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Reporting from UNFCCC Meetings:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 14th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


A bit of green

When the United States announced its decision to step away from the Paris accords last week, environmentalists were furious. The decision, they warned, might significantly weaken the most important international plan to fight climate change and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Others, though, suggested that the turn away from carbon energy might be too far along to be halted by the U.S.’s decision. Here’s one indication that they might be right: Global demand for coal has fallen for the second year in a row, according to a study by petroleum giant BP, down 1.7 percent worldwide. That shift is all the more impressive when you consider this: just four years ago, coal fueled most of the world’s growth in its energy demands.

“We’re seeing a decisive break with coal, relative to the past,” said the oil company’s chief economist, Spencer Dale, to the Guardian. “I think the big story here is coal getting squeezed.”

For one thing, coal has become expensive compared to natural gas and renewable energy, a rapidly growing sector worldwide. Lots of places have also pledged to stop building coal plants. The EU has said no more new plants after 2020. China, too, has shuttered about 100 coal plants and also cut back on energy-intensive sectors like iron, steel and cement. At the same time, China is investing heavily in renewable energy.

Other countries have also made marked improvements. The United Kingdom in particular significantly reduced its reliance on coal. The country’s use of coal fell by 52.5 percent in 2016, and it even celebrated its first coal-free day earlier this year. According to the BP report, Britain’s use of these fuels has fallen to levels not seen “since the start of the industrial revolution.” The decline was accomplished, in part, by shuttering major coal power plants and mines, along with a carbon tax. The United States and China are also burning far less coal than before.

The war on coal is largely responsible for another positive trend: for the third year in a row, global carbon emissions have flat-lined. (Of course, to meet the Paris goals, the world will have to actually reduce its carbon use.) But with President Trump vowing to do away with any effort to limit coal use, we’ll see how long the trend continues.
— Amanda Erickson for the Washington Post.

and from Fareed’s mail:


Politicians Aren’t The Answer on Climate Change.

Climate activists should “weep not” over Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris accord, writes Jon Evans in The Walrus. After all, politicians aren’t the ones capable of solving climate change. That depends on “the ingenuity of our engineers.”

“To stop global warming before it comes catastrophic, we need to take technology which is currently restricted to the very wealthy, and make it available to the poorest of the poor, in a matter of only a decade or two,” Evans writes. “If only the global technology industry had essentially been training for this superhuman feat for its entire existence. If only this was arguably the one thing that it is incredibly, consistently good at. Oh, wait.

“There was a time when transatlantic flights were so expensive that they were often paid for in instalments. Last month I booked a flight from Oakland to Barcelona for $200. Remember when only rich people had cell phones? And then when only rich people had smartphones? How long do you think it will be before we’ll be rhapsodizing nostalgically: ‘Remember when only rich Californians drove electric cars?'”

and from Washington:

TILLERSON STILL A PARIS FAN: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that he still supports the Paris climate change agreement, despite President Trump withdrawing from it.

He told Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.), top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that he respects Trump’s decision but disagrees with it.

“My view didn’t change,” Tillerson said Tuesday at a hearing on the State Department’s budget. “My views were heard out. I respect that the president heard my views, but I respect the decision he’s taken.”

He said Trump was “quite deliberative” in his consideration of the Paris pact. The president “took some time to come to his decision, particularly waiting until he had heard from European counterparts in the G7 on it,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson was a vocal supporter of the Paris agreement going back to his time as CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp.

He fought against Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt, who led an all-out push to get Trump to live up to his campaign promise to pull out of the pact.

DEMS: EPA IS NOT RESPONSIVE: A hearing for EPA and Nuclear Regulatory Commission nominees Tuesday turned into a Democratic assault on the responsiveness of the EPA.

The top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee said Tuesday that the EPA is moving too slowly to respond to the lawmakers’ request for information.

“The minority remains disappointed that the committee has not received complete written responses from Administrator [Scott] Pruitt to 11 oversight letters the committee has sent to the EPA this year,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said.

“Absent a heartfelt commitment by the EPA to provide complete and timely responses to our current information requests, I will find it very difficult to support moving forward with consideration of any EPA nominees.”

The EPA and committee Republicans defended the agency, saying officials have responded to 386 of the 416 letters they have received from members of Congress this year, including many from Carper and other members.

At the hearing, Democrats raised concerns about Susan Bodine, Trump’s nominee to head the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, worrying the agency’s enforcement might tail off under her leadership and that of the Trump administration.

But Trump’s three NRC nominees drew few complaints. The committee will convene on Thursday to quickly advance Chairwoman Kristine Svinicki’s renomination before her term expires at the end of the month.

ENERGY RESEARCH AGENCY GETS A THUMBS UP: A federal study of a key Department of Energy research agency concluded Tuesday that the program works and should serve as a model.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), modeled after the Pentagon office responsible for innovations such as the technology that became the internet, is being targeted for elimination under President Trump’s budget proposal for 2018.

But the 239-page report released Tuesday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine says the nimble, somewhat independent research agency should serve as a model for the rest of the federal government.

“Roughly half have published results of their research in peer-reviewed journals, and about 13 percent have obtained patents. One quarter of the supported project teams or technologies have received follow-on funding for continued work,” the panel wrote in the congressionally mandated report.

“All of these are positive indicators for technologies on a trajectory toward commercialized products. In fact, several are either already commercially available or poised to enter the commercial market.”

COAL CONTINUES TO DROP: A global energy report released Tuesday brought more bad news for coal.

According to an annual report from BP, global coal production fell by 6.2 percent in 2016, the largest decline since BP began reporting the total in 1950.

Energy-sector coal consumption dipped for the second straight year, falling by 1.7 percent and bringing the fuel’s share of electricity production to 28.1 percent globally, its lowest level since 2004.

Both the U.S. and China reduced coal production and consumption in 2016 and were the driving forces behind the fuel’s decline, according to the study.

Renewable energy was the fastest-growing source of electricity last year, increasing by 12 percent. The industry now accounts for 4 percent of primary energy production worldwide.

PANEL TO MARK UP OZONE BILL: The House Energy and Commerce’s environment subcommittee on Thursday will mark up a bill to overhaul the EPA’s implementation of ozone regulations.

The bill, from Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) and others, would require the EPA to reconsider ozone rules every 10 years rather than every five years, the current timeline. EPA critics say the five-year timetable makes implementation difficult for cities and states because they don’t have enough time to cut emissions before the standards are tightened.

The House passed Olson’s bill last year but it went nowhere with a Democrat in the White House.

Trump and his EPA, though, oppose current ozone standards — and last week said they would delay implementation of Obama-era ozone rules — which means Olson’s measure may find more traction this year.

ON TAP WEDNESDAY I: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on an ethanol bill.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Is the tide turning for oceans?
by Aban Marker Kabraji | International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Establishing marine protected areas could be a key means of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and curbing climate impacts.

Covering more than 70 percent of our earth’s surface and home to 700,000 to 2 million species, the ocean is the lifeblood of our planet. Besides bringing a sense of serenity through the gentle — albeit sometimes roaring — rhythm of its waves, the deep blue employs millions of workers, feeds billions of people and generates trillions of dollars of the world’s economy.

However, despite having such a profound impact on our lives, oceans are often taken for granted. As vast as they may seem, the resources provided by our oceans are finite.

In recent decades, threats such as unsustainable and illegal fishing, tourism and climate change have increasingly threatened coastal and marine resources.

In Asia, where over 30 million people rely on these resources for their livelihoods, the stakes are high.

While the region’s exponential economic growth has benefitted its communities through higher incomes and a better quality of life, ever-increasing commercial, agricultural and industrial activity has also exacerbated threats to the region’s ecosystems. 95 percent of Southeast Asian coral reefs are at risk of being destroyed and over 80 ocean species in the region are listed as Critically Endangered and Endangered.

Scientists have warned that, as increasing amounts of CO2 are absorbed by our oceans, seawater is becoming more acidic, threatening aquatic ecosystems and organisms.

But tides might actually be turning.

The Paris Climate Agreement has united many nations in the common cause of tackling climate change by limiting global carbon emissions and thereby protecting our oceans.

The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has made it crystal clear that a commitment to the conservation of oceans is necessary to secure a better future for all, through Sustainable Development Goal 14 — ‘Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources’.

One way to protect our vital ocean ecosystems is to increase the number, size and management effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

MPAs are established to preserve not only coastal and marine terrain, water and the genetic diversity of associated flora and fauna, but also historical and cultural heritage.

It is important that the boundaries of MPAs are delineated through multi-stakeholder consultation and consensus, so that encroachment becomes less likely and enforcement becomes more effective. Local communities, who have traditional knowledge of their natural resources, also need to be involved in the governance of their ecosystems, to relieve the pressure on both nature and governments.

Mangroves for the Future (MFF), a regional coastal programme co-chaired by IUCN and UNDP and spanning 11 countries across Asia and the Indian Ocean, has developed Marine Protected Area (MPA) frameworks for Bangladesh, Pakistan, Cambodia and Myanmar.

MFF’s overall approach is to identify needs at priority sites. These needs are then addressed through grants and other activities that generate knowledge, empower local communities, and strengthen the governance of coastal ecosystems.

In Pakistan, Astola Island is shaping up to be the first MPA in the country. At the IUCN World Conservation Congress last September, a motion was adopted to declare the island an MPA. Since then, MFF has collaborated with the Pakistan Navy to undertake a situational analysis of the island. The next steps will be to ensure that local communities and other stakeholders at the grassroots level are included in the governance and decision-making processes related to the establishment of the new MPA.

This week, at the UN Ocean Conference in New York, IUCN will be joining the government of Pakistan as it reaffirms its pledge to protect Astola Island, thereby fulfilling its commitment at the Congress to designate at least one site in Pakistan’s territorial waters as an MPA by 2020.

Studies have shown that small MPAs that are well-managed and well-enforced are facilitating resources recovery, sustaining fisheries, improving livelihoods and promoting sustainable tourism. Yet, while MPAs can be very effective in the conservation and management of our oceans, they cannot address all threats to marine life. Complementary actions need to be implemented in parallel to make fishing and aquaculture sustainable, address climate change and reduce marine pollution.

IUCN aims to build on lessons learned from MFF – notably the effectiveness of a partnership-based focus and a governance structure that invites country-level ownership – and scale up the programme, to further improve the resilience of coastal ecosystems, support the livelihoods of millions of people, and increase carbon storage capacity by protecting and restoring mangrove habitats.

This year’s theme for World Oceans Day is “Our oceans, our future.” Despite recent setbacks such as the US administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, many other nations remain committed to the Paris Accord. Through progressive and forward-thinking policies, commitments from industrialised and developing nations alike, and a multi-sectorial approach that harnesses advancements in science, finance and development, we actually stand a chance to make our oceans truly great again.

Aban Marker Kabraji is the regional director for IUCN Asia.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The 6th International Conference on Deserts, Drylands & Desertification
November 6-9, 2017 Sede Boqer Campus, Israel

The central theme of the 2017 conference is “Combating desertification and dryland management-theory and practice” with particular emphasis on the natural sciences, but without neglecting planning and policy issues.

Early Bird Registration opens in May 2017.
More information on abstract submission guidelines will be published during May 2017
Abstracts should be submitted online by June 30th, 2017.

Prof. Pedro Berliner and Prof. Arnon Karnieli, Chairs of the Organizing Committee
Ms. Dorit Korine, Conference Coordinator and the Conference Team

The International Conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification (DDD) has emerged as an important global gathering of scientists, practitioners, industry and government representatives and decision-makers, members of CSOs, NGOs, and international development aid agencies and other stakeholders from over 60 countries concerned about land and environmental degradation in drylands and living conditions in and around them, as well as their sustainable use and development.

The program combines plenary lectures and panels, parallel sessions, workshops, field trips and social events. The four-day conference provides an opportunity for a diverse group of experts, policy makers and land managers to consider a range of theoretical and practical issues associated with combatting desertification and living sustainably in the drylands.

The 6th DDD conference will focus on Combating Desertification and Dryland Management—Theory and Practice. Additional sessions will be held considering a broad range of topics associated with sustainable living in the drylands and means to address desertification, as well as achieving the target of a zero net rate of land degradation.

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The 6th International Conference on Deserts, Drylands & Desertification
November 6-9, 2017 Sede Boqer Campus, Israel

Following the success of the previous five international biennial conferences (2006-2014) on Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification, the organization of the 2017 DDD Conference is now underway and the conference is scheduled to take place at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer Campus, from November 6-9, 2017.

