Friday, August 28, 2015

Humus depletion induced by climate change?

The yields of many important crops in Europe have been stagnating since the 1990s. As a result, the input of organic matter into the soil — the crucial source for humus formation — is decreasing.

Scientists from the Technical University Munich (TUM) suspect that the humus stocks of arable soils are declining due to the influence of climate change. Humus, however, is a key factor for soil functionality, which is why this development poses a threat to agricultural production — and, moreover, in a worldwide context.

In their study, which has been published in Science of the Total Environment (2015), scientists from the Technical University Munich (TUM) evaluated the crop yield statistics for EU countries compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) since the 1960s. The yields for the three most important cereal crops, wheat, barley, and corn, have been stagnating in Central and Northern Europe for 20 years. “The stagnation in yields has only been statistically verifiable for a few years,” explains Dr. Martin Wiesmeier from the TUM Chair of Soil Science in Freising-Weihenstephan and first author of the study. This finding coincides with those of other studies, which confirm that crop yields, particularly in the case of cereals, are falling throughout the world.

“Due to the strong link between crop yields and the input of organic substances into the soil, the stagnation in yields must also have an impact on the humus stocks in the soil,” says TUM scientist Wiesmeier, “particularly in the context of the steady rise in temperatures.” Given that rising temperatures cause higher levels of humus decomposition while, at the same time, the supply of organic substances is stagnating, a depletion of humus must be expected in the long term.

Climate change and changes in EU agricultural policy as possible causes?

The cause of the yield stagnation has not yet been explained but is probably due to a variety of factors: “Following the introduction of new priorities with the joint EU agricultural policy of the 1990s, among other things, less fertilizer was used and leguminous plants were often omitted from crop rotation cycles,” explains Wiesmeier’s co-author Dr. Rico Hübner from the Chair for Strategic Landscape Planning and Management, also in Weihenstephan. “Few authors have discussed this as a reason for the stagnation in crop yields,” he notes.

However, the changes in climatic conditions arising from climate change could represent a far more important factor here: i.e. temperatures that increasingly exceed the optimum level for plant growth, like those experienced this summer, shifts in the vegetation periods, and more frequent droughts. “This inevitably leads to stagnation in crop biomass production and reduced inputs of organic matter into the soil,” says Wiesmeier.

Moreover, livestock numbers in Europe have also declined significantly since the 1980s. “The spreading of organic fertilizer, another important source of organic matter, is also falling as a result,” adds Wiesmeier.

Early signs of a reduction in humus stocks due to the stagnating harvest yields can already be observed. Initial indications of humus depletion in arable soil have been observed in almost all EU countries in recent years.

Interdisciplinary research group

While many previous studies predicted a future increase in humus levels as a result of climate change, based on their current findings, the TUM scientists are critical of this assumption: If the input of organic matter stagnates, soil will lose some of its humus in the long term. “If this trend continues, it could have negative impacts on soil fertility and water storage capacity,” concludes TUM scientist Wiesmeier. “This, in turn, could ultimately result in poorer harvests — a vicious circle,” he adds.

To counteract the problem, agriculture needs to make far greater use of positive measures for the promotion of humus formation. “These include the diversification of crop rotation, the application of green manure and winter greening to reduce soil erosion, optimized soil cultivation, organic farming, agroforestry, and leaving crop residues on fields,” explains Hübner. The study authors also consider that interdisciplinary research on the causes of yield stagnation and humus depletion is essential, “as a single discipline alone cannot solve this problem.”

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Technical University of Munich (TUM).

 

 

Methane Leaks in Natural-Gas Supply Chain Far Exceed Estimates, Study Says

A little-noted portion of the chain of pipelines and equipment that brings natural gas from the field into power plants and homes is responsible for a surprising amount of methane emissions, according to a study published on Tuesday.

Natural-gas gathering facilities, which collect from multiple wells, lose about 100 billion cubic feet of natural gas a year, about eight times as much as estimates used by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the study, which appeared in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The newly discovered leaks, if counted in the E.P.A. inventory, would increase its entire systemwide estimate by about 25 percent, said the Environmental Defense Fund, which sponsored the research as part of methane emissions studies it organized.

“The gathering and processing sector, a piece of the supply chain that most people don’t even know exists, may be the biggest single fraction of emissions coming from natural gas,” said Mark Brownstein, who leads the Environmental Defense Fund’s work on methane emissions.

Methane is the main component of natural gas and has a more potent short-term effect on climate change than carbon dioxide. The effect that the newfound emissions would have on climate change over 20 years, the Environmental Defense Fund said, would be similar to that of 37 coal-fired power plants.

The new study, led by researchers at Colorado State University, involves measurements of 114 natural-gas gathering facilities and 16 processing plants in 13 states.

