Inter Press ServiceEnvironment – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Tue, 11 Dec 2018 19:55:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 Study Shows How African Countries are Preparing for Green Developmenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/study-shows-african-countries-preparing-green-development/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=study-shows-african-countries-preparing-green-development http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/study-shows-african-countries-preparing-green-development/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 12:19:45 +0000 Isaiah Esipisu http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159156 In order for African countries to implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), they will require further human capacity building, and there must be involvement of the private sector from the start of the planning process. This is according to preliminary findings of a study on green growth trends and readiness […]

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A wind energy generation plant located in Loiyangalani in northwestern Kenya. The plant is set to be the biggest in Africa, generating 300 MW. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

By Isaiah Esipisu
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

In order for African countries to implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), they will require further human capacity building, and there must be involvement of the private sector from the start of the planning process.

This is according to preliminary findings of a study on green growth trends and readiness across the continent jointly conducted by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The NDCs spell out the actions countries intend to take to address climate change, both in terms of adaptation and mitigation, and the SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

The early findings of the report titled Green Growth Readiness Assessment in Africa was released on the sidelines of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Katowice, Poland yesterday Dec. 10. Seven countries; Morocco, Tunisia Senegal Gabon, Rwanda Kenya and Mozambique, were selected for the pilot phase.

The scientists presented the findings as climate talks in Katowice entered the second week of negotiations, a stage where political leaders decide whether or not to adapt recommendations brought forth following the first week of technical engagements.

The report stated that high-level political commitment, appropriate policies and implementation of government strategic plans are the key drivers of green growth among African countries.

“Governments need to look at this [NDCs and SDGs] as commercial business opportunities,” said Dr. Frank Rijsberman, the Director General for GGGI. Surprisingly, he said, “I have asked a number of private investors as to why they do not invest in this sector, and the answer is not lack of finances, instead they say it is because of government policies.”

The need for sound policies was reiterated by Anthony Nyong, Director for Climate Change and Green Growth at the AfDB, who said that there must be an enabling environment for countries to achieve the much-desired green growth.

“After this assessment report, findings will be shared across the board so that countries can learn from each other,” said Nyong.

According to Dr. Pranab Baruah, one of the lead researchers from GGGI, some of the seven countries in the study have demonstrated high level leadership commitment that confirms their willingness to implement a green growth model.

In Kenya, for example, the researchers said that there is a National Climate Change Council that is chaired by the country’s President Uhuru Kenyatta. The council oversees the implementation of the National Climate Change Action Plan and also advises national and sub-national bodies on mainstreaming, legislative and implementation measures for climate change.

Kenya is currently producing the highest amount of geothermal energy in Africa with an output of 534 megawatts (MW), and 84 percent of all electricity installations consist of green energy.

The country is also in the process of constructing the largest wind firm in Africa with a potential capacity of 300 MW.

This is despite the government’s unpopular plan to construct the largest coal plant in sub-Saharan Africa. However, yesterday Kenya’s Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko told IPS  that the government is likely going to reconsider whether to proceed with construction of the coal plant.

But above all, said Baruah, the study found that Kenya’s recent introduction of a green growth curriculum in schools was key to the development of human capacity.

Rwanda is another country whose green growth is spearheaded from the highest political level. While most countries around the world wait for finances for mitigation projects to come from the Green Climate Fund, Rwanda is already mobilising and disbursing funds nationally.

The researchers said that Rwanda has created a 100-million-dollar National Fund for Climate and the Environment (FONERWA) as an instrument for financing the country’s needs on environment, climate change, and green growth.

In the same vein, Senegal is in the process of removing financial barriers for private sector participation through pilot projects. The country has a 200-million-dollar Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Fund (REEF), which provides financial incentives to private sector led pilot projects, such as lengthening the refinancing period for the small businesses.

The study also found that countries require urgent financing readiness, especially with the emergence of Green Climate Fund and that there is an urgent need for the strengthening of policy and planning frameworks for green growth. Countries studied also needed to address weak monitoring and reporting systems and work to enhance wider stakeholder buy-in to the green growth agenda.

 

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Indonesia Commits to Low Carbon Development and a Green Economy at COP24http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/indonesia-commits-low-carbon-development-green-economy-cop24/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=indonesia-commits-low-carbon-development-green-economy-cop24 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/indonesia-commits-low-carbon-development-green-economy-cop24/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 09:24:02 +0000 Sohara Mehroze Shachi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159150 Although Indonesia has attained decent economic growth of over five percent in the last decade, in order to ensure sustainable growth in the future the switch to renewable energy (RE) will be critical, says the country’s government. “If we don’t focus on low carbon development, we cannot continue this growth,” Bambang Brodjonegoro, Indonesia’s Minister of […]

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A traffic jam, in Indonesia's capital Jakarta. Air pollution in Jarkarta is triple the the maximum “safe” level recommended by the World Health Organisation. The country's government says it is committed to making the switch to renewables. Credit: Alexandra Di Stefano Pironti/IPS

By Sohara Mehroze Shachi
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

Although Indonesia has attained decent economic growth of over five percent in the last decade, in order to ensure sustainable growth in the future the switch to renewable energy (RE) will be critical, says the country’s government.
“If we don’t focus on low carbon development, we cannot continue this growth,” Bambang Brodjonegoro, Indonesia’s Minister of National Development Planning, said yesterday Dec. 10.

He spoke about Indonesia’s shift to a low carbon, climate-friendly development pathway at a high-level panel discussion at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), which is currently being held in Katowice, Poland. The panel discussion was organised by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), in partnership with the Ministry of National Development Planning of the Republic of Indonesia (BAPPENAS).

The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns of catastrophic climatic impacts if global warming is not kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius. This will include severe impact on food production and increasing risks of climate-related disasters.

But according to Brodjonegoro, the Indonesian government is taking this issue seriously.
“We are fully committed to steer our economy for low carbon development. We will mainstream a low carbon framework in our medium-term development plan,” he said, adding that low carbon development in Indonesia would involve improving environmental quality, attaining energy efficiency, increasing agriculture productivity, improving reforestation and reducing deforestation simultaneously.

There is a large scope for RE development in Indonesia, as most of its potential is unrealised as of now. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report on Indonesia’s RE prospects, the country has “an estimated 716 GW of theoretical potential for renewable energy-based power generation”. But of its bioenergy potential of 32.7 GW, it has developed a mere 1.8 GW.

“In order to provide the electricity for remote areas, this is a good time to promote renewable energy as this will increase the percentage of renewable energy in our energy mix,” Brodjonegoro said.

According to the minister, a key issue for scaling up RE in Indonesia lies with developing the capacity of stakeholders to meet the needs of different types of investors to access finance.

Bambang Brodjonegoro, Indonesia’s Minister of National Development Planning, said the switch to renewable energy is critical for his country’s sustainable economic growth. He was speaking at a panel discussion held at COP24 in Katowice, Poland. Credit: Sohara Mehroze Shachi/IPS

Dr. Frank Rijsberman, Director General of GGGI, echoed these thoughts, stating that the critical factor for proliferating renewables in Indonesia is whether it can attract private sector investment.

“Both governments and the private sector have not fully incorporated the idea that green growth is not only nice but it is also affordable,” he said. “Businesses should be investing in renewable energy because there is a business opportunity.”
In this regard, he said that blended finance could be a critical path where every dollar investment from donors could catalyse other investments from private sources.

State Secretary for Climate and Environment in Norway Sveinung Rotevatn, was a panelist at the event. He stated that Norway is encouraged by the low carbon development in Indonesia, and is committing substantial funds to reduce deforestation there. According to Global Forest Watch, Indonesia experienced a drop in tree cover loss in 2017, including a 60 percent decline in primary forest loss. The organisaiton said that this could be in part to the 2016 government moratorium on the conversion of peatland.

“As a developed country we see [Norway] as having a responsibility to contribute,” he said. Norway has been working in partnership with Indonesia since 2010.

The future of oil is not bright, and Rotevatn believes the shift in production to gas from coal could be a useful bridge towards a shift to renewables in the long run. He added that resistance in this transition from fossil fuels to renewables is expected.

“In 1991 Norway introduced a carbon tax. Today we consider it a natural thing but implementing it is always hard,” he said. One estimate from the Norwegian environmental agency shows that since Norway reduced emissions in 1991 it continued healthy economic growth.

However, Indonesia has a long way to go in the transition process as over 90 percent of its energy still comes from fossil fuels. But the government is optimistic of its potential to scale up RE.

“We are focusing on incentivising renewable energy production and increasing infrastructure of renewable energy capacity. We have a lot of isolated islands and remote areas which can be utilised,” said Rida Mulyana, Director General of New, Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation (NREEC) at Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources.

However, he noted that several challenges remain. One of these is public acceptance, as there is still a need for systematic and sustainable socialisation and education to minimise community resistance to RE projects.

Moreover, affordability of the available clean energy remains an issue, and the cost needs to be reduced for renewables to be a viable option. This is exacerbated by the fact that liquified petroleum gas is still subsidised, which fosters Indonesia’s dependency on fossil fuels.

While Mulayana pointed out financing as a key issue, he also said the government will not provide any subsidy for renewables and it has to compete with other sources of energy.

David Kerins, Senior Energy Economist at the European Investment Bank and another panelist at the event, said although RE projects are becoming more commercially viable, the private sector is yet to jump in on these investment opportunities. So there is a need to promote investment while providing safeguards to investors on the expected benefits.

“The RE energy sector has moved far beyond the situation it was before. Once people see how possible and straight forward it is, private sector can start targeting projects of its own,” he said.

Glenn Pearce-Oroz, Director for Policy and Programmes, Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), one of the attendees of the event, said one of the important next steps will be how to bring along commercial financing for low carbon development.

“Part of what we are seeing is private sector being more and more interested to do business in the green economy. What they are looking for though is clarity of roles and consistency in terms of the markets they are getting into,” he said.

“So the challenge for developing countries is how do you demonstrate that type of consistency and clarity and how do you establish clear rules of the game, good regulatory frameworks, that gives private sector the confidence to come into these markets?” He said Indonesia has the size, dynamism of economy and a lot of favourable elements for attracting private sector investment.

“Green growth as a concept is beginning to take off in different countries,” said Dr. Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and a 24-time COP attendee.

“The most important element of any green growth strategy is to make sure it’s nationally determined and nationally owned,” he said, adding that modality of green growth is peculiar to the politics, socio economic conditions and culture of a country.

“Green growth is more of a political process than a technical process. There are vested interests and issues that have to be worked out at the national level,” he said. “The good news is it [green growth] has started to happen.”

 

  • This story has been published with support from Inter Press Service, the Stanley Foundation, Earth Journalism Network and Climate Change Media Partnership.

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Undertaking the Challenge of a Green Growth Pathway in Northern Mexicohttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/undertaking-challenge-green-growth-pathway-northern-mexico/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=undertaking-challenge-green-growth-pathway-northern-mexico http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/undertaking-challenge-green-growth-pathway-northern-mexico/#respond Mon, 10 Dec 2018 23:34:12 +0000 Emilio Godoy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159144 The northern Mexican state of Sonora seeks to position itself at the forefront in Mexico in the sustainable transformation of its economy. But it faces major challenges, such as greening its energy mix and relying less on mining, which is highly polluting and leaves little benefit to its public coffers. This federal territory, one of […]

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The state of Sonora, Mexico's largest, aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 90 percent by 2050 and generate 43 percent of its energy from clean sources by 2030, as part of its Green Growth Strategy. Among its many benefits, the plan will reduce pollution in the state capital, Hermosillo, seen in this photo. Credit: Change.org

The state of Sonora, Mexico's largest, aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 90 percent by 2050 and generate 43 percent of its energy from clean sources by 2030, as part of its Green Growth Strategy. Among its many benefits, the plan will reduce pollution in the state capital, Hermosillo, seen in this photo. Credit: Change.org

By Emilio Godoy
MEXICO CITY, Dec 10 2018 (IPS)

The northern Mexican state of Sonora seeks to position itself at the forefront in Mexico in the sustainable transformation of its economy. But it faces major challenges, such as greening its energy mix and relying less on mining, which is highly polluting and leaves little benefit to its public coffers.

This federal territory, one of the 32 into which this Latin American country is divided, has a Green Growth Strategy (GGS) and a State Action Plan on Climate Change for the State of Sonora, as well as a local risk atlas and a multisectoral advisory council.

The GGS, launched in 2017, is “quite good, it is a strategy with a vision of green growth that seeks economic growth, human development, social inclusion and productivity of natural resources and resilience to climate change,” said Pablo Martinez, representative in Mexico of the intergovernmental Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI).

