Blog about UN Climate Change Conference in Bali 3-14 December 2007 and other related issues

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Official: China acting on climate change

BALI, Indonesia, (Xinhua) -- China is committed to strengthening ability and capacity to fight climate change and to making new contribution to protecting the global climate, said a Chinese official here on Friday.

China has set very ambitious domestic goals to combat climate change and is taking a series of practical and proactive actions including setting up regulatory, legal, financial, and economic instruments, said Su Wei, director-general of the Office of National Leading Group on Climate Change under the National Development and Reform Commission.

China is committed to controlling green house gas (GHG) emissions by 2010 and endeavors are to be made to achieve such goals as reducing energy consumption per unit GDP by 20 percent; increasing the share of renewable energy to 10 percent; stabilizing nitrous oxide emissions from industrial processes at 2005 level; controlling the growth of methane emissions; increasing the forest coverage rate to 20 percent and increasing carbon sink by 50 million tons over 2005 level, Su said at a side event for the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali.

China is closing down those backward energy intensive plants and replacing them with advanced ones. China is also implementing the 10 priority energy conservation programs targeting at more than 1,000 key energy intensive enterprise, Su told participants at the side-event "The United Nations and China: Connecting Institutions, Technology and Partnerships to Combat Climate Change".

For adaptation to climate change, China is trying hard to enhance capacity for disaster prevention, warning and mitigation. Efforts are also being made to improve the adaptation capacity in the agriculture, water resources, ecosystems, health, tourism, and other sectors. The formulation of national adaptation strategy is well underway.

China has a much higher expectation in technology development and transfer, and very much like to have an effective technology transfer mechanism under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said Su.

China's technology need covers both mitigation and adaptation technologies as China is a very diversified economy and is now in the process of industrialization.

Due to the natural endowment of resources and the increasing demand of productivity for the world market, China has an enormous task of deploying clean and less-carbon technologies and know-how for energy efficiency, renewable and nuclear energy, said Su.

Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and U.N. Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in China Khalid Malik also delivered speech at the event.

UN chief to attend Bali climate meet during Asia tour

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — UN chief Ban Ki-moon was to embark on a four-nation Asian tour Saturday highlighted by his attendance at the climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia, his spokeswoman said Friday.

Ban was to begin with a two-day official visit to Thailand on Monday, during which he was to call on King Bhumibol Adulyadej and confer with Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, Michele Montas said.

The secretary general was also to hold talks at the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in the Thai capital before heading for Bali Tuesday.

Delegates from more than 180 nations are gathered for the December 3-14 meeting, which is tasked with setting down a blueprint to slash greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol expires.

Thursday the UN chief said he favored a binding cap on greenhouse gas emissions but noted that the coming climate change conference in Indonesia should instead focus first on setting a timeline for a deal by 2009.

"Our ultimate goal is a comprehensive agreement on climate change that all nations can embrace," the secretary general said. "In Bali, we need to set an agenda -- a roadmap to a better future, coupled with a timeline that produces a deal by 2009."

Next Friday, Ban was to travel to Dili for an official visit to East Timor where he was to meet with government officials, women's groups and inspect camps for displaced persons as well as the UN mission which is helping the government stabilize the tiny Pacific territory.

East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, was separated from Jakarta following a 1999 independence vote marred by deadly violence inflicted by the Indonesian military and its militia allies.

Indonesia had invaded East Timor, which is formally known as Timor-Leste, in 1975.

On December 15, Ban was to head for Jakarta for a 24-hour official visit that will feature talks with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The next day, he was to make a brief stopover in Tokyo for talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura before heading back to New York.

From New York, he was to fly to Paris to attend a conference of donor countries on December 17 focusing on financial and economic aid to the Palestinian Authority.

In the French capital, the UN secretary general was also to take part in a meeting of the Middle East peace diplomatic quartet as well as in talks between the four -- the United Nations, the United States, Russia and the European Union -- and the Arab League.

Ban was due back in New York on December 18.

Climate change can create jobs: UN

NAIROBI: The cost of adopting responsible policies on climate change for global economies could be balanced by the creation of millions of "green jobs," the United Nations said on Thursday.

In a statement released as thousands of delegates gathered in Bali for a key meeting on climate change, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Chief Achim Steiner called for a major boost to so-called clean industries.

"Millions of new jobs are among the many silver, if not indeed gold-plated linings on the cloud of climate change," said Steiner, also UN under-secretary general.

"Talk of environmental sustainability and climate change often emphasises the costs, but downplays the significant employment opportunities from the transition to a global economy that is not only resource efficient and without the huge emissions of greenhouse gases, but one that also restores environmental and social values," he added.

Steiner was referring to the preliminary findings of a report on "green jobs" due to be released next year and commissioned by Nairobi-based UNEP, the International Labour Organisation and the International Trade Union Confederation.

"In the US alone, the environmental industry in 2005 generated more than 5.3 million jobs - ten times the number in the US pharmaceutical industry," a UNEP statement said, quoting the report.

It also said that "by the year 2020, Germany will have more jobs in the field of environmental technologies than in its entire automotive industry."

According to UNEP, investment in renewable energy has now reached 100 billion dollars (70 billion euros) and represents 18 percent of new investments in the power sector.

"Added together, we are clearly on the edge of something quite exciting and transformational," Steiner said, urging government officials gathered in Bali to send strong signals to promote such development.

Thunder, Hail, Fire: What Does Climate Change Mean for the U.S.?

The U.S. heartland can look forward to hotter, wetter summers, according to the latest climate research. Global warming will cause more severe thunderstorms—convective cloud fronts that could produce wind gusts of 58 miles (93 kilometers) per hour, 0.75-inch (1.9-centimeter) size hailstones and even more frequent tornadoes—in the region, according to research led by atmospheric scientist Robert Trapp at Purdue University. At the same time, according to independent environmental consultant Kristie Ebi, heat waves like the one in Chicago that killed 700 people in 1995 will become more commonplace.

"Climate change is projected to increase the frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves in the Midwest," says Ebi, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report author. "In addition, heat waves are projected to be hotter."

Of course, the U.S. Midwest is not the only region of the world that is being affected by climate change. Signs of global warming are beginning to appear everywhere: from runaway ice melt in the Arctic to slowly drowning islands in the Pacific. "Changing climate conditions are already happening," says Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, which today released a report on regional impacts in the U.S. "It is clear that there is an immediate need for strong national and international policy action."

The reports findings, in addition to increased heat waves, include:

Western Wildfires—The increasingly destructive and widespread fire seasons of recent years are likely to continue due to a combination of increased drought and land development encroaching on naturally burning landscapes, along with a climate change–induced fuel boom (enhanced plant growth and a shift to more woody species) exacerbated by fire-suppression efforts leading to more abundant plant matter to fuel violent blazes, according to ecologist Dominique Bachelet of Oregon State University in Corvallis and The Nature Conservancy. "The deadly combination of human behavior and climate change means we will likely see more wildfires like those in 2007," she says.

Gulf Coast Swamped—Human engineering efforts such as levees have reduced the ability of the wetlands of Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states to keep pace with subsiding land and rising sea levels, according to coastal scientist Robert Twilley of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. "If soil formation cannot keep pace," he says, "inundation of wetlands from rising seas will essentially drown these landscapes, and wetlands will convert to open waters." That, in turn, will make nearby communities far more vulnerable to the effects of storm surges, such as the one caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"Dead Zones" Deader—One of a number of large and growing seasonal areas in bodies of water from which all oxygen has been leeched drives the degradation of Chesapeake Bay. A "dead zone" is a place devoid of the fish and bottom dwellers, such as the crabs and other shellfish, for which the bay is famous. Marine scientist Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, warns that climate change will also complicate the already difficult task of restoring this important watershed and food source. "Climate change impacts are not straightforward," he says, "but are multiple and interactive."

source: Scientifc American

New focus on climate change

The CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology will unveil a new Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research in Canberra today.

The partnership brings together researchers from around the country to study all aspects of Australian climate and weather, including bushfires, tropical cyclones, severe weather events and climate change.

The Centre's foundation director Dr Chris Mitchell said the challenges facing Australia were massive and could only be addressed through collaboration.

"For example, one of the areas of research is to continue to monitor the state of the atmosphere," he said.

"And unless we have a good understanding of how those concentrations of greenhouse gases are changing and whether or not the policy interventions we make globally are making a difference in the atmosphere we don't have the feedback loop in place.

