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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Hey there, Pincas:

Are you fed up with political leaders who’ve failed again and again and again to put us on a path toward climate sanity? Clearly, it’s time to take matters into our own hands — literally.

That’s the idea behind the Global Work Party being organized by 350.org. On 10/10/10, people all around the world will gather in their communities to get things done. Politicians are invited to come and take notes.

Bill and ChipIn Hailey, Idaho, people are getting together for a home weatherization raffle and demonstration. In Auckland, New Zealand, they’re organizing a giant bike fix-up day. In Ambalantota, Sri Lanka, they’ll be planting hundreds of trees. In the Maldives, they’ll be putting solar panels on the president’s office. Find out what’s going on in your neck of the woods, or organize a work event yourself. With the might of our combined efforts, we’ll be sending a message to our leaders: We’re doing our part. Now get to work and do yours.

Join us in a live chat on Grist to find out more about the Global Work Party and the climate crisis that inspired it — today, Sept. 22, at noon Pacific time (3 p.m. Eastern).

Yours in working and partying,

Bill McKibben, author, activist, & Grist board member
Chip Giller, Grist founder & president

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

from CPA <ipa@wmo.int>
date Tue, Jul 13, 2010
subject:   WMO launches SWIdget: get severe weather warnings on tropical cyclones on your computer.

The Severe Weather Information Centre (SWIC) of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has been enhanced with the launch of a new service known as SWIdget.  With this brand new service, local and international users can now obtain severe weather warnings related to tropical cyclones that are issued by participating official weather services in near real-time.  This new service aims to help users access severe weather warnings easily so that they can take suitable precautionary measures well in time.

Please find attached a press release on the above subject.
(Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish and Russian versions will be available online soon).

More information: www.wmo.int
————-

Communications and Public Affairs
Communication et relations publiques
World Meteorological Organization
Organisation météorologique mondiale
(WMO / OMM)
Tel: + 41 22 730 83 14
Fax: + 41 22 730 80 27
7 bis Avenue de la Paix
Case Postale 2300
CH 1211 Geneva 2
Switzerland

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria (Spanish pronunciation: [mi?t?el ?at?e?let]; born September 29, 1951) is a moderate socialist politician who was President of Chile from 11 March 2006 to 11 March 2010—the first woman president in the country’s history.

She won the 2006 presidential election in a runoff, beating center-right US dollar billionaire businessman and former senator Sebastián Piñera with 53.5% of the vote.

She campaigned on a platform of continuing Chile’s free-market policies, while increasing social benefits to help reduce the gap between rich and poor, one of the largest in the world.

Bachelet, a pediatrician and epidemiologist with studies in military strategy, served as Health Minister and Defense Minister under President Ricardo Lagos.

Bachelet is the second child of archaeologist Ángela Jeria Gómez and Air Force Brigadier General Alberto Bachelet Martínez.

Facing growing food shortages, the government of Salvador Allende placed Bachelet’s father in charge of the Food Distribution Office. When General Augusto Pinochet came to power in the September 11, 1973 coup, General Bachelet, refusing exile, was detained at the Air War Academy under charges of treason. Following months of daily torture at Santiago’s Public Prison, on March 12, 1974, he suffered a cardiac arrest that resulted in his death. On January 10, 1975, Bachelet and her mother were detained at their apartment by two DINA agents, who blindfolded them and drove them to Villa Grimaldi, a notorious secret detention center in Santiago, where they were separated and submitted to interrogation and torture.[13] Some days later they were transferred to Cuatro Álamos (“Four Poplars”) detention center, where they were held until the end of January. Later in 1975, thanks to sympathetic connections in the military, both were exiled to Australia, where Bachelet’s older brother Alberto had moved in 1969.

Her paternal great-great-grandfather, Louis-Joseph Bachelet Lapierre, was a French wine merchant from Chassagne-Montrachet who emigrated to Chile with his Parisian wife, Françoise Jeanne Beault, in 1860 hired as a wine-making expert by the Subercaseaux vineyards in southern Santiago.

In February 1979, Bachelet returned to Santiago, Chile from East Germany. Her medical school credits from the GDR were not transferred, forcing her to resume her studies from where she had left off before fleeing the country. [citation needed] She graduated as M.D. on January 7, 1983. She wished to work in the public sector wherever attention was most needed, applying for a position as general practitioner; her petition was, however, rejected by the military government on “political grounds.” Instead, because of her academic performance and published papers, she earned a scholarship to specialize in pediatrics and public health at Roberto del Río Children’s Hospital (1983–1986). During this time she also worked at PIDEE (Protection of Children Injured by States of Emergency Foundation), a non-governmental organization helping children of the tortured and missing in Santiago and Chillán. She was head of the foundation’s Medical Department between 1986 and 1990. Some time after her second child with Dávalos, Francisca Valentina, was born in February 1984, she and her husband legally separated. She is a separated mother of three and describes herself as an agnostic.

In 1990, after democracy was restored in Chile, Bachelet worked for the Ministry of Health’s West Santiago Health Service and was a consultant for the Pan-American Health Organization, the World Health Organization and the German Corporation for Technical Cooperation.

Driven by an interest in civil-military relations, in 1996 Bachelet began studies in military strategy at the National Academy for Strategic and Policy Studies (Anepe) in Chile, obtaining first place in her class.[2] Her student achievement earned her a presidential scholarship, permitting her to continue her studies in the United States at the Inter-American Defense College in Washington, D.C., completing a Continental Defense Course in 1998. That same year she returned to Chile to work for the Defense Ministry as Senior Assistant to the Defense Minister. She subsequently graduated from a Master’s program in military science at the Chilean Army‘s War Academy.

In 1996 Bachelet ran against future presidential adversary Joaquín Lavín for the mayorship of Las Condes, a wealthy Santiago suburb and a right-wing stronghold. Lavín won the 22-candidate election with nearly 78% of the vote, while she finished fourth at 2.35%. At the 1999 presidential primary of Coalition of Parties for Democracy (CPD), Chile’s governing coalition since 1990, she worked for Ricardo Lagos’s nomination, heading the Santiago electoral zone.

On March 11, 2000 Bachelet—virtually unknown at the time—was appointed Minister of Health by President Ricardo Lagos. She began an in-depth study of the public health-care system that led to the AUGE plan a few years later. She was also given the task of eliminating waiting lists in the saturated public hospital system within the first 100 days of Lagos’s government. She reduced waiting lists by 90%, but was unable to eliminate them completely and offered her resignation, which was promptly rejected by the President.  Controversially,  she allowed free distribution of the morning-after pill for victims of sexual abuse.

On January 7, 2002 Bachelet was appointed Defense Minister, becoming the first woman to hold this post in a Latin American country and one of the few in the world. While Minister of Defense she promoted reconciliatory gestures between the military and victims of the dictatorship, culminating in the historic 2003 declaration by General Juan Emilio Cheyre, head of the army, that “never again” would the military subvert democracy in Chile.  She also oversaw a reform of the military pension system and continued with the process of modernization of the Chilean armed forces with the purchasing of new military equipment, while engaging in international peace operations.

A moment which has been cited as key to Bachelet’s chances to the presidency came during a flood in northern Santiago where she, as Defense Minister, led a rescue operation on top of an amphibious tank, wearing a cloak and military cap.

In late 2004, following a surge of her popularity in opinion polls, Bachelet was established as the only CPD figure able to defeat Lavín, and she was asked to become the Socialists’ candidate for the presidency.

According to The Economist magazine the government of Bachelet opted to make social protection and the promotion of equality of opportunity her main priority. Since becoming President, her government built 3,500 crèches daycare for poorer children. It introduced a universal minimum state pension and extended free health care to cover many serious conditions.
A new housing policy aimed at abolishing the last remaining shanty-towns in Chile by 2010 featured grants to the poorest families. Some of them had to pay just US$400 for a house costing about US$20,000.

In October 2009 Ms Bachelet’s popularity peaked at 80 percent according to a public opinion poll by conservative polling institute Adimark GfK., and in March 2010 she showed an approval rating of 84%, and in terms of specific characteristics attributed to Chile’s president, ‘loved by Chileans’ reached a record 96%.

The Chilean Constitution does not allow a president to serve two consecutive terms, so Bachelet left office in March 2010.

Chile’s October 16, 2006 vote in the United Nations Security Council election—with Venezuela and Guatemala deadlocked in a bid for the two-year, non-permanent Latin American and Caribbean seat on the Security Council — developed into a major ideological issue in the country, and was seen as a test for Bachelet. The governing coalition was divided between the Socialists, who supported a vote for Venezuela, and the Christian Democrats, who strongly opposed it. The day before the vote the president announced (through her spokesman) that Chile would abstain, citing as reason a lack of regional consensus over a single candidate, ending months of speculation.

Continuing the coalition’s free-trade strategy, in August 2006 Bachelet promulgated a free trade agreement with the People’s Republic of China (signed under the previous administration of Ricardo Lagos), the first Chinese free-trade agreement with a Latin American nation; similar deals with Japan and India were promulgated in August 2007. In October 2006, Bachelet promulgated a multilateral trade deal with New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei, the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (P4),  also signed under Lagos’ presidency.  She also held free-trade talks with other countries, including Australia, VietnamTurkey and Malaysia. Regionally, she signed bilateral free trade agreements with Panama, Peru and Colombia.

At the beginning of 2010 Chile became the OECD’s 31st member, and its first in South America. This acceptance for OECD membership marked international recognition of nearly two decades of democratic reform and sound economic policies; for the OECD, Chile’s membership was a major milestone in its mission to build a stronger, cleaner and fairer global economy

She speaks Spanish (her native language), English, German, Portuguese and French.

In 2009 Forbes magazine ranked her as the 22nd in the list of the 100 most powerful women in the world (she was #25 in 2008, #27 in 2007, and #17 in 2006). In 2008, TIME magazine ranked her 15 on its list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Eleanor Clift wrote on politicsdaily.com on June 10, 2010 that Michelle Bachelet moved the Chilean Government from Macho – to – Maternal. She was clearly the best qualified person to establish and head the new UN institution that was baptized with the terrible name UNWOMEN. And you know what, letting into the UN building a highly qualified person may endanger the minions working there. That, is what doomed on me today, this because I also learned an additional fact about Bachellet’s Chile, and that is why I write this UPDATE.

 www.politicsdaily.com/2010/06/10/…

The additional fact I learned today came from reading material that will appear in an Energy Management Magazine Published in India. The article is by – Ms. Jimena Bronfman, Vice Minister of Energy, Chile , and it deals with Chile moving into leadership position on energy issues – and you guessed right if you said that Dr. Bachelet started this. In effect the Ministry of Energy – which for Chile is a Ministry of Energy Efficiency – was set up at the end of her days in the Presidential Office. We are sure that this was not an easy task to fulfill – but we are sure that it will be one of her most important legacies. We know that Energy Efficiency is not a top priority of the G77 real on-going leadership and this, more then anything else, explains the diatribe we described in our original posting which we updated now.

The creation of the Ministry of Energy in February 1st 2010 is an important milestone in this process. The law that is the basis for Chile’s current institutional framework also includes the creation of the Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency, a public private entity that will implement the public policies designed by the Energy Efficiency Division of the Ministry.

Energy Efficiency is one of the main goals of Chile’s national energy policy, families are changing their habits and industries, corporations and local governments are trying to reduce their energy consumption by adopting energy-efficient measures. This fostering environment was recently faced by the February 27th earthquake and tsunami that devastated several regions of our country. We have taken this catastrophe as an opportunity and a challenge to rebuild our towns and cities using energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The Ministry of Energy is working with other ministries, such as the Ministry of Housing, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education to include energy efficiency measures and non-conventional renewable energies in the reconstruction of health and education infrastructure and emergency housing. We are also developing a pilot project to rebuild a town with the leading best practices in sustainability and energy consumption, so it can be replicated in other parts of the region and world.

Energy Efficiency is key to Chile’s competitiveness and economic growth. According to studies carried out before the earthquake, energy efficiency measures could help reduce Chile’s energy demand by around 14% by 2020. This would have a positive financial impact in the reconstruction process, as public funds saved by reduction of energy consumption can be reallocated to other priorities of the rebuilding program.

Energy Efficiency will also help Chile, whose economy is based on exports, to reduce its carbon footprint and be competitive in a world that is increasingly carbon-conscious. Although Chile’s contribution to global greenhouse emissions is low compared to many other nations, our wines, copper, fruits, fish and wood products are sold in developed markets that will require sustainable production processes.

In order to achieve our goals we are currently developing the Energy Efficiency Strategy for 2020. At the moment a draft proposal is being reviewed by key actors from the private and the public sectors who will be involved in the actual implementation of the strategy. The main objective of this process is to promote a broad discussion of the specific proposals, introduce appropriate improvements and gain comprehensive support for the energy saving goals contemplated in the strategy.  The official version of the E3 will be published after completion of this discussion period, hopefully by the end of November 2010.