The expert explained to IPS that the decarbonisation of the economy is the area that has shown the most progress and highlighted the role of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency and sustainable mobility within the plan.

The Strategy was developed at the request of the Mexican government by the Seoul-based GGGI, created in 2012 with the aim of supporting developing countries in the South to establish a new economic model, based on green growth.

The GGS of Sonora, explained Martínez, includes 33 lines of action and its main objectives include the decarbonisation of the economy and energy independence, the inclusive innovative economy, the responsible use of materials and resources, and a resilient lifestyle.

It also contains 10 strategic themes, including renewable energy, sustainable mobility, water management and sustainable rural and urban development.

Economic activity in Sonora, the second largest Mexican state, with 189,055 square kilometers distributed among 72 municipalities inhabited by 2.85 million people, had a turnover of 30 billion dollars in 2016.

That production has left its ecological footprint. The latest available data shows that in 2010 the state released into the atmosphere 23 million tons of carbon dioxide. The largest emitters were energy (7.5 million), transport (6.5 million), agriculture and livestock (3.7 million) and industry (2.23 million).

The focus on the green economy has expanded widely throughout this decade. UN Environment defines it as an economy “that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. It is low carbon, resource efficient, and socially inclusive.”

 Pablo Martínez, the representative in Mexico of the Global Green Growth Institute, takes part in a workshop on the Green Growth Strategy of the northern state of Sonora, held this year in its capital, Hermosillo. Credit: GGGI Mexico


Pablo Martínez, the representative in Mexico of the Global Green Growth Institute, takes part in a workshop on the Green Growth Strategy of the northern state of Sonora, held this year in its capital, Hermosillo. Credit: GGGI Mexico

Within its GGS, in November 2017, the government of Sonora created a Green Growth Cabinet, which includes the ministers of Agriculture, Social Development, Economy and Infrastructure and Urban Development.

On Dec. 4, Sonora launched a Building Efficiency Accelerator programme, included in the GGS with the purpose of introducing new technologies in real estate planning to build more efficiently and reduce energy waste. Due to its dry climate, this state is the largest consumer of electricity for heating and cooling in the country.

Among other projects within the GGS, Sonora is about to receive between 568,000 and 1.13 million dollars in support from the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GIZ) and the C40 Cities Finance Facility, a network of 96 of the largest cities in the world against climate change, in order to structure a multimodal transport system that discourages the use of private vehicles.

In addition, Martínez explained, a pre-feasibility study is being drawn up for the production of biogas using agro-industrial waste, sponsored by the Danish Agency for International Cooperation and the energy ministry.

Another study being carried out is on pathways to deep decarbonisation by 2050, the first Mexican state to do so, with funds from the Washington-based World Resources Institute, a non-governmental organisation. A state environmental fund is expected to be set up by 2019, but it has no budget yet.

For Luis Carlos Romo, executive commissioner of the Commission for Ecology and Sustainable Development of the State of Sonora (Cedes), the new institutional structure and ongoing projects are achievements of the Strategy.

The official told IPS from Hermosillo, the state capital, that “the strategy aims to develop new motors of development. The main thing is to improve the quality of life of the people of Sonora, to strengthen social inclusion and reduce environmental impacts.”

The state government, he said, submitted the GGS to a public consultation process in March and April in order to promote citizen participation and improve and broaden its objectives, but its implementation faces significant challenges.

Martínez, the GGGI representative, mentioned financing, governance, social inclusion and the gender perspective as central themes.

Luis Carlos Romo, head of the Commission on Ecology and Sustainable Development of the State of Sonora, takes part in the presentation of the state's Green Growth Strategy in September during the Global Climate Action Summit held in San Francisco, California. Credit: Cedes

Luis Carlos Romo, head of the Commission on Ecology and Sustainable Development of the State of Sonora, takes part in the presentation of the state’s Green Growth Strategy in September during the Global Climate Action Summit held in San Francisco, California. Credit: Cedes

“There are obstacles to obtaining financing from development banks or foreign governments. The private sector must be more involved in the strategy. More institutional coordination is also needed. We see a great opportunity for the Strategy to be fulfilled; we don’t want a plan that remains on paper,” he said.

The GGS, he said, identifies challenges such as decreasing energy intensity and air pollutant emissions, strengthening the economic structure, ensuring the integrity of natural resources and decreasing the public’s vulnerability to climate effects.

Abandoning mining

For the state, one of the primary challenges is the gradual abandonment of mining, as it is the largest Mexican producer of gold, copper, molybdenum, graphite and wollastonite.

The mining outlook report for the state of Sonora, prepared by the Mexican Geological Service, a government agency, says gold is mined in 12 municipalities, copper in six and molybdenum in two.

In late 2017, the state had 46 mines in operation and 96 projects in the exploration phase, with a total of 5,974 mining concessions covering 5.55 million hectares, 29 percent of its territory.

In 2014, a stream connected to the Bacanuchi and Sonora rivers was the scene of a 40 million-liter spill of sulfuric acid from the Buenavista del Cobre mine, owned by the private Grupo Mexico, in what was called Mexico’s worst environmental disaster in modern times.

Energy transition

The sustainability of the energy mix is another major challenge, with 224 fossil-fuel-based power generators in operation. The state has strong potential for photovoltaic energy, due to its high level of solar irradiation, which is just beginning to be exploited, with 11 solar farms in operation or under construction.

In this regard, Romo, the head of Cedes, said that “we do not want to demonise any activity. The idea of the strategy is for traditional sectors, through innovation, to transform productive activities and have less environmental impact.”

“We believe that the lever that is going to support the strategy in a very important way is investment in renewables, to export energy instead of importing it. If we achieve this transformation of discarding fossil fuels, we will be able to meet the targets,” he explained.

The Sonora Risk Atlas includes seven municipalities that are highly vulnerable to climate change, so reducing emissions and adapting to the phenomenon are essential.

By 2030, Sonora has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and short-lived climate pollutants by 25 percent, within the targets adopted in September with the Under2 Coalition, whose name alludes to the need to keep the rise in global temperatures to below two degrees Celsius to avoid irreversible catastrophe.

Created in 2015, the coalition is made up of more than 220 local and regional governments, including those of 16 Mexican states.

Sonora projects that its GHG emissions will peak in 2026, before reducing them by 80 to 90 percent by 2050. In the energy sector, it aims to generate 35 percent clean energy by 2024 and 43 percent by 2030.

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Poor Progress and No Finance Commitments at COP24 in Katowicehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/poor-progress-no-finance-commitments-cop24-katowice/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=poor-progress-no-finance-commitments-cop24-katowice http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/poor-progress-no-finance-commitments-cop24-katowice/#respond Sat, 08 Dec 2018 17:13:23 +0000 Isaiah Esipisu http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159098 Implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change is in limbo as developed countries remain noncommittal to financial obligations at the ongoing negotiations in Katowice, Poland. Professor Seth Osafo, the Advisor to the Africa Group of Negotiators (AGN), said today, Dec. 8, that his colleagues from the developed world were shifting goals to put the […]

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Members of African civil society express their frustrations about the climate change negotiations during a press conference held at COP24 in Katowice, Poland. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

By Isaiah Esipisu
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 8 2018 (IPS)

Implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change is in limbo as developed countries remain noncommittal to financial obligations at the ongoing negotiations in Katowice, Poland.

Professor Seth Osafo, the Advisor to the Africa Group of Negotiators (AGN), said today, Dec. 8, that his colleagues from the developed world were shifting goals to put the burden of financing the implementation of the Paris Agreement on the private sector.

Osafo was addressing the Pan African Parliament and civil society organisations under the umbrella of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) during COP 24.

“A man who is drowning has no luxury of a choice. Africa is drowning and we have no choice, other than using all means to salvage the continent.” -- Augustine Njamshi, the executive director of the Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme in Cameroon.

The Paris Agreement is an agreement reached at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris, France, where the world’s nations undertook a determined course to reduce climate change. Among the commitments was to keep the increase in global temperatures under 2 degrees Celcius.

Osafo’s concerns were confirmed by Mohamed Nasr, Chair of the AGN. He said that during this past week there had been very little progress with regards to financial commitments from the developed world to address loss and damages related to past injustices, adaptation, gender equality, and the empowerment of women, among other issues. The seeking of a commitment from developed nations on this is being spearheaded by the African team.

“The progress so far is not up to expectations, and if this is the way [negotiations will] go, it means we will not be able to implement what we agreed to in Paris,” said Nasr. “We should not choose parts of the agreement to implement and leave other parts behind,” he told IPS in an interview on Friday.

Despite the challenges, a document for negotiation must be drawn up by tonight.

This past week, negotiators representing different Parties (countries) have been discussing the outline of what is known as the ‘Rulebook’ for the Paris Agreement. This includes the rules, procedures and guidelines that countries should follow to enable them implement the Paris Agreement at national level.

The outcome of the week-long negotiations will then be submitted to ministers of the various countries on Monday for deliberations to decide whether or not to adopt positions taken by technical teams.

“We are hoping that we will finish drafting the rules of implementation today, so that we have a document to show to the ministers when they arrive for political engagements next week,” said Osafo.

In 2017 drought ravaged almost half of Kenya’s 43 counties, with the Turkana region in northern Kenya being the worst affected. The region mostly consists of pastoralists who lost livestock during the drought. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

Under the Paris Agreement, developed countries committed to availing 100 billion dollars by 2020 to finance implementation of the accord through the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

However, there have been setbacks. During the Paris negotiations the United States, which is considered to be one of the main polluters of the environment, pledged to deposit three billion dollars to the GCF. Under former President Barrack Obama’s administration, the country delivered one billion dollars. But since President Donald Trump assumed power he has rejected the agreement, adding that climate change is a hoax.

At the Katowice negotiations, the U.S. and the European Union are asking for a Rulebook that will not demand they divulge the exact amounts of money they provide to poorer nations for climate finance, especially to cater for loss and damages.

This has not gone down well with African civil society organisations who have demanded the fulfilment of the pre-2020 climate finance commitments at the onset of the negotiations earlier this week.

“We see a clear intent from the developed country parties to shift their convention obligations on the provision of climate finance to private institutions and, worse still, to developing countries. This is not, and will not be, acceptable,” said Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Director at PACJA.

“If it continues like this, we will be forced to protest or even pull out from the negotiations altogether,” he told IPS.

Augustine Njamshi, the executive director of the Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme in Cameroon, said: “We have no option, but to use all available means to make things happen.”

“A man who is drowning has no luxury of a choice. Africa is drowning and we have no choice, other than using all means to salvage the continent,” he told IPS.

Nasr said that the African negotiators have been forced to send messages through informal discussions with colleagues from the developed world to salvage the situation.

“We are just telling them that if we do not have the components that we have asked for, the package will not be for Africa, and Africa will not be part of it,” he said.

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Water, an Environmental Product of Agriculture in Brazilhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/water-environmental-product-agriculture-brazil/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=water-environmental-product-agriculture-brazil http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/water-environmental-product-agriculture-brazil/#respond Sat, 08 Dec 2018 00:19:26 +0000 Mario Osava http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159092 For the first time in her life, retired physical education teacher Elizabeth Ribeiro planted a tree, thorny papaya, native to Brazil’s central savanna. The opportunity arose on Nov. 28, when the Pipiripau Water Producer Project, which is being carried out 50 km from Brasilia, promoted the planting of 430 seedlings donated by participants in the […]

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Middle Eastern Countries Can Overcome Pressing Challenges By Developing a Blue Economyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/middle-eastern-countries-can-overcome-pressing-challenges-developing-blue-economy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=middle-eastern-countries-can-overcome-pressing-challenges-developing-blue-economy http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/middle-eastern-countries-can-overcome-pressing-challenges-developing-blue-economy/#respond Fri, 07 Dec 2018 13:17:17 +0000 Maged Srour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159082 The Blue Economy is becoming an ‘El Dorado’, a new frontier for traditionally arid and water-stressed nations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), according to Christian Averous, Vice President of Plan Bleu, one of the Regional Activity Centres of the Mediterranean Action Plan developed under the United Environment Regional Seas Programme. But against […]

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Aquaponics, an innovative practice in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, is revolutionising the way of conceiving food supply in many MENA countries. This dated picture shows fish pools in Palestine. Credit: Eva Bartlett/IPS.

