Archive | Interviews

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Portraits: British Singer and Activist Committed to Saving Tropical Forests

Posted on 11 December 2009 by editor

British activist Misty Oldland is focused on saving the rainforest. Credit: Daniela Estrada/IPS

British activist Misty Oldland is focused on saving the rainforest. Credit: Daniela Estrada/IPS

British singer and activist Misty Oldland is rushing around Klimaforum asking people at the crowded and colourful parallel summit to mime the letters and words in the phrase “CO2 Cut”, to film them and upload the videos to the YouTube website.

“I support tropical forest conservation. (Here in Copenhagen) I’m meeting people concerned with this issue. All my work is about raising consciousness and fighting for tropical forest conservation,” the 43-year-old activist told TerraViva after filming indigenous people from South America.

Oldland, who came to Copenhagen with a friend and has also visited the COP 15 at the Bella Center, is a volunteer with the Inga Foundation, a British NGO dedicated to reducing forest clearance by the slash and burn techniques often used by poor farmers.

According to the activist and singer, in Latin America the Inga Foundation is teaching Honduran small farmers a number of more productive, sustainable agricultural practices.

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Portraits: Quechua Women from Peru Attuned to Pachamama

Posted on 10 December 2009 by editor

Irma Luz Poma Canchumani, a Quechua woman from Peru, at Klimaforum. Credit: Daniela Estrada/IPS

Irma Luz Poma Canchumani, a Quechua woman from Peru, at Klimaforum. Credit: Daniela Estrada/IPS

“We came to Copenhagen to bring harmony to the whole world,” Irma Luz Poma Canchumani, a Quechua woman from Peru, told TerraViva. Her village participated with others in five countries – Canada, Cameroon, Kenya, Panama and the Philippines – in making a documentary produced by the British organisation InsightShare, which was shown at Klimaforum.

“In the video (called ‘Conversations with the Earth’) you can see reality. We did not come to accuse, we came to show that Pachamama (Mother Earth) is life, that water is life, not money. We want to show how we live,” said Poma, who travelled to Copenhagen with her mother, funded by InsightShare.

They both live in the town of Cochas Grande, where they say the climate is already changing. “For example, the water is disappearing. It comes from the snow and ice on the Huaytapallana mountain, which is gradually losing its ice cap. We need rain at seed time (for potatoes, maize, wheat, barley and beans) and there isn’t any,” she said.

“We want to infuse harmony and make the whole world aware that we must care for Pachamama, because Pachamama gives us life. You may have a lot of money, but what are you going to eat? Money?” asked María, who has also visited the Bella Center, where the official COP 15 negotiations are taking place.

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Portraits: Brazilian Girl Teaches Danish Children about the Amazon

Posted on 10 December 2009 by editor

María Colares came from Brazil to teach Danish children about the Amazon. Credit: Daniela Estrada/IPS

María Colares came from Brazil to teach Danish children about the Amazon. Credit: Daniela Estrada/IPS

Eleven-year-old María Colares and her mother travelled from the northern Brazilian city of Espíritu Santo to Copenhagen to teach Danish children about the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest, located mostly in Brazil, as well as in seven other countries in South America.

“I came here to give talks in schools about how to take care of the Amazon,” María told TerraViva at Klimaforum, the main civil society meeting parallel to COP 15.

“Danish children are really nice and very interested. They ask me what Brazil is like, and what the Amazon is like,” said Colares, who with her mother founded the organisation Keep Amazon Alive a month ago, in conjunction with Denmark’s Casa Latinoamericana (Latin American House).

“The Amazon is the lungs of the world. If we destroy the Amazon we won’t have any more fruit, just deserts,” said the girl, who suggested European schoolchildren take a trip to Brazil to see with their own eyes how the Amazon is being deforested by logging and burning.

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Portraits: Developing a Global Platform for Carbon Trading

Posted on 10 December 2009 by editor

Nathan Rotkliffe, legal council with London-based Carbon Trade Exchange. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS

Nathan Rotkliffe, legal council with London-based Carbon Trade Exchange. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS

Nathan Rotkliffe is a legal council with London-based Carbon Trade Exchange. His company is aiming to develop a global platform for carbon trading in an end-to-end electronic process, initially for voluntary carbon markets.

Rotkliffe told TerraViva his company is hoping to launch the trading platform in February 2010 and that it will help ensure full transparency on the international carbon market.

