links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter


 
Palau:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Palau Would Defend Marine Sanctuary With Italian Drones that crashed in DRC.

By Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press at the UN, Free United Nations Coalition for Access

UNITED NATIONS, February 4 — Palau’s president Tommy Remengesau returned to the UN on February 4, promoting a stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal about the oceans and speaking of a marine sanctuary which would ban all commercial fishing in an area as large as France.

  Inner City Press asked President Remengesau how the ban on fishing would be enforced, given for example the illegal fishing that takes place off Somalia and, doubly illegal, off Western Sahara.

  Remengesau responded that drones could be part of the solution. Palau’s Ambassador Stuart Beck added that drones could take photographs which could be evidence.

  Italy’s Mission to the UN is promoting an event with its Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi and Palau featuring Italian firm Finmeccanica, which made the Selex Falco ES drone procured by UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous which recently crashed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A crash in the ocean would be less dangerous. Still.

  Remengesau explained that sharks are worth substantially more to Palau alive than dead, given its eco-tourism economy. Inner City Press asked about other countries joining the shark sanctuary movement that Palau started. Beck mentioned Mexico, and hoped that the broader marine sanctuary idea would also spread. The oceans being a Sustainable Development Goal would be a good step in that direction.

Background: With fifteen months to go until the “Sustainable Development Goals” are determined by the UN General Assembly, Palau’s Ambassador Stuart Beck back on June 25 made the case for an oceans SDG. He recounted that only last night, Palau had its highest tide ever.

  The seas have become so acid, he continued, that mussels and clams are having a hard time forming their shells.

   Inner City Press asked Beck about Palau’s shark sanctuary, which became with 600,000 square kilometers and is now up to 12.5 million square kilometers, with subsequent joiners like Mexico, Honduras and Costa Rica, Bahamas, Barbados, Micronesia and the Maldives. If sharks could say thanks, he concluded, they’d give thanks for the sanctuary. Video here from Minute 7:05.

  Accompanying Beck was Ghislaine Maxwell of the TerraMar Project, who said the oceans account for 16% of humanity’s food and spoke of using social media in the campaign. It must target all 193 states, Beck pointed out. (Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, it is understood, doesn’t know much about the idea.)

It seems Ban’s UN doesn’t know much about social media or new style network organizations either. The new Free UN Coalition for Access, formed after the old UN Correspondents Association showed itself willing to spy for the UN and seek to get new media thrown out, has been using the Internet and now Twitter to press for media access.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 22nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

15 February 2013

Press Conference held inside the UN with access to the room available only to those the UN calls PRESS, and allows in by means of a stranglehold on the process of Media Accreditation. As such, the many websites belonging to environmental media are not part of this process. No wonder that the outside world is hardly provided information on subjects like this one. Non Member-State government-backed media does not stand a chance under such scrutiny.

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Impact of Climate Change on Marshall Islands.

The Security Council should consider climate change as a threat to international peace and security, particularly for such low-lying nations as the Marshall Islands whose “very existence” was at risk, a Government minister from that country said at a Headquarters press conference today.

“This organization [the Council] that we put faith in to provide the security of our country is saying that that is not a security matter,” said Tony deBrum, Minister in Assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands, as he briefed journalists on today’s so-called “Arria Formula” meeting on security implications of climate change.

Initiated in 1992 by Ambassador Diego Arria, the representative of Venezuela on the Security Council, such informal gatherings do not constitute an activity of the Council and are convened at the initiative of a member or members of the Council.

Mr. deBrum said he had participated as a panelist and reminded the Council that 35 years ago, he had come to the United Nations to petition for the independence of the Marshall Islands.  Between 1976 and 1986, his delegation had annually visited the United Nations.  In 1986, the Security Council finally approved the termination of the trusteeship and the establishment of an independent Government for the Marshall Islands, he added.

“We are very grateful for that, but it is hard to be excited about the independent Government seeking prosperity, progress and good life for its people to be faced with the situation where its very existence is threatened through climate change,” he said.

