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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 Transatomic is a MIT spinoff and could save us with Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors that can use wastes from Water Cooled Reactors for useful purpose.

Transatomic Power’s advanced molten salt reactor consumes spent nuclear fuel cleanly and completely, unlocking vast amounts of cheap, carbon-free energy. It solves four of the most pressing problems facing the nuclear industry: ecological stewardship, public safety, non-proliferation, and cost-efficiency. Only an advanced reactor that meets all four goals at once can truly change the nuclear fission game and allow for broad adoption of nuclear power.

A technical white paper gives a more detailed description of the reactor design.

This reactor can be powered by nuclear waste because it uses radically different technology from conventional plants. Instead of using solid fuel pins, they dissolve the nuclear waste into a molten salt. Suspending the fuel in a liquid (the mo;ten salt) allows  it to be kept in the reactor longer, and therefore capture more of its energy. Conventional nuclear reactors can utilize only about 3% – 5% of the potential fission energy in a given amount of uranium before it has to be removed from the reactor. This design captures 96% of this remaining energy.

Why it’s different

Molten salt reactors are not a new technology – they were originally developed and tested at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. In many respects, Transatomic’s reactor is similar to these early designs. It uses similar safety mechanisms (such as freeze valves), chemical processing techniques (such as off-gas sparging), and corrosion tolerant alloys (such as modified Hastelloy-N). These similarities to previous designs allowed Transatomic to build on an established body of research and reduce the uncertainty associated with the design.

The main differences between Transatomic Power’s molten salt reactor and previous molten salt reactors are the metal hydride moderator and LiF-(Heavy metal)F4 fuel salt. These features allow  to make the reactor more compact and generate electricity at lower cost than other designs. Furthermore, previous molten salt reactors, such as the Oak Ridge Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, used uranium enriched to 33% U-235.

The newly proposed reactor can operate using fresh fuel enriched to just a minimum of 1.8% U-235, or light water reactor waste.

The above comes with  MIT  research and was brought to our attention in today’s CNN/GPS program by Fareed Zakaria (August 17, 2014) who had as guest recently graduated PHD student Dr.Dewan.

In effect – Transatomic, is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spinoff intent to commercialize a safer fission nuclear reactor designed to overcome major barriers to nuclear power.  For the anti-nuclear folks the design offers to burn up the existing spent fuel from the world’s fleet of nuclear reactors in a design that doesn’t offer a chance for a meltdown.  That should be nirvana for those alarmed about atomic energy and weapons proliferation.
Dr. Leslie Dewan and coleague Mr. Mark Massie seem to be the young folks who started this MIT offshoot.
Dr. Dewan was Fareed Zakaria’s guest on his program – August 17, 2014.

The US has 100 operating nuclear reactors and additional five in construction.
China has now 21 nuclear reactors and an additional 86 in construction.
Above means that the dangers of nuclear material contaminated water is immense, not just the danger of melt downs -  and that is why opponents to water cooled fission reactors are up in arms.
Imagine the potential for hope if a method is found to decontaminate that water and even find a positive use for the wastes?

We found an old article by Brian Westenhaus of  March 17, 2013 from which we picked:

Transatomic, founded by a pair of very smart and innovative young nuclear engineers, has updated the molten-salt reactor, a reactor type that’s highly resistant to meltdowns. Molten-salt reactors were demonstrated in the 1960s at Oak Ridge National Lab, where one test reactor ran for six years.  What remains is raising $5 million to run five experiments to help validate the new basic design.

Russ Wilcox, Transatomic’s new CEO estimates that it will take eight years to build a prototype reactor at a cost of $200 million.  The company has already raised $1 million in seed funding, including some from Ray Rothrock, a partner at the venture capital firm Venrock.

The cofounders, Mark Massie and Leslie Dewan, who we met here in April last year, are still PhD candidates at MIT. Yet the design has attracted some top advisors, including Regis Matzie, the former CTO of the major nuclear power plant supplier Westinghouse Electric, and Richard Lester, the head of the nuclear engineering department at MIT.

Ms Dewan Mr. Massie and Mr. Lester of Transatomic Power
Ms Dewan Mr. Massie and Mr. Lester of Transatomic Power.

The new reactor design called the Waste-Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor (WAMSR) so far exists only on paper.
Ray Rothrock says the company will face many challenges. “The technology doesn’t bother me in the least,” he said. “I have confidence in the people. I wish someone would build this thing, because I think it would work. It’s all the other factors that make it daunting.”  We’ll get to those daunting factors in a moment.

Related article: France Predict Cost of Nuclear Disaster to be Over Three Times their GDP

——-

Background – today’s conventional nuclear power plant is cooled by water, which boils at 100º C a temperature far below the 2,000° C at the core of a fuel pellet. Even after the reactor is shut down, it must be continuously cooled by pumping in water until the whole internal core apparatus is below 100º C.  The inability to do that properly is what has caused the problems at troubled plants.  Oddly, the nuclear industry and regulatory agencies haven’t come to realize the notion of mixing water and nuclear fuel is the dangerous matter.

The big problems can be solved by using molten salt, instead of water as the coolant, which is mixed in with the fuel. Molten salt has a boiling point higher than the operating temperature of the fuel. That way the reactor has a built-in thermostat – if it starts to heat up, the salt expands, spreading out the fuel and slowing the reactions cooling the thing off.

In the event of a power outage where cooling circulation would stop carrying away the heat, a plug at the bottom of the reactor melts and the fuel and salt mixture flows by gravity into a holding tank, where the fuel spreads out enough for the reactions to stop. The salt then cools and solidifies, encapsulating the radioactive materials.

Ms Dewan now the company’s chief science officer says, “It’s walk-away safe, if you lose electricity, even if there are no operators on site to pull levers, it will coast to a stop.”

She needs only $5 million to prove it, she said.

Technology – Transatomic’s design improves on the original molten-salt reactor by changing the internal geometry and using different materials. Transatomic is keeping many of the proprietary design details to itself, but one change involves eliminating the graphite that made up 90% of the volume of the Oak Ridge reactor. The company has also modified conditions in the reactor to produce faster neutrons, which makes it possible to burn most of the material that is ordinarily discarded as waste.

WAMSR Reactor Schematic Graphic Diagram.
WAMSR Reactor Schematic Graphic Diagram.

 

The design offers a couple other real strong incentives.  Because it runs at atmospheric pressure rather than the high pressures required in conventional reactors the amount of steel and concrete needed to guard against accidents is greatly reduced.  The technical approach will work for uranium or for the future thorium fuels as well.

Related article: Will Japan Embrace Geothermal Power to Move Away from Nuclear?

Here is the comparison that should light up the hearts of the antinuclear crowd.  A conventional 1,000-megawatt reactor produces about 20 metric tons (44,000 lbs.) of high-level waste a year, and that material needs to be safely stored for 100,000 years. The 500-megawatt Transatomic reactor will produce only four kilograms (8.8 lbs.) of such waste a year, along with 250 kilograms (550 lbs.) of waste that has to be stored for a few hundred years.

In the presentation the duo projects some warming numbers for both the low cost power and the anti nuclear folks.  Conventional nuclear reactors can utilize only about 3% of the potential fission energy in a given amount of uranium before it has to be removed from the reactor. The Transatomic design captures 98% of this remaining energy.  A fully deployed Transatomic reactor fleet could use existing stockpiles of nuclear waste to satisfy the world’s electricity needs for 70 years, now through 2083 when about 99.2% of today’s dangerous spent fuel – would be burned away.

Even though the basic idea of a molten-salt reactor has been demonstrated the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) certification process is set up around light-water reactors.  NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said for the next few years, the NRC will be focused on certifying the more conventional designs for SMNRs.  But he also said that the commission is aware of Transatomic’s concept but that designs haven’t been submitted for review yet.  The certification process for Transatomic will take at least five years once the company submits a detailed design, with additional review needed specifically for issues related to fuel and waste management.

The detailed design is years and $4 million more dollars away.  Wilcox estimated that it will take eight years to build a prototype reactor – at a cost of $200 million.  Low cost power customers and the antinuclear folks might want to coordinate getting the Congress to rewrite the NRC’s procedures to speed things up.

