Thursday, October 30, 2008

Climate Change and Human Rights

Last week Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) convened an open-ended consultation on the relationship between climate change and human rights in preparation of an OHCHR study on this subject due to be considered by the Human Rights Council at its tenth session in March 2009.

More than 150 representatives of States, Inter-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions and civil society organizations contributed to an engaging and fruitful discussion on the interface between climate change and human rights. The high quality of presentations made by expert panelists secured a substantive level of participation throughout the day. A number of these presentations are
now available on the OHCHR website at: More >>>

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Beijing to co-host high level conference on climate change in November

BEIJING, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- Almost 100 countries, international organizations and non-government organizations would attend the high-level conference on climate change next month, said the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) here Tuesday.

The Beijing High-Level Conference on Climate Change: Technology Development and Technology Transfer would be held Nov. 7-8 to discuss current development of environmentally sound technologies, and the demand of and obstructions in the transfer of such technologies, said Gao Guangsheng, a NDRC senior official at a press conference.

The meeting is co-hosted by China and the United Nations.

China would put forward its propositions on the establishment of a mechanism to promote international technology transfer at the conference, said Gao. More >>>

Monday, October 27, 2008

Risks of global warming greater than financial crisis-Stern

HONG KONG, Oct 27 (Reuters) - The risks of inaction over climate change far outweigh the turmoil of the global financial crisis, a leading climate change expert said on Monday, while calling for new fiscal spending tailored to low carbon growth.

"The risk consequences of ignoring climate change will be very much bigger than the consequences of ignoring risks in the financial system," said Nicholas Stern, a former British Treasury economist, who released a seminal report in 2006 that said inaction on emissions blamed for global warming could cause economic pain equal to the Great Depression.

"That's a very important lesson, tackle risk early," Stern told a climate and carbon conference in Hong Kong. More >>>

Friday, October 24, 2008

Global Green New Deal

Environmentally-Focused Investment Historic Opportunity for 21st Century Prosperity and Job Generation

UNEP Launches Green Economy Initiative to Get the Global Markets Back to Work

London/Nairobi, 22 October 2008 - Mobilizing and re-focusing the global economy towards investments in clean technologies and 'natural' infrastructure such as forests and soils is the best bet for real growth, combating climate change and triggering an employment boom in the 21st century.

The call was made today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and leading economists as they launched the Green Economy Initiative aimed at seizing an historic opportunity to bring about tomorrow's economy today.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "The financial, fuel and food crises of 2008 are in part a result of speculation and a failure of governments to intelligently manage and focus markets".More >>>

It's not too late to save planet: UN climate chief

October 24, 2008 - The head of the UN's peak scientific body on climate change believes it is still possible for the world to reach an agreement that will avoid the risk of catastrophic global warming.

Rajendra Pachauri's optimism about an accord is at odds with the Federal Government's adviser, Professor Ross Garnaut. Dr Pachauri said world attention on climate change would increase despite the current economic crisis, leading people to call for tougher action to keep global temperatures from rising above 2 to 2.4 degrees.

"If you look at parts of Africa, by 2020 there will be 75 million to 250 million people living under water stress on account of climate change," he said yesterday. "Are we going to ignore the welfare and, I would say, even the peace and stability of societies that are so vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and say 'No, we can't do it'?" More >>>

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Danish PM says 5 elements needed for new global climate change agreement

BEIJING, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said here on Thursday that five crucial elements would be needed for a new climate change agreement expected to be reached at the Copenhagen conference next year.

The first would be a long-term vision for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent in 2050 from the 1990 baseline, Rasmussen said at the first Chinese-Danish Climate Change Conference that opened here on Thursday.
The upcoming Conference of Parties (COP15) of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen is regarded as the final opportunity to reach a new agreement before the Kyoto Protocol expires.

All industrialized countries will have to commit to an ambitious medium-term goal, the second element, according to Rasmussen.
"Without clear commitments to reductions from the industrialized countries in a 10 to 15 year perspective, it will be difficult to achieve cost effective measures." More >>>

Monday, October 20, 2008

Global warming faster than expected, WWF says

Monday 20 October 2008 - The EU should prepare to respond with more swift and ambitious climate change policies as global warming is accelerating at a faster pace than previously thought, a new scientific report states.

The report, published by the WWF, uses the first new scientific data on climate change since the publication of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report in 2007. It shows that global warming is in fact gathering pace faster than the IPCC forecast.

