Tag Archive | "carbon emission"

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BANGLADESH: Community-Based Climate Strategies Are Key

Posted on 19 December 2009 by editor

By Darryl D’Monte

COPENHAGEN, Dec 19 (IPS/TerraViva) – Many countries treat Bangladesh as a country that is so afflicted by calamities that it is incapable of pulling itself out of dire poverty. Yet, it has blazed a trail in drawing up blueprints for community-driven climate adaptation strategies.

Part of this blueprint is to revive traditional farming practices that could withstand extreme weather changes. Continue Reading

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Food Security in Bangladesh in Great Peril from Climate Change

Posted on 18 December 2009 by editor

By Athar Parvaiz

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – Unless the world comes to its aid, Bangladesh says the vulnerability of its agriculture sector to climate change could spell severe consequences for its millions of people, who stand to lose their main source of livelihood.

“As a poverty-stricken and densely populated country, we cannot cope with these challenges unless we have a proper financial and technological support from the developed world,” said Sabir Hassan Chowdhary, one of the delegates from Bangladesh to the Copenhagen climate talks, in an interview with TerraViva. Continue Reading

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Glacial Data Crucial to Combating Climate Change

Posted on 18 December 2009 by editor

By Darryl D’Monte

COPENHAGEN  (IPS/TerraViva) – People living in the Himalayan region are increasingly confronted by rising temperatures and glaciers melting at an unprecedented rate, threatening their very survival. This much the world already knows.

Yet, experts say, there is still no accurate and reliable data on the Himalayan glaciers and many aspects of its ecosystem, which should facilitate determining mitigation measures addressing current and future impacts of climate change on the Himalayas.

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‘What’s Good for Asia Is Good for the World’ – Chinese Official

Posted on 17 December 2009 by editor

Ambassador Yu Qingtai. Credit: Embassy of China in the United States

Ambassador Yu Qingtai. Credit: Embassy of China in the United States

By Rajiv Fernando*

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – China appears to have gained instant celebrity status since the opening days of the United Nations Climate Change Conference here.

The many meetings and press briefings arranged by Chinese officials have been jampacked by all who are excited to see the emerging economic giant of Asia will lead the rest of the developing world during the climate negotiations in the Danish capital. Continue Reading

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Future Energy Scenario Unfavourable to Asia

Posted on 16 December 2009 by editor

Analysis by Darryl D’Monte

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – Much of the discussion in Copenhagen has revolved around targets and deadlines for cutting carbon emissions. But a weekend seminar in the idyllic Danish island of Samsoe, titled “Future Energy,” helped journalists locate the problem in the context of the world’s biggest emitters.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) drew out future scenarios, assuming that all these countries did not exceed 450ppm (parts per million) of carbon dioxide, which is considered the cap to prevent irretrievable climate change. Many developing countries believe 350ppm is a safer option. Continue Reading

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China Reels Under a Barrage of Criticism

Posted on 16 December 2009 by editor

 

Civil society demonstration in Copenhagen. Credit: Ana Libisch/IPS

Civil society demonstration in Copenhagen. Credit: Ana Libisch/IPS

By Antoaneta Bezlova

 

BEIJING (IPS/TerraViva) – China is not happy. This is how one of the Chinese state-sanctioned newspapers summed up Beijing’s feelings about the week spent negotiating on climate change in the Danish capital.

After a very public showdown with the United States in the early days of the global climate talks, China found itself attacked by smaller developing countries for benefiting more than anyone else from carbon credit funding. And as the countdown to the end of negotiations began, Beijing was seen deflecting criticism that it was the stumbling block to reaching a deal. Continue Reading

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Local Climate Efforts: Too Little, Too Slow, Too Late?

Posted on 14 December 2009 by editor

By Feizal Samath

COLOMBO (IPS/TerraViva) – Some Sri Lankan experts are not pinning their hopes on the ongoing climate talks in Copenhagen, saying greenhouse gas emissions will continue to torment the world as long as western lifestyles remain the same. Continue Reading

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Asian Delegates Want ‘Political Accord’, For Now

Posted on 12 December 2009 by editor

By Athar Parvaiz

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) Most Asian delegations to the ongoing global negotiations on climate change are insisting that a political agreement must be reached to pave the way for a legally binding treaty in the near future.