In particular, sessions with the following themes are already confirmed to be held during the conference*:

• Afforestation in Drylands: Native And Non-Native Trees • Patterns and Processes in the Ecology of Drylands• Carbon Sequestration by Combating Desertification • Dating Drylands and Deserts • Plant Abiotic Stress Tolerance Mechanisms for Coping with Arid and Semi-Arid Environments • NGOs for Water: Activities in Rural Communities • On-site Waste Sanitation, Wastewater Treatment and Reuse • Remote Sensing Applications for Drylands• Soil and Land Restoration • Indigenous Dryland Techniques to Combat Desertification • Modeling and Measurement of Non-Rainfall Water Inputs • Self-Organized Vegetation Patchiness • Fairy Circles as a Self-Organization Phenomenon • Geodiversity in Drylands • Pattern Formation in the Geomorphology of Arid Regions • Pattern Formation in Wind Blown Sand • Soil-Plant-Atmosphere Interactions in Drylands • Root Quantification and Modelling • Efficient Use of Water in Dryland Agriculture • Multi-Source Land Imaging for Studying Desertification and Land Degradation • Viticulture in a changing climate • Urban Form of Dryland Cities – Mitigating Effects of Climate Change and Environmental Degradation • Land Degradation Neutrality • Landscape Restoration and Renewable Household Energy • Practice and Theory of Combating Desertification in Rural Areas • UNCCD Special Session •

* Some themes may be merged with others, or canceled, depending on the number of presentations

We look forward to seeing you in Israel in November 2017!

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? International Advisory Committee
Name Organization
Castillo, Victor UNCCD
Chasek, Pamela International Institute for Sustainable Development, USA
Gnacadja, Luc UNCCD
Grainger, Alan University of Leeds, UK
Gutman, Garik NASA, USA
Lal, Rattan The Ohio State University, USA
Mathai, Wanjira The Greenbelt Movement, Kenya
Mutekanga, David Uganda National Academy of Sciences, Uganda
Santamouris, Mat University of Athens, Greece

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev > Drylands, Deserts and Desertification
Session Descriptions

1. Geodiversity in drylands: pedogenic and ecological implications

?Conveners: Golan Bel, Ilan Stavi and Shimon Rachmilevitch

Over the last decade, the importance of geodiversity has been recognized by soil scientists, geographers, hydrologists, ecologists, and others. Geodiversity—defined as the natural range of geologic, geomorphic, and pedogenic features—impacts biodiversity and affects a range of ecosystem functions and services. Geodiversity applies to a wide range of spatial scales, ranging from patch to landscape. Specific aspects related to geodiversity in drylands include those that determine water availability for different ecosystem components. The session will cover a range of inter-related topics, including the question of scale, hydrological modeling, ecological implications, anthropogenic impacts, and the establishment of indices for evaluating geodiversity.

2. Pattern formation in the geomorphology of arid regions

Conveners: Ido Regev, Roiy Sayag, Yosef Ashkenazy and Hezi Yizhaq

The geomorphology of arid regions is shaped by several physical processes that act at different spatial and temporal scales, such as erosion and sedimentation due to water flow, glacial movement and aeolian processes. These processes give rise to complex large-scale patterns such as sand and snow dunes, fractal river basins and glacial erosion patterns. This set of sessions will focus on the recent progress in understanding the physical mechanisms behind these processes and patterns, and on the current open questions in the field.

3. Pattern formation in windblown sand

Conveners: Ido Regev, Roiy Sayag, Yosef Ashkenazy and Hezi Yizhaq

The geomorphology of arid regions is shaped by several physical processes that act at different spatial and temporal scales, such as erosion and sedimentation due to water flow, glacial movement and aeolian processes. One of the most interesting erosive forces is the transport of sand and dust by wind which creates sand dunes and ripples, and loads the atmosphere with suspended dust aerosols. This session will focus on the recent progress obtained in understanding the physical mechanisms behind these processes and patterns, and on the current open questions in the field.

4. Vegetation patterns and processes in dryland regions in relation to land use and climate change (As part of Patterns and processes in the ecology of drylands)

Conveners: Yael Lubin, Michal Segoli and Hadas Hawlena

Climatic factors and, in particular, desertification, as well as changing land use, influence individual plant traits, demography and population dynamics, and consequently, the structure of communities and patterns of diversity. This session will focus on effects of desertification, grazing and other human interventions on the performance of desert plants and subsequent changes in vegetation diversity and composition.

5. Animal distribution, abundance and interactions in drylands and in response to desertification

(As part of Patterns and processes in the ecology of drylands)

Conveners: Yael Lubin, Michal Segoli and Hadas Hawlena

Harsh desert conditions may have important implications for interactions between organisms in both natural and human-impacted environments. Low water and nutrient availability may intensify the impact of exploitative interactions and promote specialized mutualistic adaptations. Low productivity also increases the severity of anthropogenic effects (e.g. settlements and agricultural fields) on the surrounding natural environment, with implications for animal movement, abundance and interactions. In this session, we will focus on the uniqueness of desert environments in shaping these effects.

6. The environmental change-biodiversity-disease triangle: host-parasite interactions in the era of global changes in land use, temperatures, and aridity, with implications for disease ri
(As part of Patterns and processes in the ecology of drylands)

Conveners: Yael Lubin, Michal Segoli and Hadas Hawlena

Global changes in land use, in the averages and variability of temperatures, and in desertification have dramatic direct and indirect impacts on host-parasite interactions, with implications for disease risk to wild animals and people. These changes affect parasite replication and the development, survival, and mobility of vectors, as well as the geographical distributions of vectors and hosts. Changes in temperature, humidity, and habitat structure also affect the network of biotic interactions and biodiversity, which in turn influence the dynamics and evolution of host-parasite interactions. We will focus on this cascade of changes and their implications for the emergence, spread, and virulence of infectious diseases.

7. Soil component of regional and global climate models
(as part of Soil-plant-atmosphere interactions in drylands)

Conveners: Naftali Lazarovitch and Golan Bel

Approximately 40% of the earth’s terrestrial surface comprises drylands, making a better understanding of the soil-plant-atmosphere interactions in these regions crucial for correct modeling of ecosystem and climate dynamics. In particular, soil models are crucial for capturing long-term memory effects in climate fluctuations due to the soil and vegetation large storage capacity and relatively slow dynamics. Often, there is a gap, in the complexity and spatio-temporal scales, between local models of soil-water flow and the land component of global climate models. This gap in scales also exists in measurements. Large scale measurements are usually derived from infrequent satellite imagery, while local measurements, used to develop and validate soil models, are captured locally and often continuously.

8. Water flow and heat transport in dryland soils: modeling and measurements
(as part of Soil-plant-atmosphere interactions in drylands)

Conveners: Naftali Lazarovitch and Golan Bel

The simultaneous movement of liquid water, water vapor, and heat in the soil plays an important role in the water and energy balance of the near surface environment of arid regions. Simulating water fluxes in unsaturated soils from complete saturation to complete dryness is challenging due to high nonlinearity and the hysteretic nature of the soil hydraulic functions. These functions describe the relation between the soil water potential, water content, and the hydraulic conductivity. Classical capillary-based functions typically hold between saturation and some residual water content. Recent models accounting for capillary and adsorptive water retention, but also for capillary and film conductivities. The success of the parameter determination of such functions depends on how well the water status is measured in extremely dry soils.

9. Soil-atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases
(as part of Soil-plant-atmosphere interactions in drylands)

Conveners: Naftali Lazarovitch and Golan Bel

The soil-plant-atmosphere interactions and, in particular, the exchange of water, gas and energy play crucial roles in climate and ecosystem dynamics. These interactions have inspired a great deal of scientific research, and we possess a sophisticated understanding of these processes in mesic environments. However, in arid environments, where only a small fraction of the surface is covered by vegetation, the soil-atmosphere exchanges are much less understood. Soils provide the largest terrestrial carbon store, the largest atmospheric CO2 source and the largest terrestrial N2O source. A change in land use or management can alter these soil processes such that net greenhouse gas exchange may increase or decrease. Soil properties interact in complex ways with the biological processes responsible for the production and consumption of greenhouse gases.

10. Root quantification and modelling

Convener: Jhonathan Ephrath

This session will target the root zone. The main objective of this session will be to identify knowledge gaps related to the various physical, biological and chemical aspects of water and nutrient flow, transport and uptake in this important region that is believed to control both agronomic production and environmental aspects related to water. The session will be a gathering for researchers who study roots in different disciplines and at different scales, seeking both pure scientific understandings of the processes and their application for the benefit of society. Special emphasis will be given to novel measurement and modeling tools at the various scales, as well as to interdisciplinary research. The session will promote a fundamental understanding of the diverse aspects of root biology and will assemble researchers from multiple disciplines in order to facilitate the exploration of novel approaches and investigation of complex processes and mechanisms. The intersections of root physiology, root development, root architecture and root interactions with the environment will be addressed. Basic research at multiple scales (proteins, cells, tissues and the root system as a whole) and cutting-edge methodologies will be highlighted as important means to advancing agriculture.

11. Efficient use of water in dryland agriculture

Convener: Nurit Agam

In arid regions, crop productivity is limited by scarce rainfall, which is often supplemented by irrigation. In both rain-fed and irrigated cropping, the actual availability of water to the crops is largely dictated by the fraction of water that is lost to the atmosphere or to deep drainage. The magnitude of these fluxes is strongly affected by the sources of energy (radiation and advection). In drylands, irrigated row crops are common and are characterized by heterogeneous soil surface wetness that may lead to micro-advection, an additional complicating factor.

Monitoring and/or modeling of the various components of the water balance are necessary in order to improve the efficiency with which this scarce resource is used.

Presentations relevant to the aforementioned topics (theoretical or applied) are welcomed.

12. Afforestation in drylands: native and non-native trees

Convener: Ornea Reisman-Berman

Dryland afforestation constitutes a unique ecosystem that aims at increasing ecosystem services on degraded lands in harsh environments. Therefore, the selection of woody plant species for dryland afforestation actions must be an educated decision. In the past, species were selected mainly for their drought-resistant and fast-growth traits, and the selected species were mainly non-native. However, today there is a growing awareness of increasing the similarities between the novel ecosystem and the surrounding natural ecosystem by integrating native woody species into afforestation. This session will present various topics related to the function and the effects of integrating both native and non-native species into dryland afforestation, such as: novel ecosystems, assisted migration, physiology, ecology, and the genetics of the tree species, as well as the management of the individual tree and the landscape.

13. Multi-Source Land Imaging for Studying Desertification and Land Degradation

Conveners: Garik Gutman and Arnon Karnieli

Desertification and land degradation represent a global challenge to billions of people on the Earth. Land-cover change is one of the most obvious and detectable indicators of land-surface characteristics and associated human-induced and natural processes. Due to evolving technology, it has become increasingly feasible to derive land-cover change information from a combination of in situ surveys and earth observation satellite data at regional, national, and global scales. Regional analyses of desertification processes are the key to the understanding of causes and impacts of degradation. To be useful for sustainable, local combating strategies, regional analyses must provide spatially explicit information at sufficient detail. NASA- and ESA-affiliated scientists have been developing appropriate information services based on satellite observations to assess and monitor desertification and degradation trends over time. A synergistic use of spectral data with moderate to high spatial resolution from more than one source is getting momentum due to successful launches under the ESA Sentinel program. Landsat and Sentinel-2 optical data are now used synergistically by many researchers, sometimes combined with Sentinel-1 radar data. Efficient and synergistic use of these sensor data increases the number of observations available for studies. The proposed session aims at bringing together experts working on arid regions who study desertification/degradation issues by applying moderate-to-high (1-30m) resolution data. New ideas on synergistic use of data from various sensors, including moderate-to-high resolution thermal IR sensors, are welcome.

14. Remote Sensing – Tools and Implications in Dryland

Convener: Arnon Karnieli

Environmental problems of drylands such as desertification processes, land degradation and rehabilitation, land cover and land use change, climatic change, droughts, early warning, and more, are characterized by both spatial and temporal dimensions. Therefore, remote sensing techniques, based on long-term monitoring and repetitive data, over vast expanses of unsettled regions, are applicative and powerful tools for research and implementation in these areas.