By Maged Srour
ROME, Dec 7 2018 (IPS)

The Blue Economy is becoming an ‘El Dorado’, a new frontier for traditionally arid and water-stressed nations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), according to Christian Averous, Vice President of Plan Bleu, one of the Regional Activity Centres of the Mediterranean Action Plan developed under the United Environment Regional Seas Programme.

But against the backdrop of the enormous potential represented by the Blue Economy, there are numerous challenges and critical issues that the region faces. Overfishing, water scarcity, highly salty waters, climate change, high evaporation rates, the oil industry and pollution are just some of things that place at risk the development and conservation of marine and aquatic resources in the MENA region.

In addition, rapid population growth throughout the region complicates things. According to the U.S.-based Population Reference Bureau, “MENA experienced the highest rate of population growth of any region in the world over the past century” and is growing at a current rate of 2 percent per year. It’s the second-highest growth rate in the world after sub-Saharan Africa, the organisation says.

Population growth leads to an increased demand for fish as a food source and this, combined with poor regulations and rapacious fishing practices, ultimately leads to an overall decline in marine populations. Eventually it compromises the survival status of the Red Sea coral reef, which is already highly threatened by pollution, unsustainable tourism and climate change, (even though corals in this region proved to be resistant to global warming).

The MENA region has also had to cope with poor management of water resources, with agriculture using 85 percent of freshwater. Available freshwater in the region is mainly underground and its non-renewable stocks are being depleted, warns the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Over the last four decades, the availability of freshwater in the MENA region has decreased by 40 percent and will probably decrease by 50 percent by 2050. The consequences could be disastrous in terms of food security, rural livelihoods and economies.

The Blue Economy: a way to overcome challenges and boost development?

“It is very important to promote an ocean-based economy in today’s world, as governments struggle for economic growth, [particularly] in the MENA region as well as in the whole Mediterranean region and in the Gulf countries,” Averous tells IPS. 

This means that countries in the region should not only seek to preserve aquatic and marine resources, but should also invest in these same resources to foster a process of economic development and growth through them.

Farmed Tilapia on sale in a Cairo supermarket. Local farmers from Egypt, Algeria and Oman participated in farmer-to-farmer study tours, visited 15 integrated agri-aquaculture farms, and learnt new skills and techniques from each other. Credit: Cam McGrath/IPS.

Fisheries and Aquaculture

But best practices across the region are demonstrating just how much these countries believe in the enormous potential of the Blue Economy. One example is aquaponics, an innovative practice in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors that is revolutionising the food supply in many MENA countries. Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture — the practice of fish farming and hydroponics (the cultivation of plants in water without soil).

“While hydroponics still uses some chemical fertilisers to grow plants, with aquaponics, the fish themselves, through their excrements, fertilise the water allowing plants to grow,” Valerio Crespi, Aquaculture Officer in FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department in Rome, tells IPS.

Egypt, Algeria and Oman recently embarked on a cooperation project promoted by FAO, where local farmers participated in farmer-to-farmer study tours where they visited 15 integrated agri-aquaculture farms and learnt new skills and techniques from each other.

“It was a good experience,” says Basem Hashim, an Egyptian farmer and consultant for the General Authority of Fish Resources Development, a movement which tries to shape new ideas and actions for agriculture and food in Egypt.

Basem took part in the study tours organised by FAO and thanks to that experience was able to outline and understand the most pressing challenges for the farming communities in the region.

“We know the importance of using water properly and of improving production [not only in terms of quantity, but] also in terms of quality,” he tells IPS. “At the same time, I think there is still not enough awareness in Egypt in terms of water scarcity, pollution and waste, even though the government is working with associations to raise awareness and transfer experiences.”

“The study tours were a clear example of successful South-South Cooperation,” says Crespi. “The ultimate goal, which is what we are working on right now, is to draft a road map to outline the best practices to best use water in these areas where water is scarce. In the three countries we have created national teams that have produced three technical reports that will be the basis of the road map.”

Aquaponics is an incredible innovation also because it allows these communities to have, thanks to the fish that are raised in those structures, a source of protein that would otherwise be poorly available if not nonexistent in some of these countries.

“In addition, with the same use of resources,” says Basem, “we also have fruits and vegetables. This is what the future looks like.”

Tere are other countries in the region are known for their best practices in the Blue Economy, particularly in the aquaculture sector:

  • Iran has long-standing experience with rice-fish farming, which is currently estimated by experts to be practiced in 10 percent of all rice fields in the country, on a total area of between 50,000 to 72,000 hectares.
  • Lebanon has been practicing aquaculture for many decades and in 2017 total fishery production from marine capture fisheries and aquaculture were 3,608 and 1,225 tonnes, respectively.
  • Fish farmers in Israel are developing innovative technologies and breeding methods which are revolutionising their industry. The excellence of Israeli technology is not used alone in breeding in the country but is also appreciated and exported all over the world.

Coastal and marine tourism

According to Plan Bleu, in the past 20 years the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution of the tourism sector has increased by 60 percent in Mediterranean countries. The Mediterranean region is the world’s leading tourism destination. International tourist arrivals have grown from 58 million in 1970 to nearly 324 million in 2015. It is also among the most frequented areas by cruise ships in the world, with some 27 million passengers visiting the area by 2013. Therefore tourism has been a positive economic asset for the region. 

But as surprising as it may be, it is not so much industrial pollution that represents the greatest damage to the marine environment, but tourism that has a huge negative impact on the region.

Tourism is in fact one of the main threats to ecosystems in the area. Indeed, locals confirm that industries and cruises operating, for example, in the Red Sea are subject to harsh regulations but the main threat to the environment is posed by waste disposal, especially of plastic, and by the enormous water footprint that each tourist leaves behind.

Perspectives about the future

The Middle East certainly has many challenges to face in terms of scarcity of natural resources and food security. For this reason the economy based on maritime sectors in the Mediterranean and in the Middle East represents a crucial potential for the economic development.

“We do not have any ‘miraculous’ innovation. We simply have some technologies that, if associated to traditional methods, can stimulate a process of sustainable development, which is a key factor for those countries struggling for finding enough natural resources,” says Crespi.

“Moreover,” he adds, “promoting a policy of implementation of Blue Economy, could reduce the rural exodus of these populations from the countryside to the cities, or even the exodus across the Mediterranean to get to Europe, risking their lives often for not finding the much desired job and economic prosperity.”

  • The first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference took place in Nairobi, Kenya from Nov. 26 to 28 and was co-hosted with Canada and Japan. Participants from 150 countries around the world gathered to learn how to build a blue economy.

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Citizen Action in Europe’s Periphery: “An Antidote to Powerlessness”http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/citizen-action-europes-periphery-antidote-powerlessness/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=citizen-action-europes-periphery-antidote-powerlessness http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/citizen-action-europes-periphery-antidote-powerlessness/#respond Thu, 06 Dec 2018 13:54:42 +0000 Daan Bauwens http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159076 Unjustified extra charges on drinking water, exploitation of labourers in the countryside and uncontrolled property speculation. In Europe’s periphery, citizens’ initiatives show how all too prevalent modern-day ailments can be tackled successfully. More often than not with the help of artists. Spring 2014. Pressured by the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European […]

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Polish Mothers in Krakow. Polish artist Cecilya Malik began a campaign against the removal of the obligation for private landowners to apply for permission to cut down trees. Credit: Tomasz Wiech

By Daan Bauwens
GHENT, Belguim, Dec 6 2018 (IPS)

Unjustified extra charges on drinking water, exploitation of labourers in the countryside and uncontrolled property speculation. In Europe’s periphery, citizens’ initiatives show how all too prevalent modern-day ailments can be tackled successfully. More often than not with the help of artists.

Spring 2014.

Pressured by the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, the government of an Ireland suffering from imposed austerity measures decides to introduce an additional levy on drinking water. Spontaneous protest ensue. A single woman, waking up in the middle of the night when workers are installing a water meter outside her house, comes out and blocks their way whilst still her night gown. She manages to get them to leave without finishing the job.

The meter fairy

Thousands follow her example in the following weeks. Some are arrested and convicted. In the southern coastal town of Cobh, citizens set up guard posts on bridges and boats to inform other citizens when the water company is arriving and where exactly it’s heading. Soon the protest receives the support of the trade unions and political parties, leading up to a demonstration march of 120,000 people in October of the same year. Mass demonstrations are subsequently held all through the country, often ending in concerts by popular Irish artists.

The largest protest campaign the country had ever seen forced the government to reduce the proposed water tax by 75 percent. The water tax is currently still on the table, but the Irish now have got the “meter fairy”. Residents of a house where a new water meter has just been installed can text their address to a certain number. The same night craftsmen will come over and remove the meter.

Property speculation

“Let me conclude with a warning,” says Brendan Ogle, one of the leading activists in the protests, “while we are progressing in some ways, we are at the same time slipping back to the darkest of ages.” Ogle refers to the housing emergency in his hometown Dublin, where rents have risen so sharply that this year the city has become most expensive place to live in the Eurozone, leaping ahead of both Paris and London.

“We squatted in an empty building and started a community centre for homeless people where they could stay and sleep,” says Ogle. “The court finally ordered we leave building, stating that while the homeless emergency is important, it is not more important than the right to property. Last Thursday, the 24th person that we housed in the building died on the streets. This in only 16 months.”

It seems to be a trend in cities all over Europe: a housing market under pressure causes speculation, leading to growing numbers of homeless people. The state doesn’t act and the law is not on the side of those who want to solve the problem.

Summit for activists

The same happened to Maria Sanchez of Cerro Liberdad, an citizen’s initiative which occupied an empty Andalusian farm owned by a bank. Sanchez put local labourers to work in decent conditions in a region that suffers from poverty and exploitation, and in March of this year she was arrested. All traces that her movement had left in the farm were erased.

“I did what the government fails to do,” she says, “I told that to the judge. This was not a crime.”

Ogle and Sanchez were just two of the 90 activists from all over Europe present at the summit “The Art of Organising Hope” that was held in early November in the Belgian town of Ghent. At the summit they showed each other how exactly they realised their plans to fight injustice, with the emphasis on the practical side of things.

The summit was the culmination of a research all across Europe that a fellowship of volunteers, journalists, artists and activists undertook in 2016 and 2017. Thoroughly documenting 60 grassroots and civil society organisations, they looked for hopeful discourses, methods and practices to counter the present-day upsurge of Euroscepticism and indifference.

Radical imagination

In the final selection of activists to be present at the summit, the majority turned out to be from Europe’s periphery with an especially large representation from the Balkans. That was no coincidence according to initiator and organiser Dominique Willaert, artistic leader of the Ghent-based social-artistic movement Victoria Deluxe.

“Activism and imagination at Europe’s external borders is much more radical than in Western Europe,” he says, “we brought them here especially to fertilise us with their imagination. During our trips around Europe we noticed that people in the periphery don’t feel as though they belong to Europe. That is most noticeable in countries that have fallen victim to European austerity measures.”

“The difference between them and us is striking,” he continues, “in Western Europe we strive for consensus and negotiation with the government, many organisations depend on the government for funding, so they become policy implementers. The activism and imagination of the external borders is much more radical.”

According to Willaert, it is exactly that imagination and radicalism that Western Europe needs. “We must give citizens the feeling that they have power and can create movements that bring change. Powerlessness can mean the end of Europe.”

Polish mothers on tree stumps

In the citizen’s projects at the summit it was moreover apparent that a large number was led by artists. “In order to develop deep democracy, new methods and symbols are needed,” Dominique Willaert explains his team’s choice, “we must go beyond the idea of parliaments and elected representatives. There is a need for new stories and images that can fertilise communities and mobilise people. That requires the help of artists.”

And social media seem to be quite an effective to tool in bringing that about, it seems. At the main stage, Polish Anna Alboth and Belgian Leen Van Waes told the story of how their Facebook solidarity campaign for for Syrian civilians led to a march that mobilised more than 4000 participants from 62 countries. The Civil March For Aleppo lasted eight and a half months, passing through Europe on foot from Berlin to Syria, an action that got the organising team nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The most mobilising image came from the Polish artist Cecilya Malik. In the beginning of January a controversial new law removed the obligation for private landowners to apply for permission to cut down trees, pay compensation or plant new trees, or even inform the authorities of the plans to cut down trees. Up until now, more than one million trees have been reported cut down with newly cleared spaces in cities, towns and countryside as a consequence.

