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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From a [UNFCCC medialist - UNFCCC global list for media mailouts] PRESS RELEASE

UNFCCC Establishes Regional Collaboration Centre for Asia-Pacific Region in
Partnership with the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) to
Help Speed up Spread of Clean Technologies.

(Bonn, 27 August 2015) – Clean technology in developing countries has
received a further boost with the establishment of a centre to promote the
Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Welcoming the establishment of the centre in Bangkok, Thailand, just months
before the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, Christiana Figueres,
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC) said: “A CDM hub in Asia-Pacific comes as nations are set
to ink a new universal climate agreement in Paris in December. The
agreement needs to trigger an ever deeper transition to a low carbon
economy and by the second half of the century a climate neutral
world—scaled up finance, innovative technologies and creative market
mechanisms that benefit people and the planet will be central to these
aims.”

The Centre will be operated in partnership with the Institute for Global
Environmental Strategies (IGES) and will support all countries in the
region in identifying and designing CDM projects and offering opportunities
to reduce transaction costs. It will work in collaboration with the other
Regional Collaboration Centres (RCCs) in Africa, Latin America and the
Caribbean.

Professor Hironori Hamanaka, Chair of the Board of Directors of IGES,
praised the inter-agency cooperation as an important step towards attaining
the goals set by the international community to combat climate change. He
said: “We are honored to work in partnership with the UNFCCC in Asia and
the Pacific, and this Regional Collaboration Centre in Bangkok will further
tap the potential for CDM projects in the region.”

The CDM allows emission reduction projects in developing countries to earn
certified emission reductions (CERs), each equivalent to one tonne of CO2.
CERs can be traded and sold, and used by industrialized countries to meet a
part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

This is the fifth CDM RCC established by the UNFCCC in partnership with a
regional organization. The first centre was established in January 2013 in
Lomé, Togo to increase participation in CDM projects in West and
Francophone Africa. A second centre was established in Kampala, Uganda to
serve the rest of Africa. A third was established in Saint George’s,
Grenada to assist in the development of CDM projects in the Caribbean, and
a fourth was set up in Bogotá, Colombia to support underrepresented
countries in Latin America.

The Asia-Pacific RCC will be hosted in the IGES offices in Bangkok and will
become operational on 1 September 2015.

—————————————————————————

For further information please contact:
David Abbass, Public Information Officer, UNFCCC at:
 CDM-Press at unfccc.int, +49 (0) 228-815-1511

Augustine Kwan, Programme Manager, IGES at:
 iges_pr at iges.or.jp, +66-2-651-8797

About the CDM
The clean development mechanism (CDM) allows emission reduction projects in
developing countries to earn certified emission reductions (CERs), each
equivalent to one tonne of CO2. CERs can be traded and sold, and used by
industrialized countries to meet a part of their emission reduction targets
under the Kyoto Protocol. With more than 7.600 registered projects in more
than 100 countries, the CDM has proven to be a powerful mechanism to
deliver finance for emission-reduction projects and contribute to
sustainable development.

About the UNFCCC
With 196 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997
Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC
Parties. For the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, 37 States,
consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the
process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission
limitation and reduction commitments. The ultimate objective of both
treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at
a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate
system.

About IGES
IGES is a non-profit, research institute headquartered in Hayama, Japan
with offices in Kansai, Kitakyushu and Tokyo, as well as in Bangkok,
Thailand and Beijing, China. Information on IGES research, networks and
events are available on the IGES website: www.iges.or.jp/en/

See also:
Twitter: @UNFCCC | Español: @CMNUCC| Français: @CCNUCC
@UN_CarbonMechs
Facebook: facebook.com facebook.com UNcarbonmechs
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres on Twitter: @CFigueres

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We react here to the New York Times Editorial of August 24, 2015 that seemingly wants us to believe that Putin and the Ayatollahs found religion when they heard that 250,000 Arabs were killed in Syria. Really – why should they care?

Let us suggest that “THE DEAL” has turned the interest of Iran to revive its International Banking if the Sanctions are removed – and that is the real driving force that eventually can bring Putin and the Ayatollahs to the table IN EXCHANGE FOR A SAUDI AND THE OTHER GULF STATES OIL EXPORTERS PROMISE TO REDUCE THEIR EXPORTS OF OIL.

YES – the US and the Europeans are driven by humanitarian concepts – the Russians and the Iranians think of the PRICE OF OIL that hit them hard in their economies. The US and the Europeans enjoyed the lowering of the price of oil – based on the high supply figures and a decreasing demand that resulted from GREEN ACTIVITIES – higher efficiency and alternate sources of energy.
But also these two developing energy topics can only benefit from a higher price for oil. So what the heck – let us help the Syrians and save whatever cultural monuments the Islamic State has not destroyed yet. We know that one way or another – the Christian population of Syria and Iraq is doomed and the Lebanese Maronites strive already decades in Brazil like the Iraqi Jews who spread all over the globe – from the Far East to the Far West. But let the enlightened world deal with the problem – and explain to the Saudis that time has come for them to listen to the global woes and do their part by selling less oil !!!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


To celebrate 100 days to COP21, we would like to share with you the latest infographic from Climate Action that explores the role of cities in accelerating sustainable growth- including actions from utilising renewable energy to driving urban mobility to embedding efficiency measures.

As countries continue to submit INDCs ahead of COP21, the growing role of cities in driving post-2020 climate action cannot be ignored. Increasingly city leaders are engaging in positive actions around climate finance, renewable energy, mobility and efficiency, with C40 cities recording the conception of over 8000 measures, policies, and programmes since they started monitoring.

Recent examples of positive action include Adelaide, Australia, announcing the aim to become the world’s first carbon neutral city, and Oberlin, Ohio, moving towards a 89% renewable energy supply.

The Sustainable Cities for Climate Action infographic explores many similar examples of forward thinking solutions, gathering facts from across the globe to showcase the most promising opportunities for sustainable urban growth.

A sneak peek at the facts…

London plans to install 6,000 charging points and 3,000 battery-powered cars by 2018
Gothenburg and Johannesburg have issued $489 million worth of green bonds
Shanghai plans to invest $16.3 billion over the next 3 years on 220 anti-pollution projects

This infographic is brought to you by Climate Action and UNEP, hosts of the 6th annual Sustainable Innovation Forum (SIF15), which will be held alongside UNFCCC COP21 in Paris.

You can download the infographic for free here

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What is an INDC? | World Resources Institute
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Posted in Archives, Copenhagen COP15, Future Events, Paris, Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


A Department of Management Engineering at UN City in Copenhagen, Denmark is a UNEP Collaborating Centre Advisory on Energy, Climate, and Sustainable Development. They work with SE4All, WRI, and ICLEI – Local Government for Sustainability – as a global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform. They will conduct a webinar September 1, 2015.

An announcement:

Please join us on September 1 as the Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator platform hosts a webinar on the opportunities to use building efficiency and district energy in combination to create more sustainable cities.

This webinar of the SE4ALL Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator partnership is jointly hosted by World Resources Institute (WRI), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. Additional information on the webinar is included below and in the attached document.

Please feel free to share information about this webinar with your colleagues and partners. The primary audience for the webinar is local governments, but it is open to a general audience.

Combining Building Efficiency and District Energy for More Sustainable Cities: A Sustainable Energy for All webinar

Date: Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Times: 10:00-11:30 CEST

Location: Video conference/webinar

Language: English
Registration: attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/3055…

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UN City
Marmorvej 51, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark

DTU – Dept. of Management Engineering

Xiao Wang is DTU Coordinator for
Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform

Email:  xwang at dtu.dk
Direct: +45 4533 5314

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Posted in Archives, Copenhagen COP15, Denmark, European Union, Finland, Future Events, Futurism, Green is Possible, Nairobi, Obama Styling, Paris, Real World's News, Scandinavia, Vienna

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs

Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is also Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals. His books include The End of Poverty, Common Wealth, and, most recently, The Age of Sustainable Development.

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/columni…


The UN at 70

Project Syndicate – Sunday, August 23, 2015

NEW YORK –The United Nations will mark its 70th anniversary when world leaders assemble next month at its headquarters in New York. Though there will be plenty of fanfare, it will inadequately reflect the UN’s value, not only as the most important political innovation of the twentieth century, but also as the best bargain on the planet. But if the UN is to continue to fulfill its unique and vital global role in the twenty-first century, it must be upgraded in three key ways.

Fortunately, there is plenty to motivate world leaders to do what it takes. Indeed, the UN has had two major recent triumphs, with two more on the way before the end of this year.

The first triumph is the nuclear agreement with Iran. Sometimes misinterpreted as an agreement between Iran and the United States, the accord is in fact between Iran and the UN, represented by the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the US), plus Germany. An Iranian diplomat, in explaining why his country will scrupulously honor the agreement, made the point vividly: “Do you really think that Iran would dare to cheat on the very five UN Security Council permanent members that can seal our country’s fate?”

The second big triumph is the successful conclusion, after 15 years, of the Millennium Development Goals, which have underpinned the largest, longest, and most effective global poverty-reduction effort ever undertaken. Two UN Secretaries-General have overseen the MDGs: Kofi Annan, who introduced them in 2000, and Ban Ki-moon, who, since succeeding Annan at the start of 2007, has led vigorously and effectively to achieve them.

The MDGs have engendered impressive progress in poverty reduction, public health, school enrollment, gender equality in education, and other areas. Since 1990 (the reference date for the targets), the global rate of extreme poverty has been reduced by well over half – more than fulfilling the agenda’s number one goal.

Inspired by the MDGs’ success, the UN’s member countries are set to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which will aim to end extreme poverty in all its forms everywhere, narrow inequalities, and ensure environmental sustainability by 2030 – next month. This, the UN’s third triumph of 2015, could help to bring about the fourth: a global agreement on climate control, under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Paris in December.

The precise value of the peace, poverty reduction, and environmental cooperation made possible by the UN is incalculable. If we were to put it in monetary terms, however, we might estimate their value at trillions of dollars per year – at least a few percent of the world economy’s annual GDP of $100 trillion.

Yet spending on all UN bodies and activities – from the Secretariat and the Security Council to peacekeeping operations, emergency responses to epidemics, and humanitarian operations for natural disasters, famines, and refugees – totaled roughly $45 billion in 2013, roughly $6 per person on the planet. That is not just a bargain; it is a significant underinvestment. Given the rapidly growing need for global cooperation, the UN simply cannot get by on its current budget.

Given this, the first reform that I would suggest is an increase in funding, with high-income countries contributing at least $40 per capita annually, upper middle-income countries giving $8, lower-middle-income countries $2, and low-income countries $1. With these contributions – which amount to roughly 0.1% of the group’s average per capita income – the UN would have about $75 billion annually with which to strengthen the quality and reach of vital programs, beginning with those needed to achieve the SDGs. Once the world is on a robust path to achieve the SDGs, the need for, say, peacekeeping and emergency-relief operations should decline as conflicts diminish in number and scale, and natural disasters are better prevented or anticipated.


