China has made significant progress in the fight against the illicit trade of wildlife products, including ivory and rhino horn, according to a top wildlife conservation specialist. China Daily reports
“China has been serious about strengthening its regulations and law enforcement against the illegal wildlife products trade,” said John Scanlon, secretary-general of the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
“When we look at China, we must recognize the great efforts it has made,” he said, adding that among 177 partner countries of the organization, China is one of the most actively engaged.
“It is not the Chinese government that is involved in the illicit trade, but some individuals are acting illegally. We have to draw a distinction clearly.”
Efforts led by the Ministry of Forestry are functioning well. Enforcement has been significantly improved, and coordination between agencies including police, customs and forest inspectors has been fine-tuned, according to Scanlon.
But there is also an urgent need for the government to raise public awareness of wildlife protection, he said.
“How do you raise the awareness? I think the best way is working with Chinese people, because they know the culture, they know the best way to communicate. That’s why we use our own Chinese staff to directly work with the Chinese authorities to see how we can work with China to help raise awareness,” he said.
Much of the illicit trade relies on the lack of understanding of its implications, he said. That makes it important to work with international organizations such as the United Nations Environmental Programme, which can reach a large number of people.
China has recently invested $200,000 in the African Elephant Fund, based in Kenya, to further protect the species, Scanlon said.
He said there are a significant number of exchanges between China and Africa in terms of wildlife protection enforcement.
“I think what we need to recognize is that domestically, China has taken significant actions to protect the species and the same can be also said of Africa, countries like South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, which are taking very strong action to protect their national heritage, the wildlife,” he added.
He said the weak governance in some African countries leads to difficulties enforcing wildlife conservation because of human conflicts and the rampant illicit wildlife trade.
“Unlike the trade in rhino horns, which is all illegal, ivory is a little bit different, because it was traded until 1999, when there was a trade ban imposed,” he said. “In China and other countries, there is a certificate system to legally sell ivory.”
“That’s why we are working with the Chinese government to ensure the system and regulations are fully rigorous, making sure the legal trade is not well-laundered ivory which has been taken illegally,” he said. “When there is a legal trade, there is an opportunity for laundering, and that’s why we should have very tight national legal controls.”
- WILDLIFE: People and animals at immediate risk from crime, CITES chief warns (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Wildlife conservation summit begins (bigpondnews.com)
- CITES 2013 comment : ‘Humankind under the spotlight’ (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- New UN Report Warns of Uncertain Future for African Elephants / Elephant Poaching Doubled & Illegal Ivory Trade Tripled in Last Decade Endangering Already Fragile Populations / Enhanced Law Enforcement, International Collaboration and Reducing Demand Requ (appablog.wordpress.com)
- People and animals at immediate risk from wildlife crime, Cites chief warns (guardian.co.uk)
- Online ivory trade threatens elephants (stuff.co.nz)
- News You Really Need To See: “From Elephants’ Mouths, an Illicit Trail to China” (notwhatyoumightthink.wordpress.com)
- The perfect poacher’s storm threatening endangered species (itv.com)
Landmark Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Celebrates First Anniversary
Nairobi, Kenya – The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) celebrates its first anniversary tomorrow. Launched by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with an initial group of six country partners and the United Nations Environment Programme, the Coalition has quickly grown to 55 partners, including 27 countries, the European Commission, as well as the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and eighteen NGOs.
“In its first year the Coalition has been brilliant in developing a spirit of urgent optimism, a spirit that is critical for solving the daunting problem of climate change,” stated Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, one of the NGO members. “And it’s already working on plans for taking its strategies to the scale it needs to meet the bold challenge of cutting the rate of warming in half for the next 40 years, with the World Bank pledging billions of new dollars for their efforts. The Coalition is a rare climate success story.”
The CCAC is the first-ever global effort specifically dedicated to reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs). SLCPs include black carbon (soot), recently recognized as the second most powerful climate pollutant after carbon dioxide, methane and ground-level ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are used as refrigerants and to make insulating foams.
