundation is a public charity. For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org
About the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP):

UNFIP was established by the Secretary-General in March 1998 to serve as the interface in the partnership between the UN system and the UN Foundation — the public charity responsible for administering Ted Turner’s $1 billion contribution in support of UN causes. The UN Partnership with Ted Turner’s Philanthropy has enabled the UN family to find creative solutions to global problems. The success of this partnership has led to the evolution of the United Nations Office for Partnerships, which manages UNFIP, the UN Democracy Fund, as well as Partnership Advisory Services and Outreach. The Office serves as a gateway for facilitating UN-civil society partnership initiatives in support of the UN system’s programme of work. For more information, visit www.unfip.org.

Back on January 10, 2008, CERES released a report on the top 40 banks that we covered in: www.sustainabilitank.info/2007/05… and www.sustainabilitank.info/2007/05…


UNSG Ban Ki-moon left for Washington DC a day earlier then expected, this because of the memorial to Chairman Tom Lantos and a Model UN event, UNGA President Dr. Srgjan Kerim took a day off after the previous three days, so the UN stars were represented at the CERES event by Mr. Amir A. Dossal, Executive Director, UN Fund for International Partnerships. The Real two stars of the day were, in our opinion the luncheon speaker AL GORE, who post-Nobel Prize is now Chairman, Generation Investment Management. He will personally show now how money is made by doing the right thing, and Mr. VINOD KHOSLA, who post-money making Silicone Valley’s Sun Microsystems is now the CEO of future money-maker Khosla Ventures. But saying this we are probably extremely unfair to about 20 others who made solid contributions to the event by telling us what their companies or Funds are doing. All of the above under the skilled baton of Mindy S. Lubber, the President and CEO of CERES and Director, Investor Network on Climate Change. When all was over, at about 5:30 p.m., all were invited to a reception at the Institute of International Education, across the Street of the UN, to a room that was once the reception room of the Danish Mission to the UN, and as we were told, its Danish decor should remind us all of the deadline set by the Copenhagen COP 15 of the UNFCCC.

In this posting we intend to cover only the presentations by Al Gore and Vinod Khosla. About much of the remaining material we accumulated at the meeting, and our notes thereof, we will write in following articles.


AL GORE was introduced by Jeff Skoll who produced the movie “An Inconvenient Truth.” Now let us keep in mind that for the participants in CERES – people that go to the bottom of the problem – this has turned to a CONVENIENT OPPORTUNITY. These people would not be sitting in the UN Delegates Dining Room if not for the fact that their FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITY brings them there. Their responsibility is to make money for their investors and this means plans for the long-range, not just a short-range kill that might later leave them swimming on dry land. These are people that realize post-US mortgage-crisis, that short term gains have led to many-fold long term losses – and they will do anything not to lose their jobs by watching climate change turn into another black hole. The luncheon was sponsored by Swiss Re and opened by Richard H. Murray, Managing Director & Chief Claims Strategist of Swiss Re. There is nobody like him that can put a finger at money losses from climate change. It was his company that had to pay in the end for a large part of the losses from the latest large hurricanes – and he had never doubts that these losses were caused in the ultimate by our emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere. We can say this with certainty because we talked with him in the past, and his company was a backer of our efforts years ago when the Geneva registered NGO CMDC, and later under the ISEO name, started to point out the need for Sustainable Energy and we are going back to the beginning of the 1990s. Swiss Re was also part of the original WBCSD – the World Business Council for Sustainable Development that made its presence felt at the Rio Summit in 1992.

We know that the solution is to put a price on carbon – started Al Gore his thematic presentation _ “I believe in a Carbon Tax, Cap & Trade, Renewable Energy Standards and Regulatory Action.” WE HAVE TO USE ALL FOUR!
He told this congregation – “This is a group that cannot wait until new laws are set. You are a unique group because you are responsible for assets to the stock holders. You must look into the future – the leader of America labor is here (reference to Mr. John J. Sweeney, President, AFL-CIO, who was at the lunch and was a speaker on the first panel after lunch).” Al Gore made reference to a “UN with its great principle of Responsible Investment …”