This brings us to the second major area of reform: ensuring that the UN is fit for the new age of sustainable development. Specifically, the UN needs to strengthen its expertise in areas such as ocean health, renewable energy systems, urban design, disease control, technological innovation, public-private partnerships, and peaceful cultural cooperation. Some UN programs should be merged or closed, while other new SDG-related UN programs should be created.

The third major reform imperative is the UN’s governance, starting with the Security Council, the composition of which no longer reflects global geopolitical realities. Indeed, the Western Europe and Other Group (WEOG) now accounts for three of the five permanent members (France, the United Kingdom, and the US). That leaves only one permanent position for the Eastern European Group (Russia), one for the Asia-Pacific Group (China), and none for Africa or Latin America.

The rotating seats on the Security Council do not adequately restore regional balance. Even with two of the ten rotating Security Council seats, the Asia-Pacific region is still massively under-represented. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for roughly 55% of the world’s population and 44% of its annual income but has just 20% (three out of 15) of the seats on the Security Council.

Asia’s inadequate representation poses a serious threat to the UN’s legitimacy, which will only increase as the world’s most dynamic and populous region assumes an increasingly important global role. One possible way to resolve the problem would be to add at least four Asian seats: one permanent seat for India, one shared by Japan and South Korea (perhaps in a two-year, one-year rotation), one for the ASEAN countries (representing the group as a single constituency), and a fourth rotating among the other Asian countries.

As the UN enters its eighth decade, it continues to inspire humanity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains the world’s moral charter, and the SDGs promise to provide new guideposts for global development cooperation. Yet the UN’s ability to continue to fulfill its vast potential in a new and challenging century requires its member states to commit to support the organization with the resources, political backing, and reforms that this new era demands.

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…

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How to Select the Next UN Secretary-General.

By Dean Ngaire Woods and Nina Hallon, Project Syndicate, Oxford University

Ngaire Woods is Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government and Director of the Global Economic Governance Program at the University of Oxford.

Nina Hall, a post-doctoral fellow at the Hertie School of Government in Berlin, is the lead researcher on the WEF/BSG project.

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…

OXFORD – When the United Nations elects a new secretary-general next year, the world will face a crucial choice. With crises erupting in every region of the world, the need for strong, decisive leadership is self-evident. And yet the selection process for filling important international posts has often been characterized more by political horse-trading than a meritocratic search for the best candidate.

The tools to improve the process are available, and the time is right to ensure their adoption by the UN and other international organizations. A new report by the World Economic Forum and Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government lays out a series of best practices – each one of which has already been implemented by at least one international agency – that can guarantee that leaders are drawn from the most qualified candidates, and that the organizations for which they work are vested with the best possible management practices.

For starters, it is important to professionalize the selection process. For too long, backroom deals among governments have taken precedence over searching for a candidate with the relevant skills and experience. When Pascal Lamy, one of the authors of the report, was chosen to become head of the World Trade Organization, there was not even a description of the job against which his qualifications could be measured.

Once a candidate has been chosen, it is important to set clear performance expectations that can be evaluated annually. Groups like the World Health Organization – which came under fierce criticism during the Ebola crisis – can learn from the 80% of American non-profit boards that have a formal process in place for a yearly evaluation of their CEO.

Ethical standards also need to be strengthened. In April, Spanish police questioned Rodrigo Rato, a former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, as part of a corruption probe. Not long before that, his successor at the IMF, Dominique Strauss Kahn, faced pimping charges in France.

Putting in place a code that sets out clear standards for identifying conflicts of interest and robust methods for dealing with complaints about a leader’s behavior is crucial. In recent years, allegations of improper behavior have led to resignations by the heads of the IMF, the World Bank, and the UN Refugee Agency.

A leader is only as good as the people who work for him, so organizations must make it a high priority to attract and retain good staff and rid themselves of those who lack professional integrity or competence. Many global agencies are introducing systematic surveys of their employees, but much remains to be improved. Crucially, international organizations must build up the capacity to resist governments’ efforts to protect their underperforming nationals. Performance evaluations should be made public, allowing outsiders to measure progress (or the lack thereof).

Organizations also need to focus more on delivering results and tracking outcomes. For decades, countries borrowing from the World Bank and regional development banks have begged for the loan process to be expedited; most cannot afford to wait more than two years to find out whether a loan has been approved. Halving the time it takes to approve a loan is the kind of operational goal that a good leader can set, and for which he or she can subsequently be held to account.

It is also important to ensure well-structured, systematic engagement with stakeholders and civil-society groups, which is necessary to ensure high-quality and innovative inputs. Adopting an ad hoc approach, as many organizations currently do, frequently yields poor results.

Finally, it is crucial that organizations learn from their mistakes. Fortunately, almost all global agencies have instituted processes for independent evaluation. Less happily, most are still grappling with how to implement lessons learned. Evaluation is important, but it needs to be followed up with strong governance reforms that require leaders to shift incentives and behavior.

Pressure for change is mounting. In November 2014, Avaaz, the United Nations Association, and other NGOs launched a campaign to reform the selection process by which the UN secretary-general is chosen, replacing an opaque process dominated by the permanent members of the Security Council with a transparent one, in which all countries have a say. Among their demands are a clear job description for the role, public scrutiny of candidates, and a shortlist with more than one candidate.

Progress is being made in some agencies. The UN High Commission for Refugees now describes its objectives in its Global Strategic Priorities and evaluates progress toward them annually. And all senior UN officials must file an annual financial-disclosure statement with the organization’s ethics office.

One notably successful agency in this regard is the African Development Bank (AfDB), which has introduced an organization-wide whistle-blowing policy, an anti-corruption and fraud framework, and an office to investigate disclosures. The AfDB will choose a new president in May, and it has not only defined the job clearly; it has also identified eight candidates and asked each to set out their strategy in advance of the election.

The world relies on international organizations to coordinate the global response to a host of critical threats, from pandemics to financial crises. An effective UN leader needs to be able to persuade member states to cooperate, manage the organization well, and deliver results. Without good leadership, any organization – even the UN – is destined to fail.

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…

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Gareth Evans

Gareth Evans, former Foreign Minister of Australia (1988-1996) and President of the International Crisis Group (2000-2009), is currently Chancellor of the Australian National University.

He co-chairs the New York-based Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect and the Canberra-based Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

He is the author of The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All and co-author of Nuclear Weapons: The State of Play 2015.

MAR 26, 2013 – Project Syndicate
Valuing the United Nations.

MELBOURNE – There is nothing like exposure to smart and idealistic young people to make jaded and world-weary policymakers and commentators feel better about the future. I have just had that experience meeting delegates to the 22nd World Model United Nations Conference, which brought together in Australia more than 2,000 students from every continent and major culture to debate peace, development, and human rights, and the role of the UN in securing them.

What impressed me most is how passionately this generation of future leaders felt about the relevance and capacity of the UN system. They are right: the UN can deliver when it comes to national security, human security, and human dignity. But, as I told them, they have a big task of persuasion ahead of them.

No organization in the world embodies as many dreams, yet provides so many frustrations, as the United Nations. For most of its history, the Security Council has been the prisoner of great-power maneuvering; the General Assembly a theater of empty rhetoric; the Economic and Social Council a largely dysfunctional irrelevance; and the Secretariat, for all the dedication and brilliance of a host of individuals, alarmingly inefficient.

My own efforts to advance the cause of UN reform when I was Australia’s foreign minister were about as quixotic and unproductive as anything I have ever tried to do. Overhauling Secretariat structures and processes to reduce duplication, waste, and irrelevance? Forget it. Changing the composition of the Security Council to ensure that it began to reflect the world of the twenty-first century, not that of the 1950’s? No way.

But I have also had some exhilarating experiences of the UN at its best. The peace plan for Cambodia in the early 1990’s, for example, dragged the country back from hellish decades of horrifying genocide and ugly and protracted civil war. Likewise, the Chemical Weapons Convention, steered through the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, is still the most robust arms-control treaty related to weapons of mass destruction ever negotiated.

Perhaps one experience stands out above all. In 2005, on the UN’s 60th anniversary, the General Assembly, convening at head of state and government level, unanimously endorsed the concept of states’ responsibility to protect populations at risk of genocide and other mass atrocity crimes. With that vote, the international community began to eradicate the shameful indifference that accompanied the Holocaust, Rwanda, Srebrenica, Darfur, and too many similar catastrophes.

What needs to be better understood publicly is just how many different roles the UN plays. The various departments, programs, organs, and agencies within the UN system address a broad spectrum of issues, from peace and security between and within states to human rights, health, education, poverty alleviation, disaster relief, refugee protection, trafficking of people and drugs, heritage protection, climate change and the environment, and much else. What is least appreciated of all is how cost-effectively these agencies – for all their limitations – perform overall, in both absolute and comparative terms.

The UN’s core functions – leaving aside peacekeeping missions but including its operations at its New York headquarters; at offices in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi; and at the five regional commissions around the world – now employ 44,000 people at a cost of around $2.5 billion a year. That might sound like a lot, but the Tokyo Fire Department spends about the same amount each year, and the Australian Department of Human Services spends $3 billion more (with less staff). And that’s just two departments in two of the UN’s 193 member states.

Even including related programs and organs (like the UN Development Program and the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees), as well as peacekeeping activities (which involve more than 110,000 international military, police, and civilian personnel), the UN system’s total cost is still only around $30 billion a year. That is less than half the annual budget for New York City, and well under a third of the roughly $105 billion that the US military has been spending each year, on average, in Afghanistan. Wall Street employees received more in annual bonuses ($33.2 billion) in 2007, the year before the global financial meltdown.


The whole family of the UN Secretariat and related entities, together with current peacekeepers, adds up to around 215,000 people worldwide – not a small number, but less than one-eighth of the roughly 1.8 million staff employed by McDonald’s and its franchisees worldwide!

The bottom line, as the youngsters gathered in Melbourne fully understood, is that the UN provides fabulous value for what the world spends on it, and that if it ever ceased to exist, we would have to reinvent it. The downsides are real, but we need to remember the immortal words of Dag Hammarskjold, the UN’s second secretary-general: “The UN was created not to bring us to heaven, but to save us from hell.”

Read more at www.project-syndicate.org/comment…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 21st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Climate – from The Center of American Progress – ClimateProgress

7 Big Oil Companies Submit Climate Commitments To The U.N.

by Natasha Geiling Aug 21, 2015 2:16pm


Earlier this week, seven oil and gas companies proposed methane emissions cuts as part of their contribution to a global climate deal ahead of the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris later this year.


The companies — including the United States’ Southwestern Energy and Norway’s Statoil — have committed to cutting methane in oil production “by systematically surveying for nine key emission sources” and then reporting those findings to the public, the United Nations’ Climate Action website said. Specific reduction numbers were not listed in the database, though concrete reduction targets could be released at a later date.