“It seems ironic that the very same agency whose approval was needed for my country to become a country again would consider my coming back to ask for help […] is not relevant to their work,” he said.  There was no outcome document or a running record from that meeting, but he expected that his appeal had convinced some or more of the participants that climate change “is in fact a security issue, not just an economic/social/political issue”.

When asked which countries opposed treating climate change as the Council’s prerogative, he said China, Russian Federation and Guatemala were among them.  “Surprisingly”, the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, of which the Marshall Islands was a member, had taken a position that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was the appropriate venue for deliberations on that issue.  That revealed that “many of our own friends throughout the world do not realize the urgency of the problem,” he said.

Describing the situation, he said rising tides had started severely impacting the islands, with roads inundated every 14 days in keeping with the moon cycle.  In southern parts of the nation, where there used to be a military base in the Second World War, ordnances were being exposed by the tides, presenting a clear danger to the life and welfare of people there.  Even the nation’s capital was required to ration water.  In the northern part, emergency kits for making drinking water were being distributed as well water was inundated with salt.

“It became unsuitable for human consumption, and dangerous even to our staple food and citrus,” he said. He said he was not predicting a looming crisis — it was already happening, affecting not just his own country but also Kiribati, Tuvalu and some of the other low-lying islands of the Pacific.
He hoped that “logic will prevail and people see it as a just cause”.

In September, there will be a Pacific Islands Forum meeting to be held in his country, he said.  He wished to invite the most significant players in the politics of climate change to visit the Marshall Islands to see the situation first hand.  “We are not just sitting under coconut trees and waiting for coconuts to fall,” he said, stressing the need for proactive measures.

To an inquiry about Palau’s bid to bring the climate change issue before the International Court of Justice as a security and human rights violation, he said it was an interesting effort, but was not moving anywhere.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 25th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

California Law Tests Company Responses to Carbon Costs.

By
Published, The New York Times: December 24, 2012 160 Comments

LOS BANOS, Calif. — The Morning Star Company’s three plants in California emit roughly 200,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year — about the same amount as the Pacific Island nation of Palau — as they turn tomatoes into ketchup, spaghetti sauce and juice used by millions of consumers around the world.

Ramin Rahimian for The New York Times
A Morning Star tomato processing plant in Los Banos, Calif. Morning Star and 350 other companies statewide will begin paying for carbon emissions on Jan. 1.

Beginning Jan. 1, under the terms of a groundbreaking California environmental law known as AB 32, Morning Star and 350 other companies statewide will begin paying for those emissions, which trap heat and contribute to global warming.

Companies are trying to figure out how this will affect their bottom lines and have lobbied state regulators to minimize the costs. In the meantime they are weighing their options. Should they stay and adapt or move operations elsewhere? Should they retrofit and innovate to reduce emissions? Should they swallow the regulatory costs or pass them on to customers?

Each company’s calculus depends on its particular circumstance. Morning Star, a top producer in a $926 million industry, has to be near the tomato fields of California’s Central Valley, so relocating was never an option. Its biggest question is how to handle the extra costs.

About 600 facilities with hefty emissions are covered by the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Oil refiners, electric utilities and cement makers, whose greenhouse-gas output totals in the millions of metric tons annually, are the biggest. But over all, dozens of industries are affected.

In recent months, as the start date of the new cap-and-trade program neared, California regulators have fine-tuned the rules, industry by industry, to avoid imposing severe economic hardship while trying to keep the rules stringent. It is a delicate balance. Regulators do not want California companies to lose their competitive edge, because that could make other state governments reluctant to adopt this approach.

Cement plants near Los Angeles compete with plants across the Arizona border. State tomato processors control more than 95 percent of the American market, but they fear that the fast-growing Chinese sector could make inroads.

Officials in affected industries acknowledge they are struggling with how to proceed. As Meredith Fowlie, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, explained, “Their calculations have to be that we either sit here and emit and pay the cost of doing so, or alternatively we can look at options” like paying for major capital improvements to reduce emissions.

The state’s Air Resources Board is using an array of policies to reach its intended goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. It has tried to structure the cap-and-trade program to encourage industry investment in energy efficiency that could cut costs as well as lower emissions. Investing in energy efficiency may make sense for companies under California’s rules, Dr. Fowlie said, “but if they are making them before their competitors, that could be fatal.”