“I knew I had to do something,” Malik says, “but I had a six-month-old baby. So I came up with the plan to sit on one of the stumps every day, let someone take a picture of me while I was breastfeeding and share that image on social media.” The Polish government did not reverse the law despite the hundreds of mothers following Malik’s example. But the media attention on breastfeeding mothers on tree stumps did lead to a surge in environmental consciousness with the general public. This way, a new draft law excluding the vast majority of NGOs from the consultation process on environmental projects, was shelved for the time being.

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The Revolution of Renewable Energy Needs Political Leadershiphttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/revolution-renewable-energy-needs-political-leadership/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=revolution-renewable-energy-needs-political-leadership http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/revolution-renewable-energy-needs-political-leadership/#respond Thu, 06 Dec 2018 11:29:51 +0000 Rachel Kyte http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159073 *Interview with Rachel Kyte, Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All, and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All. She was also the World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading the Bank Group’s efforts to campaign for the Paris Agreement.

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*Interview with Rachel Kyte, Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All, and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All. She was also the World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading the Bank Group’s efforts to campaign for the Paris Agreement.

By Rachel Kyte
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 6 2018 (IPS)

The cost of renewable energy is low, and at times, less than fossil fuels. What are the barriers to switching to renewables?

Where current energy systems exist, they will need to be upgraded to be able to draw power from modern renewables and to exploit storage solutions that they require.

Rachel Kyte

The institutions and mindsets of current systems are still comfortable with the systems of the past, those that prioritized fossil fuels in centralized grid systems.

The revolution of renewable energy is not just that it’s clean, but that it can be delivered both through the grid as well as decentralized solutions, allowing it to reach those who have never enjoyed access to reliable and affordable energy before.

Yet this change requires political leadership and policy certainty for the levels of investment needed, and we need that renewable investment now.

Q: The recent Cooling for All report highlighted an issue many people didn’t speak of until recently. How does it relate to climate?

A: As the world warms and populations rapidly grow, particularly in the cities of the developing world, we risk creating ‘heat islands’ that could substantially increase energy demands as people seek cooling access for their own health and safety, as well as the safety of medical supplies, fresh food and safe work environments.

At the same time, if we rely on today’s cooling technologies that use high hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) in air conditioning, we will exasperate climate impacts from a growing use of short-lived climate pollutants.

In policy terms, providing everyone with access to the sustainable cooling they need, is the opportunity at the intersections of the Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement and the Kigali Amendment.

In human terms, finding a way to provide hyper efficient pollutant free cooling for people, their vaccines and food is about making sure we leave no one behind. While the Paris Agreement reached almost universal ratification in record time, we now need member states to move with the same swiftness and determination to ratify the Montreal Protocol’s Kigali Amendment.

Q: Can governments, businesses and communities that embrace clean energy solutions survive economically, and where do you see the greatest impact of green energy solutions?

A: The scientific evidence presented in the IPCC report means that all governments, through meeting their fundamental responsibilities in providing a duty of care to their citizens, need to ensure that aggressive and comprehensive policies are in place to speed energy transitions towards clean, affordable and reliable energy for all.

For business, being able to be on the leading edge of this transition means being positioned for profitability, success in attracting and retaining talent, and ensuring that inevitable regulation – and in some cases litigation – is a risk that is understood and well managed.

All businesses must regard carbon as a toxin which needs to be avoided, mitigated and managed to not only support climate action, but help ensure their business is resilient to the ever-growing impacts of climate change.

Q: Can we realistically meet the needs of the just under 1 billion people who don’t have regular access to electricity through renewable energy?

A: Yes. As an immediate step, we all have to be much more efficient in our use of energy. We can provide for many more needs with much less energy through technological innovation and business models. Renewable energy gives us a cost-effective way to meet the needs of those who have never had energy before to help them become economically productive.

By putting the needs of the last mile first, we can build decentralized, digitalized and decarbonized energy systems that meet everyone’s needs. This is not beyond human ingenuity – the cost is estimated at just over US$50 billion a year.

Yet it requires political will and determination. When we consider that US$50 billion leaves the African continent through illegal financial flows, money laundering and tax evasion each year, we must work harder to ensure that the energy needs of these vulnerable populations – women, children, remote rural populations – can be met.

Q: How can we support low-income countries when it comes to innovation and strengthening infrastructure that allow for modern technology approaches?

A: First, we need to support countries put in place robust policy frameworks and investment climates that will spur both domestic investment as well as attract international investment. Secondly, development finance, in partnership with these countries, has to be directed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.

Our recent Energizing Finance report clearly shows that finance is still not reaching the top 20 countries with the largest electricity and clean cooking access gaps – dramatically slowing down progress to meet global energy goals and our promise to these populations.

Thirdly, we need specific initiatives that provide energy to the growing number of displaced people around the world.

Finally, the 3 billion that don’t have access to clean cooking deserve an urgent response from the international community at scale that connects industries around different fuel sources with new financial innovation that means the billions of women living on low incomes have a range of clean fuel choices, as opposed to the dangerous choice to cook a family meal while putting their health and the health of their children at risk.

*The interview is part of an editorial package from the SDG Media Compact and released by the UN’s Department of Public Information.

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Excerpt:

*Interview with Rachel Kyte, Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All, and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All. She was also the World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading the Bank Group’s efforts to campaign for the Paris Agreement.

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Looking Beyond Fossil Fuels To Reduce Emissionshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/looking-beyond-fossil-fuels-reduce-emissions/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=looking-beyond-fossil-fuels-reduce-emissions http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/looking-beyond-fossil-fuels-reduce-emissions/#respond Thu, 06 Dec 2018 10:16:04 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159069 In midst of the 24th United Nations climate change conference (COP24), many are trying to double down in the search for practical, actionable solutions to the climate crisis: land itself. Ahead of the ongoing COP24, the U.N. Environmental Programme (UNEP) launched a report warning that the international community’s pledges under the Paris agreement, known as […]

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In 2017 Sri Lanka was hit by the worst drought in 40 years. It forced thousands in Sri Lankans to abandon their livelihoods and seek work in cities. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 6 2018 (IPS)

In midst of the 24th United Nations climate change conference (COP24), many are trying to double down in the search for practical, actionable solutions to the climate crisis: land itself.

Ahead of the ongoing COP24, the U.N. Environmental Programme (UNEP) launched a report warning that the international community’s pledges under the Paris agreement, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are insufficient to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and, thus, ambition gap has already lead to the current impacts of climate change that can be seen around the world and will continue to see for decades to come, World Resources Institute’s (WRI) global climate senior associate and one of the lead authors of UNEP’s report Kelly Levin told IPS.

“The ambition of current country commitments is not in line with the spirit of the Paris Agreement. If we continue to do what we are doing right now, we are going to see over 3 degrees Celsius warming,” she said.

“The urgency and need to act has has never been higher,” Levin added.

Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Chief Natural Resource Economist and one of the report’s contributing authors Ruben Lubowski echoed similar sentiments to IPS, stating: “We are nowhere near where we need to be, and we need to do better both in terms of getting the NDCs on track and then ratcheting them up over time to go beyond that.”

UNEP’s annual ‘Emissions Gap Report’ found that governments must triple their efforts as emissions must be reduced by a quarter by 2030 to keep warming no more than 2 degrees Celsius and would have to be halved to read the 1.5 degree Celsius target.

Not only is there a gap, but the report also found that there was a rise in emissions in 2017 unlike recent years.

While much of the attention remains on the need to reduce fossil fuel use, land restoration and reforestation are often neglected as solutions to the crisis.

“I think that there is an underrecognition of how important the land sector in particular is right now…it is one of the most immediately available opportunities and relatively least cost,” Lubowski said.

According to the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the land-use sector represents between 25 to 30 percent of total global emissions.

Tropical deforestation alone accounts for 8 percent of the world’s annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. If it were a country, it would be the world’s third-biggest emitter.

Though land-use change emissions have remained relatively flat, action targeting the sector is “low-hanging fruit” that can close the emissions gap by up to 30 percent, Lubowski noted.

“Reducing deforestation has already proven to be the most viable large-scale solution. What’s needed I think is to go beyond these just sticks and try to introduce some carrots in terms of some positive incentives…And we haven’t even come close to exhausting that opportunity,” he added.

Moving Around The Money

Fiscal policy reform is among the most effective tools to create incentives for low-carbon investments and reduce GHG emissions.

“Both the traditional fiscal policies as well as creating these carbon markets and emissions trading programs have really a big part to play in land-use, particularly tropical deforestation,” Lubowski told IPS.

He pointed to ecological fiscal transfer as one such policy as it allows local governments to receive tax revenue and resources based on their performance on conservation.

The inclusion of conservation indices as part of decisions around fiscal allocation provides incentives for local municipalities to protect land and forests as well as resources to expand such protections.

Without resources, local governments may be forced to allocate land to agriculture, industry, and construction in order to generate revenue.

Only a few countries have implemented the policy with Brazil being the first to take advantage of the opportunity with its ICMS-E programme.

This has lead to a 165 percent increase in the extent of conservation area between 1992 and 2000—equivalent to an increase of more than one million hectares of protected areas.

For instance, Parana, a southern Brazilian state, devoted five percent of the municipal tax share towards the protection of biodiversity conservation areas and watershed areas and has since expanded its protected areas.

Brazil’s efforts in curbing deforestation as a whole led to the decrease of almost 30 percent of GHG emissions.

However, there are now concerns that the newly elected Jair Bolsonaro will reverse the country’s trends after advocating for the reduction in conservation areas, increase in mining in the Amazon, and even the abolishment of the Ministry of Environment.

Neighbouring Colombia has taken a slightly different approach to that of Brazil by implementing a tax for every ton of CO2 a company is responsible for emitting.

Revenue from the tax are allocated towards land preservation and sustainable development in rural communities.

The fiscal policy also provides an incentive for companies as they can be exempt from paying a carbon tax if they become carbon-neutral or engage in offsetting activities such as environmental projects.

A similar carbon offsetting and reduction approach is also being designed by the aviation industry which is could be responsible for approximately five percent of global GHG emissions by 2050.

The Future is Trees

Since the land sector make up approximately 20-25 percent of NDCs, it is increasingly important to implement policies towards restoration and conservation, Lubowski noted.
However, both Levin and Lubowski noted that this will not be enough to reduce the emissions gap and reverse trends.

“We need action in every sector. We need to step away from fossil fuel energy sources and move towards clean energy sources, we need to stop deforestation and restore our lands, we need to curb emissions from agriculture, we need to address transportation and have zero energy cities,” Levin told IPS.

According to the UNEP report, if all fossil fuel subsidies alone were phased out, it would lead to a 10 percent reduction of emissions by 2030.

“We know what the ingredients are for success, we know how to do this. It’s not going to cost a lot and it will actually bring significant [benefits]… it’s just a question of getting down to it,” Levin added.

“I am definitely worried about where we are, especially if we are thinking about 1.5, the land sector becomes even more important in terms of not only reducing emissions which is essential but also going negative,” Lubowski said.

He urged for more international cooperation in reducing emissions and greater focus on forestry as a way to ramp up ambition in a cost-effective way.

Levin highlighted the need for countries to scale up their commitments by 2020 and COP to step up.

“[COP] will be a really important moment to reaffirm the process for countries…it’s the first test of the spirit of the Paris Agreement and it needs to send a really clear message of enhancing ambition,” she said.

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Thermal Houses Keep People Warm in Peru’s Highlandshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/thermal-houses-keep-people-warm-perus-highlands/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=thermal-houses-keep-people-warm-perus-highlands http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/thermal-houses-keep-people-warm-perus-highlands/#respond Thu, 06 Dec 2018 03:14:36 +0000 Mariela Jara http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159061 Thirty families from a rural community more than 4,300 meters above sea level will have warm houses that will protect them from the freezing temperatures that each year cause deaths and diseases among children and older adults in this region of the southeastern Peruvian Andes. José Tito, 46, and Celia Chumarca, one year younger, peasant […]

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Conserving Canada’s Diverse Marine Lifehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/conserving-canadas-diverse-marine-life/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=conserving-canadas-diverse-marine-life http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/conserving-canadas-diverse-marine-life/#respond Wed, 05 Dec 2018 19:47:33 +0000 Stephen Leahy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159050 Despite the deep, cold waters, newly discovered undersea mountains off Canada’s west coast are home to a rich diversity of life. “When we reached a seamount (undersea mountain), it was often like we were entering a forest, only of red tree corals and vase-shaped glass sponges,” said Robert Rangeley, Science Director, Oceana Canada.  “These areas […]

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Seamounts are filled with a diversity of ocean life including anemones, feather stars, octopuses, lobsters and rockfishes. Credit: Ocean Exploration Trust, Northeast Pacific Seamount Expedition Partners

By Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Dec 5 2018 (IPS)

Despite the deep, cold waters, newly discovered undersea mountains off Canada’s west coast are home to a rich diversity of life.