Methane is a dangerous greenhouse gas that is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Oil and gas production produces methane either via leaking infrastructure, or through a process known as flaring, where excess methane is intentionally released and then burned. Reducing methane emissions from oil and gas production could go a long way to helping the globe stay under a 2°C warming scenario — the International Energy Agency has estimated that curbing methane from upstream oil and gas production could account for 15 percent of the global emissions reductions needed to stay under 2°C.

“It’s heartening to see these companies understand the climate situation and understand the contribution that methane makes,” Han Chen, international climate advocate with the {industry-closely related – our comment} Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), told ThinkProgress. “I think that a lot of these corporations are facing inquiries from investors, looking at the divestment campaign, and seeing that they are going to have to eventually change their strategy.”

But when a company’s entire business is the extraction of fossil fuels for profit, their climate commitments need to be looked at critically, Greenpeace’s Travis Nichols told ThinkProgress.

“In general, it’s really good to consider the source of these things. You think, ‘Okay, this is an oil company, its entire M.O. is to extract fossil fuel,’” Nichols said. “If they’re making certain kinds of pledges, then we probably need to push them harder.”

In early June, six oil companies wrote a letter to the UN’s climate chief, pledging their support for international climate commitments and emphasizing their willingness to work with international bodies to place a price on carbon.

That’s a good start, Chen said, but environmentalists still want to see oil and gas companies go further. Recent scientific analysis suggests that to keep global temperatures under 2°C, 49 percent of the world’s remaining natural gas reserves and 33 percent of its remaining oil can’t be burned as fuel, meaning that oil and gas companies will need to look beyond their current infrastructure if they want to help prevent dangerous levels of climate change.

“We’re pretty happy that these corporations are even acknowledging that this is a serious problem that we’re facing, but what we need them to commit to over the long term needs to be significantly more than this,” Chen said. “We don’t think that thinking about a carbon price and just reducing methane leakage is going to be enough. In the long term, we’re talking about moving toward low carbon solutions.”

The commitments to methane reductions come just days after the Obama administration proposed methane regulations for new and modified oil and gas wells across the country. In January, the administration announced a goal of cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector between 40 and 45 percent by 2025, compared to 2012 levels.

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 thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/08…

Climate

The Dry Weather That’s Hitting The Tar Sands Industry Is ‘A Preview Of The Future,’ Scientist Says.

by Samantha Page Aug 21, 2015 1:57pm

Dozens of tar sands developers in Alberta’s tar sands have been suspended from taking water — needed for their operations — out of local rivers, after a low flow advisory was issued.

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) suspended 73 licenses to temporarily divert water (TDLs) from the Athabasca, Peace, and Wabasca rivers on July 24, after unusually dry weather caused water to fall to at or below healthy maintenance levels. Now, scientists are saying this could become a regular issue for Alberta’s tar sands industry.

Tar sands mining is a type of surface mining in which the top layer of organic matter — trees and plants — is scrapped off, and heavy crude oil is filtered from the sand and clay below. Three barrels of water are needed for every barrel of oil extracted from the tar sands, according to Friends of the Earth.

“More than 90 percent of this water, 400 million gallons per day, ends up as toxic waste dumped in massive pools that contain carcinogenic substances like cyanide,” the group says. Processing the oil from tar sands is incredibly carbon-intensive, and because of tar sands, the energy sector has become Canada’s biggest source of greenhouse gases.

As global warming worsens, some regions, including Alberta, can expect more and more dry summers, scientists say.

“This is absolutely a preview of the future,” Simon Dowell, a climate scientist at the University of British Columbia, told ThinkProgress.
This is a reminder that even the fossil fuel industry has to be worried about the impacts of climate change

Earlier snow melt and drier conditions due to climate change are “exactly what all the models predict,” he said. In fact, the AER suspensions came the same week a paper Dowell co-authored was accepted for publication. In the paper, Dowell and lead author Doris Leong found that, by mid-century, there could be two-month interruptions in tar sands development due to lack of water.

Four counties in Alberta have declared a state of “agricultural disaster” due to drought this summer, the CBC reports. And with the record-breaking El Niño event, it’s expected that western Canada will continue its dry spell at least through this winter, Dowell said.

Some studies have predicted that climate change could increase the likelihood of severe El Niños, a phenomenon that, like climate change, can exacerbate extreme weather events in some parts of the world.

This spring, a group of more than 100 U.S. and Canadian scientists banded together against the continued development of the Alberta tar sands, saying it is “incompatible” with limiting climate change.

“It is somewhat ironic,” Dowell said. “This is a reminder that even the fossil fuel industry has to be worried about the impacts of climate change.”

For now, the water use restrictions will not end operations for all the affected companies, as many have stored water or alternative sources.

“The AER encourages industry to develop their own contingency plans to minimize the impacts that low-flow has on their energy operations. For example, operators may have previously stored water from the source to a reservoir on their site, and when water restrictions are in place, they can divert water from a reservoir,” Jordan Fitzgerald, an AER spokesman, told ThinkProgress by email.

The current restrictions are in effect only in the Upper Athabasca Basin, in northern Alberta, but operators elsewhere in the province are also being urged to conserve.

“The AER is also encouraging oil and gas operators to voluntarily reduce their water consumption in areas with no mandatory restrictions but with streamflows lower than normal,” Fitzgerald said.

Unfortunately for the tar sands industry, low flows might actually be the new normal.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

US Proposals to Cut Methane and Other Pollutants.

As an extension of his Climate Action Plan President Obama through the EPA has announced a series of proposals that will reduce methane and other harmful emissions. While there are there are already some voluntary programs to reduce methane emissions, the EPA has proposed new regulations that will significantly reduce methane in the oil and gas sector as well as in landfills.

In June of this year the EPA announced that it was preparing plans to limit methane. On August 18, 2015, the EPA publishes more details of the new rules. The standards are intended for the oil and gas sector. They are designed to reduce methane, VOCs and other toxic air pollutants. Under the proposed regulations the oil and gas industry would have to cut methane emission by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.

The new standards would reduce methane emissions by between 340,000 and 400,000 short tons. This is equivalent to reducing 7.7 to 9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. According to EPA estimates the net climate benefits will be worth between $120 and $150 million. In addition to methane the new rule will eliminate as much as 180,000 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

To achieve these goals the new EPA rules require the oil and gas industry to find and repair leaks, capture gas leaking from fracking wells, as well as limit emissions from pumps and other equipment. Several studies have shown that due to leakages, natural gas has a higher emissions profile than coal.

The new standards also address airborne toxins, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Under the plan as much as 2,500 tons of these toxic emissions will be eliminated.

On August 14, 2015 the EPA issued two other proposals that are intended to reduce methane emissions from municipal solid waste landfills which are the third largest source of anthropogenic methane. As part of the proposals landfills would have to reduce methane emissions by almost one third.

Landfills generate around 18 percent of methane emissions which is the equivalent to 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution.

The proposed rules are expected to reduce methane emissions by an estimated 487,000 tons a year which is equivalent to reducing 12.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

The EPA estimates the climate benefits of the combined proposals at nearly $750 million in 2025 or nearly $14 for every dollar spent to comply. Combined costs of the proposed rules are estimated at $55 million in 2025.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 21st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

13 May 2015
Iceland: reducing the world’s carbon footprint

Iceland is a global leader in clean energy generation, carbon reduction and green business and Climate Action spoke to Thordur H. Hilmarsson, Director of Foreign Direct Investment at Promote Iceland, to find out how investors and businesses are benefiting and what the country is doing to enable such growth.

Can you tell us a bit about Invest in Iceland?

The central location of Iceland between North America and Europe, the availability of secure and renewable electricity in addition to many other factors such as a pro-business environment and availability of land make Iceland an attractive location for many types of industries. Invest in Iceland is the information and services centre for foreign investors and businesses interested in exploring how this value proposition can be of value to their business.

Can you expand on the data centre opportunities in Iceland and how is this offering cost savings and renewable energy solutions for international companies?

Minimising the carbon footprint of data while reducing cost is a challenge that Nordic Iceland rises to and companies such as BMW are already leveraging on this opportunity. 100 per cent of the electricity on the Icelandic transmission and distribution grid is green, produced harnessing of geothermal resources or the power of Iceland‘s glacial rivers. The electricity is not only renewable but also highly cost competitive and available via long term contracts that ensure predictability in the operations. Because of the cool oceanic climate of Iceland data centers can use ambient cooling year round. Cooling is the largest non-value adding factor in the power consumption so this is important.

Iceland is connected to both North America and Europe with high bandwidth and relatively low latency submarine fiber cables. Both the overseas connection and the backhaul is redundant.

Can you tell us a bit about how Iceland is reducing its GHG emissions and decreases its CO2 exposure?

With 85 per cent of the country‘s primary energy needs met by renewable hydro and geothermal resources, Iceland is a world leader in renewable energy. Iceland‘s energy use per capita is also among the highest in the world as over 80 per cent of all electricity generated is sold to energy intensive industries. Today Iceland has hydroelectric power stations with a total installed capacity of nearly 1986 MW and geothermal power stations with a total installed capacity of 665 MW.

Today almost 90 per cent of Iceland‘s houses and buildings are heated by natural hot water

Utilisation of geothermal resources for space heating started for real in the 1930s but the effort was greatly accelerated by the global oil crisis of the early 1970s. Today almost 90 per cent of Iceland‘s houses and buildings are heated by natural hot water and the geothermal water is also used for melting snow, outdoor swimming pools, greenhouses and fish farming to give some examples.

Renewables for heating in Iceland is already saving 7 per cent of GDP or equivalent 3000 US $ per capita every year this is stated in the latest newsletter published by Geothermal ERA-NET.

The energy situation in Iceland is unique because all electricity is produced using renewable resources and around 90 per cent of space heating in the country is also powered by renewable sources. Opportunities for reducing GHG emissions lie therefore primarily in the transport sector. There are many initiatives ongoing in this sector in Iceland, both when it comes to transport on land and on sea, and the government of Iceland is committed to utilising the opportunity inherent in our energy situation for even further reducing emissions.

In July 2014 Iceland and China entered into a free trade agreement. How will this help boost climate action projects?

This extensive FTA, effective as of July 2014, offers unprecedented opportunities for North American and European companies to gain a foothold in one of the largest markets in the world. This includes material such as polysilicon, produced from silica or quartz powered by Iceland’s renewable energy resources, and used to produce further renewable energy as solar panels. Carbon fibers, used to reduce consumption of fossil fuel by reducing the weight of vehicles or for windmill generating green power, do also fall under the FTA.

Under the terms of the new FTA, there are zero tariffs on the vast majority of products both exported from, and imported to, China. This includes all industrial products exported from China to Iceland—or 99 per cent of the current export market—as well as any Icelandic products under the 7,830 tariff lines, which currently accounts for 82 per cent of the country’s exports to China.

