Tag Archive | "Copenhagen"

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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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CLIMATE CHANGE: Asians Find their Collective Voice

Posted on 16 December 2009 by editor

By Athar Parvaiz

COPENHAGEN  (IPS/TerraViva) – If some Asian states appeared to be disunited in the lead-up to the climate change talks currently underway in Copenhagen, now they are rising in unison to get the developed world to accede to their demands.

Asian countries had shown least cooperation in the past, but climate change seems to have united them,” said Rajesh Mehta, a climate campaigner from India, who works with Action Aid International, a global anti-poverty organisation. 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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“Our Grandchildren Will Ask Us What We Did”

Posted on 07 December 2009 by editor



Local Government Climate Lounge. Credit: Servaas van den Bosch.

Local Government Climate Lounge. Credit: Servaas van den Bosch.

By Servaas van den Bosch


COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – Global warming will hit Africa hardest at the local level, yet municipalities are grossly overlooked by the decision-makers in Copenhagen. In response Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) launched a continent-wide declaration on climate change.

“Our grandchildren will ask us what granny did to prepare us for the effects of climate change,” counselor Agnes Ntlhangula reminded an audience of African local government officials. “Global warming will affect Africa in the worst way, because our people use natural resources. Yes, the developed countries should carry us forwards, but we must also take action ourselves.”

The African Local Government Declaration on Climate Change outlines a set of demands and recommendations from local governments in over twenty African countries. Representatives of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda were present at the launch.

“The most immediate goal at this conference is to lobby for inclusion of local governments in the negotiating text,” said ICLEI Africa director Kobie Brand.

To do this, ICLEI has brought over 1100 local counselors, mayors and other representatives to the Danish capital. It’s the second largest delegation at the COP, and many of them are African.

“I am so impressed,” exclaimed ICLEI global president David Cadman. “Africa has to understand that it is an absolute leader when it comes to municipalities working together and getting organized. It needs to take that leadership role in this conference. Talk to your national delegations, urge them to step forward.”

“Politicians will only buy into something when they are supplied with lots of information,” Ntlhangula added.

“The voices of local governments are missing out. Not just here in Copenhagen but everywhere at national level,” argued Cecilia Njenga of the UN Habitat Centre in Nairobi. “It’s clear that we cannot incorporate the adaptation responses to climate change, but we are not there when the money-cake is divided.”

She urged local governments not to sit back in dealing with climate change. “We know that the biggest problems will occur with food security and water provision. Who else than the municipality is responsible for that? We have to think in a more holistic manner in solving these problems.”

“We cannot make the mistake that we made with HIV/AIDS,” warned Ntlhangula. “There we didn’t act until it was much too late. Let’s act on climate change while it’s fresh.”

Cadman said “The risky habits of the North are transferred to Africa, and the effects are floods and droughts alike. Africa has acknowledged this danger and is in the forefront in making the voice of local governments heard. I hope this declaration will become a much wider consensus statement.”

The document calls on Convention Parties to build a pro-poor framing of the global response to climate change and give a central place to cities and towns in mitigation and adaptation. “The African continent has the fastest growing urban population and our urban centres are the site of substantial development pressure, which are at the frontline of response to climate change,” the African Local Government declaration reads.

The flipside of this coin is the potential for African cities to contribute to the fight against global warming. “Imagine how much energy would be saved through a simple measure like installing ceilings in two million low-cost houses,” said Carstens Laugensen, environmental attaché of the Danish Embassy in Pretoria.

Two years ago the Danes initiated the Urban Environmental Management Programme (UEMP) and bankrolled it with 40 million dollars, eighty percent of which will go to implementation.

Municipalities can apply for grants under UEMP through the Ministry of Environment with a budget plan for projects of their own choice. “This is vital,” commented Laugensen. “How would we as Danes know what local solutions are required in Durban or Johannesburg?”

With UEMP money, Cape Town started a climate change think tank that must prepare the city for catastrophes. The city of Durban invested in both urban adaptation projects and community based initiatives in rural areas. Both cities, housing over three million people, are at risk from rising seas levels. Flash floods have badly damaged Durban in recent years.

According to Cadman UEMP can go a long way: “We should roll it out all over the continent.”

“The local governments that do well have to be our voice at a national level,” appealed Njenga. “We need our champions to speak for us.”

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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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How Fast Will the Polar Bear Disappear?

Posted on 06 December 2009 by editor


Copenhagen ice bear. Credit: Servaas Van den Bosch/IPS.

Copenhagen ice bear. Credit: Servaas van den Bosch/IPS

By Servaas van den Bosch

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) “Come touch a piece of the Arctic, disappearing before your eyes. What have you got to lose?” asks the WWF in downtown Copenhagen, where a gigantic polar bear sculpted out of ice is slowly melting.

“Just like the scientists at the climate meet, I have no idea how long it will take for the polar bear to completely disappear,” says sculptor Mark Coreth from the UK. In the case of this particular nine tonne specimen, it doesn’t look good. Ice water is steadily dripping down, forming a pool under its body, and the once fierce head has morphed into an unrecognisable mass. Continue Reading

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Hunger Strikers in “Moral Call to Climate Action”

Posted on 04 December 2009 by editor

By Liza Jansen

Anna Keenan, one of the hunger strikers,  has a tattoo on her neck that reads "climate  justice". Credit: Robert van Woorden

Anna Keenan, one of the hunger strikers, has a tattoo on her neck that reads "climate justice". Credit: Robert van Woorden

UNITED NATIONS (IPS/TerraViva) Hoping to emotionally engage world leaders and ordinary citizens, hundreds of people from around the globe have entered their fourth week of fasting in the run-up to the Copenhagen Climate Conference.

“I am doing the Climate Justice Fast (CJF) because all the other forms of activism – while very necessary – are clearly not working fast enough,” Anna Keenan, one of the organisers of the fast, told IPS. Continue Reading

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