The rules are relatively simple for producers like Morning Star. At the end of 2014, they must present state-issued allowances — one per metric ton of emissions — for the greenhouse gases they emitted in 2013.

For the 200,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually by Morning Star’s three plants, the company is being awarded about 192,500 free allowances the first year; the company must buy the remainder on the open market. In the first allowance auction in November, the allowance price settled at $10.09 a ton, meaning in the first year Morning Star has to pay roughly $75,000 to cover its emissions.

But over the next five years, the number of free allowances will decrease sharply to encourage further emissions cuts. At current rates, that means Morning Star will have to buy 100,000 allowances for both 2017 and 2018, by which time the prices may have doubled or tripled in an open market. The company estimates the law will cost it an extra $20 million over the next seven years.

Nick Kastle, a company spokesman, said it would almost certainly pass on the new costs to makers of ketchup and frozen pizza, which would be likely to share the extra costs with consumers. “People nationwide are going to be affected by AB 32,” he said.

But many economists said they think such a cost-centric analysis ignores the jobs and economic activity that the law could generate. Emission and efficiency standards for cars, buildings and appliances in California over the last four decades have succeeded in cleaning the air, making residents’ per-capita energy use rate among the lowest in the country and spurring innovations and new industries, like the one that arose around catalytic converters.

“It’s almost a Darwinian point,” said Matthew Kahn, an economist at the University of California, Los Angeles. While some companies’ costs will no doubt rise, he said, the law creates moneymaking opportunities by forcing a rethinking of industrial processes.

For some industries, the options are limited. Cement cannot be made without releasing carbon dioxide as a byproduct, although engineers are trying to reduce the amount emitted. At least one new California company is experimenting with a process that captures and stores carbon that would otherwise be emitted.

Morning Star, praised for its management innovations, has also won respect for improving its energy efficiency through equipment retrofits over the years. “If you have any ideas for efficiency,” Mr. Kastle said, “we’ll look at them.”

“We deploy what we believe, based on the economics, are the most efficient tomato-processing facilities in the world,” he said in an interview at the company’s plant in Los Banos. “And there are only two major costs in producing tomato paste: tomatoes and energy.”

He was standing at the center of the plant’s steaming Emerald City-like pipes and towers, beneath a network of artificial watercourses along which 838 tons of bobbing, colorful fruit move through the factory each hour in harvest season.

To run the conveyor system and to heat and sterilize the product, the plant uses five boilers, the newest of which is four years old and the oldest, 30. Replacing a boiler costs millions of dollars.

Mr. Kastle said Morning Star’s margins are too slim to absorb new regulatory costs. But he also worries about the consequence of passing them on. He knows that the California garlic industry lost half its market to Chinese imports in less than a decade, and notes that China’s tomato-processing industry is on the rise.

The Air Resources Board is also wary of this competitive situation, which is why it has been flexible about adjusting its regulation.

Steven Cliff, the California regulator most familiar with food processing, said that companies need the free allocations in the early years. “In a global marketplace you can’t pass along all of your costs,” he said.

More allocations go to industries that are at risk of leaving the state and emitting their pollution elsewhere or of ceding market share to foreign companies that are likely to be big emitters. The term of art for the problem is “leakage.” The more leakage, the less effective the California law will be at reducing greenhouse gas emissions over all.

State regulators consider cement manufacturers highly vulnerable to leaving the state, and food processors moderately vulnerable; both have been granted additional allowances to ease the transition.

For many economists, the crucial issue for now is not emissions but the creation of a viable market that sets a price on carbon. “The bottom line of what we’re trying to achieve here is a stable, predictable price of carbon,” said Frank A. Wolak, a Stanford economist. “If it’s a stable price, people are more likely to say, ‘I’ll make the investment because at this price it is going to save me money.’ ”

For now, Morning Star plans to stay here and pass on the new costs. Whether that changes the dynamics of its market is anyone’s guess.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

PALAU SEEKS UN WORLD COURT OPINION ON DAMAGE CAUSED BY GREENHOUSE GASES

The Pacific island nation of Palau announced plans today to seek an advisory opinion from a United Nations court on whether countries have a legal responsibility to ensure that any activities on their territory that emit greenhouse gases do not harm other States.