“Mindy Lubber thinks of you as the ‘good cops’ but what you need to do is more. You need to scrub your investment portfolios!” – preached Al Gore to the money-men. “YOU WILL FIND THERE CHUCK-FULL OF SUB-PRIME CARBON ASSETS!” – he said. “This is the challenge – the time is drawing neigh – like the fellows in the mortgage business you will be held personally responsible for what you did not see!” Bubbles are based on the assumption that it was OK to take risky assets without down-payment and turn them into good assets and sell them – this turned out bad – he said. “BUSINESS MODELS THAT ASSUME THAT CARBON IS FREE WILL GO SPLASH!” It will take a hell of less time you are going to be responsible for those assets – so what are you waiting for? – he preached. Now is the time to start umping up and make your portfolio sustainable! This is the clear reality that so many of have helped unmask! DON’T JUST WALK THE WALK _ RUN THE RUN! When the judgement comes – where you among the sleepwalkers or you saw what is coming? BE A HERO – NOT A ZERO!

Al Gore reminded the audience that he spoke in Davos along Bono on SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, COMBATING DISEASES and GLOBAL WARMING. We are in it together – Today Increases Of Carbon Pollution Anywhere Is Responsible To Climate Change Effects Everywhere!

Put a price on carbon to allow us to make the accurate calculation of what is good and bad. That will allow the new technology! With concentrated solar, we could now put up in the SouthWest a 100 miles by 100 miles system that provides electricity for all of the US. The US and Venus are like two equal planets. They have the same amount of carbon with the only difference that Venus has no fossil carbon – all of it is in the atmosphere – see the difference it makes in temperature! “The pie in the sky assumption is that the fossil carbon moved to the atmosphere there.”

During the Q&A there was a question on bioenergy. Al Gore started the answer by telling a story about a teacher who put on a test the same question he did sometime ago. When he was asked why did you ask the same question? His answer was – “yes I know – but the answer has change!” He mentioned that beneath the surface there has been a tendency to confuse the climate crisis with the energy dependency crisis. The imported oil problem – at the time they said oil shales in your portfolio – now this is ridiculous!

Biofuels – there are forms that are lower carbon substitutes to be used on an environmental responsible way. You must check the energy balance when you add everything up. Note the agriculture, the process, the kind of vegetation used – but when you cut rain-forests this leads to negatives. The bottom line is careful analysis and there is a role for biofuels. then there will be a second and third generation of biofuels – with enzymatic technology – with engineered bugs – these will be practical soon!

On the US politics of climate change at this time of Presidential primaries Al Gore remarked that in all the debates to-date there were only 3 questions on climate change and the answer was clean coal. This was equal to the number of questions on UFOs. This is unreal – at the same time $37 million were spent on fossil fuel propaganda this season.

The remaining three presidential candidates are positive and the evangelicals also shoot massively for solutions on poverty and climate change. Change is possible and he brought forward the change in Australia that led to an immediate joining on Kyoto protocol. Kevin Rudd won the elections in Australia because of a most serious 1000 years draught that people attribute to climate change and just had enough of the positions of the previous government. Australia’s wines will become a thing of the past! The Alliance for Climate Protection, with more Republicans then Democrats, is positive. They will start a campaign.

IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO CHANGE POLICY THEN TO CHANGE LIGHT-BULBS! – he said. Here I pointed my neighbor to the light bulbs above our heads – the UN with all the talking going on there – has not yet moved to change those bulbs with fluorescent bulbs. I guess this because of plain ineptitude by UN staff, or who knows – because of the influence of the fossil fuel sellers that are such a strong power-center in this building.

WE NEED TO MAKE CHANGES IN OUR LIVES BUT WE NEED TO ACT AS RESPONSIBLE CITIZENS AND CHANGE THE INSTITUTIONS – said Al Gore.