After all, China is reported to be investing $350 million over five years to develop molten-salt reactors of its own. It plans to build a two-megawatt test reactor by 2020.

It’d be a pity to miss out on a trillion dollar industrial market and trillions more in electricity savings.  Plus get rid of all that weapons ready, costly to store used fuel.

A hat tip goes to Brian Wand for spotting the latest update to Tranatomic’s progress.

By. Brian Westenhaus  —   Original source: The Nuke The Anti Nuke Crowd Should Love

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

UPDATES FROM THE SLOCAT PARTNERSHIP

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

CLIMATE CHANGE

NEWS FROM SLoCaT MEMBERS

REPORTS

IN OTHER NEWS

UPCOMING EVENTS

ADB Transport Forum, 15-17 September, Manila, Philippines

On Track to Clean and Green Transport: High Level Event on Transport and Climate Change, 22 September 2014, New York, USA

UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit , 23 September 2014, New York, USA

The 1st Ministerial and Policy Conference on Sustainable Transport in Africa, 28 -30 October 2014, Nairobi, Kenya

BAQ 2014 & EST Asia Forum, 19-21 November, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Transport Day 2014, 7 December 2014, Lima, Peru

UPDATES FROM THE SLOCAT PARTNERSHIP

Great Progress in the establishment of the SLoCaT Foundation

We expect that the SLoCaT Foundation, with the objective to provide support to the SLoCaT Partnership, will be formally established in the coming weeks. Over the last months the SLoCaT Secretariat, overseen by a special Ad-Hoc Committee, developed the governance structure, consisting of a Constitution and a set of By-Laws.  The members of the SLoCaT Partnership were asked on two opportunities to comment on the proposed governance structure.

The Board of the SLoCaT Foundation is being established in two phases, with the election of four Board members representing members of the SLoCaT Partnership taking place this week and the remaining three Board members representing the Supporters of the SLoCaT Foundation to be elected in Autumn 2014.

The SLoCaT Foundation will be registered in the Netherlands, while the Secretariat will remain to be located in Shanghai, China.  Over the next weeks we will be updating the SLoCaT website to provide more detailed information on the new organizational structure of SLoCaT.

We expect that the SLoCaT Foundation will be formally launched in late September at the sidelines of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit on Climate Change.

Growing Support for the SLoCaT Partnership

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

UPCOMING MEETINGS

High-level Dialogue on Sustainable Cities, Transport and Tourism (HLD) and Global Forum on Human Settlements (GHFS): As a follow-up event to commemorate the second anniversary of the Rio+20 Conference and implement its decisions, the HLD and GHFS aim to support the rapid and effective implementation of the Rio+20 decisions. The objectives of the HLD and GHFS include: providing a platform for information exchange; highlighting proven policies and measures and identifying best practices; facilitating capacity building through exchanges of information; and contributing to the discussions under the post-2015 UN development agenda and Sustainable Development Goals.  dates: 10-12 August 2014  location: Bogotá, Colombia  contact: Carolina Chica Builes  phone: +57-1-335-8000  email: cchica@sdp.gov.co  www: www.idu.gov.co/web/guest/riomas20

WHO Conference on Health and Climate: This three-day conference, hosted by the WHO, will bring together leading experts in the fields of health and climate change, to discuss: strengthening health system resilience to climate risks; and promoting health while mitigating climate change. dates: 27-29 August 2014  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: Marina Maiero  phone: +41-22-791-2402  email: maierom@who.int  www: www.who.int/globalchange/mediacentre/events/climate-health-conference/en/

International Solid Waste Association 2014 Solid Waste World Congress: This event will convene under the theme of “(Re)Discovering a New World: Sustainable Solutions for a healthy future,” and is intended to provide the opportunity for the international community to exchange ideas, integrate solutions and develop a common vision for the future of a sustainable and healthy world.  dates: 8-11 September 2014   location: Sao Paulo, Brazil   phone: +55-11-3056-6000   e-mail: iswa2014@mci-group.com   www: iswa2014.org/

2014 Climate Summit: This event is being organized by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with the aim of mobilizing political will for an ambitious legal agreement through the UNFCCC process.  date: 23 September 2014  location: UN Headquarters, New York  www: www.un.org/climatechange/summit2014/

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the IISD Reporting, June 23, 2014:

 

Twelfth session of the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

16-20 June 2014 | UN Headquarters, New York, United States of America

 

www.iisd.ca/sdgs/owg12/

           

The twelfth session of the UN Ge, 2014neral Assembly Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) took place from 16-20 June 2014, at UN Headquarters in New York. Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya, and Csaba K?rösi, Permanent Representative of Hungary, continued in their roles as Co-Chairs of the OWG at the second to last session of the OWG, which is mandated to develop a set of sustainable development goals and targets.

 

OWG-12 represented the first OWG meeting during which delegates worked primarily in informal sessions. Following opening remarks during a formal session on Monday morning, delegates considered proposed goals 7-17 in informal sessions during day and evening sessions from Monday through Friday. The discussion on goals 1-6 had taken place in “informal-informal” consultations from 9-11 June. The Co-Chairs also presented a set of revised goals, based on the informal-informal discussions, for comment on Monday night. On Tuesday night, the Co-Chairs distributed a new set of targets for proposed goal 1 on ending poverty. However, delegates said they did not want to discuss any revisions until they had a chance to review the complete package of revised goals and targets.

 

On Friday afternoon, Co-Chair Kamau opened the second formal session of OWG-12, noting that the Group had made “amazing progress” during the week. He announced that there would be another set of “informal-informals” from 9-11 July, to be followed by the final meeting of the OWG from 14-18 July. He said a revised version of the zero draft should be ready by 30 June, and that it will have fewer targets, and be a more refined, balanced and “tighter” document. He expressed the Co-Chairs’ confidence that the OWG will successfully conclude its work on 18 July and agree on a set of goals and targets.

 

The  Summary of this meeting is now available in PDF format

at  www.iisd.ca/download/pdf/enb3212e.pdf and in HTML format at

www.iisd.ca/vol32/enb3212e.html  

 

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A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF OWG-12

 

“Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance.”

 

Mufasa, The Lion King

 

As OWG-12 opened on Monday, 16 June, OWG Co-Chair Macharia Kamau highlighted a critical challenge for the Group as he presented the “zero draft.” He stressed the difficulty in achieving a balance among the issues and government positions while drafting the 17 goals and 212 targets in that document. Throughout the week, delegates’ discussions revealed the challenge that remains to achieve a balanced, consensus outcome. During OWG-12, many options were presented for each proposed goal and target, and delegates worked to weigh the tradeoffs, formulations and difficult decisions they must make to arrive at a final set of SDGs and targets at the close of OWG-13.

 

Underlying the SDGs themselves is an overarching goal to promote balanced, sustainable development. Inherent in the definition of sustainable development is the concern that meeting the needs of future generations and reducing poverty depends on how well humans balance social, economic, and environmental objectives—or needs—when making decisions today. It is also known that human activities in a number of sectors, including agriculture, industry, fisheries, urbanization and travel, have disturbed the balance of nature and have threatened species and ecosystems.   

 

During OWG-12, the discussions were framed around balance along different axes: conceptual (between universality and differentiation), temporal (between historical and present responsibilities), procedural (between comprehensiveness and duplication), substantive (among the three pillars of sustainable development), and presentational (between specificity and “crispiness”). This brief analysis assesses the state of the OWG’s deliberations amid the challenges of fulfilling its mandate, given in The Future We Want adopted two years ago, by ensuring the sustainable development goals achieve a delicate balance.

 

BALANCE BETWEEN UNIVERSALITY AND DIFFERENTIATION

 

The SDGs are expected to be “global in nature and universally applicable to all countries,” according to Paragraph 247 of The Future We Want. At the same time, their effective implementation requires differentiation in accordance with specific national circumstances. Throughout the week, delegates struggled to find balance between universality and differentiation. This struggle was most apparent during discussions on proposed Goal 12: Promote sustainable consumption and production patterns. Despite the mandate of universality, some delegates said the targets for this goal should be differentiated between the efforts that developed and developing countries should undertake, with many insisting that developed countries have to take the lead. For example, target 12.6 says that “by 2030 at least halve per capita food waste at retail and consumer level, particularly in developed countries and countries with high per capita food waste.” While most recognized that such action would achieve a great deal, some also noted related efforts in developing countries. As some argued, this is in fact a universally relevant goal because there is also a lot of food waste on the production and distribution side in developing countries.