President Johnson Toribiong told the General Assembly’s annual general debate that, along with the Marshall Islands, Palau will call on the 193-member Assembly to urgently seek an advisory opinion – which would be non-binding – from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court.

Palau is one of several Pacific island countries that have repeatedly spoken out at the General Assembly about the impact of climate change, with rising sea levels resulting from the emissions of greenhouse gases threatening to swamp their islands.

Mr. Toribiong said it was vital that urgent action is taken to combat climate change, given the immediacy of the threat.

“The case should be clear,” he said, referring to Palau’s plan to seek an ICJ advisory opinion. “The ICJ has already confirmed that customary international law obliges States to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction and control respect the environment of other States,” he said.

“Similarly, Article 194(2) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provides that States shall take all measures necessary to ensure that activities under their jurisdiction or control do not spread and do not cause damage by pollution to other States. It is time we determine what the international rule of law means in the context of climate change.”

In his address Mr. Toribiong also warned about the damaging effects of over-fishing in the waters around his country and that of other Pacific nations.

He said a regional meeting to be held in Palau in December will consider whether to establish a special zone to conserve tuna.

“For too long, the exploitation of tuna has overridden its conservation. This imbalance is not sustainable and must be reversed through the creation of a tuna conservation zone.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Japan offered $2 billion in aid Wednesday with just three days left until Friday’s conclusion of the conference on the Convention on Biodiversity with 193 countries (192 + the EU) the two weeks exercise not moving a bit.

“We must stop this great extinction in our lifetime,” Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at the conference in Nagoya, southwest of Tokyo, in announcing the $2 billion aid offer over the next three years. But please – do not forget that thse are Japan and Norway that still insist on killing whales as others will not give up killing the animals in their lands, and hunting for fish where they can.

Yesterday, a study published online in the journal Science showed that 1 in 5 of the world’s vertebrates, or animals with backbones — mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians — are threatened with extinction, although efforts to save endangered animals are helping.

Another area of disagreement is the demand for  equitably sharing the profits from genetic resources, such as plants that Western drug companies have harvested to produce drugs.

Developing nations and indigenous groups  argue for years that they have seen little benefit from such resources, and delegates are seeking to create a legal framework for such “access and benefit-sharing.” In some cases if genetic human material is harvested by the Pharmaceutical companies as if they were there for the tacking.

Environmental ministers from the member nations were due to pick up the negotiations, some of which have been bogged down by concerns about how to pay for increases in protected areas. Japan offered to help. Reports from Nagoya say that it seems Japan really wants to find a way out.

Sue Lieberman, director of international policy at the Pew Trust, said the move could prompt other governments to step up with financial aid to keep the talks from collapsing, as the U.N. climate talks did in Copenhagen last year.
But she also say that Japan has a miserable record on marine biodiversity.

Delegates are divided over how much of the world’s oceans to designate as protected by 2020 — which can range from ocean sanctuaries to areas that have sustainable fishing. Currently, less than 1 percent of the world’s marine areas are protected. Delegates are debating whether to raise that to 6 percent — a figure advocated by China — 10 percent or as high as 20 percent.

American actor Harrison Ford, who has been on the board of Conservation International for more than 15 years, was also in Nagoya to encourage delegates to set ambitious goals.

“I just feel it’s an ethical responsibility to help do whatever I can to work for the benefit of nature,” Ford said. “I’ve got five kids and I want to see that there’s something left for them, enough of intact nature so that they can enjoy its beauty and benefits as my generation has.”

——————-

Dear Friends:

There are only 300 northern right whales left, and 99% of blue whales have been wiped out. These majestic giants are endangered species, and their case is being played out across the world, time and again. In fact, one third of all life forms on the planet are on the brink of extinction.

The natural world is being crushed by human activity, waste and exploitation. But there is a plan to save it — a global agreement to create, fund and enforce protected areas covering 20% of our lands and seas by 2020. And right now, 193 governments are meeting in Japan to address this crisis.