{A personal note here from Pincas Jawetz: Al Gore became US Congressman in 1976 and when in 1977 I testified before Senator Frank Church on the subject of ethanol additives to gasoline – showing factors how the use of ethanol in low percentage mixtures with gasoline – this for the purpose of enhancing the octane value of the refinery product for unleaded gasoline – results in a doubling of the energy efficiency of the ethanol, and how this could be a first step in avoiding any subsidies related to the introduction of unleaded gasoline. The second step was then to use lands taken out of production as subsidy to the agricultural industry, could be used to produce ethanol from commodities that were not grown – rather then from buying them up on the market for food. It was a member of the Al Gore staff, Peter Knight, who was intrigued by my presentation, fished me up, and brought me before the young Congressman to tell him my story. I never forgot that moment of watching an eager mind understand my factors and policy arguments. Now, at this lunch, I bumped into Peter Knight who is now the President of Generation Investment Management. Also, the day was made for me complete when al Gore recognized me, and I had a chance to remind him of those 30 year old technical and policy calculations.}

VINOD KHOSLA was part of the first morning panel – chaired by Former Senator Timothy Wirth, President of the UN Foundation, long time colleague of Al Gore, partner with Al Gore at the US Senate delegation to the Rio Summit in 1992, during the Presidency days of President Bush the father, and now President of the UN Foundation that brought this whole event to within the walls of the UN. The other members of that panel were: Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director, The Paris based International Energy Agency, and Peter A. Darbee, Chairman, CEO & President, PG&E Corporation, the Northern California utility that is the largest utility in the US.

The title of the panel was: UNLEASHING THE BUSINESS POTENTIAL FOR CLEAN ENERGY. As said earlier, in this posting, for sake of expediency, we will cove only the Vinod Khosla presentation.

Khosla got interested in green energy three years ago when Goldman-Sachs had a seminar for investors in green energy. He says now that he was inspired by those presentations. He found there “MOSTLY CONVENIENT TRUTH FOR A TECHNOLOGY OPTIMIST.” He believes that Economists and Econometrics are the wrong way to predict the future. He also thinks that every sponsored technology choice is probably the wrong way to go.
“THE RIGHT WAY TO PREDICT THE FUTURE IS TO INVENT IT!” “Today’s dreams is tomorrow’s future!”

He predicts that within 10 years oil price will drop rapidly with a second generation biofuels. He says that almost certainly this will happen. He divulged that he had conversations with the CEO of General Motors about wood-chip biofuel in 10 years that will be cheaper then oil today.

He expects a cement that will be a most powerful sequestration technique. He says that today’s corn ethanol, biodiesel, solar PV, wind technology and geothermal will NOT be the solution. Neither of them.

The New Green will come from new engines, new lighting, new appliances, batteries and Flow Cells, cement …. He produced a great interactive series of circles I was not able to copy correctly and concluded that FOSSIL TECHNOLOGY WILL BE FOSSILIZED! THE GOOD THINK IS THAT WE HAVE A CATASTROPHE – and I assume this means that our thinking will become focused.

Khosla thinks of three potential catastrophes: Nuclear War, An asteroid hitting us, and Climate Change. He is ready to think how to tackle climate change and knows that technology happens very fast and causes world dislocations.

We understand what he is saying because we know that the man thinks in terms of quantum jumps. He made a quantum jump in Silicone Valley – now he looks for a new topic where he wants to be part of a quantum jump.
He knows that in IT things will improve now incrementally – so it does not grasp his attention anymore. He has the money, so he is ready to put it where his thoughts are, and with his Khosla Ventures he will try to shoot in several directions until he finds the one topic to go for the kill. He believes strongly in the power of entrepreneurial thinking to create the new technology that has this quantum jump potential, but he is not shy from saying that there is need of government to come up and say – look we need this new technology – go get it! Koshla also does not believe in hybrid cars – this is the wrong way to go and this technology just will make the switch to the future more difficult.

Ambassador E. Angus Friday, Permanent UN Representative from Grenada, and central figure in the Small Island States Alliance at the UN, said that in the SIDS there is recognition of the need to do something – “While we push on mitigation, we have clear adaptation needs already and we push in this direction with the help of the UN Foundation.” He wants to know more about the carbon tax idea as an incentive. He calculated the cost of electricity KWH and concludes that customers that do not have solar rooftops subsidize those that do have solar rooftops. Khosla says that in Sacramento there is a company with a 3 football fields size rooftop that generates electricity at 40c/KWH – while PG&G prices at 14.5c/KWH.

