Tag Archive | "emissions"

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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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‘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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Latin America’s Green Path Forward

Posted on 15 December 2009 by editor

Laura Tuck

Laura Tuck

By Laura Tuck*

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) What happens at the global summit this week in Copenhagen is of utmost importance for Latin America and the Caribbean.

While expectations are that binding agreements on emission targets will probably not be signed until next year in Mexico City, there are many decisions – such as compensation for avoiding deforestation, technology transfers, financing of greenhouse gas reductions and adaptation to climate change – in play. The region has a stake in all of these and can play a critical role in reaching agreement on each. 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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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.”
(END/2009)

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The World Is Sinking in Copenhagen

Posted on 11 December 2009 by editor

Delegates of the chief negotiating groups in tense press conference. Credit: Raúl Pierri/IPS

Delegates of the chief negotiating groups in tense press conference. Credit: Raúl Pierri/IPS

By Raúl Pierri

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) Poor countries will suffer “horrendous” impacts if an agreement isn’t reached by the end of the climate change summit in Copenhagen. That was the warning launched by the developing South Friday during the talks that remained as bogged down at the end of the first week as at the start.

A draft agreement circulated Friday at the COP15 graphically illustrates the numerous points of disagreement, especially in terms of target numbers and timeframes, because they are set off by square brackets. Continue Reading

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Cattle, the Ignored Predator

Posted on 11 December 2009 by editor

Activists urge people to go vegetarian. Credit: Nasseem Ackbarally/IPS

Activists urge people to go vegetarian. Credit: Nasseem Ackbarally/IPS

By Mario Osava

RIO DE JANEIRO (IPS/TerraViva) – Because of its effect on the environment, cattle must be given the same priority in global agendas as nuclear weapons, wars and, in particular, climate change, says Brazilian activist João Meirelles Filho, author of two books on Amazon deforestation. Continue Reading

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Negotiators Told to Update Their Science

Posted on 10 December 2009 by editor

By Claudia Ciobanu

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – Estimates for greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions being used by the UNFCCC and negotiators during the COP15 are too low, argue scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), the body responsible for the first historical calculations of carbon emissions.

“It is not a matter of bad will, it’s that science has moved on considerably since Kyoto,” Tony Haymet, the director of the SIO, told TerraViva.

The scientists are at Copenhagen to let the decision-makers know that better estimates can now be made. They stress that precise measurements of emissions are crucial if regulatory legislation and carbon taxes or cap-and-trade schemes are to succeed.

“At the moment, the situation of the negotiators is comparable to that of people who go on a diet without first weighing themselves,” commented geochemistry researcher Ray Weiss, who is working on measurements of industrial gas emissions for SIO.

Weiss explained that estimates used by UNFCCC for industrial gases such as carbon tetrafluoride (CF4), nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) or sulphur hexafluoride (SH6 considered the most potent GhG by the IPCC) are lower than real emissions. In the case of NF3 for instance, the real emissions can be as much as four times higher than the UNFCCC figures.  

Even more, in some cases (such as that of CF4), UNFCCC numbers show that the trend of emissions is decreasing while real numbers show that emissions have been rising over the past few years.

The reasons for these errors, explained the scientists, are that UNFCCC data relies on bottom-up reports (provided by different regional monitoring centres around the world), which by themselves are not reliable enough.

“It is possible that some people may want to underreport emissions, especially if they are given financial incentives to do so,” said Ray Weiss, “or that measurements are tuned to meet standards before inspections”.

For such reasons, the scientists argued that it is very important to combine bottom-up reporting of emissions with top-down reporting, which is being developed at the moment.

Top-down methods which are developed by people like Weiss involve high-frequency measurements coupled with modelling of atmospheric transport. The scientists from SIO added that an important role in better estimates can be played by spatial measurements of GhG, as experimented with in the United States for CO2 and in Japan for methane.

All of these methods must be combined in order to get correct estimates. But the good news from Weiss and Haymet is that such precise measurements are now possible.
To provide a clear incentive for using better measurements, the scientists stressed that precise calculations can play an important role in stabilising the volatile carbon-equivalent trading market, now worth 100 billion dollars.

“If we have the precise numbers for how much emissions are being produced or saved, it will act like a certification seal, leading to increased investor confidence,” Haymet told TerraViva.
(END/2009)

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Q&A: “Copenhagen Should Target the Developed World”

Posted on 04 December 2009 by editor

Andrea Bordé interviews DJIMON HOUNSOU, U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for Climate Change

Actor Djimon Hounsou opens the U.N.Summit on Climate Change in September 2009 with a quote from the late astronomer Carl Sagan.

Actor Djimon Hounsou opens the U.N.Summit on Climate Change in September 2009 with a quote from the late astronomer Carl Sagan. Credit: UN Photo/Marco Castro

UNITED NATIONS (IPS/TerraViva) -  Although a professional actor by trade, Djimon Hounsou takes his role as a U.N. goodwill ambassador for climate change seriously, and hopes to see a strong mandate reached in Copenhagen that puts the spotlight on developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Terraviva spoke with Hounsou about his hopes for what will come out of the climate change conference in Copenhagen.

He believes that developed countries should take responsibility for their share of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, which is currently above 60 percent, but he also hopes to see developing countries launch their own initiatives to combat climate change. Continue Reading

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