We have just 36 hours left in this crucial meeting. Experts say that politicians are hesitant to adopt such an ambitious goal, but that a global public outcry could tip the balance, making leaders feel the eyes of the world upon them. Click to sign the urgent 20/20 petition, and forward this email widely — the message will be delivered directly to the meeting in Japan:

www.avaaz.org/en/the_end_of_whales/?vl

Wow – over 300,000 people have signed on in 2 days! We’ve got 36 hours left in this summit — sign also the awaaz petition. Please.

—————-

Nevertheless, we feel we have to add a reminder that we wrote earlier:

Forget the UN – It is the Small Island States like Palau that will step out to SAVE THE WHALES AND OURSELVES – One More Reason We Should Save The Small Island States From Extinction.

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 26th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

PALAU DECLARES SOUTH PACIFIC SANCTUARY FOR WHALES, DOLPHINS.
NAGOYA, Aichi, Japan, October 25, 2010 (ENS) – The South Pacific island nation of Palau has declared all the waters within its Exclusive Economic Zone to be a marine mammal sanctuary for the protection of whales, dolphins, and dugongs

Harry Fritz, Palau’s minister of the environment, natural resources and tourism, announced the new 600,000 square kilometer (231,660 square mile) sanctuary on behalf of President Johnson Toribiong at a news conference Saturday during Oceans Day at the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Nagoya.

“From ancient times to today we have conserved our biodiversity through the tools of “bul” or moratoria, and protection of critical areas,” said Fritz.

“Biodiversity has always been integral to the Palauan culture,” he said. “Our traditional identity, values, legends, and practices are intimately linked to our surroundings and to our relationships with living creatures. Conservation of biodiversity is ingrained in our daily approach to life and inherent in the meaning of our words.”

Dolphins leap from the water about 15 miles from Palau’s most populated island, Koror, seen in the background. (Photo by Brian Glass Photography)

A close group of islands, Palau has at least 11 species of cetaceans in its waters, including a breeding population of sperm whales and as many as 30 other species of whales and dolphins. Palau’s dugongs are the most isolated and endangered population in the world, said Fritz.

“This sanctuary will promote sustainable whale-watching tourism, already a growing multi-million dollar global industry, as an economic opportunity for the people of Palau,” Fritz said.

Much of Palau’s economy comes from tourism and the country hosts Dolphins Pacific, the world’s largest dolphin research facility, and the Palau International Coral Reef Center, a modern aquarium and research facility specializing in tropical coral reefs. The region’s spectacular underwater biodiversity includes over 1,500 species of fish and 700 species of coral and anemone.

“The hunting of marine mammals, largely by foreign countries, in the 19th and particularly the 20th centuries has dramatically reduced populations in the Pacific Islands Region,” he said. “The International Whaling Commission has recognized that there is clear scientific evidence that in the Pacific Islands region many of the great whale species remain severely depleted in numbers, due to the impacts of past whaling.”

“It is a well-established scientific principle that to protect migratory species it is necessary to protect them not only in their feeding areas and migratory routes but also in their breeding grounds,” Fritz said.

Establishment of the sanctuary is intended to prohibit the deliberate hunting and harassment of any marine mammals.

The waters of the Palau archipelago are vast. (Photo by Wei-shiu)

But Palau has only one patrol boat at its disposal to patrol waters that cover an area just a little smaller than the U.S. state of Texas. The boat is supplied by Australia and operated by the government of Palau.

Fritz said that Palau is seeking assistance from neighboring countries in patrolling and surveillance of its EEZ for illegal taking of marine mammals.

“We urge other countries to join our efforts to protect whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals – for the sake of the species, as well as the future economic, social, and spiritual development of coastal peoples,” he said.

Palau also needs help to deal with all the illegal fishing taking place in its EEZ. “Last August I received a report from the U.S. officials in Guam showing more than 850 vessels fishing illegally in Palau?s waters,” Fritz told reporters in Nagoya. Illegal fishing with the use of dynamite has also been reported.

“Palau’s support for the conservation of marine species underscores this small island nation’s tremendous commitment to protecting life in the oceans that surround it. Other countries should join Palau in safeguarding species in their waters,” said Dr. Susan Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group, which has contributed a grant to fuel the patrol boat.