Even a quick glance at EU/US customs duties on products exported to China reveals the immediate benefits enjoyed by companies based in Iceland

Even a quick glance at EU/US customs duties on products exported to China reveals the immediate benefits enjoyed by companies based in Iceland: Carbon fibres and any fabric from these fibres incur 17.5 per cent customs from EU/US exporters, fresh and/or cool fish incurs 10-12 per cent customs, and poultry 20 per cent customs. None of these products would face any tariffs if exported from Iceland.

Iceland has topped the Global Peace Index for the last two consecutive years. How has this helped to boost clean energy investment in the country?

Safety and stability are important factors when investors choose where to locate new facilities. This is especially important for sensitive operations such as data centers and industries that are sensitive for disruption such as energy intensive industries.

At COP21 in Paris this year, governments are due to agree a landmark new global and binding climate deal. What opportunities could this present to Invest in Iceland?

The climate change presents no opportunities as such but increased international awareness of the problem and the importance of active measures to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases does. Both companies and consumers are increasingly aware of the origin of the energy needed to provide the required goods and services. Iceland enjoys the unique situation that all the electricity produced and fed onto the national transmission grid is from renewable resources, hydro, geothermal and wind. This means that regardless of where in Iceland new companies decide to locate, they can only buy renewable energy.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Last night – August 18, 2015 – in New York City – we went to Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center to listen to a performance of perfection – Joshua Bell playing Bach – the Chaconne dating from 1720 and the Violin concerto in E major dating to “before 1730.”

I thought this became a subject for our website because of an article by Lars Gustafsson that was part of the printed program brochure that was handed out to us. The title “THE STILLNESS OF THE WORLD BEFORE BACH” – the fact that we might think that it might seem there was no great music before Bach – BUT THERE MUST HAVE BEN SOMETHING THERE BEFORE 1720.

Then I thought = wait the steam engine was developed over a period of about a hundred years by three British inventors. The first crude steam powered machine was built by Thomas Savery, of England, in 1698. Savery built his machine to help pump water out of coal mines – only in 1781 James Watt patented a steam engine that produced continuous rotary motion.

So we can say that the development of the steam engine, that brought about the industrial revolution, went on in parallel with the development of music that started with Bach and if we may say continued with Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart.

Could we say that some form of life did exist before we started to use coal en-masse and invented concepts of economic growth and development? What was the life we replaced? What was the cultural expressions we lost when accepting the progress in music?
The Gustafsson article stimulates our thoughts.

Gustafsson – since the late 1950s has produced poetry, novels, short stories, critical essays, and editorials. He gained international recognition as a Swedish writer with literary awards such as the Prix International Charles Veillon des Essais in 1983, the Heinrich Steffens Preis in 1986, Una Vita per la Litteratura in 1989, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for poetry in 1994, and several others. He has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. His major works have been translated into fifteen languages, and Harold Bloom includes Gustafsson in The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages (1994). John Updike offered high praise for Gustafsson’s The Death of a Beekeeper in his collection of criticism, Hugging The Shore.

Gustafsson said once “I listen. I listen and I look. Creativity knows no rules. You can get an idea for a novel from a little something someone says, or just a face you see. A rabbi once told me that when God spoke to Moses in that bush, it wasn’t in a thundering voice; it was in a very weak voice. You have to listen carefully for that voice. You have to be very sharp.”

In May 2009, Lars Gustafsson declared that he would vote for the Pirate Party in the upcoming elections for the European Parliament

Lars Gustafsson: The Stillness of the World Before Bach

There must have been a world before
the Trio Sonata in D, a world before the A minor partita,
but what kind of a world?

A Europe of vast empty spaces, unresounding,
everywhere unawakened instruments
where the Musical Offering, the Well-Tempered Clavier
never passed across the keys.

Isolated churches
where the soprano line of the Passion
never in helpless love twined round
the gentler movements of the flute,
broad soft landscapes
where nothing breaks the stillness
but old woodcutters’ axes
the healthy barking of strong dogs in winter
and, like a bell, skates biting into fresh ice;
the swallows whirring through summer air,
the shell resounding at the child’s ear
and nowhere Bach nowhere Bach
the world in a skater’s stillness before Bach.

published in New Directions Paperback NDP656, “The Stillness of the World Before Bach: New Selected Poems” by Lars Gustafsson.

Yes – there was a harmonious world even without the sound of Bach – that is what I took from the above poem.
Surely, I did not transform this into a feeling that this was a better world – simply I picked up that it was still a livable world that could exist with simpler pleasures.

Nevertheless we are thankful to Bach for having shown us the way to perhaps a higher level of civilized pleasures. How does this translate to the Steam-engine thought that we understand today as a step backwards – because of the dependence on fossil fuels?

But this would be a wrong conclusion – it would be more correct to see that we can get all those benefits from higher technologies like we get from Bach’s music, if we only opt to use Renewable Energy and even higher tech methods that allow us similar results without that pesky dependence on oil and coal. Gustafsson was right in in opting for the Pirates in his search for true enlightenment in a corrupt world.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The following is very important information that makes for interesting days in New York the end of this September.

But let us mention here also other events in New York those days – events that will turn New York City into the impossible city.

Pope Francis will be here the same days as SE4All – September 24-28 and let us say in common language – the Pope will steal the show.

Also, that Saturday there will be a “humongous” musical festival on the Great Lawn in Central Park, and starting Monday the 28th the UN General Assembly will be opened with President Obama and most major World Leaders present. They will arrive that Weekend – so traffic jams, closed roads, and closed doors – will be everywhere. Many NGOs and Press to the UN will just not be able to get in – passes will be revoked. So, please temper expectations with above in mind – and realize that many experienced people will skip town.

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From SE4All:

The Sustainable Development Goal 7 on Energy has been set; now it’s time to show how to achieve it by 2030.

A series of high-level Sustainable Energy for All events around the United Nations Summit will discuss how to finance, implement and track progress on SDG7.

Leaders of governments, businesses, civil society and international organizations are invited to join the thousands of SE4All partners who are already geared up to make sure the Energy SDG succeeds in the crucial years to come.

1. Financing and Tracking Progress of Sustainable Energy for All

Date and Time, Venue (TBC)

2. Role of Partnerships in Achieving Sustainable Energy for All
(co-hosted by the Government of Denmark with SE4All)

Date and Time: Sunday, 27 September 2015, 08:00-09:30

Venue: Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York

3. Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7 on Energy by 2030: Implementation of Sustainable Energy for All

Date and Time: Sunday, 27 September 2015, 11.00-13.00

Venue: Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York

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More information on these events – SEEMINGLY NIT AVAILABLE NOW – and any other engagements related to Sustainable Energy for All – will be available shortly on www.se4all.org.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A Year Ago – September 5, 2014 – Just before the 2014 UN General Assembly – Assaad W. Razzouk wrote in the ECOLOGIST: “We Can Win On Climate Change – But Without the UN.”

After the UNGA and immediately after COP20 of the UNFCCC – he wrote:
“The UN climate talks just failed – now for the real battle.”

Assaad W. Razzouk, 15th December 2014 – in THE ECOLOGIST “COP20 has just laid the foundations for a non-agreement in Paris in 2015, writes Assaad Razzouk – thanks to the pernicious influence of fossil fuels, poisoning debate and subverting serious climate action. Now there’s only one earthly power big enough to fight back.”

In fact, possibly worse than nothing happened. Instead of being on track to sign, in December 2015 in Paris, a binding agreement to cut harmful emissions backed by all nations, we are forcefully sliding towards an agreement for each nation to do what it wants, including nothing.

There is a new acronym at the UN jargon university for this: ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’, or INDCs. It’s a code-word for everyone to do what they please, in two steps.

First, key governments worldwide will maybe (or maybe not) outline, by March 2015, what actions (i.e., INDCs) they intend to take under a global agreement.
Second, the INDCs are intended to be added up into an agreement in Paris and compared against what we need to do to limit temperature increases to 2 degrees, the accepted climate change speed limit.

But because these INDCs amount to nothing, we already know that any agreement in Paris will also amount to nothing. INDCs won’t have binding (legal) consequences, aren’t subject to review and don’t come with transparent, strong monitoring obligations.

Two consequences are clear, as they have been for some time.

First, emissions will continue to rise as the rot from a failed UN process spreads to every corner of the world.
Second, as I argued previously, instead of wasting resources on a failed UN process, we should target the 90 companies which are responsible for two-thirds of the harmful emissions generated since the industrial age began. Eighty percent of their reserves need to be locked away underground to avoid a catastrophe.

This tiny number of large companies, lobbying to prevent action on climate change, are at the heart of our current carbon-intensive model. They know that their business model is not under threat from the UN climate talks.
 www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_co…

Now we are facing the UNGA of 2015 and looking forward to COP21 in Paris and expecting the INDCs (‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’) as the outcome – and the ECOLOGIST just released another article from the Singapore based Sindicatum Company: “Why INDCs Can Be A Firm Foundation To A Climate Deal” by Gareth Brydon Phillips.
August 18, 2015.
 www.sindicatum.com/why-indcs-can-…

Is this simply because of the necessity to live with what we can get?
Obviously, we think beyond that. Our www.SustaiabiliTank.info wrote many times that it expects nothing beyond publicity from what goes on at the UN. It is not just those international oil companies Sindicatum is targeting – but also the oil exporting countries that infiltrated the UN at all levels that will do everything they can do in order to derail the oil consumers from organizing themselves as a consortium as well. The interest of the consumers started from defending themselves from the exploitation of a few royal houses gesticulating as if they had Nations behind them, and then the issues of environment and climate change came about and clearly justified our need to decrease not just the dependence on oil – but the actual use of fossil carbon fuels – this in order to decrease emissions of greenhouse gasses including CO2.

In this respect the codex of INDCs is the best one can expect from the UN, and if we do it right it can lead us to the golden land of reliance on renewable energy to replace the reliance on fossil fuels. The countries that commercialize the RE&EN (Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency) technologies can rule the global economy – and – yes – DECENTRALIZATION and energy supplied locally were it is needed – can become the guideline.

We use this present posting not just as a favor to Sindicatum and the ECOLOGIST, but in effect as a start of our campaign to further the goals of Paris 2015 as we are optimists – in spite of the UN bureaucracy that was loaded by the oil counties – and oil interests – and believe the future is ours and not theirs. In this vein we also posted the call to arms of 350.org

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We proceed now to re-post the September 2014 article in the ECOLOGIST:


We can win on climate change – but without the UN

Assaad W. Razzouk, September 5, 2014 in the Ecologist:
 www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_co…

Prospects for a global climate deal under the UN are receding fast, writes Assaad Razzouk, as the Green Climate Fund is short-changed by donor nations. But there’s still plenty to hope for with a private sector that’s stepping up to the mark, and fast-growing decentralised climate action.

There is no longer any viable solution likely to emerge from the UN climate talks. But there is still much to hope for in a world of decentralised climate action.