Special sessions on REMOTE SENSING – TOOLS AND IMPLICATIONS IN DRYLAND will take place as part of the conference to promote scientific exchange between experts who work on remote sensing and geoinformation issues of the above drylands-related aspects with special intention to restoration actions and processes.

15. Role and function of organic matter in dryland soils: Carbon sequestration by combating desertification

Convener: Gilboa Arye

Soil organic carbon accounts for over 50% of soil organic matter and is commonly considered as a key indicator for soil quality with regard to its agricultural and environmental function. With increased organic matter content, aggregation stability and soil structure are improved and, consequently, water retention, the infiltration rate and resistance to soil erosion. The lack of or low organic matter content in agricultural dryland soils is traditionally compensated for by the artificial addition of organic matter from different origins. The use of marginal irrigation water, such as treated wastewater in dryland agriculture, provides continuous inputs of dissolved and particulate organic matter to the soil.

The proposed session will address issues that are related to the role and function of soil organic matter from different origins in agricultural dryland soils. In this regard, the subjects that will be presented are: surface activity, aggregate stability, soil erosion, soil amendment, and carbon sequestration.

16. On-site sanitation, wastewater treatment and reuse

Convener: Amit Gross

In the modern world, the use of natural resources and the production of domestic wastes and contaminated effluents have significantly increased, and they now pose severe health and environmental risks in many regions, specifically in arid regions. There is an urgent need to remedy already contaminated sites and to find means for minimizing these trends. A fairly new field of research, called Ecological Sanitation (ECOSAN), is a modern, usually on-site, alternative to conventional sanitation techniques. The objective is to protect human health and the environment. Unlike traditional sanitation methods, ecological sanitation processes on-site human waste (in addition to traditional waste, such as animal manure) to recover nutrients that would otherwise be discarded.

This session invites papers involving a range of on-site waste solutions, such as wetlands, biogas and other methods for small agro-waste operations, human wastes, wastewaters, greywater and more. It also seeks papers that evaluate the risks and environmental issues that are associated with such practices.

17. NGOs for water: activities in rural communities

Convener: Noam Weisbrod

Approximately 1.1 billion people in developing countries are currently living without an adequate supply of and access to potable water. In a world with slightly over 7 billion people, this is an outrageously high fraction of the global population. In order to ensure the water security of the world as a whole, it is necessary to start with these 1.1 billion impoverished people whose governments lack the funding necessary to help them. In developing countries, most of the population lives in rural areas where governmental involvement is often very limited. These communities often heavily depend on local agriculture and, in many cases, are limited to rain-fed agriculture. The outcome is that these rural communities are severely dependent on the activities of local or international NGOs (now also known as Civil Society Organizations: CSOs). This session aims to bring people together from organizations that are involved, in the past, present or future, in water-related activities in rural communities to share their ideas, methods, approaches, successes and failures. Representatives from both Israeli and international organizations are welcome, as well as scientists and officials who are interested in this topic.

18. Dating drylands and deserts: what palaeoenvironmental variation can tell us about current conditions

Convener: Berry Pinshow

The common denominator for deserts, drylands and desertification is the dynamics of rainfall and evapotranspiration (e.g. seasonality). Rainfall and evapotranspiration can be directly quantified in a modern context, but how does one estimate how much rainfall fell in the past and what annual abiotic conditions may have applied? By definition, deserts and drylands are unlikely to contain open sources of water, such as lakes and swamps associated with major rivers, while the growth of most of the trees in such areas exploit stochastic rainfall events rather than reflect annual variation regardless of rainfall. Even river discharge into desertified areas is affected by rainfall. Lake, swamp and fluvial deposits, as well as tree-rings, may therefore provide information of stochastic events from outside desertified areas that may be used to evaluate general conditions, but are not directly relevant to understanding environmental variation WITHIN such areas.

19. Indigenous dryland techniques to combat desertification

Convener: Pedro Berliner

Over the centuries, desert dwellers developed techniques that allowed them to produce, under conditions of low and variable rain, food and fodder. These techniques can be improved and adapted to various desertification-endangered soil-crop-climate configurations. Even though the techniques tend to be simple and thus easy to implement in developing countries, the biophysical interactions are extremely complicated and require in-depth studies to allow their modeling; the latter an essential tool necessary to implement these techniques in areas in which they have not been used hitherto. In the present session, field and modeling studies will be presented and discussed.

20. Modeling and measurement of non-rainfall water inputs

Convener: Nurit Agam (and Pedro Berliner)

Non-rainfall water inputs (NRWIs), i.e., a gain of water to the surface soil layer that is not caused by rainfall, comprise fog deposition, dew formation, and water vapor adsorption. In drylands, the annual amount of NRWIs can exceed that of rainfall and, in many areas, NRWIs are the sole source of liquid water during the long dry summer, and can therefore have a large effect on dryland ecosystems and crops.

We welcome contributions on the measurement and modeling of physical, chemical, and biological processes related to the NRWI phenomenon.

21. Self-organized vegetation patchiness: observations, modeling and model analysis

Convener: Ehud Meron

There is increasing evidence that spatial self-organization induced by water-vegetation feedbacks plays an important role in shaping dryland landscapes. Model studies have provided much insight into the mechanisms by which positive feedbacks can render uniform vegetation unstable and lead to the formation of vegetation patterns. Yet, the mechanisms at work in specific systems and the interplay between different mechanisms have remained largely unexplored. This session will bring together experts in modeling and in model analysis, as well as field and remote sensing experts, to present recent progress in understanding vegetation pattern formation and the implications it bears on ecosystem processes and function.

22. Fairy circles as a self-organization phenomenon

Convener: Ehud Meron

Fairy circles are circular gaps of bare soil in grasslands that form strikingly ordered patterns on large, landscape scales. They have been observed in western Namibia and recently also in northwestern Australia. Two main hypotheses have been proposed for the cause of their formation: termite colonies, which have been found in many circles, and water-vegetation interactions. This session will bring together entomologists, ecologists and physicists who will present recent empirical and model studies that shed new light on the controversial fairy-circle phenomenon. The interest in fairy circles goes beyond the mechanisms of their formation; whatever these mechanisms turn out to be, fairy circles provide excellent empirical case models to study the impact of spatial self-organization on ecological processes and ecosystem function.

23. Plant abiotic stress tolerance mechanisms for coping with arid and semi-arid environments

Conveners: Vered Tzin and Shimon Rachmilevitch

Plants growing in arid areas confront a number of abiotic stress-causing factors including drought, extreme temperatures, high winds, low humidity, high radiation, salinity and specific ion toxicity. These factors become tangible both as direct physiological stresses in the plants and as indirect stress components, via alterations to the physical environment. This session will provide a platform to understand and discuss some of the dominant abiotic stress-causing factors in the context of desert agriculture and to investigate methods to contend with them sustainably.

24. Vineyard-environment interactions

1. (as part of Viticulture in a changing climate)

Conveners: Nurit Agam, Naftali Lazarovitch and Aaron Fait

Environmental conditions optimal for quality wine-grape production are of a complex nature and are not easily defined. For example, a sufficient amount of radiation is required, but overexposure deteriorates yield quality. Similarly, a correct water balance is necessary for optimal grape development. The vast expansion of wine consumption worldwide and the increasing demand for quality wine, along with apparent signs of climate change and repeated droughts in many wine vineyard growing areas, make a better understanding of the vineyard-environment interactions necessary.

25. Viticulture/agronomy practices in relation to climate

1. (as part of Viticulture in a changing climate)

Conveners: Nurit Agam, Naftali Lazarovitch and Aaron Fait

Farmers have selected plant materials (variety, rootstock) and viticultural practices in accordance with local climatic conditions in order to optimize yield and quality. Common practices include irrigation, fertilization, soil tillage, disease control, pruning, trellising and harvesting. These viticultural practices can be modified to adapt to climatic variability and to optimize grape yield, aroma and flavor. In recent years, strategies applied in arid land viticulture were introduced into central Europe as a means of buffering the impact of climate change. The development of ad-hoc practices is thus becoming pivotal in facing the upcoming uncertainties in relation to the environment.

26. Vine molecular physiology and genetics

1. (as part of Viticulture in a changing climate)

Conveners: Nurit Agam, Naftali Lazarovitch and Aaron Fait

The economic value of grape as an agricultural crop relates not only to the yield but also to the quality of the berry as reflected by its chemical composition. A fundamental strategy to ameliorate fruit quality in a changing climate by optimizing viticulture practices lies in the (i) understanding of the mechanisms modulating the molecular physiology of the vine and the grape, (ii) dissecting the regulation of polyphenol and aroma potential, and the (iii) identification of candidate gene regulators of key biochemical pathways.

27. Urban form of dryland cities – mitigating effects of climate change and environmental degradation

Convener: E. Erell and D. Pearlmutter

Rapid urbanization in dryland countries is partly the result of land degradation in rural areas. Dryland cities often suffer from water shortages and inefficient use of energy resources, subjecting their inhabitants to poor environmental conditions that are exacerbated by global climate change as well as the urban heat island. Mitigating the consequences of these processes will require a better understanding of the effects of urban form on the energy-water-land nexus. The session will provide a forum for research on issues such as water-sensitive urban design, the urban forest, pedestrian thermal comfort in outdoor spaces and the interaction between the urban microclimate and building energy consumption.

28. Scientific conceptual framework for land degradation neutrality: a report of the Science-Policy Interface Committee

Conveners: Pam Chasek and Barron Orr

29. Land degradation neutrality: will Africa achieve it?: Institutional solutions to land degradation and restoration in Africa

Convener: Luc Gnacadja

Land degradation neutrality (SDG target 15.3) is defined as “a state whereby the amount and quality of land resources necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security remain stable or increase within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems” to address land stewardship at all levels for the sake of sustainability.

More than half of the additional two billion people who will live on Earth by 2050 will be born in Africa. The population of sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) is predicted to grow from 900 million in 2013 to about 1.4 billion by 2030 (UN, 2013), while the region is the world’s champion in poverty, hunger and food insecurity, land degradation and agriculture vulnerability to climate change.

But Africa is also a global hotspot for success stories in land restoration with innovations mostly occurring at local level. The institutional aspects are among the major hurdles to scaling up.

The proposed session aims to involve policy-makers, on-farm land managers and scientists to discuss the following:

What triggers land improvement processes and how can these triggers be mainstreamed?

How to support farmers to make SLM decisions and secured investments, while ensuring that they receive a fair share of the benefits generated downstream by their restoration efforts?

How to overcome the institutional challenges to scaling up restoration and furthering climate change adaptation in the agricultural sector in SSA? What enabling environment for achieving LDN? What is the role of the private sector?

30. Land degradation neutrality: the physical and geographical dimension

Convener: Alan Grainger

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Vienna Energy Forum (VEF) 2017 Conference: “Sustainable energy for the implementation of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement” convened 9-12 May 2017.


The VEF is a biennial, global multi-stakeholder forum, launched in 2008 to explore development challenges from the perspective of sustainable energy – and to debate solutions to those challenges. It is a joint initiative of the Austrian Government, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IASA) based in Laxenburg, Austria, and the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) , as well based in Vienna.


[This year’s meeting overlapped The Bonn Climate Change Conference, organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, May 8-18, 2017 – a technical meeting dealing with areas like the Green house effects, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, green urban environments, Clean Energy … Nature’s Role. Obviously, this time conflict might have taken away some of the coverage of the Vienna event.]

VEF 2017 is intended to contribute to the practicalities in successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Paris Agreement. Among other things, it discussed the importance of the linkages between climate and development, and examined the role of innovation in achieving SDG 7 – “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” and related SDGs.

The Forum featured side events held on the UN Grounds in Vienna, from 9-10 May – followed by plenary sessions from 11-12 May.

The side events covered such topics as achieving SDG 7, sustainable energy solutions in landlocked developing countries, innovative business models to attract sustainable energy investment for least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS), capacity building, clean energy for migrants and vulnerable groups, improving energy access, technology transfer, modern cooking energy, achieving a low-carbon society, regional incubation networks, micro-grids, smart city development, energy scenarios for sub-Saharan African cities, catalyzing action on energy efficiency, global research initiatives in support of the 2030 Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement, and promoting women to advance the global energy transition.

The follow up plenary sessions promoted then dialogue on the nexus between energy, climate, transport, food, water and health, linkages among the key SDGs and their contribution to the 2030 Development Agenda, and the role of innovation as a global driver for sustainable growth.