 

On proposed Goal 13 on climate change, the question of balance between universality and differentiation focused on historical and current responsibilities. Developing countries argued that, if a goal on climate change is to be included in the SDGs, it must be based on the principles under the UNFCCC, and therefore differentiate between the countries that are historically responsible for greenhouse gas emissions (developed countries) and those that are not (developing countries). The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) forms the basis of the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, which only mandate that developed countries (Annex I countries) reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. However, as some developed countries note, there are non-Annex I countries whose current emissions are greater than some of the Annex I countries, and there can be no meaningful reduction of CO2 emissions without the participation of all major emitters. Since the SDGs will be in place for 15 years, some argue, a goal on climate change should recognize the scope for further changes in emission profiles and not lock in UNFCCC country groupings from the 1990s.

 

A third issue relates to the larger issue of CBDR and the legacy of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit “bargain,” according to which developing countries would pursue environmentally sustainable development in exchange for greater assistance from developed countries. This assistance was expected to come in the form of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building—the so-called means of implementation. Given their disappointment with how this grand bargain played out in the twenty years following the Rio Earth Summit, the Group of 77 and China has been firm during the SDGs negotiations that each goal must have its own designated means of implementation. Some countries went so far as to indicate that absence of MOI could be a deal breaker on the SDGs. Yet, other countries argue that if the SDGs are supposed to be universal, how can the MOI targets focus on differentiated responsibilities among groups of countries, such as Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, LDCs, LLDCs, and SIDS? As the discussion on proposed Goal 17 (MOI) began on Friday, the statements mirrored those that were heard at the beginning of the OWG process, not to mention similar themes that have been heard for over twenty years about the responsibility of developed countries to provide MOI. There appeared to be some progress, however, as several governments across groupings called for an inclusive global partnership for development that involves the public, private and civil society sectors, and addresses the need for triangular cooperation and South-South cooperation.

 

BALANCE AMONG THE THREE DIMENSIONS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

 

The OWG has faced another recurring question of balance in fulfilling its mandate, this time from Paragraph 246 of The Future We Want: “The goals should address and incorporate in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development and their interlinkages.” What would such a balance mean for each dimension, and how would the balance be embedded in the SDG framework?

 

For many developing countries, balance should be reflected in the number of goals dedicated to each dimension. One delegate shared his assessment that out of the proposed substantive goals, there are two on the economic dimension, five or six on the social dimension, and four or five on the environment. Developing countries, in particular, expressed concern that currently only two goals are “dedicated” to the economic dimension: proposed Goals 8 (sustainable economic growth) and 9 (industrialization). When some suggested merging these two goals, these countries rejected the notion as it would leave only one “economic goal.” Yet at the same time, one delegation said the three explicitly environmental goals should be consolidated into two, noting that three goals for one theme are too many.

 

On the other hand, some developed countries have expressed a different vision of balance among the three dimensions of sustainable development, calling for each goal to reflect a “three-dimensional” approach to sustainable development, through targets that address economic, social, and environmental aspects. Regarding the same Goals 8 and 9 that were welcomed by developing countries as ensuring an economic development dimension to the SDGs, developed country delegations critiqued the current drafting of these goals as lacking a vision of inclusive and environmentally friendly growth. Some delegations thought that integrated goals would do a better job at ensuring ministries and UN and other international organizations and agencies work together and get out of their traditional “silos.”

 

BALANCE BETWEEN WORDINESS AND “CRISPINESS”

 

Throughout the week, the Co-Chairs urged delegates to achieve “crispiness,” using a term popularized by Co-Chair K?rösi, amid the desire for an all-encompassing yet concrete set of goals. In other words, delegates face the challenge of crafting goals that are clear, coherent, concrete and comprehensive (the four C’s). The quest for this need for balance took on various forms.

 

First, there was a concern about the titles of the goals themselves in substantive as well as presentational terms. Using the MDGs as an example, observers noted that the wording, formatting and number of MDGs made the goals conducive to iconographic representation and visually compelling packaging that was used in effective advocacy and outreach campaigns. This helped to generate traction within and beyond the development arena. Both Co-Chairs consistently reminded delegates that these goals and targets have to make sense to people beyond the walls of the United Nations and, thus, need to be “crispy”, translatable and easy to understand

 

The OWG has also recognized that the number of goals to be adopted will be an important consideration. At previous OWG meetings, some, including Jeffrey Sachs and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, called for a set of ten goals—a sort of “ten commandments” for sustainable development. Similarly, others have previously called for twelve goals to allow an equal number of goals for each of the three dimensions of sustainable development. Overall, many speakers at many sessions conceded that the power of the goals will be in focusing international attention on a set of priorities, which would be lost if the list of priorities become too unwieldy. The Co-Chairs tried to reduce the number of proposed goals to 15 and distributed a new suggested list of goals on Monday night, but their effort did not immediately gain traction.

 

There is still uncertainty about retaining at least three of the proposed goals—10 (reduce inequality), 13 (climate change) and 16 (peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law and effective and capable institutions)—while strong support was expressed for maintaining the separation among the current Goals 8 (sustainable economic growth and work for all) and 9 (sustainable industrialization), and among Goals 14 (conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, oceans and seas) and 15 (terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity). As a result, it is still not clear how many goals will constitute the final package of SDGs and how they will be balanced.

 

At the same time, delegates expressed concern about creating strong targets that are action-oriented and measurable. For the first time during the OWG, delegates at OWG-12 seemed to focus on whether proposed targets were achievable and how implementation could be monitored and reported. While some delegates continued to propose new targets, many more noted that certain targets were better placed as indicators, and others should be deleted because they were highly aspirational but not achievable. This has become yet another challenge for the OWG—how to achieve a balance between what they want to accomplish and what can realistically be accomplished by 2030.

 

TWELVE DOWN, ONE TO GO

 

With twelve sessions completed, the OWG has only eight days left to complete its work, including the three days of “informal-informal” consultations that will precede OWG-13. As the Co-Chairs noted, the time has come to reach agreement on the final package of SDGs to submit to the UN General Assembly to be taken into consideration as part of the deliberations on the post-2015 development agenda.

 

With so little time remaining before 18 July—the final day of OWG-13—delegates emerged from the ECOSOC Chamber on Friday evening exhausted from an intense week of work, yet curious about what will happen between now and 18 July. Some wondered how the Co-Chairs will manage the OWG’s final session and related consultations to enable delegates to produce a balanced set of SDGs that are universal, “crispy,” action-oriented, and reflective of the three dimensions of sustainable development. Others asked themselves if OWG members can bridge the North-South divide and create a new framework that truly operationalizes sustainable development and anchors a truly transformative agenda. Still others wondered if the 13 OWG sessions and the Co-Chairs’ careful management of the process will enable governments to arrive at a consensus outcome in an increasingly challenging political environment for multilateral negotiations. In the end, after 18 months, the OWG has just a few days left to show that it can create a package of SDGs that will exist together in a delicate balance.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

In the run-up to the 2014 June 4th celebration of Earth Day – which is also the UNEP birthday, the UN Information Service Vienna (UNIS) showed last night the documentary film “CHASING ICE” – by Jeff Orlowski who worked with material supplied to him by The National Geographic.

It was in the spring of 2005 when acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog headed with a team of heroes to capture visual evidence that the Arctic and an assortment of  glaciers are melting as Planet Earth’s Climate is changing – this as the biggest human effect on the physical aspects of the planet.

They did this by setting up cameras to capture on film – on single shots once a month – and on video cameras ongoing calving of the ice.  These are actual scenes of mountains of ice disappearing under our eyes and visual evidence of the receding glaciers. The pictures were shown to country delegates at the Climate Convention in Copenhagen – UNFCCC 15.

