THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
Monday, 3 December 2007
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
Bali in the News
? 'Seize the chance for change'; Bali meeting is an opportunity for the global
community to rally and agree on pact to cut emissions (Straits Times)
? Bali's road map for planet's survival (The Observer)
? Profile: President of COP13 (Xinhua)
Other UNEP News
? Iran ranks 13th, US first in term of emission of carbon dioxide (Islamic Republic News Agency) ? Regional seminars address need to protect Caribbean Sea from pollution (Caribbeannetnews) ? Book sells Kenya to potential investors (Business Daily)
Other Environment News
Bali in the News
? Bali talks seek new climate pact, poor at risk (Reuters)
? Backgrounder: Chronology of UNFCCC (Xinhua)
? Kyoto's failure haunts new U.N. talks (L.A Times)
? Climate change may wipe some Indonesian islands off map (Reuters)
? Climate Talks Take on Added Urgency After Report (New York Times)
? Bali conference 'a key test' for Rudd (ABC)
? UN Kicks Off Bali Climate Conference (AP)
? Climate change conference opens on Indonesia's Bali (AFP)
? UK to seek pact on shipping and aviation pollution at climate talks (Guardian)
? Key climate summit opens in Bali (BBC)
? Climate conference opens in Bali (Aljazeera)
? Spotlight on China and India as delegates gather for U.N. global warming summit in
? Bali talks aim to jumpstart climate change fight (Reuters)
? America holds the key to climate talks (Financial Times)
? CLIMATE CHANGE-JAPAN: Looking to Play a Key Role in Bali (IPS)
? Eyes of the world on Bali (Jakarta Post)
? Sharp divide over new climate treaty (Hindus Times)
? Climate change debate hots up in India (NDTv)
? In Bali, new urgency for a climate change accord (Christian Monitor)
Other Environment News
? As oil surges, some in U.S. tap biofuel for heat (Reuters)
? Expanding tropics could spur storms: study (Reuters)
Environmental News from the UNEP Regions
Other UN News
? Environment News from the UN Daily News of 3 December 2007(none)
? Environment News from the S.G.‘s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 3 December 2007
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
Bali in the news
Straits Times: 'Seize the chance for change'; Bali meeting is an opportunity for the global community to rally and agree on pact to cut emissions
Achim Steiner, For The Straits Times
WHEN I step into the conference centre in Bali, I will do so with a far lighter foot-fall than perhaps I would have done 12 months ago.
The spirit of optimism that has taken hold across the world on climate change is palpable, and the momentum is breathtaking.
Can Bali deliver a meaningful outcome and can the international community really rally to forge a deep and decisive emissions reduction regime to kick in by 2012?
Twelve months ago, I might have demurred and prevaricated. The past was characterised by stalemate and finger pointing, with polarised positions lending lethargy and indolence to international attempts to resolve the greatest challenge of our generation.
Not today. Indeed, when one casts a glimpse across the climate change landscape unfolding and the innovations underway, many significant achievements have already been made.
Governments across the world are paving the way forward.
The decision by the European Union to go for a 20 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, and 30 per cent if others follow, has reaffirmed the once-fading leadership role of developed countries.
Brazil, often criticised for the felling of the Amazon, has reduced deforestation by more than 50 per cent.
In India, the Prime Minister has requested a wide-ranging assessment of greenhouse gas emissions in order to pinpoint areas for action.
China has also reaffirmed its determination to reduce energy intensity and meet its renewable energy targets.
In the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, billions of dollars are being invested in solar power.
Countries in East Africa are testing fiscal and market-shaping instruments to encourage small-scale hydro- and biomass-power generation.
In the United States, close to half of all the states have established renewable energy requirements, and more than 300 cities have set emissions reduction targets in line with the Kyoto Protocol.
Australia's new administration has pledged to ratify the pact. Several countries, including Norway, Costa Rica and New Zealand, have said they will become carbon neutral.
Many others are waiting in the wings, and the United Nations has agreed to achieve similar aims across all the agencies and programmes. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) will be among the first, and we hope to announce carbon neutrality shortly.
Meanwhile, corporations in both the developed and developing worlds are switching investments and production lines towards greener goods and services.
De-carbonising and climate proofing the global economy is also about jobs.
