THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
Monday, 27 June 2011
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
; AFP: Canada, Vietnam block export restrictions on asbestos: UN ; Japan Times (Japan): Rethinking the myth that we cannot make energy
independence financially feasible
; Malaysian News Agency (Malaysia): IAEA To Review Safety Of 440 Nuke Power
; Fin24 (Blog): SA has 'exceptional' solar resources
; Nigerian Tribute (Nigeria): NESREA begins tree planting campaign in Kebbi ; Nation (Nigeria): Kano grooms students against desert encroachment ; Jakarta Post (Indonesia): Opportunities for efficiency in the APEC block
Other Environment News
; BBC (UK): What Australians think
; Citizen (Tanzania): Conserve Environment
; Guardian (UK): Thinking of changing to a career in sustainability? ; Al Bawaba (Syria): Bridgestone rolls out new fuel efficient, environment-friendly
tyre in the region
; IBN (India): Environment-friendly autos soon
; AFP: France to invest 1 bn euros in nuclear power
; AFP: Spectacular new species discovered in New Guinea
; AFP: Philippines launches eco-friendly nuclear tourism
Environmental News from the UNEP Regions
Other UN News
; Environment News from the UN Daily News of 27 June 2011 (None) ; Environment News from the S.G.‘s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 27 June
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
AFP: Canada, Vietnam block export restrictions on asbestos: UN
25 June 2011
GENEVA — Several countries blocked moves to add chrysotile asbestos to a list of dangerous substances subject to export restrictions under the Rotterdam Convention, a UN spokesman said Friday.
Canada, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam all objected to the move, said a spokesman for the UN environment programme, Michael Stanley-Jones.
"That chemical will come then before the next conference of the Rotterdam parties in 2013," he added.
Asbestos is used in insulation and fire protection but in some forms is a highly dangerous cancer-causing material
Explaining his country's position, Henry Lau, a Canadian official noted that "scientific examinations confirm that the fibres of chrysotile can be used without danger and under controlled conditions."
States signed up to the treaty decided to add two other toxic substances -- the herbicide alachlor and an insecticide aldicarb -- to the list.
Importing countries will now have to issue proof they are aware of the dangers involved in using the product and that they agree to its import after having received relevant information from the exporting country.
About 40 products are subject to such export restrictions under the treaty, which came into force in 2004.
Back to Menu
Japan Times (Japan): Rethinking the myth that we cannot make energy
independence financially feasible
27 June 2011
Human beings' inalienable fascination with fossil fuels and their lack of political confidence in driving the nation through a careful energy transition process have often put the energy independence dream in the backseat among national priorities. While complete energy independence can only be an ideal scenario in the globalized world, the term refers to a much more practical situation where a country eventually reduces the dependence on external sources and rely more on the domestic supply capabilities.
Unfortunately for the political leadership, the term energy independence has so far only been a sweetener in their high-calorie political speeches despite its strategic importance in the national security.
Today with the increasing challenges to energy security, the idea of "energy independence" is set to evolve to be the most critical guiding force to meet the national security goals.
As often heard, the most serious challenge to energy independence is the lack of financial feasibility for transition to domestically available sources including new and renewable energy.
However, a dissection of this mysterious challenge of financial feasibility would reveal that the root causes shaping this perception are the choice of fuels that the political leadership make and the lack of political will for energy transition.
It is not wrong to say that choice of fuels that countries have made in the past has been more of a short-term political decision than a long-term realistic approach. The first oil shock in the early 1970s was one of the most crucial turning points in the choice of fuels for the countries worldwide. However, the perception of energy security continued to orbit around fossil fuel supply among major economies primarily due to the over-reliance of their domestic economic activities on the same.
Although reliance on fossil fuels was encouraged by governments more because of the short-term economic conveniences, this eventually led them to be locked in to conventional fossil fuel sources, which are inherently vulnerable to supply security challenges and climate risks.
A common fear was that any transition may affect the economic activities with an ultimate adverse impact on the countries' race in the international political front. Many argued that exploring domestically available unconventional sources will not be financially feasible.
Though the affordability of energy transition undeniably varies between the rich and the poor countries, it is political reluctance that has always played a key role in preventing active steps forward.
If for the rich, energy transition was a matter of blending technological capabilities with financial resources guided by political willingness, for the poor the process was seen as a liability due to their technological and financial limitations. But interestingly, such differences in the economic status of countries have never been a determining factor in energy transition.