Other challenges for this year include the implementation of the rest of our institutional framework, which will be completed by the creation of the Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency, a public-private non-profit entity that will implement the Ministry’s public policies. It will be funded mainly through public funds but will include private sector representatives in its board. The focus of the Agency’s work will be guided by the E3 strategy; however, we shall also aim at developing other important projects such as education. We strongly believe that a crucial driver for change in these matters is highly-skilled human resources. Therefore, education in schools, undergraduate and post-graduate education is needed to introduce strong energy efficiency programs. Other important aspects of energy efficiency lie in smart-grid and net-metering programs.

Another main priority for 2010 is the development of energy efficiency labelling for cars, new houses and domestic appliances. Labelling is currently mandatory for refrigerators and light bulbs, and we aim to expand this initiative so consumers have all the information available to make the right decisions.

We also want to continue growing our international alliances and cooperation. We have already executed collaboration agreements with several countries and organizations worldwide, and we will work to strengthen and deepen those relationships. Energy Efficiency is a global effort that can be fostered by exchanging best practices that will benefit consumers, industries and countries all over the world.

—————————–

The China and Developing States, the full name of the G77 that purports speaking for 130 out of the 192 UN Member States, is a UN charade – simply, because there never was a common interest among all these various States Now, with China becoming at least a G2 with the United States, if not the straight Global Economic Super power, for her to use the leadership of this rag-tag bunch and push into leadership positions at the UN – Libya, Zimbabwe, Sudan etc. resulted in turning the whole UN into a laughable enterprise. Bravo to little Palau that walked out on this continuous obstructionist committee circuit that calls for time-out whenever the UN tries to reach some decision. We watched them at climate Change meetings where Saudi Arabia is their representative.

Perhaps there was once s difference between the industrialized European  – North American countries plus Japan, and the rest of the world – this when the UN was created and the decolonizing process was giving birth to many new UN Member States – in effect multiplying by three the total number of global independent States, but since then much has changed.

The Latin ABC, Mexico, Korea, Turkey, India, Indonesia, South Africa have all knocked successfully at the corporate doors of development and entered the G20. The OECD club includes most of these G20 plus most EU States and Israel that is a perpetual  G77 pariah. They have now real interests to defend and not much time for posturing – so we will see slowly a realignment also at the UN. OK, China and South Africa will not want to give up their positions as leaders of the 130. It keeps some of their diplomats in the circuit and the UN will continue the fiction, but how long hence that the AOSIS/SIDS will still play this game? When will they see that Palau was indeed a trailblazer? Will the lack of action on Climate Change by some of the major OECD members who effectively joined the Saudis in opposing real action on climate, push these States back into the G77 arms?

—————————————-

THURSDAY, JULY 08, 2010
Chile Threatens to Split South Unity in World Body.
Thalif Deen

 ipsterraviva.net/UN/currentNew.as…

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 7 (IPS) – The Group of 77 (G77) has historically maintained a united front, vociferously protecting the economic interests of developing countries at the United Nations. But its longstanding solidarity is now being threatened by the continued presence of a single Latin American country which recently joined the ranks of a rich elitist group.

Chile, which was formally inducted last May into the 30-member Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), described as an exclusive club of industrial nations, has given no indications of leaving the G77, thereby triggering a sharp division of opinion among its 130 members. “Chile wants to have it both ways,” one G77 member told IPS, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It wants to have one foot in the OECD and another in the G77. But this is unacceptable to some of us.”

When Mexico and South Korea broke ranks with the developing world and joined the Paris-based OECD back in 1994 and 1996, respectively, both countries quit the G77, the largest single coalition of developing countries at the United Nations.

Chakravarti Raghavan, editor emeritus of the Geneva-based South-North Development Monitor published by the Third World Network, told IPS if Chile does not voluntarily quit the G77, the group must find a way around its longstanding convention of consensus decisions, and “politely but firmly throw Chile out”.

“This will be in line with the spirit and the intentions behind the formation of the Group of 77 and its functioning over all these years,” he added.

“It is probably about time that the G77 being an informal grouping expel Chile – on the simple ground that you can’t belong to two different groupings,” said Raghavan, who is considered a foremost authority on the G77, and who has written extensively about the Group since its inception in June 1964.

“It is my impression that Mexico, when it joined OECD, initially wanted to be in both camps, but was told it was not possible,” he added.

On North-South economic issues at the United Nations, the G77 and the OECD hold diametrically opposite views – most or all of the time.

The OECD is home to some of the world’s major economic powers, including the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Japan. Most of the emerging economic powers, including Brazil, India, China and South Africa, are longstanding members of the G77 and not members of the OECD.

But according to the OECD, it is planning to have discussions with Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa – all active members of the G77 – “with a view to possible membership”.

The G77 has lost four other members over the years: Cyprus and Malta (both in May 1994) and Romania (January 2007) when they joined the European Union.

A fourth country, Palau, a small island developing nation in the Pacific, withdrew from the G77 in June 2006, ostensibly for financial reasons.

Besides Chile, Mexico and South Korea, the OECD has also added three other non-G77 members into its ranks: Estonia, Slovenia and Israel.

Speaking off-the-record, a diplomat from a G77 country expressed a dissenting point of view when he told IPS: “There is nothing in the G77 rules or guidelines stating that an OECD member has to quit the G77.”

He said Chile is well within its rights to remain a member of the G77.

“And, while there may be a few in G77 who may not be pleased about Chile remaining in the G77, there are no serious moves afoot to push them out of the grouping,” he said. “Most of us, support Chile remaining in the G77. There will be strong resistance from a number of us if anyone tries to eject Chile from the G77.”

And as an after-thought, he added: “The OECD had made leaving the G77 a condition for Mexico’s entry into the OECD. However, when Chile was applying to the OECD, there was no such condition.”

Moreover, he said, Mexico stated that leaving the G77 should not be a condition for Chile’s entry.

Another G77 delegate told IPS that if Chile does not voluntarily leave the Group, as Mexico and South Korea did in previous years, a divided G77 may be forced to take a decision either way.

Meanwhile the former G8 – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia – has been expanded into the G20 to include seven developing nations (besides Australia, Mexico, South Korea, Turkey and the European Union).

The seven developing countries – Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa – are still members of the G77.

Chile has argued that G77 members that belong to the G20 should be considered in the same light as G77 members belonging to the OECD. But the G20 is not considered a formal body like the OECD, which is treaty-based and whose decisions are binding on all its members.

According to an OECD statement, the invitation to Chile to become the Organisation’s 31st member came at a time when the OECD is expanding its relations with the region.

As an OECD member, Chile will participate in all areas of the OECD’s work, from economic and financial policy to education, employment and social affairs. It will also join with other OECD countries to share experiences and best practices, setting new standards and developing new governance mechanisms for its economy and society more broadly.

The statement said that during two years of accession negotiations, Chile was reviewed by some 20 OECD committees with respect to OECD instruments, standards and benchmarks.

The invitation to take up membership confirms that Chile is taking appropriate steps to reform its economy including in the areas of corporate governance, anti-corruption, and environmental protection, the statement said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

from: Bill McKibben – 350.org <organizers@350.org>
date Thu, Jul 8, 2010
subject: Tell Obama: Put Solar on the White House!

Dear Friends,

Washington DC is in the grip of an epic heat wave as I write these words. It hasn’t been enough to get our Senators and Congressmen to do anything about the climate crisis, but it is a constant reminder of the sun’s power, going to waste.

We thought we all could do something about that this summer, so today we’re launching a little campaign asking President Obama to put solar panels on the roof of the White House. It’s easy to sign on–just click the following link to add your name.

www.putsolaron.it/whitehouse

This new campaign is part of our huge push towards the 10/10/10 Global Work Party, where millions of people in 114 countries (and counting!) have already signed up to do something sustainable in their communities on that October day. We hope the president will join in both the work and the party, and help install those panels–if you agree, we’ve made it incredibly simple for you to send along your invitation. Just click here. And just so you don’t think we’re singling out the president, we’re launching this same campaign today in every other country in the world.

President Obama won’t, of course, be doing much to solve climate change with just that one act alone. We really need him to push for comprehensive laws that put a price on carbon and wean us off coal and oil–push much harder than he has so far. We’re a little worried that the Obama administration will use their new solar panels to claim that they’re sincere about climate change without working to pass the legislation and enact the regulations that really matter–none of us wants to be used for a photo opportunity. That’s why the message we’ll all be sending is: you’ve taken symbolic action, so now get to work on the real thing.

And the symbolic action is important. Solar panels sat on the roof of the White House during the Carter administration, but were pulled down by the next occupant of the building, and never replaced. That sent a simple message: renewable energy didn’t really matter. (Not surprisingly, when the panels came down the subsidies for solar energy also disappeared, and now other nations are leading the way on clean energy).

We need the opposite message: every roof  in the country should have solar panels–for hot water and for electricity. Panels on the White House will remind every visitor to Washington of that simple fact–it will do as much good as the wonderful organic garden that the First Lady planted on the South Lawn. (In the year since, the number of Americans with vegetable gardens grew 19%; Burpee Seeds reported sales up by a third!).

Nothing replaces legislation that really cuts carbon.

But one way to build support for those changes is to show how easy it is to start to work. So tell President Obama-it’s time to roll up those sleeves, put solar on the White House and join the Global Work Party!

Onwards,

Bill McKibben for 350.org

P.S. Good news arrived just as we were getting ready to launch this global campaign. President Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldives confirmed he’d be up on the roof of his official residence on 10/10/10 putting up a solar array. It’s fifteen degrees cooler today in his capital city than it is in Washington, so there’s every reason to hope President Obama will match his gesture!

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

If in need of solar panels, we just got the following e-mail: www.grapesolar.com/index.php?acti…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 6th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

UN-SUPPORTED RENEWABLE ENERGY CENTRE FOR WEST AFRICA OPENS IN CAPE VERDE.

A new regional centre to help develop the renewable energy potential for West Africa opened today in Cape Verde, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which is supporting the facility, said.

The Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), a specialized agency of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), is based in Praia, the capital of Cape Verde. It is supported by UNIDO and the Governments of Austria, Cape Verde and Spain.


It will help develop renewable energy and energy efficiency markets in West Africa, formulate policy, build capacity and quality assurance mechanisms, as well design financing plans. The centre will also implement demonstration projects with potential for regional scaling up.

“The current energy systems in the ECOWAS region are failing to support the growth prospects of the over 262 million inhabitants, especially the needs of the poor. The creation of ECREEE is a central milestone in efforts to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies and services in the region,” said Yoshiteru Uramoto, Deputy to UNIDO’s Director-General.

“Investing in renewable energy systems and introducing energy efficient technologies will contribute to the region’s economic and social development without harming the environment,” he added.

It is estimated that a total of 23,000 megawatts of large and small hydroelectric potential is concentrated in five ECOWAS member States, of which only 16 per cent has been exploited.

Traditional biomass is already the main source of energy for the poor majority and accounts for 80 per cent of total energy consumed for domestic purposes. There are also considerable wind, tidal, ocean thermal and wave energy resources available. The region has vast solar energy potential.

UNIDO has a number of projects in Africa where renewable energy sources like small hydro, biomass gasification, wind energy, solar thermal and photovoltaic energy are used to promote the development of small industries, particularly in rural areas, that contribute to growth and poverty reduction.

The agency has also developed an energy programme for 18 countries in West Africa, including all ECOWAS member States, funded by the Global Environment Facility. ECREEE will become the main implementing agency of the $150 million programme that will focus on the energy access agenda and energy efficiency in key sectors of the economy.

###

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.

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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.

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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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

With the EU unraveling by the day and global money having moved elsewhere, it is natural that the US is following a policy of enlarging its circle of friends. From among the newly industrialized economies, China, Brazil, India, South Korea and other larger relative-newcomers including now also Turkey, it seems that the fact India is the largest democracy in the world may give it an advantage in closeness to the US. But this was not always easy, and may not be any easier today – except when compared to the alternatives. And worse, as we heard today from Professor Charles Kupchan, who at UN University told us his findings on “The Sources of Stable Peace” – compatible regimes are not really needed for successful cooperation between States.

President Bush already started driving nearer to India and President Obama took this on from the start of his Administration. it was no coincidence that the first gala evening in the Obama White House was the State Dinner, November 24, 2010, with India (the second such dinner, so far, was with Mexico May 19, 2010).

Since then there was a series of meetings – in the US and in India, and now we just witnessed something that was defined as the Inaugural US-India Strategic Dialogue that involved Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the US Department of State June 1-4, 2010 in Washington DC. A very impressive list of Indian guests participated. It was led by Ms. Clinton’s counterpart – Minister of External Affairs Sri S. M. Krishna.

The obvious topics of discussion revolved around a Strategic future in US-India cooperation in India’s immediate region – that includes Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Iran. We bet that China was also being discussed, but we wondered what about the follow up to Copenhagen – both – in preparation for Cancun but also on the bilateral level.