"We're obviously going to be looking at climate change, a whole number of issues, one of them is, we've been suffering from water shortages driven by a reduction in rainfall.

"How much of this is due to climate change, how much of it is just the normal run of climate variability? We need to do some science to really understand that."

source: ABC News

U.S. must act fast to slow climate change

Upon arriving at an international conference on global warming in Bali this week, a key U.S. representative sheepishly promised not to get in the way of aggressive new measures to collectively limit greenhouse gases.

"We're not here to be a roadblock," U.S. climate negotiator Harlan Watson told reporters on the island-nation. "We're committed to a successful conclusion, and we're going to work very constructively to make that happen."

Despite that assurance, Watson's statement is a rueful admission that our country — still one of the top producers of those heat-trapping gases — has effectively impeded progress in the past. Unfortunately, that hasn't changed much.

Delegates from about 190 nations are in Bali for the next two weeks to begin forging a new consensus on one of the most profound challenges of our generation: how to reduce rising levels of carbon dioxide from human activities. Scientists have concluded that higher concentrations of atmospheric CO2, mainly from burning of fossil fuels for energy, are playing havoc with the global climate and could threaten life as we know it.

The goal of conferees is to craft a workable plan of action that will eventually replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that pledged 36 signatories to lower their carbon emissions over time. That treaty, which the U.S. Senate never ratified, is scheduled to expire in 2012.

The challenge is urgent. Floods, species extinctions, extreme droughts and melting glaciers are evidence of dramatic climate changes already under way. The symptoms could get worse unless prompt steps are taken within the next decade or sooner to reverse course.

The major sticking point, at least for the United States, has always been accepting mandatory caps on smokestack and tailpipe emissions that have been identified as the worst culprits. The Bush administration and influential American lawmakers have long claimed that binding limits on greenhouse gases would unduly burden the American economy.

The White House has also resisted mandatory caps on the grounds that China and India, which have also emerged as major sources of CO2, have steadfastly rejected them as well. However, any new global climate treaty must include even more stringent carbon controls if it is to have an effect long term.

The administration is correct to insist that every industrialized nation participate in any climate change treaty going forward. Last year, for the first time in modern history, China's rapidly expanding economy produced more carbon dioxide emissions than the United States; India isn't far behind. (In per capita terms, though, the United States still far outpaces China and India.)

However, waiting for other nations to clean up their act before we do likewise is irresponsible and borders on juvenile. It's the equivalent of a petulant teenager complaining that he should be allowed to play in moving traffic because his peers can get away with it.

The world is right to expect leadership on this issue from our country, which accounts for 25 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. But if delegates are waiting for the Bush administration to assume that role, they need to look elsewhere.

Congress is working on a bipartisan climate change bill that could include mandatory limits on carbon, but prospects for its passage are hard to predict. Frustrated by inaction in Washington, various state and local governments, universities, private companies and average citizens from coast to coast have begun to tackle climate issues on their own initiative.

For example, California is unilaterally trying to force automakers to raise their fuel efficiency standards, while states in the Northeast have formed a coalition focused on reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants. In a recent Supreme Court ruling, justices admonished the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to regulate carbon dioxide emissions as an air pollutant.

Even America's corporate interests, whom the White House insists it's trying to protect from onerous carbon regulations, are growing impatient.

In an announcement timed to coincide with the start of the Bali conference, 33 of the nation's top corporations have called for an immediate construction moratorium on coal plants and other steps to mitigate the effects of global warming.

Another encouraging development occurred last week when the newly elected prime minister of Australia, the only other westernized nation opposed to Kyoto, quickly signed the agreement.

But short of a last-minute change of heart — and policy — by the Bush administration, Americans may have to wait until the next election before their government fully joins the world community in addressing global warming.


United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali

The Conference, hosted by the Government of Indonesia, brings together representatives of over 180 countries together with observers from intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, and the media. The two week period includes the sessions of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, its subsidiary bodies as well as the Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol. A ministerial segment in the second week will conclude the Conference.

What is needed is a breakthrough in the form of a roadmap for a future international agreement on enhanced global action to fight climate change in the period after 2012, the year the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires. The main goal of the Bali Conference is threefold: to launch negotiations on a climate change deal for the post-2012 period, to set the agenda for these negotiations and to reach agreement on when these negotiations will have to be concluded.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Early Climate Change Victim: Andes Water

EL ALTO, Bolivia (AP) — Twice a day, Elena Quispe draws water from a spigot on the dusty fringe of this city, fills three grimy plastic containers and pushes them in a rickety wheelbarrow to the adobe home she shares with her husband and eight children.

But the water supply is in peril. El Alto and its sister city of La Paz, the world's highest capital, depend on glaciers for at least a third of their water — more than any other urban sprawl. And those glaciers are rapidly melting because of global warming.

Informed of the threat, Quispe, a 37-year-old Aymara Indian, shows alarm on her weathered face. "Where are we going to get water? Without water how can we live?"

Scientists predict that all the glaciers in the tropical Andes will disappear by mid-century. The implications are dire not just for La Paz-El Alto but also for Quito, Ecuador, and Bogota, Colombia. More than 11 million people now live in the burgeoning cities, and El Alto alone is expanding at 5 percent a year.

The melting of the glaciers threatens not just drinking water but also crops and the hydroelectric plants on which these cities rely. The affected countries will need hundreds of millions of dollars to build reservoirs, shore up leaky distribution networks and construct gas or oil-fired plants — money they simply don't have.

"We're the ones who've contributed the least to global warming and we're getting hit with the biggest bill," laments Edson Ramirez, a Bolivian hydrologist who coordinates U.N., French- and Japanese-sponsored projects to quantify the damage exacted on fragile Andes ecosystems by richer nations that use more gas and create more pollution.

Bolivia, South America's poorest country, is responsible for just 0.03 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions that scientists blame for global warming, says Ramirez. The United States, by contrast, contributes about one quarter.

President Evo Morales, in an Associated Press interview earlier this month, said he'll seek legal remedies if rich countries don't agree to pay for the damage they've wreaked on the developing world:

"It's not a question of cooperation. It's an obligation," he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging that a new global treaty on climate change provide funding to help poor countries adapt to its damaging effects. Ban made the recommendation recently when U.N. scientists released a report saying the 40 leading industrial countries produced 46 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2004.

Starting in 2009, demand for water will outstrip supply in La Paz-El Alto, the government estimates. Without urgent, expensive projects — only now in initial planning stages — sustaining even the current population of 1.7 million will be impossible, said Oscar Paz, director of Bolivia's climate change program.

Similar fears are heard in Quito, which gets less than 10 percent of its water directly from the Antizana and Cotopaxi glaciers but much more from watersheds they feed. The Ecuadorean capital is expected to run short in 2015, even with a battery of projects already under way, including new reservoirs.

So Quitenos plan to cut a $1.1 billion tunnel through the cordillera and get Amazon basin runoff, says Edgar Ayabaca, director of the city's so-called "Western Rivers" project. He said work on the tunnel needs to begin by 2010 if supply is to continue to meet demand.

Bogota's fate is less clear. Bogota gets 70 percent of its water from alpine paramo, a fragile sponge of soil and vegetation often shrouded in clouds, which could dry up in higher temperatures.

Average temperatures in El Alto and its surrounding high plains have risen by as much as 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 30 years, estimates Felix Trujillo, head meteorologist at Bolivia's National Meteorological and Hydrological Service. And the melting of Andean equatorial glaciers has accelerated threefold since 1980, studies of Bolivian, Ecuadorean and Peruvian glaciers show.

These glaciers serve as natural shock absorbers for rain, accumulating it in the wet season and releasing it in the dry season. Their loss will lead to less rain because they help pry precipitation loose from moist air rising up from the Amazon basin, scientists say.

"All these ecosystems are changing very quickly. In fact, every year they change at a faster pace, which has all of us very alarmed," said Walter Vergara, the World Bank's lead climatologist for Latin America.

Signs of impending ecological confusion are already evident. Two years ago, Ramirez said, he discovered mosquitoes, flies and even butterflies for the first time at the base of one of the glaciers.

Another first: malaria, a lowland disease, has been reported in El Alto, which is 2 1/2 miles above sea level and gets occasional dustings of snow. An hour away at Zongo glacier, a rocky shoulder that cradled the glacier in 1991 is now 250 feet above it.