To address these pollutants, the Coalition has undertaken a set of fast-action initiatives: reducing methane from urban landfills and from the oil and gas industry; reducing black carbon emissions from brick kilns and from heavy duty diesel vehicles and engines; promoting alternatives to HFCs; scaling up finance to reduce all SLCPs; and developing SLCP National Action Plans. The Coalition is also developing additional proposals to address open burning of biomass and pollution from cookstoves.
Fast action to reduce SLCPs has the potential to cut the rate of climate change in half, slowing global temperature rise by up to ~0.6°C by 2050, while preventing 2.4 million air pollution-related deaths per year, and avoiding around 30 million tonnes of crop losses annually. Reductions of SLCPs are complementary to reductions of carbon dioxide emissions and can often be achieved simultaneously. If large-scale reductions of both SLCPs and carbon dioxide are undertaken immediately, there is still a high probability of keeping the increase in global temperature to less than 1.5°C above the pre-industrial temperature for the next 30 years and below the 2°C guardrail for the next 60 to 90 years.
“The success of the CCAC shows that more and more countries are now recognizing the multiple, cost-effective benefits that swift, coordinated action on SLCPs can deliver,” said UN Under Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, who put the CCAC at the top of his list of UNEP’s accomplishments in 2012. “UNEP has partnered with researchers for over ten years to bring the science of short-lived climate pollutants to the fore. This research clearly shows that action on SLCPs can deliver important near-term climate gains, and contribute to the achievement of health- and food security-related goals,” added Mr. Steiner, speaking from the UNEP Governing Council meeting in Nairobi.
In addition to cutting the rate of global warming in half, reducing emissions of SLCPs is particularly beneficial for some of the most vulnerable and threatened regions on the planet, including the Arctic, which is warming at more than twice the global average rate, and setting off self-amplifying warming feedbacks, according to UNEP’s Year Book 2013 released this week. Addressing pollutants such as black carbon, which has especially powerful warming effects in regions of ice and snow, may be the most effective means of slowing and delaying imminent climate impacts in those regions in the near term.
IGSD has long been a champion of efforts to reduce HFCs, black carbon, methane, and tropospheric ozone, and serves as the NGO representative on the Coalition’s Steering Committee.
The biggest ever United Nations conference on the environment has been condemned as a ‘hoax’ by UK charities for spending millions of taxpayers’ money to do little more than come up with a list of aspirations on saving the planet without any concrete action. From ‘The Daily Telegraph’
More than 150,000 people crowded into hotels on the famous Copacabana strip and even paid for space in converted office and ‘love motels’ for the eagerly anticipated conference 20 years on from the original 1992 Earth Summit.
The jamboree cost the Brazilian Government pounds 134million and each country hundreds of thousands to pay for flights and accommodation. The 50 strong UK delegation will have cost at least pounds 100,000. The UN, that is paid for by taxpayers around the world, will have had to fork out for helping poorer countries and officials attend.
The conference also emitted 5,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, despite calling for a reduction in global greenhouse gases.
It was hoped that ‘Rio+20 would come up with a new UN resolution to shift the world economy from polluting fossil fuels to green energy like wind and solar.
But as rain swept across Rio at the end of the summit, civil society groups were left angry and disillusione
The final document, called The Future We Want, calls on the world to shift to a ‘green economy’ and to phase out fossil fuels but there is no timetable for action.
The principle of Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs has been agreed but there is no detail, despite countries including the UK calling for clear targets on ending food waste, water pollution and overfishing.
Efforts to limit global population growth by calling for improved access to free contraception were watered down by protests from the Vatican.
Barbara Stocking, the head of Oxfam, who was part of the UK delegation attending meetings with ministers, said it was “shamefully devoid of progress”.
“Rio will go down as the hoax summit,” she said. “They came, they talked, but they failed to act. We elect governments to tackle the issues that we can’t tackle alone. But they are not providing the leadership the world desperately needs. Paralysed by inertia and in hock to vested interests, too many are unable to join up the dots and solve the connected crises of environment, equity and economy.”
Nick Clegg, the UK Deputy Prime Minister, admitted he was “disappointed” with the outcome.
He blamed a ‘neocolonial world’ where developing countries that want to continue using fossil fuels to develop, like China and Brazil, have more power than the West and Europe.