“When we reached a seamount (undersea mountain), it was often like we were entering a forest, only of red tree corals and vase-shaped glass sponges,” said Robert Rangeley, Science Director, Oceana Canada.  “These areas were filled with a diversity of other animals including anemones, feather stars, octopuses, lobsters and rockfishes,” said Rangely who led the expedition in July.

Oceana, a marine conservation organisation, along with the Haida Nation, an indigenous people, the Federal government department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Ocean Networks Canada were partners in the first in-depth investigation of the recently designated Offshore Pacific Area of Interest. This is a 140,000 square kilometre region 100 to 200 kilometres west of Vancouver Island in the province of British Columbia.

The waters in this region are also home to the vast majority of Canada’s known hydrothermal vents, deep-sea hot springs at the bottom of the sea floor.  As seawater meets the Earth’s molten magma it gets superheated and rises up through holes or vents in the sea floor carrying with it minerals leached from the crustal rock below forming bizarre chimney-like structures. These vents are home to strange forms of life that thrive in a toxic chemical soup where temperatures can reach 350 degrees C.

The expedition spent 16 days on the water and discovered six new seamounts with ancient and fragile coral forests and potentially new species. Even scientists who have visited seamounts on other parts of the world were blown away by the abundance and diversity of life found Rangely told IPS.

The expedition team also found lost fishing gear on some of the seamounts. This gear entangles marine life and destroys fragile and slow growing corals and sponges. Seamounts are often targeted by fishing vessels because they attract an abundance of fish. The damage wasn’t from bottom-trawling vessels that scrape along the seafloor but from long-line fishing. The Cobb seamount just outside of Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has been destroyed by fishing he said.

Canada is working to create a new marine protected area (MPA) for most of the 140,000 sq km Offshore Pacific Area of Interest. Credit: Ocean Exploration Trust, Northeast Pacific Seamount Expedition Partners

Seamounts need protection to provide refuge for marine life and Oceana wants to see all of Canada’s seamounts closed to bottom contact fishing Rangely said. Fishing can still continue away from seamounts, and will benefit from the closures. When seamounts are protected from fishing or resource extraction, it increases the quantities of fish outside the area in what’s known as a ‘spillover effect’.

Canada is working to create a new marine protected area (MPA) for most of the 140,000 sq km Offshore Pacific Area of Interest. Half the region would be closed to fishing to protect seamounts and hydrothermal vents. The new MPA may be officially in place in 2020 to help Canada get close to its United Nations Convention of Biodiversity commitment of protecting 10 percent of its marine and coastal areas by 2020. Canada had protected less than one percent by 2017. However, the current government is rapidly ramping up the number of protected areas but conservationists say these protections are too weak and allow fishing or resource extraction.

For example a near 50,000 square kilometre marine refuge east of Newfoundland on Canada’s Atlantic coast is off limits to fishing was just opened to allow drilling for oil and gas.

Canada is also scrambling to manage its fish stocks that have seen years of steady decline. Just a third of the nearly 200 stocks are considered healthy, according to a 2018 audit report by Oceana. Canada is a major fish and seafood exporter, with exports reaching C$6.9 billion in 2017.

After a decade of deep cutbacks by a previous government, Canada’s fisheries department under the Trudeau government is struggling to catch up. Most of the 26 critically endangered stocks do not have rebuilding plans in place the Oceana report found.

Last week the Canadian government announced $107.4 million over five years for rebuilding and assessments of fish stocks across Canada.

In a statement Oceana Canada’s Executive Director, Josh Laughren called this a critical investment addressing the urgent challenge of rebuilding depleted fisheries and rebuilding abundance.

  • The first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference took place in Nairobi, Kenya from Nov. 26 to 28 and was co-hosted with Canada and Japan. Participants from 150 countries around the world gathered to learn how to build a blue economy.

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Watering the Paris Agreement at COP24http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/watering-paris-agreement-cop24/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=watering-paris-agreement-cop24 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/watering-paris-agreement-cop24/#respond Wed, 05 Dec 2018 13:24:34 +0000 Maggie White http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159048 Maggie White is Senior Manager - International. Policies, Swedish Water House

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On the doorstep of finalizing the roadmap to implementing the Paris Agreement, the water community is coming together to leverage opportunities and awareness about water’s role in tackling climate change.

By Maggie White
STOCKHOLM, Dec 5 2018 (IPS)

Most people will experience climate change in the form of water – higher frequency and intensity of floods and droughts, an increase in waterborne diseases, and overloaded sewage systems that are unable to cope with new demands.

At the same time, water offers some of the best solutions for reducing our climate impact and tackling effects of climate change. Yet, the role of water is poorly understood and often forgotten in the international climate debate.

Maggie White

The Conference of the Parties (COP) 24 is taking place in Katowice in Poland 2-14 December and there is a lot at stake. The UNFCCC’s 2015 Paris Agreement set goals for reducing carbon emissions and assisting countries in adapting to the adverse effects of global climate change.

At the meeting in Poland, the parties need to agree on the “rulebook” for the agreement, i.e. how it should be implemented. But water is largely absent from the agreement. However, many of the parties who ratified the Paris Agreement made water a central component of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

At the doorstep of finalizing the road map for implementing the Paris Agreement, the water community fears a missed opportunity to leverage water’s full potential to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change. With recent estimates saying that emissions must come down dramatically in the next few years, this is a risk the world cannot afford.

Similarly, the most powerful manifestations of climate change are water-related and if that is not acknowledged, it will be difficult for countries to respond adequately. Climate change will also exacerbate water quality and variability, through changed precipitation patterns and changes to evapotranspiration and ultimately the water balance.

Trees, landscapes and agriculture are, for example, key for reducing emissions and mitigating climate change. Forests and wetlands act as sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases and play a central role in the hydrologic cycle, filtering, storing and regulating surface and groundwater flows.

Forest and wetlands can also act as buffers and provide nature-based solutions to many infrastructure problems that increasingly need to be addressed by decision-makers, not least to make human settlements more resilient to floods and droughts.

To ensure sustainable development, food security and economic stability in face of climate change, it is essential that water is acknowledged and integrated into efforts to mitigate climate change and adapt to its adverse effects.

To take action is also a question of climate justice; the people most affected by effects of climate change are seldom themselves causing major emissions. Yet, at the same time they can be strong agents of change. Inclusion of marginalized groups and stakeholders is consequently key in resilient decision and policy making.

The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and AGWA, a network hosted and co-chaired by SIWI, are honoured to be official co-coordinators of the MPGCA (Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Agenda) at COP24.

Along with other partners, we have organised several climate resilient water related events. See our activities on our SIWI at COP webpage, and follow our activities on social media using #SIWIatCOP.

Learn more about AGWA here.

View the UNFCCC’s MPGCA webpage.

Visit the COP24 event page.

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Excerpt:

Maggie White is Senior Manager - International. Policies, Swedish Water House

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Q&A: Creating an African Bamboo Industry as Large as China’shttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-creating-african-bamboo-industry-large-chinas/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-creating-african-bamboo-industry-large-chinas http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-creating-african-bamboo-industry-large-chinas/#respond Wed, 05 Dec 2018 09:57:24 +0000 Jamila Akweley Okertchiri http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159042 IPS correspondent Jamila Akweley Okertchiri interviews DR. HANS FRIEDERICH, Director General of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR)

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Hans Friederich at a Chinese bamboo plantation. Photo Courtesy of INBAR

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri
ACCRA, Dec 5 2018 (IPS)

The bamboo industry in China currently comprises up to 10 million people who make a living out of production of the grass. But while the Asian nation has significant resources of bamboo — three million hectares of plantation and three million hectares of natural forests — the continent of Africa is recorded to have an estimated three and a half million hectares of plantations, excluding conservation areas.

This means that there is a possibility of creating a similar size industry in Africa, according to International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) director general Dr. Hans Friederich.

“In China, where the industry is developed, we have eight to 10 million people who make a living out of bamboo. They grow bamboo, manufacture things out of bamboo and sell bamboo poles. That has given them a livelihood and a way to build a local economy to create a future for themselves and their children,” he tells IPS.

INBAR is the only international organisation championing the development of environmentally sustainable bamboo and rattan. It has 44 member states — 43 of which are in the global south — with the secretariat headquarters based in China, and with regional offices in India, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Ecuador. Over the years, the multilateral development organisation has trained up to 25,000 people across the value chain – from farmers and foresters to entrepreneurs and policymakers.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

Africa is estimated to have three and a half million hectares of bamboo. While China has about six million hectares of natural forests, almost double the size of Africa’s, experts say there is potential for developing the industry on the continent. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Inter Press Service (IPS): What has been INBAR’s Role in the South-South Cooperation agenda?

Dr. Hans Friederich (DHF): In fact, a lot of our work over the last 21 years is to link our headquarters in China with our regional offices and our members around the world to help develop policies, put in place appropriate legislation and regulations to build capacity, train local people, provide information, and carry out real field research to test new approaches to manage resources in the most efficient way.

I think we [have been] able to help our members more effectively and do more in the way of training and capacity building. I also hope we can develop bamboo and rattan as vehicles for sustainable development with our member countries around the world, especially in the Global South.

IPS: What are the prospects for Africa’s bamboo and rattan industry?

DHF: The recorded statistics say that Africa has about three and half million hectares of bamboo, which excludes conservation [areas].

So, if I were to make a guess, Africa has as much bamboo as China [excluding China’s natural forests] and that means theoretically, we should have the possibility of creating an industry as large as China’s in Africa. That means an industry of 30 billion dollars per a year employing 10 million people.

IPS: How is INBAR helping to develop such a huge potential in Africa?

DHF: The returns we are seeing in China may not happen overnight in Africa, China has had 30 to 40 years to develop this industry.

But what we are doing is working with our members in Africa to kick off the bamboo value chain to start businesses and help members make the most out of these plants.

IPS: Working with countries from the global south means replication of best practices and knowledge sharing among member states. Are there any good examples worth mentioning?

DHF: China is the world’s leading country when it comes to the production and management of bamboo so we have a lot to learn from China. Fortunately China has the financial resources that makes it easy to share that information and knowledge with our members …Looking at land management activities in Ghana, as an example, I think bamboo can really help in restoring lands that have been damaged through illegal mining activities.

Maybe that is actually where we can learn from other African countries because we are already looking at how bamboo can help with the restoration of degraded lands in Ethiopia.

Also, when we had a training workshop in Cameroon last year and we looked at architecture, we brought an architect from Peru who shared his experience of working with bamboo in Latin America, which was quite applicable to Cameroon. So we are using experience from different parts of the world to help others develop what they think is important.

IPS: What is the most important thing in the development of the bamboo and rattan value chain for an African country like Ghana?

DHF: There are a number of things that we can do. One area that Ghana is already working on with regards to bamboo and rattan, is furniture production. I know that there is fantastic work being done with skills development.

The value chain of furniture production is an area where Ghana already has a lot to offer. But if we can improve quality, if we can make the furniture more interesting for consumers, through skills training [of artisans], then that is an area where we can really help.

IPS: Which other opportunity can Ghana look at exploring in the area of Bamboo and Rattan value chain?

DHF: Another area of opportunity is to use bamboo as a source of charcoal for household energy. People depend on charcoal, especially in rural areas in Ghana, but most of the charcoal comes from often illegally-cut trees.

Instead of cutting trees we can simply harvest bamboo and make charcoal from this, which is a legally produced source.

The great thing about Bamboo is that it re-grows the following growing season after harvesting, so it is a very sustainable source of charcoal production.

IPS: What does the future look like for INBAR?

DHF: Two months ago Beijing hosted the China Africa Forum and we were very, very pleased to have read that the draft programme of work actually includes the development of Africa’s bamboo industry. There is a paragraph that says China and Africa will work together to establish an African training centre.

We understand this will most likely be in Ethiopia and it will happen hopefully in the coming years.

Another thing is that China and Africa will work closely together to develop the bamboo and rattan industry. They will also develop specific activities on how to use bamboo for land restoration and climate change mitigation and to see how bamboo can help with livelihood development in Africa in partnership with China.

This is a very exciting development, a new window of opportunity has opened for us to work together to develop bamboo and rattan in Africa.

