Friday, April 09, 2010

Canada and British Columbia Sign Agreement to Address Climate Change

Source: Environment Canada 
Date: -- April 6, 2010 --

Vancouver, B.C. Today, Canada's Environment Minister, Jim Prentice, and British Columbia's Minister of State for Climate Action, John Yap, signed an Agreement in Principle on efforts to address Climate Change.
"Effectively addressing climate change requires action by all governments in Canada. The Government of Canada is pleased to cooperate with the Province of British Columbia to coordinate our efforts to ensure a national, coherent climate change approach for all Canadians," said Minister Prentice.

"We are building a strong template for acting on climate change here in B.C. and it is great to have the ongoing support of the federal government as we move forward," said Minister Yap. "Climate change is the challenge of our generation and we need strong partnerships like this one to devise solutions that help us meet our legislative commitments while creating new economic opportunities for British Columbians."
 
The federal government is working closely with provinces and territories to ensure that our efforts to fight climate change reinforce one another to the greatest possible extent.  Throughout summer 2009, we consulted with the provinces and territories on Canada's approach to tackling climate change.

This is the first step towards a formal Equivalency Agreement under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 which will avoid the duplication of regulatory measures and ensure that the environmental needs of the province are met. The Government of Canada continues to work in close collaboration with the provinces and territories in developing harmonized climate change strategies with the United States.

The Government of Canada is committed to reducing our total greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, a target which reflects the importance of aligning with United States policy.

Canada is taking action on a number of fronts, including implementing tough new regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions from the automotive sector; investing billions through our Economic Action Plan to protect the environment; continuing to advance the Clean Energy Dialogue with the United States Administration; and implementing the Copenhagen Accord as the basis for a new, legally-binding international climate change agreement.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Sea level rise and people = "unique train wreck"

Source: Daily Press
Date: 7th April, 2010

HAMPTON- For those who think Hampton Roads and other East Coast communities can fight rising sea levels by rebuilding eroded beaches, John Rummel has a message for you.

"There's only so much sand to go around," said Rummel, director of the Institute for Coastal Science and Policy at East Carolina University.

Rummel, who met with the Daily Press on Tuesday before speaking at NASA Langley Research Center and the Virginia Air and Space Center, described sea-level rise and growing coastal populations as a "unique train wreck."

Millions of Virginians — about 1.7 million in Hampton Roads, according to the 2000 U.S. Census — live within 50 miles of the coast. As a result, there are more hotels, houses, roads and other infrastructure vulnerable to rising sea level than ever before, he said.

By way of example, Rummel focused on the Outer Banks, a popular vacation spot for many Virginians. Recent storms there made bridges and roads impassible, forcing government to either abandon the infrastructure or spend millions of dollars rebuilding it.

In most cases, government chose to rebuild. There is too much money invested in coastal properties, which are an important source of tax revenue, to retreat from them, he said.

It's the same scenario on the Peninsula, especially in the flood-prone areas of Gloucester, Poquoson and Hampton. Regional planners last year raised the idea of building levees to protect localities from a catastrophic storm, but the proposal gained little traction.

"It's going to take a couple of disasters to make people think about this," Rummel said.

Meanwhile, it's up to individual localities to determine how they deal with rising sea levels, he said. For many, this includes beach replenishment and break walls, which are OK as temporary solutions, he said.

In the future, he said, localities should consider low-impact uses, such as eco-tourism, as opposed to heavy infrastructure.

"We can't stop the sea but we can have it work for us," Rummel said.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Dutch experts advise on dealing with rising sea

Source: Viet Nam News
Date: 2nd April, 2010

MEKONG DELTA — It was high time for Viet Nam, especially Mekong Delta provinces, to put climate change on top of its list of concerns, experts said at a recent conference on climate change response plans for the Mekong Delta, held in Can Tho City.

Over the last 30 years, the delta's average temperature has increased 0.5 degrees Celsius, while the number of days with temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius has also increased, according to vice chairman of the Can Tho City People's Committee Nguyen Thanh Son.

Natural resource exploitation and construction projects along the rivers had affected water levels, said Son. River waters had been reduced by 30 per cent in both the dry and rainy seasons compared to last century, leading to a shortage of water and the encroachment of salinated waters.

These changes have also affected people's health, livelihoods and agricultural production. According to the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment's recent climate change scenario, the delta's temperature may increase 10 degrees Celsius by 2050, and another 10 degrees Celsius by 2100, rainfalls may increase by 0.8-1.55 per cent and the sea level may rise 33-75cm. The delta will be inundated if the level goes 1m higher, with the hardest-hit localities including Ca Mau, Bac Lieu, Hau Giang, Long An, Soc Trang, Kien Giang and Can Tho.

"Learning experiences from other countries, including the Netherlands, is necessary for Viet Nam, especially for the Mekong Delta provinces, to respond to and mitigate the impacts of climate change," said minister Pham Khoi Nguyen.

Nguyen emphasised that helping the delta respond to climate change effectively and safely was a great task, for both national and international food security.

The Netherlands' former Minister of Agriculture, Cornelis Pieter Veerman, said that the two countries had many geographical similarities and both faced huge risks of rising sea levels and climate change.

At the conference, delegates shared information about climate change, then jointly set up targets and medium- and long-term strategies based on practical situations. Professor Eelco Van Beek said that the delta provinces needed to improve their dykes and their sewage systems to raise capacities to cope with floods, set up drought/flood warning systems and to raise people's awareness.

Also on this occasion, experts from the Netherlands came to work with relevant sectors in Viet Nam.
The final plans, once approved by Vietnamese authorities, will be designed in detail to call for investments. Experts also had concerns about the frequent occurrences of landslides along the banks of the Hau River and the Tien River, even during the dry season. In Can Tho City, along with the recent collapse of the Tra Nien Bridge, the authorities warned that six other bridges were facing high risks of landslides. Landslide warnings were also issued for Vinh Long, Ben Tre and Dong Thap provinces.

Unstable foundations and excessive sand exploitation from the rivers were blamed for the landslides, said Cao Van Be, director of An Giang Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
The conference, held by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the embassy of the Netherlands in Viet Nam, was one of the activities under the co-operation memorandum signed by the two countries last October.