The report reveals that global sea levels are now expected to rise by more than twice the IPCC's maximum estimate of 0.59m by the end of the century, putting vast coastal areas in danger, while higher temperatures have already reduced global yields of wheat, maize and barley. Furthermore, the Arctic Ocean is now losing ice up to 30 years ahead of previous projections, according to the WWF. More >>>

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Eying rainwater harvesting as water crisis deepens

A girl collecting rainwater from an underground reservoir in Mirpur Photo: STAR
Dhaka - October 20 2008: Harvesting rainwater on the rooftop can be a possible alternative solution to acute water crisis in Dhaka city, experts say.

Many agencies, including the Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) are studying the feasibility of rainwater harvesting as alternative source of water and a way to recharge the depleted groundwater table.

Mizanur Rahman, senior hydrogeologist, Institute of Water Modelling (IWM), currently conducting a study said, “Rainwater harvesting has immense possibility in Dhaka city. Bangladesh is a country of heavy monsoon. The water that goes down the drain and causes waterlogging every year can serve a better purpose.”

The capital city averages nearly 1,700 to 2,200 mm rainfall per year while the nationwide average is around 2,200 to 2800. Monsoon usually lasts from May to October and there is occasional rainfall also in November.

Dhaka city is situated on around 370 sq km of land with a roof area of 75 sq km as there are around 6,75,000 concrete houses in the city. With the current amount of rainfall IWM estimates that around 149160 million litres of water can be harvested during the monsoon. More >>>

Saturday, October 18, 2008

California Maps a Plan to Slow Down Global Warming

The state's plan could be a model for other states, or even the federal government 

SAN FRANCISCO— October 16, 2008 - The presidential candidates certainly paid lip service to tackling the problem of climate change during their debate last night. But what would it actually take to slow down—or even reverse—global warming?

California lawmakers tried to answer that question two years ago when they passed the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, a first-of-its-kind law that spelled out the state's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In the absence of any federal regulation, the law ordered the state to lower its carbon emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020, a 25 percent reduction. "We simply must do everything in our power to slow down global warming before it's too late," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said at the time, thumbing his nose, many thought, at a White House that was dragging its feet on climate change.

This week, the California Air Resources Board, the state agency tasked with implementing the law, released the first details of exactly what the state must do to achieve its global warming goals. In a 142-page report many experts believe could serve as a policy template for other states—and even the federal government—the board provides specific estimates of exactly how and where the state could have an impact on climate change. More >>>

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Report says Arctic temperatures at record highs

WASHINGTON (AP) 16 October 2008 — Autumn temperatures in the Arctic are at record levels, the Arctic Ocean is getting warmer and less salty as sea ice melts, and reindeer herds appear to be declining, researchers reported Thursday.

"Obviously, the planet is interconnected, so what happens in the Arctic does matter" to the rest of the world, Jackie Richter-Menge of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H., said in releasing the third annual Arctic Report Card.
The report, compiled by 46 scientists from 10 countries, looks at a variety of conditions in the Arctic.
The region has long been expected to be among the first areas to show impacts from global warming, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is largely a result of human activities adding carbon dioxide and other gases to the atmosphere. More >>>

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hurricanes and Climate Change: NCAR Launches Intensive Study into Future Hurricane Risk

Zooming in on future climate.

October 08, 2008-- NCAR scientists are using a combination of weather and climate computer models to simulate the atmosphere in three dimensions at resolutions ranging from about 20 miles across a large part of the Northern Hemisphere to as fine as 2.5 miles in targeted areas of North America (red boxes).
This strategy enables scientists to forecast future climate in detail for specific regions without overloading existing supercomputing resources.

BOULDER—The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), working with federal agencies and universities as well as the insurance and energy industries, has launched an intensive study to examine how global warming will influence hurricanes in the next few decades. The goal of the project is to better inform coastal communities, offshore drilling operations, and other interests that could be affected by changes in hurricanes.

The project will use a combination of global climate and regional weather models, run on one of the world's most powerful supercomputers, to look at future hurricane activity in unprecedented detail. Researchers are targeting the hurricane-prone Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea to assess the likely changes, between now and the middle of the century, in the frequency, intensity, and paths of these powerful storms. Initial results are expected early next year. More >>>

UN: crisis must not stop climate change action

WARSAW, Poland (AP) 14 October 2008 — Environment ministers agreed Tuesday that the world financial crisis must not halt efforts to combat global warming, a top United Nations climate official said.