The Republic of Palau lies in the Pacific Ocean, some 800 km (500 miles) east of the Philippines and 3,200 km (2,000 miles) south of Tokyo. The islands were seized by Japanese ships during World War I and governed by Japan until 1947 when the islands passed formally to the United States under United Nations auspices as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

Emerging from trusteeship in 1994, Palau is one of the world’s youngest and smallest sovereign states. About 70 percent of the population of Palau’s approximately 21,000 residents live on the island of Koror.

Until now, Palau has voted with Japan in favor of commercial whaling at the annual meetings of the International Whaling Commission, and the establishment of its marine mammal sanctuary is viewed as a signal that Japan may no longer be able to count on Palau’s vote for whaling.

Queen of Koror Bilung Gloria Salii (Photo courtesy U.S. Navy)
Environment Minister Harry Fritz (Photo courtesy Government of Palau)

Asked whether the new marine mammal sanctuary will affect Palau’s relationship with Japan, Fritz said Palau is now making its position known and that it will be “understood by friends.”

More than 1,500 whales are hunted and killed each year for their meat, most of them by Japan. This occurs despite a global moratorium on commercial whaling since 1986 and the establishment of the Southern Ocean as an international whale sanctuary in 1994.

Palau, in partnership with the South Pacific Whales Research Consortium, Whaleology, and the Pew Environment Group, announced Wednesday that it is beginning to lay the groundwork for a sustainable whale-watching industry.

During a presentation Wednesday night on the importance of marine mammals in the region, the Queen of Koror Bilung Gloria Salii said Palau is in the process of completing a whale-watching feasibility study.

At the event, entitled, “The Role of Marine Reserves and Wildlife Sanctuaries in Conserving Large Pelagic Species,” hosted by the Pew Environment Group, Salii said whale and dolphin-watching alone already generates approximately US$23 million each year in direct revenues worldwide.

Lieberman, who represented Pew at the presentation Wednesday, said, “Palau, which once supported the Japanese position on commercial whaling, now supports conserving marine mammals, along with sharks and other species. By aiding economic development through ecotourism, Palau recognizes the importance of keeping these species alive and thriving.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 29th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Our website has plenty of stories how the UN was keen in allowing on board only journalists that will not tackle such problems. It was the UK that opened the taboo, and now probably thanks to the new Administration in Washington, the subject is moved center stage. Will the UN allow outside journalists to come and cover these discussions? Don’t bet on it – it will need a new UN before the taboo is removed from the oil-is-good-for-you syndrome at the UN.

Refugees Join List of Climate-Change Issues

29refugees_600jpg.jpg
Jennifer Redfearn

Huene, an island in the Carteret Atoll, which is part of Papua New Guinea, has been bisected by the sea.
By NEIL MacFARQUHAR
Published: May 28, 2009


UNITED NATIONS — With their boundless vistas of turquoise water framed by swaying coconut palms, the Carteret Islands northeast of the Papua New Guinea mainland might seem the idyllic spot to be a castaway.

29refugeesb_normal.jpg

Ruby Washington/The New York Times
Stuart Beck, the permanent representative for Palau at the United Nations, in 2005.

But sea levels have risen so much that during the annual king tide season, November to March, the roiling ocean blocks the view from one island to the next, and residents stash their possessions in fishing nets strung between the palm trees.

“It gives you the scary feeling that you don’t know what is going to happen to you, that any minute you will be floating,” Ursula Rakova, the head of a program to relocate residents, said by telephone. The chain could well be uninhabitable by 2015, locals believe, but two previous attempts to abandon it ended badly, when residents were chased back after clashing with their new neighbors on larger islands.

This dark situation underlies the thorny debate over the world’s responsibilities to the millions of people likely to be displaced by climate change.

There could be 200 million of these climate refugees by 2050, according to a new policy paper by the International Organization for Migration, depending on the degree of climate disturbances. Aside from the South Pacific, low-lying areas likely to be battered first include Bangladesh and nations in the Indian Ocean, where the leader of the Maldives has begun seeking a safe haven for his 300,000 people. Landlocked areas may also be affected; some experts call the Darfur region of Sudan, where nomads battle villagers in a war over shrinking natural resources, the first significant conflict linked to climate change.

