Thursday, August 30, 2012

Climate Conversations - Small island states need action on climate loss and damage

International climate change negotiations have long been focused on mitigation and adaptation - that is, on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the growing climate crisis and helping vulnerable communities adapt to its impacts.

But with no end to emissions in sight, and only scant progress made towards building resilience, negotiators have been forced to confront a troubling new reality: what happens when mitigation and adaption efforts fall short?

Not only does the most recent global onslaught of droughts, floods and famines offer a glimpse of what the future may hold; it underscores that climate change is especially devastating for countries that lack the resources needed to prepare and respond to environmental disasters.

EA submission by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) from the earliest days of the talks anticipated this dilemma, and sought to address it by creating a system that would help poor and vulnerable countries manage climate-related impacts.

Our proposal is referenced in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and draws on numerous principles of international law, including the responsibility of a state, polluter pays, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, intergenerational equity, trans-boundary harm and others.

At the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC last year in Durban, negotiators were able to reach consensus on key elements of a work programme that called for the implementation of approaches to “address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and to make recommendations on loss and damage to the Conference of the Parties for its consideration at its 18th session”.

Discussions continue at the expert level, most recently prior to the start of the latest round of climate talks in Bangkok this week. The final meeting, which will focus on small-island developing states, will take place in Barbados in October.

The proposal has received support from the Least Developed Country and Africa groupings as well as a growing number of developed country partners. While loss and damage is not on the agenda for the additional negotiating session here, it will undoubtedly come up as parties prepare for a broader conversation at COP 18 in Doha at the end of the year. More


Monday, August 27, 2012

Sea Level Rise Threatens Countries, Regions And Cities Around The World

With sea levels expected to rise by as much as three feet by the year 2100, in large part due to climate change, low-lying countries and coastal cities face an unprecedented challenge this century. Recent research indicated that in the next several centuries, average global sea levels could rise somewhere between 18 and 29 feet, explains Climate Central, a nonprofit climate news and research organization.

Much of this potential sea level rise may be spurred by glacial melting in the world's polar regions. James Hansen, a professor at Columbia University and head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has said that the global goal to limit atmospheric warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) "is actually a prescription for long-term disaster." Hansen fears, LiveScience reported, that with warming of two degrees, we could see an ice-free Arctic and a notable rise in sea-levels by tens of meters.

An increasing number of studies are making the connections between human activities, climate change and a rise in extreme weather events. Hansen recently wrotein The Washington Post, "our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change." Referring to extreme weather events in the past decade in North America and Europe, he wrote, "The odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small. To count on those odds would be like quitting your job and playing the lottery every morning to pay the bills."

Although many of the locations on the list below of low-lying areas are outside of North America, the U.S. is not immune from sea level rise. A recent report from the U.S. Geological Survey found that there is a "hotspot" along the U.S. East Coast, where rates of sea level rise are increasing about three to four times more than the global average and could "increase the vulnerability of coastal cities to flooding, and beaches and wetlands to deterioration."

On the West Coast, most of the California coast will see a six inch sea level rise by 2030 and an average rise of 3 feet by 2100, according to a study by the National Research Council. More


Sunday, August 26, 2012

New UN climate fund must work for the poor - NGOs

LONDON (AlertNet) – As the board of a new U.N. climate fund for developing countries meets for the first time, civil society groups are pushing for it to be managed in a way that is transparent and accountable to poor communities likely to be hit hardest by climate change.

Nouakchott, Mauritania
Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) urged the Green Climate Fund’s board to give citizens a much bigger voice at its meetings, as it begins to work out how to administer up to $100 billion a year to help developing nations adapt to a warmer world and curb their greenhouse gas emissions.

“We need a balance between the urgency to achieve results and the due diligence required to protect climate money and ensure its effectiveness,” said Lisa Ann Elges, head of TI’s climate governance integrity programme.

The proposed arrangements allow just two civil society observers to participate actively in board meetings, one each from the developed and developing worlds - the same level of representation allotted for the private sector. Guidelines say an active observer may speak but not vote.

Researchers and climate activists are concerned that the private sector may be given too large a role in running projects financed by the fund, and it will be difficult to track what businesses are doing.

But access to the fund's resources for companies and private financial institutions is regarded by some debt-laden wealthy governments as a carrot to raise additional money from private sources - without which they are reluctant to loosen their own purse strings.

"There is an understanding that the more the Green Climate Fund is private investor-friendly, the more likely it is that developed countries will put money in," said Janet Redman of the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies.


She and other experts want rules to ensure that private-sector activities financed by the fund will not undermine the development of poorer nations and vulnerable people who rarely get a say in such decisions.

"The private sector has its motives, but these have to line up with the interests and priorities of developing-country governments and what the people who are going to be most impacted by climate change want and need," Redman told AlertNet. More


Thursday, August 23, 2012

UNEP TNA Releases Guidebook on International Funding for Climate Change Mitigation

August 2012: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Technology Needs Assessment (TNA) Project has released a guidebook, titled “Accessing International Financing for Climate Change Mitigation.” The guidebook aims to assist developing countries in speeding up the transfer, deployment and diffusion of mitigation technologies, thereby enabling countries to contribute to climate change mitigation and reduce climate change impacts while pursuing national development goals.

The 142-page guidebook analyzes over 100 public and private funding sources, and presents their main features, application requirements and procedures. The guidebook also includes a general guidance section on the preparation of high quality project and programme proposals.