 

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Excerpt:

IPS correspondent Jamila Akweley Okertchiri interviews DR. HANS FRIEDERICH, Director General of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR)

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Call for a Win-Win Framework at COP24http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/call-win-win-framework-cop24/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=call-win-win-framework-cop24 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/call-win-win-framework-cop24/#respond Wed, 05 Dec 2018 06:17:00 +0000 Mithika Mwenda http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159029 Mithika Mwenda is the Executive Director for the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).

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Developing countries, especially those from Africa, want the elements of the Paris rulebook to be as unambiguous as possible to avoid past deliberate oversights that have rendered impotent previous pacts aimed at addressing climate change. Anne Holmes/ GraziaNeri - Italy/IPS

By Mithika Mwenda
NAIROBI, Dec 5 2018 (IPS)

An African delegation is in the Polish city of Katowice to join 30,000 delegates and thousands others from almost 200 countries attending the 4th edition of what has come to be known as annual climate change negotiation conferences organised under the auspices of the United Nations.

This year’s conference comes 24 years after the establishment of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, and it is the fourth since countries inked a deal in 2015 in France where after years of disagreements, adopted the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The two-week conference takes place at the backdrop of the alarm sounded by scientists working under the auspices of U.N.-mandated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose special report released in October warned of dire consequences if the global community fails to put in place drastic measures to arrest the accumulation of climate-polluting emissions which cause global warming.

In its “state of the climate” report released few days ago, the World Metrological Organisation (WMO) indicates that the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years the global average temperature, and if the trend continues, the temperatures may rise by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by 2100.

This spells doom for communities at the frontline of climate change impacts, but which may not be aware that the shifting seasons which are making it impossible for them to plant crops as they used to, the erratic rainfall which appears late and ends even before they plant, and are characterised by floods that wreck havoc in villages and cities, recurrent droughts which wipes their livestock and crops, are all manifestation of the changing climate which they should learn to live with in the foreseeable future.

Mithika Mwenda is the Executive Director for the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).

The negotiations taking place in Katowice are aimed at discussing the best way possible to defeat challenges posed by climate change. Over years, discussions have centred on the efforts to reduce the green house gases believed to accelerate global warming, and how to live with the damage already caused while helping those who are unable to absorb the shocks emanating from climate change impacts.

At stake is the so-called “Paris Rulebook”, a framework of the Paris Agreement implementation which has already resulted into fissures between delegations from developed countries and poor countries. Developing countries, especially those from Africa, want the elements of the Paris rulebook to be as unambiguous as possible to avoid past deliberate oversights that have rendered impotent previous Pacts aimed at addressing climate change. On their part, industrialised countries are fighting to ensure the framework helps them escape their historical responsibility, which they successfully achieved under the Paris Agreement that seemingly has watered down the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

Whether Katowice will deliver a balanced rulebook or an eschewed framework favouring the powerful countries due to their manipulative, intimidating and/or carrot-dangling strategies will be judged in the two weeks. Throughout 2018, the Fiji Presidency has facilitated over a series of trust-building conversations meant to agree on contentious issues, including emission reduction levels by countries, support for poor countries and sources of money for such efforts.

The Fiji-facilitated interactions, known as Talanoa Dialogue, have been characterised by mistrust and normal rituals witnessed in all negotiations, and sceptics see no credible success in breaking the persistent North-South divide. Though Fiji has tried its level best to apply the spirit of “Talanoa”, which means, trust-building, the good intentions of the Pacific Island State have not helped to move the process forward.

Indeed, the president will be handing over the baton to his Polish counterpart with his only achievement being process-based “ where are we…where do we want to…how do we want to go there” ritual, which avoided to tackle the hard questions threatening to endanger the gains so far made in international climate governance system.

For African countries, any framework for the implementation of Paris Agreement that does not define the source of money and technology is hopelessly barren. Rich countries have turned the negotiations into market places to expand markets for their goods and services. In their effort to turn climate change into business opportunities, the industrialised countries and those in transition such as China, India and Brazil have encouraged their major transnational corporations to train their eyes on the emerging opportunities in the “climate sector”, where sectors such as “climate-smart agriculture”, “forest as Carbon sinks, “clean coal”, “climate finance, “low-carbon”, “climate resilient growth”, are gradually overtaking normal development discourse.

There is nothing wrong in turning the challenge of climate change into opportunities as the industrialised countries have vouched in the ensuing transformation where even international development assistance is conditioned. What is curious though is the fact that these conditionalities may disadvantage people already suffering the impacts of climate change. In addition, many donors are only interested in projects that are mitigation in nature, such as energy and major infrastructure projects which assure them on bigger profit margins. Adaptation, which does not have return for investment, is not attractive to many donor partners nor private sector investors.

A win-win framework in Katowice which considers the interest of industrialised countries and their businesses, as well as developing countries and their vulnerable communities to enable them transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient development trajectories without jeopardising the livelihoods of the present and future generations is thus the most suitable outcome.

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Excerpt:

Mithika Mwenda is the Executive Director for the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).

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Why skepticism is the best attitude to take on UN climate catastrophismhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/skepticism-best-attitude-take-un-climate-catastrophism/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=skepticism-best-attitude-take-un-climate-catastrophism http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/skepticism-best-attitude-take-un-climate-catastrophism/#respond Tue, 04 Dec 2018 21:29:47 +0000 Yen Makabenta http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159059 The climate change debate has become more complicated as the United Nations continues to double down on its forecast of climate catastrophe in response to near-global rejection of its warning. The situation will intensify this December as nearly 200 countries meet for COP 24 in Katowice, Poland (the curious acronym stands for Conference of the […]

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By Yen Makabenta
Dec 4 2018 (Manila Times)

The climate change debate has become more complicated as the United Nations continues to double down on its forecast of climate catastrophe in response to near-global rejection of its warning.

The situation will intensify this December as nearly 200 countries meet for COP 24 in Katowice, Poland (the curious acronym stands for Conference of the Parties) to discuss a global plan of action against climate change.

Yen Makabenta

To defend against widespread skepticism and criticism of the UN climate agenda, climate alarmists are turning to former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher for much-needed intellectual support in selling their program to scare humanity about climate catastrophe. She is a formidable figure to lean on (she was a major world leader during her time; and she got her training partly as a scientist).

In particular, they are quoting Thatcher’s words in a 1989 speech at the United Nations, wherein she sounded a call about the danger of global warming. The lady said then: “The danger of global warming is as yet unseen but real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices so we may not live at the expense of future generations… No generation has a freehold on this Earth; all we have is a life tenancy with a full repairing lease.”

Hot air and global warming
But there is a problem here. Thatcher, in fact, became a skeptic on global warming and climate change, and became even more so about the apocalyptic warnings that it engendered.

She devotes a chapter in her book Statecraft (HarperCollins, New York, 2002) to the subject. And she titled it “Hot Air and Global Warming.” She called Al Gore “ridiculous” for his “apocalyptic hyperbole” about the climate.

What a pity she is no longer around to brand the current surreal stewards of the United Nations!

Questions of a climate skeptic
Mrs. Thatcher left behind a lucid and knowledgeable exposition on global warming and the harebrained solutions that can help non-experts like yours truly in understanding the intricacies and implications of climate change.

She shows that skepticism is the sensible attitude to adopt towards the fevered claims and warnings of the UN and climate alarmists. It is a must once one is confronted with the grandiose claim that global warming is settled science.

Thatcher breaks everything down point by point.

The lady raises five key questions about global warming:

1. Is the climate actually warming?
This may seem obvious because of the media hype and climate politics. But the facts are in doubt. There seems to be a long-term trend of warming but, according to some experts, it is such a long-term trend that it is not relevant to current concerns.

A warming trend began about 300 years ago during what is called the Little Ice Age, and this has continued. It is recent developments which are more disputable.

Ground-based temperature stations indicate that the planet has warmed by somewhere between 0.3 and 0.6 degrees Celsius since about 1850, with about half of this warming occurring since World War 2. But against this, the temperature taken from weather balloons and satellites over the past 20 years actually show a cooling trend. The indirect evidence from rainfall, glaciers, sea levels and weather variability, often adduced to prove global warming, is similarly ambiguous.

2. Is carbon dioxide responsible for whatever global warming has occurred?
Here too the uncertainties are formidable. CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas. Methane, nitrous oxide, aerosols and water vapor — the most abundant greenhouse gas — make major contributions. So, exclusive concentration on CO2 either in analysis or in policy prescription is bound to mislead.

Still more important is the role of solar activity. Studies have suggested that increased solar output may have been responsible for half of the increase in temperature from 1900 to 1970 and a third of the warming since 1970.

Whatever we manage to do about CO2 and other greenhouse gases, we are not likely to be able to do much about the sun itself.

Human-induced global warming
3. Is human activity, especially human economic activity, responsible for the production of carbon dioxide which has contributed to any global warming?

The facts are unclear. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded in 1955 that “the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate…However our ability to quantify the human influence on global climate is currently limited.”

Actually, not all scientists agree with the IPCC’s view. It is a great deal more tentative than some alarmist assertions.

In any one year, most CO2 production is not related to human beings. In fact, less than 5 percent of the carbon moving through the atmosphere stems directly from human sources.

4. Is global warming quite the menace suggested?
To doubt this is of course rank heresy, but one should at least start out with an open mind. In an ideal world, we would want a stable climate.

It is necessary to keep a sense of proportion. The world climate is always changing and man and nature are always, by one means or another, finding the means to adapt to it.

Earth temperatures today are probably at about their three-thousand-year average. And we have known periods of warming before. The Dark Ages and the Early Medieval period — about 850 to about 1350 — for example saw a sharp increase in temperature of 2.5 C.

There is only one thing worse than getting hotter — and that is getting colder. In the 1970s, after two decades of unusually cold weather, there was a minor scare about global cooling. Some of the same people now worrying about global warming offered broadly the same program of international controls to deal with the problem.

5. Can global warming be stopped or checked at an acceptable price?
At Kyoto, the United States answered “No,” at least to the proposals on offer. Perhaps the answer will always be “no.”

It will be necessary to resolve many remaining uncertainties before risking action that makes the world poorer than it would otherwise be by restraining economic growth.

If there were clear evidence that the world is facing climate catastrophe, that would be different, but such evidence does not so far exist.

What is far more apparent is that the usual suspects on the left have been exaggerating dangers and simplifying solutions in order to press their agenda of anti-capitalism.

Worries about climate should take their place among other worries — about human health, animal health, modified foods and so on. All require first-rate research, mature evaluation and then the appropriate response.

But no more than these does climate change mean the end of the world; and it must not mean either the end of free-enterprise capitalism

Lessons from predictions of global disaster
Thatcher ends her discussion of global warming with what she calls “the lessons from past predictions of global disaster.” They must be learned in considering the issue of climate change.

These lessons are:
1. We should be suspicious of plans for global regulation that all too clearly fit in with preconceived agendas.

2. We should demand of politicians that they apply the same criteria of common sense and a sense of proportion to their pronouncements on the environment as to anything else.

3. We must never forget that although prosperity brings problems it also permits solutions — and less prosperity means fewer solutions.

4. All decisions must be made on the basis of the best science whose conclusions have been properly evaluated.

Many new articles and commentaries on the UN climate agenda have jibed with Mrs. Thatcher’s critique of global warming. When taken together, these have combined to shape my skeptical view of global warming and the UN doomsday forecast.

I shall discuss in detail these articles and commentaries in my next column.

If the world is going to fade away in my lifetime, I figure that it is important to know what is happening than to just act surprised.

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

This story was originally published by The Manila Times, Philippines

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African Countries Deserve an Enhanced Climate Ambitionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/african-countries-deserve-enhanced-climate-ambition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=african-countries-deserve-enhanced-climate-ambition http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/african-countries-deserve-enhanced-climate-ambition/#respond Tue, 04 Dec 2018 14:07:23 +0000 Robert Muthami http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159021 Robert Muthami is a Programme Coordinator at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Kenya Office. He coordinates work around socio-ecological transformation

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Credit: Benny Jackson on Unsplash

By Robert Muthami
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 4 2018 (IPS)

African countries have been at the climate-change negotiating table for more than 20 years. The continent faces some of the most severe impacts of climate change, but questions remain over its adaptive capacity despite this engagement.

African civil society organizations, trade unions and governments have advocated for three main means of implementation: climate finance for adaptation and mitigation; technology transfer; and capacity building.

The latter is aimed at facilitating and enhancing the ability of individuals, organizations and institutions in African countries to identify, plan and implement ways to adapt and mitigate to climate change. African countries are participating in the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention Climate Change (UNFCCC) currently taking place in Katowice, Poland from 2 to 14 December.

