THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
Monday 29 September 2008
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
; AFP: Africa awash in sunlight, but not solar energy
; The New Nation: Mexico to host World Environment Day
; International Business Times: Olympic Games Accelerates Haier's Global Branding
; Nigerian Tribune: Tackling climate change can create new jobs - ILO
; MediaGlobal: Reducing deforestation important to cutting carbon emissions
; HK News: Olympic Games Accelerates Haier's Global Branding
; Eco-wordly: Sun-drenched Africa Not Reaping Benefits of Solar
; Daily Yomiuri Online (Japan): Kansai U.N. offices helping to restore Iraq marshlands
; Greater Kashmir: Tourism can not thrive in isolation
; Sunday Herald: Pirates call all the shots
Other Environment News
; Reuters: Financial turmoil no bar to climate deal: U.N.
; AFP: World Bank collects 6.1 bln dlrs in pledges for climate funds
; AP: Schwarzenegger to convene global climate summit
; Reuters: Rich nations' greenhouse gases fell in 2006: survey
; Reuters: Europe warms fast: Med drier, north ever wetter
; Reuters: Clogged Beijing unveils new traffic controls
; AP: Pope says tourists must not harm the planet
Environmental News from the UNEP Regions
Other UN News
; Environment News from the UN Daily News of 26 September 2008
; Environment News from the S.G.‘s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 26 September
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
AFP: Africa awash in sunlight, but not solar energy
by Jerome Cartillier Sun Sep 28, 2:43 AM ET
PARIS (AFP) - From household solar panels to thermal generators big enough to power a town, sun power has enjoyed explosive growth around the world.
Everywhere, that is, except on the sun-drenched continent of Africa.
With an average daily dose of five-to-seven kilowatts per hour (kWh) for every square metre (10 square feet), Africa has more potential for producing energy from the sun than almost anywhere on Earth, with the possible exception of northern Australia or the Arabian peninsula.
Yet the continent accounts for only a miniscule percentage of the world's solar energy output. And most of what it does generate is produced in one country, South Africa.
"In Africa, there is a growing awareness of the potential benefits of solar, especially as the conventional grid continues to prove unreliable. Lots of people are looking for alternatives," said Lawrence Agbemabiese, a Paris-based energy expert at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). And the need for energy could hardly be more urgent: in sub-Saharan Africa barely one person out of four has access to grid electricity. And in the region's rural areas, this falls to just a tenth. At the micro scale, grassroots groups are pushing solar through simple, low-tech applications. One such example is the solar cooker, in which a polished concave dish focuses sunbeams onto a pot, slowly heating water.
But on a macro scale, solar power is almost untapped. Why so?
Most reasons boil down to money.
Solar panels, or photovoltaic systems, use semiconductors to generate electricity, and can be used for individual buildings or villages. Another solar source, but in a collective role, is solar thermal, which uses the sun to create steam that turns a turbine to generate electricity.
Both technologies are sprouting across wealthier economies, but only thanks to tax breaks and discounts that remain beyond the reach of the planet's poorest continent.
"The photovoltaic boom in Europe and Japan depend on a very generous pricing structure. It is a policy found only in rich countries," explained Yves Bruno Civel, head of France's Renewable Energy Observatory, based in Paris.
"One has to be realistic: Africa will not be able to surf on the current wave. That will happen when economies of scale result in a drop in prices," said Agbemabiese.
Beyond financial constraints, solar technologies suffer from an image problem in parts of Africa, because they usually operate on a small scale and in isolation.
Indeed, some rural areas continue to resist solar energy out of fear that it will preclude later access to national or regional electricity networks.
But there is a silver lining: in the same way that cell phones are a cost-efficient alternative to laying telephone lines, the very fact that solar panels can be installed in the remotest of regions can make them a more affordable solution than connecting to existing power grids.
There can be hidden costs of depending on a centralised source of energy, explained Agbemabiese. For rural hospitals, for example, an eight-hour power cut by the electricity grid can destroy thousands of dollars' worth of medicine, he said.
Some governments have initiated policies to promote use of solar energy at village level. In west Africa, for example, Burkina Faso offers state-backed micro-credit loans, paid back over two or three years, that make it possible for a family to purchase a solar panel. Ghana is also looking at how to set up a system of financial incentives.
The continent is also making its first tentative steps towards large-scale solar generators big enough to power an entire region.