Many gathering facilities use puffs of natural gas in valves that open and close to regulate gas or liquid flow, releasing a bit of methane into the air with every cycle. Anthony J. Marchese, a professor of mechanical engineering at Colorado State and the lead author of the new study, said that this practice surprised him. “I was: ‘Really? That’s what they do?’ ” he said.

Companies can substitute other relatively inexpensive technologies for the methane-leaking systems, he said, but “they’re so used to using gas pneumatic, and they think it’s so reliable, they are reluctant to change.”

The recognition of gathering facilities as a major source of methane leaks is an opportunity to look harder and fix them, and to upgrade to equipment that does not emit natural gas, Mr. Brownstein said. “None of this is rocket science,” he said. “Most of it is auto mechanics.”

The Obama administration, while promoting a boom in natural gas, has pushed for businesses to reduce leaks. The E.P.A. proposed new standards on methane emissions on Tuesday. Those rules, however, would apply only to new and modified equipment. “That clearly doesn’t begin to address the majority of the problem — the stuff that is already in the field and operating,” Mr. Brownstein said.

The agency has not closely tracked emissions from gathering facilities before. A statement by the agency in response to questions about the study said that the “E.P.A. looks forward to reviewing the upcoming E.D.F. study on methane emissions from natural gas systems.”

Citing the administration’s methane strategy and noting that “substantial new amounts of information” were becoming available, the statement said that the “E.P.A. will continue to refine its emission estimates to reflect the most robust and up-to-date information available.”

Professor Marchese said that the amount of gas that escapes from gathering facilities each year could heat 3.2 million homes. Wasting a potentially valuable resource, not to mention harming the environment, he said, mystified him. “Why would you ever vent it when you can use it to generate electricity?” he added.

A spokesman for one of the gas industry companies that participated in the study said that the research would be helpful. “This ultimately helps us perform better,” said John Christiansen, a spokesman for Anadarko Petroleum. The research would help the company “get that methane back in the sales line,” he added, “which is ultimately in our best interest — and everybody’s best interest.” More

 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Let us fix this planet before we go out and ruin another

 

Hawaii Flips Switch on World’s Largest Ocean Harvesting Clean Energy Plant

Hawaii is definitely ahead of the curve when it comes to renewable energy.

In June, the Aloha state became the first state to mandate that all of its electricity come from renewable sources no later than 2045. Along with other islands, its charging ahead with wind, solar and smart grid systems. But now, the state is home to the first fully closed-cycle Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) plant in the U.S.

OTEC is “a process that can produce electricity by using the temperature difference between deep cold ocean water and warm tropical surface waters,” Makai Ocean Engineering, the company that built the plant, explains on its website. “OTEC plants pump large quantities of deep cold seawater and surface seawater to run a power cycle and produce electricity.” Makai touts OTEC as a constant, clean energy source that is “capable of providing massive levels of energy.”

Watch this short video for an explanation of how it works.

Makai staff explain in the video that the potential for OTEC is immense because the source of the energy is just sunlight.

“About 70 percent of the sunlight coming to Earth lands on the ocean. Most of that is captured in the surface layers of the ocean water in the form of heat,” says Duke Hartman, vice president of business development at Makai. “That’s beautiful because we can extract that energy 24/7 and use that power any time we want it, totally eliminating the need for an energy storage system.”

The 105-kilowatt demonstration plant on the Big Island, which cost about $5 million to build, only generates enough electricity to power 120 homes. But to date, it’s the largest such plant in the world. And it’s promising enough for the U.S. Navy to be investing in it. The Navy has a target for 50 percent of its shore-based energy to come from alternative sources in five years.

While the industry is still very much in its infancy, Makai believes it won’t be long until it takes off.

“The plant is dispatchable, meaning the power can be ramped up and down quickly to accommodate fluctuating demand and intermittent power surges from solar and wind farms,” Hartman told Bloomberg.

The company estimates that all of Hawaii’s electricity needs could be met by about 12 commercial-scale OTEC plants. They already have plans to construct a 1-megawatt facility in Japan, and Hartman says Brazil, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and West African nations all have potential.

“Anywhere tropical with deep water is ideal, especially if they import their fuel,” says Hartman.

The biggest challenge remains financing, explains Hartman. “We need a visionary investor to get us past the expensive pilot project into the large-scale commercial projects,” he said.

According to the company’s website, an offshore commercial-scale OTEC plant could prevent burning roughly 1.3 million barrels of oil each year, produce electricity at roughly $0.20 per kilowatt-hour and prevent more than half a million tons of carbon emissions per year.

 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Kiribati president says Australia's loyalty to coalmines 'selfish and unjust'

The president of Kiribati has criticised Australia’s commitment to new coalmines on economic grounds as a “very selfish perspective” that illustrates the “fundamentally unjust” dynamics of climate change.

Anote Tong, whose small Pacific island nation is threatened by rising sea levels, has written to other national leaders calling for a worldwide moratorium on new mines ahead of UN climate talks in Paris in December.