In this reporting by Irith Jawetz, she goes over a few highlights of the Conference she attended at the Austrian Hofburg – the Austria Presidential quarters in Vienna.

Also here there were many plenary panels and side events which will hopefully be posted on the website at a later date.  www.viennaenergyforum.org/


The Opening ceremony of the Vienna Energy Forum 2017 took place on May 11, 2017 at the magnificent Festsaal in the Hofburg.

Here is a short summary of the presentations:

Master of Ceremonies was Ms. Ralitsa Vassileva, the news Director Bulgarian International Television, who was previously anchorwoman on CNN.

She thanked the 1,500 delegates from 100 countries and the 50 speakers who have assembled to attend this important Conference, whose main goal is to fight poverty through Sustainable Development.

The first speaker was Mr. Michael Linhart, Secretary General of the Austrian Ministry for Integration & Foreign Affairs. He mentioned that this Conference has started in Vienna in 2009 and was the first Forum leading the need for access to Sustainable Development. The latest important events were the International Conference on Sustainable Development in New York, September 2016 and the COP 21 – UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, December 2016 where the important Paris Agreement was signed. Both events, together with the current conference in Vienna will decide whether we are on the right track.

The next speaker was Ms. Maria Vassilaku, Vice Mayor of Vienna, member of the Austrian Green Party, who welcomed everybody to Vienna, the most beautiful, sustainable and liberal city. She especially mentioned that we have to tackle the question of Climate Change for our children.

Sustainable Development is defined by sustainable mobility, more public transport (Vienna has reduced the price of annual transportation ticket in order to entice people to leave their cars at home and use Public transportation).

Achieving the goals of Sustainability will only be done by involving people, industry, Governments, and private sectors.

She was followed by Mr. Li Yong, Director General of UNIDO who insisted that we must make sure the Paris Agreement is implemented in full.

Then came up Ms. Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, and CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, formerly with the World Bank in Washington DC. She was the most passionate of the speakers. She mentioned that 1 in 7 people on our planet do not have access to energy. This is unacceptable.

We have to give everybody a chance for access to energy. We need it for schools, clinics, food, shelter, and everybody must have the right to it. She pleaded that we have to move, and to move fast, promises made should be promises kept.

{Ms Kyte served until December 2015 as World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading the Bank Group’s efforts to campaign for an ambitious agreement at the 21st Convention of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP 21). She was previously World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, and was the International Finance Corporation Vice President for Business Advisory Services.]

Next came Prof. Pavel Kabat, Director General and Chief Executive Office at IIASA, International Institute for Applied Systems Analyses located in Laxenburg, Austria. He put the emphasis on research and vision. He said that one should not view Climate Change as a threat but as a new start, energy is a necessity and not a goal and sustainability will only be achieved when there is a partnership of private and public sector.

The Austrian Ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna, Ms. Chtistine Stix-Hackl read an official statement from the Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, who welcomed all participants to the Conference in Vienna, which has become a hub for Energy. The President stressed the importance of implementing the Paris Agreement and making sure that the goals set in that agreement will be met .

Andrä Ruprechter, Austrian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment & Water Management also mentioned the two conferences in 2016 in New York and Paris and said that we can and will clear the pathway to a clean energy future for all. He was looking forward to the next Climate Change Conference in November 6-17, 2017, in Bonn, Germany. Climate Change is a Global problem and needs Global solutions. He vowed that Austria will stick with the Paris agreement.

Mr. Piyush Goyal, Minister of State with independent Charge for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines in the Government of India was also very passionate in his speech. The world is changing since Thomas Edison discovered the light bulb and it is for us now, and not later, to do something in order to save the world. India is committed to the Paris Agreement even if other World leaders are not (this was the first time the audience clapped during a speech). Prime Minster Modi is a conservationist of Energy and under his leadership India has promoted energy efficiency for the last years and has reduced the use of electricity by a lot by using only energy saving light bulbs. He hopes that by 2019 every lights bulb will be replaced.


Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United nations and former Minister of Environment of Nigeria, also stressed that we must address Climate Change since it is a scientific fact, in spite of recent talks to the contrary
(this remark caused more clapping from the audience). The Paris Agreement has to be implemented in full in order to fight Climate Change and more important poverty. It is unacceptable that 1 in 7 people on the planet have no access to electricity.

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The second day started with the Ministerial segment moderated by Ms. Tania Rödiger-Vorwerk, Deputy Director General, Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation & Development (BMZ), Germany. Let us remember that upcoming COP 23 of the UNFCCC will be held in Bonn, Germany, this November 6-17.

The keynote speaker was the very passionate and eloquent Prime Minister of Tuvalu, H.E. Enele Sopoaga. Being the Head of one of the endangered islands, he stressed the importance of regarding Climate Change as a real danger. He expressed solidarity with the Paris Agreement and stressed the importance of action to combat Climate Change. Survival is at stake, Governments & Private sectors of all countries have to work together to make sure the use of Renewable sources is increased. Tuvalu has numerous programs in that direction and hopes to achieve 100% use of Renewable sources of energy by the year 2020. Tuvalu is fully committed to explore Renewable energy from oceans but needs help in technology. 10,000 people in very small islands which are part of Tuvalu have already 100% electricity, but a lot still has to be done. He called upon all countries not to listen to diversion from the problems of Climate Change but “keep everybody on the boat & canoe”. Every country has to be on board and support the goals of developing Sustainable energy for all at all costs.

His speech caused a round of applause from all participants.

The other Ministers on the Podium were H.E. Ms. Jabulile Mashwama, Minister of Natural Resources & Energy of Swaziland who also stressed that Renewable agenda comes at a high cost, it’s coming slowly, but it has to happen.

H.E. Mr. Khaled Fahmy, Minister, Egypt Environmental affairs Agency, also supported in full the Paris Agreement, this is a Global agreement and all countries have to respect and adapt it. Egypt hopes to achieve 20% of renewable energy by 2020 which comes mainly from solar and wind. In order to implement this goal, the private sector must be involved, especially in order to bear the costs. This is a critical issue and the pace is too slow.

H.E. Mr. Aziz Rebbah, Minister of Energy, Mines & Sustainable Development from Morocco, home of the COP 22 of the UNFCCC in 2016, strives to achieve 52% of renewable energy by 2030 which will come mainly from solar power.

A very moving side event which Ms. Jawetz attended, and would like to share, was the “Networking Event: Women for Sustainable Energy”. This networking event connects people and provides a platform for knowledge sharing and exchange. It raises awareness on the potential of sustainable energy for women’s empowerment, and featured short presentations by women leaders in the energy sector. It provided insights into a broad range of career paths and initiatives that target women’s empowerment in the clean energy sector. This event was meant to promote sustainable energy approaches that have strong impact on gender equality and highlighted the major role of women in making the energy sector more sustainable. The event was hosted by UNIDO and supported by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Center for Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), the Global Women’s Network for Energy Transition (GWNET) and the International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy (ENERGIA).


Before the closing session started we heard a short speech by Mr. Kandeh Yumkella, who is now a Sierra Leonean Agricultural economist and politician, and was, for many years, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, first as head of UN Energy and then for Sustainable Energy for All during the years 2009-2016. He was instrumental in organizing all the past Vienna Energy Forum events. He thanked everybody for inviting him this time as a guest and participant, and stressed time and again that “Energy for All” is the key for everything, and one has to take the fight from Vienna to New York and spread the word.

The closing remarks were carried out by Mr. Philippe Scholtes, Managing Director, Programme Development and Technical Cooperation Division (PTC), UNIDO.

He thanked all the organizers for the successful event and counted 10 key massages:

1) Role of Energy in 2030 – urgency agenda for sustainable development;

2) Urgency in developing energy for food, security, land, water & health nexus;

3) Developing sustainable cities and urban communities, the need for use of sustainable energy for infrastructure;

4) Need to adapt to Climate Change by using clean energy;

5) Pioneering role of innovative technologies are a central piece of sustainable energy;

6) Financing innovative business models. Sustainable solutions depend on innovative businesses;

7) Catalysts for innovation – Governments needs to stimulate innovation and develop energy system support research & development;

8)Innovation for Appropriate & Sustainable solutions, planning frugal, flexible & inclusive energy systems;

9) Energy is ca crucial component for implementing of the 2029 agenda;

10) Businesses & Private sector must be included in implementing the Paris agreement.


All in All a very successful Conference, but the work is not done yet. To quote Ms. Rachel Kyte: “Promises made should be promises kept!”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 20th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

CLIMATE – The New York Times

More Permafrost Than Thought May Be Lost as Planet Warms

By HENRY FOUNTAIN, APRIL 11, 2017


As global warming thaws the permafrost, the frozen land that covers nearly six million square miles of the earth, a big question for scientists is: How much will be lost?


The answer, according to a new analysis: more than many of them thought.

A study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that as the planet warms toward two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, each degree Celsius of warming will lead to the thawing of about 1.5 million square miles of permafrost.

That figure is at least 20 percent higher than most previous studies, said Sarah E. Chadburn, a researcher at the University of Leeds in England and the lead author of the study.

“Previous estimates of global changes in permafrost were done using climate models,” Dr. Chadburn said. “Our approach is more based on using historical observations and extrapolating that to the future. It’s a very simple approach.”

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Permafrost thaws slowly over time, but it is already causing problems in the Arctic, as slumping ground affects building foundations, roads and other infrastructure in places like the North Slope of Alaska, Yukon and parts of Siberia. The thawing also contributes to climate change, as warmed-up organic matter is decomposed by microbes, releasing more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Dr. Chadburn and her colleagues looked at how much permafrost would thaw if temperatures were to stabilize at a warming of two degrees Celsius, long a target of climate accords, or at 1.5 degrees, which the 2015 Paris agreement set as an ambitious goal.

A two-degree increase, the researchers found, would lead to a loss of about 2.5 million square miles of permafrost compared with a 1960-90 baseline, or about 40 percent of the current total.

The study showed the advantages to be gained from limiting warming to 1.5 degrees: Thawing would be reduced by about 30 percent, or 750,000 square miles.

Graphic: How 2016 Became Earth’s Hottest Year on Record
But the research also shows the potentially devastating consequences of missing either of those targets. Warming of five degrees Celsius (nine degrees Fahrenheit) would leave at most about a million square miles of permafrost, or less than 20 percent of the current total.

Edward A. G. Schuur, a permafrost expert at Northern Arizona University, said the study was “an important and interesting calculation of where permafrost will be at some distant point in the future as we undergo climate warming.”

“What’s really important is this is based on totally different assumptions,” Dr. Schuur said. “It’s useful because it gives us a different perspective.”

Dr. Chadburn said her study did not delve into the details of how different permafrost areas might be affected. Dr. Schuur said that as the planet warms, more southerly regions, where the permafrost occurs in discontinuous patches, would be expected to thaw first.

But there will still be changes even in areas of extensive permafrost in the far north, Dr. Schuur said. “There will be surface changes that affect everyone who lives there,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s any place in the permafrost zone that’s remote enough to escape changes.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

NOV 23, 2016 @ 02:38 PM 60,058
Why Clean Energy Can Withstand Changing Political Winds

Morgan StanleyVoice:
Capital Creates Change – Clean-energy-election-hero.


When President Obama first took office in 2008, it was hard to imagine how solar and wind would ever stand on their own as viable alternative sources of energy. Today, solar and wind are so price-competitive that players in the renewables industry were among the few that could afford to be cavalier about who won the U.S. election.


“The increasingly favorable economics of renewables are more important than the presidential election’s impact on the industry, in our view,” says Stephen Byrd, a senior analyst with Morgan Stanley. “Wind and solar are price-competitive in many parts of the U.S. It’s the economics and not the politics that’s driving the use of renewables.”

Over the past seven years, the cost of wind power has dropped from $60-$100 per megawatt-hour (MWh) to around $15-$25/MWh in the middle third of the U.S., and for large solar installations, it’s gone from $100-$300 to $40-$70 per MWh. Wind power is currently the cheapest source of energy in the middle third of the country, with its all-in cost of $15-$25/MWh, comparing with the $55-$65/MWh for a new natural-gas-fired plant.


Improving Economics

Driving their growing competitiveness are improvements in wind and solar technology, as well as some technical efficiency gains. Product Tax Credits, passed by Congress in 2015, will now provide the next bridge to ever-improving solar and wind economics going into 2020, although Morgan Stanley’s analysts argue in a recent report that neither depend on tax credits for survival.