Khosla says that allocations and carbon tax are important but he suggests we go without a carbon tax. Coal, oil, steel, cement are the main transgressors. He says that if we put just those 4 segments of the economy on a tax, this is enough to start change. These “carbon 4” cover 80% – so start with them-!! As soon as people will see that carbon has a cost – they will start worrying about their portfolios – they will worry about their investments. Now, if we get a tax and new low carbon industries are created, carbon gets lower, and follow up industries will have less risk.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Geneva – Addressing the Impact on Human Security of Environment and Migration Issues – Ensuring human security in a world challenged by the three pressing issues of the day – climate change, environmental degradation and migration – will be the focus of an international conference in Geneva on 19 February.

Jointly organized by Greece under its chairmanship of the Human Security Network and IOM, the conference will examine both the impact of environmental degradation and climate change on human security and migration as well as the impact of migration on the environment and how interaction on these two phenomena can lead to potential conflict.

While there has been increasing international focus on climate change, environmental degradation and migration as separate subjects, the impact of both on human security and the potential for conflict, has not received the same level of attention from policy makers and researchers.

Although data on the number of existing environmental migrants – those “persons or groups of persons who, for compelling reasons of sudden or progressive changes in the environment that adversely affect their lives or living conditions, are obliged to leave their habitual homes, or choose to do so, either temporarily or permanently, and who move either within their country or abroad” – and projections on future numbers are unclear with the latter varying enormously from an estimated 25 million to one billion by 2050, people across the world are having to leave their homes or countries because of rising sea levels, scarcity of water, inability to farm sustainably as well as vulnerability to an increasing number of weather phenomena that destroy lives and livelihoods.

Human displacement caused by natural disasters both sudden and slow on-set, in addition to political conflicts, also play a critical role in environmental degradation and tensions over decreasing resources especially water and land.

The conference, which will have keynote presentations by Theodoros Skylakakis, Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation at the Greek Foreign Ministry, IOM Director General Brunson McKinley, the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Michel Jarraud and Kyung-wha Kang, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights will not only identify key issues surrounding climate, environmental degradation, migration and human security, but will also explore ways of mitigating the impact of migration on the environment as well as using migration strategies to help limit environmental damage and potential human crises.

Panellists include E.Angus Friday, Grenada’s Ambassador to the UN in New York with Grenada chairing the Alliance of Small Island States, as well as prominent representatives of the academic and NGO community.

“Early planning and action on this complex and multi-dimensional issue can go a long way in lessening the impact of climate change, environmental degradation and migration on human security. We have an opportunity here of taking a step forward in addressing this issue,” says Brunson McKinley.

“Greece, presiding now the Human Security Network felt that people’s migration due to worsening climate and environment constitutes a challenge for human security. Geneva, where many of those who understand this serious and complex issue work and live, seems the right place to tackle this issue,” says Greece’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Franciscos Verros.

The Human Security Network is a group of 13 countries from various regions of the world which maintains dialogue at Foreign Ministers level on questions pertaining to human security and as an informal, flexible mechanism, identifies concrete areas for collective action.

The conference, which is being held at the headquarters of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in Geneva, is open to the media.

For background papers and the agenda, please go to www.iom.int and www.greeceun.org.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 15th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Ajay Makan writes from Male, Maldives, November 15, 2007, for Reuters:

Island States Urge UN to Study Rights, Climate Link.

Small island states (SIDS) called on the United Nations on Wednesday to assess whether a link exists between failure to tackle climate change, which threatens to wipe their countries off the map, and human rights.


But the 26 nations from around the globe failed to agree on an resolution backing a human rights agenda meant to take on big greenhouse gas polluters at a UN climate change summit in Bali, Indonesia next month.

The Maldives and other vocal island states blame the United States and other big polluters for climate change and say their inaction to curb greenhouse gas emissions will destroy their economies through rising seas and wild weather.

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) used the two-day meeting to highlight what it said was a human right “to live in a safe and sustaining environment”. It said “climate change directly and fundamentally undermines that right”.

But Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda were cautious, delegates said, that an explicit recognition of human rights would boost pressure on their own governments to improve political rights.

The Alliance represents 43 countries with a population of fewer than 15 million people, ranging from wealthy Singapore in Southeast Asia to Fiji, Kiribati and Tuvalu in the Pacific and Caribbean nations.