“For now, we do not move into the regulated sector because of its fragmentation, but we intend to do so in the future,” Rotkliffe said.

Even though his company works on developing an electronic platform for global trade, Rotkliffe thinks that, if an agreement is reached in Copengahen, ETS (the European Unions’ Emissions Trading Mechanism) will no longer be the only regulated system, but more will emerge, for example in the US.

“I am here in Copenhagen to try to gather as much information as possible and to network with people,” he told IPS. “Everyone here wants something to happen, everyone hopes for progress, but it would be hard for me to influence negotiations since I am not at the political level.”

As for reaching out to political leaders, Rotkliffe said that “each night we are attending a climate event at the Nasa Club in central Copenhagen, where speakers come from the private sector and from the governments. It’s on every night, it costs 15 euros to get in, there are 5-6 speakers, a Q&A session and then everyone has a few drinks and talks.”

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Portraits: “I Came to See What Will Happen with CO2 and Energy Policies”

Posted on 10 December 2009 by editor

 

 

 

Peter Sprengers, analyst with Norwegian company Statkraft. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS

Peter Sprengers, analyst with Norwegian company Statkraft. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS

Peter Sprengers is a Carbon Business Analyst with Norwegian company Statkraft, Europe’s largest renewable energy company. Statkraft invests in hydro and wind power and in the novel osmotic power (the energy retrieved from the difference in salt concentration between sea water and river water).

 

“I came to Copenhagen to get a feeling about what is going to happen with CO2 and energy policies, because it has a huge impact on our business,” Sprengers told IPS.

“We are also trading in the carbon market. We are using CDM, developing projects in South Africa and in other countries in the world, and we get credits for them, so developments in the carbon market and the changing of the rules is very important for us,” he added.

Sprengers says he did not come to Copenhagen to lobby or to make an impact because he does not think he can have an impact. “The main decision-makers are the US and China at the moment,” he believes.

“I fear that the carbon market is becoming more and more complex,” Sprenger says. “What we were hoping for a few years ago was a global CO2 market, so all countries trade under one regime, but now it looks like it’s becoming more fragmented with different regimes in place.

“You have CDM and JI, but in the future there will be more new mechanisms. It is becoming so complicated that no one understands how it works.”

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Portraits: Consultancy Firm Gives Advice on CDM, JI

Posted on 10 December 2009 by editor

Irma Lubrecht runs the IR-ON consultancy firm in the Netherlands. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS

Irma Lubrecht runs the IR-ON consultancy firm in the Netherlands. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS

Irma Lubrecht runs her own consultancy firm, IR-ON (The Netherlands), giving advice on climate change to certification companies and private developers.

“I have been in the climate change business for 10 years, I am in Copenhagen to see how the carbon market is developing,” she told IPS.

“I just want to see what is the future of Kyoto, and if there is a future, because I am pretty sure the project-based mechanisms will not continue for a long time.”

Lubrecht advises about the feasibility of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects and gives trainings on CDM and JI (Joint Implementation), two of the main mechanisms established by the Kyoto Protocol through which governments and businesses in countries which have to reduce emissions can invest in emission-reduction projects in developing countries and gain carbon credits in return.

“The way it is going now, CDM cannot continue,” she thinks. “It is too small, it costs too much money and involves too many people. And the bureaucratic mechanism behind it produces too many delays.”

“When CDM was born, we thought it was going to save the world. Now, there is so much bias, so much opposition against it,” Lubrecht thinks.

“In my opinion, it is more efficient to have national emission targets which become stricter and stricter every year and also national emissions trading schemes. And I am very much in favor of personal limits to emitting GhG: you get a personal card at the beginning of the year and each time you put gas in your car or book a trip to Turkey, you get charged. People have to understand that we each have to be energy efficient.”

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Q&A: “We’re Here to Insert Some Reality into an Unreal Situation”

Posted on 10 December 2009 by editor

Bill McKibben is a U.S. journalist, writer and environmentalist and the founder of 350.org, an international climate campaign. Credit: TerraViva/Stephen Leahy

Bill McKibben is a U.S. journalist, writer and environmentalist and the founder of 350.org, an international climate campaign. Credit: TerraViva/Stephen Leahy

Stephen Leahy

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) Bill McKibben is a U.S. writer, environmentalist and the founder of 350.org, an international climate campaign. His first book, “The End of Nature”, was published in 1989 and is regarded as the first book written for a general audience about climate change.