Tong, who called for a pact to end new coal projects “simply to find some very concrete action on climate change”, told Guardian Australia he knew it would “touch on sensitivities”.

“I know the closure of coal-fired power plants will not happen,” he said.

“But at least the moratorium on coalmines, it gives people that sense that something can be done … and it allows those involved in the industry time to adapt. I thought it would be more achievable.

“In climate negotiations to date we keep talking around the numbers, two degrees or more than two degrees celsius. [But] it’s about what we do. And coal is certainly something very concrete, very significant in terms of what it does.”

In recent weeks the Australian government and the mining lobby have portrayed environmental groups as saboteurs of valuable coal projects, using legal challenges to put jobs and economic growth at risk.

Tong, who said he was yet to receive a reply from the Australian government, wrote in his letter that “science, as confirmed by the [intergovernmental panel on climate change], dictates that for the world to avoid catastrophic climate change, we must leave the vast bulk of carbon reserves in the ground”.

Asked about the economic arguments raised in defence of the continued advance of Australia’s coal industry – including its self-proclaimed role in helping alleviate world poverty– Tong said: “My response is very simple: it’s a very selfish perspective.

“I understand and I’ve always said that for Australia, climate change is not the top of the agenda because they’ve got high ground,” he said. “We don’t.”

Other countries had refused to acknowledge the “fundamentally unjust” situation that climate change is “not contained within the countries that create it”.

“The question is: do we have the moral obligation to worry and care about those for whom this is a serious issue?” Tong said.

“My answer is yes. You have every responsibility and obligation to do something about it. If it was happening inside Australia, there is no doubt at all in my mind that it would be on top of what everyone was doing.”

Amid fears about Kiribati’s survival, the government has been forced to consider radical engineering schemes to mitigate a shrinking land mass, while buying farmland in Fiji as a “food security” measure.

Climate change had dominated his 12-year term as president (which will end next year), but recent unprecedented tidal flooding and cyclones represented a “new and frightening” development.

“It puts some panic in people,” Tong said. “It’s not something we’re talking about happening into the future – we can see the problem. What do we do when the next tide comes? And we have a spring tide coming at the end of this month.

“There are really no sceptics [in Kiribati] at the present moment in time.

“I must be honest to say that I’ve never really gone out of my way to publicise to our own people what is happening because I didn’t see the sense in making them fear what they really cannot do anything about.

“So my focus has been trying as much as possible to alert the international community to the fact planet Earth has a problem, and so do we.”

Tong said the ideal outcome of Paris would include “realistic solutions” to the impacts that Kiribati and others face. He is among those lobbying for an international aid package for Kiribati and other vulnerable nations to meet the costs of climate change.

“For us, zero emissions is not even good enough. The reality is what’s already in the atmosphere will … continue to raise the sea to levels that would ensure that we go down,” he said.

“The future is guaranteed to be very terrible in a very short space of time. We need a package.”

Suggestions that vulnerable countries be given loans instead of grants were not politically acceptable.

“People will not go for it. It is the responsibility of the international community to come up with a package,” he said.

He hoped that “what happens in terms of delivery, what happens in terms of the targets, will happen very soon – sooner rather than later”.

“It is a moral issue and it’s absolutely unjust for those to go ahead and do what they’re doing without regard for those whose survival will be in question,” he said. More

 

Unite for climate action

 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Islamic Declaration Blasts Short-Sighted Capitalism, Demands Action on Climate

Just as scientists announced July was the hottest month in recorded history, and ahead of a major climate summit in Paris later this year, an international group of Islamic leaders on Tuesday released a public declaration calling on the religion's 1.6 billion followers to engage on the issue of global warming and take bold action to stem its worst impacts.

"What will future generations say of us, who leave them a degraded planet as our legacy? How will we face our Lord and Creator?" —Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change

Released during an international symposium taking place in Istanbul, the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change is signed by 60 Muslim scholars and leaders of the faith who acknowledge that—despite the short-term economic benefits of oil, coal, and gas—humanity's use of fossil fuels is the main cause of global warming which increasingly threatens "a functioning climate, healthy air to breathe, regular seasons, and living oceans."

The declaration states there is deep irony that humanity's "unwise and short-sighted use of these resources is now resulting in the destruction of the very conditions that have made our life on earth possible."

"Our attitude to these gifts has been short-sighted, and we have abused them," it continues. "What will future generations say of us, who leave them a degraded planet as our legacy? How will we face our Lord and Creator?"

The declaration by the Muslim leaders follows the widely lauded encyclical released by Pope Francis, leader of the Roman Catholic Church, earlier this summer in which he called for a drastic transformation of the world's economies and energy systems in order to stave off the worst impacts of an increasingly hotter planet. Additionally, hundreds of Jewish Rabbis also released a Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis and dozens of other denominations and churches have joined the global movement to divest their financial holdings from the fossil fuel industry.