Down in El Alto, tens of thousands of the 850,000 residents lack running water. How many exactly depends who you ask. Public works director, Edwin Chuquimia, says it's more than half. The public water utility, EPSAS, says it's far less.

The city's two mostly dried-up rivers, trickling rivulets in wide washes, are putrid open sewers. Homemade wells abound. Forty percent of El Alto's water supply is lost to leaky pipes and theft, about the same rate as in Quito and Bogota.

The golden rule of the leftist Morales' government: No one profits from water sales. But critics argue that such a philosophy doesn't provide enough cash for badly needed investments.

Infrastructure projects totaling $60 million can guarantee El Alto-La Paz enough water for the next decade or so, said EPSAS director Victor Rico, but the utility has no more than $1.5 million a year to invest. Rico has secured a $5.5 million Venezuelan loan and said he has promises of a $5 million grant from the European Union, the possibility of $8 million in mixed Canadian financing, and possibly some Japanese and InterAmerican Development Bank money.

A land use dispute in El Alto has already killed a $2 million Swiss-funded initiative in March that would have built two waste water treatment plants in El Alto, said Thomas Hentschel, the project manager.

"It really hurt me, there was such need," he said. "Everything there was left up in the air."

Source: Associated Press

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Climate Change breakthrough in Bali

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has challenged the world's policymakers to start devising a comprehensive deal for tackling climate change at next month's summit in Bali, Indonesia, after a United Nations report released today found that global warming is unequivocal and could cause irreversible damage to the planet.

Launching the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which brings together hundreds of scientific experts, Mr. Ban said that slowing and even reversing the effects of climate change “is the defining challenge of our age.”

He also stressed the report makes clear that “concerted and sustained action now can still avoid some of the most catastrophic scenarios” in the IPCC forecasts.

“We can transform a necessity into virtue,” he said. “We can pursue new and improved ways to produce, consume and discard. We can promote environmentally friendly industries that spur development and job creation even as they reduce emissions. We can usher in a new era of global partnership, one that helps lift all boats on the rising tide of climate-friendly development.”

For this to happen, the Secretary-General said the world's industrialized countries must form a “grand bargain” with developing nations, which are the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

The report details how reduced rainfall in much of Africa is likely to aggravate existing water shortages and slash crop yields, rising sea levels are set to inundate small island States and melting glaciers could trigger major floods in South Asia and South America.

More heat waves and periods of heavy rainfall are deemed very likely to occur, tropical cyclones are predicted to become more intense and a dramatic decrease in the polar ice caps is also expected as air and ocean temperatures keep rising. In the worst case scenario, nearly a third of all of plant and animal species could be at risk of extinction.

It also explains that industry, agriculture and infrastructure can become far more energy-efficient, water can be more effectively conserved and used and countries can become less dependent on fossil fuels and other non-renewable sources of energy.

IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri said governments have “a wide variety of policies and instruments” available to create incentives to mitigate behaviour – especially in the area of carbon emissions.

“We need a new ethic by which every human being realizes the importance of the challenge we are facing and starts to take action through changes in lifestyle and attitude.”

The report, released in Valencia, Spain, is the synthesis of three IPCC reports issued earlier this year that examined the scientific basis of climate change, the impact it is having and ways to mitigate and adapt to the phenomenon.

It is expected to form the basis of discussions in Bali next month when world leaders gather under the auspices of the UN to try to agree to a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, which is due to expire by 2012.

Mr. Ban told reporters after today's launch that “the breakthrough needed in Bali is an agreement to launch for negotiations for a comprehensive climate change deal that all nations can embrace – developed and developing countries alike. Scientists have now done their work and I call on political leaders to do theirs and agree not only to launch these negotiations but also to conclude them by 2009.”

The report states that “neither adaptation nor mitigation alone can avoid all climate change impacts. However, they can complement each other and together can significantly reduce the risks of climate change.”

The Secretary-General, who is in Valencia at the end of an international trip that has taken him to both Antarctica and the Amazon rainforest, said he had witnessed first-hand the perils posed by climate change.

“I can tell you with assurance that global, sweeping, concerted action is needed now. There is no time to waste.”

UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Director Achim Steiner agreed, saying “we now have the compelling blueprint for action and in many ways the price tag for failure – from increasing acidification of the oceans to the likely extinctions of economically important biodiversity.”

Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), called for more detailed and continuing observation of the impact of climate change to help individuals, businesses and civil society make informed decisions about how best to adapt to meet their own circumstances.


UN unveils full danger of climate change

SCIENTISTS leading global research into climate change have set out a stark vision of how the world will change if humanity fails to tackle surging greenhouse gas emissions.

A report issued yesterday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) described how a warming world would threaten billions of people with thirst and malnutrition, endanger more than half of wildlife species with extinction and initiate a melting of the Greenland ice cap that could raise global sea levels by more than 22ft.

Such warnings have been heard before but never with so much scientific certainty. The IPCC’s report was based on 29,000 observations taken around the world and published in more than 500 peer-reviewed scientific papers.

Yesterday, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, who unveiled the report in Valencia, Spain, said: “All humanity must now assume responsibility for climate change.”

Ban has just been on a trip to Antarctica and South America, where he saw melting glaciers and ice-shelves. He said: “I come to you humbled after seeing some of the most precious treasures of our planet threatened by humanity’s own hand.”

Yesterday Gordon Brown issued his own statement, calling on the world to “face up to the challenge of climate change”. The prime minister added: “Climate change poses an urgent challenge that threatens the environment but also international peace and security, prosperity and development.”

Brown is expected to give a keynote speech on climate change this week, recommitting Britain to supplying a fifth of its energy requirements from renewable sources from 2020. Previously government officials had said Britain would struggle to meet the target and lobbied to be allowed to used different statistics.

The IPCC report sets out a variety of climatic impacts, including likely temperature rises of up to 4C, or even 6C. It predicts that Arctic summer sea ice will disappear by 2080 and that weather patterns will change globally. Such changes could include heatwaves, droughts, an increase in heavy rain and more intense storms.

In Europe, rising temperatures could turn much of Spain, Italy and Greece into deserts. Northern Europe, including Britain, would face more floods, heatwaves and stronger storms. Much of Australia would become uninhabitable.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, said one of the biggest impacts would come through rising sea levels. The report said levels were already likely to rise by 15in to 55in over the next few decades because water expands as it warms.

"This is a very important finding, likely to bring major changes to coastlines, and inundating low-lying areas, with a great effect in river deltas and low-lying islands,” said Pachauri.

Over a longer period - centuries or even millennia - rising temperatures could melt the Greenland ice cap, raising sea levels by an extra 22ft.

The report was, however, not entirely bleak. It also said that humanity had the power to stave off the worst effects of global warming at relatively low cost - but only if action was taken in the next decade.

The report is designed to provide the scientific underpinning for the Bali conference on climate change, which opens on December 3.

This will involve talks between more than 180 governments over the UN climate convention and, in particular, an extension to the 1997 Kyoto Treaty, which aims to limit global greenhouse gas emissions.

Some believe it is too late to prevent catastrophe. Among them is James Lovelock, the scientist who created the Gaia hypothesis of a self-regulating Earth, which now underlies much of climate science.

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, published this week, he suggests it is pointless to “green” society when so much damage has been done. Lovelock, 84, predicts food shortages, wars over water and land and a population crash that could leave just 500m survivors of the current population of 6.6 billion.

Nightmare vision

How scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believe Earth will be affected:

- The world has already warmed by an average 0.7C in the past century. Temperatures in polar regions have increased the fastest, with 5C rises in some areas.

- Another 1.3C of warming is inevitable because of greenhouse gases already released into the atmosphere.

- Alpine ski resorts will be left without snow and many rivers will dry up. In Africa up to 250m more people will suffer water shortages by 2020.

- Worldwide agriculture could be devastated, especially in parts of Africa and Asia where some crop yields could halve by 2020.

- Tidal flooding will increase. Global sea levels are rising by 3.1mm a year and accelerating. Most is due to warm water expansion.

- Emissions of CO2 - the main greenhouse gas - grew by 80% between 1970 and 2004. Its concentration in the atmosphere is the highest for 650,000 years.

- The amount of CO2 emitted by humans will rise by up to 90% by 2030 unless action is taken.