350.org is credited with organising the most widespread political action in history when more than 5,200 public demonstrations were held on Oct. 24 in 181 countries.

The organisation’s goal is to raise public awareness about the dangers of climate change and the need to return carbon concentrations in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million (ppm).

Currently, concentrations are 387 ppm and increasing at 2.0 to 3.0 ppm per year. Recent science suggests that a maximum of 350 ppm may be what is needed to keep overall global temperatures from increasing more than 2.0 degrees C.

TERRAVIVA: Why are you here?

BILL MCKIBBEN: I wrote a book on climate change 20 years ago and you could say I’m just following the trail to its end. We’ve also brought 350 young people from all over the world to make sure negotiators hear their voice and insert a little reality into an unreal situation.

TV: What needs to happen in Copenhagen?

BM: Science has already told us what we need to do: reduce CO2 [carbon dioxide] concentrations to 350 (ppm). There should be real urgency here, this is not just another problem and it’s happening right now.

TV: Negotiators here talk about what is politically feasible, not about the science.

BM: Few people here realise the extent and urgency of the climate crisis. They treat it as one more negotiating game. Tiny countries like Tuvalu are leading the world and speaking from the basis of climate science. It’s embarrassing that the poorest countries understand the science and are leading the way.

We have to move the “political reality” to the scientific reality. There is no mystery which will win in the end. The goal for humanity is to keep the global temperature from rising much further.

TV: You covered the final negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. How is this different?

BM: It’s more complicated because countries like China, Brazil and India are no longer poor developing countries and are more interested in maintaining economic growth.

TV: Are you disappointed with the U.S. position and President Obama?

BM: I worked hard to help Obama get elected. While Obama has moved on climate, the physics of carbon in the atmosphere is unlikely to be impressed with U.S. proposals. God knows how Obama officials can walk in here with a straight face after approving construction of a new pipeline to bring Alberta sludge – oil from Alberta’s tar sands – into the U.S. The tar sands project is the most environmentally damaging on the entire planet.

TV: Were you surprised that Australia, which is suffering badly from drought, heat waves and brush fires, recently failed to pass legislation to reduce its emissions?

BM: That speaks directly to the power of the coal industry there. The fossil fuel industry has a vested interest in the status quo and they are the most powerful force in the world.

TV: How do we deal with our fossil fuel addiction?

BM: The easiest thing to do is raise the price of fossil fuels. If that had been done decades ago in the U.S., it would look more like Denmark with its excellent public transport system, bicycle networks, low-energy buildings and reliance on low-carbon energy sources. It would have also shifted our thinking and habits towards being and working together.

TV: What will you do after Copenhagen?

BM: We will continue to build a global movement to push governments out of their comfort zones to take the actions that the science dictates. But first I’ll go home and sleep for a month.

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L’Afrique observe: Côte d’Ivoire

Posted on 10 December 2009 by editor

Albertine Dramé

Albertine Dramé (38 ans, agricultrice) : "J’aurais voulu arroser Copenhague

By Fulgence Zamblé
ABIDJAN (IPS/TerraViva) Dans un bas-fond situé à environ cinq kilomètres de la capitale économique ivoirienne, Abidjan, Albertine Dramé (38 ans), est occupée à arroser ses plants de tomates, d’aubergines et de patates. Selon elle, la maîtrise du cycle des pluies est devenue impossible, ce pourquoi elle a abandonné la culture de masse (riz, igname) pour se consacrer aux bas-fonds. Mais là aussi, l’eau manque souvent.

IPS: Savez-vous que le monde entier est réuni actuellement au Danemark pour discuter de la question du changement climatique ?

Albertine Dramé: Je ne sais véritablement rien d’où se tient cette réunion, encore moins du contenu de ce qui se discute. Je ne pense pas aussi que cela puisse m’apporter grand-chose. La saison des pluies, la saison sèche, la chaleur, la fraîcheur… Tout leurs cycles ont commencé à changer depuis quelques années et cela m’a personnellement causé d’énormes désagréments. J’ai laissé tomber la culture de riz et d’igname pour me consacrer à des choses qui n’ont aucune certitude à la production parce qu’il manque de la régularité à la pluie. Mon lendemain est chaque fois fait de craintes et de peur. Je n’attends que ce qui peut me permettre de sauver la situation.