At the end of the showing, the best panel Austria could offer – discussed the meaning of what we saw, and from the audience the subject was enlarged with observations that in real life today there are factors within the Arctic Circle Council that view positively the melting of the ice caps, as this allows for access to riches of oil, gas, minerals … and the opening up of important navigation channels. On the other hand, Small Island States in the Pacific might just vanish like the glaciers do. All this as the water that originates from the melting ice swells the seas and changes patterns of rains and storms affecting the whole planet.

The members of the panel chaired by Mr. Martin Nesirky, Acting Director of  the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna – that discussed the movie – included:

Mr. Harald Egerer, UNEP Vienna – Interim Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention ,
Mr. Helmut Hojesky, Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management,
Prof. Helga Kromp-Kolb, University of Natural Resources and  Applied Life Sciences (BOKU).

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 2nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

<
unfccc.int/files/press/news_room/press_releases_and_advisories/application/pdf/pr20140106_ctcn.pdf
>

(Copenhagen/Bonn, 2 June 2014):

Developing countries are now beginning to make active use of the UN’s new global network for climate technology solutions, the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). This constitutes a promising signal that momentum for climate action is building ahead of a new, universal climate agreement in 2015.

So far this year, six countries have submitted eight requests for technology assistance to the CTCN, which is headquartered in Copenhagen.

These include – Afghanistan, Bhutan, Chile, Colombia, Honduras and Pakistan.

The requests for support relate to a broad range of climate action, from renewable energy policies to public transportation, and from biodiversity monitoring to saving mangrove forests for coastal protection.

Welcoming the development, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said:

“Innovation is the engine of development, and replacing current technologies
with cleaner, low-carbon alternatives is a vital part of tackling the
causes and effects of climate change. The Climate Technology Centre and
Network works to accelerate the use of new technologies in improving the
lives and livelihoods of millions of people in developing countries who are
dealing with the impacts of climate change on a daily basis.”

According to Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the Bonn based UN
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – the growing use of the
CTCN is encouraging and now needs the necessary finance.

“As countries work towards a universal climate agreement in Paris in 2015,
the CTCN provides yet another foundation upon which optimism and action is
being built. For it to fully flourish and provide maximum support to
developing country ambitions, the requests for support now need to be
matched with the finance required, most notably through swift and
sufficient capitalization of the Green Climate Fund,” she said.

Last week, the board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) completed the
essential policy requirements to make the fund operational. The GCF was
established as a prime global channel to deliver public funds and to
leverage private sector finance for developing country climate action.

Meanwhile, the CTCN has put all central requirements for the transfer of
technology in place.

Since its launch in late 2013, over 80 countries have established national
CTCN focal points (known as National Designated Entities) who work with
country stakeholders to develop and relay requests to the Climate
Technology Centre’s network of regional and sectoral experts from academia,
the private sector, and public and research institutions.

A side event on the progress to date of the Technology Mechanism and the
CTCN will be held on the margins of the upcoming Bonn Climate Change
Conference on 7 June 2014, 18.30-20.00.

This side event is organized collaboratively by the Technology Executive
Committee (TEC) and the CTCN. It will opened by UNFCCC Executive Secretary
Christiana Figueres, and will include presentations by the Director of the
CTCN, Mr. Jukka Uosukainen, and the Chairs of the TEC and the CTCN.

More information: goo.gl/PUK0Kp.

For more information, please contact:
Karina Larsen, CTCN Knowledge & Communications Manager
+45 4533 5373; karina.larsen@unep.org
Climate Technology Centre & Network (CTCN)
Website: www.unep.org/climatechange/ctcn/

Nick Nuttall, Coordinator, Communications and Outreach: +49 228 815 1400
(phone), +49 152 0168 4831
(mobile) nnuttall(at)unfccc.int
John Hay, Communications Officer: +49 172 258 6944 (mobile) jhay
(at)unfccc.int
Website: unfccc.int

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. In Doha in 2012, the Conference of
the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol
adopted an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, which establishes the second
commitment period under the Protocol. 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 the CTCN
The Climate Technology Centre and Network promotes the accelerated transfer
of environmentally sound technologies for climate change mitigation and
adaptation in developing countries. The CTCN quickly responds with
potential solutions as well as tailored capacity building in order to
transfer valuable knowledge and practical advice from one country to
another in order to accelerate the pace of climate technology
implementation. The CTCN is the operational arm of the UNFCCC Technology
Mechanism and is hosted by UNEP in collaboration with the United Nations
Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and 11 independent, regional
organizations with expertise in climate technologies.

See also:  <unfccc.int/press/items/2794.php>
Follow UNFCCC on Twitter:  @UN_ClimateTalks
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres on Twitter: @CFigueres
UNFCCC on Facebook:  facebook.com/UNclimatechange

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As per UNFCCC website:

unfccc.int/files/press/press_releases_advisories/application/pdf/ma20142205_cf_nama.pdf

UN NAMA Registry records first matched support exercize – came up with the cooperation between Austria and Georgia:

(Bonn, 23 May 2014) – A new UN Registry which records and matches offers of
support from developed nations to the stated plans of developing countries
to reduce and limit greenhouse gas emissions has recorded the first such
agreed cooperation between Austria and Georgia.

“This first success highlights the enormous potential of the new registry
as a transparent, efficient clearing house that matches financial,
technology and capacity-building support from the developed world to the
needs developing nations have defined themselves to act on climate change,”
said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The online NAMA Registry was designed and is operated by the UNFCCC
Secretariat, at the request of governments, to record both the Nationally
Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) which developing countries choose to
enter into the system and also the offered support available for these
actions.

Its objectives are to facilitate the matching of finance, technology, and
capacity building support with these NAMAs and to serve as a platform for
international recognition of the mitigation actions of developing
countries.

In the first recorded match in the registry, Georgia has received a grant
from the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment, and Water
to implement Georgia’s NAMA entitled “Adaptive, Sustainable Forest
Management in Borjomi-Bakuriani Forest District”.

“I congratulate Georgia and Austria on entering their information into the
registry, thereby debuting this important tool.  It is a clear invitation
to other countries and organizations to continue to populate the registry
and boost the international cooperation between developed and developing
countries in reducing and limiting greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ms.
Figueres.

For more information, please contact:
Nick Nuttall, Coordinator, Communications and Outreach:  +49 228 815 1400
(phone), +49 152 0168 4831 (mobile) nnuttall(at)unfccc.int

John Hay, Communications Officer: +49 228 815 1404 (phone), +49 172 258
6944 (mobile) jhay(at)unfccc.int

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. In Doha in 2012, the Conference of
the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol
adopted an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, which establishes the second
commitment period under the Protocol. 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.

See also:  <unfccc.int/press/items/2794.php>
Follow UNFCCC on Twitter:  @UN_ClimateTalks
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres on Twitter: @CFigueres
UNFCCC on Facebook:  facebook.com/UNclimatechange

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From UNEP:

 

UNEP and China collaboration to help Global South fight climate change.

 

14 May 2014 | William Brittlebank | Finance & The Green Economy, Policy & Legislation, Africa, Asia

 

 

 

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and China have agreed to assist Global South countries in fighting climate change.

 

The new agreement was endorsed last week in Nairobi by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

 

Mr. Steiner said: “This new agreement sends another powerful message that China is committed to combating climate change, not only within its borders, but across the Global South – and that in doing so, it count on UNEP’s unflagging support.”

 

Chinese Premier Li said: “China would like to continue to collaborate with UNEP to enhance green development and sustainable environmental management. China has contributed US$6 million to the UNEP trust fund and will continue to make contributions to that fund into the future. China also wants to enhance communication, cooperation and coordination with UNEP and multilateral environmental agreements in support of global environmental sustainability and action to combat climate change at the national and global levels.”

 

During the discussions, efforts to accelerate China’s transition to a green economy were also addressed.

 

They also discussed China’s newly declared “war” on air pollution and the top issues on the agenda of the inaugural United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), that is will be held in Nairobi in June.

 

UNEP and China have collaborated with countries across Africa and Asia on climate adaptation projects since 2008 which have been financed by the Global Environment Facility and the Chinese government.

 

Mr. Steiner currently serves as Vice-Chairperson of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), of which Premier Li was the former Chair.