He explained that countries like India see the green economy as a “euphemism for protectionism” that will stop them using huge natural resources of coal to grow.
“We no longer live in a neocolonial world where a small number of Governments can get together and write a text and say to the rest of the world you have to accept this,” he said. “The developing world is much more assertive.”
Much of the anger at the conference was directed at world leaders for failing to take the crisis in rising temperatures and loss of species seriously enough. Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and Barack Obama, the President of the United States did not even bother to turn up.
However Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, insisted that the conference was a success.
She said that the inclusion of ‘green economy’ in the text has given the concept much more power and will encourage both government and business to start cutting carbon and investing in renewables.
The text also promises to give more money to the UN environment programme to help poorer countries tackle pollution and calls on all nations to start measuring natural capital as well as GDP.
Quoting Steve Jobs, the late head of Apple in saying ‘Don’t think big, think different’’, Ms Clinton said it will be the private sector that will drive the shift to a green economy through innovation and market forces, rather than state intervention.
But Craig Bennet, Friends of the Earth’s Director of Policy and Campaigns, said businesses will only act once Governments give a clean signal.
“These talks have been completely undermined by a dangerous lack of ambition, urgency and political will – and weak politicians too afraid to push for anything tougher.
“World leaders are understandably concerned about the broken economy – but until they stop treating it separately from our social and environmental problems this will never be fixed,” he said.
As storm clouds gathered over Rio, Dame Barbara agreed that Governments have failed to make the agreement strong enough.
But, alongside other NGOs, she vowed that even the weak agreement to sign up to SDGs and start moving towards a green economy could be used to force change.
“It’s been a painful birth but the vision of an ambitious set of goals on environment and development, applicable to all countries, is a solitary light in the fog.”
- Rio+20: Earth summit dawns with stormier clouds than in 1992 (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Rio+20 politicians deliver ‘new definition of hypocrisy’ claim NGOs (guardian.co.uk)
- Rio+20: Right sentiment, wrong problems, poor solutions (telegraph.co.uk)
- Rio+20 protesters perform ‘ritual rip-up’ of negotiated text (guardian.co.uk)
- Breaking news from Rio+20: Canadian youth Occupy action at the official summit (climate-connections.org)
- Green Economy: India slams developed nations (thehindu.com)
- EXCLUSIVE: Godfather of global green thinking steps out of the shadows at Rio + 20 summit (foxnews.com)
- World leaders open Rio summit (bigpondnews.com)
Africa is leading the push for clean energy policy-making as climate change turns millions of its people into “food refugees,” the head of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) Achim Steiner said. Reuters reports.
“On the African continent, there is sometimes more leadership being shown by countries, by governments, than we see in some of the industrialized nations,” Steiner told Reuters.
Kenya generates most of its energy from hydroelectric dams but water levels have fallen due to recurring drought. It is now investing heavily in geothermal and wind power.
The African Development Bank is financing Africa’s biggest wind farm on the shores of Lake Turkana, one of the windiest places on Earth. The $819-million project aims to produce 300 megawatts (MW) of electricity per year, boosting Kenya’s energy supply by 30 percent.
“We see across the continent both a realization of how threatening climate change really is and also the inevitable necessity that governments have an interest in beginning to put their own development priorities on a different trajectory,” said Steiner.
Investments in renewable energy are hitting record levels. In 2010, $211 billion dollars was invested in renewable energy, the majority of it in the developing world, Steiner said.
As the world’s poorest continent, Africa is also the most vulnerable to the extreme weather conditions and rising sea levels brought by climate change.
“The consequence of global warming for Africa is one of disruption, of greater vulnerability, higher risks and enormous expenditures to cope with these changes,” said Steiner.