IPS: C’est pourtant ce qui se discute à Copenhague…

AD: Peut-être parce que je ne suis pas une décideuse que j’ai été ignorée et donc pas suffisamment informée de la chose. Mais je dis qu’il urge de trouver des solutions aux problèmes que nous vivons.

Par le passé, à cette période, nous étions dans la période de l’harmattan en décembre qui débouchait sur une courte saison sèche (entre fin janvier de mars) et nous entrions dans la petite saison des pluies. Aujourd’hui, il pleut sans arrêt. Et après c’est une forte chaleur qui s’empare de nous.

De l’autre côté, c’est le niveau de la mer qui ne cesse de grimper et détruire les habitations en bordure. Nous ne maitrisons plus rien et c’est très inquiétant.

Alors qu’attendez-vous de cette rencontre ?

AD: Je l’ai dit, je n’attends pas grand-chose, pas par pessimisme. Nos gouvernants, eux  sont allés au Danemark, sans passés me voir avant. S’ils l’avaient fait, je leur aurais remis mon arrosoir pour arroser les discussions. Mais, il faut espérer que chacun fasse l’effort au niveau des pays puissants pour sauver le monde. Il ne s’agit pas d’un problème unique aux pays pauvres pour que l’on traîne les pieds.

Chaque continent à au moins une fois subit les conséquences du changement climatique et je crois que les différentes alertes en Amérique, en Asie, en Afrique (Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire) vont faire réfléchir plus d’une fois. S’ils pensent que des décisions judicieuses et applicables peuvent être prises pour atténuer les effets du changement, il n’y a pas de raison à hésiter.

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L’Afrique observe: Algérie

Posted on 10 December 2009 by editor

By Kaci Racelma
ALGIERS (IPS/TerraViva) Au moment où des pourparlers relatifs aux changements climatiques se déroulent à la capitale danoise, Copenhague, la température augmente dans certains milieux en Afrique en général et en Algérie en particulier. Les universitaires semblent être très au fait de cette actualité qui revêt un cachet particulier.

Samir Mansour, étudiant  en agronomie, fin de cycle, à l’Université de Tizi-Ouzou, a bien voulu répondre à nos questions.

IPS: Qu’est-ce qu’ils discutent cette semaine à Copenhague par rapport au changement climatique?

Samir Mansour: Eh bien, la conférence sur le climat s’est ouverte hier à Copenhague sur un appel pressant à répondre aux «espoirs de l’humanité» et à définir une riposte mondiale au réchauffement qui menace la planète.

En présence de 110 chefs d’Etat ou de gouvernement, les représentants de 192 pays tenteront de trouver un accord permettant de limiter à deux degrés la hausse moyenne de la température de la planète.

Il faut vraiment que cela aboutisse sur des actions concrètes et  immédiates en vue de mettre un terme à cette hécatombe qui menace l’humanité tout entière.

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COP15 Is a “False Solutions Fair”

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

 

Miriam Nobre. Credit: Daniela Estrada/IPS.

Miriam Nobre. Credit: Daniela Estrada/IPS.

Daniela Estrada interviews Brazilian feminist MIRIAM NOBRE

 

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – The climate change conference looks like a “big solutions fair,” where everyone avoids discussing the root problem, which is the need to change the model of development, Miriam Nobre, coordinator of the secretariat of the World March of Women, told IPS.

Nobre, a Brazilian agricultural engineer and feminist, arrived in Copenhagen Tuesday to take part in Klimaforum09, the civil society summit held in parallel to the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which opened Monday and will run until Dec. 18.

The World March of Women, headed by Nobre, is an international women’s rights movement created in 2000, which is currently active in 71 countries.

The movement’s first campaign was aimed at combating poverty and violence against women, and for 2010 it’s planning its third international action, targeting four objectives: achieving economic independence for women; ending violence against women; promoting peace and demilitarisation; and preserving and developing the common good and public services.

Before sitting down to talk with TerraViva, Nobre participated in a coordination meeting with representatives of other movements and NGOs in the colourful Klimaforum, where hundreds of talks, displays, exhibits, documentary screenings, and musical and theatre shows are programmed.

TERRAVIVA: What proposals or demands are you bringing to Copenhagen?

MN: We’ve come to Copenhagen in coordination with Vía Campesina and Friends of the Earth to denounce the false solutions that are put forward for climate change, including monoculture, agrofuel production, and the privatisation of nature, through, for example, carbon credits.