A "solar plan" sketched by the newly-minted Union for the Mediterranean -- a grouping of European Union (EU) nations and non-EU countries -- aims to create gargantuan thermodynamic generators in the middle of the Sahara Desert.
With a projected output of 100 gigawatts by 2050, a project initiated by Middle Eastern and North African nations called "Desertec" could not only help power large swathes of northern Africa, but parts of Europe as well via trans-Mediterranean cables.
One gigawatt is enough to power a city the size of San Francisco.
Concerns about soaring oil costs, dependence on Russian natural gas, and climate change have made some EU nations keen to push the project forward.
But sub-Saharan Africa -- far from Europe, lacking infrastructure and in some places prone to chronic instability -- will have a hard time attracting such investments, experts say.
Back to Menu
The New Nation: Mexico to host World Environment Day
Mexico, a country at the crossroads of the Green Economy and one increasingly in the centre of regional and global affairs will host the international 2009 World Environment Day celebrations.
The theme chosen by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which coordinates the day on 5 June on behalf of the UN system and the peoples of the world, will be 'Your Planet Needs You-UNite to Combat Climate Change'. It reflects the urgency for nations to agree on a new agreement at the crucial climate convention meeting in Copenhagen some 180 days later in the year, and the links with overcoming poverty and improved management of forests.
The news that Mexico has been chosen to host World Environment Day (WED) 2009 was announced jointly by President Felipe Calderón and Achim Steiner, UNEP's Executive Director at a press conference in Mexico City.
The decision in part reflects the growing practical and political role of the Latin American country
in the fight against climate change, including its growing participation in the carbon markets.
Mexico is also a leading partner in UNEP's Billion Tree Campaign. The country, with the support of its President and people, has spearheaded the pledging and planting of some 25 per cent of the trees under the campaign.
UNEP has now launched a new and more ambitious phase-the Seven Billion Tree Campaign.
This aims to see more than one new tree planted for every person alive by the Copenhagen meeting as one empowering symbol of the global publics' desire for action by their political leaders on the greatest challenge for this generation. President Calderón said:"It is great news that today the UN, through Achim Steiner, has announced that Mexico will be the international seat for World Environment Day next 5 june here in our beloved country".
He said he hoped WED would not only be a time of reflection on the great challenges facing humanity including climate change, but an event linked with "a lot of action and committment".
"Undoubtedly this decision further underlines Mexico's determination to manage natural resources and deal with the most demanding challenge of the 21st century-climate change," said President Calderón.
Mr Steiner, who is also a UN Under-Secretary General, said: "I am delighted that the President and the people of Mexico will be the hosts of WED only some 180 days before governments meet in Copenhagen before the crucial UN climate convention meeting".
"Mexico is at the cross-roads of the Green Economy politically, physically and practically. Firstly it still has many challenges, from high air pollution in cities and dependence on fossil fuels to land degradation and the need to fight poverty. But Mexico is also emerging as one among a group of developing economies who are bringing much needed leadership to the need for a new, comprehensive and decisive climate treaty," he said. Mr Steiner(see notes to editors on new data) said that in addition Mexico was seizing the opportunities of the carbon markets and had, in just four short years, become second only to Brazil in terms of wind, solar, biogas and other Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects in the region.
"Thirdly Mexico's ambitions in terms of combating climate change under its new Special programme-ambitions that include renewable energy to using forests and other nature-based assets as carbon sinks-will send a clear message to countries in the region and the world that Mexico means to be part of the solution," he noted. "Finally, Mexico is set to be one of the big economies of the 21st century along with nations like China and India. Thus its ability to encourage the greening of the economy of neighboring nations-both North and South of its borders-will be significant," he noted. Mexico, which accounts for around 1.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, is demonstrating its commitment to climate change on several fronts.
Mexico was praised by Non Governmental Organizations at the recent climate convention talks in Accra, Ghana for being among a group of countries willing to build bridges between the North and the South.
UNEP is looking forward to the shortly-to-be published Special Programme on Climate Change covering 2008-2012.
It is likely to set ambitious goals for the Mexican economy from boosting the climate-friendliness of 'hard' infrastructure via energy efficiency and an increase in renewables to boosting the carbon management of Mexico's 'soft' infrastructure including its forests and soils.
Close to 30 per cent of the projects are renewables which includes wind, solar, biogas and biomass. Biogas represents 70 per cent of Mexico's CDM renewables-here the methane from wastes is harvested to generate electricity rather than flared.