The TNA Project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by UNEP’s Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE) and the UNEP Risoe Centre on Energy, Climate and Sustainable Development. The TNA aims to assist countries in determining their technology priorities regarding mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adaptation to climate change. [Publication: Accessing International Financing for Climate Change Mitigation]


Energy Security: Navy Demonstration of Alternative Fuels

For years, the U.S. Navy has been studying alternatives to the increasingly expensive fossil fuels that power its ships, boats and planes and last month (July) the service got to test its research and theories on a grand scale.

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), heading a strike force of four other ships as well as a jet fighter wing, helicopters and other aircraft, demonstrated the viability of alternative fuels in the waters off Hawaii during Rim of the Pacific 2012 (RIMPAC), the world’s largest annual international maritime exercise.

Click here to view the complete article at the IDGA website.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

US criticised on 2C climate 'flexibility' call

The EU and small island states have criticised the US for saying the target of keeping global warming below 2C should be removed from climate talks.

Todd Stern Special Envoy for Climate Change
At the 2010 UN climate convention meeting, governments agreed to take “urgent action” to meet the target.

But last week the chief US climate negotiator Todd Stern said insisting on the target would lead to “deadlock”.

Spokesmen for the EU and the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis) said the US should stick to promises made.

“Suddenly abandoning our agreement to keep global warming below 2C is to give up the fight against climate change before it even begins,” said Tony de Brum, Minister in Assistance for the Marshall Islands.

“‘Flexibility’ on our 2C limit would set the world on a path to irreversible, runaway climate change.

“For many low-lying island states, including my own, that is not a solution - it is a death sentence,” he told BBC News.

Isaac Valero-Ladron, the EU’s climate spokesman, said governments including the US had to live up to prior promises.

“Also, consolidated science continues to remind us of the dire consequences of going beyond such a temperature increase,” he said.

The core objective of the UN climate convention (UNFCCC), agreed in 1992, is to prevent “dangerous” climate change.

Scores of governments believe that 2C is a realistic indication of where “dangerous” climate change begins, although a greater number - principally those highly vulnerable to impacts such as sea level rise - say even 2C is too high. More


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Reducing Dependence on Fossil Fuels Essential for Sustainable Progress in Small Island Developing States, Says UN Secretary-General

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) need to free themselves from dependence on fossil fuel imports and transform their energy sectors to encompass modern, efficient, clean and renewable sources of energy, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message to an audience of prime ministers, ministers, international experts, civil society leaders and business executives at the Barbados Conference today.

Sustainable development is not possible without sustainable energy, the Secretary-General continued in his message to the conference Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in Small Island Developing States, convened by the Government of Barbados and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The worlds appetite for energy continues to grow, and the global thermostat continues to rise. My vision is a world with universal energy access; a doubling of the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and a doubling of renewable energy in our mix of fuel sources by 2030.

Small island developing states are highly dependent on imported oil and other fossil fuels for transport and electricity generation, which is a major source of economic volatility.

We know that although many Small Island Developing States are energy deficient in conventional energy, limitless potential for renewable energy and energy efficiency resides in our countries. The fundamental issue thus is how do we, as small island developing states with inherent structural problems and limited resources, convert this renewable energy potential into a tangible product that is accessible, affordable and adaptable, proclaimed Prime Minister, The Honourable Freundel Stuart in addressing delegates at the opening ceremony this morning.

In some small island states, switching to hydro, solar, geothermal or other renewable energy sources can free up to 30 percent of gross domestic product which is otherwise expended on imports of oil and refined petroleum products. The savings can be then invested into jobs in sectors such as clean energy, improved health care and education, stronger safety nets for people whose livelihoods will be affected by the phase out of fossil fuels, adaptation to climate change, and other programmes. More


Friday, August 3, 2012

SIS Officials Discuss Climate Change and the Pacific Plan

Senior officials from the Smaller Island States (SIS) within the Pacific Islands Forum will discuss a regional technical support mechanism for SIS to access and manage the expected increased flows of climate change resources.

This is one of the issues being discussed at the one-day 2012 SIS Officials Meeting held at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Suva, Fiji today. The meeting is one of a series of Forum officials meetings which will be held at the Secretariat this week in preparation for the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' meeting which will be held in the Cook Islands 27 - 31 August. SIS countries include the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia and Tuvalu.

In his opening remarks at the meeting, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade said: "Climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of SIS."

"SIS Leaders emphasised the need to address the significance of current impacts of climate change on the SIS as urgent, requiring immediate resourcing and support. As you know, CROP agencies are developing a regional technical support mechanism for SIS to effectively access and manage the expected increased flows of climate change resources," said Mr Slade

The ongoing work on climate change finance (CCF) is being undertaken in line with the Forum Compact, as part of a region-wide effort to strengthen coordination and better use of development resources.

Forum Secretary General Mr Slade also reaffirmed the Pacific Plan as the master strategy for strengthening regional cooperation and integration for the region including the special needs of the SIS.

Mr Slade said: "The affirmation of sustainable development at the Rio +20 conference reinforces our Leaders' Vision in the Pacific Plan. Of particular importance to this meeting is the recognition of the 'special case' of Small Island Developing States which echoes our Leaders own due recognition of the special place of SIS as the most vulnerable amongst out Pacific community."

He told delegates at the meeting that as an integral part of the Pacific Plan process, the review of the Pacific Plan will be conducted in 2013. More