We’re also meeting with other organisations, such as Jubilee South, that work on the issue of climate debt.

Our presence here also has to do with a sense of urgency. There’s a feeling that something has to be done now, but that the urgency can’t lead us to be strong-armed into accepting a bad agreement that ignores class, country and gender inequalities in the issue of climate change.

TV: What activities will you participate in?

MN: We have a workshop called “Feminists Struggling Against Climate Change and Privatisation of the Environment”, where we’ll examine the state of negotiations, because women are major political actors in this issue.

We will also look at the links and conflicts between the environmentalist and women’s movements and at how women are experiencing the effects of climate change and the forms of resistance and alternatives they’re building.

We will also be holding another activity with the Global Forest Coalition, on the subject of food and energy sovereignty as real solutions to climate change.

TV: Why are women key political actors in climate change negotiations?

MN: There’s a whole host of experiences that women farmers and fisherwomen can contribute, because they haven’t abandoned their traditional ways of producing food, so they offer a true alternative to our fossil-fuel- and oil-dependent societies.

And there’s also the connection we say exists between the fragmentation and commodification of women’s bodies and the fragmentation and commodification of territories themselves.

TV: How do you see the global negotiations at Copenhagen so far?

MN: My first impression was that many have come with the idea of selling their solutions – agrofuels, carbon credits, etc.

I got the feeling that it’s a large fair with everyone hawking their solutions, without really touching on the problem, which is the urgent need for profound changes in the system. We need to change the model, to change the way we organise production and consumption.

It’s like everyone just wants to go on avoiding what we really have to discuss, which is what needs to be done.
(END/2009)

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“Feria de falsas soluciones”

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

Miriam Nombre. Crédito: Daniela Estrada/IPS

Miriam Nobre. Crédito: Daniela Estrada/IPS

Por Daniela Estrada

COPENHAGUE (IPS/TerraViva) La conferencia sobre cambio climático parece una “gran feria de soluciones”, donde la gente evita hablar del problema de fondo, que es el cambio del modelo de desarrollo, dijo a TerraViva Miriam Nobre, coordinadora del secretariado de la Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres.

Nobre, ingeniera agrónoma y feminista brasileña, arribó el martes a Copenhague para participar en el Klimaforum, la cumbre de la sociedad civil paralela a la COP-15, inaugurada el lunes y que se extenderá hasta el 18 de este mes. Continue Reading

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Q&A: ‘Nuclear Energy Is Not a Solution to Climate Change’

Posted on 09 December 2009 by editor

Neena Bhandari interviews DR SUE WAREHAM, proponent of a nuclear-free world

MELBOURNE (IPS/TerraViva) – As the threat of nuclear weapons looms large over the very existence of life on earth, Dr Sue Wareham, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons’ (ICAN) Australian board member, is calling for a speedy abolition of these weapons and the rejection of nuclear power as a solution to climate change.

Speaking at the sessions on nuclear abolition and disarmament at the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions here, Wareham said the power of religion should be harnessed to bring peace in the world through disarmament, abolition of nuclear weapons, eradication of poverty and action on climate change.

The six-day Parliament, which ends on Dec 9, is a gathering of religious and spiritual communities from different parts of the world to discuss issues relating to peace, diversity and sustainability.

A medical practitioner and immediate past president of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW) in Australia, Dr Wareham believes that her work with MAPW is fundamental to her commitment to the protection of human life and the improvement of human well-being.

In an interview with IPS, she expounds on her passionate pursuit of a nuclear-free society.

IPS: Why is there a sense of urgency to abolish nuclear weapons now?

SUE WAREHAM: One of the reasons this issue is becoming increasingly urgent is because the five yearly review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will be coming up in May 2010. It is absolutely clear that unless there are moves there towards disarmament and clear signals from the nuclear weapon states that they are willing to take steps towards getting rid of their weapons, we won’t be able to prevent the spread of these weapons further. So nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-Proliferation need to go hand in hand.

IPS: ICAN’s goal is a Nuclear Weapons Convention, a treaty to prohibit the development, testing, production, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons. Is it a feasible and achievable solution?

SW:  It is definitely feasible, and it is necessary. We are calling on people across the world to put pressure on their respective governments to promote a Nuclear Weapons Convention at the NPT review conference next year. We see the convention as the most promising route for the world to take towards nuclear weapons abolition.