Fazlun Khalid, founder of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences and a signatory to the declaration, said the unified statement "is the work of world renowned Islamic environmentalists" and that its goal is to trigger richer dialogue and further action. Khalid said he would be happy if other people adopt or improve upon the ideas contained within the document.

"Civil society is delighted by this powerful Climate Declaration coming from the Islamic community as it challenges all world leaders, and especially oil producing nations, to phase out their carbon emissions and supports the just transition to 100% renewable energy as a necessity to tackle climate change, reduce poverty and deliver sustainable development around the world." —Wael Hmaidan, Climate Action Network

As with the papal encyclical, the Muslim scholars take special note of how global capitalism—namely the "relentless pursuit of economic growth and consumption"—has fostered an energy paradigm that now threatens the sustainability of living systems and human society.

With a focus on the upcoming Conference of Parties (COP21) talks in Paris, the declaration urges leaders to forge an "equitable and binding" agreement and called on all nations to:

  • Aim to phase out greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible in order to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere;
  • Commit themselves to 100 % renewable energy and/or a zero emissions strategy as early as possible, to mitigate the environmental impact of their activities;
  • Invest in decentralized renewable energy, which is the best way to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development;
  • Realize that to chase after unlimited economic growth in a planet that is finite and already overloaded is not viable. Growth must be pursued wisely and in moderation; placing a priority on increasing the resilience of all, and especially the most vulnerable, to the climate change impacts already underway and expected to continue for many years to come.
  • Set in motion a fresh model of wellbeing, based on an alternative to the current financial model which depletes resources, degrades the environment, and deepens inequality.
  • Prioritise adaptation efforts with appropriate support to the vulnerable countries with the least capacity to adapt. And to vulnerable groups, including indigenous peoples, women and children.

When it comes to wealthier nations and the oil-rich states of the world, the declaration called on them to specifically:

  • Lead the way in phasing out their greenhouse gas emissions as early as possible and no later than the middle of the century;
  • Provide generous financial and technical support to the less well-off to achieve a phase-out of greenhouse gases as early as possible;
  • Recognize the moral obligation to reduce consumption so that the poor may benefit from what is left of the earth’s non-renewable resources;
  • Stay within the ‘2 degree’ limit, or, preferably, within the ‘1.5 degree’ limit, bearing in mind that two-thirds of the earth’s proven fossil fuel reserves remain in the ground;
  • Re-focus their concerns from unethical profit from the environment, to that of preserving it and elevating the condition of the world’s poor.
  • Invest in the creation of a green economy.

Additionally, focusing on the corporate sector and business interests who profit most from exploitative activities and the current burning of fossil fuels, the declaration argues those institutions to:

  • Shoulder the consequences of their profit-making activities, and take a visibly more active role in reducing their carbon footprint and other forms of impact upon the natural environment;
  • In order to mitigate the environmental impact of their activities, commit themselves to 100 % renewable energy and/or a zero emissions strategy as early as possible and shift investments into renewable energy;
  • Change from the current business model which is based on an unsustainable escalating economy, and to adopt a circular economy that is wholly sustainable;
  • Pay more heed to social and ecological responsibilities, particularly to the extent that they extract and utilize scarce resources;
  • Assist in the divestment from the fossil fuel driven economy and the scaling up of renewable energy and other ecological alternatives.

Such a rounded and full-throated declaration was met with applause by climate campaigners, anti-poverty advocates, and social justice voices from around the world.

"Muslim leaders single out wealthy nations and oil producing states to lead on a fossil fuel phase out and provide support to those less well off to curb emissions and adapt to a changing climate. They also call on big business to stop their relentless pursuit of growth, change their extractive models and provide greater benefits for people and the climate."
—Lies Craeynest, Oxfam International

"Today’s declaration is an unprecedented call by Muslim leaders to end the destruction of Earth’s resources," stated Lies Craeynest, the food and climate justice director for Oxfam International. "Muslim leaders single out wealthy nations and oil producing states to lead on a fossil fuel phase out and provide support to those less well off to curb emissions and adapt to a changing climate. They also call on big business to stop their relentless pursuit of growth, change their extractive models and provide greater benefits for people and the climate."

Referring to Pope Francis' earlier declaration, Craeynest acknowledged the vital importance of religious leaders taking such bold and powerful stances. "As leaders of the two largest global faiths express grave concern about our fragile climate, there is no justifiable way political leaders can put the interests of the fossil fuel industry above of the needs of people, particularly the poorest, and of our planet."

Wael Hmaidan, international director of the Climate Action Network, called the declaration a potential game changer and said, "Civil society is delighted by this powerful Climate Declaration coming from the Islamic community as it challenges all world leaders, and especially oil producing nations, to phase out their carbon emissions and supports the just transition to 100% renewable energy as a necessity to tackle climate change, reduce poverty and deliver sustainable development around the world."