Officials from the U.S., China, Canada, India, the European Union and more than 30 other countries met for two days of informal talks in Warsaw ahead of a climate conference in December.
"There was a very strong consensus that the current financial turmoil should not be an excuse to slow down action on climate change," Yvo de Boer, executive secretary for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, told The Associated Press after the talks.
"Many ministers said that addressing climate change can deliver important economic benefits that are important in the light of the current financial situation as well," de Boer added.
Scientists say the emission of carbon and other greenhouse gases, mostly from fossil fuels, must peak within 10 to 15 years and then drop sharply to avoid potentially catastrophic changes in the climate. More >>>

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Inconvenient truths about global warming

VENICE -- October 14, 2008 -- I saw a colorful clothing advertisement on my way here. It said "global warming ready," and showed this city's famous San Marco square filled with parrots instead of pigeons. But if global warming proceeds at the current pace, the parrots of a newly tropical Europe will fly by overhead. For Venice could be well under water in future centuries.

Refugees fleeing the invasion of Germanic tribes in the 5th century could not have imagined when they first settled along this enchanted lagoon that their savior, the sea, could become their worst enemy.

Nowhere are the problems more obvious - the fragile lagoon against the background of chimneys spewing greenhouse gases on the mainland. It is not just a problem of industry lowering the water table that is causing Venice to sink. Rising sea levels worldwide will also have to be accounted for. Besides physical barriers to close the lagoon to floods, engineers here are seeking ways to help nature itself regenerate land. More >>>

Saturday, October 11, 2008

An Accurate Picture Of Ice Loss In Greenland

ScienceDaily (Oct. 10, 2008) — Researchers from TU Delft joined forces with the Center for Space Research (CSR) in Austin, Texas, USA, to develop a method for creating an accurate picture of Greenland’s shrinking ice cap. On the strength of this method, it is now estimated that Greenland is accountable for a half millimetre-rise in the global sea level per year.

The research was based on data from the German-American GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellites, two satellites that have been orbiting the earth behind each other since mid-2002. Deviations in the earth’s gravitational field cause fluctuations in the distance between the satellites, which is measured to a precision of a millionth of a metre. As gravity is directly related to mass, these data can be used to plot changes in the earth’s water balance, such as the disappearance of the ice caps.
More >>>

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

NASA Scientist Says Global Warming Danger Amounts to 'Planetary Emergency'

October 8 2008 ; NASA climate scientist James Hansen was among the first to alert the public to the dangers of climate change. He did so at a congressional hearing conducted by then-Senator Tim Wirth.

"In 1988, he stepped to the front of the line of the scientific community to proclaim a human fingerprint on the earth's rising temperature," Wirth said. "It was a brave, a lonely leadership role he played then and he hasn't stopped for one day since."

At a Washington event recalling that hearing, Hansen said the world has long passed dangerous levels for greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

"We really have reached a point of a planetary emergency," Hanson said. "And it is because there are tipping points in the climate system which we are very close to and which, if we pass, the dynamics of the system can take over. So the momentum of the system will carry you to very large changes which are out your control." More >>>

Monday, October 6, 2008

Now is the time to tackle global warming - Stern

Tuesday October 7 2008: Lord Stern of Brentford has suggested the credit crunch might provide an opportunity to invest in measures to tackle global warming as a way of stimulating economic growth.

Speaking to the Guardian ahead of a speech to launch a new climate change economics centre at the London School of Economics, the author of the government's influential report on climate change, said there were "two kinds of danger" because of the current fears of recession.

"One [is] people can only concentrate on a limited number of things at the same time, and the second is people will be sensitive to cost increases, and those will have to be managed carefully," he said. "There's a danger: it needs leadership."

But, he said, the current problems could help boost investment in tackling climate change because they have highlighted the dangers of not tackling risks early enough, and could create much more international cooperation. More >>>

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Energizing Investors and Inovators to Think Outside the Grid

10.02.2008 “The issue of our time is the combination of energy security and climate change,” said former Congressman Sherwood Boehlert at “Thinking Outside the Grid: An Aggressive Approach to Climate and Energy,” a September 23, 2008, forum co-sponsored by Wilson Center On the Hill and the Environmental Change and Security Program.

Boehlert noted that the energy security-climate change nexus has received more attention lately, due to record gas prices; successful advertisement campaigns like that of Texas oil magnate-turned-wind farm entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens; and bestselling books like Thomas Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How It Can Renew America. More >>>