The climate community has been in a beehive of activity all summer as government officials, corporate leaders and climate activists prepare to congregate in New York City on 23rd September for a UN ‘Climate Summit’ convened by Secretary General Ban ki-Moon.

But recent moves by the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have decisively undermined the entire edifice of UN climate talks – likely for the better given the appalling track record of climate action of the UN.

Since their inception in 1980, UN climate talks have been built on the premise that the developed world, responsible for most of the pollution since industrialization, will fund a global clean-up of the planet, partly directly and partly via institutions where they control the Board, such as the World Bank Group.

After all that’s what rich developed countries, periodically feeling guilty, have promised at repeated climate talk venues.

The promised money never arrived

Over the past five years, the Green Climate Fund (or GCF) has been presented as the key vehicle via which $100 billion of funding per year will be diverted from rich to developing countries to help the latter mitigate emissions and adapt to climate change.

However, negotiations for a comprehensive climate deal have led nowhere as guilt is invariably replaced by political and financial reality, especially after the 2008 financial crisis.

For some 25 years now, dozens of poor developing countries have been sitting and waiting for the promised cash – but it hasn’t come.

In the meantime, advanced developed economies like the BRICS countries have become cash rich and grown increasingly tired of the control exercised by developed countries on almost all multi-lateral and bi-lateral financial institutions – including the IMF, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and a multitude of Western bilateral development banks.

Some, like China, have grudgingly recognized that climate action promotes prosperity and stability: In part, because of a rapidly developing popular environmental consciousness in response to abject air and water pollution and chemical contamination; and also because China feels that clean green technology is an area where it can exercise strategic leadership in Asia and beyond.

BRICS mobilise a potential $300bn for climate action

As a result of the above factors, on 15 July, the BRICS countries launched, with an acute emphasis on sustainable development, the ‘New Development Bank’ or NDB with capital of US$100 billion.

They did not stop there and also announced the signing of a Treaty for the establishment of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) with an initial size of $100 billion. So that’s $200 billion committed by five countries, in part, to mobilise resources for sustainable development in emerging economies.

Furthermore, China’s diplomatic corps has been doing the rounds in Asia in July and August, successfully mobilising support for another brand new $100 billion international institution, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Together, the NDB, the CRA and the AIIB have mobilised $300 billion of cash completely outside the current UN climate construct. This substantial funding creates the potential of a new era for climate action.

Now that China and India have put their hand in their pockets to fund their own – alternative – institutions, expect lots of recriminations and blame-shifting at forthcoming UN climate talks.

But don’t expect decisive, or even constructive, outcomes: A comprehensive climate change deal is not going to happen, because the industrialised countries won’t come up with the money to fund it.


The ‘Green Climate Fund’ will never be properly capitalised

It was already clear at the UN climate talks that rich countries won’t sign up to a deal unless substantial capital – and commitments – come also from China, India, oil-rich countries and other advanced developing countries. These calculations have now been overtaken by facts on the ground.

The Green Climate Fund won’t be properly capitalised because the BRICS have now given up their attempts to take a leading role in the governance of the GCF and are writing $300 billion worth of cheques to alternative institutions.

By implication, they dismantled a key foundation of the UN climate talks. There is no way the US and the EU will write massive cheques for the GCF without some matching funding from the probable recipients of most of those funds, India and China.

Where does all this leave climate action? We must plan on the basis that UN climate talks won’t get us anywhere and that we have entered a new era of decentralised climate action.

Climate failure is built into the World Bank’s DNA

Clustered around the US and Europe, the World Bank Group, the IMF, regional multilaterals such as the Asian Development Bank and a mini-size Green Climate Fund will continue to be broadly ineffective in fighting climate change, a mission not embedded in their DNA.

For example, the World Bank still can’t get the funding of coal-fired power plants out of its system and the IMF is blithely fighting fuel subsidies by driving countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Egypt to build more coal-fired power plants which the world’s health can’t afford.

Clustered around China, new BRICS institutions will focus on infrastructure and sustainable development with a core focus on energy (50% of infrastructure spending). Energy won’t spread to the 700 million Indians with little or no access to electricity unless it’s distributed clean energy.

A solar revolution is under way in India, China, parts of South East Asia and in Africa. Expect China-backed institutions to have no choice (in no small part because of domestic pressure from their own citizens) but to back clean energy with significant dollars.

Setting carbon prices to spur private sector action

Stuck between these two clusters is the all-important but often neglected private sector – currently responsible for 62% of climate finance flows, 70% of global GDP and 70% of employment.

Private sector action remains, by far, our best hope – but to release its potential it needs an effective carbon price to allocate scarce resources away from the fossil fuel economy, and stimulate decisive global climate action.

Companies that want to get on with the job should campaign vigorously for a carbon price, or carbon prices, to support them. But the good news is, that carbon prices are already emerging across much of the world thanks to national and regional carbon markets and carbon taxes.

Domestic carbon markets are spreading, and are likely by 2015 to cover some 4 billion people: In addition to existing markets for emissions in Europe, national and regional carbon markets are springing up in Latin America (Chile, Mexico, large economic regions in Brazil); Asia (Kazakhstan, South Korea, Vietnam, New Zealand); and North America (Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia, California and the Northeast US).

Carbon taxes are also spreading and are in place now in Europe (Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland), Asia (India, Japan and New Zealand) and Latin America (Costa Rica and Rio de Janeiro). China will have a national carbon tax in place after 2015 as well as a carbon market from 2016.


There is hope – just not from the UN climate process

But as the European emissions trading system (EU-ETS) has spectacularly shown, a price on carbon is not always effective – and indeed can be destructive and line the pockets of polluters with billions in windfall profits, at the expense of the public.

To avoid this regulators avoid repeating the mistakes of the EU-ETS – including over-allocation of permits and large-scale ‘grandfathering’ to existing polluters – and muster the courage to swat down fossil fuel lobbies to deliver a strong and rising price on pollution.

There is no longer any viable solution likely to emerge from the UN climate talks. But there is still much to hope for in a world of decentralised climate action.

The new BRICS mechanisms will, with their $300 billion in hand, have an important role to play in stimulating and supporting moves to a renewable energy future.

But the main contribution will come from the private sector which alone can deliver the technologies, innovation and investment needed to sustain a stable, equable global climate.

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Assaad Razzouk is the CEO and co-founder of Sindicatum Sustainable Resources, a world leading clean energy company based in Singapore.

He is a leading expert in global carbon markets and the policy structures that underpin them, such as the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Assaad is passionate about creating an efficient framework for global sustainable investment and global multilateral approaches to mitigating the effect of climate change.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The time for feeling powerless in the face of climate chaos is over.

From: May Boeve - 350.org

Monday, August 17, 2015

Friends,

2015 is on track to be the hottest year in recorded history, and this December hundreds of world governments will meet in Paris to try to strike a global climate agreement. It will be the biggest gathering of its kind since 2009, and it’s potentially a big deal for our global movement.

In Paris our governments are supposed to agree on a shared target for climate action, based on the national plans governments have been putting together all year — but the numbers just aren’t adding up. Everything being discussed will allow too many communities that have polluted the least to be devastated by floods, rising sea levels and other disasters.


This has the makings of a global failure of ambition — at a moment when renewable energy is becoming a revolutionary economic force that could power a just transition away from fossil fuels.

Join us in telling world leaders to keep fossil fuels underground and finance a just transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Our movement has grown tremendously — and it shows every time a new leader stands up to declare we must keep fossil fuels under ground, or a university, church or pension fund divests from fossil fuels. The problem is the power of the fossil fuel industry.

The Paris negotiations could potentially send a signal that world governments are serious about keeping fossil fuels in the ground. If they fail, it will embolden the fossil fuel industry and expose more communities to toxic extraction and climate disasters.

The solutions are obvious: we need to stop digging up and burning fossil fuels, start building renewable energy everywhere we can, and make sure communities on the front lines of climate change have the resources they need to respond to the crisis.

This could be a turning point — if we push for it. Join our global call for action to world governments, telling them to commit to keeping at least 80% of fossil fuels underground, and financing a just transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

The time for feeling powerless in the face of climate chaos is over. No matter what happens in the negotiating halls, we must build power to hold them accountable to the principles of justice and science.

After many months of consultation with our global network, here is the plan for what I call “The Road Through Paris”: the plan to grow our movement and hold world leaders accountable to the action we need.

First, in September we will launch a global framework to grow the movement before and after the Paris talks. On September 10th, Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein and others will be joined by global movement leaders in New York City to lay out our vision for the road ahead. Then on September 26th communities across the globe will hold workshops to plan for the coming months of action. After that, I think we’ll see several months of escalating activity as communities drive the message home that we can’t wait for action.

The talks in Paris start on November 30th, and run for 2 weeks. But before the talks start, the world will stand together in a weekend of global action, paired with an enormous march in the streets of Paris. During the talks, 350′s team on the ground will do their best to help keep you in the loop on the most important developments. And when the talks wrap up, we’re planning a big action in Paris on December 12th to make sure the people — not the politicians — have the last word.

But most importantly, we won’t stop there. I want you to mark your calendars for the month of April in 2016. That’s when we will mobilize in a global wave of action unlike any we’ve seen before. Not one big march in one city, not a scattering of local actions — but rather a wave of historic national and continent-wide mobilizations targeting the fossil fuel projects that must be kept in the ground, and backing the energy solutions that will take their place.

In the 6 years 350.org has been around, this is the most ambitious plan we’ve ever proposed. But ambition is what is called for, along with courage, faith in each other and the readiness to respond when disaster strikes, plans change, or politicians fail to lead.

We are nearer than ever to the changes we’ve been fighting to see. I hope to stand with you in the coming months to see them through.

May Boeve
Executive Director

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


IPCC chair election: 5 candidates, 8 weeks to go

By Megan Darby of ” title=”http://www.rtcc.org” target=”_blank”>www.rtcc.org/2015/08/14/ipcc-chai…

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SustainabiliTank supports Naki (Nebosja Nakicenovic) because of his years long personal involvement in energy matters and his understanding of the importance of energy in the economy, on the environment and in development matters. Further, we think his Vienna base at the former East-West IIASA institution – is a tremendous plus – and as well – practically all UN and international energy active centers are based in Vienna be it UN affiliates like IAEA and OPEC and then the new SE4All which ought to be a major locus for post-Paris-2015.

Also, we think it as a plus, the fact that Naki was not part of the outgoing IPCC management – we found years ago that the influence of oil interests reached into the minds and actions of that outgoing management.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 14th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From: UNITAR E-LEARNING TEAM

Environmental Governance Programme

United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)

Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Tel: +41 22 917 8776

 delphine.clement at unitar.orgwww.unitar.org

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) wishes to inform you of the launch of an e-learning training session on Green Economy (in French) which will begin next September.
 www.unitar.org/sites/default/file…

For further information on the course methodology, structure, registration and fellowship opportunities, please consult the course announcement below.
Do not hesitate to disseminate this information around you.