A study by the US-based Management Information Services estimated that in 2005, the US environmental industry generated more than 5.3 million jobs. It reckoned that the environmental industry employs 10 times more workers than the US pharmaceutical industry.
In June this year, a Britain-based company, Eaga, which improves the energy efficiency of homes, floated on the London Stock Exchange - it employs 4,000 people in one of Britain's former coal mining regions.
Hansen, a wind power gear-box maker owned by Indian company Suzlon, is building a new factory in Coimbatore that will employ 800 people. A second newly built factory in Tianjin, China, will employ 600.
The Indian city of New Delhi is introducing new eco-friendly compressed natural gas buses, creating an additional 18,000 jobs.
Such jobs are more desirable as well.
In a US survey, more than 90 per cent of the young respondents said they would choose to work for an environmentally friendly and socially responsible company.
Another poll found workers in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Britain and the US happier and more likely to stay if they think their employers have strong corporate social responsibility policies.
The wider social impact is also becoming apparent.
Britain launched its Environmental Task Force as part of the New Deal for young unemployed people in 1998. The government estimated that around 45 per cent of those taking part find work immediately afterwards.
The Green Jobs Act in the US talks about the green economy as a 'pathway out of poverty'.
Future trends are promising.
Mr Roland Berger, a Munich-based consultancy, estimated that more people will be employed in environmental-tech industries in Germany in 2020 than in the car industry.
A report by UNEP's Finance Initiative estimated that the market providing finance for clean and renewable energies could reach $1US.9 trillion ($2S.7 trillion) by 2020.
In the wider environmental landscape, more creative market mechanisms are emerging, such as power companies with hydroelectric stations paying farmers to maintain forests and soils upstream in Costa Rica and Kenya.
Last week, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Commerce Ministry in China announced bans and restrictions on foreign investment in mining and some energy sectors, saying the country wants to encourage foreign investment that will instead protect the environment, cut pollution, develop renewable energy and stimulate innovation.
Research by the University of California at Berkeley indicated that 250,000 to 300,000 new jobs could be generated in the US if 20 per cent of its electricity needs were met by renewable sources.
It is within this landscape that delegates and governments meet in Bali. It may be too much to expect countries to agree over the next few days to a new post-2012 emissions reduction regime.
But agreements on the parameter of the negotiations and on completion in 2009 will be a key litmus test as to whether governments got the message of the past year.
Needless to say, the established industrialised economies must be the early movers. But the roles of rapidly developing economies in the coming decades and the part they can play in the climate challenge will be central too.
We also really need movement on the issue of standing forests under the banner of 'Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation'. Deforestation is accountable for around 20 per cent of the current greenhouse gas emissions.
Pledges on additional and serious levels of funding for adaptation must be part of the Bali equation, alongside technology transfer of clean and green technologies to developing countries.
Indeed, it is a good sign that ministers from not only environment but also from finance and trade are going to be part of the Bali talks.
In Bali and beyond, we need to also unleash the trillions of dollars in the world's pension and investment funds and steer them on the sustainable investment path.
If we can meet some of these aims, we can unleash human creativity and innovation on a scale that matches the magnitude of the challenge and expectations of communities and citizens everywhere.
Collectively, we have not only stared into the abyss this year, but also peered into a new future of possibilities and change towards a low- carbon, climate-proofed world.
We have been given choices to transform the way we do business on this planet - I cannot imagine that we can do anything less than seize them.
The writer is the United Nations Undersecretary- General and executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The Observer: Bali's road map for planet's survival
* Juliette Jowit, environment editor
* The Observer
* Sunday December 2 2007
World leaders will converge on the tropical island of Bali this week for the start of negotiations which experts say could be the last chance to save the Earth from catastrophic climate change.
The United Nations conference of 191 countries is the beginning of talks to agree a new international treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change and continue the work of the Kyoto Protocol after 2012.
Last week negotiators were 'managing expectations' and warning that the aim of the gathering of 10,000 people was to agree a 'road map' or timetable for negotiations. 'Bali is about putting a process in motion rather than taking any substantial decisions,' said Michael Roberts, director of business environment for the Confederation of British Industry.
But even such modest ambitions are likely to generate controversy over key issues such as which countries will be expected to sign up to targets to cut emissions, how cuts can be made and who will pay.