——————

 

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

United Nations, Nations Unies

 

UN to Observe Earth Hour to Focus Global Attention on Need for Climate Action.

New York, 27 March – The UN will participate in the 2014 edition of Earth Hour on Saturday 29 March. Coming in the lead-up to the Climate Summit this September, this global initiative aims to focus attention on the need for climate action.
 
Organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Earth Hour encourages individuals, companies, organizations and governments throughout the world to switch off their lights for one hour at 8:30 p.m., local time worldwide.
 
The initiative started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage over 150 countries and hundreds of millions of people last year.
 
The date traditionally coincides with the Spring and Autumn equinoxes in the northern and southern hemispheres respectively, which allows for near coincidental sunset times in both hemispheres, thereby ensuring the greatest visual impact for a global “lights out” event.
 
All UN staff members around the world have been invited to take part both in their office and home in order to demonstrate the UN’s commitment to support action on climate change, one of the top priorities of the Organization.
 
For the last few years, the UN Headquarters in New York and many other UN offices around the world have been part of the many international landmarks participating in this initiative.
 
This year the UN is going the extra mile and turning off all non-essential lights within the UN complex in New York for three hours from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Geneva and many other UN offices worldwide will also participate.
 
Earth Hour recognizes that everyone’s involvement is needed in order to make a collective impact and take accountability for their ecological footprint.
 
For more information please visit: www.un.org/climatechange

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

ENVIRONMENT: TOP STORIES THIS WEEK – March 26, 2014

Disturbing New Report: Air Pollution Killed 7 Million People in 2012—Or About 1 in 8 Premature Deaths

Aaron Cantú, AlterNet

The World Health Organization calls for major policy changes to counter the trend. READ MORE»


Nasa-funded Study: Industrial Civilization Headed for ‘Irreversible Collapse’ Due to Inequality, Exploitation

Nafeez Ahmed, The Guardian

Natural and social scientists develop new model of how ‘perfect storm’ of crises could unravel global system READ MORE»


Why Electricity Costs Are Major Cause of Poverty In the South

Tom Cormons, Appalachian Voices

Families in the Southeast pay a higher percentage of their income for electricity compared to the national average, spending as much as 20% of their income on electricity. READ MORE»


The 25th Anniversary of the Exxon Valdez: Have We Learned Anything From Our Mistakes?

By Dr. Martin Robards, The Guardian

It’s been 25 years since the oil tanker spilled millions of gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Alaska, but we remain callously unprepared to mitigate a future oil spill. READ MORE»


Fox Uses Galveston Bay Oil Spill to Push for Keystone XL

By Craig Harrington, Media Matters for America

Fox Business talkers lament that the spill provides ammunition for environmentalists, but says that accidents are bound to happen. READ MORE»


There Are Crazy Conspiracy Theories About Light Bulbs, and Then There Are Some Real Dangers

By Cliff Weathers, AlterNet

LEDs are very energy efficient, but they’re also a threat to our health. READ MORE»


World Water Day: Getting More Crop Per Drop During an Epic Drought

By Danielle Nierenberg, The Huffington Post

America’s breadbasket is facing its worst drought since records began and must rethink irrigation and crop production to help conserve water. READ MORE»


New UN Report Is Cautious On Making Climate Predictions

By Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360

A new study warns that the world faces serious risks from warming and that the poor are most vulnerable, but it avoids the kinds of specific forecasts that have sparked controversy in the past. READ MORE»


Deadly Influence: Powerful Oil Companies Force EPA to Undercount Methane Emissions

By Aaron Cantú, AlterNet

New study shows EPA has missed as much as 50 percent because it must get permission from the very companies that pollute. READ MORE»


Scientific Sleuth Gets the Call When Communities are Contaminated

By Alison Rose Levy, AlterNet

Wilma Subra solves chemical puzzles when people become ill from industrial toxins. READ MORE»

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Feb 18. 2014

agri-climatmadagascar.blogspot.com/

 

Family farming and climate change

Drought a river in southern Madagascar
According to the FAO, “The family farming protects traditional foods, while contributing to a healthy and balanced diet, the conservation of the world’s agricultural biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources.”
For Madagascar, agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. However, this sector is now in danger. But often, rural households face the new challenges made by climate change, lack of technical expertise and funds, a particularly important level of isolation, etc.. But the most important remaining exposure to climatic and environmental shocks, against which their resilience is very low. The problems of food insecurity are the most immediate consequence of this poverty.
Flooding of rice fields after passing a downpour

However, Madagascar is a country with high rates of endemic biodiversity and rich natural resources. Of those, family farming is very promising because this practice contributes to the management and sustainable use of these resources. Small farmers become key players in the preservation of the environment and the fight against climate change. Of those, sustainable family farming helps fight climate change.



Renewable energy for agriculture: An asset for the Indian Ocean

 

 

IOC, a vast untapped energy potential
Victoria Harbour Wind Farm, Seychelles
Member countries of the Indian Ocean Commission and IOC (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion and Seychelles) are highly dependent on fossil fuels at least 81% primary is imported (oil and coal) . 

In Madagascar, in particular, wood is the main source of household energy. 

Visit one of the turbines

Now the entire region has a vast potential for renewable energies (hydro, solar, wind, geothermal, wave energy etc.).

Underutilized.

Regarding solar energy, for example, the region of the IOC has a tropical climate where all countries in the region are quite sunny throughout the year. About wind energy or energy waves, the majority of countries of the Commission of the Indian Ocean islands are composed of small islands. Seychelles as currently they are developing the field of wind energy. Since 2013, eight turbines (Wind Farm Port Victoria) have been established to contribute up to 12% of all electricity in the Seychelles.
Where is Madagascar?
River Namorona feeding a hydroelectric plant
Madagascar is the largest island among the members of the IOC (5000km range). However, access to electricity is very limited, especially in rural areas. However, 80% of the Malagasy are living in rural areas. Hence, rural electrification through renewable energy is an important measure to promote sustainable development in Madagascar. It is also a key technology in the fight against climate change, which could have a material adverse impact on ecosystems

Visit the River Namorona

fragile Madagascar. Balanced combination of renewable energy, sustainable agriculture helps preserve rainforests. On hydropower, for example, only 1.3% of 7800MW are being exploited.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Green Prophet Headlines – El Gouna: Egypt builds MENA’s first carbon-neutral city

Link to Green Prophet

 


 

El Gouna: Egypt builds MENA’s first carbon-neutral city

 

Posted: 15 Feb 2014 09:23 PM PST

 

el gouna carbon neutral city EgyptEl Gouna, a resort city on Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera, is set to become the first carbon-neutral city in that nation, in Africa, and likely the entire Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. Masdar City, in continuing development in Abu Dhabi, initially targeted zero-carbon status, but has yet to hit that goal.
Image of El Gouna from Shutterstock

 

The ambitious development agreement was signed last week by the Egyptian Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs, the Italian Ministry of Environment and El Gouna City.

 

Dr. Laila Iskandar, Egyptian Minister of State for Environmental Affairs, told Trade Arabia, “This agreement will help the Egyptian government to achieve a significant breakthrough in the fields of environment and tourism, enhancing Egypt’s global image and opening the door for Egyptian tourism projects and cities to rank among the leading carbon-neutral entities.”

 

El Gouna is already hailed as Egypt’s most environmentally-friendly vacation destination.  It’s captured Green Globe and Travelife certifications and was selected as the pilot location for the Green Star Hotel Initiative (GSHI).

 

Launched in 2007, GSHI is a cooperative effort between public and private sectors, the Egyptian and German tourism industries, and supported by key technical consultants.  They promote use of environmental management systems and environmentally sound operations to improve environmental performance and to increase competitiveness of the Egyptian hotel industry.

 

Priority projects include conservation of natural resources such as clean beaches, healthy marine life and protected areas, which are the backbone of the Red Sea Riviera and the nation’s eco-tourism market.