It sets the same rules for all countries and that gets around one of the major difficulties at the moment, which is that there is one set of rules for countries that already have nuclear weapons and another set of rules for those that don’t.

IPS: Is nuclear power, being carbon-free, the panacea for climate change problems and should it be a substitute for coal-fuelled power stations?

SW:  We don’t agree nuclear power is a sensible way forward in response to climate change. Nuclear power cannot address the issue of climate change. There are physical limitations to the number of nuclear power stations that could be built in the next decade or so.

Even if there is further development of nuclear power, it will be far too slow because it takes 10 to 15 years to get a nuclear power plant at a point of producing electricity. We need action faster than that.

Particularly important also is the links with weapons. We know there are definite links between the civilian and military fuel cycles, and that is a particular problem that will remain as long as nuclear power is there.

There is also the problem of nuclear waste to which no country has a solution yet. We regard it as unacceptable that this generation should leave our waste to future generations. The technological and practical reality is that we don’t have any way of separating nuclear waste from the environment.

Our message is that the world really needs to put serious and significant funding into further promotion, development and implementation of renewable energies—solar, wind, geothermal and biofuels, which have been underused and under-resourced.

IPS: Has the United Nations succeeded in curbing the spread of nuclear weapons or is it held to ransom by permanent members of the Security Council?

SW:  The United Nations General Assembly every year has a good number of resolutions in favour of nuclear disarmament and is really trying to push this forward. I think we need to distinguish the U.N. as a whole from some of its member states in the Security Council.

All five members of the U.N. Security Council have nuclear weapons, which is an extraordinary thought that we are entrusting the security of the world to the hands of the five nations that have the worst weapons of terror.

IPS: When it comes to possession of these weapons, aren’t there double standards for the haves and have-nots?

SW: There are about 25,000 nuclear weapons in the world today in the hands of nine countries, and these nine nations really hold the world to ransom. What we notice is that a number of the countries that keep nuclear weapons are also most vocal about calling for other nations not to acquire them.

In addition to these nine countries, there are a group of countries, including Australia, which claim to be protected by a ‘Nuclear Umbrella’ (or middle powers lending bases, ports and infrastructure for the U.S. nuclear war-fighting apparatus, lending credence to the idea that nuclear weapons bring security), and we regard that as a problem also. For example, the Australian Government calls on other nations such as Iran not to acquire nuclear weapons and yet Australia claims that we still need to be sheltered under the ‘Nuclear Umbrella’.

IPS: Why has humanity been so slow and ineffective in meeting the challenge posed by nuclear arms?

SW: Nations that have nuclear weapons have been allowed to justify their weapons by the theory of “deterrence,” which is claimed to prevent wars between nuclear-armed countries. But it is a failed theory, because, as we are seeing, if some nations believe they have a right to these weapons, then other nations will claim the same right.  It is a recipe for every nation to have the world’s most destructive weapons.

What’s needed is for all nations to abide by the same rule, which is that all weapons of mass destruction – especially nuclear weapons, which are the most terrifying of all – must be abolished.

IPS: What can religious and spiritual communities do to meet the challenge of abolishing these weapons of mass annihilation?

SW: We see the issue of nuclear weapons as one of the great ethical issues of our time. It is an issue that religions of the world really need to come to grips with because nuclear weapons are the most destructive and threatening weapons to have ever been created.

Therefore, we regard people, who are interested and passionate about ethical issues, have a responsibility of calling for abolition of nuclear weapons.

IPS: As a practicing medical doctor, what drives you to take up the issue of nuclear disarmament with such passion, and what fuels your zeal to see a nuclear-free world?

SW:  Nuclear weapons are so utterly destructive. They make a mockery of what we do as medical practitioners, saving one life at a time. These weapons threaten thousands of lives at once and even future generations.