We had our chance to satisfy partly this curiosity when we had the chance to ask questions from Ambassador Robert Blake Jr. who is at present Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, and coincidentally was prior to his present position – US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. As such, we knew that already January 2007, Mr. Blake Jr., a professional diplomat, son of a professional diplomat, met with then President of The Maldives, Maumon Abdul Gayoom, to discuss renewable energy in the Maldives, and we assume they touched also upon the whole issue of global warming/climate change.  We thought it was fortunate to have him as spokesman for the meeting, as the prominence of the Maldives was clear at the run-up to Copenhagen.

A second topic we wanted to ask about is the issue we already brought up in –
 www.sustainabilitank.info/categor… and this is the potential of a financial US – India – Arab Gulf States triangle with a renewable energy orientation; US and Indian technology and Arab (former oil) money.

We were lucky, and because of the quality of the answers we got – I will copy in the full transcript of our two questions and the answers we got From The Read-out of the  U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue:

FPC (Foreign Press Centers in Washington DC and in New York City) Briefing.

by Ambassador Robert Blake Jr.
Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs

June 7, 2010

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Let’s go to New York so we don’t ignore them.

(A) Sustainable Development Media: I’m Pincas Jawetz from Sustainable Development Media:  I understand that you personally were ambassador to the Maldives before this position, and you had discussions with President Gayoom on renewable energy and our energy global problems.

Now India was part of the group with Brazil and South Africa and China and President Obama that saved somehow the Copenhagen meeting so it was not the disaster of the way how it was described, but actually there was some kind of a road map that came out of there.

But my question is now, thus with the Maldives, that were very prominent in Copenhagen, and India, what has actually happened since Copenhagen? And if this past week you had any discussions with India here in Washington?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Thank you for that question. As you say, I was accredited for the Maldives while I was ambassador in Sri Lanka and we had a number of good areas of cooperation with the Maldives that we started during that time, particularly in the solar and wind area. And we’re going to build on that cooperation with the Maldives going forward because President Nasheed and his team have really made climate change a very high strategic priority for their country because of the threats that they face from climate change if the current trends continue. I think all of us have been very grateful to the leadership that President Nasheed has shown, in addition to the leadership that Prime Minister Singh has shown.

As you correctly noted, the President welcomed the very important role that Prime Minister Singh played in the Copenhagen negotiations, to help bring those to a successful conclusion, and since then our two governments have been working very closely together, and India has formally now associated itself with that accord. India wants to work very closely with the United States and other countries to achieve a successful outcome in Mexico City.

So we had a conversation about this. Our climate change negotiator, Todd Stern, made a presentation during the Strategic Dialogue. Minister Jairam Ramesh was not, unfortunately, here for those talks. But he and Todd Stern remain in very close touch and I’d say that this is one of the many areas in which the United States and India are cooperating productively and closely on global issues.

——————

Moderator: We have time for two more questions. We’ll go to New York and take our last question here in Washington.

Sustainable Development Media: This is a different kind of strategic question. India has strong financial relationships in the Gulf area, especially with Dubai and Abu Dhabi; even in renewable energy. Now is there any chance for a triangular relationship between the United States, Emirates, maybe Qatar and India in these areas? My question is really on energy.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: We haven’t really discussed that yet, but that’s not a bad idea. What we have done, I’d say we have common interests in talking to the countries of the Gulf because many of those countries, not the governments themselves but elements within those countries, are providing support for the Taliban and for LET and for other groups like that. So I think we have a very important common interest in working together to address that financial threat. Again, indeed, that is a great focus in what we’re doing already with respect to the Taliban in Afghanistan. But I think there is scope for greater cooperation in that area.

——————

Looking at the above – the first cringe came when I learned that Indian Minister Jairam Ramesh was not in Washington for these June 2010 meetings.

Jairam Ramesh has been an elected member of the Indian Parliament representing Andhra Pradesh  since June 2004. He is the Indian Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forests since May, 2009. He is also a member of the National Advisory Council. From January 2006 to February, 2009, he was the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry and from April 2008 to February, 2009 was also the Minister of State for Power in the Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. He was the most prominent Indian Minister involved in the Copenhagen daily events.

From his biography we learned:

Ramesh bided his time after the Congress Party lost the 1989 elections and resurfaced in 1991 to provide intellectual inputs into Rajiv Gandhi’s election campaign. In recent years he has advised Sonia Gandhi, leader of the Congress party.

Following his 2009 re-election to the Indian Parliament, on May 28, 2009 Ramesh was given independent charge of Environment and Forests as Minister of State in the Congress-led administration. He was chief negotiator for India at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen, Denmark, between 7 to 18 December 2009.

Also – regarding the recent Bhopal verdict, a subject that is very much in India’s mind, Jairam Ramesh just said yesterday – June 9th, 2010:” The Verdict is Very Unsatisfactory.” In his 50’s now, Ramesh is a main factor when it comes to the environment.

————
NEW DELHI – by IANS – blog.taragana.com/law/2010/06/08/… – Terming the verdict in the Bhopal gas disaster “very unsatisfactory”, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh Tuesday said his ministry will focus on strictly implementing the environment protection law to ensure such incidents do not occur in future.

“It is a matter of deep anguish for me personally, and it has taken so long, and the verdict clearly is very unsatisfactory from every point of view. It has caused understandable furor, particularly among people affected by the tragedy, and civil society groups,” Ramesh told reporters here.

He said his ministry was concerned with implementing the Environment Protection Act, 1986, brought in by then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in the wake of the 1984 tragedy that killed thousands of people.

“What I can assure people is we will be strict without fear and favour in implementing the act so that future Bhopals don’t occur,” Ramesh said.

————

We bring this up as we thought he should have been in Washington in order to help align a joint US-India approach ahead of Cancun. But then we learned from another Indian source that – “On July 19-20, 2010 US Energy Secretary Chu will host a meeting of 20 of his colleagues (Ministers of Energy),  including India.    At that time he proposes to offer an invitation to join an initiative to promote white roofs to delay climate change, plus their familiar virtues.”   I assume thus that even without Mr. Ramesh, the presence of the Ministers of Energy at the meeting was helpful in coming up with practical ideas on climate issues.

But let us not sound negative. There is going to be on June 22, 2010 a meeting to receive the recommendations of a bilateral revitalized CEO Forum when U.S. and Indian cabinet secretaries gather again to meet with the CEOs and hear their thoughts on how our two governments can further relax restrictions and improve opportunities for trade and investment. It seems that above was said in context of joint developments in the energy sector using private enterprise and innovation – and “the United States plans to send a high level delegation of high tech and other innovation entrepreneurs to Delhi in the fall to develop new partnerships and initiatives in this area in advance of President Obama’s visit in November.”

So, there seems to be activity in those areas of our interest and agreements will be readied for President Obama’s trip to New Delhi in November 2010. This seems an extremely fast schedule when judged against the slow usually behaviour in Washington DC.


———————————-

FURTHER EXCHANGES IN ABOVE PRESS BRIEFING ON THE VARIOUS TOPICS OF INTEREST TO INDIA, US, AND OTHER FOREIGN MEDIA.

BUT FIRST THE INTRODUCTORY REMARKS BY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE Jr. :

FPC Briefing
Robert Blake Jr.
Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs
Foreign Press Center
Washington, DC
June 7, 2010

Over the last ten years we’ve made a systematic, bipartisan effort to improve relations between the United States and India, probably highlighted by the civil nuclear deal in the last administration.

President Obama and Prime Minister Singh decided they would try to elevate our partnership further by establishing this Strategic Dialogue between the United States and India. It was announced last year during Secretary Clinton’s visit to India that you’re familiar with.

Our meetings on June 2nd and June 3rd marked the inauguration of our first Strategic Dialogue. Those meetings featured a wide range of both plenary sessions and bilateral meetings between the U.S. and Indian delegations. Let me just focus on the plenary session.

Secretary Clinton and Minister Krishna led a very wide-ranging two and a half hour discussion that was then followed by a lunch session. I think it was notable because for the first time in our history we had large numbers of cabinet level secretaries on our side and ministers on the Indian side to share ideas and to consider strategic initiatives on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues.

The Secretary and Minister Krishna asked the delegations to use the opportunity to really conduct a strategic look at how we could focus our future cooperation. Obviously many of the ideas that surfaced will now be worked, but let me just touch briefly on some of the matters that were discussed.

Security and counterterrorism cooperation was a top priority. We discussed collaboration on a Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative to further improve information sharing and capacity building between our two countries, and we agreed to look at expanding cooperation in cyber security.

Energy cooperation was also a major focus. Charting a clean and lower carbon energy future is obviously very very important both to the United States and to India. The Indian side reaffirmed their commitment to moving forward with putting in place a nuclear liability regime that will open the door for U.S. companies to export civil nuclear technology to India.

We also discussed ways that the United States can help India to ensure that the massive infrastructure investments that will be made over the next two decades in India can benefit from Indo-U.S. cooperation on things like energy efficiency, smart grids, and many, many other new ideas that are being pioneered in both of our countries.

The United States also shared a draft Memorandum of Understanding with India on shale gas cooperation that both sides believe offers great promise in India.

On the economy, we discussed the importance of sustaining momentum in our trade growth which has doubled over the last five years. As you heard the Secretary say in her public remarks, she mentioned the important boost that India could give to trade and investment by raising some of the foreign direct investment caps that exist in areas such as retail, defense and insurance.

Both sides also look forward to receiving the recommendations of our revitalized CEO Forum when U.S. and Indian cabinet secretaries gather again on June 22nd to meet with the CEOs and hear their thoughts on how our two governments can further relax restrictions and improve opportunities for trade and investment.

The delegations also discussed a wide range of steps our two governments can take to ensure that innovation is a source of growth and dynamism for our two knowledge economies.

The United States plans to send a high level delegation of high tech and other innovation entrepreneurs to Delhi in the fall to develop new partnerships and initiatives in this area in advance of President Obama’s visit in November.

Minister Sibal, the Minister of Human Resources Development, also briefed on India’s hope to see passage this year of legislation that would allow foreign universities to establish campuses and offer degrees for the first time in India. We think this would open enormous new opportunities for American institutions of higher learning of all kinds and help drive new science and technology and other kinds of innovation.

One of the areas where we agreed that we will seek closer scientific collaboration is in the area of food security. Both sides agreed to establish working groups to develop concrete proposals for the United States and India to enhance food security in third countries; to strengthen farm to market links and food processing inside India; and also to develop an initiative to expand weather and crop forecasting.

The common theme underlying all of these discussions was what Secretary Clinton said in her remarks at the concluding press conference. How can the U.S. and India intensify our already wide cooperation to focus on how to deliver results that will make a difference in the lives of the people of the United States, of India, and of the wider world?

We capped the visit and the day with a very sparkling visit by our President who came over for a rare visit to the State Department to honor External Affairs Minister Krishna and his delegation. President Obama, as you all know, announced that he will visit India in November. And he emphasized that our partnership with India is one of his highest strategic priorities.

In sum, as the President says, the United States sees India as an indispensable partner as we move forward in the 21st Century. The Strategic Dialogue that we initiated last week took U.S.-India relations to unprecedented new levels of cooperation that will be highlighted during the President’s visit in November.

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THE ISSUES WITH HIGHEST INTEREST TO THE PRESS  IN ABOVE PRESS BRIEFING:

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(a) ON INNOVATION:

India Abroad News Service: Aziz Haniffa, India Abroad.

You spoke about a high level innovation delegation preceding
President Obama’s trip to India. Is this going to be sort of a private/public partnership kind of delegation? And Foreign Minister Krishna on his first stop spoke about innovation in terms of his keynote speech at the USIBC.

What exactly are you looking for in terms of the innovation that you are talking about? In terms of this high-level delegation?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Again, I don’t want to get into too much detail because this is really up to them to decide, but the idea is to bring together mostly private sector entrepreneurs and to have them take a fairly wide look at where they see the big opportunities as we’ve done with the CEO Forum and other kinds of groups that we have. And for them to then make recommendations to the two governments, but also to our two private sectors about how we can further develop innovation partnerships between, mostly between our private sectors. But if there are steps that the governments can take to kind of nurture that and help that we certainly welcome those suggestions as well.

(b) WHAT ARE THE EXPECTED RESULTS FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA’S TRIP TO INDIA.

What I am asking, Mr. Ambassador, what is the outcome from this visit? Because President Clinton opened the doors between U.S. and India relations and President Bush widely opened the doors by this signing the civil nuclear agreement with India. What do we expect anything new from President Obama’s visit to India?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Well, that’s exactly what we’re starting to work on right now is the details of what the President’s visit will entail, what will be the key areas of strategic focus, where will he visit, and all of these many important questions. But I can tell you that the President himself is looking forward to ambitious results, and again, sees our relations with India as one of the most consequential and indispensable of our partnerships in the world of the 21st Century. So we are going to develop a schedule and a series of results to match that.