For example, Brazil's pro-alcohol policy since the early 1970s encouraged domestic ethanol production that eventually helped them reduce its reliance on external oil supplies. But many other countries that were financially stronger did not make any significant progress in developing and implementing a long-term energy transition policy. This indicates that a serious lack of political willingness has always played a bigger role than the financial capabilities of countries.
As for political leaders, who are serving a four or five years term in power, it is natural that there would be more interest to invest their attention into policies that show quick economic and political results . Such a decision could possibly secure them another term in power rather than planning a long term energy transition policy which may be against the immediate interest of various pressure groups such as industry.
A careful accounting of national expenditures would reveal that financial resources can be spent in much more constructive ways for the well-being of citizens than it is currently handled in many countries.
Immediate attention would go to the military expenditures of countries which have always been prioritized by many governments.
According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, world military expenditure in the year 2009 was estimated to be about $1.54 trillion, which is nine times more than the global new investment for sustainable energy development in the same year, estimated at $162 billion according to a UNEP-Bloomberg study.
While this comparison may not make any logic to those who prefer to attribute greater importance to conventional security threats a nation faces, it highlights the fact that the concern about economic feasibility is not uniformly applied by governments on various issues of strategic importance.
With energy importing countries vulnerable to price fluctuations in the international market, there can also be an unavoidable impact on their GDP due to any surge in energy bill.
To many political leaders, conventional security perception tends to dominate the overall national security interests while the idea of energy independence has often been ignored or remained only as an element giving cosmetic appeal to their political speeches. Today the world is at the crossroads of a new energy order, where the two most important energy-supply systems, namely fossil fuels and nuclear energy, are undergoing serious challenges.
While the ongoing Arab uprisings have made the already volatile Persian Gulf region a cause of permanent concern to the global energy market, nuclear sector worldwide is facing increasing criticism about the safety and security following the tsunami-triggered accidents at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in Japan.
Germany's plans for a nuclear phaseout may also have a rippling impact on other nuclear power-based economies in the world.
In this context, countries across the world should re-examine the myth of financial feasibility for tapping domestic supply capabilities by giving greater emphasis for energy transition to domestically available new and renewable sources.
Nandakumar Janardhanan is an energy policy researcher at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan. The opinions expressed in this article are his own. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Back to Menu
Malaysian News Agency (Malaysia): IAEA To Review Safety Of 440 Nuke Power Plants Worldwide
27 June 2011
JAKARTA, June 27 (Bernama) -- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will review the safety of 440 nuclear power plants in a number of countries in light of the nuclear reactor leak at Fukushima, Japan in March, Antara news agency reported.
"The purpose of the review is to anticipate possible accidents like the one that happened n Fukushima," Nuclear Energy Supervisory Board (Bapeten) spokesman As Natio Lasman said on the sidelines of a seminar on nuclear safety here on Monday.
He said the review would focus on compliance with international nuclear security standards, nuclear safety regulations, disaster management, nuclear information dissemination, and community preparedness.
According to Lasman, the decision to review nuclear power plants across the wolrd was reached at an IAEA meeting, attended by representatives from 63 countries and 14 international institutions such as FAO, UNEP, IMO and others in Vienna, Austria, recently.
Meanwhile, National Nuclear Energy Agency (Batan) spokesman Hudi Hastowo said the system of more than 120 nuclear plants in West Europe would be reviewed to prevent and anticipate unexpected accidents.
"Germany and Italy will certainly stop their nuclear energy programme, while Switzerland will not replace its nuclear power plant which has to be shutdown," Hudi said.
But he added that many other countries in Europe and Asia, including Malaysia, would go ahead with their nuclear programme.
"It is also true with Thailand which is ready to build its nuclear power plant, and to have an input, the country has invited the nuclear regulation boards from its neighbours including Bapeten (the Nuclear Energy Control board of Indonesia)," he said.
Back to Menu
Fin24 (Blog): SA has 'exceptional' solar resources
27 June 2011
Cape Town - Upington‘s sources of solar irradiation for solar power generation are 20% better than those for areas in America where some of the largest solar power plants are currently under construction, and 40% to 50% above those of Spain, said Professor Wikus van Niekerk, director of the University of Stellenbosch‘s Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES).
These figures are based on analysis of solar irradiation data provided to the centre by Eskom. The analysis indicates that areas west of Upington have even better sources of solar irradiation.
According to Van Niekerk, figures show that solar plants built in these areas would generate more power than plants elsewhere for the same capital outlay. They could give power providers a better yield, enabling loans to be paid off more quickly.