Celebrating the growing call among faith communities and religious scholars for bold climate action, Hoda Baraka, the global communications director for the climate action group 350.org, said the Islamic declaration reveals the important ways in which international consensus is solidifying across cultures. "With the end of the fossil fuel era approaching," declared Baraka, "we have a moral responsibility to expedite the transition to clean energy protecting those most impacted from the climate crisis. The declaration’s call for divestment reinforces the moral impetus behind the fast-growing movement to divest from fossil fuels and helps expand its reach in faith communities around the world."

Speaking for the UN climate body, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres also welcomed the declaration.

"A clean energy, sustainable future for everyone ultimately rests on a fundamental shift in the understanding of how we value the environment and each other," Figueres said. "Islam’s teachings, which emphasize the duty of humans as stewards of the Earth and the teacher’s role as an appointed guide to correct behavior, provide guidance to take the right action on climate change." More

 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Rapidly Mobilizing American Politics On Climate

CHANNELING THE POWER OF THE POPE’S ENCYCLICAL THROUGH THE PLEDGE TO MOBILIZE CLIMATE STRATEGY

The Pope calls on each of us to undertake an "ecological conversion" to protect humanity and the natural world — Creation — from climate catastrophe. He also calls for the "ecological conversion" of civilization.

The Pledge to Mobilize is a tool to achieve this ecological conversion — on the individual and national level.

The Pledge to Mobilize calls on the federal government to convert the American economy to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 through an emergency, WWII-scale mobilization.

When Individuals take the Pledge, they commit their time, money, and vote to achieving this goal. Most importantly, they commit to spreading the Pledge to others—to spreading the ecological conversion. More

 

 

Islamic Climate Change Declaration Calls for Zero Emissions Strategy


18 August 2015: Islamic leaders, during an International Islamic Climate Change Symposium, called on the world's 1.6 billion Muslims to take an active role in combating climate change and urged governments to agree to a new climate change agreement in Paris.


The Symposium convened to discuss proposed messages from the Islamic community and to mobilize stakeholders in advance of the Paris Climate Change Conference in December 2015. It also aimed to seek consensus on an ‘Islamic Declaration on Climate Change,' which was drafted and circulated for comments prior to the symposium.


Approximately 60 participants, including international development policymakers, faith group leaders, academics and other experts, attended the Symposium, which met from 17-18 August 2015, in Istanbul, Turkey. The event provided the opportunity for: networking with leaders from other faiths and secular organizations; promoting inter-faith and cross-movement cooperation around joint messages; focusing on the role and contribution of Muslims to the climate movement; and securing high-level representation from participating stakeholder groups. The Symposium reaffirmed that the Islamic faith community represents a significant section of the global population and, thus, can be influential in the climate change discourse.


The 'Islamic Declaration on Climate Change,' agreed to by participants, presents the moral case, based on Islamic teachings, for Muslims and people of all faiths to act on climate change. It was drafted by international Islamic scholars from around the world and is “in harmony” with the Papal Encyclical.


The Declaration urges: setting clear targets and monitoring systems; phasing out greenhouse gas emissions; committing to 100% renewable energy and/or a zero emissions strategy; and richer countries and oil-producing states to lead the way in phasing out their emissions by 2050. The Declaration also calls for, inter alia: the provision of financial and technical support to poorer countries to phase out greenhouse gases; limiting temperature rise to below 2°C, and preferably below 1.5°C; investing in a green economy; and prioritizing adaptation efforts with support to more vulnerable countries.


In addition, the Declaration urges corporations, finance and the business sector to, inter alia: reduce their carbon footprint; commit to 100% renewable energy and/or a zero emissions strategy; adopt a “circular economy that is wholly sustainable”; consider social and ecological responsibilities; and help in divesting from the fossil fuel driven economy.


Welcoming the Declaration, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Secretary Christiana Figueres said that Islam's teachings, which emphasize the “duty of humans as stewards of the Earth and the teacher's role as an appointed guide to correct behavior,” provides guidance to take action on climate change.


The Pew Research Center data estimates that 84% of the world's population is religiously affiliated, which points to the importance of support by faith groups for climate action. Many other faiths and denominations have also called for governments to act on climate change, including through the Papal Encyclical, a forthcoming Buddhist Declaration on climate change and a Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis. [Symposium Website] [Islamic Declaration on Climate Change] [UNFCCC Press Release] [Climate Action Network Press Release] More

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Op-Ed: The Challenge of Small Island Developing States

The United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States defines small island developing states, or SIDS, as "a distinct group of developing countries facing specific social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities."

These countries are across the globe in the Caribbean, the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and the Mediterranean and South China Sea.