The Risoe Centre stresses that, given Mexico's relatively high level of industrialization, it has huge opportunities in terms of energy efficiency which remain to be exploited. If all its CDM projects to date are registered, then Mexico could generate over 14 million Certified Emission Reduction (CERS) annually versus a world total of 529 million.
Risoe estimates that, by 2012 there could be a total of 1,600 Latin American and Caribbean CDM projects in the pipeline or registered-a more than doubling.
It is estimated that 260 million CERs could be generated equaling $3.9 billion with a value per CER of $15 a tonne of C02.
The aim is to reach the total capacity of 2,500,000 cubic metres of installed SWH systems in Mexico by the end of 2011.
It also aims to support continuing sustainable growth of the market beyond the project's life in order to reach the target to 23.5 million cubic metres of installed capacity by 2020. This has been estimated to correspond to an estimated cumulative greenhouse gas reduction potential of over 27 million tons of CO2 by 2020.
China, the world leader in solar water heaters, has an installed solar water heater capacity of around 100 million cubic metres million and has created 600,000 green jobs. Thus, by 2020, Mexico might have the potential to generate jobs for some 150,000 people in this sector as a result of the new project. World Environment Day was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Another resolution, adopted by the General Assembly the same day, led to the creation of UNEP. WED is commemorated each year on 5 June in a different city. It is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action.
The day's agenda is to give a human face to environmental issues; empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development; promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues; and advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future. World Environment Day is also a popular event with colourful activities such as street rallies, bicycle parades, green concerts, essay and poster competitions in schools, tree planting, as well as recycling and cleaning-up campaigns.
On that particular day, heads of State, Prime Ministers and Ministers of Environment deliver statements and commit themselves to care for the Earth. Pledges are made which lead to the establishment of permanent governmental structures dealing with environmental management. It also provides an opportunity to sign or ratify international environmental conventions.
Last year the main global host was New Zealand and the theme was 'Kick the C02 Habit-
Towards a Low Carbon Economy'.
Back to Menu
International Business Times: Olympic Games Accelerates Haier's Global Branding This article also appears in Market Watch
Posted 29 September 2008 @ 02:48 am EST
QINGDAO, China, Sept. 29 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- Haier, the world's fourthlargest white goods manufacturer, closed with success its sponsorship of theBeijing 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and is on track to reach its goalof becoming a truly global brand.
As the official white goods sponsor of the Beijing 2008 Olympic andParalympic Games, Haier combined the enthusiasm for the Olympic Spirit withits global branding strategy to expedite its globalization process. Accordingto a survey conducted by IPSOS in August 2008, 90% of respondents recognizedHaier is a global company among all the sponsors. This is a 47% increase from43% of respondents in the same period one year ago.
The Olympic Games platform also offered Haier the opportunity tostrengthen its relationship with distributors globally. Haier's top clientsexpressed overwhelming pleasure with its hospitality program during theOlympic Games, articulating great confidence in Haier's future. Thisconfidence translated into real business value: in the first eight months of2008, Haier's turnover overseas increased 26% more than compared with the sameperiod in 2007.
In support of the "Green Olympics," Haier actively worked to reduce theenvironmental footprint of the Olympic Games by providing over 60,000environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient products to all the Olympicvenues in Beijing and co-host cities. This provision demonstrates the "green"quality of Haier's products and the company's commitment to a sustainablefuture, which has been recognized by Greenpeace. The United NationsEnvironment Program (UNEP) praised the Beijing Organizing Committee for theGames of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), the City of Beijing, and the co-hostCities for its environmental initiatives. Haier will carry on the "GreenOlympics" legacy and introduce more "green" products to the global market.
Mr. ZHANG Ruimin, Chairman and CEO of Haier, said: "Haier's objective isto become a global brand; the fact that Haier already started itsglobalization process gave us the strength to sponsor the Olympic Games. TheOlympic Games provided us with a great platform to showcase the quality of ourproducts to the world. The Games have boosted our globalization process bylinking Haier to the Olympic Rings and Spirit."
"The Olympic Games are like a large ship - only those with a clear visioncan steer the ship in the right direction. In this globalization andinformation age, Haier strives to satisfy the needs of our customers morequickly and more accurately; we will continue working toward becomingrecognized internationally as a company offering products 'Innovated in China'rather than 'Made in China'."