The “Environmental Governance” team of UNITAR remains at your disposal should you need any additional information,

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 11th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Climate Plans in the Lead-up to Paris: Where Do We Stand?
by Taryn Fransen, Mengpin Ge, Kelly Levin, Eliza Northrop and Heather McGray – August 04, 2015 of the Washington DC “World Resources Institute (WRI).

Halfway through the year in which the world is slated to adopt a new international climate agreement, countries responsible for more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions have now released their post-2020 climate action plans. The rest of the world’s nations are expected to submit their own plans, or “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) between now and December, with many expected before October 1st.

So the big questions are: How do these INDCs stack up, and what impact will they have in reining in climate change?

We’ve been tracking INDCs as they come in, attempting to understand what they mean for the Paris negotiations, and evaluating whether they are transparent enough to allow us to gauge global progress on climate action. Here’s a comprehensive look at progress so far on mitigation, equity and transparency. A separate blog post takes stock of progress on adaptation.

For the full article and the imgraphics – please go to:
 www.wri.org/blog/2015/08/climate-…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 11th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Phasing out fossil fuel would show true EU leadership

Front page photo – “Coal plant: Countries like Poland fear additional regulations.”

By Charlotte Flechet
Quebec, 1 August 10, 2015

For about 20 years, the EU has been a constructive leader in climate negotiations: benefitting from a growing economy, and support from public opinion. However, in the last few years, the EU’s leadership has been declining due to a series of internal and external factors.

On the one hand, the Union’s eastern enlargement has increased internal divisions among member states. Countries like Poland, which heavily rely on coal for their energy supply, fear additional regulations, and traditional leaders, such as Germany, are taking a step back in the context of an ongoing economic crisis.

On the other hand, China and the US have become more proactive in negotiations and are also in the lead for wind energy production and investments in renewable energy.

The EU has largely lost its ability to lead by example. The 2030 framework for climate and energy policies agreed last October, was criticised by NGOs for its lack of ambition.

Although the 40 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 was generally welcomed, the non-binding targets for energy efficiency and the shy 7 percent increase in share of renewables over 10 years was considered too weak.

Simultaneously, concerns about the influence of fossil fuel and other industrial lobbies on EU decision-making processes raise questions about the EU’s willingness to lead.

Among the latest victims are the Fuel Quality Directive whose ambitions were reduced in the context of the ‘CETA/TTIP’ negotiations with North American countries, and the 2030 European renewable energy targets that were weakened following intensive lobbying by oil and gas giant, Shell.

Calendar records show that some European Commissioners have dedicated a considerable amount of their time to business lobbyists.

Around 83 percent of the meetings of climate commissioner Miguel Canete, and 70 Canete of Maros Sefcovic’s, commission vice-president for the Energy Union, were with businesses, mostly representing heavy industry and fossil fuels.

Knowing that, according to International Monetary Fund estimates, the EU is collectively allowing $330 billion in subsidies to fossil fuels annually, one could question the EU’s ability to lead a climate transition.

If it wants to come out of the climate crisis with a prosperous, socially, and ecologically sound society, the EU must speed up the pace of its transition and review its priorities.
Immoral

Defending fossil fuels is immoral and goes against the human rights so dear to Europeans’ hearts. The EU cannot be a genuine leader in climate negotiations while at the same time supporting destructive practices that will affect billions of lives.

This is why the EU needs a new climate narrative.

Europe could win big by reinvesting in its ability to lead by example. Given the austere economic context, it is unlikely that it will be able to lead by using carrots and sticks as it used to do in the past.

Instead, a less costly option would be to reaffirm its role as a normative power. Endorsing fossil fuel divestment and taking measures in that direction could help it achieve this objective.

The demands of the fossil fuel divestment movement are rooted in scientific evidence.

A recent article published in Nature, claims that 80 percent of coal, 50 percent of gas and one third of all oil reserves must remain in the ground if we are to stay within the 2°C maximum temperature rise.

Given the current rate of emissions, this “carbon budget” will be exhausted within 25 years.

Phasing out of fossil fuels is a necessity. By publicly endorsing fossil fuel divestment and reorienting its incentives and subsidies the EU could gain the trust of other nations, particularly the most vulnerable ones. This could ultimately contribute to the enhancement of the Union’s bargaining power in climate negotiations.


This is not just idealism.

In 2013, Connie Hedegaard, then EU climate commissioner, pleaded for the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to lead the way in eliminating public finance support for fossil fuels.

Numerous world leaders and organisations including the UN’s Ban Ki Moon, South Africa’s Desmond Tutu, and French president Francois Hollande have publicly supported divestment.
Economic rationale

There is also a strong economic rationale for this.

Fossil fuel companies are currently overrated as their value on financial markets does not appropriately account for the risks of their assets being stranded.

Future climate regulations are likely to impact on the financial value of these companies, which will in turn affect all those who have invested money in them.

A study by the European Green Party found that European pension funds, insurance companies and banks have invested more than €1 trillion in fossil fuels.

In a low carbon breakthrough scenario, these institutions are likely to lose between €350 billion and €400 billion.

A much higher figure is expected if action is further delayed. In June, Shell’s former chairman said that moving money away from fossil fuel companies is a rational response to slow progress on climate change.

Besides, low-carbon energy products are amongst the most dynamic growth sectors. Reorienting subsidies to support transition towards low carbon technologies, energy efficiency, and renewable energy is a reasonable option.

Leading by example has worked in the past.


ETS – Emissions Trading System:

The 2005 Emissions Trading System is probably one of the best examples of successful spill over. It has also been argued that the EU’s leading role in climate action was crucial in creating momentum for other countries to act elsewhere.

In the current context of austerity, with an almost unconditional focus on growth and competitiveness, the EU is missing a major opportunity.

The EU should phase out fossil energy. It is of course only part of a solution that requires much broader changes.

This might sound too idealistic, but aren’t youngsters allowed to dream?

Charlotte Flechet is an environment policies worker and an activist for the Global Call for Climate Action campaign

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 4th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Breakthrough FFD3 outcome sets positive tone for global change

UN DESA WRITES AUGUST 3, 2015: The world marked a momentous event in international development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last month, as Governments adopted a new global framework for financing sustainable development. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda was adopted at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FFD3), held on 13-16 July in the Ethiopian capital. It establishes a strong foundation to support the implementation of future development efforts.

The Addis Ababa Conference was the first in a series of landmark events leading up to the adoption of a new development agenda and a universal agreement on climate change by the end of this year.


Turning needs into investment opportunities

“Financing needs for sustainable development are high, but the challenges are surmountable,” said UN secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the opening of the Conference. “The Addis Ababa Action agenda will help to turn these needs into investment opportunities.”

Addis_FFD3closing2At FFD3, governments agreed on a package of over 100 concrete measures that draw upon all sources of finance, technology, innovation, trade and data and that will support the implementation of a new set of Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted at a UN Summit in New York in September.

“This framework is a basis both for financing sustainable development and for developing sustainable finance,” said Mr Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General and Conference Secretary-General.


Collaborating on the formation of breakthrough commitments

Through plenary meetings, round tables, bilateral meetings and almost 200 side events, the various stakeholders in international development – Governments, financial and trade institutions, civil society and business sector entities – got the opportunity to collaborate on the formation of breakthrough commitments and goals across the development spectrum.

As part of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, countries committed to a new social compact to provide social protection and essential public services for all; a global infrastructure forum to bridge the infrastructure gap; an ‘LDC package’ to support the poorest countries; a Technology Facilitation Mechanism to advance to the SDGs; enhanced international tax cooperation to assist in raising resources domestically; and mainstreaming women’s empowerment into financing for development.

“The more funding we leverage — the more strategically we invest each dollar — means more children we will educate, more patients we will treat, and more vital services we will provide,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.


Measures to lift millions out of poverty

FFD3_outcomeThroughout the week, stakeholders from developed and developing countries alike weighed in on the measures that Member States could and should take to lift millions out of poverty, ensure a sustainable future for our planet and make sure that nobody is left behind.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn acknowledged the relative success that the Millennium Development Goals — that were adopted in 2000 and will expire this year — has had within the African region.

“We are in a very different world to the one by which the MDGs were drawn up,” Desalegn said. “Much has been achieved; now, we need to build on that success. And we will need to make radical breakthroughs, too – because a business as usual approach will not take us anywhere near achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda was one of those historical breakthroughs, an agreement by stakeholders across the board setting the world on a renewed pathway to sustainability and prosperity for all.

Making Addis a turning point for development

“The target date for the realization of the SDGs may seem far and yet close, depending the perspective,” said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, in her address during the plenary meeting. ”What is certain is that the world has the resources and capacity to achieve every goal, We have an opportunity to make Addis Ababa a turning point in the scope and character of global framework for development cooperation. Indeed many of the measures incorporated […] are long sought after goals.”

Addis_Ethiopian_village – The weeklong gathering was attended by 24 Heads of State and Government and Deputies, and more than one hundred Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation and Deputies, as well as other high ranking Government officials from 174 countries.

Many heads of UN agencies and senior representatives of international organizations attended as well. In addition, more than 600 civil society organizations and networks and more than 400 business representatives took part in the Conference.

“This has been a historic Conference and a historic success – held on African soil, and delivering an outcome document that meets the high expectations of people around the world,” said Mr. Wu.

As the world sets sail onward to the two other events that will shape 2015 into a year of global change – the adoption of the Post 2015 development agenda in New York in September, and the United Nations Conference on climate change in Paris, in December – the international community can look back on the FFD3 Conference and the signing of the outcome document, as a first milestone to realize a sustainable future for all.


For more information:
Third International Conference on Financing for Development

Storify on FFD3
World population projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050

The current world population of 7.3 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to the “World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision”, launched on 29 July. “Understanding the demographic changes […], as well as the challenges and opportunities that they present for achieving sustainable development, is key to the design and implementation of the new development agenda,” said Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General.

Most of the projected increase in the world’s population can be attributed to a short list of high-fertility countries, mainly in Africa, or countries with already large populations.

During 2015-2050, half of the world’s population growth is expected to be concentrated in nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America (USA), Indonesia and Uganda, listed according to the size of their contribution to the total growth.
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“India expected to become the largest country in population size, surpassing China around 2022, while Nigeria could surpass the United States by 2050?


World Population Prospects 2015

Shifts in the current population rankings

China and India remain the two largest countries in the world, each with more than 1 billion people, representing 19 and 18 % of the world’s population, respectively. But by 2022, the population of India is expected to surpass that of China.

Currently, among the largest countries in the world, one is in Africa (Nigeria), five are in Asia (Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan), two are in Latin America (Brazil and Mexico), one is in Northern America (USA), and one is in Europe (Russian Federation).

Of these, Nigeria’s population, currently the seventh largest in the world, is growing the most rapidly. Consequently, the population of Nigeria is projected to surpass that of the United States by about 2050, at which point it would become the third largest country in the world. By 2050, six countries are expected to exceed 300 million: China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the USA.