In addition to common difficulties faced by developing countries, SIDS have an additional series of challenges to cope with that require special assistance from the international community.

These challenges were highlighted in the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) and the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation (MSI) of 2005, both of which stated that the difficulties SIDS face in the pursuit of sustainable development are particularly severe and complex.

Recognition of these issues was reinforced in September of 2014 when Member States of the United Nations officially adopted the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action, known as the SAMOA Pathway.

The challenges that SIDSs face are varied, but all conspire to constrain their development processes.

They typically do not have a wide base of resources available to them, and thus do not benefit from cost advantages that this could potentially generate.

Coupled with small domestic markets, they experience difficulties in profiting from globalisation and trade liberalisation and are cripplingly reliant on external and remote markets with limited opportunities for the private sectors.

The cost of provision of energy, infrastructure, transport and communication are high, and along with high population densities, creates increased pressure on these already limited markets.

These developing countries generally have a heavy reliance on tourism and services; however, as a consequence of their low resilience and location, they are also heavily affected by disasters due to frequent natural hazards.

The unique characteristics and vulnerabilities facing SIDS were first addressed by the international community at the Earth Summit (United Nations (UN) Conference on Environment and Development) in Brazil in 1992.

The SIDS case was the focus of Agenda 21, a non-binding, voluntarily implemented plan of action of the Summit, committed to addressing the problems of sustainable development of SIDS.

This plan involved adopting methods to enable SIDS to function and cope effectively with environmental change, and to mitigate the impacts and reduce the threats posed to their marine and coastal resources.

Following Agenda 21, the Barbados Programme of Action was introduced in 1994, in an effort to provide further aid and support to SIDS. Similarly, its ultimate aim was to improve sustainable development.

It highlighted the challenges of converting Agenda 21 into precise strategies, movements and procedures at the national, regional and international level and listed fifteen areas of priority for specific action.

Five further areas were selected by the UN General Assembly in 1999, recognising their urgency. These five were: climate change, as the rising sea level could render some low-lying SIDS submerged; natural and environmental disasters and climate variability, with an emphasis of improving disaster preparedness and recovery; freshwater resources, preventing water shortages as demand increases; coastal and marine resources, promoting the protection of coastal ecosystems and coral reefs; energy, developing solar and renewable energy in order to lessen dependence on imported oil; and finally tourism, focusing on the management of the growth of the tourism industry and the protection of the environment and cultural integrity.

The 2005 Mauritius Strategy of Implementation further complemented the BPOA.

It gave recognition to the challenges that are unique to SIDS, and proposed further action towards their sustainable development.

The MSI emphasised the location of SIDS in the most vulnerable regions of the world with respect to natural and environmental disasters and their rapidly increasing impact.

It made call for a global early warning system covering threats such as tsunamis, storm surges and cyclones, and stressed that some major adverse effects of climate change are already being observed.

Further, the MSI recognised the importance of international trade for building resilience and sustainable development in SIDS, and established the necessity for international institutions, including financial ones, to pay more specific attention to the structural drawbacks of SIDS.

The MSI went further on matters of trade, stating that "most small island developing states, as a result of their smallness, persistent structural disadvantages and vulnerabilities, face specific difficulties in integrating into the global economy".

More recently, in September 2014, the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action, also known as the SAMOA Pathway, was adopted. As in the case of the previous adoptions, the strategy recognises the need to support and invest in SIDS so that they can achieve sustainable development. Distinguishing the Samoa Pathway slightly from the BPOA and the MSI is the idea of investing in the education and training of the people of SIDS.

The aim of this idea was to create "resilient societies and economies, with full and productive employment, social protection and decent work for all", and to provide "full and equal access to quality education at all levels", the latter which is a vital ingredient for achieving sustainable development.

The promotion of education for sustainable development is especially crucial for SIDS that are under direct threat from climate change, as it will "empower communities to make informed decisions for sustainable living rooted in both science and traditional knowledge". Finally, the SAMOA Pathway supports efforts "to promote and preserve cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, which provide a mechanism for social cohesion and, thus, are essential in building blocks for addressing the challenges of social development".

Many SIDS have recognized the need to embrace sustainability through their own internal processes, however, without external aid from the international community, the required change will not come quickly enough. Following on the adoption of the Samoa Pathway, 2015 is rapidly becoming a watershed year for global processes of importance to SIDS.

Convergence is occurring across a broad spectrum of activities as this year has seen the international community deliberate on the Post 2015 framework for disaster risk reduction which culminated in the adoption of the Sendai Framework, new expected agreements in the post 2015 development agenda with Sustainable Development Goals replacing the Millennium Development Goals. New agreements are also expected on how development is financed and there remains expectation of a new international agreement on climate change.

Given their far reaching impact, these developments are critical, particularly when viewed from the perspective of the small island developing state.

