Tag Archive | "carbon"

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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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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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Farmers Are in the Business of Managing Carbon

Posted on 12 December 2009 by editor

Credit: Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies

Credit: Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies

By Terna Gyuse

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – There’s a satisfying beauty to this phrase: “Productivity in perpetuity, without ecological harm.”

Professor M.S. Swaminathan, the celebrated giant of agricultural research from India, offered these words early on in a day devoted to farmers and sustainable food security here at the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Life Sciences.

This important side meeting of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change had two clear objectives: to build consensus on what needs to be done to incorporate agriculture into the post-Copenhagen climate agenda, and to discuss strategies and action to address adaptation and mitigation in the agriculture sector.

The problem is straightforward. The world needs food production to more than double by 2050 to feed a growing population; a changing climate threatens to send agricultural output in the opposite direction, quickly adding to the billion people who already live with chronic hunger.

Agricultural activities contribute to greenhouse gas emissions directly and indirectly; yet farmers could be an important part of the solution.

This is the backdrop against which farmers, scientists, policy-makers and activists met to discuss agriculture and rural development.

A key thread running from the keynote speakers through panelists and contributions from the floor was the idea that agriculture is where poverty reduction, food security and climate change intersect.

Yet Kanayo Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, reminded participants that development assistance and support for agriculture have for so long declined while demand has risen. But Nwanze sees renewed interest in funding rural development by donors in the North and a fresh focus on agriculture by governments in the South, as the impending danger to political instability and food security becomes clearer.

“For each one degree rise in temperature, the wheat yield in India will be six million tonnes less,” said Swaminathan, a loss equivalent to 1.5 billion dollars. Without effective adaptation, 44 percent of agricultural productivity could be lost.

Swaminathan, who was instrumental in developing and introducing high-yielding varieties of wheat in India, spoke of the importance of anticipatory research to counter this – conserving seeds to ensure the genetic resources needed for resilient crops are not lost, and studying and improving our knowledge of growing food in coastal regions vulnerable to influxes of salt water.

Gordon Conway, professor of international development at Imperial College, London says the drivers of global warming are still ill-understood.

It’s not that there’s doubt that there will be significant changes in temperature and rainfall patterns, it’s that researchers still do not know precisely how, for example, the El Niño/La Niña ocean current, monsoons, and changing tropical convection patterns interact to affect temperature and rainfall patterns.

Conway said we need to downscale global predictions of climate models to local levels in order to guide appropriate action. “We need projections of weather variables that mean something to farmers,” not just climatologists, such as “‘the first rains, how many days will they last?’”

That information would allow scientists, governments and farmers themselves to develop appropriately resilient crops, as well as livestock and farming systems suited to new conditions, and to set up and manage water resources better.

Lindiwe Sibanda, director of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Advocacy Network based in South Africa, underlined the central importance of involving farmers in finding solutions. She called for an increase in locally-generated research, and the effective communication of findings and recommendations to farmers themselves.

Speaking from the floor of one session, a farmer from southern Ontario said simply, “Farmers are in the business of managing carbon.” For thousands of years, farmers have bred crop varieties to suit an incredible range of environments; the food on our table comes to us all through their hands.

“We may be 14 percent of the problem,” he said, referring to agriculture’s contribution to total carbon emissions, “but we could be 25 percent of the solution.”

A range of ways to enable this transformation were put forward for consideration in a consolidated statement that the people gathered here will present at a side event at the Bella Center, the main conference venue, on Dec. 14.

An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientist spoke of the need to properly synthesize the vast body of knowledge that already exists to practically understand ways forward; simple and effective tools with which to measure carbon stored in agricultural activities.

There were arguments in favour of focusing on farmers in the global South, as well as calls to remember that farmers everywhere are challenged by climate change.

Conway invoked what he said was Chinese president Hu Jintao’s maxim on agricultural development: “Try something. If it doesn’t work, forget it. If it does work, try it again on a bigger scale.”

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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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Investing in Climate Prosperity

Posted on 04 December 2009 by editor

By Hazel Henderson *Claudius_tren1

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA (TerraViva/IPS) The world’s giant pension and institutional funds (university and foundation endowments) are seeing the light on climate issues.

As governments wrangle over how to cap carbon and other pollutants, how much it will cost, and who should pay, private investors in North America, Europe, China, India, Japan, and Brazil have been quietly investing in the solution: shifting to low-carbon, cleaner, renewable energy and smarter, more efficient infrastructure and transportation. Continue Reading

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