Source: Times

Saturday, November 17, 2007

IPCC latest - climate change evidance "unequivocal"

Last night in Valencia, the IPCC approved its Fourth Assessment Synthesis report, which sums up the key points from the three major reports published this year on climate change science, its impacts and the mitigation options. It will be the key reference document for policymakers in the coming years. (Should be anyway, unfortunately not all politicians like 'fact based' decision making.)

The IPCC is a pretty careful, conservative body, so there were no big surprises. (Our press release is here.) But the message behind these reports is becoming increasingly blunt. From the New York Times:

Members of the panel said their review of the data led them to conclude as a group and individually that reductions in greenhouse gasses had to start immediately to avert a global climate disaster that could leave island states submerged and abandoned, African crop yields decreased by 50 percent, and cause over a 5 percent decrease in global gross domestic product.

The panel, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last month, said the world would have to reverse the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2015 to avert major problems.

"If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late," said Rajendra Pachauri, a scientist and economist who heads the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment."

He said that since the panel began its work five years ago, scientists have recorded "much stronger trends in climate change,” like a recent melting of polar ice that had not been predicted. "That means you better start with intervention much earlier."

Clear enough for you?

Source: Greenpeace

EU commissioner hails climate change report

The European Union's environment commissioner has hailed the latest report of the world's top scientific authority on climate change, and called for a radical new pact to tackle global warming.

The Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published its starkest warning yet, declaring that the impact of global warming could be "abrupt or irreversible" and no country would be spared.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon seized on the report to demand that world leaders smash the deadlock on how to deal with the greenhouse-gas peril when they stage a key conference on the Indonesian island of Bali in December.

EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas echoed the call in a statement released in Brussels, calling the fourth assessment report of the IPCC "a milestone in our scientific knowledge about climate change and the grave threats global warming poses to the planet."

"The report's findings amount to a stark warning that the world must act fast to slash greenhouse gas emissions if we are to prevent climate change from reaching devastating levels," he said.

"The good news is that it also shows that deep emission cuts are both technologically feasible and economically affordable.

"This synthesis report is vital reading for decision-makers everywhere ahead of the UN climate change conference in Bali starting in just over two weeks."

"The global community must respond to this scientific call for action by agreeing in Bali to launch negotiations on a comprehensive and ambitious new global climate agreement. Efforts will be needed by all major emitters if we are to have a chance of controlling climate change before it is too late."

Mr Dimas also noted that the IPCC "fully supports the EU policy that global warming must be limited to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial temperature."

The Bali conference, taking place under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is tasked with setting a "roadmap" of negotiations for intensifying cuts in carbon emissions beyond 2012, when current pledges run out under the Kyoto Protocol.

Source: ABC News

Warning of climate change menace

An international conference on global warming has warned time is running out to avoid "abrupt and irreversible" climate change.

A major scientific report has shown the Earth is heading for a warmer age at a quickening pace because of human activity.

The evidence is in the warming of air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting snow and ice and rising sea levels.

United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon has warned the world must work together to fight the menace of climate change.

Mr Ban said "Concentrated and sustained action can still avoid some of the most catastrophic scenarios."

Responding to the information contained in the report, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said developed countries "must show leadership and take the first and largest responsibility".

Mr Brown will set out in the next few days various ways in which he believes emissions can be cut.

The report by a Nobel-winning UN scientific panel, will be used by political negotiators to begin talks on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the action plan for controlling greenhouse gas emissions.

It is the result of six years of research compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and declares that climate systems have already unquestionably begun to change.

The report warns that hunger and disease will be more common, droughts, floods and heat waves will afflict the world's poorest regions, and more animal and plant species will vanish, unless action is taken.

Source: ITN

U.N. Chief Seeks More Climate Change Leadership

VALENCIA, Spain, Nov. 17 — Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, describing climate change as “the defining challenge of our age,” released the final report of a United Nations panel on climate change here on Saturday and called on the United States and China to play “a more constructive role.”

His challenge to the world’s two greatest greenhouse gas emitters came just two weeks before the world’s energy ministers meet in Bali, Indonesia, to begin talks on creating a global climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

The United States and China are signatories to Kyoto, but Washington has not ratified the treaty, and China, along with other developing countries, is not bound by its mandatory emissions caps.

“Today the world’s scientists have spoken, clearly and in one voice,” Mr. Ban said of the report, the Synthesis Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “In Bali, I expect the world’s policymakers to do the same.”

He added, “The breakthrough needed in Bali is for a comprehensive climate change deal that all nations can embrace.”

Although Mr. Ban has no power to enforce members of the United Nations to act, his statements on Saturday increased the pressure on the United States and China, participants here said.

Members of the panel said their review of the data led them to conclude as a group and individually that reductions in greenhouse gases had to start immediately to avert a global climate disaster, which could leave island nations submerged and abandoned, reduce African crop yields by 50 percent, and cause a 5 percent decrease in global gross domestic product.

The panel’s fourth and final report summarized and integrated the most significant findings of three sections of a climate-science review that were released between January and April. Because the data had not previously been reviewed as a whole, scientists said the synthesized report was more explicit, creating new emphasis and alarm.

The first section of the review had covered climate trends; the second, the world’s ability to adapt to a warming planet; the third, strategies for reducing carbon emissions. With their mission concluded, the hundreds of IPCC scientists spoke more freely than they had previously.

“The sense of urgency when you put these pieces together is new and striking,” said Martin Parry, a British climate expert who was co-chairman of the delegation that wrote the second report. “I’ve come out of this process more pessimistic about the possibilities than I thought I would.”

The panel, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last month, said the world would have to reverse the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2015 to prevent serious climate disruptions.

“If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late,” said Rajendra Pachauri, a scientist and economist who heads the IPCC. “What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.”

He said that since the IPCC began its work five years ago, scientists had recorded “much stronger trends in climate change,” like a recent melting of Arctic ice that had not been predicted. “That means you better start with intervention much earlier.”

Saturday’s synthesis report was reviewed and approved by delegates from 130 nations gathered here this week. But unlike the earlier reviews, in which governments had insisted on changes that diluted the reports’ impact, this time scientists and environmental groups said there had been no major dilution of the data.

For example, this report’s summary was the first to acknowledge that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet from rising temperatures could result in a substantive sea-level rise over centuries rather than millennia.

“Many of my colleagues would consider that kind of melt a catastrophe” so rapid that mankind would not be able to adapt, said Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University who contributed to the IPCC.

“It’s extremely clear and is very explicit that the cost of inaction will be huge compared to the cost of action,” said Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “We can’t afford to wait for some perfect accord to replace Kyoto, for some grand agreement. We can’t afford to spend years bickering about it. We need to start acting now.”

UN Panel: Climate Change Accelerating

VALENCIA, Spain (AP) — The Earth is hurtling toward a warmer climate at a quickening pace, a Nobel-winning U.N. scientific panel said in a landmark report released Saturday, warning of inevitable human suffering and the threat of extinction for some species.

As early as 2020, 75 million to 250 million people in Africa will suffer water shortages, residents of Asia's megacities will be at great risk of river and coastal flooding, Europeans can expect extensive species loss, and North Americans will experience longer and hotter heat waves and greater competition for water, the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said climate change imperils "the most precious treasures of our planet."

The potential impact of global warming is "so severe and so sweeping that only urgent, global action will do," Ban told the IPCC after it issued its fourth and final report this year.

The IPCC adopted the report, along with a summary, after five days of sometimes tense negotiations. It lays out blueprints for avoiding the worst catastrophes — and various possible outcomes, depending on how quickly and decisively action is taken.

The document says recent research has heightened concern that the poor and the elderly will suffer most from climate change; that hunger and disease will be more common; that droughts, floods and heat waves will afflict the world's poorest regions; and that more animal and plant species will vanish.

The Summary for Policymakers, and the longer version, called the synthesis report, distill thousands of pages of data and computer models from six years of research compiled by the IPCC.

The information is expected to guide policy makers meeting in Bali, Indonesia, next month to discuss an agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

The panel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year along with former Vice President Al Gore for their efforts to raise awareness about the effects of climate change.

The report is important because it is adopted by consensus, meaning countries accept the underlying science and cannot disavow its conclusions. While it does not commit governments to a specific course of action, it provides a common scientific baseline for the political talks.