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Les jeunes en action à Copenhague

Posted on 08 December 2009 by editor

20091208_QAAmiel_Editedpar Nasseem Ackbarally

Frederick Amiel est un de plus d’une centaine de jeunes venus du monde entier, membres de la regroupement Global Youth Movement, sont à Copenhague pour faire entendre raison aux leaders politiques sur la nécessité de trouver un accord  en vue d’empêcher l’aggravation du réchauffement climatique de la planète. Continue Reading

 

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Q&A: “We Are Moving Towards Modest Cooperation”

Posted on 07 December 2009 by editor

Mario Osava interviews Brazilian physicist JOSÉ GOLDEMBERG, key figure at 1992 Earth Summit

RIO DE JANEIRO

José Goldemberg. Credit: American Association for the Advancement of Science

José Goldemberg. Credit: American Association for the Advancement of Science

(IPS/TerraViva) – Vested interests in fossil fuels have blocked major steps against global warming so far, according to José Goldemberg, who has played a leading role at key times in the climate crisis facing humanity.

One of the driving forces behind the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, when he was the Brazilian interim environment minister, Goldemberg says Brazil today lacks the leadership it exercised at the Earth Summit and in the subsequent negotiations that produced the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, because its current proposals are so lacking in vision.

A respected energy expert and winner of the 2008 Blue Planet Prize, a kind of environmental Nobel Prize awarded by the Japanese Asahi Glass Foundation, the 81-year-old physicist continues to work as a professor at the Institute of Electrotechnics and Energy at the University of São Paulo.

In this interview with TerraViva, Goldemberg said he expects an outcome of “modest cooperation” from the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-15), which opened Monday in Copenhagen.

TERRAVIVA: There is a tremendous difference between perceptions of climate change in 1992, and today. And carbon dioxide emissions have risen a great deal, in rich countries as well as in emerging ones, in spite of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol. Were we naïve about it? Did science take too long to reveal the seriousness of the problem?

JOSÉ GOLDEMBERG: The 1992 “vision” was rather naïve. At the same time, we did not expect so much resistance from fossil fuel producers against changing their technologies and adopting newer and less polluting ones.

This explains why emissions reductions targets in the industrialised countries, spelled out in the Kyoto Protocol, have not been met. And developing countries, which had no binding reduction targets and were only responsible for 30 percent of global emissions in 1990, are now emitting 50 percent, but they are reluctant to take on commitments to reduce them.

This is partly due to the fact that the consequences of global warming take time to make themselves felt, so there is no very strong sense that urgent action is required.

TV: A change in the global energy mix cannot wait until oil runs out, let alone coal reserves. What can be done to overcome the inertia that is preventing a transition to a low-carbon economy?

JG: The assessment reports based on expert research published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the evidence that the signs of global warming are becoming clearer, are helping to motivate countries. There is no doubt, for instance, that the frequency of extreme climate events has increased in recent years.

TV: Can nuclear energy contribute to the solution?

JG: Yes, if the other problems associated with it are solved, such as safe disposal of radioactive waste and nuclear proliferation. These problems are different from those created by fossil fuels, and they are far from being solved, as can be seen in the cases of Iran and North Korea.

TV: What blocked the approval of your proposal of a target of 10 percent renewable energies in the global energy mix, which you presented at the Rio+10 conference, held in Johannesburg in 2002?

JG: The resistance of coal and oil producing countries, including the United States. The European Union enthusiastically supported my proposal, and in fact still does, and is now planning to generate 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

TV: Why has ethanol not taken off as a fuel, as the Brazilian government wishes? Have its prospects changed, in the face of the near panic caused by climate change?

JG: Ethanol has not taken off because the United States and the European Union impose tariff barriers to protect their domestic industries, which produce fuel alcohol from maize and wheat at a cost two or three times higher than Brazilian ethanol made from sugarcane.

TV: What are your expectations of the COP 15 conference? Is the world moving towards another “cold war,” as Graciela Chichilnisky (an Argentine-American scientist who made valuable contributions to the Kyoto Protocol) claims, or towards cooperation, since nobody wins from global warming?

JG: I think we are moving towards modest cooperation, because even China and India are planning to do something to reduce their emissions, although not as much as is needed.

TV: Has Brazil taken on a leadership role again on environmental issues, as it did in Rio in 1992, and in Kyoto in 1997?

JG: No, because the Brazilian proposal on its emissions reductions to COP 15 was formulated belatedly, and is voluntary rather than binding, so it has been received with a certain lack of trust. It’s easy to promise to reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 80 percent by 2020, but it’s harder to keep that promise.

In addition, the Brazilian proposal is conditional, rather vaguely, on financial support from industrialised countries. In contrast, the target adopted by the southern state of São Paulo, which is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent in comparison to 2005  levels, is clear, objective, and was well received.

(END/2009)

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