Alliance delegates will meet international lawyers and civil society groups to develop a common agenda ahead of the Bali summit, which aims to kick-off negotiations for global pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

Alliance Chair Angus Friday expressed optimism the group could still adopt a common platform at the Bali summit. He also hailed the resolution as a first step towards an international recognition of the link between climate change and human rights.

“We have to be realistic about the timescale, but we have started a process today,” he told reporters.

The resolution at the end of the meeting called for a UN study into linkages between human rights and climate change and a March 2009 debate at the UN Human Rights Council.

“The right to life as we know it is threatened. My people survive by praying,” Tuvalu’s ambassador to the UN told Reuters.

Delegates met at one of the Maldives’ flagship deluxe resorts, refurbished following the 2004 tsunami, a reminder of the country’s vulnerability to rising seas.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 18th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From the 1994, Barbados Programme of Action: “While small island developing States are among those that contribute least to global climate change and sea-level rise, they are among those that would suffer most from the adverse effects of such phenomena and could in some cases become uninhabitable. Therefore, they are among those particularly vulnerable States that need assistance under the UNFCCC, including adaptation measures and mitigation efforts.”

AOSIS is The Alliance of Small Island States, a UN body consisting of 43 nations with common bond of environmental and economic vulnerability.   This is a coalition of small island and low-lying coastal countries that share similar development challenges and concerns about the environment, especially their vulnerability to the adverse effects of global climate change. It functions primarily as an ad hoc lobby and negotiating voice for small island developing states (SIDS) within the UN.

On Friday April 13, 2007, a new Bureau was created at AOSIS, and Dr. Angus Friday, the Ambasador of Grenada, was elected by aclamation to head this Bureau. We think that this was a lucky Friday for AOSIS, because   Medical Doctor Friday   has had experience with the private sector in the financing for sustainable development in the island of Grenada following the devastating impact of Hurricane Ivan. Ivan fell upon Grenada in 2004, and caused extreme devastation that required a practical rebuilding of most everything on the island.

During the brake at the UN Security Council’s Open Debate on Energy, Security, and Climate, Ambassador Dr. Angus Friday, the Permanent Representative of Grenada, and Ambassador Collin Beck, the Permanent Representative of the Solomon Islands, presented at a Press Conference the establishment of the new Bureau for their organization. The Bureau will focus on practical efforts to deal with the mitigation of the special vulnerabilities of the islands – in the Caribbean, in the Pacific, and the AIMS (Africa, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, South China Sea).

The UN DPI report for the PRESS CONFERENCE BY the PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE of GRENADA in the context of   GLOBAL WARMING is as follows:

“Against the backdrop of heightened awareness of the negative impacts of climate change, the Alliance       of Small Island States announced today the creation of a new Bureau that would focus on practical initiatives to mitigate the environmental and economic vulnerability of its member States.

Angus Friday, the Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations and newly appointed Chairman of the Bureau, told reporters that the Alliance — a coalition of 43 economically and environmentally vulnerable nations, formed during the 1992 Rio Summit — had kept those issues in the media spotlight.

The detrimental effects of climate change and global warming raised the spectre of “environmental refugees”, particularly in the Pacific, where it was likely that residents of low-lying islands would be forced to migrate to neighbouring countries.   Such events would broaden the definition of “security” to encompass the security of people’s livelihoods, he said.

Much of the groundwork for the Bureau was laid in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, which in 2004 wiped out 90 per cent of Grenada’s housing stock and completely devastated its nutmeg crops, the country’s primary export.   Such destruction had highlighted the tight correlation between environmental and economic vulnerability.

Going forward, he said, the Bureau would emphasize practical implementation of existing conventions and resolutions that addressed economic vulnerability.   As previous studies and programmes on sustainable development and renewable energy had lacked financing, the new Bureau would focus on financing such projects to ensure that they became operational.

The Alliance envisioned a new partnership within the United Nations, he said, noting the need to move beyond General Assembly debates to finding practical solutions that mitigated the economic and environmental impacts of climate change.   Ultimately, small island States would like to be net contributors to global economic and social development, rather than net receivers of aid.