“Though we realise that it is highly unlikely to arrive at a consensus here in Copenhagen for a legally binding treaty, we are quite hopeful of a political accord,” Akira Yamada, Japan’s deputy director-general of the ministry of foreign affairs, told IPS. He said this would lay the foundation for a legally binding treaty.

Akira stressed that Japan wants a treaty that should be signed by both the United States and China, “the largest emitters of greenhouse gases,” he said.

Most negotiators from the Asia-Pacific region interviewed  by IPS said they would only settle for a political accord, believing it will ensure the adoption of a legally binding treaty. But pressure groups are insisting that a legally enforceable agreement should be the outcome of negotiations on climate change as “mere political promises would not do.”

“A politically binding treaty amounts to a love affair while the legally binding treaty is a proper wedlock. This is the simplest expression one can use to tell the difference between the two,” said Mike Shanahan, senior press officer at the London-based independent policy research centre International Institute of Environment and Development.

“No government at any time in any country can deviate from the legally binding treaty while promises through political statements are no guarantee,” he added.

“Although the speed of negotiations is very slow, we are making efforts to make a political agreement, which would later become a legal agreement,” said Kim Chan Woo, director general of South Korea’s ministry of environment.

Both least developed and developing countries want the industrialised nations to pay their “climate debt” through funding commitments and measures to reduce emissions drastically while allow the developed countries to grow.

A Danish draft of a climate change agreement, leaked to the British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ early this week, was summarily rejected by the developing countries, because it tilts the balance of mitigation obligations away from the developed nations, deemed a violation of the spirit and substance of the United Nations Framework Convention and the Bali Action Plan.

“The Danish text is an extremely dangerous text for developing countries. It robs them of an equitable and fair share of the atmospheric space,” said Lumumba Di-Aping, who chairs the largest of the negotiation blocks — G77/China, comprising more than 130 countries.

“We know that Denmark’s prime minister is desperate for a deal in Copenhagen, but it should be a balanced deal,” he said. “We hope that common sense and wisdom will prevail.”

Countries like China and India reacted to the draft in the same manner, saying it was not acceptable to them. The backlash ultimately prompted the Danish government to say that it “was a discussion paper, not a draft.”

“We feel that both the developed and developing countries should contribute to combating climate change, but the nature of contribution should be different,” South Korea’s Kim told IPS.

Indonesian delegate Angus Purnomo said his country has begun enforcing certain climate mitigation measures like reducing emissions. “But we need financial and technological assistance from developed countries. And this is the forum where we should get us a guarantee of every kind of assistance in black and white.”

“We have come here to engage very constructively in the multilateral negotiations under the United Nations system, and we are confident that there will be good outcomes, which must be consistent with the convention principles,” Vijay Sharma, a delegate from India, told IPS.

“We are having discussions on two separate tracks: one on long-term visions, Long-term Cooperative Action, under which mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology would be dealt with. And on the other hand, we are discussing how to enhance and get quantitative targets from Annex 1 [or industrialised] countries under the Kyoto Protocol.”

Less than a week is left for the negotiators to arrive at conclusions before the high-level segments of the ongoing climate talks. Developing countries, particularly the more vulnerable among them, are keen to see the foundations of a legally binding treaty here in the Danish capital.

“We are not responsible at all for the global warming. But when we look at who is suffering the most, it is the least developed countries like Bangladesh and other small island states that are going to suffer the most,” Manzoor-ul-Hanan Khan, the coordinator of the Bangladeshi delegation, said in an interview with IPS.

“Therefore we want a written assurance from the developed countries that they would make efforts to secure our future.”

“Being a poor country, we also want financial and technological assistance for mitigation and adaptation so that we achieve development without any environmental costs,” he said. “We have only one earth; there we need an effective treaty to save it.”

Purushottam Ghimire, a negotiator from Nepal, said his country is facing a major challenge, with melting glaciers threatening millions. “We are here for a consensus and concrete agreement,” he stressed.