Key figures also warned that what is agreed must lead to an agreement at another major conference of the international community in Copenhagen in two years. That would give governments time to ratify the new treaty before the first phase of Kyoto expires. Crucially, this is after the next US President is installed - raising hopes that the biggest obstacle to agreement will have been removed.
Privately, officials admit some extension might be needed to the self-imposed 2009 deadline but publicly all sides appear to have agreed to use it to pile the pressure on negotiators during the 12-day conference. '[The new agreement] has to be in 2009 because we know Kyoto expires in 2012, and it can take a year or two for governments to ratify, so 2009 really is the cut-off point,' said Nick Nuttall, the official spokesman for the United National Environment Programme.
The Bali conference officially opens tomorrow but negotiations will reach the crunch in the final three days, when governments are expected to send their most senior figures to finalise any agreement.
Britain will send the Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, his junior minister Phil Woolas and Nicholas Stern, the former Treasury mandarin who wrote the influential Stern Report arguing that it would cost five to 20 times more to tackle climate change in future than if the world were to act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The first issue to be decided will be the headline promise to limit global warming to an average temperature increase of 2C above pre-industrial levels - and what cuts will be needed to meet that. Estimates range from 50 to 80 per cent by 2050.
With the rapid growth of big economies such as China, India and Brazil, the major debate will be over whether developing nations are forced to accept mandatory targets to cut emissions. Last week China and Brazil were reported as saying they would only make cuts if they were paid.
The other key area of controversy will be how emissions reductions can be made. Likely flashpoints are whether countries should be paid not to chop down forests, support for nuclear power and biofuels as 'low carbon' sources of power in future, and the 'clean development mechanism' - allowing emissions to be 'offset' by investing in reducing them elsewhere.
There will also be pressure from some quarters to set specific targets for some sectors, for example buildings and transport, and to include emissions from aviation and international shipping in future agreements.
Hopes of a successful conference are high, partly because countries are not expected to sign up to any specific commitments. The Bali meeting follows a spate of high-profile reports in the past year warning of the impacts of climate change .
'Bali could be the last chance for humankind to avoid the worst effect of global warming,' said Tony Juniper, executive director of Friends of the Earth.
'The politics of this are changing very quickly. One should be cautiously optimistic about the prospects for getting the outline of the deal because we're stuffed if we don't.'
Xinhua: Profile: President of COP13
BALI, Indonesia, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Indonesian State Minister for Environment Rachmat Witoelar was elected president of the 13th Session of Conference of Parties (COP13) to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) here on Monday.
Witoelar took over the helm from COP12 President David Mwiraria at the opening session of the UN climate change conference which to run until Dec. 14.
Mr. Witoelar earned his Bachelor of Science in Architecture in 1970 from Instititut Teknologi Bandung (ITB). Upon completing his study, his dedication as an architect led him to the establishment of the Indonesian Architecture Organization in 1985, where he is currently a member.
Mr. Witoelar was a former Indonesian Ambassador to Russia (1993-1997). Prior to that, he had a long tenure as a member of the Indonesian Parliament (1971-1993) and chaired Commission V (1976-1977) and VI (1977-1978) of the Parliament.
He was actively involved in national organizations, as the Secretary of the Barisan Nasional (Barnas) since 1999 and as the founder and the chairman of the Indonesia Council on World Affairs (ICWA) in 1998.
At present, he is a member of the government board of ICWA. Mr. Witoelar is also engaged in international negotiations. He was actively involved in the Asian International Parliamentary Organization (AIPO 1983-1991) and a regular delegate to the International Parliamentary Union (IPU 1977-1990). In 2005-2007, he was elected as the President of the UNEP Governing Council.
Water sports are among his private interests. He was one who introduced Windsurfing in Indonesia. As a chief of Marine and Water Sport with a scuba diving certificate, Mr. Witoelar was also engaged in the environmental rehabilitation activities, such as the Jakarta Bay restoration.
Mr. Witoelar has been the State Minister of Environment since 2004.
Other UNEP News
Islamic Republic News Agency: Iran ranks 13th, US first in term of emission of carbon dioxide
Tehran, Dec 2, IRNA
Regional Manager of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Saeed Ferdowsi said on Sunday that according to a report released by UNEP during 2007-2008, the United States of America ranked first while Iran ranked 13th in terms of emission of carbon dioxide.