Notwithstanding the global consensus, serious challenges remain for SIDS and for the foreseeable future; they will remain a special case for sustainable development.

However, with a global consensus and an avid commitment to the advancement of sustainable development in these countries, positive change is most certainly on the horizon.

George Nicholson is the Director of Transport and Disaster Risk Reduction and Anastasia Ramjag is the Research Assistant of the Directorate of Transport and Disaster Risk Reduction of the Association of Caribbean States.

Note: the opinions expressed in Caribbean Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Caribbean Journal. More

 

 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Climate Reality Training in Miami with Al Gore

Hello!

I’m reaching out today on behalf of The Climate Reality Project, an organization started by former Vice President Al Gore focused on creating a global movement calling for action on climate. We have an upcoming training opportunity in Miami, Florida that I believe you and others who follow The Climate War Room and The Cayman Institute will be interested in.

As we are all aware, the time has come for action on climate. On September 28-30 in Miami, The Climate Reality Project and Mr. Gore will be hosting a training for new Climate Reality Leaders to help grow the movement. There has never been a better time to engage your friends and colleagues on this issue. The Miami training will not only provide attendees with cutting edge tools to most effectively communicate climate change to your community but will also enter them into a community of over 8,000 devoted individuals from 126 countries who are committed to using their voices to address the climate crisis.

Our training in Miami will highlight the unique challenges that climate change poses to the state of Florida and what some local governments are already doing to tackle them; Florida’s huge untapped solar energy generating capacity; and the role of the ever strengthening Latino voice and vote in driving climate action. At the training, Mr. Gore, and experts and influencers from across the climate sphere will present in panels, take questions, and host breakout sessions.

We encourage you to recommend outstanding leaders in your personal and professional life who would be well suited for giving presentations and helping to build strong support for action on climate change. They can apply for the Climate Leadership Corps Training here. I’ve also attached a document you can share with your network, which has a little more information about who we are and what the Miami training will cover. The deadline to apply is August 26th, 2015.

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

Warm regards,

Joseph Moran | Program Assistant-Climate Reality Leadership Corps

750 Ninth Street, NW, Suite 520 | Washington, DC 20001


NOTICE OF CONFIDENTIALITY & DISCLAIMER
The information contained in this e-mail and any attachments is CONFIDENTIAL and is intended only for the use of the addressee. Any unauthorized use, disclosure, distribution, dissemination, or copying is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you are not the intended recipient, you are prohibited from any further viewing of the e-mail or any attachments or from making any use of the e-mail or attachments. If you believe you have received this e-mail in error, notify us immediately and permanently delete the e-mail, any attachments, and all copies thereof from any drives or storage media and destroy any printouts of the e-mail or attachments and any copies of such printouts. Although this e-mail and any attachments are believed to be free of any virus or other defect that might negatively affect any computer system into which it is received and opened, it is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure that it is virus-free and no responsibility is accepted by the sender for any loss or damage arising in any way in the event that such a virus or defect exists. Thank you for your cooperation.

 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Economics of Happiness

http://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/the_economics_of_happiness/

Economic globalization has led to a massive expansion in the scale and power of big business and banking. It has also worsened nearly every problem we face: fundamentalism and ethnic conflict; climate chaos and species extinction; financial instability and unemployment.

There are personal costs too. For the majority of people on the planet life is becoming increasingly stressful. We have less time for friends and family and we face mounting pressures at work.

The Economics of Happiness describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, government and big business continue to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, all around the world people are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance—and, far from the old institutions of power, they're starting to forge a very different future. Communities are coming together to re-build more human scale, ecological economies based on a new paradigm -- an economics of localization.

We hear from a chorus of voices from six continents including Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, David Korten, Michael Shuman, Juliet Schor, Zac Goldsmith and Samdhong Rinpoche - the Prime Minister of Tibet's government in exile. They tell us that climate change and peak oil give us little choice: we need to localize, to bring the economy home. The good news is that as we move in this direction we will begin not only to heal the earth but also to restore our own sense of well-being. The Economics of Happiness restores our faith in humanity and challenges us to believe that it is possible to build a better world.

http://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/the_economics_of_happiness/

 

Friday, August 7, 2015

ATTEND A CLIMATE REALITY TRAINING WITH AL GORE

The Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Miami, Florida, which will be held September 28-30, will bring together a select group of individuals committed to addressing the impacts of climate change and implementing the solutions that will define us to future generations. This training is an opportunity to join a global network of leaders committed to solving the climate crisis.

Over the course of three days, you’ll have the opportunity to hear from experts who will share information about the science behind the climate crisis as well as their experiences educating and engaging diverse networks and communities. You will also have the chance to connect with a group of extraordinary leaders from a variety of sectors and countries around the world.