Through the Paris Work Programme (PAWP) expected to be adopted in Poland, African countries expect that COP 24 will deliver on the continent’s expectations with regards to facilitating climate resilience.

Climate finance for adaptation and mitigation
Climate change is impacting all economies in Africa, a continent highly dependent on agriculture. The impact is increasing the already high inequality, as resources meant for investment in social amenities are being channelled into climate-change adaptation.

In this case, due to climate change related disasters like droughts and flooding, there is an adverse impact on agricultural production—namely food insecurity. Therefore, resources meant to provide other services like universal and affordable health care, expansion of infrastructure and other social services for the poor are channelled to climate change response initiatives.

Panel Discussion for Kenyan Delegation Reflecting on the Progress of Agenda Items after UNFCCC-SB48. Credit: FES Kenya

During the COP 16, the world’s developed countries agreed to mobilize 100 billion US dollars per year by the year 2020 for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. This is still a pipe dream as only 10 billion US dollars have been mobilized so far since the establishment of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in 2006 to date.

Additionally, African countries continue to face difficulties in accessing the funds as they are on a perpetual treadmill of paperwork to even qualify to receive any of the funds earmarked for them. Is imperative of global social justice that this funding be fast-tracked.

As countries head to Poland, African nations approach the negotiations with the hope that issues dealing with transparency and accountability on climate financing will be made clearer and smoother.

Otherwise, African countries will be obliged to divert more domestic resources to meeting their commitments under their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), which could affect other development priorities.

If promised international funding is not forthcoming and the shortfall needs to be made up from scarce domestic resources, this can mean these resources are no longer available at national level for example for social protection measures or food security. The decision in Poland should therefore be clear on provision, transparency and accountability of climate financing.

Technology transfer and capacity building
Many adaptation and mitigation solutions will require technology as well as financing, for the purposes of innovation and upscaling across various sectors. Technology transfer, therefore, is critical for African countries.

One of the concerns for African countries is the sheer lack of capacity to implement new technologies for climate-change responses. But Africa has the potential to also transfer technology to the north if the existing low carbon technologies that incorporate the already existing indigenous knowledge of African countries are expanded.

Therefore, a provision for reverse transfer from South to North with regard to technology should also be provided. At the moment the discussion is being handled as North–South transfer only.

Robert Muthami engaging Kenyan Participants during the Post UNFCCC-SB48 Reflection Workshop. Credit: FES Kenya

Africa is also cautious of becoming a testing ground for new technologies. Therefore, technologies from the north should be tried and tested before being transferred to Africa—for example short-lived solar panel technologies that end up being very expensive in the long run—a key issue that needs to be part of the discussions at COP 24.

Finally, the means of implementation, especially climate finance and capacity building on uptake and implementation, are critical for technology transfer to work in Africa.

Climate change needs to be tackled on a global level and in a just manner
The climate-change crisis is now being felt in developed countries. As Europe and America battle wildfires amid massive heat waves over the past year, the impact in Africa is felt even stronger.

The increasing frequency of droughts and flooding, and consequently increased risk of violent conflict in already volatile regions, present a major threat to livelihoods on the African continent. Looking ahead to Poland, it is the hope of African countries that these impacts will be reflected in the outcome document.

Lastly, as parties move towards operationalization of the Paris Agreement, it is important to ensure that the commitments towards promoting decent work and a just transition are properly articulated in the Paris Work Programme.

This is key because climate change is already having significant impacts on the world of work in Africa. Over 60 per cent of Africa’s economically active population works in and lives off the agricultural sector, which is adversely affected by climate change.

The transition to low-carbon economies offers great potential for green jobs creation, in areas such as the renewable-energy sector. This transition process however means that current existing jobs that do not offer sustainable production methods will be at a risk. It is important to ensure that this transition happens in a socially just and inclusive manner.

Therefore, a socially and ecologically just outcome from COP 24 must take into consideration the African demands on the means of implementation (climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building) for adaptation and mitigation as well as the necessity of a just transition.

This outcome should also facilitate the realization of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially goals 8, 10 and 13, which focus on promoting decent work, addressing inequality and climate action.

*For more information on the work by FES in Kenya visit the country office website and follow the official Facebook fan page.

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Excerpt:

Robert Muthami is a Programme Coordinator at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Kenya Office. He coordinates work around socio-ecological transformation

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Havana Charter’s Progressive Trade Vision Subvertedhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/havana-charters-progressive-trade-vision-subverted/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=havana-charters-progressive-trade-vision-subverted http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/havana-charters-progressive-trade-vision-subverted/#respond Tue, 04 Dec 2018 13:36:19 +0000 Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159015 In criticizing the ‘free trade delusion’, UNCTAD’s 2018 Trade and Development Report proposes an alternative to both reactionary nationalism, recently revived by President Trump, and the corporate cosmopolitanism of neoliberal multilateral discourse in recent decades by revisiting the Havana Charter on its 70th anniversary. From ITO to WTO Instead, it urges reconsideration of lessons from […]

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By Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury
KUALA LUMPUR & SYDNEY, Dec 4 2018 (IPS)

In criticizing the ‘free trade delusion’, UNCTAD’s 2018 Trade and Development Report proposes an alternative to both reactionary nationalism, recently revived by President Trump, and the corporate cosmopolitanism of neoliberal multilateral discourse in recent decades by revisiting the Havana Charter on its 70th anniversary.

From ITO to WTO
Instead, it urges reconsideration of lessons from the struggle from 1947 for the Havana Charter. Although often depicted as the forerunner of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the Charter was far more ambitious.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Initially agreed to 70 years ago by over 50 countries — mainly from Latin America, as much of the rest of the developing world remained under European colonial rule — it was rejected by the US Congress, with GATT emerging as a poor compromise.

As envisaged at Bretton Woods in 1944, over 50 countries began to create the International Trade Organization (ITO) from 1945 to 1947. In 1947, 56 countries started negotiating the ITO charter in Havana following the 1947 United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment in Havana, eventually signed in 1948.

The idea of a multilateral trade organization to regulate trade — covering areas such as tariff reduction, business cartels, commodity agreements, economic development and foreign direct investment — was first mooted in the US Congress in 1916 by Representative Cordell Hull, later Roosevelt’s first Secretary of State in 1933.

However, the US Congress eventually rejected the Havana Charter, including establishment of the ITO, in 1948 following pressure from corporate lobbies unhappy about concessions to ‘underdeveloped’ countries. Thus, the Bretton Woods’ and Havana Charter’s promise of full employment and domestic industrialization in the post-war international trade order was aborted.

In their place, from 1948 to 1994, the GATT, a provisional compromise, became the main multilateral framework governing international trade, especially in manufactures, the basis for trade rules and regulations for most of the second half of the 20th century.

The Uruguay Round from 1986 to 1994, begun at Punta del Este, was the last round of multilateral trade negotiations under GATT. It ended the postwar trading order governed by GATT, replacing it with the new World Trade Organization (WTO) from 1995.

Developmental fair trade?
The UNCTAD report urges revisiting the Havana Charter in light of new challenges in recent decades such as the digital economy, environmental stress and financial vulnerabilities. So, what lessons can we draw from the Havana Charter in trying to reform the multilateral trading order?

Anis Chowdhury

In light of economic transformations over the last seven decades, it is crucial to consider how the Havana Charter tried to create a more developmental and equitable trading system, in contrast with actual changes in the world economy since.

After all, the Charter recognized that a healthy trading system must be based on economies seeking to ensure full employment while distributional issues have to be addressed at both national and international levels.

Profitable, but damaging business practices — by large international, multinational or transnational firms, abusing the international trading system — also need to be addressed.

The Charter recognized the crucial need for industrialization in developing countries as an essential part of a healthy trading system and multilateral world order, and sought to ensure that international trade rules would enable industrial policy.

The GATT compromise exceptionally allowed some such features in post-war trade rules, but even these were largely eliminated by the neoliberal Uruguay Round, as concerns about unemployment, decent work and deindustrialization were ignored.

Paths not taken
The evolution of the international trading system has been largely forgotten. Recent and current tensions in global trade are largely seen as threatening to the post-Second World War (WW2) international economic order first negotiated in the late 1940s and revised ever since.

But the international order of the post-WW2 period ended in the 1970s, as policymakers in the major developed economies embraced the counter-revolutionary neoliberal reforms of Thatcherism and Reaganism against Keynesian and development economics after Nixon unilaterally destroyed the Bretton Woods monetary arrangements.

Besides international trade liberalization as an end in itself, financial liberalization and globalization were facilitated as financial markets were deregulated, not only within national economies, but also across international borders.

Industrial policy, public enterprise and mixed economies were purged by the new neoliberal fundamentalists as the very idea of public intervention for healthy, equitable and balanced development was discredited by the counter-revolution against economic progress for all.

With multilateralism and the Doha Development Round under assault, retrieving relevant lessons from the Havana Charter after seven decades can be crucial in steering the world between the devil of reactionary nationalist ‘sovereigntism’ and the deep blue sea of neoliberal corporate cosmopolitanism or ‘globalism’.

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Climate Action Should be a Global Priority for World Leadershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/climate-action-global-priority-world-leaders/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-action-global-priority-world-leaders http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/climate-action-global-priority-world-leaders/#respond Tue, 04 Dec 2018 10:14:38 +0000 Patricia Espinosa http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159013 Patricia Espinosa was appointed Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2016, a year after the adoption of the Paris Agreement to intensify actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. Prior to that, she was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico.

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Patricia Espinosa was appointed Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2016, a year after the adoption of the Paris Agreement to intensify actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. Prior to that, she was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico.

By Patricia Espinosa
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 4 2018 (IPS)

The IPCC report says that it is not impossible to limit climate change to 1.5͒C? Do you think we can realistically achieve that? Politically, what needs to happen?

History shows that when the human race decides to pursue a challenging goal, we can achieve great things. From ridding the world of smallpox to prohibiting slavery and other ancient abuses through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we have proven that by joining together we can create a better world.

Patricia Espinosa

Today, I believe we can succeed in limiting climate change to 1.5°C – but only if we once again work in solidarity with a powerful unity of purpose.

Humans have evolved to respond to immediate threats and opportunities. We find it more difficult to address problems that play out over years and decades. We must overcome this natural short-sightedness and commit to urgent climate action.

The Paris Agreement confirms the political commitment to climate action, and the UN system provides a platform for international collaboration. What we need now is for more leaders and more citizens to recognize climate action as a global priority and to start working together more urgently.

There was a great surge of enthusiasm for action among industries, governments and even regular people after Paris. Do you think that enthusiasm has been sustained and how can their involvement be ramped up?

There is no quick fix for climate change. Effective climate action will require a long-term, full-time commitment by virtually everyone. Every climate policy, every new technology, every personal action that contributes to reducing emissions and building resilience should be recognized and applauded.

There will be other surges of excitement, as in 2015 when the Paris Agreement was adopted, but most importantly we need to rely on consistent, steady action. We can sustain enthusiasm by sharing success stories, closely monitoring and publicizing emissions levels and climate trends, and keeping the climate conversation alive on a daily basis.

Climate change is, in many respects, the quintessential multilateral issue. What needs to happen to strengthen multilateralism to tackle climate change?

Climate change is a global phenomenon that requires global solutions. Fortunately, we already have platforms for multilateral action such as the United Nations and forums such as the G20.

Meanwhile, thanks to the media and to rapid communications, people are increasingly aware of what is happening in other parts of the world. They see how migration, trade and technology are making us more interdependent than ever before.

Although we do see a backlash against global integration in some parts of the world today, I am convinced that the sense of international solidarity will only grow in the years to come. An increasing awareness that we have a shared destiny on this fragile planet will help to strengthen inclusive multilateral action in the years to come.

How do we get people and governments to move beyond commitments to concrete actions?

Governments need to translate the multilateral goals of the Paris Agreement into specific policies. These policies must to reflect national circumstances and priorities. They need to create what we call an “enabling environment” that motivates and rewards companies, communities and individuals to take concrete actions.

Through the Paris Agreement we will monitor national and global emissions trends to determine which national policies seem to be working and which need to be reviewed.

So in sum we must build on the broad political commitment set out in Paris to craft national policies that encourage and recognize concrete measures by the full range of actors.

We are all responsible for emitting greenhouse gases, so we all have a role – whether in our work, or in our personal lives – in taking concrete actions to reduce emissions.

There are many success stories in all regions and all sectors that demonstrate the enormous potential of climate action.