The Northern Cape has exceptional solar resources – better than in those in North Africa,
where the massive Desertec solar power project is being envisaged.
With funding from the United Nations Environment Programme, the CRSES handed the solar irradiation data to a firm in Slovakia for analysis. The firm, GeoModel Solar, analysed the data together with 17 years of satellite data.
GeoModel Solar found that the area near Upington – where Eskom wishes to erect a
concentrated 100MW solar power plant, and government a solar park generating a minimum of 1 000MW and a maximum of 5 000MW – has direct normal irradiance (DNI)
of 2 816kWh per m? a year.
DNI predicts the potential power that could be generated by concentrating solar power systems, where the heliostats (mirrors or solar reflectors) follow the sun through the course of the day.
According to Van Niekerk, these average DNI and average optimal tilt irradiation (OTI) values are extremely high and among the best in the world. In Spain, typical DNI values at solar power plants are between 2 000 and 2 200kWh per m? a year. In America solar plants are built in areas with DNI values of 2 700kWh per m? a year.
Back to Menu
Nigerian Tribute (Nigeria): NESREA begins tree planting campaign in Kebbi
The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) in Kebbi State has embarked on sustained tree planting campaign to protect the environment.
The NESREA Coordinator, Dr Kasim Ahmed, said this in Birnin Kebbi while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Ahmed told NAN that the agency would collaborate with the state environmental protection agency to fulfill the UN declaration of 2011 as International Year of the Forest and the role of plants in ensuring quality life.
He expressed the hope that the programme would be sustained in view of the World Environment Day theme which was ―Forest: Nature at your service‖.
According to him, the theme underscored the link between the quality of life, integrity of the forest and forest eco-system.
NAN reported that the tree planting exercise has started in schools and institutions while subsequent phases would be launched in the rural areas.
Meanwhile, the agency has commenced the distribution of waste disposal baskets to schools, institutions and agencies to prevent environmental hazards. Ahmed said that close to 53 groups had indicated interest to be part of the Green Volunteer Corps, aimed at ensuring the integrity of the environment. ―We will encourage schools to form environmental sanitation clubs to inculcate in students the habit of maintaining a clean environment,‖ he said.
Back to Menu
Nation (Nigeria): Kano grooms students against desert encroachment
27 June 2011
THE battle to halt the advance of the Sahara Desert has resumed in earnest in the North, with Kano leading the charge.
But the administration of Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso is taking a different approach. Students are now being groomed to understand the dangers posed by the encroaching desert and join in the effort to halt it. How? By planting trees.
Deputy-Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje dutifully led the tree planting campaign by lowering the roots of a young tree into the ground.
That was not all. A tree planting competition among students has also begun in the state, and Ganduje was only too happy to present prizes to winners. The Kwankwaso administration believes that such a campaign will succeed better with the young after they have internalised its imperatives.
Desert encroachment is a huge challenge to northern states, especially Yobe, Zamfara, Bauchi, Kebbi, Kano, Katsina, Gombe, Borno, Sokoto, Adamawa and Jigawa. 唯有惜时才能成功；唯有努力方可成就;
It overruns farmlands and homesteads, and poses such environmental problems that put about a billion people in the world at risk, according to meteorologists. The direct consequence of desertification is reduced biodiversity and diminished productive capacity, particularly in agriculture.
In Nigeria, it is considered one of the most challenging problems confronting the country, particularly the northern part.
Available statistics show that 350,000 hectares of arable land in the region has been wasted by the encroaching desert, which is said to be advancing southward by 600 metres every year.
Tens of thousands of farmers and their families have been forced to move out of their which has been rendered barren by the desert .
In commemoration of this year‘s United Nations‘ Desertification Day, political leaders,
traditional rulers, captains of industry, environmental campaigners and community leaders assembled in Kano to compare notes on what must be done to arrest desertification and minimise its effects on the environment.
or three weeks, people from different walks of life tried to encourage Nigerians to develop a friendlier attitude towards the environment.
On the first day they walked round parts of Lagos State. There were several events on other days, but with people like Dr. Newton Jibunoh, the environmental crusader, involved, it was clear that tree-planting would be a good part of the outing. Indeed, it was.
Since the turn of the last century, experts have cried out against incessant environmental pollution that has continually affected the earth‘s surface and depleted the
ozone layer, giving rise to global warming with all the problems associated with it and threatening the very existence of mankind.