Haier raised its profile globally through a series of activities duringthe Olympics. Haier will fulfill its "One Gold Medal, One Olympic HopeSchool" program where 51 schools will be built
throughout rural China to helpmore than 30,000 disadvantaged children finish school. Over 82,000 Chineseand international visitors experienced the future of home appliance technologyinside the Haier "Making the World a Home" experience center.
About Haier Group
Founded in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, in 1984 under the leadershipof ZHANG Ruimin, its current Chairman and CEO, Haier Group Co. Ltd. is theworld's fourth largest white goods manufacturer. Distributed in more than 160countries and regions, Haier is one of the best known Chinese brands in theworld. Haier employs 50,000 people, including 10,000 outside China.
Back to Menu
Nigerian Tribune: Tackling climate change can create new jobs - ILO
By Soji-Eze Fagbemi
Early global efforts to avert dangerous climate change are already generating new jobs and could produce millions of new employment opportunities, according to a new study to be launched globally by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the International Organisation of Employers (IOE).
The study, entitled ―Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World,‖
will be issued under embargo on Wednesday.
The report is the first comprehensive study on the emergence of a ―green economy‖ and its
impact on the world of work. It includes new data that shows a changing pattern of employment in which green jobs are being generated in many sectors and economies around the world as a result of measures to tackle climate change and to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. This has also led to changing patterns of investment flows into areas such as renewable energy and energy efficiency at the household and industrial level. Within current policy frameworks, only a fraction of the potential benefits for jobs and development is forthcoming. The report makes a series of policy recommendations for the international community in the lead-up to the UN Climate Convention meeting in Copenhagen in late 2009.
A main point of interest will be improved access to investment for developing countries, and boosting energy efficiency in buildings and industry worldwide.
The report also calls for financial support for countries to develop productive but low-emission agriculture and to manage forests to increase carbon absorption potential and to generate green jobs in the forestry sector in the tropics.
Back to Menu
MediaGlobal: Reducing deforestation important to cutting carbon emissions
By Gabrielle Wade
28 September 2008 [MEDIAGLOBAL]: According to the intergovernmental panel on climate
change (IPCC), tropical deforestation accounts for almost 20 percent of all human carbon emissions, and from 1990 to 2005 the rate of deforestation averaged 13 million hectares. Stacks of confiscated timber logged illegally in the National Tapejos forest (Photo: UN/Eskinder Debebe)
Forests tend to be cleared for economic gains, either to create more farming land for crop planting, to allow animals to graze and eventually erode the land, or to attain wood to be exported. The effects such acts have on the environment, however, are serious. Norway Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg speaking at a United Nations conference Wednesday said, ―By
reducing deforestation, we can achieve the largest, the quickest and the cheapest cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions.‖
Stoltenberg was joined at the meeting by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to announce the UN Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) initiative. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, ―Reducing deforestation in developing countries is a key element in addressing the global climate change challenge,‖ and went on to explain, ―this,
however, will be a complex and challenging feat in terms of setting up incentive structures and implementation mechanisms and will require a long-term commitment.‖
In order to determine proper economic compensation for countries that reduce their carbon emissions by reducing deforestation, there must be a way to convert hectares of forest into carbon emissions. ―We have to create global guidelines, global agreements, on how to monitor, how to measure, how to convert forest into carbon and how to have verification of the results,‖
said Stoltenberg. Such guidelines will be discussed at the December 2009 Copenhagen climate change conference, where a post-2012 climate regime will be created.
UNEP Spokesperson Nick Nuttall told MediaGlobal one of the likely Copenhagen debates will
be whether to have a fund that developed countries contribute to in order to ―pay communities and countries not to chop the trees down,‖ or to create a market mechanism, ―something that‘s a little bit more related to the price of carbon on the markets,‖ where countries can trade carbon
If a fund is created for developed countries to donate to developing ones, the money received could be spent on development plans and infrastructure for developing countries. One estimate, for example, found that Indonesia could receive $1 billion annually if its deforestation rate was reduced to one million hectares per year, according to a United Nations press release. Another issue is how to create incentives for developed countries to contribute to such a fund if it is created, but Nuttall said, ―The developed countries have an interest in offsetting part of their emissions, and at the moment they can do that by renewable energy projects or cleaner energy projects.‖ Therefore, by contributing to UN-REDD in the future, developed countries will be able
to further offset their emissions while supporting developing countries.
The new program, which will be carried out by UNEP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was created after the 2007 Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in which countries agreed on the Bali Action Plan. As part of the plan, a decision on ―reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries‖ was adopted, and Parties were mandated to include possible financial incentives for forest-based climate change mitigation in developing countries for the post-2012 plan.