In the coming days, the United Nations General Assembly is expected to adopt the first resolution linking climate change to international peace and security. The hard-fought resolution, brought by 12 Pacific island states, says that climate change warrants greater attention from the United Nations as a possible source of upheaval worldwide and calls for more intense efforts to combat it. While all Pacific island states are expected to lose land, some made up entirely of atolls, like Tuvalu and Kiribati, face possible extinction.

“For the first time in history, you could actually lose countries off the face of the globe,” said Stuart Beck, the permanent representative for Palau at the United Nations. “It is a security threat to them and their populations, which will have to be relocated, which is the security threat to the places where they go, among other consequences.”

The issue has inspired intense wrangling, with some nations accusing the islanders of both exaggerating the still murky consequences of climate change and trying to expand the mandate of the Security Council by asking it to take action.

“We don’t consider climate change is an issue of security that properly belongs in the Security Council; rather, it is a development issue that has some security aspects,” said Maged A. Abdelaziz, the Egyptian ambassador. “It is an issue of how to prevent certain lands, or certain countries, from being flooded.”

The island states are seeking a response akin to the effort against terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks. “The whole system bent itself to the task, and that is what we want,” Mr. Beck said, adding that the Council should even impose sanctions on countries that fail to act. “If you really buy into the notion that the Suburban you are driving is causing these islands to go under, there ought to be a cop.”

As it is, the compromise resolution does not mention such specific steps, one of the reasons it is expected to pass. Britain, which introduced climate change as a Security Council discussion topic two years ago, supports it along with most of Europe, while other permanent Council members — namely, the United States, China and Russia — generally backed the measure once it no longer explicitly demanded Council action.

Scientific studies distributed by the United Nations or affiliated agencies generally paint rising seas as a threat. A 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, detailing shifts expected in the South Pacific, said rising seas would worsen flooding and erosion and threaten towns as well as infrastructure. Some fresh water will turn salty, and fishing and agriculture will wither, it said.

The small island states are not alone in considering the looming threat already on the doorstep. A policy paper released this month by Australia’s Defense Ministry suggests possible violent outcomes in the Pacific. While Australia should try to mitigate the humanitarian suffering caused by global warming, if that failed and conflict erupted, the country should use its military “as an instrument to deal with any threats,” said the paper.

Australia’s previous prime minister, John Howard, was generally dismissive of the problem, saying his country was plagued with “doomsayers.” But a policy paper called “Our Drowning Neighbors,” by the now governing Labor Party, said Australia should help meld an international coalition to address it. Political debates have erupted there and in New Zealand over the idea of immigration quotas for climate refugees. New Zealand established a “Pacific Access Category” with guidelines that mirror the rules for any émigré, opening its borders to a limited annual quota of some 400 able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 45 who have no criminal records.

But its position has attracted criticism for leaving out the young and the old, who have the least ability to relocate. Australia’s policy, by contrast, is to try to mitigate the circumstances for the victims where they are, rather than serving as their lifeboat.

The sentiment among Pacific Islanders suggests that they do not want to abandon their homelands or be absorbed into cultures where indigenous people already struggle for acceptance.

“It is about much more than just finding food and shelter,” said Tarita Holm, an analyst with the Palauan Ministry of Resources and Development. “It is about your identity.”

Ms. Rakova, on the Carteret Islands, echoes that sentiment. A year ago, her proposed relocation effort attracted just three families out of a population of around 2,000 people. But after last season’s king tides — the highest of the year — she is scrounging for about $1.5 million to help some 750 people relocate before the tides come again.

Jennifer Redfearn, a documentary maker, has been filming the gradual disappearance of the Carterets for a work called “Sun Come Up.” One clan chief told her he would rather sink with the islands than leave. It now takes only about 15 minutes to walk the length of the largest island, with food and water supplies shrinking all the time.

“It destroys our food gardens, it uproots coconut trees, it even washes over the sea walls that we have built,” Ms. Rakova says on the film. “Most of our culture will have to live in memory.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, friends:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.”

###