“By the next decade, we project that wind and solar will be the cheapest resources in certain parts of the country, without any subsidies,” they state in the report. “Even without the Production Tax Credit, wind would be cheaper than gas-fired power by a wide margin. And by 2017, we project that large-scale solar projects in Texas will require revenue of about $45/MWh, lower than that required for a natural-gas-fired power plant.”

Changing Political Winds

President-elect Donald Trump has yet to lay out a comprehensive energy policy, although his comments during campaign speeches reveal his position on climate-change regulation. In May, he told audiences in North Dakota that he was opposed to the Obama Administration’s regulations “that shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants.”

On the same day, he added: “We’re going to rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions, including the Climate Action Plan. We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to UN global-warming programs.”

Analysts say it isn’t clear whether a new president can cancel U.S. signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement. But the climate-change views of Trump’s coming appointment of the ninth Supreme Court Justice could be crucial, should pending legal challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan ever reach the high court.

Yet, even the failure of the Clean Power Plan wouldn’t slow the growth of renewables, according to the Morgan Stanley report. “Given the favorable economics relative to coal-fired generation of wind power in the middle third of the U.S.; solar in the West and Southwest U.S. and gas-fired generation throughout most of the U.S., we view the impact of the EPA Clean Power Plan as being relatively modest,” says the report.


For more Morgan Stanley Research on clean energy and the impact of changing politics, ask your Morgan Stanley representative or Financial Advisor for the full report, “The US Election: Impacts to Clean Tech and Utilities Skew Positive” (Jul 27, 2016). Plus, more Ideas.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 7th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

April 6, 2017

Niklas Höhne –  n.hoehne at newclimate.org


Whose international climate proposal is more ambitious?

Blog: newclimate.org/2017/04/06/whose-…

When countries put forward their climate proposals for the Paris Agreement, they were asked also to explain why these are ambitious. Countries found many ways to make their case: For example, the USA stated that its new proposal requires faster reduction than their earlier one. The EU declared that it wants to decrease emissions until 2030 by at least 40% since 1990, more than most other countries. China wants to peak its emissions before 2030 at a lower level (per capita) than for example the USA. If countries use different ways to describe their ambition, how do we know if one is more ambitious than the other? Only a comprehensive approach that covers all perspectives can be used to assess ambition of national climate policy – argues the new scientific article “Assessing the ambition of post-2020 climate targets: a comprehensive framework” by NewClimate Institute and and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency PBL.


The adoption and entry into force of the Paris Agreement is a big step forward in international climate policy. Nearly 190 countries submitted their proposals on how, and by how much, they are willing to reduce their GHG emissions after 2020; these are the so-called ‘intended nationally determined contributions’ (INDCs). Upon ratification of or accession to the Paris Agreement, a country’s ‘intended nationally determined contribution, INDC’ turns into a ‘nationally determined contribution, NDC’.

Unfortunately, the total ambition level of all national contributions is not yet sufficient to achieve the global goals of the Paris Agreement, i.e. to limit the increase of global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

Consequently, all countries are asked to revise their contributions and to increase the level of ambition over time. To guide this process, the NDCs of countries will have to be assessed on their relative ambition level. In fact, raising ambition is more likely if all countries agree that they are all at around the same ambition level that is appropriate for their national circumstances.

But how to assess the ambition level of climate policy?

If countries use different ways to describe their ambition, how do we know if one is more ambitious than the other? Countries found many ways to make their case:

USA promised to reduce their emissions in 2025 by 26% to 28% below 2005 level and state that its new proposal requires faster reduction than their earlier one.

The EU promised to decrease emissions until 2030 by at least 40% since 1990, arguing that this is more than most other countries.

China wants to peak its emissions before 2030. They claim that this is a peak at a lower level (per capita) than others before them.

In this new paper, we applied all different principles and arguments to assess ambition that we were aware of to the different country proposals, illustratively here for China, EU and the USA. If a country scores well on all of them, it can definitely be classified as ambitious. If it doesn’t score well on any of them it is definitely not ambitious. And if the different approaches give mixed signals, this highlights where improvements may be possible.

The following principles used by countries to assess ambition are considered in the paper:

A country’s reduction of emissions since 1990: the standard perspective for developed countries since 1992, also used in the Kyoto Protocol – a preferred metric by the EU.
Change in recent trend in emissions: a country would do more than before – the main argument in the proposal by the USA.
Time and level of peaking emissions per capita: countries go through different levels of development with first rising, then peaking and then declining emissions – the metric chosen by China.
Comparison to equity-based effort-sharing calculations: There is a long history of scientific studies that calculate “fair” emission targets of countries ‘effort-sharing’ principles. The principles include responsibility (e.g. those who emitted more in the past now have to reduce more) or capability (e.g. those with higher per capita income levels should do more), equality (i.e. equal emission rights per capita), cost-effectiveness (total abatement cost per GDP), as well as combinations.
Comparison to benchmarks of decarbonization indicators: A number of indicators can be used to describe countries’ circumstances and developments, e.g. on the national level emissions per capita, energy use per capita or the energy mix. On the sectoral level it could be emissions per kilometre travelled or per tonne of cement or steel produced. Indicators can measure activity (e.g. vehicle kilometres travelled) or intensity (emissions per vehicle kilometre) (see also the data portal of the Climate Action Tracker).
In line with globally cost-effective model pathways: Modelling exercises can identify required reductions by countries on the principle of minimising the aggregated global costs of emission reductions. As a result, reductions are required in those sectors and countries where they are least cost from a global perspective.
Comparison to best practice policy package or policy menu: One can compare the extent to which a country implemented supporting policies, addresses barriers, or has counterproductive policies in place. A contribution can be regarded as ambitious if it includes many policies that are considered good practice, while it would be less ambitious if the country were not to implement the policies that most of its peers have already successfully implemented (see also climate policy database).
What are the results?

As expected, example countries used in the analysis score very differently across the approaches. However, the collective results show certain tendencies. For example, the EU scores highest among the three on many approaches (in many cases together with China and/ or the US). Only when using the principle of “changes in recent trends” (the metric that the USA chose to explain its ambition) is the US clearly ahead of the EU.

The comparison of China and the US is, in essence, determined by how far the different development levels should be taken into account: China is consistently ahead of the US when considering decarbonization indicators and level and timing of peaking emissions. Owing to a lower development level, its emission intensity and activity levels are lower than in the US. The US, on the other hand, has a more comprehensive policy package and proposes more change from the current policy scenarios.

The overview evaluation highlights the shortcomings of each proposal and therefore provides insights into where improvements could take place. Although the EU scores well on many aspects, our framework shows that the current NDC means only limited progression from current trends. For the US, even with a step change in policy, our comparison of approaches shows that activity and energy intensity levels are still much higher than in other countries. Regarding China, although its activity and energy intensity indicators are still low and it is undertaking significant policy efforts in some areas, the analysis reveals that many policy areas remain unaddressed.

So what have we learned?

Firstly, a comprehensive assessment of ambition of climate proposals can only be undertaken using a large variety of evaluation approaches. Each single approach has its pros and cons, starts from a very particular perspective, and no single approach is truly comprehensive. The different nature of the evaluation approaches leads to different outcomes; only if all of them are applied, does it become evident if a country is broadly ambitious, or only under very selective perspectives. Such a comprehensive approach could therefore be usefully applied when considering ways to raise ambition. The Paris Agreement suggests that this should happen at the “facilitative dialogue” in 2018, and the “global stocktake” that is to take place every five years starting from 2023.

Secondly, we put forward a comprehensive framework of evaluation approaches that covers, to our knowledge, the broadest possible range of approaches. The framework evaluates countries using all eight approaches shown here, rank countries relative to each other where possible, and present the results alongside each other (without aggregating into one overall rating).

Finally, we find that the illustrative application of this framework provides useful insights even if the ambition level of China, the EU, and the US varies, depending on the perspective taken. The EU ranks consistently first or second across many of the approaches. Only when considering “changes in recent trends” is the US clearly ahead of the EU. The comparison of China and the US is, in essence, determined by how far the different development levels should be taken into account.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 12th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


10th – 11th August 2017: North American Symposium on Climate Change and Coastal Zone Management, Montreal, Canada


Climate change is known to impact coastal areas in a variety of ways. According to the 5th Assessment Report produced by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), coastal zones are highly vulnerable to climate change and climate-driven impacts may be further exacerbated by other human-induced pressures.

In North America, multiple pressures – including urbanization and coastal development, habitat loss and degradation, pollution, overexploitation of fish stocks and natural hazards- affect the coastal ecosystems, hence exacerbating the impacts of climate change in coastal zones. In particular, sea level rise changes the shape of coastlines, contributes to coastal erosion and leads to flooding and salt-water intrusion in aquifers.

Climate change is also associated with other negative impacts to the natural environment and biodiversity, which include damages to important wetlands, and to the habitats that safeguard the overall ecological balance, and consequently the provision of ecosystem services and goods on which the livelihoods of millions of people depend. These impacts are particularly acute in North America, which endeavors to become more resilient to damages caused by hurricanes, floods and other extreme events.

The above state of affairs illustrates the need for a better understanding of how climate change affects coastal areas and communities in North America, and for the identification of processes, methods and tools which may help the communities in coastal zones to adapt and become more resilient. There is also a perceived need to showcase successful examples of how to cope with the social, economic and political problems posed by climate change in coastal regions in North America.

It is against this background that the North American Symposium on Climate Change and Coastal Zone Management is being organized by the Research and Transfer Centre “Applications of Life Sciences” of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany), the International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP) and the Université du Québec à Montréal. The Symposium will be a truly interdisciplinary event, mobilizing scholars, social movements, practitioners and members of governmental agencies, undertaking research and/or executing climate change projects in coastal areas and working with coastal communities in North America.

The North American Symposium on Climate Change and Coastal Zone Management will focus on “ensuring the resilience of coastal zones” meaning that it will serve the purpose of showcasing experiences from research, field projects and best practice to foster climate change adaptation in coastal zones and communities, which may be useful or implemented elsewhere.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 22nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Trump Does Not Seem Capable of Being Magnanimous
By Jill Abramson, Guardian UK
22 January 2017

The 45th president of a United States delivered his much-anticipated address moments after he took the oath of office. Here’s the verdict

Jill Abramson: The man does not seem capable of being magnanimous

His inaugural address sounded like any speech at a Trump rally. The scene was a campaign event writ large, with a massive cheering crowd of white people wearing “Make America Great Again” red caps. Like his tone as a candidate, the new president’s voice was angry and dripping with pessimism. Like his speech at the Republican convention, President Trump drew a dark picture of a country under siege from foreign trade competitors, Muslim terrorists and Washington insiders. There were no grace notes.

His base no doubt loved it. But there was no reassurance or olive branch extended to the majority of Americans who did not vote for him. While he named President Bill Clinton, there was no mention of his wife, the vanquished opponent. There were no good wishes extended to President George HW Bush or his wife, who were hospitalized, but did not endorse him. The man does not seem capable of being magnanimous.

Indeed, after calling the Obamas “magnificent,” he was then overtly rude to them, portraying a do-nothing Washington that had betrayed the people and enriched itself. Meanwhile, the unprepared billionaires who displayed their ignorance at hearings last week await confirmation to his cabinet. In a gratuitous slap that echoed his wild and crazy insult to Rep John Lewis on Twitter, he lambasted politicians, presumably all the Democrats on the reviewing stand behind him, who “complain” but fail to get things done.

And the biggest lie of all when the narcissist proclaimed, “I will never let you down.”

He already has.

Steven Thrasher: Dumbness and xenophobia were baked into Trump’s speech

From the white bodies in the crowd, to the white faces of the performers, to the intended white audience for his words, Trump’s inauguration was a blatant moment of white reconciliation.

His excoriation of “welfare” and the “inner city,” his fear mongering about borders, his praise of “American hands and American labor:” it was all meant to stoke the excitement of the majority of white voters who supported him.

Like all projects of white supremacy, the inauguration was aided by exceptional black people who gave it legitimacy – like Justice Clarence Thomas, who used more words to swear in Mike Pence than he uses most years on the Supreme Court. In chastising politicians who are “all talk and no action,” Trump worked in a dig at John Lewis, a critical Black politician who questioned his legitimacy (and commendably didn’t attend).