Source : http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/43594 and http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/21/us-climate-africa-unep-idUSTRE7AK0IR20111121?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2Fenvironment+%28News+%2F+US+%2F+Environment%29&utm_content=Google+Reader
- Africa Leads Climate Push as Its People Go Hungry (scientificamerican.com)
- On the Road to Rio+20, Countries Accelerate Plans for Green Economy Transition (terragaia.wordpress.com)
- UN official: Climate change could lead to conflicts (msnbc.msn.com)
- China pollution ‘has health toll’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Renewable Energy in Africa (cleantechsolutions.wordpress.com)
- “Competition over scarce water and land, exacerbated by regional changes in climate, are already a…” (underpaidgenius.com)
- Air-Conditioning HFC Gas Must Be Curbed to Aid Climate, UN Says (businessweek.com)
- Geothermal Development Advances in Kenya; Icelandic Firms Hired for Assessment (prweb.com)
- Heat, Drought, Famine All Part of Coming ‘Exponential’ Increase Of Climate-Related Disasters (alternet.org)
Report says refugees forced to leave homes by weather caused by global warming may end up in even worse afflicted areas. The Guardian reports
Hundreds of millions of people may be trapped in inhospitable environments as they attempt to flee from the effects of global warming, worsening the likely death toll from severe changes to the climate, a UK government committee has found.
Refugees forced to leave their homes because of floods, droughts, storms, heatwaves and other effects of climate change are likely to be one of the biggest visible effects of the warming that scientists warn will result from the untrammelled use of fossil fuels, according to the UK government’s Foresight group, part of the Office for Science.
But many of those people are likely to move from areas affected by global warming into areas even worse afflicted – for instance, by moving into coastal cities in the developing world that are at risk of flood from storms and rising sea levels.
“Millions will migrate into, rather than away from, areas of environmental vulnerability,” said Sir John Beddington, chief scientific advisor to the UK government, and head of the Foresight programme. “An even bigger policy challenge will be the millions who are trapped in dangerous conditions and unable to move to safety.”
The scientists, in a report entitled Migration and Global Environmental Change, found that between 114 million and 192 million more people were likely to be living in floodplains in urban areas of Africa and Asia by 2060, partly as a result of climate change.
People who are trapped by warming – either because they cannot move from their homes, or because they have moved but are unable to find better places to live – will represent “just as important a policy concern as those who do migrate”, the report concluded. “Environmental change is equally likely to make migration less possible, as more probable.”
But the scientists also said that migration should not be seen simply as a problem – in many cases, it is a sensible solution to the environmental changes caused by a warming climate, and can be managed if governments make adequate preparations. “Migration can be a good option – it is a way of adapting to climate change,” said Neil Adger, professor of environmental economics at the University of East Anglia. “We should be planning for migration pro-actively, to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place for people.”
He said that equipping cities in developing countries with adequate infrastructure, including access to clean water, sanitation and energy, was a key concern. Funds devoted to helping countries cope with the effects of climate change should also be spent with this in mind, he said.
Although the scientists who wrote the report declined to put an estimate on the number of people likely to be displaced, they said it was “undeniable” that migration would be a major factor, and one that would be potentially destabilising to established governments.
Previous attempts to put an estimate on the number displaced have met with controversy – a prediction by the United Nations Environment Programme that 50 million people would be forced to migrate by climate change by 2010 was attacked by climate change sceptics, who said there was no proof of how many of the 210 million people who moved across borders in that year had been forced to flee by environmental conditions.
The Foresight programme scientists said there were many factors influencing migration, but that climate change was likely to become a much more significant factor in the next 20 to 30 years.
Trying to stop migration from global warming may be the wrong approach, the scientists warned. Andre Geddes, professor of politics at the University of Sheffield, said: “Policies that just seek to prevent migration are risky.”
Instead, governments should attempt to anticipate movement and find ways to improve conditions, both in the places people are likely to move to, and those they are likely to move from.
- Climate change migration warning (bbc.co.uk)
- Alert sounded on ‘environmental migration’ (ft.com)
- Climate Update : More than 30 million climate migrants in Asia in 2010, report finds (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Millions ‘face environment hazards’ (mirror.co.uk)
- Climate change : Where Did Global Warming Go? (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Climate change update : World’s leading climate sceptic sees his funding melt away fast (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Daily News & Views – October 20, 2011 (junkscience.com)
- Climate Change Is Shrinking Species, Research Suggests By RACHEL NUWER (greenactivist.wordpress.com)