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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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CHINA: One Green Leap Forward, Two Steps Backward

Posted on 07 December 2009 by editor

By Antoaneta Bezlova

BEIJING  (IPS/TerraViva)  With low carbon seen as the new buzzword for government promotion and backed by Beijing as the new economic growth engine, China is poised for a green leap forward. But the political overtones of the drive and the zeal of local governments jumping on the low carbon bandwagon have raised concerns that the new green campaign may result in overcapacity, worsening China’s frictions with its trade partners. Continue Reading

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CHINA/INDIA: ‘Business as Usual’ for Carbon Emission Targets

Posted on 04 December 2009 by editor

Analysis by Darryl D’Monte *

MUMBAI, India (IPS/TerraViva) – China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, has stolen a march over the rest of Asia in unilaterally declaring its carbon intensity cuts a day after President Barack Obama did late last month for the U.S.

The U.S. has proposed a 17 percent cut below 2005 levels by 2020 -less than one-seventh of what the European Union has committed. India, the fifth largest emitter, was forced to fall in line, so as not to be seen as recalcitrant.

Both China and India have toed the U.S. line in citing their voluntary reductions from 2005 levels, whereas the Kyoto Protocol regime has stipulated emission cuts from 1990. This puts China’s offer of reducing its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 and India’s 20 to 25 percent in a different perspective.

Since emissions have been rising in these two giant economies between 1990 and 2005, the reductions are not so ambitious and do not deviate that much from business as usual.

China has also taken the lead in cobbling together a new BASIC coalition—consisting of Brazil, South Africa, India and China. The four have listed their “non-negotiable” demands: no legally binding cuts, unsupported mitigation actions, international monitoring of unsupported mitigation actions and use of climate as a trade barrier. They threaten to walk out of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen if industrialised countries browbeat them.

Reportedly, China’s Premier Wen Jiabao summoned India’s Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, who was in Beijing in late November, to an unscheduled meeting and told him that China planned to lead the developing world in presenting a united front against the West. He was literally given a night to read the BASIC draft and sign on the dotted line.

This is a far cry from the precursor to Copenhagen, the U.N. Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, when India represented G77 developing countries (now increased to 130). India’s Environment Minister at the time, Kamal Nath, baited the U.S., led by President George Bush, Sr. The White House was so incensed that it admonished then Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, who had to tone down his rhetoric at the summit.

India has tied itself in knots on its stand on climate. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed to abide by the two degrees Celsius cap on rise in global temperatures at the Group of Eight wealthiest nations meetings in Italy in July.

Indian negotiators criticised him for compromising India’s future growth prospects. Subsequently, Ramesh wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, leaked to the media, suggesting India offer voluntary cuts in emissions and subject these to international verification. This triggered a political furore in India, prompting him to retract his letter. China, by contrast, is consistent in its policy.

“India is a leader of the developing world,” says Sunita Narain, director of the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi. “It should campaign for the voice of the marginalised and victims of climate change.”

She adds: “India should avoid sitting at the high table with polluters (rich countries). Therefore, we have to put pressure on the North to take effective emission cuts. That will be a real leadership role.”

On Dec. 3, when India announced its policy, Qin Gang, the spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reiterated that China and India were developing countries and victims of climate change. China understood the Indian situation on climate change and would support India’s adaptation and mitigation plan that was based on its own national situation and capacity.

However, there are vast differences between the two countries. Between 1990 and 2005, per capita energy use increased by half in China – three times more than in India. Jairam himself has referred to China’s carbon intensity – the amount of carbon emitted per 1,000 U.S. dollars of GDP – 2.8 tonnes as against India’s one tonne.

As Huo Weiya of the independent online publication ´Chinadialogue´in Beijing observes: “Three decades of economic growth have given the Chinese citizenry ample material desires; a lifestyle has by now taken root that hopes to keep up with the rich, particularly to keep up with the Americans.”

Some Chinese and Indian experts are uneasy about their countries unilaterally offering carbon intensity cuts. Qi Jianguo, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, believes that the targets would put “great pressure” on China’s development.

Before India announced its policy, Sunita Narain, who is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, warned: “There needs to be a proper deliberative process if India needs a carbon or energy intensity number. That has still not been done. It must not make a laughing stock of itself by announcing new numbers every day; it should stick to its own 20 percent by 2020 domestic commitment.”

She alleged that India’s changing position reflected U.S. interests, not its own. “It is clearly at the behest of the U.S. president. It will derail the multilateral negotiations,” she said.

* Darryl D’Monte, President of the International Federation of Environmental Journalists.

(END/2009)

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