(c) DO DOUBTS ON BOTH SIDES REMAIN REGARDING THE RELATIONSHIP?

The Hindu: Hi Ambassador, it’s nice to see you here.

My question is on a remark that the Secretary made during the course of the dialogue at one of the briefings, I think, where she said that doubts still remain on both sides regarding some aspects of the relationship. Just looking at the U.S. side of things, she did say that doubts remain on the U.S. side about whether India was ready to take up a certain position in the world and in this relationship, and specifically she mentioned loosening regulations in a wide range of areas. The economy, for example, but I would see that as applying also to the nuclear liability question, possibly the education sector.

So how serious are these doubts which the Secretary very clearly enunciated? And how do you see them being dispelled over the course of the next few months or this year?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: I think the Secretary made reference to those doubts because there are doubters within our strategic community about the whole relationship. We’ve heard those doubts before.

I think the dialogue really helped to dispel many of those doubts. As I said earlier, the External Affairs Minister and his delegation reaffirmed their intention to seek passage of the Nuclear Liability Law this year. The same with the education bill that I referred to that would open India up to foreign investment by foreign universities. So I think those were helpful.

But obviously India is a democracy, and often a complicated one, so they’re going to have to wrestle with many of these issues. But from our side I have to say, just speaking as a government representative, a senior government representative, we don’t have any doubts that India’s going to be one of our most important partners in the 21st Century and already there’s been tremendous progress in our relations just in the last ten years. We expect that progress to continue as the Indian economy grows, as more and more Indians come to the United States to study here, as more and more Americans hopefully go to India to study, as the Indian-American community here continues to grow in importance and in size.

So we feel we have these common values and common interests that unlike almost any other country in the world we will really be able to use and benefit to help the peoples of our two countries and also increasingly the peoples of the world. So that’s a quite profound statement that you heard from the Secretary and from the President himself. That’s why I think we have mostly optimism about the future course of our relations. Certainly there are these short term obstacles that we’ve got to overcome, but again, I think there’s great and substantial optimism about the future.

—————–

(d) ON THE BHOPAL DISASTER AND ON THE NEW DAVID HADLEY CASE – IS THERE IMPUNITY FOR US BUSINESS?

CNN IBN: Welcome Secretary Blake. This is Indira Kannan from CNN IBN. I have two questions.

The first one is about David Headley. I want to understand if India and the U.S. have any sort of mechanism to verify any information that is being received from David Headley. Is he required to give this information under oath? If so, who is administering that oath?

As you’re aware, an Indian court has delivered a verdict on the Bhopal gas tragedy, and I understand that an earlier request by the Indian government to extradite Warren Anderson, the former Chairman of Union Carbide, was turned down by the U.S. Would the U.S. now be more receptive to any request for extradition of Warren Anderson or other American officials? And would the U.S. also be willing to exert any pressure on Dow Chemical in terms of compensation in the way that you are intending to do in the case of BP for instance?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: On the matter of Bhopal and the announcement that was made today by the Indian courts, that is an internal matter to India. So if you have any questions about that I’d just refer you to the courts themselves about that decision.  The question of extradition: as a matter of policy we never discuss extradition, so I can’t comment on that.

Times of India: Why is there such lack of clarity and candor? And do you realize that it leads to all kinds of suspicions in India? If you look at the kind of feedback that stories on this get, that the U.S. is protecting him, that you’re shielding him, that he’s a double agent, triple agent, and so on. And in fact since India mentioned Warren Anderson, for those of us who covered Bhopal and its aftermath, it actually reminds us of the kind of cooperation or non-cooperation that the U.S. administration offered when the terms were made to get at Mr. Anderson.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Let me just say that there’s been a great deal of transparency and close cooperation between our two governments. For obvious law enforcement reasons there are many things that we can’t share with the press, but again, I think we’ve had very good and close cooperation on this particular issue, and I think our Indian friends would confirm that.

Times of India: If I can follow-up, Ambassador. There are 172 families who lost members of families here, so I really wonder why is it necessary to hide it from the press or keep this from the press?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Well it’s because the case is still going on. It’s much better not to comment on these things while such cases are ongoing. So again, there’s cooperation taking place that’s very constructive between our two governments that we can’t necessarily describe to the press.

News X: Ambassador Blake, Anirudh Bhattacharyya. I represent a couple of Indian news organizations, News X and the Sun Times. I have two questions. Unfortunately, the second one is about Headley, but I’ll come to the first one. It’s about Bhopal.

You know, this is a follow-up to a previous question. You’ve been putting pressure on BP in terms of the Gulf oil spill. Will there be pressure put on Dow in terms of reparations with regard to the Bhopal disaster? Is that going to happen from the U.S. side at this point in time?

The second question about Headley is, there have been a lot of reports in the Indian media about how he may not have been cooperating fully with the Indian investigators. My question is indirect. My question is basically, if he doesn’t cooperate fully, doesn’t that invalidate the terms of the plea bargain agreement itself? That says that he needs to cooperate fully with investigators.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Again, I’m not going to comment on Headley. I’m neither a lawyer nor a Department of Justice expert, so anything I say will probably not be well placed.

With respect to Bhopal, obviously that was one of the greatest industrial tragedies and industrial accidents in human history. Let me just say that we hope this verdict today helps bring some closure to the victims and their families. But I don’t expect this verdict to reopen any new inquiries or anything like that. On the contrary we hope this is going to help bring closure.

—-

(e) ON EXPORT CONTROLS:

Washington Trade Daily: Thank you. Jim Berger from Washington Trade Daily.

One item that was high in the Indian agenda for these talks anyway was easing of U.S. export controls as a follow-on to the nuclear agreement and the calls for high technology and so on. But the U.S., the administration is in the midst of reforming its controls as well as Congress. Were there any discussions of how India might be treated in a new export controls regime? Or is it just too early?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Well as you say, there are two separate processes going on here. One is a wider review on the part of the administration of the overall export control regime. I think you’ve heard Secretary Gates and others have made some quite detailed statements about that.

The second is the India-specific review that also is underway and in fact we will probably split off from the wide review. As you all know, we have made a great deal of progress over the last six years or so in reducing the export controls that apply to India. Now less than one-half of one percent of all exports require any sort of a license at all, and most of those are presumed to be approved. So again, there’s been a lot of progress, but there still are some controls and so there’s a reciprocal process underway now to seek the necessary assurances from the Indians about the strengthening of their own export control regime that would enable us to relax our restrictions.

So I anticipate that there is going to be further good progress on this and we had a good exchange during the Strategic Dialogue in which we shared ideas about how we could achieve that good progress. So I expect there will be some positive announcements to be made before the President’s visit, hopefully well before.

.
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(f) ON THE INDIA – PAKISTAN – US TRIANGLE AND THE FIGHT ON TERRORISM – AFGHANISTAN:

India Globe and Asia Today: Thank you, Mr. Blake. Raghubir Goyal, India Globe and Asia Today.

Mr. Ambassador, this was a very high level meet between the two countries, largest and oldest democracies, and many call it a big drama in Washington. But what I’m asking you, my question is that there is a triangle — India, Pakistan and the United States. Many people are concerned in India as there is terrorism across the border into India from Pakistan. What they are saying is that until, unless that is solved, they feel that U.S. may be a little soft as far as dealing with the terrorism against India is concerned. People in India live in fear, and people in the United States live under the fear of terrorism.

Where do we go from here? Because this is the most important issue for both countries. And I think around the globe for everybody.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: First of all let me say that the United States will never be soft on terrorism. This is our highest priority and this is the area that we have probably made the greatest progress in terms of our cooperation with India in terms of not only law enforcement cooperation, but also intelligence cooperation.

We take extremely seriously the threats against both of our countries because we believe that there is increasingly a syndicate that is operating in countries like Pakistan that threatens both of our countries. It also threatens Pakistan itself, and that’s a point that I’ve made frequently not only here but during my recent trip to Pakistan.

So we feel it’s in the interest of all three countries to address this very critical problem, to work together. So we have been in the forefront of countries urging Pakistan to not only continue the progress it has been making in Swat and South Waziristan, but also to address the problem in the Punjab, namely the Punjab based groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba that are operating against India, that have also targeted the United States in the Mumbai bombings and elsewhere.

Again, this will remain a very very high priority for us and you should not doubt the sincerity of that statement.

India Globe and Asia Today: May I have one more, Mr. Ambassador?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Sure.

India Globe and Asia Today: As far as the presidential announcement to India is concerned, this will be President Obama’s first official visit to India and he was looking forward even before he was senator. This announcement was taken very seriously and with joy toward India. They are looking forward to welcome him.

VOA Pashto/Urdu: Thank you very much. Iftikhar Hussain for Voice of America Pakistan, Afghanistan, border region service.

First of all the Strategic Dialogue of the United States with India was in broader terms, but India is indispensable partner. Pakistan is a strategic ally. Was there any concern from India in respect to relations with Pakistan in the current situation? Or in some way it is hindering the U.S. efforts in the region? Did it come up during talks with the United States officials?

And secondly, we have been listing in media reports last week about the Shazad, the New York failed plot accused. Did any take on the U.S. [inaudible] was traced back to Pakistani soil? And there is an option if Pakistan in a sense doesn’t cooperate fully on that. So what we are hearing on that front from Pakistan to cooperate with the United States. And I’m not sure if you can tell us on.

On the third question, the jirga, consultative peace jirga three-day, which is held in Kabul, in Afghanistan, and just ended and issued a statement demanding peace and also talks with the Taliban. So how the United States is looking to the developments in the region?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Let me just stick to the topic at hand which is the Strategic Dialogue. Let me say there was a discussion that was chaired by our Under Secretary Burns and Foreign Secretary Rao in which they touched briefly on Pakistan, but again, this is an area that really, as you know, our longstanding position is that this is something that needs to be resolved by India and Pakistan, and the pace and scope and character of that dialogue between your two countries is really up to your two countries to decide.

I said earlier that we’ve taken a strong position on terrorism that is emanating from Pakistan soil. That remains our very strong conviction, that it’s in Pakistan’s own interest to address that and we’ll continue to encourage our Pakistani friends to do that.

But really in terms of the Strategic Dialogue, there was much more time spent on issues like Afghanistan where, again, I think our two countries are working very productively together not only to help with the civilian reconstruction of Afghanistan and to help build the Afghan economy and provide capacity building, but also to discuss the very important reconciliation process that is now beginning.

I think we had a very good conversation in which the Indian side I think had many of their questions answered. Obviously I’ll let them speak for their own concerns, but again, I think it was a good and productive discussion.
VOA Afghanistan: Thank you. This is Ashiqullah, Voice of American Afghanistan Services. Thank you, sir.

My question is particularly about the proxy war that there have been reports of proxy war going on in Afghanistan, between Pakistan and Afghanistan. A couple of places have been attacked in Afghanistan for which Pakistan was accused, and the same thing happened in Pakistan for which India was accused. And we understand that Afghanistan being on the top priority of foreign policy of the United States and the United States has always asked the support of regional countries, of which India is one, and the neighboring countries, Pakistan is one. And this burden cannot be taken by the U.S. alone. It has to be shared by the regional countries and also the international community.

The proxy war of India and Pakistan is undermining U.S. and international efforts in Afghanistan. Was this issue in any way discussed in the Strategic Dialogue between the U.S. and India, or on the sidelines of the Strategic Dialogue? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: I wouldn’t say it was a major focus of what we talked about. Again, we were much more focused on the future of Afghanistan and how the training effort is going and the reconciliation process and the whole process of rebuilding the economy and so forth. But in the past we have talked about it. The United States has expressed its condolences to India for the losses that it suffered in the attacks on the guest house that you mentioned and also the attacks on its own emabassy that have taken place. But we also have reaffirmed our support for the very important work that India has undertaken there and our determination to see if we can find ways to work together more in Afghanistan. Because we do believe that India is playing a constructive role. So that may be a new area of cooperation for us.
(g ) ABOUT NEPAL:

AFP: Shaun Tanden with AFP.

I know this isn’t the topic at hand, but I was wondering if you had any perspectives on developments in Nepal. There was —

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Let me stick to India, but I’d be happy to talk about Nepal another time, or we can have a separate interview about that if you want to.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Ma’am. And then we’ll go to New York afterwards.

India This Week & Express India: Geeta Goindi with India This Week and Express India.

You just mentioned a lot of reasons, you just praised India a lot. Given its phenomenal progress and it’s the largest democracy with over a billion people. It’s difficult to comprehend why it doesn’t have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. I want to ask you, given that the U.S. is supporting India’s rights and being so vocal about that, shouldn’t it be more vocal about India’s seat on the council?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: I think Under Secretary Burns addressed that question in the very important speech that he gave last Monday, a week ago now, at the Council on Foreign Relations in which he said that India’s expanding global influence will naturally make it an important part of any future consideration of UN Security Council reform. And that’s I think the most forward leaning statement we’ve made so far about this. But it does reflect, again, our growing confidence in India’s positive influence in the world.