The U.N. says a new global plan must be in place by 2009 to ensure a smooth transition after the expiration of the Kyoto terms, which require 36 industrial countries to radically reduce their carbon emissions by 2012.

"There are real and affordable ways to deal with climate change," Ban said. He said a new agreement should provide funding to help poor countries adopt clean energy and to adapt to changing climates.

The report says emissions of carbon, which comes primarily from fossil fuels, must stabilize by 2015 and go down after that. Otherwise the consequences could be "disastrous," said IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri.

In the best-case scenario, temperatures will continue to rise from carbon already in the atmosphere, the report said. Even if factories were shut down today and cars taken off the roads, the average sea level will reach as high as 4 1/2 feet higher than the preindustrial period, or about 1850.

"We have already committed the world to sea level rise," said Pachauri. If the Greenland ice sheet melts, the scientists couldn't even predict by how many meters the seas will rise, drowning coastal cities.

Yet differences remain stark on how to control carbon emissions.

While the European Union has taken the lead in enforcing the carbon emission targets outlined in Kyoto, the United States opted out of the 1997 accord.

President Bush described it as flawed because major developing countries such as India and China, which are large carbon emitters, were excluded from any obligations. He also favors a voluntary agreement.

Sharon Hays, a White House science official and head of the U.S. delegation, said the certainty of climate change was clearer now than when Bush rejected Kyoto.

"What's changed since 2001 is the scientific certainty that this is happening," she said in a conference call to reporters late Friday. "Back in 2001 the IPCC report said it is likely that humans were having an impact on the climate," but confidence in human responsibility had increased since then.

"What's new is the clarity of the signal, how clear the scientific message is," said Yvo de Boer, the U.N.'s top climate change official. "The politicians have no excuse not to act."

Opening with a sweeping statement directed at climate change skeptics, the summary declares that climate systems have already begun to change.

Unless action is taken, human activity could lead to "abrupt and irreversible changes" that would make the planet unrecognizable.

Advocacy groups hailed the report as indispensable for the 10,000 delegates expected at Bali.

"We expect to see their personal copies of the Synthesis Report return from Bali, battered and worn from frequent use, with paragraphs underlined and notes in the margin," said Stephanie Tunmore of Greenpeace.

Source: The Associated Press

UN panel approves landmark report on climate change

VALENCIA, Spain (AFP) - The world's leading authority on climate change adopted Saturday a landmark report that warns that the impacts of global warming are already visible, will accelerate this century and are potentially irreversible.

"The parties to the governments adopted the full report, consisting of a shorter synthesis and a longer version," said Jose Romero, a Swiss delegate and one of the reports many authors.

The document, to be formally presented later Saturday in the Spanish city of Valencia by UN chief Ban Ki-moon, encapsulates the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's latest findings on the effects of greenhouse gases.

It seeks to guide politicians facing tough decisions on cutting pollution from fossil fuels, shifting to cleaner energy, bolstering defences against extreme weather, and other issues set to intensify due to climate change.

Ban warned Saturday in a published commentary to the first IPCC overview since 2001 that the world was on the verge of a "catastrophe" due to global warming.

The draft report from the Nobel-winning IPCC, which was not expected to change significantly, said the evidence of a human role in the warming of the planet was now "unequivocal."

Retreating glaciers and loss of snow in Alpine regions, thinning Arctic summer sea ice and thawing permafrost shows that climate change is already on the march, it said.

By 2100, global average surface temperatures could rise by between 1.1 C (1.98 F) and 6.4 C (11.52 F) compared to 1980-99 levels, while sea levels will rise by between 18 and 59 centimetres (7.2 and 23.2 inches), it forecasted.

Heatwaves, rainstorms, tropical cyclones and surges in sea level are among the events expected to become more frequent, more widespread or more intense this century.

"This is the strongest document the IPCC has produced," said Hans Verolme, director of the World Wildlife Fund's Global Climate Change Program.

He said that the synthesis said more clearly than any previous version, for example, that global warming was likely to be "irreversible".

"It is a tremendous result — the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change is here. Now the ball is in the court of politicians."

"All countries" will be affected, but poorer countries — ironically those least to blame for causing the problem — will be hit hardest and they have the least resources for coping, according to the draft report.

Publication of the report comes in the run-up to a December 3-14 conference in Bali, Indonesia, where the world's nations will gather to ponder the climate crisis.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is tasked with setting a "roadmap" of negotiations for intensifying cuts in carbon emissions beyond 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol runs out.

Carbon pollution, emitted especially by the burning of oil, gas and coal, traps heat from the Sun, thus warming the Earth's surface and inflicting changes to weather systems.

Emissions are spiralling, driven more recently by coal-fired plants in fast-growing China and India.

In its present form, Kyoto will not even make a dent in this threat.

In a commentary published in the International Herald Tribune on Saturday Ban called for urgent action on global warming, writing "I believe we are on the verge of a catastrophe if we do not act….

"I am not scare-mongering. But I believe we are nearing a tipping point," wrote the UN chief.

But he characterised the report's conclusions as "encouraging."

"The over-arching message: we can beat this. There are real and affordable ways to deal with climate change," wrote Ban.

The IPCC, which won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize — alongside former US vice president Al Gore — for its neutral and detailed assessments of global warming and its impacts, was established by the UN in 1988 to evaluate the risk of climate change.

Source: VMVZ News

Hilary Clinton Unveils Aggressive Climate Change Plan

Presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton has just released an aggressive and comprehensive plan to fight climate change and significantly curb the US addiction to foreign oil.

The plan called "Powering America's Future: Hillary Clinton's Plan to Address the Energy and Climate Crisis" proposes to:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% from 1990 levels by 2050 -- the level necessary to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.
  • Cut foreign oil imports by two-thirds from projected levels by 2030.
  • Transform our carbon-based economy into an efficient green economy, creating at least 5 million jobs from clean energy over the next decade.

Grist lays out the entire plan here.

Other key aspects are a new cap-and-trade program that auctions 100% of permits alongside investments to move us on the path towards energy independence and $50 billion Strategic Energy Fund, paid for in part by oil companies, to fund investments in alternative energy.

About time we've seen a presidential candidate take the climate crisis serious.

Climate change conference opens in Maldives

COLOMBO, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- The world's Small Island States gathered in the Maldives on Tuesday to highlight the plight of the world's most vulnerable communities to climate change and coordinate their positions before a key UN meeting scheduled for December.

The Foreign Ministry of the Maldives said in a statement that the conference will attempt to broaden the traditional climate change debate by focusing on the human dimension of this fundamental threat to planet, people and prosperity, according to website of the ministry.

Delegates from 23 island nations will examine how global warming is affecting the lives of individual people around the world, and to agree on whether climate change fundamentally compromises individual rights and liberties.

The meeting, with the theme of "Human Dimension of Global Climate Change", will also explore ways for Small Island States to collaborate in the preparation of a new global agreement to replace the Kyoto Treaty.

Addressing the opening ceremony in the Maldivian capital of Male, Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said that environmental protection, preservation and security are part of an individual's basic human rights.

Gayoom called for a comprehensive international treaty to guarantee this fundamental human right to millions of people across the world.

He told the gathering of representatives of member countries of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and international environmental organizations that people should be "at the heart of climate change diplomacy."

The president urged the delegates to develop a common platform for next month's important Bali (Indonesia) conference.

He said for the Maldives and other member countries of AOSIS, environmental security was today an issue of life and death.

"We are under no illusion that time is running out for us to ensure the survival of our future generations. It is our responsibility to ensure that they are not deprived of the opportunity to grow up and to live in a safe and protected environment," the president said.

"The future we seek to build is not a zero-sum game where one lifestyle is sacrificed to save another," said Gayoom, adding that measures to counter climate change will power sustainable development, create new and better jobs and raise living standards across the world.

At the end of the two-day conference, Small Island States are expected to adopt a "Declaration on the Human Dimension of Climate Change."

The document will be accompanied by a resolution that will "operationalize" the declaration by setting out the negotiating position of Small Island States ahead of the Bali Process.

The 13th United Nations Climate Change Conference is expected to be held in Bali from Dec. 3 to 14 to formulate a roadmap for a future climate change deal.


Satellite 'sentinels' to help track climate change

A European project to monitor the continent's climate from space could provide a boost in the fight against climate change.

The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security project (GMES) will eventually consist of five satellites--or "sentinels"--that will monitor different climate elements.