 

Mr. Hisham Zaazou, Egyptian Minister of Tourism, told Trade Arabia, “We will also be working on implementing this project in other Egyptian cities.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 13th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Peace Islands Institute, Journalists and Writers Foundation, Ambassadors Se
Africa Panel, Peace Islands Institute Journalists and Writers FoundationThe Peace Islands Institute – driven by the JWF  tried yesterday its hand at the above by letting African Ambassadors to the UN state their case – but then when the questions came from the floor it became obvious that representatives of the African Governments to the UN just are not the right people to devise the right solutions.


Ms.  Sharene Louise Bailey, with a UN flag in front of her, was the moderator. She is Charge d’Affaires for politcal affairs at the African Union Observer Mission to the UN in New York.

Her panel included – in order of them speaking – Ambassador Dr. Mamadou Tangara of Gambia, Dr. T.A. Elias-Fatile, Senior Councellor for General Assembly Affairs representing Ambassador Professor U. Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, Ambassador Dr. Richard Nduhuura of Uganda, Ambassador      of South Africa,  The Ambassador from Mozambique was scheduled, could not make it, and so the unscheduled Ambassador from South Africa took over that slot. Also unanounced – for a short appearance we listened to Mageed A.Abdelaziz, United Nations Secretary-General‘s Special Adviser on Africa at the level of Under-Secretary-General. He was an Egyptian diplomat who had been Egypt’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations since January 2005 – he left after his presentation.

The 1990 were discussed – the conflicts – the genocides of 1994 – the Convention to Combat African corruption and the talk of an Agenda of Sustainable Development. The Ambassador for Gambia, an academic Social Economist – reminded the audience that Kenya was ahead of south Korea and where are they now? I admire South Korea ad am angree about Kenya, he said. The source of the conflicts are the riches of natural resources – take Liberia, Sierra Leone he said – we had mercenaries taking the diamonds. Unfortunately we see ourselves through the eyes of others – even in education we need money from the outside and they ask us to “put in things we want you to put in” – he said.

The talk is about Nation Building and the outsiders think they know more then the Africans themselves

The Ugandan spoke of African ownership, the South African about regional integration -  then why does an Egyptian advise the UN Secretary-General on Africa – we ask?

Ms. Bailey asked – how do we Africans see ourselves this day when we say African Solutions for African Problems? Sharing lessons among ourselves – What have we achieved for Africans? Success issues of peace Keeping in Somalia? Investments? – How to get it?  The naked ingredients for peace  The promotion of regional cooperation with inter-African exchange of assets and concluded with the need for better financing.
After that came the questions:

An African Student at Columbia University wanted to know – When do we have an African Charter on Human Rights? HE ALSO CORRECTLY MENTIONED  – “WE ARE NET EXPORTERS OF DOLLARS!”

A lady born in Nigeria and who serves now in New York as a promoter of the rich African Culture here – Ms. Joyce Adewumi – spoke of the women of Africa – i”t seems we are ashamed now of our culture and of what we are doing” – she said. We buy foreign goods – we do not support our own products – We do not Support African Solutions she said to the Ambassadors without flinching. We are ashamed of being Africans!

Then we heard from Claudine Mukamabano, a beautiful young woman, a genocide orphan survivor who turned a life of hardship into one of leadership and advocacy.  She has the recognition of the Assembly of the State of New York for what she is doing for refugees from Africa. “How can we resolve the ethic problems in our continent” she asked? What has the African Union done to prevent genocide, she asked?

When the answers came we heard how an EU good-doer could not provide the rather small amount of money that was needed to provide drinkable water to a particular community – this because there was no existing way to provide small grants. She had to push the EU to go for bigger projects. I was flabbergasted – where were the Africans themselves – why do they not get off the corruption bags and do something for their people?  The basic human problem is that the colonizers put in our head that we are inferior and it stayed there.
They divided us and we stayed divided – was the answer.

The Ugandan said that the Security Council will act on Genocide. He wants Peace Enforcement – Not Just Peace Keeping. The problem with elections – you do not get ideology but tribalism. They’ll make a constitution and go for elections later – then what? The idea is – let’s have the healing before the elections. Quite right but this does not even start to scratch the problem.

Why detest the colonial powers when the actual states they created along Administrative lines are themselves the reason for the in-fighting. If truly independent why not reorganize the continent along lines more acceptable to the population – with attention to the traditional leaders? Why wait for the Security Council where the former colonial powers hold power today and have continuing business interests in their former colonies and are tied to some of the new country leaders?  Why not organize rather an African Union intervention force. Why not a minimum caring for  the people before they are pushed to flee their homes?

Why not talk some more to these refugees living now in the diaspora and listen to their wisdom more often – like in this event at the Peace Islands Institute in New York?

Present at Peace Islands was also Ethiopian Professor Ephraim Isaac who teaches African languages and Religion at East Coast Ivy League Universities. He did not voice opinions but eagerly followed the discussion. He proudly showed me that Harvard is now awarding a yearly prize to honor him on his name – to a promising student in African languages.

Germane to the event at Peace Islands, is also our previous posting about the High-Level Panel on the Illicit outflow of funds from Africa – about $50 Billion/year as presented by former President of South Africa, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, on February 6, 2014.

 

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Science presents a new verdict:

Camels Had No Business in Genesis.

 
The annual camel race in the desert of Wadi Rum, Jordan, in 2007. Radiocarbon dating was used to pinpoint the earliest known domesticated camels in Israel to the 10th century B.C.— decades after the kingdom of David, according to the Bible.     Salah Malkawi/Getty Images

There are too many camels in the Bible, out of time and out of place.

Camels probably had little or no role in the lives of such early Jewish patriarchs as Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, who lived in the first half of the second millennium B.C., and yet stories about them mention these domesticated pack animals more than 20 times. Genesis 24, for example, tells of Abraham’s servant going by camel on a mission to find a wife for Isaac.

These anachronisms are telling evidence that the Bible was written or edited long after the events it narrates and is not always reliable as verifiable history. These camel stories “do not encapsulate memories from the second millennium,” said Noam Mizrahi, an Israeli biblical scholar, “but should be viewed as back-projections from a much later period.”

Dr. Mizrahi likened the practice to a historical account of medieval events that veers off to a description of “how people in the Middle Ages used semitrailers in order to transport goods from one European kingdom to another.”

For two archaeologists at Tel Aviv University, the anachronisms were motivation to dig for camel bones at an ancient copper smelting camp in the Aravah Valley in Israel and in Wadi Finan in Jordan. They sought evidence of when domesticated camels were first introduced into the land of Israel and the surrounding region.

The archaeologists, Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen, used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint the earliest known domesticated camels in Israel to the last third of the 10th century B.C. — centuries after the patriarchs lived and decades after the kingdom of David, according to the Bible. Some bones in deeper sediments, they said, probably belonged to wild camels that people hunted for their meat. Dr. Sapir-Hen could identify a domesticated animal by signs in leg bones that it had carried heavy loads.

The findings were published recently in the journal Tel Aviv and in a news release from Tel Aviv University. The archaeologists said that the origin of the domesticated camel was probably in the Arabian Peninsula, which borders the Aravah Valley. Egyptians exploited the copper resources there and probably had a hand in introducing the camels. Earlier, people in the region relied on mules and donkeys as their beasts of burden.

“The introduction of the camel to our region was a very important economic and social development,” Dr. Ben-Yosef said in a telephone interview. “The camel enabled long-distance trade for the first time, all the way to India, and perfume trade with Arabia. It’s unlikely that mules and donkeys could have traversed the distance from one desert oasis to the next.”

Dr. Mizrahi, a professor of Hebrew culture studies at Tel Aviv University who was not directly involved in the research, said that by the seventh century B.C. camels had become widely employed in trade and travel in Israel and through the Middle East, from Africa as far as India. The camel’s influence on biblical research was profound, if confusing, for that happened to be the time that the patriarchal stories were committed to writing and eventually canonized as part of the Hebrew Bible.

“One should be careful not to rush to the conclusion that the new archaeological findings automatically deny any historical value from the biblical stories,” Dr. Mizrahi said in an email. “Rather, they established that these traditions were indeed reformulated in relatively late periods after camels had been integrated into the Near Eastern economic system. But this does not mean that these very traditions cannot capture other details that have an older historical background.”