But we’ve also made clear that there’s an ongoing process within our government about the whole question of UN Security Council reform and how to expand the council while at the same time maintaining the effectiveness of the council. And that’s really where the debate is now focused within our own government.

——————————

Indian-American community here continues to grow in importance and in size.

So we feel we have these common values and common interests that unlike almost any other country in the world we will really be able to use and benefit to help the peoples of our two countries and also increasingly the peoples of the world. So that’s a quite profound statement that you heard from the Secretary and from the President himself. That’s why I think we have mostly optimism about the future course of our relations. Certainly there are these short term obstacles that we’ve got to overcome, but again, I think there’s great and substantial optimism about the future.

###

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

From Jeannette Larue, Coordinator Environmental Education, Ministry of Education, Seychelles. 5/19/2010.

To celebrate Earth Day, the Ministry of Education in Seychelles, organized a public speaking competition for its young people to give their views on climate change. Please find attached an article on the outcomes.

Young Islanders from Seychelles disappointed with COP 15.


Young Islands from the Seychelles islands say that they are “profoundly” disappointed with COP 15 conference. They felt that as future leaders of this planet, and the inheritance of climate change impact, their future is being decided “for” them instead of “with” them.  All these feelings were expressed during a public speaking competition organized by the Ministry of Education to celebrate Earth Day 2010.

Prior to the competition, a workshop was organized for secondary school students, and their teachers, where they learnt about the reasons for organizing such an important conference in December 2009.  They also learnt about the COP 15, the different negotiations which took place there, and looked at the COP 15 Accord.  The competition provided secondary students with an opportunity to give their opinions on COP 15 whereas the Primary ones topic was ‘Stop! We do not want to live in a world of Climate Change.’

The competition was a very tough one, especially for the secondary students which proved that a lot of research was done on the topic. The students concentrated on their position as young islanders.

All teams stated that they were disappointed with the results of COP 15.  One of the team stated that the negotiation should have been an “open, democratic, party driven, transparent, inclusive, legitimate and accountable” but due to the final decisions being made “just between a few” and “behind closed doors” showed that “the super powers’ greed overruled the small island stated needs.”  They felt that as SIDS, ‘life is so unfair’ and that the “superpowers bullied us!!”   They said that even if so much money was spent, people met, voices cried out, in the end, superpowers once again put their self-interest first instead of the health of the planet, though they accepted in the accord that climate change is real.

Anse Boileau team, the winners of the competition argued that even now, days after the meeting, they are still asking themselves whether this whole ordeal really paid off.  They further disputed that the biggest losers from COP 15 are the SIDS and that as young SIDS people they are very disappointed as COP 15 have “failed to meet our expectation for the future.”

They strongly pointed out that “the Accord was not acknowledged by all present …” for decisions were made mainly by the same “major polluters who got to write down what they thought was best for the world.”  In the end they said, “It was not negotiable it was jammed down the throat of the rest of the world” and that SIDS, as major victims were left out. They also said that they were not happy with Maldives who was amongst the final small group which drafted the Accord; they did not defend SIDS enough they said. They felt that there was no transparency in the negotiation and it was undemocratic and asked the audience “Why was such a negotiation held, don’t the rich countries want us, small island to exist?” They said that they supported their Seychellois delegates for not endorsing the agreement made.

The participants of competition also argued that as future victims of climate change and leaders of tomorrow, they felt that “youth were left out of the whole process at Copenhagen.” They said that although many youth were present, they were not included in the final decision making process. For that they say:

“Our future was being decided FOR us, but not WITH us.  They (other youth around the world) like us didn’t feel valued.  I wonder how the rich countries would have felt if they were in our shoes and they have to live to see effect of their decisions.”

One team even stressed that even if their President, James Michel, tried to plead for their survival, it fell upon deaf ears. Similarly, another team sadly put it as “… the Copenhagen conference and its subsequent Accord did not deal Seychelles a fair deal, we were ignored and our request for survival denied.  Our future is at stake, we need to act now’.

One of the teams which came from the second largest residential islands, Praslin, brought forward several examples of how their once beautiful coasts are now being battered by climate change.  They explained that for them “climate change is already a reality, and this issue is of urgency.  Waiting for 2015 to review and consider the reduction of emission is far too late. But then the gravity of the existing problems will have multiplied.”

Some of the teams acknowledged that the accord at least made reference that funding will be needed to assist developing and the least developing countries.  But most of them also stated that too often there are frustrating delays where it comes to accessing large donor funds.  The Praslinois argued that “we felt that money will not solve the existing problem,” and that “much of the money earmarked for climate adaptation, the global community is left resembling an alcoholic who has decided to save up for a liver transplant rather than give up drinking.” They question if the money will bring back their beautiful eroding beaches.

To conclude the teams expressed that they are “disappointed”, “frustrated”, “angered” and “saddened”, especially as the accord was made by “a selected few”. Seychelles youth said that “fear of becoming climate change refugees and loosing our way of life, culture and identify.” Young islanders from Seychelles islands are calling upon world leaders stating that it’s high time “we stop the talk and start walking the talk.” They further stated that “we therefore, reaffirm that the cost of inaction today will be higher tomorrow than the cost of action today.” Stop talking they said, take action to reduce carbon emission for that is our main problem.


They also strongly recommended that at the next COP 16, all government of SIDS, including Seychelles, should have at least one youth representative on their team and that young people must be involved, stop underestimating them they said. They further requested that: “Decision makers need to understand that whatever decision they make today, they may not live to see their outcomes.  We, the youth of island states, we are the frontline of being totally gone, WE NEED TO SURVIVE!  So listen to us, we can help”.

Teams called upon all youths around the world to stand together and ask boldly, in the name of their future that “more be done to make 350 ppm and 1.5 degrees goal a reality to ensure our survival.” The youth from Seychelles also called up upon young people from other SIDS to fight against the decision made at COP 15. “They have not done enough for us, the SIDS,” they said.

“It is now or never.  Now is the time to save our planet.  To do the right thing before it is too late.  We are fighting for 1.5 degrees to stay alive,” they emphasised. They concluded that “we are glad to form part of the global community of young people who are increasingly taking bold steps to protect our planet against climate.” As for world leaders, they are insisting that it is high time to try to take decision “WITH US” they said instead of “FOR US”.


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

India-China competition dims hopes for regional cooperation.


By HARSH V. PANT
The Japan Times online, Monday, May 17, 2010.
LONDON — Established in 1985, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) had its 16th summit meeting in Thimpu, Bhutan, late last month. Apart from the fact that Bhutan hosted its first SAARC summit, there was hardly anything that inspired confidence in this largely moribund organization that is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its founding this year.

Covering at least 1.5 billion people across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives and Afghanistan, SAARC is one of the largest regional organizations in the world. But its achievements so far have been so minimal that even its constituents have become lackadaisical in their attitudes toward it. The state of regional cooperation in South Asia can be gleaned from the fact that Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani went to Bhutan via Nepal, using Chinese territory in Tibet rather than the straightforward route through India.

Bhutan chose climate change as the theme of the summit, and the eight-nation grouping delivered a Silver Jubilee declaration titled “Toward a Green and Happy South Asia.” The focus, however, was the agreement on trade in services signed during the summit. Intraregional trade in South Asia remains far below its potential despite the member states’ signing the South Asian Free Trade Agreement, which went into force in 2006.

For long, the dominant narrative of SAARC has been how the India-Pakistan rivalry hampers the group’s evolution into something significant. That is now losing salience amid China’s growing dominance of the South Asian landscape.

China entered SAARC as an observer in 2005, supported by most member states; India could do little about it and so acquiesced. Now, much to India’s consternation, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal are supporting China’s full membership in SAARC. China’s rising profile in South Asia is not news. What is astonishing is the diminishing role of India and the rapidity with which New Delhi is ceding strategic space to Beijing on the subcontinent.

Even as China becomes the largest trade partner of most states in South Asia, including India, New Delhi is busy repeating the old mantra of South Asia being India’s exclusive sphere of influence.

Of course, no one takes note of that anymore. Pakistan’s all-weather friendship with China is well-known, but the reach of China in other South Asian states has been extraordinary. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka view India as more interested in creating barriers against exports than in spurring regional economic integration. India’s protectionist tendencies have allowed China to don the mantle of regional economic leader. Instead of India emerging as the facilitator of socio-economic development in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, it is China’s developmental assistance that has impact.

India’s attempts to keep China out of the subcontinent have clearly not worked, and it’s time to re-evaluate its South Asia policy. China’s strategy toward South Asia is premised on encircling India and confining her within the geographical coordinates of the region. This strategy of using proxies started with Pakistan and has gradually evolved to include other states in the region, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. China is entering markets in South Asia more aggressively through trade and investment, improving linkages with South Asian states through treaties and bilateral cooperation.

It is following up on this by establishing a ring of road and port connections in India’s neighborhood and deepening military engagements with states on India’s periphery. This quiet assertion of China has prompted various smaller countries in South Asia to play China off against India. Most states in the region now use the China card to try to offset the influence of India. India’s structural dominance in South Asia makes it a natural target of resentment among its smaller neighbors.

Yet, there is no hope for regional economic cooperation in the absence of Indian leadership. The failure of India to counter China’s rise has made it even more unlikely that such cooperation will evolve productively. As the two regional giants compete with each other in the near future, they will be more focused on relative gains vis-a-vis each other than on the absolute gains that regional cooperation can bestow.

Liberals in South Asia have long taken their inspiration from extraordinary developments in the European Union (EU), arguing that South Asia could also go down a similar path of regional economic and political cooperation.

That comparison is fundamentally flawed, however. The states in Western Europe arrived at the EU only after resolving persistent security dilemmas. And the U.S. security umbrella continues to ensure that European political rivalries do not raise their ugly heads again.

In South Asia, the security dynamics between a large India and its smaller neighbors ensures that the road to economic and political cooperation will be a bumpy one. And that road will become even more difficult to traverse with the emergence of China.

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

###

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 January 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

OK, there are disputes among Indian scientists and Indian officials who have connections to Indian oil industry. We knew this all the time and where not happy when under US President G.W. Bush the US pushed out under US business interests push, the scientific head of the IPCC and put in place the proxy Indians. But then, obviously, India is also not homogeneous – so we see internal Indian disputes.
YES – THE GLACIERS ARE MELTING AND NOBODY CAN PREDICT ACCURATELY THE YEAR OF THEIR FUTURE DEMISE – so what? The melting of these glaciers causes floods in the valleys – we know it because we see it. Yes, after they melt there will be draught – that is logic – it is implied in future shortage – that is clear. Those that love oil do not want to let go of it, and those that own refineries do not want to lose their investment – that is clear.
When lots of ice from above earth sites melts it will cause floods on coast line communities – that is clear. The melting of glaciers and the Antarctic ice will cause sea-level rise and floods – that can be sworn by – that is clear. Which island will disappear before 2013 or after – OK – that is not quite clear.
So what all this noise and only the UN can sound retreat – we do not. We also said that the relief of pressure on the tectonic plates because of the melting away of ice can cause earthquakes in areas where the plates meet – like the recent Tsunami belt over the earthquake belt shows. There are no scientific statements on this – only plain logic statements – so what? Yes we stopped short of our statement after the Haiti quakes and said – this one we do not exactly sense how it happened as we do not know of faults in that area. This is our lack of knowledge in this case that calls for help but it does not negate the prior statements. Science is not instantaneous – it requires further thinking and theories and proof if possible – not plain squabbles by industry-backed deniers and knee-jerk reactions by the UN. (our comments to the following news)

——————

SCIENCE, SPHERE, aol, January 21, 2010.

UN Climate Body Eats Crow Over Glacier Warning.

from Theunis Bates, a Contributor.

LONDON (Jan. 20) — It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood disaster movie: Central and Southern Asia are hit by biblical floods when the Himalayan glaciers suddenly melt. After that cataclysm, water no longer flows from the mountains, leaving rivers like the Mekong and Ganges dry and millions facing permanent drought. That was the picture painted by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report, which said there was a “very high” chance that these glaciers would disappear by 2035 if the world kept warming.

But the IPCC, the U.N. body charged with investigating climate change, has retracted that claim after it emerged that its predictions of a sudden melt weren’t based on peer-reviewed evidence, but instead on an article that appeared in the popular science magazine New Scientist in 1999.

Himalayan glacier

Subel Bhandari, AFP / Getty Images
While the Khumbu Glacier near Mount Everest is shrinking, the United Nations admits it overstated the threat of a total glacial meltdown in the Himalayas.

Climate change skeptics have lapped up the scandal, which they’ve already dubbed “Glaciergate,” saying that it further erodes the credibility of climate science already damaged by last year’s Climategate e-mail scandal. Global warming denier Peter Foster, writing in Canada’s National Post, said the error showed how the “IPCC’s task has always been not objectively to examine science but to make the case for man-made climate change by any means available.”

But Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice chairman of the IPCC, said the mistake did not undermine the report’s key conclusions: that the warming climate is accelerating glacial melt and that this will affect the supply of water from the world’s major mountain ranges, “where more than one-sixth of the world population currently lives.”

“I don’t see how one mistake in a 3,000-page report can damage the credibility of the overall report,” van Ypersele told the BBC. “Some people will attempt to use it to damage the credibility of the IPCC; but if we can uncover it and explain it and change it, it should strengthen the IPCC’s credibility, showing that we are ready to learn from our mistakes.”

The argument over the IPCC’s melt date went public last November, when a paper written by Indian geologist Vijay Kumar Raina revealed that there was little consistency in the behavior of the Himalayan glaciers. Some were shrinking, he found, some expanding, and others were stable. If global warming were to blame, he asked, why weren’t they all following the same pattern? “A glacier … does not necessarily respond to the immediate climatic changes,” he wrote. “For if it be so then all glaciers within the same climatic zone should have been advancing or retreating at the same time.”

India’s environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, endorsed the paper and accused the IPCC of being “alarmist” in its predictions. But IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri shot back that Raina’s findings were “voodoo science” and accused Ramesh of repeating the claims of “climate change deniers.”

Embarrassingly, it’s now the IPCC that stands accused of sloppy science, as a rigorous system of fact checks would have kept the controversial assertion out of the 2007 report. The claim first appeared in a 1999 interview between a New Scientist journalist and the Indian glaciologist Syed Hasnain, who speculated that the mountain range’s glaciers could vanish by 2035.

Environmental group the World Wildlife Fund then repeated Hasnain’s prediction in its 2005 report, “An Overview of Glaciers, Glacier Retreat, and Subsequent Impacts in Nepal, India and China.” As this was only was a campaigning paper, it had not undergone a thorough scientific review. But its lack of scientific rigor didn’t stop the IPCC using the WWF document as a source.

In chapter 10 of its 2007 report, the IPCC concluded: “Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world, and if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate. Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 square kilometers by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005).”

But many glaciologists believed those claims were overheated. As most Himalayan glaciers are hundreds of feet thick, only a sudden, huge spike in global temperatures could cause them to disappear before 2035. “The reality, that the glaciers are wasting away, is bad enough,” Graham Cogley, a glaciologist at Canada’s University of Trent, who played a key role in exposing the flawed claim, told the United Kingdom’s Sunday Times. “But they are not wasting away at the rate suggested by this speculative remark and the IPCC report. The problem is that nobody who studied this material bothered chasing the trail back to the original point when the claim first arose.”

Indian glaciologist Murari Lal, the lead author of that section of the IPCC report, last week rejected claims that the U.N. group had made a serious error. “We relied rather heavily on gray [not peer-reviewed] literature, including the WWF report,” Lal told New Scientist. “The error, if any, lies with Dr Hasnain’s assertion and not with the IPCC authors.”

Unsurprisingly, Hasnain has refuted that attempt to pass the blame. “The magic number of 2035 has not [been] mentioned in any research papers written by me, as no peer-reviewed journal will accept speculative figures,” he said to New Scientist. “It is not proper for IPCC to include references from popular magazines or newspapers.”

That’s a tough but obvious lesson, and one the IPCC is unlikely to forget.

###

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

From: Franny Armstrong <franny@spannerfilms.net>

Date: Wed, Jan 13, 2010
Subject: [Age-of-Stupid] Waving goodbye to The Age of Stupid + Piers needs you

<< STOP PRESS – Piers the Stupid windfarm man is back in Bedford Town Hall all this week, making one last attempt to get some wind turbines stuck up at Airfield Farm. ie in the very same spot he was fighting to get them up in the film, back in 2005. He’d greatly appreciate any support from anyone who can turn up at the hearings dressed in blue. See his letter at the bottom of this message. >>

Hello and Happy New Decade,

So I thought this was rather symbolic: my friend bet a thousand quid that I couldn’t go one year without uttering the words “climate change”. Now I was feeling pretty confident, come Dec 31st, what with having any number of alternatives up my sleeve: you know, “global warming”, “greenhouse effect”, “anthropogenic warming”. So, anyway, there we were at my granny’s house in Dorset, watching Jools Holland count down to the new decade, and, on the stroke of midnight, in come 12 pipers piping, followed by a man dressed in a polar bear suit. “What do you think that’s all about then?” says friend, at precisely 7 seconds into the new year. To which I reply “Surely it’s got to be climate change”.
And therein lies the problem.
When we finished making The Age of Stupid eighteen months ago (eighteen months ago!), you see, Lizzie and I agreed we would promote it all the way to Copenhagen in December 2009 and then go our separate ways, patting ourselves on the back at a job well done and at a small contribution to keeping the atmosphere habitable to human life. With 18 months being 17 months more active promotion than yer average documentary gets to shake its bootie at. So off we went to Copenhagen – sponsored by many of you fine people, thanks again – and threw ourselves into The Stupid Show, which I will be going on about at great length in the next message, just as soon as we’ve sorted all the videos into some comprehensible order, but which was kind-of brilliant in a madcapedly underresourced way.

What the hell happened at Copenhagen?
I can’t explain better than:
The final message that Lizzie and I filmed at 7pm on the last Sunday, after two long weeks inside the Bella Centre
– The final Stupid Show featuring Tony Juniper, Mark Lynas, Ed Miliband, Kumi Naidoo and President Nasheed from The Maldives in various states of exhaustion after we’d all been awake since Friday and everyone else had gone home.
The Climate Scoreboard, which calculates that the Copenhagen accord (a weaker thing than a deal or an agreement, specially cos we don’t yet know whether anyone is going to sign up) would commit us to a 3.9 degree global temperature rise, which would mean something like: all coral dead, most forests dead, Southern Europe a desert, Australia with no agriculture and Africa uninhabitable. So not great then.
Radiohead’s Thom Yorke with The Stupid Show team shortly after he’d signed up to 10:10


The Age of Stupid, the film, is all over, therefore we can retire?
-> Team Stupid has done a fantastic job over the last few months putting everything in place so that the film will continue to be watched all around the world for years to come. Distribution deals are signed & sealed from Australia to Armenia. The DVDs are flying off the shelves. The Stupid shop has moved to its new home in a big warehouse. Indie Screenings is being handed over to our UK distributors Dogwoof. The downloads are winging their way through cyberspace and the pirates are swopping bittorrents for free on the internet, feeling smug whilst they do it (how come they get the best of all worlds? Couldn’t they at least feel bad as they nick our hard work?). There’s plenty more TV screenings coming up, including Discovery in America in March or April. We’re thinking that the prize for keenest country goes to the Netherlands, where 200,000 viewers watched it on mainstream TV the other week, 120,000 DVDs have been printed (70,000 given away in Belgium and the rest ordered by shops in Holland) and, according to several Dutch friends telling me independently, “Age of Stupid” has become a must-say phrase in the mainstream media, even when not talking about the film.
-> Cash-wise, the first of ten annual payments to our crowd-funders & crew went out last week. Sorry that we just missed Christmas: the problem was that 100+ of the 400 people wrote in to change their details, so that slowed things down considerably. But you should have got your cash now and if you haven’t please contact our accountant Kevin Lyons on theageofstupid@mklp.co.uk. About 40 people said they were delighted and/or surprised with their payment and one said he was totally regretting ever getting involved with the film, so that’s not such a bad ratio. Sorry we haven’t quite yet made you all millionaires.
-> Team Stupid has now disbanded. Many have packed their laptops and headed upstairs to 10:10 (Dan, Leo, Mal), one has gone to film school (Ben), two back to their old dayjobs (Sylvia, Sara), two unaccounted for somewhere in Copenhagen (Tom, Luke), one last seen heading off in a campervan surrounded by Danish police (Rop), one to a great job at the Carbon Trust (Andrew), one to musical adventures (Nick) and one to continue internationally coordinating NGOs (Jahlia).
-> Which therefore means that the winner of the lucky draw to captain the good ship Spanner Films solo from now till eternity is…. Rhiannon Roberts. Round of applause please. Yes, the poor gal will be all alone in Stupid Towers from now on – except we’re getting kicked out of Stupid Towers so will have to find a desk for her to squat somewhere else. So all Stupid or Spanner Films-related enquiries should now go to the hardy lass on rhiannon@ageofstupid.net. She’s only got 400 emails in her inbox at the moment, so sure she’ll get back to you real soon.
-> Having said all that, Andy Moore is also popping in from time to time, finishing up the American DVD, sorting out the Stupid Show, archiving all the used teabags and whathaveyou. He’s on andy@ageofstupid.net
-> Miss Lizzie doesn’t yet know whether she’ll do more filmmaking, more campaigning or more politicking but you can rest assured you haven’t heard the last from her… As for myself, I guess I fall into the next paragraph…

Rhiannon Roberts realises that where once there were nine she now stands alone


The Age of Stupid, the era, is not all over, therefore we cannot retire?

The deal they were supposed to agree in Copenhagen is meant to replace the Kyoto Treaty, which ends at the end of 2012. They didn’t manage in Copenhagen (the UN meeting called COP15), but all is not lost, as there is another shinding happening in Mexico next December, called, you guessed it, COP16. So if the deal can be done then, it can still come in in 2013, as Kyoto finishes, and that would be pretty much the same difference. We just lost a year of preparation time, which isn’t the end of the world.
So what can we, the humble citizens, do to help ensure that the deal gets done in Mexico?
Stupid is dead! Long live 10:10!
As The Guardian’s New Year’s Day 10:10 special edition headlined, “The politicians failed at Copenhagen. Now it’s over to you.”
When the politicians meet again next in Mexico in December, they need to be confronted by the news that the people – and businesses and schools and churches and table tennis clubs – have gone ahead on their own and started cutting emissions. Not in a changing-a-few-lightbulbs way, or in setting more long-distance targets, but in terms of actually knocking a few percent off the total emissions of whole countries in less than a year. Quite a task. To quote myself quoted in the Guardian (much easier than re-writing): “I think Copenhagen marks the end of traditional campaigning on climate change. Enough banners, enough websites, enough shouting in the streets. Now we need to roll up our sleeves and start solving the problem, all together. If we wait until the politicians get their act together, it will be too late.”
There is no way that the politicians would be able to ignore the people plonking, say, 2% cuts from, say, UK, Australia, Germany, Iceland, Norway and the Maldives down on the Mexico table, just as they’re having their first coffee. Or, to put it more positively, the politicians would realise that the citizens are ready to build the low-carbon future and this will give them the political space they need to make the deal as strong as the science demands.
10:10 is absolutely storming ahead in the UK, so the major mission now is to get at least 7 or 8 other countries up to speed, out of the 33 which have contacted us wanting to set up their own version of 10:10 (rather hilariously, the main national broadcaster in the Netherlands launched their very own 10:10 last week. Not sure how we feel about this, but we have anyway now bought in super-star coordinator Susan Alzner – she of the UN climate week triumph (and Stupid Show laugh-o-meter, fact fans) – who will be presenting her world domination plans at the first 10:10 Board Meeting, er, tomorrow and then starting to implement the plan on Friday).
Here’s how you can get involved:
-> If you haven’t yet committed to cut your 10% this year, sign up now at www.1010uk.org. If you’re not in the UK, sign up at www.1010global.org. You’ve already missed the first 13 days of 2010, so have a little bit of catching up to do. Then persuade your kids’ school, your workplace, your girlfriend’s college and your grandfather’s knitting circle to sign up too. You’ll be joining: 53,874 people, 2,041 businesses, 1,051 Schools, Unis and Colleges and 1,424 other organisations. Big name sign-up of last week: Sony. Plus 116 local councils who between them cover a third of the UK population, which means that 20.45 million people will be getting their services (housing, waste, street lighting etc etc) with 10% less emissions than they did this year. Bloody amazing.
-> If you’re not on the 10:10 mailing list (regardless of whether you’ve signed up to cut your emissions), join by sending an email to addtolist@1010uk.org. All the 10:10 news goes out on there, I just send a few titbits occasionally.
-> Join 10:10’s Facebook page and follow us on Twitter (#1010)
-> Give 10:10 some of your cash by donating here or by entering the competition to win a genuine Picasso artwork, as the main thing slowing the campaign down is having to waste loads of effort on fundraising. And how much would you impress your new girl/boyfriend by casually giving them a Picasso for their next birthday?
-> Any questions or thoughts about 10:10, please write to hello@1010uk.org
So that’s where we’re at

I wanted to end this message with the rather delightful news that Channel 4 picked McLibel as the 14th best film of the last decade. But their website seems to have deleted all mention of it… there was honestly a big feature all about the best films and we even made it into the opening paragraph, which has somehow survived the cull: “As this most clunkily-named decade, the Noughties, goes gently into that good night, we’ve seen fit to round-up our pick of the best films from the cinematic era that gave us Steve Coogan Hollywood movie star, saw a postman taking on McDonald’s and winning in McLibel, while a splatstick horror director from New Zealand by the name of Peter Jackson changed the face of cinema with a story about some plucky midgets.”
So that’s it then: we made a film, which was called The Age of Stupid, and then we distributed it as best we could and then we turned our attentions to 10:10 in a bid to help usher in, er, The Age of Sense? The Age of Reason? The Age of Clever?
Hope all’s well with you,
Franny

Last two coats in the COP15 cloakroom at 8pm on the final Sunday… Nobody can say we didn’t try…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Public Inquiry for Airfield Wind Farm, as featured in ‘The Age of Stupid’, 12-> 15th January 2010
-> Please come to Bedford to show your support
Hello Age of Stupid fans,

Piers Guy from the film here.