Speaking to reporters, he said based on latest statistics China, Russia, India, Japan, Germany, Canada, Britain, South Korea, Italy, Mexico and South Africa ranked 2nd to 12th respectively in the list.
Poor countries have the least emission of carbon dioxide on the Earth while suffering the worst ecological consequences, Ferdowsi said.
When global heating bring climate change in Horn of Africa, it means that the agro products would not be produced and people would remain hungry, he pointed out.
Rich countries possessing 15 percent of the world's populations emit about half of the globe carbon dioxide, he said.
To avoid consequences of dangerous climate change, the affluent countries should reduce emission of carbon dioxide by at least 30 percent before the year 2020, he said.
Climate change is a natural phenomenon and no single country can resist it, he said, adding that the only cure to it would be a collective measures by all countries, he pointed out.
Green house gasses leave equal impacts on all countries around the globe irrespective of its source, he underlined.
Production of green house gasses in one country brings climate change to another country, Ferdowsi concluded.
Caribbeannetnews: Regional seminars address need to protect Caribbean Sea from pollution
Published on Monday, December 3, 2007
KINGSTON, Jamaica: Caribbean Countries may be one step closer to having stricter pollution prevention measures in place to protect the Caribbean Sea from pollution by garbage from ships.
This was the feeling following the successful completion of five seminars aimed at the ratification and implementation of Annex V of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78). MARPOL Annex V provides guidelines and regulations for the discharge of garbage for ships at sea and in national ports.
The five pollution prevention seminars took place from November 12 to 22, on board the M/V Freewinds, during its port visits to St Lucia, Barbados, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda.
The Prime Minister of St Lucia, Stevenson King, opened the first of the seminars with an address outlining the importance of this initiative and commending those who facilitated the seminar. He concluded by stating "We, the people, in as much as we continue to promote our country as paradise, must also ensure that in the promotion of paradise, we protect our environment, and not only the land, but also the sea."
According to Commander Curtis Roach, IMO‘s Regional Maritime Adviser for the Caribbean, the
Caribbean Sea was designated a ―Special Area‖ under Annex V of MARPOL 73/78 because of its
high vulnerability to the impacts of pollution and its economic importance to the countries of the
When this designation enters into force, it would prohibit dumping of all garbage by ships into the
Caribbean Sea. Despite the effort by many countries to put required measures in place, Roach
reported that ―the majority of countries in the Wider Caribbean Region had not yet submitted
information to IMO on the state of their respective ship-reception facilities‖.
This information is required for IMO to make an assessment of the status of such facilities
throughout the region, and to enable the Special Area designation to be formally put into effect and
The Seminars were organized by the Regional Activity Center / Regional Marine Pollution
Emergency Information and Training Center for the Wider Caribbean Region (RAC/REMPEITC-
Caribe) based in Curacao in coordination with the M/V Freewinds. Technical support was provided
by experts from the IMO – Jeff Ramos and Herbert Silonero and the United Nations Environment
Program through its Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP) – Chris Corbin.
Thomas Smith, Director of RAC/REMPEITC-Caribe outlined that the seminars were very well
supported with a total of over 850 participants attending in the five countries. He outlined that, ― the
national seminars provided an excellent opportunity for national policy makers, environmental
officials, maritime administrators, waste management authorities, non-governmental organizations,
and local school students to discuss some of the current pollution challenges in the region and the
threat of emerging issues such as the impact of invasive species to the Caribbean‖.
Participants from governmental and civil society organizations identified several areas of concern
including the need for improved solid and liquid waste management, the importance of public
education and awareness of environmental issues, and implementing additional protective measures
to reduce negative impacts from industrial activities such as quarrying and mining.
Workshop participants further recognized the increasing demands being placed on the region's
natural terrestrial and marine resources from tourism and considered that protection of these
resources be given high national and regional priority in order to sustain future economic and social
Chris Corbin, UNEP‘s Programme Officer for Pollution Prevention from the Jamaica-based office
of the Caribbean Environment Programme was encouraged by the high level of political
commitment expressed by senior Ministers and policy makers in each of the countries to protect the
coastal and marine environment from land and marine based sources of pollution.
He suggested ―that taking a more collaborative approach to developing and implementing pollution
control measures was critical at the national and regional levels'. Participants agreed to adopt a more
coordinated approach to implement national obligations of relevant multilateral environmental
agreements and to address outstanding maritime and marine pollution control issues.