The project has been jointly developed by the European Commission and European Space Agency and is aimed at generating data to inform government policy for combating climate change and help plan for the effects of the changes already taking place.

Each satellite would provide different data sets, such as ocean-monitoring information (temperature, color, level) and atmospheric data.

Speaking at a panel discussion in Westminster, U.K., professor Alan O'Neill, director of the National Centre for Earth Observation, said, "I think that the GMES could be a critical contribution to an Earth information system."

The project could provide "assured continuity of crucial data sets" that could help understand and predict climate change and inform policy making in hundreds of years, he added.

Professor David Crichton, consultant on insurance and climate change, cited a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that suggests government policy now needs to focus on making the infrastructure more resilient to climate change.

There are firm plans for the first three sentinels--with launches expected in 2011 or 2012--but plans for the final two satellites are less certain due to funding issues.

O'Neill said the U.K. has to do more than it has done so far to ensure results of the data-gathering can be quickly made into policy. "If the U.K. gets its act together, it can get involved in the building of (GMES)," he said.

Stuart Martin, director of space and satellite communications at LogicaCMG, which is heavily involved in the project, said the U.K. isn't putting enough money into the GMES pot.

Michael Jack, chairman of the U.K.'s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, agreed. He said, "There is a sort of reluctance in our system to spend any money on space."

ohn Higgins, director general of IT industry association Intellect, added, "The perceptions of this topic are quite different around the world. There are actions that need to be taken."

But Jack said the U.K. decision makers need to be better informed about the project and more effort needs to be made to engage with the public around the project. "At the moment there's a yawning disconnect," he said.

Jack added there are lessons to be learned from the European Galileo project--aimed at rivaling the U.S. GPS satellite system--which has also suffered from a dearth of funding.

The U.K.'s House of Commons Select Committee on Transport has said Galileo is suffering from an "alarming" absence of information.

Source: Cnet

Avoiding Climate Change: Why Americans Prevaricate and Delay on Taking Action

By Kurt Campbell

Kurt Campbell is an expert on Asia and security issues who is now chief executive of the Center for a New American Security. He served in the Pentagon in the Clinton administration, in charge of Asia/Pacific issues, and earlier taught at Harvard. Kurt has written widely, for popular and academic audiences, about everything from Japan to nuclear policy. His last post was entitled: “The Inheritance on Climate.”

For all the talk of Americans being an optimistic people, anxieties and fears have long animated our national passions and perspectives. There were longstanding concerns for 50 years over various aspects of Soviet power, either in the form of an alleged missile gap or unfounded worries over communist infiltration into the United States government during the height of the Cold War. Currently, there are dire concerns over a number of new global developments, ranging from reliance on unstable regions for supplies of petrol, the increasing radicalization of Islam, the implications for China’s march on the 21st Century, to the spread of nuclear weapons.

Given this tendency to occasionally stress out over — and even hype global trends — it is all the more surprising that the US government during the Bush years has been relatively lackadaisical about the prospective threats to global security that are inherent with unchecked climate change. These include the possibility of major flooding of low lying coastal areas, the prospect of massive migrations of people across the globe, new disease vectors, species extinctions, agricultural disruptions and the collapse of global fisheries.

While there is a growing consciousness about climate change and how a sharp increase in global warming might sharply shift the natural order of the planet, there has been an inadequate appreciation in our overall political discourse about the necessity to act urgently.

Most public polls on the subject underscore two contradictory findings: one, that Americans now accept that climate change is real and must be dealt with and two, that Americans as yet do not feel that they must make personal sacrifices or alter their carbon splurging lifestyles in order to address the problem.

What accounts for this general lack of urgency on a issue that the Nobel Committee, among others, considers a profound threat to the peace and stability of the planet? The reasons are many and complex and in combination provide a daunting set of obstacles to any political effort to truly address the magnitude of the challenge ahead of us.

Probably the most important reason for this absence of urgency is the profound lack of public knowledge on issues related to climate matters, that is, beyond the simple conflation of weather with climate in the public mind. The serious national media have done a miserable job in educating the public about just what the stakes involved are when it comes to climate change — its science, causes, the politics of, and remediation efforts.

The absence of visionary political leadership at the national level is also undeniable. While it is easy to scapegoat President Bush and his team for a profound lack of initiative on all matters of climate, it must be said that on this issue he merely mirrors the dominant attitudes of obliviousness and denial among many of the American people. On climate, alas, we have gotten the president we deserve.

Many also believe that it will be possible to defer taking action into the future and that late remedial steps can be both cost effective and sufficient. However, most experts counter that urgent and current steps are infinitely preferable to waiting and hoping that late action can still work to address the magnitude of the problem. In truth, waiting will probably turn out to be a very bad option.

There is, in addition, a general if unstated belief that a “cool” new technology (sorry for the pun) will soon emerge - a veritable technical silver bullet - that will magically remove vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the skies and allow Americans to avoid the really hard choices of conservation and changes in lifestyle.

There are also powerful forces in the political arena that continue to have serious doubts about either the existence of climate change or misgiving about the implications of taking action to address the problem (or both). For instance, the lion’s share of recent funding provided to the small but busy band of climate change skeptics have come from folks associated with the oil and coal industries.

Another related issue is the potential economic impacts of introducing new energy related technologies or conservation provisions. There is a strong and growing presumption that alternative approaches should be cost effective and not put undue burdens on the already energy - stressed industrial and commercial sectors of the American business community. This is a high bar, particularly if the implications of global climate change are as dire as many experts predict.

And lastly, there is probably an unhealthy propensity on the part of many Americans to think that the enormity of the challenge is simply insurmountable, and it’s probably better to pretend that the ice caps are not melting, that worrisome climate trends are not accelerating, or to simply deny that local weather conditions are changing in ways that the old timers cannot remember ever happening before.

Taken together this is a daunting list of roadblocks, detours and demons that will provide enormous disincentives for political leadership on the matter of addressing climate change in an early and earnest way. And yet, early action is precisely what is urgently required if climate change is to be a major political preoccupation of the next president — as it must be

Source: The New York Times

9 Midwestern states join with Schwarzenegger on global-warming plan

SACRAMENTO - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger lauded an agreement Thursday that brings nine states in the U.S. heartland in line with his fight against global warming - his 11th such pact in little more than a year.

The latest accord was signed at a climate-change summit in Wisconsin. Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Kansas, Ohio, Wisconsin and South Dakota signed onto the pact, along with the Canadian province of Manitoba.

The pacts enlist governments - states, foreign provinces, even a coalition of European Union nations - to join a large emissions cap-and-trade system. Schwarzenegger and others believe such a program will create incentives for businesses to curb greenhouse-gas emissions by allowing them to trade and sell credits to those who don't.

"States and regions are making significant progress toward paving the way for a future federal program," Schwarzenegger said of the agreement. "Together, we're creating a network of climate initiatives that will form the foundation of an eventual national program."

Beginning Sunday, Schwarzenegger will appear in a 30-second, global-warming alert TV ad that Environmental Defense funded with $3 million to pressure Congress. The ad also features Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., a Republican, and Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat.

Next month, Schwarzenegger is expected to join former Vice President Al Gore in a presidential forum on the environment - for candidates of both parties -

in New Hampshire, shortly before the first state presidential primary.

California's governor has made high-profile appearances on global warming, including a United Nations address, while lobbying Congress and playing a role in the 2008 presidential race by drawing attention to the problem.

Schwarzenegger's aides said the agreement signed Thursday is modeled after the pact forged in February between California and the Western states of Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. Utah has since joined.

"Today's agreement is an important milestone toward achieving a cleaner, more secure energy future," said Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The Midwestern accord will:

• Establish greenhouse-gas reduction targets and time tables.

• Develop a market-based and multiple-sector cap-and-trade mechanism to help achieve those targets.

• Foster development of additional steps needed to achieve reduction goals, such as low-carbon fuel standards, and regional incentives and funding mechanisms.

In September 2006, the governor signed California legislation that established regulatory and market mechanisms designed to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020.

Source: MercuryNews

U.N. Report: Global Warming Could Be 'Abrupt, Irreversible'

VALENCIA, Spain — Climate change is here, and it's getting worse, the year's final report by a U.N. panel will say when it's officially released Saturday.

"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal," the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Summary for Policymakers begins in a statement meant to dispel any skepticism about climate change.