Moreover, for anyone who grew up with Sunday school images of the Three Wise Men from the East arriving astride camels at the manger in Bethlehem, whatever uncertainties there may be of that story, at least one thing is clear: By then the camel in the service of human life was no longer an anachronism.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We posted earlier -

and we get back to the same topic now – this because of the snow that pelted New York and a statement the new New York City Mayor made.

 

We believe that Urbanization ought to mean enhanced Sustainability for All and not just a way for increasing the value of the Real Estate in favor of the top 1%. A Mayor’s job ought thus to be the supervision of improvement of quality of life for All the residents, the vistors, and the migrants that work in the city.

The recent snow falls in New York City gave us an occasion to think about this. I am talking of the snow storms of this last Monday – February 3 and Wednesday February 5. The issue is snow removal – something that the New Mayor – Bill De Blasio – said he will make sure it happens in all five boroughs and not only in Manhattan. All right – this is an issue of quality of life for all – it helps transportation, but what about side-walks – the main road for the pedestrians?

About 11 am I walked on Wednesday  on the East side of First Avenue from 72 Street to the UN. Many b
usinesses were open but some did not bother cleaning the snow in front of their business and the walkways were not passable. In quite a few places people had to walk in the street among traffic.  In effect the UN opened only at 11:30 because of the snow.

In the evening, about 6 pm, on my way back, I decided to walk with paper and pen in my hands and note the places that made  still for difficult walking. In my mind I had the idea that posting the offenders might be of some help to change behavior. Further, getting home I was surprised that the new Mayor declared on TV that there is a city law that owners have to clean up before their buildings or businesses by FOUR HOURS after the snow-fall. We never heard of such a law from his predecessors, but then we really did not expect from them this sort of sensibility to the common Joe’s needs. With this Mayor we now dare to have expectations.

I did not post this on Wednesday but decided to wait another day – so now here we have my findings AT THE END OF THE SECOND DAY AFTER THE SNOW-FALL.

Then at second thought I decided to note only the largest culprits this time and see if shaming a culprit works eventually.

Starting from the North-West corner of the UN compound – next to the 49 Street entrance to the FDR highway, and next to where it connects with Mitchell Place,   there is a completely snow covered passage that blocks pedestrian crossing and people end up going into the traffic that emerges there from the tunnel under First Avenue. A little further up that block there is a bus stop structure that narrows the sidewalk in front of the entrance to the Bangkok Grand Palace Thai Seafood and vegetarian cuisine Restaurant at 882 1st Avenue. They do not think of cleaning the snow and the passage is narrowed just to one person width. I do not think this restaurant would me missed. (The snow at the Mitchell Place entrance and along the wall towards the FDR ramp – a place were missions to the UN park their cars, this was chopped and salted by someone on Friday morning. As it seems the place belongs to the city it was done either by the city or by one of the Missions as a present to the host city. But the passage in front of the Thai restaurant became narrower by Friday as the restaurant returned there their bicycles for delivery to customers.)

Another Restaurant, this one a recent addition to First Avenue, The Mexican fast food Chipotle Branch at 1288 First Avenue, that for unclear reasons got an A rating, and is filled with young students, also has no inclination to clean their sidewalk. Here I even think the city ought to look at how they got that A rating.

Next very serious culprit is at the North East corner at 66th street and stretches for half a block – the St. Napomucene Roman Catholic Church that stretches for half a block, has its sidewalk ice covered after two full days. (by Friday morning the solid ice cover had only a one person width clear walk-way).

Similarly – a large stretch around the North East corner of the heavily trafficked 57th Street there used to be The Ultimate Pizza and Restaurant that after over-extension went bust and seemingly the landlord does not care. Someone ought to think that if a leg is broken here he will be responsible. (By Friday morning somebody actually broke the solid ice cover on the 1st Avenue side, but on the 57 Street side – in front of a flower store – the ice was still there on the third day after the snow-fall).

The Apple Bank at the North East corner of 64th Street does not care either – why should anyone use this bank?

Other locations that needed attention:

At the 51street corner there is a Chase Bank outlet that did not clear the snow. Ditto the Verizon store at 996 1st Avenue and the Nail place at 1062 1st Avenue.

At 1166 First Avenue there is a 7-11 store – and at 1066, North East corner at 58 Street – there are four stores in one building – all did not remove the snow. Do they think it is on the landlord? Then at 400E 54 Street the large building cleared their side-street front, but the 1st Avenue side with a large storefront that is close for a long time seems out of their interest.

So, what is the bottom line? Will the city now tell these house or business owners that real estate is not just for receiving rent but has to do also with a license on city-space that must be tended for?

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

 

Pharmacy chain CVS to stop selling tobacco products across U.S.

 

CVS/pharmacy stores will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products by October 1, its parent company, CVS Caremark, says.

 

Pharmacy chain CVS said Wednesday it will stop selling tobacco products at its 7,600 locations across the United States, a move that public health advocates hope will become a watershed and pressure other large drug store franchises to follow suit.

CVS executives said the decision could cost billions of dollars in revenue because cigarettes draw so many customers in their stores. But by jettisoning tobacco products, CVS can further evolve their pharmacies into full-fledged health care providers and strike more profitable deals with hospitals and health insurers.

Read more at:
www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/02/05/why-cvs-thinks-it-can-win-big-by-ending-cigarette-sales/

Ending tobacco sales “is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a statement.

The company also announced that it plans to launch a national smoking cessation program in the spring.

The retailer estimates it will take an annual loss of $2 billion from tobacco shoppers. CVS Caremark hasn’t reported its year-end results yet, but it took in nearly $94 billion in revenues in the first nine months of 2013, according to its most recent earnings report.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

After UN Post to Bloomberg, He Speaks on Africa, Covers Mining: Conflicts?

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

UNITED NATIONS, February 3 — Three days after the UN announced a “climate change and cities” post for Michael Bloomberg, and Inner City Press asked about conflicts of interest, Bloomberg is in the news on his own Bloomberg Africa TV, which covers such issues as Air France and mining on The Continent.

   So Inner City Press went to the February 3 UN noon briefing and asked for whom Bloomberg is speaking, the UN or himself?  Video here from Minute 14:52. UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky replied that his deputy Farhan Haq had answered on this on January 31.

  But Haq on January 31 after citing “terms of reference” said they are not public, instead to look at a press release which, it turns out, contains no safeguards. Nesirky said this is an early stage, and that is true. But it already seems clear that safeguards will be necessary. For now: UNIFEED video of Ban Ki-moon and team dining with Bloomberg, here.

  On January 31 Inner City Press asked Haq if any thought had been given to possible conflicts of interest, or restrictions on how information or access from the post could be used, given Bloomberg’s businesses.

  The UN’s Haq replied, “I believe appropriate terms of reference have been worked out with former Mayor Bloombeg, that should be an acceptable arrangement devised between them.” Video here and embedded below.

  Inner City Press asked if these “terms of reference” were public and could be seen. Haq said “No… What’s public is a lengthy press release available in our office.”

  But the press release does not address any safeguards on conflict of interest at all.

As Inner City Press noted before the UN’s announcement, when Michael Bloomberg was Mayor of New York, in light of obvious conflicts of interest he stepped back from Bloomberg News. He was criticized on issues ranging from stop-and-frisk to defending banks against minimal City community reinvestment standards.

  Now, according to one gushing report, he is poised to move to the United Nations, as envoy on cities and climate change. What about new conflicts of interest, and the above critiques?

  To give what credit is due, on the evening of January 30 Reuters’ UN bureau issued a breathless “exclusive” with nothing but praise of Bloomberg — not a word of any criticism, nothing on the conflict of interest with Bloomberg News purporting to cover the UN and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Given the percentage of the piece praising Bloomberg, that would seem to be the (anonymous) sourcing.