A UN report on Environmental Issues has shown that environmental pollution is responsible for as much as a quarter of the total diseases in the world and even more than one-third of such diseases are among children. These diseases are so deadly that they kill the victim within minutes of contracting them because of their potency in destroying the immune system. Diseases like diarrhea, malaria, cholera and other communicable diseases top this list of deadly killers.
Over time, there has been increasing awareness for a healthier and greener environment. All over the world, people are encouraged to cultivate eco-friendly habits like tree planting, recycling, and use of fossil fuel, among others. From our elementary biology, we know that plants and trees are very important to the existence of living things because they are a key element of the cycle of life. People who live in an environment where there are a lot of trees breathe in crisp and unadulterated air because trees give up oxygen and take in carbon-dioxide as well as act as a natural remedy for desertification, erosion among other things.
All over the world, the impact of global warming is being felt. From the melting of glaciers in the Polar Regions, the rising sea level, extreme climate changes, earthquakes, active volcanic activities to the rise in global ocean temperature etc.
In 1972, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was organized to galvanize people and further create awareness of the environment, encouraging people from all walks of life to join in preserving the planet. At the end of the conference, the body declared June 5 as World Environment Day, a day to be celebrated annually throughout the world. Each year, the celebration would highlight in its theme, one important environmental issue and highlight ways of tackling the issue. Global warming seems to impact Africa much more than even the industrialized countries of the world like the United States of America, Britain, Japan, China, Germany, 唯有惜时才能成功；唯有努力方可成就;
France, Russia etc. According to the study by British scientist, Hadley Centre, Africa suffers more of the global warming effect than the continents of Europe and America and this is because industrial pollution which emits the carbon dioxide that exacerbates the greenhouse effect, also offers some localized protection against climate warming and because Africa is not as industrialised as the aforementioned continents, it does not produce the pollutants as aerosol particles that can help to shield against the sun. With constant growing awareness, more people have become involved in this quest for a safer and cleaner environment. Individuals, corporations, professionals, movie stars, athletes, religious bodies have added their time and energy to make a positive change in our world. In Hollywood for instance, the list of A-class Stars who are going green is increasing by the moment. Some of them have foundations geared towards combating global warming. Stars like Leonado DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Angelina Joli, Matt Damon, George Clooney and a whole lot more have joined the call for a healthier and greener world.
As earlier mentioned, corporate organisations are not left out of this awareness and drive to go green. All over the world, multinationals have joined the rest of the world to positively impact their environment, contributing their own quota to a pollution free world and participating actively in the UN‘s World Environment Day programmes. In Africa, for instance, the MTN Group, a telecommunications company, set aside 21 days within which it will impact its immediate communities via various humanitarian and social activities through its annual staff volunteerism programme tagged 21 Days of Y‘ello Care, a programme which it runs simultaneously in all 21 countries where it operates in Africa and the Middle East. In line with the theme for the 2011 celebration of the World Environment Day, the Group adopted the theme ―Making a positive difference in our environment‖ for this year‘s celebration.
In a world inhabited by approximately 6.6 billion people, trees are fast disappearing and giving way to more shelter, access roads, desertification, dryness and much more. Tree planting has been identified as one of the myriad ways by which this growing concern can be addressed.
Trees provide shade and protection from the harsh sun. They purify the air by giving off oxygen while they take in carbon-dioxide. Trees help with desert encroachment and erosion. They beautify the environment and have both communal and economic benefits. Recycling awareness has also grown within communities, schools, market places and the different sectors of the economy and everyone is constantly encouraged to use more eco-friendly products.
The benefits of trees cannot be over-emphasised and to commemorate the World Environment Day, MTN Nigeria kicked off the celebration with the Y‘ello Earth Walk, an
activity that aimed to create awareness for preservation of the environment. The Walk was joined by people from various walks of life with same interest, chief among them being Dr. Newton Jibunoh, a renowned soil engineer, a consistent environmental crusader and Founder of Fight Agianst Desert Encroachment, (FADE Africa). For 21 days, FADE Africa partnered with staff of the telecommunications giant to plant thousands tree saplings for both fruits and shade in communities across the country. Recycling will also form a major part of this year‘s celebration as the team will move from schools to orphanage homes, markets and garages, teaching them the social and economic benefits of recycling and craft. They will also participate in the cleaning of blocked drainages, gutters and roads. According to Mr. Ekong Udoabang, the Project Manager of 21 Days of Y‘ello Care, ‗it is not enough to tell people about global warming and environmental degradation, it is more impactful go a step further by showing what eco-friendly habits like tree planting and recycling can do for our environment‘.