It goes on to say that global warming could lead to "abrupt and irreversible" results, such as the widespread extinction of species, according to persons familiar with the final draft who requested anonymity because the summary was not yet public.

Working until dawn Friday, negotiators hashed out week-long disputes on the language, one of its authors said.

Provisional agreement on the text — which is about 20 pages and summarizes thousands of pages of data and projections — required compromises among the more than 140 delegations, but resulted in a "good and balanced document," said Bert Metz, a Dutch scientist who helped draft the report.

The brief Summary for Policymakers is expected to get final approval later Friday after a longer version of about 70 pages is reviewed and adopted.

It is to be released at 11 a.m. Spanish time Saturday — 5 a.m. EST — by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Until then, the text is supposed to remain confidential.

The paper will be an "instant guide" to policymakers at a critical meeting next month in Indonesia, which could launch a round of complex talks on a new international accord for controlling carbon emissions and other human activity that is heating the planet.

Though it contains no previously unpublished material, the summary pulls together the central elements of three lengthy reports released earlier this year by the IPCC.

They describe observations of the changing climate, the potentially disastrous impacts of global warming and the tools available to slow the warming trend.

The document "is a clear message to policymakers," said Hans Verolme, of the World Wide Fund for Nature, one of the environmental groups acting as observers. "The scientists have done their job. They certainly deserved the Nobel Prize. Now the question is, what are the policymakers going to do with it?"

The panel shared this year's Nobel Peace Prize with Vice President Al Gore.

The meeting in the Indonesian resort of Bali starting Dec. 3 will discuss the next step in combating climate change after the measures adopted in the Kyoto Protocol expire in 2012.

The Kyoto accord, negotiated in 1997, obliges 36 industrial countries to radically reduce their carbon emissions by 2012, but has no clear plan for what happens after that date.

Though the United States rejected the Kyoto accord, it will attend the Bali meeting.

Participants in the Valencia meeting said the U.S. delegation questioned the most hard-hitting statements in the summary. But key language remained.

Delegates fought long and hard for the inclusion of issues of special interest to them: mountainous countries wanted a reference to melting glaciers; island states wanted to include warnings that oceans are becoming more acidic; poor countries insisted on firm language on "adaptation," implying international funding to help them cope with the effects of global warming.

The IPCC reports draw on the research of thousands of scientists and is reviewed by about 2,500 experts, then distilled and drafted by several hundred authors.

Metz said the discussions that began Monday were "contentious in a number of places," and required compromise language. "If I had written it myself, I might have done it a bit different," he said, though he added he was satisfied with the outcome.

"It says in crisp language: This is the problem, and this is what we can do to stop it," said Verolme, the WWF campaigner.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Antarctica shows need for action on climate change, Ban Ki-moon says

11 November 2007 Ban Ki-moon, during his historic visit to Antarctica, the first by a United Nations Secretary-General, has said warming temperatures on the continent show the growing dangers of climate change and the need for action to address it.

“It is here where our work, together, comes into focus,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued on Friday. “We see Antarctica's beauty – and the danger global warming represents, and the urgency that we do something about it.”

The Secretary-General, who has made climate change a priority issue and is working to galvanize support for an international conference to be held in Bali in December on global commitments to stop it, said he is personally determined to push forward.

He said the landscapes on Antarctica are “rare and wonderful” but also deeply disturbing as the ice continues melting at a fast pace.

“All this may be gone, and not in the distant future, unless we act, together, now,” he warned.

“Antarctica is on the verge of a catastrophe – for the world.”

The Secretary-General offered stark figures to illustrate his point, noting that the glaciers on King George Island have shrunk by 10 per cent, while some in Admirality Bay have retreated by 25 kilometers. He also recalled how the 87-kilometer “Larsen B ice sheet” collapsed several years ago and disappeared within weeks and warned that the entire Western Antarctic Ice Shelf is at risk.

“It is all floating ice, one fifth of the entire continent. If it broke up, sea levels could rise by 6 meters or 18 feet,” he noted, pointing out that 138 tons of ice are now being lost every year.

Other “deeply worrying signs” he mentioned were the shrinking penguin population of Chabrier Rock, which has dipped by 57 per cent in the last 25 years. “What will happen to the annual march of the penguins in the future? Will there even be one?”

At the same time, grass is growing for the first time ever on King George Island, where it rains rather than snows increasingly in the summer.

“These things should alarm us all. Antarctica is a natural lab that helps us understand what is happening to our world. We must save this precious earth, including all that is here. It is a natural wonder, but above all, it is our common home,” said Mr. Ban.

source: UN news

President sees off cyclists to campaign climate change

JAKARTA (Antara): President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Sunday saw off cyclists who will travel from Jakarta to Bali as part of a campaign on the climate change.

At the start held in the National Monument square, Yudhoyono gave the Red and White flags to the participating cyclists in the 1447-kilometer long trip.

“I encourage our brothers to promote cycling as it has a lot of advantages including saving the earth,” he said.

Meanwhile, State Minister for the Environment Rahmat Witoelar said the trip, dubbed Bicycle for Earth Goes to Bali, started from Sunday to Dec. 1, 2007, to greet the UN Conference on Climate Change to be held from Dec.3 to 14, 2007 in Bali.

The cycling event is participated in by 50 cyclists consisting of 15 participants of the main team who will be running the Jakarta-Bali route and 35 members of cycling communities from cities where they will pass through.

The routes are Jakarta, Karawang, Pamanukan, Cirebon, Tegal, Pekalongan, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Solo, Madiun, kertosono, Surabaya, Probolinggo, Situbondo, Banyuwangi, Tabanan, Denpasar, and Nusadua

UN climate change chief impressed by China

China is taking all the necessary steps to tackle the adverse impacts of climate change, chairman of the UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Rajendra Pachauri has said.

At a media workshop organized by the UN Development Programme in Delhi last week, Pacahuri said he was impressed by what Chinese scientists and meteorologists had done to fight climate change.

Pachauri-led IPCC shared this year's Nobel Peace Prize with green campaigner and US former vice-president Al Gore.

"The facilities, capabilities and infrastructure developed by China Meteorological Administration (CMA) have served the people very well," Pachauri said.

For example, China has 2,400 observation stations to monitor weather and climate change, he said. China has a TV channel on the weather , too, and it reaches everyone.

China has been doing a great job as a developing country, Pachauri said, with its scientists showing a very positive attitude toward working with international researchers to fight climate change.

"On the Fourth Assessment Report, China has been extremely active," he said. "A number of Chinese scientists have contributed to the report. The Chinese government has been very deeply engaged in every stage of the process of the report."

The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, "Climate Change 2007", will be released in Spain next week. It will be the latest in a series of IPCC assessments providing the most comprehensive scientific evidence on climate change. China is seeking a way to develop a low-carbon economy, Pachauri said, and he will help it achieve it if he can.

source: Chinadaily

Businesses to take climate change action

OVER 100 of Scotland's top business leaders were meeting in Edinburgh today to pledge action on climate change.

The Prince of Wales' Business Summit on Climate change marks the beginning of a business-led movement for increased action on the threat of carbon emissions to the planet.

Prince Charles was due to address the audience at The Hub via video-link from Wales where a simultaneous event was taking place.

John Swinney, cabinet secretary for finance and sustainable growth, was also due to speak at the summit.

Companies will be asked to make firm commitments to reduce their carbon emissions.

The event, which has been organised by Scottish Business in the Community in conjunction with the Carbon Trust, brought together senior industry figures across a range of sectors and regions.

The gathering follows on from the inaugural event in England in May and will take the number of companies making a commitment to tackling climate change in the UK to over 1500.

Samantha Barber, chief executive of Scottish Business in the Community, said: "Scottish businesses have been at the forefront of efforts to tackle climate change for some time now.

"The summit will provide a focus for collective business action on climate change - harnessing the power of business to change their operating practices."

source: Scotsman

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

UN chief to attend Bali conference on climate change

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is planning to attend a conference on climate change on the Indonesian resort island of Bali in December this year, the executive secretary of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Yvo de Boer, said here on Thursday.

But de Boer said he had yet to obtain formal information on which countries would send officials at head of state/government level to the meeting which would bring together around 10,000 people from 189 countries.

"It is too early to say which countries will send officials at head of state/government level," de Boer told ANTARA here.

He said the Bali conference on climate change was scheduled to be conducted from December 3-14 but the presence of the UN chief has yet to be confirmed because it would depend on developments around various international issues.