Growing population in Africa

With the highest rate of population growth, Africa is expected to account for more than half of the world’s population growth between 2015 and 2050.

During this period, the populations of 28 African countries are projected to more than double, and by 2100, ten African countries are projected to have increased by at least a factor of five: Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.

“The concentration of population growth in the poorest countries presents its own set of challenges, making it more difficult to eradicate poverty and inequality, to combat hunger and malnutrition, and to expand educational enrolment and health systems, all of which are crucial to the success of the new sustainable development agenda,” said John Wilmoth, Director of UN DESA’s Population Division.

We believe says UN DESA – While there is always some degree of uncertainty surrounding any projection, the large number of young people in Africa, who will reach adulthood in the coming years and start having children of their own, ensures that the region will play a central role in shaping the size and distribution of the world’s population over the coming decades.

“Understanding the demographic changes that are likely to unfold over the coming years, as well as the challenges and opportunities that they present for achieving sustainable development, is key to the design and implementation of the new development agenda”

Wu Hongbo
UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General


Slower world population growth due to lower fertility rates

Future population growth is highly dependent on the path that future fertility will take, as relatively small changes in fertility behaviour, when projected over decades, can generate large differences in total population.

In recent years, fertility has declined in virtually all areas of the world, even in Africa where fertility levels remain the highest of any major area.


Ageing population growing rapidly

The slowdown in population growth, due to the overall reduction in fertility, causes the proportion of older persons to increase over time. Globally the number of persons aged 60 or above is expected to more than double by 2050 and more than triple by 2100.

A significant ageing of the population in the next several decades is projected for most regions of the world, starting with Europe where 34 % of the population is projected to be over 60 years old by 2050.
In Latin America and the Caribbean and in Asia, the population will be transformed from having 11% to 12% of people over 60 years old today to more than 25% by 2050.

Africa has the youngest age distribution of any major area, but it is also projected to age rapidly, with the population aged 60 years or over rising from 5% today to 9% by 2050.

Higher life expectancy and the contribution of the MDGs

Life expectancy at birth has increased significantly in the least developed countries in recent years. The six-year average gain in life expectancy among the poorest countries, from 56 years in 2000-2005 to 62 years in 2010-2015, is roughly double the increase recorded for the rest of the world.

While significant differences in life expectancy across major areas and income groups are projected to continue, they are expected to diminish significantly by 2045-2050.

Reducing under-five mortality, one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets, has been very significant and wide-reaching in recent years.

Between 2000-2005 and 2010-2015, under-five mortality fell by more than 30% in 86 countries, of which 13 countries saw a decline of more than 50%. In the same time period, the rate decreased by more than 20% in 156 countries.

Young population creates opportunity to capture demographic dividend

Populations in many regions are still young. In Africa, children under age 15 account for 41% of the population in 2015 and young persons aged 15 to 24 account for a further 19%.

Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia, which have seen greater declines in fertility, have smaller percentages of children (26 and 24 %, respectively) and similar percentages of youth (17 and 16%, respectively). In total, these three regions are home to 1.7 billion children and 1.1 billion young persons in 2015.

These children and young people are future workers and parents, who can help to build a brighter future for their countries. Providing them with health care, education and employment opportunities, particularly in the poorest countries and groups, will be a critical focus of the new sustainable development agenda.

The 2015 Revision of World Population Prospects is the 24th round of official UN population estimates and projections that have been prepared by UN DESA’s Population Division. For more information: World Population Prospects: 2015 Revision


Youth day puts civic engagement front and center

Feature2_highres_web

Youth civic engagement, a main goal of the United Nations System-Wide Action Plan on Youth, seeks to promote young people’s effective inclusive participation at all levels in society. There has been recent increasing attention and policy and programming focus on this issue by governments, UN entities, regional and multilateral organizations, CSOs, youth and researchers. This is also why the International Youth Day (IYD) celebrations will put this theme center stage this year.

Since the global financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009, young people have been progressively vocal and demonstrative of their demand and need for change. Youth-led protests and demonstrations have been largely driven by young people demanding a greater say in governance structures, employment and economic life, and societies more generally.


At the same time, with staggering youth unemployment figures, young people are being faced with the reality of leading a life with few job opportunities, increased vulnerability to poverty, and an education that does not adequately equip them for the ever changing demands of today’s labour market. Studies also show that youth participation remains limited in formal political processes and public institutions, with lower voter turnout among 18-25-year-olds.


“They [youth] are part of the first generation that can end poverty and the last that can avoid the worst impacts of climate change”

Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary-General

Youth participation critical for achieving new development agenda

By 2030, the target date for the new proposed sustainable development goals, the number of youth is projected to have grown by about 7 per cent, to nearly 1.3 billion.

“The world now has the largest generation of young people in history,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he addressed a high-level event on the demographic dividend and youth employment earlier this summer.

“I place great hopes in their power to shape our future. They are part of the first generation that can end poverty and the last that can avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” he said, also underscoring the necessity for the active involvement of youth in the global efforts to achieve sustainable development.


YouthDay campaign

UN DESA, through the Focal Point on Youth, and the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, promotes a multi-dimensional approach to addressing the challenges young people face to have a full and effective participation in their social life and in decision-making while promoting social inclusion to enable all young people to achieve their aspirations and goals.

useyourcameraThe Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, led by the co-chairs UN DESA and UNDP, is running an online campaign in the lead up to International Youth Day on 12 August. With the overarching aim of promoting youth participation at the political and public levels, leading to young people being able to fulfill their aspirations in life and contribute to society, the campaign provides a space for youth to share their stories and ideas on civic engagement activities.

Throughout the campaign, young people have been asked to submit photos and/or messages illustrating how they can get involved in their societies. Selected entries will be participating in the #YouthDay competition on the UN4Youth Facebook account. The winning photo will be the entry with the most Facebook “likes” and it will be showcased at the International Youth Day event at UN headquarters. It may also be used for the World Youth Report 2015 on Youth Civic Engagement.


Celebrating International Youth Day at UN Headquarters

Taking place in the ECOSOC Chamber at UN Headquarters from 10 am to 1 pm on 12 August, the IYD event is being organized by the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development and is co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Portugal and the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic. It will bring together young people, youth organizations, Member State representatives, civil society, and UN entities to discuss the issue of youth civic engagement in particular looking at new and emerging issues and approaches to social and political engagement in different parts of the world.

Following opening remarks by the Secretary-General and high-level representatives, the event will highlight both traditional and emerging forms of civic engagement in the form of panel discussions. The first panel will bring new insights into the participation of young people in local and national political process and in the second panel, panelists will discuss the power of youth as global citizens.

The event will also highlight the upcoming 2015 World Youth Report, which will be focusing on the issue of economic, political and social participation of youth, responding to the increased concern and policy focus placed on the issue in recent years. In providing such an analysis, a strong link to youth engagement in the shaping and future implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) at both the national and global levels will be highlighted.


If you do not hold a UN grounds pass and wish to join the event, please RSVP to UN DESA.


Call for worldwide commemoration

Running until August 12, the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development #YouthDay campaign is still encouraging young people to organize events to celebrate International Youth Day.

The IYD toolkit gives some ideas on what to do to commemorate the Day. Young people and UN entities are also encouraged to send their plans to  youth at un.org, so they can be mapped on the IYD Map of Events. Efforts are needed to raise awareness about the benefits of youth civic engagement to the individual as well as to society.

For more information:

International Youth Day 2015 Send inquiries to  youth at un.org

System-Wide Action Plan on Youth Engage in the #YouthDay campaign via social media:

 www.twitter.com/UN4Youth
 www.twitter.com/UNDP4Youth
 www.facebook.com/UN4Youth

 www.Instagram.com/UN4Youth

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 1st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Saturday Aug. 1′st 2015

EUOBSERVER Analysis

Google has own idea of what ‘right to be forgotten’ means

By Peter Teffer The EUObserver, Brussels.

Since a landmark ruling on the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’ by the Court of Justice of the European Union, Google has received requests to remove over a million website links from its search results in Europe.

Of those 1,057,561 uniform resource locators (URLs), it deleted 370,112, or 41.3 percent, Google says.

The court had ruled in May 2014 that if an internet search into an EU citizen’s name yielded results which were “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”, that citizen may request the search engine to have those removed from the list of results.

For example, Google complied with a request from a Belgian whose conviction of a crime was quashed on appeal to remove an article about them. It also removed an article about a rape victim in Germany.

However, it did so only for the European versions of its search engine. That means the articles can still be found by those using google.com. This has come to the attention of the French data protection authority.

It sent Google a formal notice in June, saying “delisting must be carried out on all extensions of the search engine”.

On Thursday, the US company asked the French data watchdog to withdraw the notice. It interprets the court ruling as obliging Google only to apply the ‘right to be forgotten’ on its European versions of Google Search.

“While the ‘right to be forgotten’ may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally”, Google’s global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer wrote in a blog post.

However, in its ruling the EU court did not differentiate between the worldwide and national versions of the search engine.

Google, in its blogpost, also noted that the French order “is disproportionate and unnecessary, given that the overwhelming majority of French internet users—currently around 97%—access a European version of Google’s search engine like google.fr, rather than Google.com or any other version of Google”.

But this statement is misleading at best. Many people don’t use a national variant of Google instead of the global one, but in addition to it.

Google.fr is indeed the most visited web domain in France, according to internet traffic pollster Alexa. But Google.com is ranked third, between Facebook.com and Youtube.com.

According estimates, Facebook has about 26 million users, and Youtube around 22 million, in France.

While calculation methods may vary, this means that Google.com is used by, roughly, between 22 and 26 million French internet users – or along the lines of between 40 and 47 percent.

The picture is similar all over Europe, where the national version of Google is the most popular website, and the international version ranks as high as number two in the UK, Spain and the Netherlands, number three in Poland.

Google did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Free speech

Fleischer also argued that if the French data protection authority CNIL had its way, this would affect internet users in the rest of the world.

“If the CNIL’s proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place,” he wrote.

Google warned of a risk of “serious chilling effects on the web”, noting examples of content that is illegal in one country but which is legal in others.

“Thailand criminalises some speech that is critical of its King, Turkey criminalises some speech that is critical of Ataturk, and Russia outlaws some speech that is deemed to be “gay propaganda.””, he wrote.

But Fleischer is overstating the effect a national – or in the EU case regional – court order has on the wider development of the Internet.

In 2002, there were similar fears after a ruling in an Australian libel case against American company Dow Jones over the publication of an online article from its business magazine Barron’s. The highest Australian court decided that because the article was available in Australia, the subject could sue for defamation there.

Following the decision, the New York Times wrote in an editorial the case “could strike a devastating blow to free speech online”.

But the conclusion of authors Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu in their 2006 book “Who controls the Internet?, Illusions of a Borderless World”, that the predicted devastation has been held off, is still valid today.