Trump’s nods to lack of prejudice were insincere. His call that “when you open your heart to patriotism there is no room for prejudice” was sandwiched sentences stoking Islamophobia and praising the Christian Bible. And while the cliche that “whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood” got a rousing cheer from the largely white crowd, it was followed by the lie that “we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms” regardless of race.

The dumbness and xenophobia baked into Trump’s speech weren’t surprising. Perhaps more alarming was seeing Democratic leaders from Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton sitting there, silently, granting legitimacy to this idiotic ugliness.

Michael Paarlberg: It veered from religious pieties to dystopian hellscapes

Most of the world’s great strongmen give great speeches – should we be disappointed that ours does not? Trump’s inaugural address veered from religious pieties to dystopian hellscapes – “American carnage,” in his words – yet by the end, raising a clenched fist in defiance of the hated Washington elites he now commands, there could be little doubt of his authoritarian credentials. There was something reassuringly familiar in his decree that “the people will become the rulers of this nation again,” and his promise of a government “controlled by the people”.

“Every day, the people will rule more,” promised Hugo Chavez in 2011. “The people will be the ones who decide,” said Nicolás Maduro last year. Erdogan: “There is no power higher than the power of the people.” Generally, the greater the invocation of the people, the greater the president’s cronies will be fleecing the country. These are definitely not the people.

Trump has already brought more billionaires in to the Washington establishment than any other president, with a cabinet worth $14bn combined. These include CEOs and officials of the very banks that profited off of the immiseration of those ordinary Americans that Trump promises will rule again. There is much work, and much pillaging, to be done.

Jamie Weinstein: A conservative isn’t heading into the White House. A populist is

In case there was any doubt, Donald Trump’s inaugural made clear a conservative is not heading into the White House. A populist is.

“The people became the rulers of this nation again,” he promised the crowd, to the likely dismay of America’s founders who crafted the constitution in part to tame American populism.

Trump made it sound like he was not taking over a first world country with its share of problems that needed to be addressed, but a developing world basket case.

“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” he promised, as if had just inherited the problems of Venezuela.

And then there was the rhetoric that could have been lifted from President John Kerry’s 2004 inaugural address, had the Secretary of State won a few thousand more votes in Ohio.

“We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own and spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay,” Trump pledged, seeming to indicate a desire to reduce America’s role in the world and perhaps end Pax Americana.

Trump’s inaugural address is unlikely to be long studied by students of political oratory. But what it made very clear, for good or for bad, is that the man entering the White House does not fit very well on the traditional right-left, conservative-liberal political axis we have become used to in American political life.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

With a $1 million grant, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs jumpstarts solar-electricity small-vessels transportation in Tunisia for the benefit of the Middle East and North Africa.

UNDESA – 01-JANUARY 2017

Project for solar-powered vessels receives $1 million UN Energy Grant

A partnership working to promote solar-powered electric vessels in Tunisia and in the Middle East and North Africa was awarded the one million US dollars 2016 Energy Grant from UN DESA on 14 December 2016. The project “Solar Fueled Electric Maritime Mobility” by SINTEF, an independent non-profit research institute based in Norway, seeks to demonstrate the feasibility and the social, economic and environmental benefits of solar-fueled electric boat transport in Tunisia and the wider region.

SINTEF is implementing this demonstration project with the National Agency for Energy Conservation of Tunisia.

SINTEF will use the grant to develop technology for a traditional ferry or other vessel with a plug-in hybrid electric powertrain and to construct an electric charging point. It will help also support data collection and analysis. Selection of the vessel in Tunisia to be used for the demonstration will be decided in the first phase of the project.

The project aims to generate the data and evidence needed to replicate sustainable transport in the region. It seeks to demonstrate the benefits of low cost electric vessels as key transport between coastal cities in the region, with a view to encouraging other stakeholders to implement such transport on a larger scale. This would in turn benefit in particular the low and middle income parts of the population. The project will also contribute to the avoidance of transport related greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and it will help to prevent and reduce marine pollution.

Furthermore, the project will conduct capacity development workshops for Tunisian and other regional stakeholders, the preparation of a Tunisian Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) to be submitted to the UNFCCC portal, as well as public outreach activities to spread knowledge of this low-cost, sustainable transport solution.

SINTEF has extensive expertise in solar and wind energy, energy regulation and storage, grid integration of renewable energy, maritime transport and maritime technologies.

“The transport sector is responsible for nearly a quarter of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. It also has significant public health impacts,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the award ceremony. “The answer is not less transport – it is sustainable transport.
We need transport systems that are environmentally friendly, efficient, affordable, and accessible,” he said.

UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson said the “Powering the Future We Want” programme is a “creative initiative that promotes and funds innovative activities related to sustainable energy – an issue that goes to the heart of achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” He added, “it is vital to our efforts to move towards a sustainable future that we establish transport systems that are smart, clean, affordable, and powered by clean energy.”

Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo expressed deep gratitude to all of the finalists, the China Energy Fund Committee, the High-level Steering Committee and the Advisory Council of the Grant. “This Energy Grant is an excellent example of global partnership. Working together, we can make a difference. Today’s award bears vivid testimony to that success,” he said.

“We firmly believe that energy belongs to all of us, today and tomorrow. And each and every one of us has the duty to use energy sparingly, wisely and responsibly. By partnering with UN DESA in making this grant possible, the China Energy Fund Committee is sending out a most sincere message of collaboration and partnership to work together finding solutions for energy security by achieving energy sustainability for the entire humanity,” said Dr. Patrick Ho, Secretary-General of the China Energy Fund Committee.

The “Powering the Future We Want” initiative

The UN-DESA Energy Grant is a capacity building initiative launched and managed by UN DESA, in collaboration with the China Energy Fund Committee, a Hong Kong based NGO in consultative status with ECOSOC. Titled “Powering the Future We Want”, this initiative offers a grant in the amount of one million US dollars to fund capacity development activities in energy for sustainable development. The grant is awarded to an individual, institution or partnership based on past and current achievements in leadership and innovative practices in advancing energy for sustainable development. The 2016 cycle of the grant had as focus “Energy for Sustainable Transport”.

In 2016, the UN DESA Energy Grant received over 150 applications. The winner has been selected through a rigorous review and objective assessment of these applications, undertaken in multiple stages, guided by an Advisory Council and a High-level Steering Committee. A grant will be awarded annually from 2015 until 2019.

The eight finalists of the 2016 Grant Cycle, in alphabetical order: Ms. Fiza Farhan; GerWeiss Motors Corporation; KPIT Technologies Limited; Medellin Mayor’s Office- Mobility and Transit Department; Motor Development International SA (MDI SA); South Asian Forum for Environment (SAFE); SINTEF; SNV Netherlands Development Organisation.

Winner of the US$1 million 2016 UN-DESA Energy Grant: SINTEF
The $1 million come from a China/Hong Kong based NGO.

For more information: UN-DESA Energy Grant.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 20th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Climate talks: ‘Save us’ from global warming, US urged.

By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent

BBC Science & Environment
19 November 2016

Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama told the conference that climate change was not a hoax
The next head of the UN global climate talks has appealed for the US to “save” Pacific islands from the impacts of global warming.

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said that the islands needed the US now as much as they did during World War Two.

He was speaking as global climate talks in Marrakech came to an end.

Mr Bainimarama said that climate change was not a hoax, as US President-elect Donald Trump has claimed.

Mr Trump has promised to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement and scrap all payments for UN global warming projects.

But as he accepted the role of president of the Conference of the Parties for the year ahead, the Fijian leader took the opportunity to call on to the next US president to step away from his scepticism.
“I again appeal to the President-elect of the US Donald Trump to show leadership on this issue by abandoning his position that man-made climate change is a hoax,” said Mr Bainimarama.
“On the contrary, the global scientific consensus is that it is very real and we must act more decisively to avoid catastrophe.”


He also made a direct call to the American people to come to their aid in the face of rising seas, driven by global warming.
“We in the Pacific, in common with the whole world, look to America for the leadership and engagement and assistance on climate change just as we looked to America in the dark days of World War Two.
“I say to the American people, you came to save us then, and it is time for you to help save us now.”
After two weeks of talks here in Marrakech, participants arrived at a consensus on the next steps forward for the landmark climate treaty.

This gathering saw the opening of CMA1, the Conference of the Parties meeting as the signatories of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global temperature rises.
CMA1 will be the formal UN body that will run, manage and set the rules for the operation of the Paris treaty.


UK joins the club

The number of countries who have ratified the agreement jumped above 100 with the UK joining during the last few days of the conference.
“Delegates in Marrakech made crucial progress in building the foundation to support the Paris agreement, which went into force just days before COP22,” said Paula Caballero from the World Resources Institute.

“Most importantly, negotiators agreed to finalise the rules of the Paris Agreement by 2018 and developed a clear roadmap to meet that deadline.”

US secretary of state John Kerry gave an impassioned speech in Marrakech, his last climate conference while in office

The participants also agreed the Marrakech Proclamation, a statement re-affirming the intentions of all 197 signatories to the Paris deal.

Seen as show of unity on the issue in the light a possible US withdrawal, countries stated they would live up to their promises to reduce emissions. The proclamation also called on all states to increase their carbon cutting ambitions, urgently.

Some of the poorest nations in the world announced that they were moving towards 100% green energy at this meeting.

The Climate Vulnerable Forum said that the 47 member countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Yemen, would achieve this goal between 2030 and 2050. And they challenged richer countries to do the same.

Despite these steps forward there were still some areas of significant difference between the parties, especially over money. The talks will continue in 2017 with a new US delegation picked by the Trump administration.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 14th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

It is known that the world produces enough food for everyone but why do 800 million in the world still go to bed hungry?

GODAN has the answer to end this suffering – opening data on agriculture and nutrition – which will also stimulate global GDP by $6 trillion

What does the climate mean for food security?

In December 2015, 195 countries agreed to the Paris Agreement –the agreement that nations around the world would be committed to keeping the average global temperature increase at well below 2 ºC and at no more than 1.5 ºC from 2020 onwards. As of August 2016, 180 countries have signed the agreement – but average global temperatures have already reached 1.3 ºC. Coupled with the occurrence of the El-Nino, it is undeniable that the climate is having a huge impact on our planet, as more countries are affected by record breaking and unusual weather. But what impact is this weather having on our food supplies? And if there is more to come, what can we do about it?

To see the impact that climate has on food one only has to look at the spate of droughts that multiple parts of the world have been experiencing in the last decade. Ethiopia experienced its worst drought in decades earlier this year, causing crop failure and the loss of livestock. This was followed by heavy rains that further aggravated the agricultural disruption.

Ethiopia has made great strides since the famine of the 1980s. It has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and thanks to working with the information and expertise of international aid organisations was able to build a food security system which, despite the desperate situation of the drought, has allowed the country to stay out of famine. Given that 43% of the country’s economy[1] relies on agriculture and it forms the livelihood of much of the country’s rural population, food security for Ethiopia has meant more than food reserves.

The government, with the help of aid groups, have made a sustained effort to support farmers over the last decade, which has included launching open data for agriculture and socio-economic wellbeing in early 2015. This open data included detailed agricultural practices, information on health and data on food consumption and security. Ethiopia’s recent drought has been devastating –but the government’s attempt to mitigate its effects through years of investment in food security and making agricultural data available has allowed the country to escape the worst.

Meanwhile, a long drought over the past six years in California has caused water shortages, cost farmers billions of dollars with serious concerns over food security. Within California, residents have felt the impact of reducing water consumptions, and given that the state alone accounts ¼ of the USA’s fruit and vegetable produce[2], the implications of continued drought are concerning.

California has the benefit of being a state within the richest and most powerful country on Earth. The citizens of California have had access to public information giving them guidance on how best to cope throughout. The US Department of Agriculture has been monitoring the progress of the drought and its effect on everything from Californian farms to food prices, the results of which is open data that is publically available to all who need it. Although thousands of farmers[3] have lost their livelihood, and the drought continues, the data and information made available by the US government has been invaluable in keeping the farmers of California informed of the drought’s progress and in allowing them to maintain food security through substitution and diversification of their produce.

The impacts of both droughts are having a drastic effect on the availability of food. As the climate continues to become more extreme, the issue of food security will become more urgent. But as Ethiopia and California have shown, open data on agriculture, weather trends and more can help farmers and governments alike prepare and adapt to some of the worst conditions for agriculture imaginable. That’s why it is so important to make vital agricultural data available for all who could use it.