"Life changing," "re-affirming," and "empowering" are just some of the ways past participants have described their experience. Come as a leader, leave as a Climate Reality Leader. More

 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Climate Reality Training in Miami with Al Gore

I’m reaching out today on behalf of The Climate Reality Project, an organization started by former Vice President Al Gore focused on creating a global movement calling for action on climate. We have an upcoming training opportunity in Miami, Florida that I believe you and others who follow The Cayman Institute / The Climate War Room will be interested in.

As we are all aware, the time has come for action on climate. On September 28-30 in Miami, The Climate Reality Project and Mr. Gore will be hosting a training for new Climate Reality Leaders to help grow the movement. There has never been a better time to engage your friends and colleagues on this issue. The Miami training will not only provide attendees with cutting edge tools to most effectively communicate climate change to your community but will also enter them into a community of over 8,000 devoted individuals from 126 countries who are committed to using their voices to address the climate crisis.

Our training in Miami will highlight the unique challenges that climate change poses to the state of Florida and what some local governments are already doing to tackle them; Florida’s huge untapped solar energy generating capacity; and the role of the ever strengthening Latino voice and vote in driving climate action. At the training, Mr. Gore, and experts and influencers from across the climate sphere will present in panels, take questions, and host breakout sessions.

We encourage you to recommend outstanding leaders in your personal and professional life who would be well suited for giving presentations and helping to build strong support for action on climate change. They can apply for the Climate Leadership Corps Training here. I’ve also attached a document you can share with your network, which has a little more information about who we are and what the Miami training will cover. The deadline to apply is August 26th, 2015.

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

Warm regards,

Joseph Moran | Program Assistant-Climate Reality Leadership Corps

750 Ninth Street, NW, Suite 520 | Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE OF CONFIDENTIALITY & DISCLAIMER
The information contained in this e-mail and any attachments is CONFIDENTIAL and is intended only for the use of the addressee. Any unauthorized use, disclosure, distribution, dissemination, or copying is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you are not the intended recipient, you are prohibited from any further viewing of the e-mail or any attachments or from making any use of the e-mail or attachments. If you believe you have received this e-mail in error, notify us immediately and permanently delete the e-mail, any attachments, and all copies thereof from any drives or storage media and destroy any printouts of the e-mail or attachments and any copies of such printouts. Although this e-mail and any attachments are believed to be free of any virus or other defect that might negatively affect any computer system into which it is received and opened, it is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure that it is virus-free and no responsibility is accepted by the sender for any loss or damage arising in any way in the event that such a virus or defect exists. Thank you for your cooperation.

UNFCCC’s Internship Programme - General Information and Governing Conditions

Purpose

The objective of the internship programme is to provide a framework through which postgraduate students from diverse academic backgrounds may be assigned to the UNFCCC secretariat to enhance their educational experience through practical work assignments. It allows selected candidates to gain insight into the work of the United Nations and provides assistance and training in various professional fields.

UNFCCC secretariat’s internship programme is coordinated by the Administrative Services Programme and a designated focal point is responsible for liaising with the relevant substantive programmes for placement of interns. At the end of an internship period, both the intern and the staff member acting as his/her supervisor are required to submit an evaluation report to the designated focal point of the Internship Programme.

Eligibility requirements

i) An undergraduate degree should have been completed with work on a Master degree in progress. Applicants should therefore be enrolled in a recognized university course of study in fields related to the work of the UNFCCC secretariat (including economics, environmental sciences, international law, international relations, natural sciences, political science, human resources and/or public administration, event management, IT/computer sciences, and communication) at the time of application and during the entire period of internship.

ii) Applicants should be able to work in English.

Applicants pursuing their studies in countries where higher education is not divided into undergraduate and postgraduate stages should have completed at least four years of study and be a student at the time of application and during the internship.

Terms and conditions

a) The normal duration of an internship is two months, which can be extended for an additional period of two months by mutual consultation and consent. The total duration may exceptionally be extended to a maximum period of six months when there are special academic requirements or special needs of the receiving programme.

b) Applicants may not be related - i.e. spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son - to a staff member of the UNFCCC secretariat.

c) Upon selection for an internship placement, an ‘Internship Agreement’ is forwarded to the confirmed candidate for signature and returned together with proof of medical insurance coverage for the entire duration of the internship. This must be done prior to the agreed starting date.

d) There is no promise of employment either during or upon completion of an internship with the UNFCCC secretariat.

e) An intern with UNFCCC secretariat is not a staff member of the UNFCCC secretariat, therefore the privileges and immunities agreed between the UNFCCC secretariat and the host Government do not apply to interns.

f) An intern undertakes to conduct himself/herself at all times in a manner compatible with his/her responsibilities as an intern of the UNFCCC secretariat.

g) The intern is required to keep confidential all unpublished information made known during the course of the internship, and must not publish any reports or papers on the basis of information obtained, except with the prior written authorization of the UNFCCC secretariat. These obligations will not lapse upon the expiration of the internship period. More