•Deke is a Lagos-based journalist
Back to Menu
Jakarta Post (Indonesia): Opportunities for efficiency in the APEC block
27 June 2011
It is no longer news when a company announces its business performance with an annual turnover larger than the GDP of many less-developed countries.
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), through its member economies, is now a major forum discussing global issues. Member economies account for 57 percent of global GDP and provide 40 percent of world trade volume.
With a population of more than 2.6 billion, APEC also provides a huge potential market. In the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) with six countries alone, the export of live reef fish as food consumption trade is US$1 billion.
APEC‘s theme for 2011 is to promote green growth and help member economies make a successful transition to a clean energy future, and aims to advance APEC‘s work to
address barriers to trade in environmental goods across the Asia-Pacific region.
APEC economies possess vast natural resources, and 70 percent of global fish product consumption is within this APEC group. Global aquaculture of both fish and other marine products is on the rise, but capture fisheries has leveled off.
There is a slide in both the size of fish being caught and the species of fish available down the value chains that indicates a need for better management of capture fisheries.
An emerging issue is the management of the environment and production – how to
guarantee that any given area can produce the most of the high value species and of size and quantity of fish that the world market continues to look for. This is a challenge facing APEC member economies to cooperate to improve management in order to sustain value chains from production to consumption.
In the 3rd APEC Oceans Related Ministerial Meeting (AOM3) in Peru last year, the participants endorsed the ―Paracas Declaration‖ building on the Bali Plan of Action from the 2nd AOMM of 2005.
The declaration is a commitment to move from words to action in achieving the sustainable development of our oceans, seas and coastal resources. It also commits the economies to develop effective practical and holistic steps to realize the full economic potential of our fishery resources for both our communities and our economies.
This requires maximizing the ecological production through good management of the marine and coastal environment, the investment in people and infrastructure to guarantee the highest quality production, post-harvest value adding and the technical assistance and appropriate legal framework provided by governments to its people.
Fisher-folk, like corporations, prioritize the short-term, today‘s catch and this year‘s
profits. National governments and international organizations need to look beyond short-termism — electorates trust that governments adopt a long-term view, investing today for tomorrow and the next generations‘ benefit. International organizations such as APEC must resist the pressures of the short-termism in favor of long-term sustainability.
As an archipelagic nation of more than 17,000 islands bridging the Indian and Pacific Ocean, with over 90 percent of its population living near the coasts, it is appropriate that Indonesia has taken the lead in the global discussion on the sustainable use of the oceans.
From the 2007 APEC leaders meeting in Sydney and COP-13 in Bali through the 2009 World Ocean Conference and CTI Summit in Manado and also at COP-15 in Copenhagen, Indonesia continues to echo the ocean‘s dimensions on the world‘s agenda.
The UNEP 2010 world ministers of the environment meeting in Bali was momentous when Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recognized the importance of healthy oceans and well-managed coral reefs and coastal habitats as the basis for food security and economic development, and received the UNEP award for the patronage and leadership in marine and ocean issues. Indonesia has invested in developing approaches to marine conservation that have begun to demonstrate good management practices.
Most recently with the June 2011 APEC 10th joint meeting in Bali, member economies discussed the sustainable use of ocean resources production and the supporting ocean‘s environment. The convergence between the issues above discussed to the point where the two working groups become one, the Ocean and Fisheries Working Group. As chair of the fisheries working group and transitional chair‘s role of the APEC‘s newly combined working group, Indonesia can expand its leadership role, thus progressing the sustainable achievement of fisheries and marine development in the region.
Indonesia leads the world in seascape management and the development of networks of marine protected areas (MPAs). Currently 901,680 hectares of 4.6 million hectares is set aside as MPAs, providing a safe home for more than 1,100 species of fish, 700 species of mollusk and more than 540 species of coral reef.
On a global scale, oceans absorb more than 30 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions released into the atmosphere. They also absorb heat and slow down warming processes. The challenge now is that protecting the ocean comes at the expense of economic development, and vice versa.
Through ASEAN and APEC, in addition to Indonesia‘s present involvement within the global dialogue, it is taking a role in moving from rhetoric to action, moreover, informed action.
Bold steps are needed and we trust our leaders to take the necessary steps. It is our families living in coastal areas that will be among the first to tell us if we are doing enough.
The writer, a lead shepherd of the APEC Fisheries Working Group and a doctor of 唯有惜时才能成功；唯有努力方可成就;