If consented, Airfield Wind Farm will consist of 3 x 2MW wind turbines, located in Bedfordshire. These three turbines, proposed next to the Santa Pod drag racing strip, will produce around 14,000GWh of clean electricity per year, which is the equivalent to the usage of around 3,000 homes, savings thousands of tonnes of CO2 per year.

In the summer of 2009, Nuon Renewables appealed the planning application on the grounds of non determination. The Public Inquiry has been set for 10am on Tuesday the 12th of January at Bedford Town Hall, St. Paul’s Square, Bedford, MK40 1SJ. The inquiry will last until the 15th of January.

We really want the Planning Inspector to see the strength of support for the wind farm. We know CLOWD, the anti group featured in The Age of Stupid, will be there in large numbers trying to monopolise the proceedings, so it is vital that the we have as many supporters present as possible.

A strong turnout would send a very positive message to the Planning Inspector, we also would like as many people as possible to drop in throughout the week so that the inspector is continuously reminded of the support that exists for this project and also to boost the morale of the wind farm team at the enquiry.

At all times please wear bright blue (hats, scarves, t-shirts, jumpers etc.) if possible to show your support for the wind farm We will also have blue rosettes for people to wear.

Feel free to make banners, and make yourselves heard.


Hope to see you in Bedford!

Cheers,
Piers Guy


Any queries please contact:
Will Watson, Project Manager
Tel: +44 (0)1736 330171

_______________________________________________
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Age-of-Stupid@aos.dh.bytemark.co.uk
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To submit content for this list, email listcontent@ageofstupid.net. Content is not posted automatically.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 28th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Thinking of Climate Change, and Copenhagen, I found this week-end Financial Times (November 28-29, 2009) quite amazing:

page 3 of Life & Arts section (- why that section? -) had the “Waving and Drowning” article about the very active President of the Maldives, who won elections last year replacing the longest ruling dictator in Asia, and since shot up to become the leader of the Small Islands Developing States in matters of climate change.

Rahul Jacob, the interviewer for the FT, subtitled the article – “Afternoon tea with the FT: Mohamed Nasheed, president of the Maldives, is determined to draw the world’s attention to the threat his country faces from rising sea levels, even if it means holding cabinet meetings under water.” I knew what he was talking because just last night, on the NOW program on CNN TV, David Broncacio showed a meeting of this underwater cabinet as they were preparing their document for the Copenhagen Conference. The FT describes the Presidential menu in the Male office included Fish rolls, Fishcakes, Tuna sandwiches, doughnuts and Lipton tea. The whole event was clearly courtesy of the melting ice at the two global poles.

The FT page had a small area – bottom left – on four ENGINEERED SOLUTIONS – one worse then the other. The fourth was: RE-ICING THE ARCTIC as a plan to save the world presented by Hazel Sheffield. The suggestion for the re-icing process is to spray salty water over the shores of Greenland.

But that was not all! page 5 of the same section was titled: “WHITE CHRISTMAS” and the point was that that YOU DRINK WHITE WINE IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A WHITE CHRISTMAS. Now I am convinced that we near deep trouble – under water covers, no ice and no red wine!

Will Copenhagen scratch at the problem?

###

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 September 24th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Climate change complacency `global suicide pact,’ UN told
Obama addresses climate change summit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States was slow to recognize the magnitude of climate change, but that Washington is moving swiftly to catch up. (Sept. 22, 2009)

Sep 22, 2009

Mitch Potter
THE TORONTO STAR WASHINGTON BUREAU
UNITED NATIONS – Complacency on climate change is tantamount to a global “suicide pact,” the President of the Maldives warned today as the largest-ever gathering of world leaders grappled with the issue at UN headquarters in New York.

Delivering an impassioned plea that stood out among a series of marquee speeches from the leaders of China, the United States, France and others, President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives pleaded with his powerful counterparts not to let the crisis slip through their fingers.

“We cannot make Copenhagen a pact of suicide — we have to make a deal,” said Nasheed, who in March emerged as a moral voice on climate change after unveiling plans to make the Maldives the first carbon neutral nation.

Today’s UN summit, unprecedented and involving nearly 100 world leaders, marks one of the final opportunities for nations to trade warm rhetoric for hard commitment in the runup to December’s Copenhagen conference, where the UN hopes a new global framework for emissions reduction will emerge to replace the failed Kyoto Accord.

President Hu Jintao told his counterparts that China is readying a four-part package of commitments aimed cutting emissions by a “notable margin.” Including a plan to plant 40-million hectares of carbon-absorbing forest.

But Hu cautioned that China, like other developing countries, “have limited capability” due to technology gaps. “Developing countries need to strike a balance between economic growth, social development and environmental protection.”

President Barack Obama said the U.S., like other nations, was “slow to response or even recognize the magnitude of the climate threat.

“But this is a new day. This is a new era. And I am proud to say that the United States has done more to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution in the last eight months than at any time in our history,” Obama said.

Doubts remain about Obama’s abliity to deliver on U.S. commitments, given that any pledges must also be sanctioned by the U.S. Congress, where a energy and climate bill may not be ready in time for Copenhagen.

But the momentum building in New York today is expected to bring new urgency to the issue — and, possibly, fresh leadership, as European delegates in particular turn up the heat.

“If we don’t take action we will face total disaster. There can be no further debate on this,” said French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who outlined the European Union’s willingness to spend as much as $100 billion over the next decade on technology transfers to enable developing countries to reduce emissions while maintaining growing economies.

“In Europe we are demonstrating we can move from growth with high carbon footprint to sustainable growth,” Sarkozy said. “No one will have to choose between unemployment and the environment.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in New York today but did not attend the morning sessions. Harper was scheduled to lunch with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and will join up with 25 world leaders tonight for a private dinner at the UN at the behest of Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Instead, Environment Minister Jim Prentice took Canada’s seat, where he absorbed the full heft of the messages of Obama, Hu, Sarkozy and the other keynote speakers.

“Canada was seated about 10 feet from the speaker’s podium so it came through very clearly,” Prentice told the Star. “I thought the President of the Maldives made a very compelling speech, with a crisp analysis of the challenge we all face.”

Prentice assessed the UN gathering as a “day where the United States and China are under the microscope,” with smaller nations looking for leadership from the two flagship economies.

On the momentum for a meaningful agreement at Copenhagen, Prentice said: “It’s too early to make categorical predictions. We do have 80 days left … we’re in the thick of this and I remain hopeful.”

Speaking to reporters outside City Hall in New York, Harper dismissed suggestions Canada is on the sidelines of the debate, saying his government is working closely with the Obama administration on a “truly continental approach” to climate change.

“Our position is very clear — we want to see an effective international accord, one that includes all the major emitters of greenhouse gases. And of course we’re working very closely with the Obama administration on a truly continental approach,” the Prime Minister said.

“We think that’s going well but we’ll share those views and those perspectives tonight,” during the UN dinner.

—————————–

Sarkozy proposes extra climate summit ahead of Copenhagen.

LEIGH PHILLIPS

23.09.2009 on EUobserver.com

 euobserver.com/9/28705/?rk=1

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed that the leaaders of the major industrialised nations hold an extraordinary summit to discuss climate change ahead of the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December.

Concerns that negotiations on a global climate deal are close to stalemated, despite fresh proposals for domestic measures aiming to counter global warming from China, prompted the suggestion from the French leader, in New York for a day of climate discussions during a meeting of the UN General Assembly.

5bec15aefdda
Mr Sarkozy wants industrialised nations to come together before Copenhagen (Photo: United Nations)

“Considering how complex this negotiation is, a new summit before Copenhagen is needed,” he told attendees.
“We are on the path to failure if we continue to act as we have,” he said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon warned ahead of the meeting: “The climate negotiations are proceeding at glacial speed. The world’s glaciers are now melting faster than human progress to protect them – and us.”

However, both China and Japan impressed with offers made over the course of the day.

Chinese President Hu Jintao committed his country to a plan that would see an expansion of forest coverage by planting trees of some 240,000 kilometres and produce 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The Chinese leader also said that his country would reduce “by a notable margin” its carbon emissions growth.

However, he did not attach a specific reduction figure to the pledge.

“At stake in the fight against climate change are the common interests of the entire world,” he said. “Out of a sense of responsibility to its own people and people across the world, China fully appreciates the importance and urgency of addressing climate change.”

Developing countries “should not … be asked to take on obligations that go beyond their development stage,” he added.

Incoming Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama also re-iterated a commitment made shortly after his election that the country will cut emissions by 25 percent by 2020, beating the EU’s binding target of 20 percent by the same date.

The EU has however committed to a cut of 30 percent if an ambitious global deal is reached in Copenhagen.

US President Barack Obama’s presentation to delegates was much anticipated but in the end underwhelmed.

“The threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing,” Mr Obama said. “And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.”

He outlined steps the US is already taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as doubling the generating capacity from renewable energy sources over three years, constructing offshore wind plants and looking to carbon capture and storage to bury the carbon that is produced by industry and the power sector.

But the American plan to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 already announced and derided as strongly inadequate in many quarters is still tied up in the US Congress and may not be passed in advance of the Copenhagen meeting.

Nevertheless, by the end of the UN conference on Tuesday, Mr Ban and Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, host of the Copenhagen summit, impressed by the Chinese offer, had become somewhat more optimistic.

“This feeling of political momentum – that was very strong,” said Mr Rasmussen.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 1st, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The following are the top 28 finalists in the Official 2009 New 7 Wonders of Nature competition – nominated from among hundreds of sites around the world that have been proposed.


see please: www.new7wonders.com/ and you can vote – for up to 7 of the 28 list – at that link.

you can vote for your choice of 7 on line, by phone, or text message. It is expected that one billion people will vote and the winner will be announced in 2011.

A similar effort two years ago elected seven manmade wonders generated considerable publicity. We backed at that time Machu Picchu, Peru

These selections are being organized by a Swiss filmmaker and entrepreneur, Bernard Weber, and the committee that chose the 28 finalists included Federico Mayor, former chief of UNESCO, and Rex Weyler, co-founder of Greenpeace International.

Like everything else that has a UN connection, obviously such selections will be politicized beyond the simple angle of national pride – just see the country called Chinese Taipei for what most call Taiwan.

In this year of climate change we thing the Amazon will get the world’s nod, but watching in Vietnam (it is Halong Bay) how a whole country can get beyond a particular location we would have said that China could muster the vote, but will they do it for Taipei?

From among the many places on the list that we have been to – I am voting as Numero Uno for the Iguazu Falls.

Country

VENEZUELA
SURINAME
PERU
GUYANA
FRENCH GUIANA
ECUADOR
COLOMBIA
BRAZIL
BOLIVIA

VENEZUELA

CANADA

GERMANY

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

IRELAND

PALESTINE
ISRAEL
JORDAN

PUERTO RICO

ECUADOR

UNITED STATES

PAPUA NEW GUINEA
AUSTRALIA

VIET NAM

BRAZIL
ARGENTINA

LEBANON

KOREA (SOUTH)

TANZANIA

INDONESIA

MALDIVES

POLAND

SWITZERLAND
ITALY

NEW ZEALAND

AZERBAIJAN

PHILIPPINES

INDIA
BANGLADESH

SOUTH AFRICA

AUSTRALIA

ITALY

CHINESE TAIPEI

From the competition on the 7 Man-made wonders – a stamp collection from Gibraltar:

For all media inquiries and interview requests, please contact:

Tia B. Viering, Head of Communications
Mobile: +41 79-762-2784
Phone: +49 89 489 033 58 (Munich office)
Email at press@n7w.com.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 22nd, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Wanted: A New Home for My Country
By NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE
Published Friday, May 8, 2009 – The New York Times Magazine – Sunday, May 10, 2009


One recent evening at the presidential palace in Malé, the capital of the Maldives, around 100 people showed up to watch a movie. Rows of overstuffed chairs in a gaudy combination of stripes and paisleys faced a projection screen hanging on the front wall of what seemed like a grand ballroom. At the back of the hall, journalists erected camera and microphone rigs: Mohamed Nasheed, the Maldives’ 41-year-old president, was expected to make a major announcement after the film. And ever since Nasheed declared on the eve of his inauguration last November that, because of global warming, he would try to find a new homeland for Maldivians somewhere else in the world, on higher ground, local reporters didn’t miss the chance to see their unpredictable (“erratic” and “crazy” were other adjectives I heard used) president.