GODAN (Global Open Data on Agriculture and Nutrition) aims to do just that. In New York City on September 15-16, the GODAN Summit 2016 is taking place, lobbying world leaders to open up their agricultural and nutrition data. Government ministers from Kenya and the UK will be in attendance, alongside open data activists, scientists and other leading figures, all of whom will be discussing the benefits of making relevant data available to everyone. There will also be a hackathon that will see the brightest and most disruptive young minds doing their bit to come up with innovative new open data solutions.

But GODAN needs your support. We have launched a petition in association with Global Citizen. Once complete, the petition will be presented to the world’s leaders at the United Nations General Assembly, calling on them to make agricultural and nutrition data open. Help secure food security for the world by signing the petition today: summit.godan.info/register/

Key Questions:

· Why are governments hiding this data that could end world hunger?

· How can data truly better agriculture and farming in 3rd world countries?

· There is enough food in the world so why are 800 million people hungry?

· Technology really is saving the world, but how?

· How will open data affect health issues globally?

· What does this mean for the agriculture industry?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 5th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A new UNFCCC publication highlights the 20 year history that technologies, such as renewable energy, energy efficient technologies or technologies that help people cope with a changed climate, played a critical role in addressing climate change.

The ‘Technology and the UNFCCC’ publication highlights how this critical role has been taken forward under the UNFCCC.
This includes work on technology through the consultative process, technology transfer framework, technology needs assessments, and the Technology Mechanism. It also describes the key role of climate technology financing.

Read the full brochure here:  bit.ly/unfccctech

Find out more about the Technology Mechanism here: bit.ly/techmec

this received from:
Ekaterina Perfilyeva
of the Technology Sub-programme
Finance, Technology and Capacity Building Programme (FTC)

United Nations
Climate Change Secretariat, UN Campus
Platz der Vereinten Nationen 1
53113 Bonn, Germany
Phone +49 228 815 1305
Fax +49 228 815 1999
E-mail:  eperfilyeva at unfccc.int

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 3rd, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

NEWSWEEK — Tech & Science

Scientists Plan to Freeze a Ship into the Arctic Icepack

By Zoë Schlanger On 4/2/16 at 10:22 PM

Multi-year sea ice with drainage channels is seen on August 23, 2012 in a photo taken at Nunavut, Canada. Ice floes are in Larsen Sound, part of the Northwest Passage. (Pat and Rosemarie Keough/Corbis)

Winter in the Arctic is changing rapidly—scientists recently broke the news that the sea ice in the far north covered the puniest area of ocean ever recorded this winter. But it’s still unclear how, exactly, these changes are taking place. That’s partly because most research voyages can only be made in the summer, when waters are navigable and temperatures bearable. But the long, dark days of winter, when weather is erratic and temperatures can drop to -50 degrees Fahrenheit, and massive ice floes make navigation dangerous, are exactly when Matthew Shupe wants to be there most.

So Shupe, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, and a team of experts from several countries and multiple disciplines are working on a plan to freeze a ship full of researchers into the winter ice itself. They’ll arrive at a spot in the northern latitudes in a warmer month and let the winter ice freeze around them. Then they’ll float with the ice pack for an entire year, taking a wide range of measurements from within, beneath and above the ice block as they go. They hope to assemble a comprehensive set of data that would be impossible to collect from anywhere but within the ice itself.

There are dozens of questions for which the scientific world still doesn’t have answers about what’s going on in the Arctic now, Shupe says. “We know very little about clouds, about aerosols in the atmosphere, and the biological activity that’s happening in winter,” all elements that have the potential to change the way models about sea ice are built. Plus there’s the question of the changing ice itself: “If the ice pack is thinner, does it crack in the same way? Does it move in the same way? And does it transfer more heat down to the ocean?”

Shupe hopes to study the impact of clouds on the ice from aboard the frozen-in ship, dubbed the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC). “Clouds are one of the huge uncertainties we have, because they’re a very strong control on what energy [from the sun] reaches the surface,” he says. In one respect, more cloud cover could act as a shield, preventing sun from reaching the ice. But on the other hand, it might act as a blanket, keeping the heat trapped closer to the ice. The bright white surface of Arctic ice is “very reflective,” he says, which helps the ice stay colder; but if the sun’s energy bounces off the ice and then gets trapped below the clouds, that cooling mechanism could be sabotaged.

The team is currently planning the trip, slated for 2019, and securing the approximately $65 million in funding it will take to deploy a ship full of 90 people in the hostile Arctic for 13 months. Some pieces are already coming together; The Alfred Wegener Institute, a German research institute, has already committed their icebreaker vessel to the mission, with a medical team and a kitchen staff. (“We’ll be eating some good German food,” Shupe says.)
Plus the U.S. Department of Energy plans to provide a suite of instruments to take measurements.

Another research team, from Norway, froze a converted fishing vessel in the Arctic Ocean’s sea last year, but MOSAiC will be involve the largest research vessel to embark on a mission like this, and be the most comprehensive in terms of the scope of information it hopes to collect. MOSAiC will have everyone from oceanographers, to physicists, to biogeochemists, to sea ice scientists on board. “There’s a lot of different people with different perspectives,” he says, and it might just help solve the long list of mysteries about an Arctic in flux.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 20th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The idea driving the protests is that climate change can be blunted only by moving to renewable energy and capping any growth of fossil fuels.

The New York Times – Environment

Environmental Activists Take to Local Protests for Global Results

By JOHN SCHWARTZ – MARCH 19, 2016

READING, N.Y. — They came here to get arrested.

Nearly 60 protesters blocked the driveway of a storage plant for natural gas on March 7. Its owners want to expand the facility, which the opponents say would endanger nearby Seneca Lake. But their concerns were global, as well.

“There’s a climate emergency happening,” one of the protesters, Coby Schultz, said. “It’s a life-or-death struggle.”

The demonstration here was part of a wave of actions across the nation that combines traditional not-in-my-backyard protests against fossil-fuel projects with an overarching concern about climate change.


Activists have been energized by successes on several fronts, including the decision last week by President Obama to block offshore drilling along the Atlantic Seaboard; his decision in November to reject the Keystone XL pipeline; and the Paris climate agreement.

Bound together through social media, networks of far-flung activists are opposing virtually all new oil, gas and coal infrastructure projects — a process that has been called “Keystone-ization.”

As the climate evangelist Bill McKibben put it in a Twitter post after Paris negotiators agreed on a goal of limiting global temperature increases: “We’re damn well going to hold them to it. Every pipeline, every mine.”

Regulators almost always approve such projects, though often with modifications, said Donald F. Santa Jr., chief executive of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. Still, the protests are having some impact. The engineering consultants Black and Veatch recently published a report that said the most significant barrier to building new pipeline capacity was “delay from opposition groups.”

Activists regularly protest at the headquarters of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington, but there have also been sizable protests in places like St. Paul and across the Northeast.

In Portland, Ore., where protesters conducted a “kayaktivist” blockade in July to keep Shell’s Arctic drilling rigs from leaving port, the City Council passed a resolution opposing the expansion of facilities for the storage and transportation of fossil fuels.

Greg Yost, a math teacher in North Carolina who works with the group NC PowerForward, said the activists emboldened one another.

“When we pick up the ball and run with it here in North Carolina, we’re well aware of what’s going on in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island,” he said. “The fight we’re doing here, it bears on what happens elsewhere — we’re all in this together, we feel like.”

The movement extends well beyond the United States. In May, a wave of protests and acts of civil disobedience, under an umbrella campaign called Break Free 2016, is scheduled around the world to urge governments and fossil fuel companies to “keep coal, oil and gas in the ground.”

This approach — think globally, protest locally — is captured in the words of Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist and a scholar in residence at Ithaca College who helped organize the demonstration at the storage plant near Seneca Lake: “This driveway is a battleground, and there are driveways like this all over the world.”

The idea driving the protests is that climate change can be blunted only by moving to renewable energy and capping any growth of fossil fuels.

Speaking to the crowd at Seneca Lake, Mr. McKibben, who had come from his home in Vermont, said, “Our job on behalf of the planet is to slow them down.”

He added, “If we can hold them off for two or three years, there’s no way any of this stuff can be built again.”

But the issues are not so clear cut. The protests aimed at natural gas pipelines, for example, may conflict with policies intended to fight climate change and pollution by reducing reliance on dirtier fossil fuels.

“The irony is this,” said Phil West, a spokesman for Spectra Energy, whose pipeline projects, including those in New York State, have come under attack. “The shift to additional natural gas use is a key contributor to helping the U.S. reduce energy-related emissions and improve air quality.”

Those who oppose natural gas pipelines say the science is on their side.

They note that methane, the chief component of natural gas, is a powerful greenhouse gas in the short term, with more than 80 times the effect of carbon dioxide in its first 20 years in the atmosphere.

The Obama administration is issuing regulations to reduce leaks, but environmental opposition to fracking, and events like the huge methane plume released at a storage facility in the Porter Ranch neighborhood near Los Angeles, have helped embolden the movement.

Once new natural gas pipelines and plants are in place, opponents argue, they will operate for decades, blocking the shift to solar and wind power.

“It’s not a bridge to renewable energy — it’s a competitor,” said Patrick Robbins, co-director of the Sane Energy Project, which protests pipeline development and is based in New York.

Such logic does not convince Michael A. Levi, an energy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“Saying no to gas doesn’t miraculously lead to the substitution of wind and solar — it may lead to the continued operation of coal-fired plants,” he said, noting that when the price of natural gas is not competitive, owners take the plants, which are relatively cheap to build, out of service.

“There is enormous uncertainty about how quickly you can build out renewable energy systems, about what the cost will be and what the consequences will be for the electricity network,” Mr. Levi said.

Even some who believe that natural gas has a continuing role to play say that not every gas project makes sense.

N. Jonathan Peress, an expert on electricity and natural gas markets at the Environmental Defense Fund, said that while companies push to add capacity, the long-term need might not materialize.

“There is a disconnect between the perception of the need for massive amounts of new pipeline capacity and the reality,” he said.

Market forces, regulatory assumptions and business habits favor the building of new pipelines even though an evolving electrical grid and patterns of power use suggest that the demand for gas will, in many cases, decrease.

Even now, only 6 percent of gas-fired plants run at greater than 80 percent of their capacity, according to the United States Energy Information Administration, and nearly half of such plants run at an average load factor of just 17 percent.

“The electricity grid is evolving in a way that strongly suggests what’s necessary today won’t be necessary in another 20 years, let alone 10 or 15,” Mr. Peress said.

Back at Seneca Lake, the protesters cheered when Schuyler County sheriff’s vans showed up. The group had protested before, and so the arrests had the friendly familiarity of a contra dance. As one deputy, A.W. Yessman, placed zip-tie cuffs on Catherine Rossiter, he asked jovially, “Is this three, or four?”

She beamed. “You remember me!”

Brad Bacon, a spokesman for the owner of the plant at Seneca Lake, Crestwood Equity Partners, acknowledged that it had become more burdensome to get approval to build energy infrastructure in the Northeast even though regulatory experts have tended not to be persuaded by the protesters’ environmental arguments.

The protesters, in turn, disagree with the regulators, and forcefully.

As he was being handcuffed, Mr. McKibben called the morning “a good scene.” The actions against fossil fuels, he said, will continue. “There’s 15 places like this around the world today,” he said. “There will be 15 more tomorrow, and the day after that.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 21st, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

In the last hours of the last day of COP 21 – December 12, 2016 – the PARIS AGREEMENT was born. In effect this was a compilation of individual countries statements of what they are ready to do in order to decrease their GHG emissions in the hope that the sum-total of these promises will somehow limit the warming of the planet by only 2 degrees or even by only 1.5 degrees. Everybody understood that the sum total of the promises in those papers does not suffice to achieve the stated goals. Nevertheless, the so called agreement was indeed a great achievement as it puts a limit to work of 24 years since the 1992 first Rio Conference on Sustainable Development.

French President Francois Holland – via his Prime Minister Laurent Fabius let the raucous diplomats know that lights will be closed at the set time for the Conference end and thus got them to terminate the debate and declare that what they had was an agreement.

Very well – this ends the introductory effort to tackle the problem of global warming that causes climate change, and now we are free to start putting flesh on these bare bones that came out of the Paris negotiation rooms.

With the end of the conference, the French leadership was passed to the French Minister of the Environment Mme Segolene Royale as from now it will be viewed as a technical problem to be addressed by more technical people – not by fighting politicians as ib was perceived in the past. The main issue is now how to involve private financing in order to achieve the goals and targets that were set up in the Paris meeting.