Stoltenberg said, ―The UN-REDD initiative is a quick-start action program that aims to
demonstrate that early results are possible in some of the major forests of the world.‖ Initially, the Norwegian Government will provide $35 million to help countries establish systems to monitor, assess, report and verify forest cover and carbon stocks and to support pilot projects that will be used to test ways of managing existing forests.
Already, Bolivia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Tanzania, Viet Nam, and Zambia have expressed interest in received help from UN-REDD, and some have said they plan to develop national strategies and build necessary capabilities to ―quick start‖ their efforts.
―REDD hopes to become an established program for dealing with reduced emissions,‖ said Nuttall, and UN Department of Public Information Officer Dan Shepard told MediaGlobal, ―The
idea is to get this going by the pilot project from Norway.‖
UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis said, ―The scope of the climate challenge ahead of us
requires that we innovate in the way we do development. Reducing carbon emissions by providing countries and local communities with incentives for not cutting down forests is emerging as a creative and effective way to help us address the climate change challenge, protect vital ecosystems and support livelihoods.‖
Back to Menu
HK News: Olympic Games Accelerates Haier's Global Branding
(美通社)9月29日 星期一 12:45
Recognition as a Global Company Increases
Clients More Confident in Haier
QINGDAO, China, Sept. 28 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- Haier, the world's fourth largest white goods manufacturer, closed with success its sponsorship of the Beijing 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and is on track to reach its goal of becoming a truly global brand.
As the official white goods sponsor of the Beijing 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Haier combined the enthusiasm for the Olympic Spirit with its global branding strategy to expedite its globalization process. According to a survey conducted by IPSOS in August 2008, 90% of respondents recognized Haier is a global company among all the sponsors. This is a 47% increase from 43% of respondents in the same period one year ago.
The Olympic Games platform also offered Haier the opportunity to strengthen its relationship with distributors globally. Haier's top clients expressed overwhelming pleasure with its hospitality program during the Olympic Games, articulating great confidence in Haier's future. This
confidence translated into real business value: in the first eight months of 2008, Haier's turnover overseas increased 26% more than compared with the same period in 2007.
In support of the "Green Olympics," Haier actively worked to reduce the environmental footprint of the Olympic Games by providing over 60,000 environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient products to all the Olympic venues in Beijing and co-host cities. This provision demonstrates the "green" quality of Haier's products and the company's commitment to a sustainable future, which has been recognized by Greenpeace. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) praised the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), the City of Beijing, and the co-host Cities for its environmental initiatives. Haier will carry on the "Green Olympics" legacy and introduce more "green" products to the global market.
Mr. ZHANG Ruimin, Chairman and CEO of Haier, said: "Haier's objective is to become a global brand; the fact that Haier already started its globalization process gave us the strength to sponsor the Olympic Games. The Olympic Games provided us with a great platform to showcase the quality of our products to the world. The Games have boosted our globalization process by linking Haier to the Olympic Rings and Spirit."
"The Olympic Games are like a large ship - only those with a clear vision can steer the ship in the right direction. In this globalization and information age, Haier strives to satisfy the needs of our customers more quickly and more accurately; we will continue working toward becoming recognized internationally as a company offering products 'Innovated in China' rather than 'Made in China'."
Haier raised its profile globally through a series of activities during the Olympics. Haier will fulfill its "One Gold Medal, One Olympic Hope School" program where 51 schools will be built throughout rural China to help more than 30,000 disadvantaged children finish school. Over 82,000 Chinese and international visitors experienced the future of home appliance technology inside the Haier "Making the World a Home" experience center.
About Haier Group
Founded in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, in 1984 under the leadership of ZHANG Ruimin, its current Chairman and CEO, Haier Group Co. Ltd. is the world's fourth largest white goods manufacturer. Distributed in more than 160 countries and regions, Haier is one of the best known Chinese brands in the world. Haier employs 50,000 people, including 10,000 outside China.
Back to Menu
Eco-wordly: Sun-drenched Africa Not Reaping Benefits of Solar
Written by Joshua S Hill
Published on September 28th, 2008
Posted in Africa
It is not a hard proposition to imagine that the continent of Africa has a large potential for being a generator of solar power. Just the ads from eager humanitarian organizations would shed a measure of light on the apparent vast stretches of nothing being drenched in sunlight.