Speaking at a press conference at the UN Headquarters on Thursday, de Boer said there was a strong desire from various countries and international private sectors to stem the tide of greenhouse gas emission.

He made the statement following several reports on climate change and the results of a meeting among Climate Change Convention countries in Bonn, Germany, last week.

The Bonn meeting, attended by 191 countries subscrbing to the Climate Change Convention and 173 Kyoto Protocol countries, was aimed at reducing green house gas emission until 2012 and held in a preparation of the main conference in Bali.

de Boer said it was the first time for the participants of the Bonn meeting to respond to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)`s report on an inexpensive technology to deal with climate change.

Asked what activity in Indonesia was contributing the most to climate change , de Boer said, "Illegal logging." (*)

Press briefing by Yvo de Boer at Carbon Forum Asia: Start of negotiations for post-2012 agreement crucial for health of the planet

6 November 2007
The UNFCCC Executive Secretary told stakeholders at the Carbon Forum Asia tradefair and conference that the negotiations need to begin this December to avoid a gap between the end of the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period and whatever agreement comes next. “We’ve seen several positive signals, such as the statements made by heads of state at the Secretary-General’s high level event in September in New York, and broad agreement by ministers who met in Indonesia just a few weeks ago. Nonetheless, we must stay focussed, and achieve a formal launch of negotiations in Bali in December, one that sets out a timetable and a means for moving forward,” Mr. de Boer said.
source: unfccc

Al Gore Finds New Cause Of Global Warming

Nobel Prize winner, Al Gore, today announced he has single-handedly found a new major cause of global warming. Haircuts.

Liberal, wacko scientists, as usual, totally agree with Al Gore's finding. They claim that, after a haircut, when the thrown-away hair cuttings decay, they give off massive amounts of green house gases, in hues of blond, brunette and redhead. This contributes to the severe global warming crisis in America, which, according to liberals, is the worst offending nation in everything.

Along with SUV's and outdoor barbecuing, haircutting in America is a serious environmentally unfriendly act, especially when perpetrated by rich men, rich women, actors and politicians, as they get more frequent haircuts than the average poor person.

The world's hair care industry is aghast at Gore's findings. Hollywood haircutter-to-the-stars, Jose Jair, stated, "OMG, all these years when I was charging $500 for a haircut I was contributing to global warming. I'm so sorry. Now that I know, I'll have to raise my price."

And, lastly, as a result of his new findings, Al Gore has personally vowed to get all his hair cut off and, in the interests of science and the environment, go bald.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Indonesian Today (day by day in indonesia)

find anything you want about Indonesia day by day in this blog

read more | digg story

Thursday, November 1, 2007

International Demonstrations on Climate Change 8 December 2007

Coinciding with the UN Climate Talks (MOP 3, COP 13) in Bali, Indonesia, from the 3rd to the 14th December 2007

The 'Call to Action' for these demonstrations and related events that will take place on December 8th 2007 is as follows :

"We demand that world leaders take the urgent and resolute action that is needed to prevent the catastrophic destabilisation of global climate, so that the entire world can move as rapidly as possible to a stronger emissions reductions treaty which is both equitable and effective in preventing dangerous climate change.

We also demand that the long-industrialised countries that have emitted most greenhouse gases up to now take most of the responsibility for the adaptive measures that have to be taken, especially by low-emitting countries with limited economic resources."

International Day of Action, December 8

In Indonesia, on December 8, WALHI (
Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia = Friends of the Earth Indonesia) will take the lead organising at local level for the International Day of Action in Bali. WALHI will be supported by the Bali Working Group. A huge mobilization is expected. The mobilisation will be linked with the actions around the world through the global climate change action (

The target of the mobilisation will be the media and general public. Through the mobilisation, the NGOs and movements gathered in Bali will send a strong message to world leaders that the world can not wait for real action to fight the causes of the climate change.

WALHI will look for the most strategic place to start the action. The media coordination will be very crucial to inform the media that will be concentrated in the official venue. The intention is to organise interesting carnivals, with music and colorful banners from different groups. The announcement will need to be prepared and launched at least one month prior the action day. WALHI will organise Indonesian groups, particularly Balinese groups. It is also intended to organise an interesting action during the mobilisation inspired by local culture, i.e. giant floating life safety.

There are also plans for several other activities, such as live concert, artistic action, etc.

Indonesia a climate change perpetrator

Should climate change be made the priority in Indonesia's environmental policy? I believe the answer is "yes". Indonesia should be more actively involved in global efforts to combat climate change by making this a priority among other environmental issues.

First of all, climate change will affect our lives. The 2001 IPCC report estimates, with a high degree of confidence, several impacts of climate change in tropical Asia. The report predicts climate change will increase tropical Asian countries' vulnerability to extreme climate events, including droughts and floods. Increased precipitation intensity, particularly during the summer monsoon season, could expose people in flood-prone areas to a higher risk of floods.

The IPCC report also predicts climate change will increase occurrences and the intensity of tropical cyclones, with serious consequences. Stronger tropical cyclones combined with rising sea-levels may lead to increased risk of loss of life and property in low-lying coastal areas.

Moreover, strong winds resulting from cyclones, combined with thermal and water stresses, sea level rise and increased flooding, will threaten crop production and aquaculture.

According to the report, large deltas and low-lying coastal areas in Asia could be inundated by rising sea-levels. On this particular issue, we could also refer to a study of Nicholls and Mimura, which estimates Indonesia will lose 1.9 percent of its land area with just a 0.6 meter rise in sea-levels (R.J. Nicholls and N. Mimura, 1998).

Other impacts predicted by the report include a higher incidence of heat-related and infectious diseases due to warmer and wetter conditions, increased vulnerability of freshwater supplies and threats to biodiversity resulting from land-use change and population pressures in Asia.

Given such enormous potential impacts, I see no choice but to make climate change a priority among environmental issues.

We should consider several adaptation options to minimize the magnitude of these impacts, ranging from the adjustment of harvest times and the development of new hybrids, to the protection of wetlands.

Climate change can also be mitigated with the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions. The question is, who should bear the responsibility for the reductions?

This responsibility should be differentiated according to each country's past emissions. In the climate change issue, bygones are not bygones -- polluters should pay for the damage they have caused. This can be seen in the differentiated responsibilities under UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, where the obligation to reduce emissions falls exclusively on developed countries.

Indonesia is excluded from obligation. This is certainly understandable given the current GHGs concentrations originate largely from developed countries.

For this reason, it should be noted, the responsibility to reduce emissions can no longer be considered a form of assistance given by developed countries to developing countries. Instead such a responsibility is compensation to be paid by developed countries for their past and current excessive emissions levels.

Unfortunately, the report of Wetlands International and Delft Hydraulics provides a different picture about our emissions. It says when emissions from forest and peatland destruction are accounted for, Indonesia comes hard on the heels of the U.S. and China as the main contributor to climate change. This alarming report may have serious consequences to our position in climate change negotiations.

On one hand, if the report is correct, we can no longer consider ourselves as victims of climate change. We are now a perpetrator, and one of the worst.

On the other hand such a change in status from victim to culprit may impede us in taking initiatives to induce developed countries to reduce their emissions. We cannot push developed countries unless we can significantly reduce our own emissions, and such a reduction will only occur if we make climate change the priority in our environmental policy.

Lastly, I believe we can make significant emissions reductions inexpensively. As mentioned above, Indonesia's total emissions have drastically increased due to forest and peatland destruction. Excluding emissions from forest and peatland destruction, the country's total emissions are ranked 21st, far below those of developed countries.

Indonesia's per capita emissions are lower than those of neighboring developing countries, let alone developed countries, thanks to our huge population. This means our emissions will be significantly reduced if we restore our degraded forests and peatlands, while simultaneously preventing further destruction.

The good news is, good forest and peatland management does not necessarily involve large costs. Forest and peatland degradation in Indonesia has mainly resulted from activities that are actually illegal. Those activities include illegal logging and forest fires due to land clearing using the slash-and-burn method.

Hence, it is plausible to argue that our emissions reductions first and foremost require a strong government willing to enforce our own environmental law. Let's not forget while developed countries' emissions could be seen as a symbol of economic growth and prosperity, ours are the symbol of lawlessness and ignorance, if not foolishness.

Source: The Jakarta Post