Also the UN mechanisms that were set up are not needed anymore. In effect much of the personnel will eventually be let go and instead new mechanisms established – the verification mechanisms to see if the countries live up to what they voluntarily promised to do – and perhaps could be induced to do more as what they promised is still a far cry from what is needed.

The UN’s top climate diplomat, Christiana Figueres, has said she would not accept an extension of her appointment which finishes this summer – she will leave her post in July.

Looking to the future – others move into the breach, and only two months after Paris we just had an interesting international meeting in Vienna on finding financial routes to start implementing some of the things that were left without an indication of follow up procedure.

The meeting was held under the leadership of Kommunalkredit Public Consulting attached to a bank that deals with the Austrian Foreign Aid programs as operated by the Life Ministry and other government offices with experience of working with private enterprises active overseas.

The first day dealt with policy, but much more important in our opinion was the second day that was built around two sessions “LEVERAGING PRIVATE FINANCE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION AND ADAPTATION.”

Twenty years of providing foreign aid did really nothing to help reduce the impact of climate change and now the foreign aid spigots have dried up. On the other hand, it has become clear that doing the right things for the environment is actually good business – so the way is to provide inducements that activate private enterprise. Investors can be found also in developing countries to participate with outside investors.

The Day was started by Tobias Grimm from Munich Reinsurance Co. who is a Senior Project Manager for Geo Risks – read losses from tings like Climate Change. They provide money for immediate recovery from extreme events.

He was followed by Angelika Frei-Oldenburg from the German European Bank GIZ Gmbh (Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit). The Germans have joint projects in Morocco, Bsangladesh, Central America and Rwanda.
They deal with the opening of a path for private money going into adaptation projects and openly acknowledged thatthey have more questions then answers. This led me to summarize the topic as follows:

“WE HAVE OPPORTUNITY RATHER THEN RISK WHEN WORKING WITH ADAPTATION – THE IDEA IS TO BE DIFFERENT FROM BUSINESS AS USUAL.”

GIZ thinks of the need to create new products or to reallocate resources – the search is for how to bundle theideas and look at efficiencies in adaptation measures. As an example she told us bout a medium size Moroccan fishery tht suffered from loss of fishing stock and was moved to look at a recycling facility.

Felicity Spors, Sr. Carbon Finance Specialist at the Climate and Carbon Finance Unit of the World Bank Group, is working currently on Methane and Climate Change Mitigation and a Pilot Auction Facility. This as a new tool to get investments in private auctions.

Martin Berg from the European Investment Bank in Luxemburg looks at blending Capital markets with public funds.
His product could be Green Bonds. He was talking of markets that could move to 12.6 Billion Euro – 104 projects in 41 countries.

Adrien Couton from Dalberg Advisers Cosultancy working with MSME (Micro, Small, and Medium Companies) that he clusters in groups. He was previously Chief Executive Officer of Naandi Water, the largest … Sanitation and Agriculture portfolios and as a consultant for the World Bank’s Water.

Clemens Ploechl who works now on Crowd Funding to Combat Climate Change. He ges many small funds via te internet in order to bundle these funds abd achieve an important goal. We understand that most people do not expect rurn on their money and eventually are happy to write them off if the important good cause was helped indeed.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 11th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

In a letter to all IISD readers of the Clean Energy List, Ms. Victoria Healey, the Project Leader at US NREL writes:

A representative from the Clean Energy Solutions Center (Solutions Center), Ms. Victoria Healey, will attend the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) General Assembly and the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, from January 16-21, 2016. Under the joint IRENA and Solutions Center Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network (REPAN), Ms. Healey will be available to meet individually with government representatives, government affiliated practitioners, and policymakers seeking clean energy policy, program, regulation, and finance technical assistance. The REPAN was established to help developing countries to design and adopt clean energy policies and programs that support the deployment of clean energy technologies, and to identify design, and implement finance instruments that mobilize private and public sector capital, and formulate clean energy investment strategies. This support is provided free of charge. To schedule an appointment, please contact Victoria Healey at  nrel.gov.


Consultations during the IRENA General Assembly will occur at the St. Regis Saadiyat Island in a location to be determined. During the WFES the 1-on-1 consultations will take place at the IRENA networking area located in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

About the Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network, the Clean Energy Finance Solutions Center, and the Clean Energy Solutions Center:

The Clean Energy Solutions Center and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) joined forces in 2013 to launch the Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network (REPAN)—a collaboration that leverages both organizations’ resources by coordinating a global network of experts and practitioners to help countries design and implement renewable energy policies and programs. To learn more visit cleanenergysolutions.org/expert/…

The Clean Energy Finance Solutions Center of NREL assists governments and practitioners with identifying appropriate finance mechanisms and designing and implementing policies to reduce risk and encourage private sector investment; helping to achieve the transition to clean energy at the speed and scale necessary to meet local development needs and address global challenges. The CEFSC is an expanded and dedicated resource that is part of the Clean Energy Solutions Center, a Clean Energy Ministerial initiative that helps governments design and adopt policies and programs that support deployment of clean energy technologies.

signed:
Victoria Healey,
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Project Leader for the Clean Energy Solutions Center

To learn more about how these initiatives can assist in meeting countries’ clean energy objectives, please visit cleanenergysolutions.org and finance.cleanenergysolutions.org…, and follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/CleanEnergySolu… and Twitter twitter.com/Clean_Energy_SC

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 26th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We are familiar with fossil-fuels industries science arguments – but the new thing that surprised me was that “Truthout” internet site gives them a venue for publicity as in:

 www.truth-out.org/news/item/34152…

“Climate Change 2015: The Latest Science”
Saturday, 26 December 2015 00:00 By Bruce Melton, Truthout | News Analysis

Oh well, but those questionable scientists quoted did push a little too far. They actually claim that Kyoto had it better then Paris – and that Kyoto was going to fulfill Rio. Does that mean that the Truthout Analyst gives away here that the Kyoto fake solution was also sponsored by the oil&coal folks that were active in Kyoto under the mantle of the International Chamber of Commerce?
I must confess here that the ICC at Kyoto turned me of completely when they threw me out when I showed up at one of their meetings. At Kyoto the ICC seemed in close relationship with the US delegation – and there is no secret what I thought of the US sponsored Protocol. Wonders seem to come back and explain themselves!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 7th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Let us be honest – we never expected that elusive magic the UN was chasing for 20 years – a meaningful – fit for all – agreement for action backed by consensus of 195 members of UNFCCC. Now we expect it even less because the world is changed by much since the signing of the UN Convention on Climate Change in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Back then the UN was divided into Developed or industrialized countries and those starting their development only and at their head China. Now many of those Developing Countries are among the richest countries in the world but still think that the divisions of 1992 ought to continue like the UN fiction of regions that still looks at eastern Europe as a unified block of Soviet led Nations.

How can you accept as a unit the new “Like Minded Group” that is led by China, India, and Saudi Arabia talking for a passe Developing block? China is in effect a most advanced country trying now to replace the coal-based energy system that it not only into a largely industrialized country with a respectable middle-class that demands it reduce pollution, an India that is slowly moving ahead to pass China and insists on his right to pollute in order to get there. and the Saudis and other Gulf States that still think that the right to sell oil is god-given. Then you have the Island States that look into the abyss and know all these others would just sacrifice them then change.

The first week in Paris was taken by the 150 Heads of State that came to make their Statements in two parallel plenaries and had their entourage look at the documents put before them – the 50 page draft hammered out in New York and Bonn – reduced it by some 20 pages and added 17 new pages. A French Presidency decision had them terminate the peruse of the document by Saturday night. The resulted 48 page text was deemed by the media as a victory – an agreed text. But what agreement? It has 900 square brackets marking disagreements on everything that matters. Civil Society was practically eliminated at Paris. At first by the strictness of the Le Bourget airport site and then reinforced by the oil money funded act of terror against modern life that also put at a stand-still the NGOs that had intended to come to Paris to demonstrate their push for the clear need to stop field fossil carbon in the atmosphere – the reason for the Global Warming/Climate Change series of events that can ultimately make the planet inhospitable to life the way we got used to. Yes – we say this all the time – it is oil money from oil interests that is the root cause to our problems – it is this perception that the economy must be based on fossil carbon and the blindness to the truth that reliance on current solar energy can replace this self imposed reliance on banked solar energy.

So, now starts the second week with a slew of new people at Le Bourget. The ministers/politicians come to work on that draft that was left over from last week. Can there be an agreement among them? Can they paper over their differences by coming up with a meaningless consensus paper? To make things worse, it seems that most countries sent over now their ministers of the environment to accompany Foreign Service diplomats. But for truth sake – we had already all needed evidence from the scientists that the danger to the environment was made clear – but in these 20 years we learned as well that the handicaps stem from economic and social conditions – these other two components of the Sustainable Development tripod designed in Rio in 1992 and left on the sidelines while the oil folks were attacking the scientific evidence in an effort to undermine the true scientists evidence with the help of paid-for pseudo-scientists belonging to sects like the US Republicans and the oil-led Chambers of Commerce everywhere. We say – add to this the sponsored insurgency that is timed to take our mind away of the global disaster that starts from the melting of the ice at poles and mountain tops.

Are we pessimistic? Not at all! The diplomats and politicians will come up with some cover document to wrap the real achievement of the Paris2015 COP21. That is the collection of single country commitments that have already been deposited with the Conference French Presidency last week. We have no final number for the States that presented these commitments but we know this was not universal – neither was it transparent. Some may yet be moved to add to the pile further papers. Eventually the UNFCCC secrecy on this will be lifted. It is possible that this week there will be made an effort to decide upon the verification of progress towards these commitments. But don’t hold your breath. If the commitments are not universal – it is possible those that mean indeed to live up to their commitments will later suggest an organization and methods for measuring results. No hurry on this. Politics might be in the way – but nevertheless – this is a great achievement of this year’s conference and the parallel SDGs the true catalyst to action.

We hope to start positive reporting after this week is over. We are aware as well that Climate Change will take a back seat to the “Fight-Terrorism” aspect of what we consider to be joint topics by nature of how they were funded.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 22nd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The French have extended the State of Emergency till Monday November 30 – the day the Climate Conference COP 21 is opening, but
an added statement has been issued on the official French Presidency’s COP 21 website – that says:

The COP21 conference should enable a global mobilization for climate and civil society is expected to play its full role.

Civil Society will therefore be present on-site at the venue Le Bourget, where the “Espaces Générations Climat” will host, for the whole duration of the Conference, from November 30 to December 12, more than 300 events, debates and conferences. A major mobilization, with many events, is planned throughout France. All these events will continue, except for school trips to the venue in Le Bourget.

However, the situation created by the heinous attacks on 13 November and the investigations carried out since then require that security measures be improved. In this context, all events taking place in closed spaces that can easily be made secure will be maintained. On the other hand, in order to avoid any additional risk, the Government has decided to not allow the climate marches planned in the streets of Paris and other cities throughout France on 29 November and 12 December.

The Statement continues with – “This is a difficult decision to make that will probably disappoint some of those who had planned to take part, but in the current context, safety requirements prevail.”

The leadership of the UNFCCC has seized on this to warn those it does not like – activists and media not sanctioned by them – to stay away. They also continue to argue that the Conference will conclude with a global agreement – something that is factually not in the cards.

The French decision does not, in any way, put into question the need for COP21 to widely welcome civil society and its organizations, who will play a major role at the conference.

The Conference will conclude with individual countries voluntary commitments – by now over 150 such Statements – and it is the role of Civil Society alone – to catalyze the governments forthcoming with substantial commitments. The UNFCCC – working by UN rules of consensus – hardly has a part in this. A decrease in the size of country delegations or in the number of UN officials will not harm the outcome, and Civil Society hopefully will realize the importance of orderly meetings.

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Comment:

Jan Lundberg
 www.Sailmed.org
 jan at sailtransportnetwork.org

Submitted on 2015/11/25 at 8:03 am

Hi Pincas, thank you for that clear rundown on what’s up.
See you in Paris, old Kyoto roomie?
We have a flyer and a poster for promoting sail power as legitimate renewable energy, for which poor countries can gain aid from the UN and the EU. And we have an alternative, more flexible, more carbon-reducing wording for the shipping emissions Option in the Draft Agreement.
Please contact me through www.sailtransportnetwork.org or via email.
Thanks, and be well,
Jan

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