  Meanwhile at the UN on January 30, Inner City Press on climate change asked Ban’s acting deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq of documents leaked by Edward Snowden showing that the NSA spied on the Copenhagen talks in 2009:

Inner City Press: there’s one of the [Edward] Snowden-released documents, but there’s a reason I’m asking you is it’s published in a Danish website “Information” and it talks about the Copenhagen climate change talks of 2009. And this seems to be the document and it says that the NSA [United States National Security Agency] was involved in monitoring communications at the discussions in order to advise the United States on the position of other Governments and presumably at the UN. So, I’m wondering, this seems to get more closely into things that are of much import to the UN, to the Secretary-General. Is there any response as to this memo coming out and the propriety of such surveillance?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Well, we wouldn’t have any specific response to this because ultimately, again, this is a case where we’d need to know what the basic facts are and whether there was any such surveillance that’s happened. However, our basic point that we’ve articulated many times in recent months still holds: that the inviolability of diplomatic premises needs to be respected by all States.

  If Bloomberg is named on Friday, or is named at all, what will the coverage of criticism and conflicts of interest be?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

United Nations, Nations Unies
UAE to Host High-Level Meeting in May Leading up to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate SummitLeaders to meet in Abu Dhabi 4-5 May on Climate Action

New York, 3 February—A special two-day high- level meeting will be held from 4-5 May in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to encourage announcements of greater action and ambition by world leaders at the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and United Arab Emirates Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, announced today.

The Climate Summit will take place on 23 September, at UN Headquarters in New York, one day before the UN General Assembly begins its General Debate.  The Secretary-General has invited leaders of government, business, finance and civil society to bring bold announcements and actions to address climate change. The Summit will focus on solutions that demonstrate how early action can result in substantial economic benefits.

The “Abu Dhabi Ascent,” as the May meeting will be called, will bring Ministers as well as business, finance, and civil society leaders together to develop a range of proposals for action and determine how their countries, businesses and organizations may become more involved in various initiatives so that partnerships can be broadened and deepened to deliver concrete action at the Summit.

The Secretary-General welcomed the UAE’s offer to host this meeting.  “The UAE initiative to host the Abu Dhabi Ascent is an important concrete contribution to the Summit. This meeting is a critical milepost on the way that will help build the momentum we need for a successful Climate Summit.  I look forward to working with all leaders to ensure that the Summit catalyzes major steps on the ground and towards an ambitious global climate agreement.”

“The United Arab Emirates is at the forefront of international efforts to mitigate climate change,” said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber. “As a key mitigation strategy, the UAE has made significant investments to develop and deploy clean energy technologies globally.”

“The high level meeting in Abu Dhabi will be integral in encouraging and enhancing commitments from the public-private sectors and ensuring the Summit in New York is a success.”

By spurring action on climate change, the Abu Dhabi Ascent leading up to the Climate Summit will complement and boost momentum toward a climate change agreement at the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015.

More  information on the Summit can be found at www.un.org/climatechange/summit2014/

For more information, please contact: Dan Shepard of the UN Department of Public Information,
1-212-963-9495, shepard@un.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 We just received the following release from UNEP, this after we listened to Fareed Zakaria interviewing in Davos the present Egyptian Prime Minister Hazen El Bablawi who seemed blasee to the fact that Egypt is deteriorating – just one more Arab State that seems compelled to love a dictatorship.

Iraq’s environment was destroyed by the oil industry and is now – like Syria – a global basket case. If these countries are not allowed to fall apart and reorganize along more friendly internal lines no amount of help to the environment will have any impact on their future.

Iraq’s dictator put on fire all his oil producing facilities in disregard of his people and the World at large. The best possible environmental recovery process will start with the complete closing of that oil pumping industry. Islamic extremist hot-heads will do little for life in this part of the World where some would rather worship death. Our good friend and well meaning head of UNEP – Achim Steiner – goes to Baghdad and presents the local Environment Minister with a volume in Arabic that tells him what his government could do for a purpose they do not have yet – the environment in which their people ought to be able to live while they are being bombed and shot at daily?

It would be nice indeed if we could center governments’ attention around a worship of Nature rather then the present worship of a religious zeal that sees the enemy in humans and has no value for Nature. Strange – but with every passing day we get closer to the point that we may eventually recommend Vodou (Voodoo)  as the true rational ethics.

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UNEP NEWS: Landmark Agreement Sets in Motion Action to Restore Iraq’s Environment as New Study Outlines Magnitude of Deterioration.

Landmark Agreement Sets in Motion Action to Restore Iraq’s Environment as New Study Outlines Magnitude of Deterioration. UN Top Environment Chief in First Visit to Iraq Says Implementation of Agreement will Bolster Environmental Recovery and Peace-building.      {Peace building did he say?}

Baghdad, 26 January 2014 – In an effort to set in motion robust action to restore Iraq’s fast deteriorating environment, the Government of Iraq signed, Sunday, a landmark agreement with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) that aims to speed up recovery and support peace-building.

Iraq’s environment has suffered severe decline in recent years, exacerbated by decades of war and growing pressures on natural resources.

According to a new government study – backed by UN and World Bank data – 5 to 8 per cent of Iraq’s GDP is lost annually to environmental degradation.

At the same time, 39 per cent of Iraq’s agricultural land suffered a reduction in cropland between 2007 and 2009. Meanwhile food insecurity remains on the rise.

The report warns that the quality and quantity of the country’s water has been impacted by upstream damming, pollution, climate change and inefficient usage.

The amount of water available per person per year decreased from 5,900 cubic metres to 2,400 cubic metres between 1977 and 2009.  Decreasing water supplies were exacerbated by drought from 2005 and 2009.

The Tigris and the Euphrates, Iraq’s two major surface water sources, may dry up by 2040 if current conditions prevail.

“Achieving sustainable development is by no means a light undertaking, especially after decades of wars, sanctions and environmental degradation. Rebuilding Iraq’s environmental infrastructure underpins the country’s recovery and peace-building efforts”, said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, on his first-ever visit to Iraq.

“The commitment of the Government to achieve environmental sustainability is clearly articulated in the vision, goals and objectives of the National Development Plan, which places the Green Economy at the heart of development and economic policies,” he added.

The new five-year Strategic Cooperation Agreement with UNEP will strengthen efforts to overcome many of Iraq’s environmental challenges.

Iraqi Minister of Environment Eng. Sargon Lazar Slewa said: ” The Government of Iraq is committed to moving ahead with plans to restore the environment as part of our National Development Plan.  The visit by Mr. Steiner and the signing of the cooperation agreement will expedite and further strengthen this process. The well-being, security and livelihoods of Iraqi’s are dependent on our success.”

Areas of cooperation defined by the agreement will focus on: environmental legislation and regulations; biodiversity conservation; green economy; cleaner production; resource efficiency; combating dust storms; and climate change reporting, mitigation and adaptation.

The signing of the agreement took place at a special event hosted by the Minister of Environment to welcome Mr. Steiner to Baghdad.

It was attended by key figures including cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, members of the diplomatic community and international organizations.

Cooperation between the Government of Iraq and UNEP dates back to 2003, immediately after the establishment of the Ministry of Environment.

Since then, UNEP has worked with the Iraqi Government on multiple projects, including: rapid post-conflict environmental assessments; environmental clean-up of highly contaminated sites; and the restoration of the Mesopotamian Marshlands.

The report, entitled “Iraq State of Environment and Outlook” is available in Arabic only. It was prepared by the Government of Iraq with support from UNDP, UNEP and WHO.

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Facts and figures from the report:

·         Around 31 per cent of Iraq’s surface is desert. At the same time, 39 per cent of the country’s surface is estimated to have been affected by desertification, with an additional 54 per cent under threat.

·         As a result of declining soil moisture and lack of vegetative cover, recent years have witnessed an increase in the frequency of vast dust and sand storms, often originating in the western parts of Iraq.

·         Population growth is adding mounting pressure to existing food, water and energy resources.

·         By 2030, the population is expected to grow to almost 50 million people, exacerbating these pressures even further.

·         Sustainable access to safe water and sanitation remain a challenge: 83 per cent of Iraq’s wastewater is left untreated, contributing to the pollution of Iraq’s waterways and general environment.

·         Years of conflict and violence resulted in chemical pollution and unexploded ordnances, which is affecting the safety and lives of an estimated 1.6 million Iraqis.

For more information, please contact:

Shereen Zorba, Head of News and Media, UNEP, Nairobi, Tel.+254-788-526-000
or Email: shereen.zorba@unep.org/ unepnewsdesk@unep.org

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