Responding to a question on the unique challenges faced by small island States, Mr. Friday called attention to the correlation in the Caribbean between ocean heating and hurricane ferocity.   To highlight that point, he noted that prior to 2004, Grenada had been located below the hurricane belt, meaning that yachts travelling to the country during hurricane season would be covered by insurance.   After Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Emily in 2005, that insurance classification had been removed, and Grenada’s burgeoning yachting industry had been severely affected.

Moreover, he added, rising sea levels impacted low-lying islands.   Explaining the translation of “Bahamas” as “Baha” meaning “low-lying” and “mas” meaning “mass”, he said such areas were particularly vulnerable to sea-level changes.

Turning to a question on the threats to biodiversity, he pointed out that island nations derived much of their economic productivity from the seas.   For example, the loss of Caribbean coral reefs to bleaching caused by global warming had impacted local fishing and tourism industries.   With the loss of biodiversity came the loss of genetic material that could be important for biotechnology, he added, noting that vaccines to treat HIV/AIDS and viral diseases had been developed using Caribbean coral reefs.   Flora and fauna which clung to marine rocks contained powerful enzymes that could be used for medical purposes.   The Alliance would examine that untapped potential.

On whether small island States envisioned a common energy policy similar to that recently introduced by the European Union to reduce the Union’s dependence on certain energy suppliers, Mr. Friday said fossil fuel dependence was a huge concern for vulnerable small island States.   For example, the manufacturing base in Trinidad, an oil producing country, was far more competitive than that in neighbouring Grenada, which, as an oil consumer, acutely felt the impacts of oil price fluctuations.   It remained to be seen whether islands like Grenada could ever develop a competitive manufacturing base.

Noting the high toll fossil fuel costs took on the budgets of small island nations, Collin Beck, the Permanent Representative of the Solomon Islands — itself grappling with the impacts of a recent tsunami — added that the Alliance would focus on tapping renewable energy sources to promote industrialization.

Returning to the definition of bleaching, Mr. Friday said that undersea coral was often yellow or orange in colour, due to the presence of living material on it.   Lifting that coating would expose the hard, white, calcium exoskeleton underneath.

Asked about a scenario — similar to one recently debated in the Security Council — in which small island States would collectively object to pollution problems caused by larger nations, Mr. Friday responded that he had not heard the Security Council debate and further, that such matters fell outside the ambit of the Alliance.

Asked if Grenada had a position on whether climate change was properly placed before the Security Council, Mr. Friday said that that debate would hinge on two things: the definition of “security” and the Security Council’s capacity to address such issues.  

Broadening the definition of security would leave room for those matters to be discussed within the Council.   However, Grenada would not be drawn into that debate.   There was no question that such a debate would highlight global warming and climate change issues, and that the international community could not move fast enough to combat the negative effects.

However, it was time to implement existing resolutions, he stressed, adding that there was ample expertise within the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council to take things forward.

—————

To add to the DPI release, we would like to reinforce the impression that Dr. Friday is not out there to fight for a location of where to place the negotiation table – this on which UN organizations’ terrain.
Neither is he interested in fighting wars for who is to blame – rather, and we assume this comes from his previous experience from helping rebuild Grenada after Ivan, he wants to bring to the island states direct private enterprise interests that have the understanding that it is important not to lose the particular potential that these states have of becoming productive participants in the global economy, which is obvious, if we think of tourism and biodiversity. There could be also specific specialized agriculture and plenty of agricultural potential for local use. Each island state is different, but the danger from climate change is a unifier, and in this respect an equalizer.

As an example of how the extension of the Hurricane region towards the southern Caribbean affected the possibility of getting an insurance in Grenada – Dr. Friday pointed out that after Hurricane Emily in 2005, the insurance against Hurricanes cannot be obtained in Grenada anymore, as global warming sort of pushed it into the “Hurricane belt.”

Economically, the high price of oil was also a downer, In the Solomon Islands with 1/3 of the budget going for fuel that ends up energizing only 20% of the population of 500,000. This is why the Solomon Islands, like many more Island States, is shopping for renewable energy. It was also mentioned that by establishing such systems for the SIDS carbon credits can be obtained for the cooperating factors.

###