WILDLIFE : China’s nature reserves exceed global average

The size of nature reserves in China reached almost 15 percent of the country’s total land areaby the end of 2012, exceeding the global average of 12 percent. China Daily reports

Li Ganjie, vice-minister of environmental protection, announced the figure at a celebration ofthe 2013 International Day for Biological Diversity on Wednesday.

China's nature reserves exceed global average

Swans and tens of thousands of rare migrant birds spend the winter in Poyang Lake Nature Reserve inYongxiu county, Jiangxi province. China has established 286 national nature reserves in the past 20years. Duan Changzheng / for China Daily

The figure has grown from 6.9 percent in 1993 to 14.9 percent today. The number of national-level nature reserves has increased from 77 to 363, marking the achievements the Chinesegovernment has made to promote biodiversity since the country signed the United NationsConvention on Biological Diversity 20 years ago.

“Setting up nature reserves is seen as the core measure in biodiversity conservation to preventthe current loss of species and habitats,” said Zhang Shigang, country coordinator of theUnited Nations Environment Program China.

That’s why the theme of the 2013 International Day for Biodiversity in China is “biodiversity andnature reserves”, while the international theme is “water and biodiversity”.

“The United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Assessment indicates that in the past 50 years, 60percent of the world’s ecosystems have been degraded. Loss of biodiversity reduces our food,medicine, clean air and water. The ecosystem that human beings rely on is fragile,” said ZhangXinsheng, chairman of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Council.

“China has very rich biodiversity of its own,” he said. “The 2012 IUCN Red List cites over 5,000plant and animal species living in China, and of those nearly 1,000 species are under threat.”

Patrick Haverman, deputy country director of the United Nations Development Program China,said the natural capital of biodiversity has been greatly overused during the country’s pursuit ofeconomic development, and if China’s development is to be sustainable in the long term, itmust conserve biodiversity as its ecological base.

“The challenge both in China and globally is in harmonizing economic growth with thepreservation of the integrity of natural capital. More particularly in China, the challenge is toreconcile the conservation of this country’s rich ecosystems with the demands of development,which has already lifted more than 500 million people out of poverty,” Haverman said.

He said the UNDP appreciates and supports the significant efforts for biodiversity conservationundertaken in recent years by the Chinese government.

The government has given conservation of biodiversity high priority, according to Vice-MinisterLi.

The China National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan for 2011-2030,released in September 2010, set guidelines for the country’s efforts to protect biodiversity overthe next 20 years.


Celebrating our weather!

World Meteorological Day 2013

Watching the weather to protect life and property

Celebrating 50 years of World Weather Watch

Each year, on 23 March, the World Meteorological Organization, its 191 Members and the worldwide meteorological community celebrate World Meteorological Day around a chosen theme. This day commemorates the entry into force, on that date in 1950, of the WMO Convention creating the Organization. Subsequently, in 1951, WMO was designated a specialized agency of the United Nations System.

This year, the theme is “Watching the weather to protect life and property” – http://www.wmo.int/pages/publications/showcase/documents/WMD_2013_brochure_EN_final.pdf

Landmark Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Celebrates First Anniversary

English: United Nations postage stamp: ONUDI (...
English: United Nations postage stamp: ONUDI (UNIDO – United Nations Industrial Development Organization) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Source: http://www.enn.com/press_releases/4126

“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.

DOHA: ‘China mostly satisfied’ with climate change talks

English: United Nations Framework Convention o...
English: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – COP14. Poznań. Poland Polski: Konferencja Klimatyczna ONZ w Poznaniu. 1-12 grudnia 2008. Wejście główne MTP Poznań. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Kyoto Protocol
Kyoto Protocol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


From China Daily : China is satisfied with the achievements of the United Nations climate talks held inDoha, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular press briefing that by maintaining the basic legal institutions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Changes and its Kyoto Protocol, the talks advanced multilateral climate change talks in general and sent out a positive signal to international society.

However, Hong said developed countries diluted their responsibilities and the common but differentiated principle in the talks. They also lack the political will to reduce emissions and transfer techniques, he said.

“That’s the reason why the talks have seen no more achievements and is the main obstacle the international society will be faced with when countering climate change issues,” Hong said.

China will further strengthen cooperation with other countries on the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Changes and its Kyoto Protocol, Hong added.

United Nations climate talks held in Doha on last Saturday resulted in the adoption of a package of drafts for the second period of Kyoto the Protocol and commitments on climate financing after overnight negotiations over differences between developed and developing countries.

Japanese Quake Shows country still on edge

English: An aerial view of Minato, Japan, a we...
English: An aerial view of Minato, Japan, a week after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated the area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Is history to repeat? I’ve seen damage first-hand, and hope not!