Moreover, they criticised the US-centrism that is present among Internet freedom activists as much as in the rhetoric of American companies like Google.

Goldsmith and Wu wrote that “the First Amendment does not reflect universal values … and they are certainly not written into the Internet’s architecture”.

However, some of the most used websites worldwide are American, and they inherently carry some of those American values, which slightly differ from European values, where privacy is generally regarded as much more important.

Google said it disagreed with the French data protection authority “as a matter of principle”.
Principle or also profit?

But it could well be that part of the company’s motivation comes from the costs that would be involved with extending the right to be forgotten to its other domain names.

Technically, it is not impossible for Google to do it. But it may reduce the public company’s profit margin.

As Goldberg and Wu noted, “national Internet laws are no more burdensome than the scores of conflicting national laws that multinational firms typically face”. In return, companies gain access to an enormous market.

Having to adhere to different laws when providing services around the world, is part of the deal for running a global company. Even online.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

70 years after Hiroshima & Nagasaki, Are we smarter? Are we more human? That was the question!
As reported by Ms.Irith Jawetz, July 27, 2015.

An unusual event took place on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at the OIIP (Austrian Institute for International Politics. In spite of the unusual high temperatures and a very feeble AC, the room was almost full. I will try to present the essence of that event.

The panel included:

- Ms.Judith Brandner, Since 1984 radio journalist and radio producer for Ö1, but also on DRS2, D-RADIO and SWR2.
- Ambassador Alexander Kmentt; Austria’s Director for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament. Ambassador Kmentt has received the highest number of votes in an online poll to determine the “2014 Arms Control Person of the Year.” Nine other worthy candidates were nominated by the staff of the Arms Control Association for their significant achievements and contributions to reducing the threats posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons in the past year.

Ambassador Kmentt, who started his career at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs in 1994 and has been a leading disarmament diplomat for many years, was recognized for organizing the third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, Dec. 8-9, 2014 in Vienna, which drew delegations representing 158 states, the United Nations, and civil society.

- Prof. Heinz Gärtner OIIP, Professor at the University of Vienna, His research priorities include international and European security; US foreign and security policy; Theories of international politics; Developments in world politics; Arms control.

- Hakan Akbulut, Research Assistant at OIIP, Areas of Research: Nuclear proliferation,Turkish foreign and security policy .

The moderator was Fabio Polly, who has been with the Austrian Radio ORF for more than 30 years. He was head of the ORF young journalists training in 1996. Since then, in the radio’s external policy, with temporary interruptions as moderator of various information programs (among others Ö1-journals).

He spent a total of four years as a correspondent in Germany and in the US. Focus of Reporting: international security, disarmament, nuclear weapons and the Middle East; Travel to Afghanistan (Kabul) to Iraq (Baghdad), to South Africa (Johannesburg).

The main concern of all the panelists was that 70 years after the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the problem of nuclear weapons has not been solved. Even the reasons for that terrible event have not been completely clear until now, and may never be fully known. Those two cities were totally destroyed, ten thousands of people killed, and the aftermath was immense. Those events emphasized how dangerous those weapons are.

In the arsenal of 9 countries there are now approximately 16,300 nuclear war-heads. Those weapons are part of a deterrent policy, which was developed during the Cold War. The objection to a notion of a world without nuclear power is strong, however there is a second notion now, which stems from a humanitarian point of view that maybe the world is better off without those weapons.

Ms. Brandner talked about her personal experience visiting universities in Japan and interviewing people who have relatives who still remember the Hiroshima & Nagasaki events and still have psychological scars from that day. One student talked about her Grandfather who lived through this nightmare and for years after could not talk about it. He then came to be interviewed, opened up and talked for two hours non stops about the horrors of that day. He spoke about the slow deaths of the people, the stifling heat and the stench, the burning corpses lying on the streets for days. The Grandfather lived to be 88 years old but carried this trauma with him all his life.

One of the topics of the debate was the notion that nuclear weapons are a deterrent. Does it really work? Is it really a deterrent? Can one rely on the fact that the leaders of those countries who possess those weapons will really only refer to them as a deterrent factor and not use them?

Ambassador Kmentt stressed the fact that human error can be the most dangerous factor in having nuclear weapons. He compared it to a pilot in a plane who, if he makes a mistake and pushes the wrong button, the plane goes down and all passengers and crew will die. If a wrong button is pushed or any button is pushed for some reason on a nuclear weapon the consequences are unimaginable. The system has too many risks.

Prof. Gärtner believes a deterrent is only effective if it is believable by both sides that the weapons would be used.
He gave a bit of an historical view on Hiroshima & Nagasaki and said that the United States always contained that it was needed to end the war. Too many U.S. soldiers have died in World War II and it looked as if the Japanese were not ready to surrender. The questions remains, would they have surrendered had they known of the existence of the nuclear bomb? That’s where the deterrent part comes in. Another version for the necessity of ending the war this way was the fear of the U.S. that Russia would march into Japan and take over. Was that reason enough to use the Atom bomb?

Touching on the Iran deal which was signed in Vienna only a few days earlier the speakers agreed that Iran should be given a chance to prove itself worthy of the confidence that the Allies have put into that deal. The Iran deal will define what is for peace and what is for war. On a questions from the audience how can one be certain that technically the weapons are not to be used for war, the answer was that one cannot be 100% sure of it, but one has to trust the Iranians to some extent.

I would like to elaborate a bit on one aspect which was mentioned a few times during the conversation. It was the fact that nine nations — the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — possess approximately 16,300 nuclear weapons. in total. Under the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START), Russia and the United States have reduced their inventories but still account for more than 93% of all operational nuclear warheads. Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970. On 11 May 1995, the Treaty was extended indefinitely. More countries have adhered to the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the Treaty’s significance.

A total of 191 states have joined the Treaty, though North Korea, which acceded to the NPT in 1985 but never came into compliance, announced its withdrawal in 2003. Four UN member states have never joined the NPT: India, Israel, Pakistan and South Sudan.

In contrast to those countries, New Zealand is one small country which in 1984 barred nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from using New Zealand ports or entering New Zealand waters. Under the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act of 1987, territorial sea, land and airspace of New Zealand became nuclear-free zones. This has since remained a part of New Zealand’s foreign policy.

The debate went on for a long time with no clear answer to the topic question: 70 years after: Are we smarter, are we more human? Nuclear weapons are basically only safe if used as a deterrent, but they are extremely dangerous if actually used.

Being a deterrent when two opposing sides are both nuclear armed – the certainty of a second strike becomes in effect an insurance of peace. That was the concept of M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) that lowered animosity between the two sides in the Cold War. The destruction caused in the two events in Japan – big as they were are nevertheless small compared to what, relatively, the new arms could do. The question is indeed, watching today’s ideological enemies, are they mellow enough to take the M.A.D. idea seriously? Will it always be a Head of State that has the nuclear button, or could it be that a device ends up with a group of insurgents?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

UN rights official who ignored African child rape by French troops resigns; UN Watch reacts.

Published on July 22, 2015 in Human Rights Council (UNHRC) by unwatch.

Flavia_Pansieri was Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the Geneva Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights.
According to the UN she was not fired but resigned for Health Reasons – BUT her assistant the whistleblower was fired!


GENEVA, July 22, 2015 – The resignation of a top UN rights official who admitted she did nothing after receiving reports of child rape by French soldiers in Central African Republic — because she was “distracted” by budget cuts — underscores the dire need for greater accountability at the world body, said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental Geneva watchdog agency that measures the performance of the world body by the yardstick of its own charter.


“Not only did Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri fail to act,” said Neuer, “but she was part of a coterie of top UN officials who punished the only member of her office who sounded the alarm, veteran staffer Anders Kompass, by firing him.”

“The message heard loud and clear throughout the world body was that speaking out against the banality of bureaucratic complicity with evil will kill one’s career, that it’s better to stay silent.”


“Therefore, to the extent that Ms. Pansieri is in fact resigning over her office’s shameful inaction, indifference and cover-up concerning the rape of children by peacekeepers, then today marks a small step toward greater accountability for malfeasance by UN officials.”

“In this episode, as in many others throughout the UN, minimal levels of scrutiny and acceptance of responsibility are desperately required,” added Neuer.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 21st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


De Blasio, After Diverted Flight, Joins Climate Conference at Vatican

By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM – JULY 21, 2015 for the New York Times

VATICAN CITY — Leaders from around the globe, settled in their seats as a Vatican official approached the lectern.
A rare gathering of mayors, beckoned to this holy city by Pope Francis from as far as away as Johannesburg, was about to begin.

One participant, however, was missing: the mayor of New York. Scheduled to arrive in Rome on Tuesday morning for a two-day conference on climate change, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York instead found himself in Milan, thanks to fog that forced a brief diversion of his overnight flight from Kennedy Airport.

The mayor arrived at the Vatican about 80 minutes after his scheduled speaking slot. When he finally did speak there, he was unfazed, delivering an impassioned charge to his fellow mayors to resist “powerful corporate interests” and to aggressively battle climate change.

“Is it not the definition of insanity to propagate corporate policies and consumer habits that hasten the destruction of the earth?” Mr. de Blasio said.

He pledged that his administration would work to reduce the city’s carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030.

The Vatican event is part of an effort by Francis to focus world leaders on environmental causes, and mayors from across Europe, South America, and the United States were in attendance. The pope had been expected to address the gathering on Tuesday morning, but his appearance was changed to take place in the afternoon — a stroke of good fortune for Mr. de Blasio.

The mayor has taken pains recently to fight his reputation for tardiness, arriving more promptly at events in New York. But the vagaries of international travel can be trickier than a traffic snag on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Mr. de Blasio, who is expected to be in Rome for less than 48 hours, opted for an overnight flight that was scheduled to arrive about two hours before he was due at the Vatican. (Aides to Mr. de Blasio, aware of criticism about his frequent travels, had emphasized last week that his Vatican visit — his fourth European excursion in a year — would be kept short.)

But his plans were foiled by Roman fog, according to an American Airlines spokesman, who said the pilot of the mayor’s flight “elected to divert to Milan as a precaution.” The flight continued on to Rome after about an hour’s delay, once the fog was “burned off by the increasingly warm sun,” the spokesman, Ian Bradley, said.

Mr. de Blasio was not the only person to miss a scheduled slot for speaking. Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston was present but Mayor Eduardo Paes of Rio de Janeiro sent an aide in his stead, citing unrest in his home country.

The gathering at the Vatican was prompted in part by a recent papal encyclical warning of the destructive effects of climate change. In his remarks, Mr. de Blasio said the encyclical “burns with urgency,” and he praised the pope, saying he had “awakened people across the globe to the dangers we face as a planet.”

“The encyclical is not a call to arms,” Mr. de Blasio said. “It is a call to sanity.”

Mr. de Blasio is scheduled to attend an official dinner at the Vatican on Tuesday evening and to speak again on Wednesday morning. The mayor is expected to leave for New York on Wednesday afternoon — weather permitting.

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