Friday, December 18, 2009

Japan: 15 billion dollars in climate aid

Source: COP 15 Official Website
Date: 16th December 2009

Japanese pledge outbids the EU's funding for short-term climate aid in developing countries.

Japan pledges a total of 15 billion US dollars for climate aid for developing countries up to 2012, Japan's delegation announced at the UN climate conference late Wednesday. Of the 15 billion dollars, 11 billion dollars will be public money, according to a press release from the delegation.

The Japanese pledge is more generous than EU’s promise to fund 7.2 billion euro (9.39 billion dollars) for the same purposes over the next three years.

The Japanese funding is given on the condition that a successful political accord is achieved at the climate conference in Copenhagen.

“Upon the establishment of a new framework, Japan will with this assistance support a broad range of developing countries which are taking measures of mitigation, as well as those which are vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change,” the press release states.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

SEYCHELLES PRESIDENT APPEALS FOR SMALL ISLANDS' RIGHT TO EXIST

Seychelles President James Michel has made a powerful appeal to world leaders for the protection of the human right of small island states to exist, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen Denmark.

“Like the leaders of other small island states, I am not here to celebrate the limited progress, but to speak out once again, as we have always done, of our fight for survival, our human right to exist. We are here, to fight for a deal based on equality and fairness,” said President Michel in his address.

The President said that the current situation in the negotiation process is not satisfactory and that without legally binding and just solution countries around the world will not take action on climate change, or that action would be limited.

He said that the present situation is in effect a ‘rich man’s deal’ which will only reinforce existing inequalities between developed and developing countries.

“A perfumed declaration offers little hope to the farmer, the fisherman, the villagers and coastal populations directly affected already. An insubstantial declaration also will not safeguard the riches some have amassed in the long run. We need an agreement to save our common future.”

The President pointed out that the Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries as well as African countries affected by drought and desertification are the ones most affected by climate change and yet they are the least guilty of causing it.

“Today we must listen to the voice of reason, the voice of realism. We are here because we know that climate change is already with us. It is already threatening the existence of humanity....History will judge us either as courageous leaders who took measures to save humanity or as politicians who abdicated our responsibilities and brought about immense suffering and hardship.”

Amid the doubts expressed by country and group negotiators at the Copenhagen conference, President James Michel asked world leaders to reconsider the importance of this event for future generations and push forward for a resolution to the impasse.

“In Copenhagen 2009, the fate of our planet is being decided- either to let it live, or let it die an agonizing death. We must commit to a sustainable deal for the world. It is a choice we make for the future of humanity. Let us save humanity together.”

Seychelles is one of the smallest producers of emissions in the world with over 50% of its land mass declared as nature reserves. In 2007 President Michel launched the Sea Level Rise Foundation. Seychelles is aiming to be climate neutral by 2020, with investment in renewable energy as well as energy saving technology

Seychelles launched its climate change strategy at this conference, please see the document attached.

Sea level rise may be even more urgent than previously thought

From: DNAIndia

London: A new study has suggested that as a result of global warming, sea level rise may be even more urgent than previously thought.

According to a report in Nature News, Robert Kopp, a palaeoclimatologist at Princeton University in New Jersey, and his colleagues examined sea level rise during the most recent previous interglacial stage, about 125,000 years ago.

It was a time when the climate was similar to that predicted for our future, with average polar temperatures about 3-5 degrees Celsius warmer than now.

Other studies have looked at this era, but most focused on sea level changes in only a few locales and local changes may not fully reflect global changes.

Sea level can rise, for example, if the land is subsiding.

It can also be affected by changes in the mass distribution of Earth. For example, according to Kopp, ice-age glaciers have enough gravity to pull water slightly polewards.

When the glaciers melt, water moves back towards the Equator.

To adjust for such effects, Kopp's team compiled sea-level data from over 30 sites across the globe.

"We could go to a lot of different places and look at coral reefs or intertidal sediments or beaches that are now stranded above sea level, and build a reasonably large database of sea-level indicators," said Kopp.

The team reports that the sea probably rose about 6.6-9.4 m above present-day levels during the previous period between ice ages.

When it was at roughly its present level, the average rate of rise was probably 56-92 cm a century.

"That is faster than the current rate of sea level rise by a factor of about two or three," Kopp said, warning that if the poles warm as expected, a similar acceleration in sea-level rise might occur in future.

According to Peter Clark, a geologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, if the world warms up to levels comparable to those 125,000 years ago, "we can expect a large fraction of the Greenland ice sheet and some part of the Antarctic ice sheet, mostly likely West Antarctica, to melt. That's clearly in sight with where we're heading."

Two Days and Counting

Source: New York Times

16th December 2009

Most of the news from Copenhagen is grim. With only two days left to go, negotiations for a new climate treaty were stumbling toward stalemate. We hope President Obama and other leaders will realize how much is at stake and pull off a last-minute breakthrough.

The talks appear to have produced at least one positive development: a tentative agreement under which rich countries would pay poorer countries to save the world’s rain forests. If rich countries agree to mandatory caps on emissions — still a big if — they would be able to use these payments to offset their own emissions while they make the transition to cleaner energy sources.

That would be a good deal for both rich and poor countries and an even better deal for the planet. Deforestation accounts for nearly one-fifth of the world’s carbon-dioxide emissions — about the same as China’s and America’s and more than the emissions generated by all the world’s cars, trucks, buses and airplanes.

Negotiators need to build on this progress to produce, at the very least, an interim political consensus setting the stage for a more detailed, comprehensive and legally binding agreement next year.

As of Wednesday, the talks were deeply divided over broad emissions targets and how much rich countries should pay poor countries to help them meet these targets. There are also differences over how to verify whether nations are living up to their obligations.

The idea of having rich nations pay poorer nations not to destroy their forests was floated in the Kyoto talks in 1996 and shot down by environmental groups who argued that it would allow rich countries to buy their way out of their obligations. This was a colossal blunder for which the world has been paying ever since.

Roughly 30 million acres of rain forest disappear every year, releasing huge quantities of carbon dioxide stored in the trees and exacting collateral damage in decreased water quality and impoverished biodiversity.

A deforestation agreement in Copenhagen would dovetail neatly with climate legislation passed by the House and by the Senate’s environment committee.

Under both bills, companies that cannot meet their pollution limits could win credit for investing in carbon-reduction programs abroad — including efforts to stop deforestation. That could generate as much as $12 billion in private investment. The House bill would also set aside an estimated $3 billion in direct payments to be funneled to poor countries; the Obama administration announced Wednesday that it would provide a minimum of $1 billion for that purpose over three years.

Contributions just from America would go a long way toward meeting the $40 billion a year that some experts think will be necessary to help poor countries monitor and police their forests — and to compensate their citizens for the lost income from logging, ranching and farming if they agree to leave their forests intact.

A climate bill from Congress is no more a sure thing than a new global agreement. The fact that leaders everywhere are at last facing up to the destructiveness of deforestation is reassuring. But it’s hardly enough.