To start with, a growing number of cities and regions have adopted targets to achieve zero net emissions between 2020 and 2050. These targets are often developed in collaboration.

Just one example: Nineteen city leaders from the C40 coalition signed the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Declaration to ensure that all new buildings operate with a neutral carbon footprint by 2030.

The rise of inclusive multilateralism, where not only national governments but local and regional governments as well as a diverse array of associations and organizations work closely together, is a powerful force for climate action.

Collaboration is also taking place among actors in particular economic sectors. Earlier this year, the global transport sector, which is responsible for some 14 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, created the Transport Decarbonisation Alliance.

The Alliance recognizes that lowering transport emissions will also help to reduce urban pollution and improve public health. Transport companies and managers are creating innovative solutions, including new materials and designs, the increased use of renewable energy, improved public transport systems, and more efficient management of road, air and other transport networks.

Building collaboration within a sector is a great way to raise ambition and to share success stories and best practices.

We also see a growing list of individual corporations adopting emissions targets. Many have signed up to a Science Based Target to ensure that they are in line with the 1.5-2°C temperature limit enshrined under the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

To date, over 700 leading businesses around the world have made strategic climate commitments through the We Mean Business coalition’s Take Action campaign.

There are so many more inspiring examples from a wide range of actors. Their efforts, more than anything else, is what gives me hope that we can achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement and minimize global climate change and its risks. Their stories should inspire all of us to contribute more energetically to climate action.

*Originally published by the SDG Media Compact which was launched by the United Nations in September 2018 in collaboration with over 30 founding media organizations –– encompassing more than 100 media and entertainment outlets. The SDG Media Compact seeks to inspire media and entertainment companies around the world to leverage their resources and creative talent to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.

World leaders are meeting at the Climate Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, 2 to 14 December, to finalize the rulebook to implement the 2015 landmark Paris Agreement on climate change. In the agreement, countries committed to take action to limit global warming to well under 2°C this century. At the conference in Poland, the UN will invite people to voice their views and launch a campaign to encourage every day climate action.

The post Climate Action Should be a Global Priority for World Leaders appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Patricia Espinosa was appointed Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2016, a year after the adoption of the Paris Agreement to intensify actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. Prior to that, she was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico.

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Get Ready for COP24: Transition to a Sustainable Futurehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/get-ready-cop24-transition-sustainable-future/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=get-ready-cop24-transition-sustainable-future http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/get-ready-cop24-transition-sustainable-future/#respond Mon, 03 Dec 2018 14:54:13 +0000 Manuela Matthess http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159002 Manuela Matthess is advisor on international energy and climate policy at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Berlin*

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UNFCCC Secretariat | COP24 opening plenary

By Manuela Matthess
BERLIN, Dec 3 2018 (IPS)

COP24 is the time for governments to act and increase their pledges to prevent global warming ensuring a just transition that leaves no one behind.

The Paris Agreement and the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deliver a clear and potent message: we urgently need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius if we want to protect our ecosystems as well as the livelihoods of millions of people worldwide.

To prevent severe consequences caused by the devastating effects of climate change, it has become evident and imperative that “business as usual” is not possible anymore. We need a transformation to a zero-carbon world in pretty much all sectors; we need to decarbonize our energy systems, our industries as well as our transport systems, we need to establish sustainable ways to do agriculture, and we need to re-think the way we build cities.

The challenges we are facing are enormous, but they come with endless opportunities as well. For the necessary transformation processes to be successful, they must be managed in a just and inclusive fashion: we need a just transition to a sustainable future!

In December 2018, heads of State will gather for the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), in Katowice, Poland, to continue discussing ways to implement the Paris Agreement. A just transition will be high up on the political agenda. But what does it encompass?

A just transition is defined by the need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius, as stated in the Paris Agreement, but in a way that the well-being of all people is protected. The recent IPCC report on 1.5 degrees spotlights the need for early action, once again reinforcing that a rapid transition across all sectors of the economy is necessary to mitigate the most catastrophic risks of climate change.

There is great urgency involved—we only have 12 more years to turn things around! The lives and livelihoods of millions of people, especially in Global South countries, depend on fast action and ambitious climate policies to prevent the worst-possible impacts. For them, climate change is already a harsh reality, even though they have contributed almost nothing to its creation.

A just transition can only be successful if it brings all affected groups to the table. It maximizes climate protection while minimizing the negative impacts of climate change and climate policy on societies, lives and livelihoods. Climate change will influence every sector of our lives.

This includes the employment sector, which will be impacted by climate change as well as by climate change policies. Workers in the fossil industries and their families and communities are at the front line of the transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energies. Their interests need to be considered in the process.

Structural-change processes always have a strong regional component as sometimes it is coal or oil extraction which serves as the only source of employment in certain parts of a country. Good alternatives must be made available for people who will be affected by the phasing out of coal, oil and gas—even more so because that phase-out needs to happen fast to stop global warming.

Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius through a just transition of the world economy opens up many opportunities, including possibilities for decent work and quality jobs. Communities least responsible for and most negatively affected by climate change can and must profit from a Just Transition through poverty eradication, sustainable development opportunities and the creation of decent and quality jobs.

There is huge job-creation potential in renewable energies. The jobs of the future need to be green jobs with decent working conditions everywhere in the world. A just transition is a time-limited opportunity to shape the necessary change. If we do not act now, the risks could be uncontrollable, not only for workers and their communities but also for societies, lives and livelihoods of all people worldwide.

A Just Transition starts with a high level of ambition and accelerated climate action. This is the only way to ensure that there is sufficient time to implement the transition in a just way. Currently, countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are not nearly ambitious enough, putting us on a pathway to global warming of 3–4 degrees celsius.

What does that portend? Unbearable extreme weather conditions, sea-level rise that threatens the existence of many people, loss of biodiversity, lack of food security, disappearing coral reefs that are essential to a healthy balance of our ecosystems as well as an increasing number of climate refugees and violent conflicts fuelled by the consequences of climate change. Do you want to live in a world like this?

COP24 is the time for governments to act and increase their pledges to prevent global warming.

* For more information on the international work by FES on the topic visit the dedicated website page.
The link to the original article: https://www.fes-connect.org/spotlight/get-ready-for-cop24-four-things-to-know-about-a-just-transition-to-a-sustainable-future/

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Excerpt:

Manuela Matthess is advisor on international energy and climate policy at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Berlin*

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Strengthening extension and rural advisory services to contribute to reaching the 2030 Development Agenda: What works in Rural Advisory Services?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/strengthening-extension-rural-advisory-services-contribute-reaching-2030-development-agenda-works-rural-advisory-services/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=strengthening-extension-rural-advisory-services-contribute-reaching-2030-development-agenda-works-rural-advisory-services http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/strengthening-extension-rural-advisory-services-contribute-reaching-2030-development-agenda-works-rural-advisory-services/#respond Mon, 03 Dec 2018 11:39:30 +0000 Karim Hussein http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158999 Karim Hussein was Executive Secretary of the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services from September 2016 to August 2018

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What are Rural Advisory Services and how are they relevant to the 2030 Development Agenda? - Women farmers clearing farmland in Northern Bangladesh. Credit: Naimul Haq/IPS

Women farmers clearing farmland in Northern Bangladesh. Credit: Naimul Haq/IPS

By Karim Hussein
ACCRA, Dec 3 2018 (IPS)

In mid-2018 the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) that brings together key development partners  and 17 multistakeholder Regional Networks and country fora across six continents, published a new book :  What Works in Rural Advisory Services: Global Good Practice Notes .

This book includes over 30 Notes on a wide range of essential topics for strengthening agricultural  extension and rural advisory services, drawing on contributions from the GFRAS family of experts, practitioners, governmental and non-governmental  stakeholders, facilitate access to know-how and support RAS organisations, managers, and individual field staff with easy-to-understand overviews on key approaches, principles and methods.

It is a unique effort drawing on the experience of more than 90 people involved in agriculture and advisory services drawn from 6 continents.

 

What are Rural Advisory Services and how are they relevant to the 2030 Development Agenda?

When agricultural and rural advisory services, whether public or private, are properly resourced and have the right skills and capacities, they play vital roles in enabling agricultural producers to access the services and advice they need to improve skills, productivity and incomes.

They are vital in order to achieve the 2030 Development Agenda, particularly SDG 2 that seeks to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. The important roles of rural advisory services for inclusive development and rural transformation have indeed been recognised by the OECD, the UN, the G7 and G20.

However, agricultural extension and advisory services have in many countries suffered over many years from inadequate policies, underinvestment, weak institutions, limited opportunities for capacity development and learning across regions and an insufficient uptake of responsive, demand-driven approaches. This has particularly been the case in lower income countries.

This book compiles Notes on a variety of critical issues for strengthening RAS to serve development, including an overview of extension philosophies and methods, innovative financing, roles of the private sector and producer organisations, capacity development and professionalization, a review of advisory methods (from farmer-to-farmer approaches, farmer field schools, community knowledge workers to ICT and mobile phone extension) and key cross-cutting issues (such as gender and nutrition).

 

RAS as brokers and facilitators in sharing new technologies, approaches and knowledge

The Notes highlight the roles of advisory services as facilitators in sharing new agricultural technologies, practices and knowledge. They show how such services have the potential to play critical roles in improving the livelihoods and well-being of farmers, particularly rural smallholders worldwide, and to enable them to contribute to sustainable development.

They highlight the need to address three levels of capacity development in RAS: (i) building a good policy environment that enables RAS to do their work effectively; (ii) strengthening institutions and organisations involved in RAS (including producer organisations, civil society and private sector operators); and (iii) building the capacities of individuals involved in providing advisory services.

 

Knowledge needed for RAS to be able to play new roles

RAS providers are being asked to fulfil a wider range of tasks with very limited capacities and resources. To fulfil expectations and undertake these tasks, a wide range of approaches, methods and principles exist.

The success or failure of particular approaches is always closely linked to the context in which they are applied and therefore it remains critical to strengthen the capacities of all stakeholders in RAS, from farmers and rural producers through to private and public service providers, to select and adapt approaches to specific contexts.

Without adequate skills development it will be extremely difficult for RAS to achieve the hoped-for development impact and results.

 

Limitations of the book and areas for further work

This book addresses a vital topics for capacity building in RAS. However, it could go further in addressing the question of how RAS can better demonstrate their capacity to respond to local,  national and international development challenges that are at the top of development agendas.

For example, they need to engage more with youth, women and poor smallholders, consider ways in which to take account of the challenges posed by migration and urbanisation in their work to foster more inclusive, safer and more efficient food systems and they need to review the challenges RAS face in responding to fragile and conflict-affected situations.

The GFRAS Issues Paper Series launched in early 2018 begins to address such challenges and more work is needed here.

 

The sustainability of the Forum and knowledge network model in agricultural and rural development: making it more relevant, demand driven and sustainable

Lastly, true, effective and efficient subsidiarity between the global, regional, national and subnational levels remains an enormous challenge for all knowledge sharing networks and for a given resource and capacity constraints.

These reviews of existing practices need to be complemented by consistent policy and advocacy efforts and a tighter connection to programmes that invest in inclusive rural transformation in order to persuade decision-makers to mobilise new resources for extension.

The global networking approach taken by GFRAS needs to change focus to mobilise investments in concrete programmes that ensure RAS generate positive impacts on the lives of rural people in a shorter timescale.

Information sharing, knowledge development and networking are not sufficient. This will involve assessing the real demand for services and networks by the ultimate users and intended beneficiaries and the value they place of the advice and support they receive.

Otherwise it would be fair to reflect on whether resources should be directly made available to ultimate users, such as farmers and their organisations, who then decide how best to use these to serve their needs.

GFRAS was established in 2010 to nurture a global network of agricultural extension and rural advisory services (RAS) to enhance their performance so that they can better serve farm families and rural producers, thus contributing to improved livelihoods and the sustainable reduction of hunger and poverty.

Rural advisory services help to empower farmers and better integrate them in systems of agricultural innovation. GFRAS reaches smallholder farmers through its regional RAS networks, which in turn have national-level platforms or country fora.

The country fora bring together stakeholders from all sectors working in RAS, and work directly with smallholders. Country fora help prioritise national-level issues relevant to extension and RAS, and formulate requests and proposals to be taken to the regional and global levels.

 

Following more than 10 years in rural development research and a wide range of publications, Karim Hussein served in several senior technical and advisory roles at the OECD and the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development he was appointed  Executive Secretary of the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services from 2016-2018.

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Excerpt:

Karim Hussein was Executive Secretary of the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services from September 2016 to August 2018

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