10maldives-190.jpg
Chiara Goia for The New York Times

Related

Times Topics: Maldives


10maldives1-190.jpg
Chiara Goia for The New York Times

President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives advocates extreme action to save his nation from rising sea levels. Whether his nation could survive the solution is unclear.

Nasheed appeared when a pair of French doors opened and a gust of conversation blew into the room. It was a humid night in March. Several dozen cabinet members, Supreme Court justices, parliamentarians, presidential advisers and other dignitaries trailed the young president, who wore navy slacks and a striped white shirt, open at the neck and sleeves rolled to the elbows. He took a seat in the front row, the lights dimmed and the British feature documentary “The Age of Stupid” began.

The movie opens with hypothetical scenes of environmental catastrophe: the Sydney Opera House in flames; ski lifts creaking above snowless mountainsides; raging seas in the once-frozen Arctic. Set in 2055, the film looks back to our present through a series of environmental-destruction subplots highlighting this era’s collective lack of interest in doing anything; one character concludes that we must be living in the “age of stupid.”

The Maldives is an archipelago of 1,190 islands in the Indian Ocean, with an average elevation of four feet. Even a slight rise in global sea levels, which many scientists predict will occur by the end of this century, could submerge most of the Maldives. Last November, when Nasheed proposed moving all 300,000 Maldivians to safer territory, he named India, Sri Lanka and Australia as possible destinations and described a plan that would use tourism revenues from the present to establish a sovereign wealth fund with which he could buy a new country — or at least part of one — in the future. “We can do nothing to stop climate change on our own, and so we have to buy land elsewhere,” Nasheed said in November.

When the movie ended, Nasheed approached a microphone stand in front of a giant house palm. He has a jockey’s physique, and the fronds of the palm arched over his shoulder. His wonder-boy demeanor might seem naïve, but he spent almost 20 years opposing a dictator and enduring torture; few doubt his fortitude. The audience in the ballroom listened closely when Nasheed declared that it was time to act. “What we need to do is nothing short of decarbonizing the entire global economy,” he said, his high voice cracking. “If man can walk on the moon, we can unite to defeat our common carbon enemy.” Nasheed didn’t use notes for his speech; aides say he never does. “And so today,” he continued, “I announce that the Maldives will become the first carbon-neutral country in the world.”

TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE: www.nytimes.com/2009/05/10/magazine/10MALDIVES-t.html?_r=2

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 6th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Maldives Join the Climate Neutral Network with a Pledge to Become World’s First Carbon Neutral Nation
Nairobi, 4 May 2009 – The Republic of Maldives, one of the countries most affected by climate change, has joined the Climate Neutral Network led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

This follows the announcement by Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed earlier this year to make the Indian Ocean island nation the world’s first carbon neutral country in just 10 years’ time, by 2019.

This ambitious objective will be achieved by fully switching to renewable sources of energy such as solar panels and wind turbines, investments in other new technologies, and sharing of best practices.

President Nasheed declared that “the Maldives will no longer be a net contributor to greenhouse gas emissions”.

“Climate change isn’t a vague and abstract danger but a real threat to our survival. But climate change not only threatens the Maldives, it threatens us all”, he added.

No part of the Maldives’ 1,200 tropical coral islets rises more than six feet (1.8 meters) above sea level, leaving the 400,000 inhabitants at great risk of rising sea levels and storm surges.

As part of coping with the effects of climate change, the Maldives Government focuses on coastal zone protection, land use management and protection of critical infrastructure.

The Maldives has become the seventh country to join the Climate Neutral Network (CN Net), a UNEP initiative launched in February 2008 to promote global transition to low-carbon economies and societies which also includes cities, regions, companies and organizations.

The other six nations that have pledged to move towards climate neutrality and joined the CN Net are Costa Rica, Iceland, Monaco, New Zealand, Niue and Norway.

Welcoming the Republic of Maldives on board the CN Net, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner stated that: “Climate neutrality is not just a developed nations’ concern, nor is it their prerogative. Developing nations such as Maldives can indeed leapfrog by embracing the low-carbon development model, which will assist in greening their economies and weathering both climatic and economic storms.”

“When the most climate change vulnerable nations display leadership in addressing the cause of the problem which they had very little to contribute to, there is no excuse for others not to act. The global community of nations can and must express its commitment to protecting the planet and powering green growth by sealing an ambitious climate deal at this year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen”, he concluded.

For more information, contact:

At the Government of the Republic of Maldives: Ahmed Saleem, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing, Transport and Environment, Tel: 3331695, Fax: 3331694, or e-mail:  saleem at meew.gov.mv, internet: www.environment.gov.mv/

At UNEP:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson and Head of Media, on Tel: +254-20-762-3084, Mobile: +254-733-632755, or when traveling: +41-79-596-5737, or e-mail:  nick.nuttall at unep.org

Or: Xenya Cherny Scanlon, Information Officer, Climate Neutral Network, on Tel: +254- 20-762-4387, Mobile: +254-721-847-563, or e-mail:  xenya.scanlon at unep.org; internet: www.unep.org/climateneutral

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 15th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From: Franny Armstrong <franny@spannerfilms.net>
Date: Tue, Apr 14, 2009

At the live event in the solar tent – and therefore down the satellite link to the other 65 cinemas – we had a hot-off-the-press video clip from the president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed: “Today, I can announce to you and the world that the Maldives will be the first carbon neutral country in the world. The cost of this probably will be high, but please understand that failure to act will cost us the world. If the Maldives, a small relatively poor country can achieve a big reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions there can be no excuse from richer nations who claim that going green is too complex, too expensive or too much bother. Now the world has an opportunity to come together and prevent the looming environmental catastrophe. This opportunity as we all know is called Copenhagen. And let’s be very frank about this. Copenhagen can be one of two things. In can be an historic event where the world unites in a collective spirit of cooperation and collaboration. Or Copenhagen can be a suicide pact. The choice is that stark. My message to you, my message to the world, is simply this: please don’t be stupid.”

Cue the only standing ovation of the entire event. Followed by a rather neat summary from Mark Lynas: “This is more than just an amazing announcement. This is potentially a game-changer for the entire negotiations on climate change worldwide.”
The video message is up on the Maldives own website, which is well worth a look in itself. There was also a double-page in the Observer, followed by a brilliantly-titled column written by the President, “Why we are opting out of this pact with the devil”. And at the Bonn negotiations (one of the meetings leading up to Copenhagen) last week some activists presented the Maldives delegation with a giant Not Stupid certificate. See pics attached and Leo’s witty report here. (So the Maldives got the first Not Stupid certificate and Global Warming Swindle director Martin Durkin got the first Stupid certificate on Newsnight the other week. Worked out rather nicely.)
The only downside is that we can’t take the lovely Maldivians up on their open offer for some serious holidaying round their place. Goddamn flying.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 16th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

THE AGE OF STUPID – the March 15, 2009 Premiere held simultaneously in a special solar tent on the grass of Leicester Square, London, and in many movie houses all over the UK. The producers asked people to go to the theaters in their areas and not to fly to London. The facts are that air-transport is the largest CO2  emitter and thus a very serious contributer to global warming. The movie is about global warming as seen backwards from a point in time – 2050 – from an observatory that was built so people later can have a way to see what life was before the global warming  catastrophe struck and ask themselves – did we have to be that stupid? Did we really not see what we were doing to the planet and thus to ourselves? But we did know! So we were that Stupid! Unbelievably Stupid!!

The point is that this movie should turn its viewers into activists – so we do change our ways because we do understand that we cannot have an uncontrolled growth and live as if we hadten planets to our disposal when we indeed have only one. There is still time to change our ways and the target time that Franny Armstrong (writer and Director) Lizzie G (excuse me, I do not have the full name in front of me)(sound), and Pete Poslethwaite (main performer and activist) see –  is December 6, 2009 – the start of the Copenhagen meeting on climate change which they love to note as CO2penhagen. Pete Poslethwaite feels so strong about all this that he threatened on camera that he will return his OBE if the UK Government insists on going ahead with the  controversial Kingsnorth coal-fired power station in Kent – his original area.

The movie team has already spun off a “vote with your feet to stop climate chaosmovement” www.stopclimatechaos.org that is working on a December 5, 2009 “March in December” –  London – mass rally – with “Protect the Poorest” Quit Dirty Coal” “Act Fair & Fast” banners.

I came to London from New York, in a stop-over while timing myself to do so as part of a larger trip to Tel Aviv. This gave me the excuse to fly-in even though I understood the request that creating CO2 while being against it – is indeed a misrepresentation of policy.

I saw the action while at a VUE movie house in Acton, London, where all activity from the  solar tent in  Leicester Square was being  beamed in.

I write this from my hotel, after having returned there by way of the “tube” – the famed London Subway. In the tube I had the chance to rview what we saw with 5 young Britishers. My method was “rapid fire” – I wanted to know why Minister Miliband had on a purple tie. I understood he stands for dirty technologies. He seems to love nuclear power without going into actual details if it saves, and how much, of CO2 emissions, and what do you do with  radioactive byproducts? OK – that is  interests policy – but why in the UK a purple tie? He seems also to love coal – albeight  – he thinks in terms of clean coal or the hiding away somehow of the CO2. Franny Armstrong was not too kind to him and what she called his”cohorts” – read the UK government. Pete Posllethwaite said that “we told Tony Blair” not to go to Iraq – but he did” seemingly we tell now the government to do something about climate change but they do not. But why the purple tie? One of the Britisher ladies said it is the fashion now but perhaps Miliband wants to say he is independent. Aha! now we got a clue. It was the Red Republicans of Bush / Cheney that led Tony Blair into Iraq, but now it is the Blue Democrats that lead Obama to undo what the others did and do something where the others did nothing. So is  Britisher Miliband signaling that British  Labor is now only half-way in cahoots, because the cohorts still wink to the rear – that is to the American Republicans – and insist on not lining up with progressive forces that intend to march on CO2penhagen?

I asked my British co-travelers; what about Cameron? He is a  “Greenwash” they said. Aha, so Miliband is purple  – the color that desribes one as in-between the Republicans and the Democrats in the US, while, he – a Britisher of Labor – has really only Greenwash on his right and on his  left. So the purple is that he really wants to say something but has little to line up with on the Islands – so he looks outside but does not want to look Eastwards to Europe – so he looks  westwards to the US.

This position is somehow strangely clear to us at www.SustainabiliTank.info  where we believe that led by the Bush lack of interest in Climate Change, and the Arab Oil States strong opposition to the subject, the UN undid the Poznan 2008 meeting with the purpose of turning Copenhagen 2009 into Poznan II rather then what some thought will be a Kyoto II formula, but many of us thought more realistically into a potential new Copenhagen I solution. Even so, I completely agreee with Franny and Pete that “THE AGE OF STUPID” must turn our heads around so we undoo that evolution and force the issue so that we will become the GENERATION THAT WAS NOT STUPID. That future does not belong to the  PURPLE but  to the GREEN. Purple in fashion is a  catastrophe of global proportions – Green should be our color – by law and by good business practices. The US needs a Stiglitz in Treasury and not a Goldman-Sachs Man. The UK needs something similar and the Germans and French may indeed help illuminate the way by saying that blind  stimuli are poison to the interests of turning away from being stupid. What is rather needed are regulations that smooth the way to being not stupid – and the timing of “The Age of STUPID” happens to be so that it is right before the UK meeting of the G-20 under Gordon Brown’s leadership. Did not President Obama just say so to Gordon Brown – that there is a special US-UK relationship? OK – will now Mr. Brown steer things so that he brings to a realignment of policy between the Merkel-Sarkozy line approach to capitalism and the old  coservative way of doing business as seen by the UK-US camp?

The movie was great. The points well presented – the melting glaciers, the destried beaches, the burning cities, the spoils of oil that are not money for the needy – but destruction and poverty – that is all there and more. The Indian entrepreneur who wants to turn a billion people into air travelers is just a good student of Harvard a Wharton – but he is also the “angel of death” not just for India but for all of us. Ah, Yes, I took pictures and a book of notes – these will be used in the future – now I just want to say – GO SEE THE MOVIE WHENEVER IT TURNS UP IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD. Don’t travel to see it – but make your leaders see to it that it is shown to your people.

The Maldive Islands announced – for The Age of Stupid Premiere – that they will be the first UN State to be Carbon Neutral – they understand because they are allready going under water – right now!

Best regards to Franny, Lizzie, and Pete, from Pincas Jawetz at www.SustainabiliTank.info

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