English: Map of 2011 Tohoku(Sendai) earthquake...
English: Map of 2011 Tohoku(Sendai) earthquake observed tsunami heights in Japan. 日本語: 東北地方太平洋沖地震で観測された、日本各地の津波の高さ(英語版)。 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the International Herald Tribune:  It was perhaps the surest sign that Japan remains unnerved by last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. After a large quake on Friday hit near the same area stricken last year, broadcasters on the public television network NHK threw aside their usual reserve to repeatedly issue worried warnings about tsunamis, with one host frantically urging people to “flee now to save your life!”

For the network, which has long taken pride in its staid presentation of the news, the tone was a distinct break with past, when a premium was put on avoiding panic and retaining the type of composure in the face of adversity that is so valued in Japan.

This time, the country appeared to get lucky. The 7.3-magnitude quake that struck at 5:29 p.m. under the seabed off the northeast shore of Honshu, the country’s largest island, was the largest aftershock since immediately after last year’s quake, according to the National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado. But it was small compared to last year’s 9.0 quake, which the center said released about 1,200 times more energy and which created a tsunami that wiped away seaside villages. About 18,600 people died in the double disaster.

On Friday, the water rose only about three feet in some places. And the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency said that the Japanese authorities reported they had detected no trouble at any of the nuclear plants in the area. Last year, the wall of water generated by the quake swamped the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which later had meltdowns in three reactors that spread contamination over wide areas of land.

Although buildings swayed on Friday in Tokyo and as far away as Osaka, about 550 miles from the epicenter, there were no immediate reports of heavy damage, according to news agencies. Several people were injured in the north, news reports said, but as of Saturday morning only one person was reported missing and possibly dead.

NHK reported that the man, a fisherman from the Tohoku region, took his boat out to sea to ride out any tsunami. His boat was later found about three miles offshore without him on it; but since there appeared to have been no large waves, it was unclear what might have happened to him.

Earlier, NHK appeared to be taking no chances of playing down the potential for disaster, flashing the words “Tsunami! Evacuate!” in big red letters until the warnings were lifted about two hours after the quake.

The broadcaster was stung by an outpouring of criticism last year that it had not urged people along the shoreline forcefully enough to flee the destructive waves. (The public network was also criticized for some of its post-earthquake coverage, when it was accused of going too soft on the government.)

In a country that has always kept a studied calm during its all-too-frequent earthquakes, the reaction to Friday’s quake was reported to be swift and orderly, with some residents calmly leaving for higher ground before a tsunami alert was issued. Still, residents spoke of the emotional strain from the continued aftershocks and fears of another tsunami.

A man named Taichi Sato said on Twitter: “For us, the disaster isn’t over. Something could happen that could destroy what we’ve only started to rebuild.” According to his Web site, he runs a project bringing volunteers to do tsunami cleanup in Ishinomaki, which was hard hit last year.

Elsewhere, there were signs that complacency might be creeping back. On Thursday, a radiological cleanup worker helping to remove contaminated soil from Naraha, a town in Fukushima Prefecture that remains partially evacuated because of radiation fears, appeared not to be worried about storing bags of that dirt along the coastline.

The worker, who declined to give his name, brushed off questions over whether those bags might be torn in another tsunami. “There isn’t going to be another tsunami,” he said.

Ken Belson and Shreeya Sinha contributed reporting from New York.

DOHA CONFERENCE : ‘Clear message’ must be sent on 2015 climate deal to ‘prove doubters wrong’….

Cover of "Climate Action"
Cover of Climate Action


Can and will Doha make the difference on climate change?

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Chief Executives Board meeting on “The UN system Delivering as One on Climate Change:  Sustainable Solutions for Climate Action”, in Doha, today, 4 December: [Source: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2012/sgsm14698.doc.htm]

English: Ban Ki-moon 日本語: 潘基文
English: Ban Ki-moon 日本語: 潘基文 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear leaders of climate change.  Thank you for your participation and support and commitment for climate change.


For the last several years, the climate change meetings, the COP (Conference of the Parties) sustainable development meeting, the United Nations has been convening these CEB (Chief Executives Board) meetings to show that the United Nations leaders are committed and are working together with you in addressing all these very important issues, including climate change.


Today we are in Doha.  This is the first time to ever hold the climate change meeting in a Gulf State and the second time in the Arab world.  A group of countries in [the] Arab [world], they are playing a very important part in working together in addressing climate change and this is an important building block.  Of course, we expect from this Doha meeting that the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol will be adopted and will continue, and we also hope that there will be a strong political commitment by the leaders attending this meeting, so that we reaffirm our commitment and our agreement, which was done in Durban last year, that we will make this globally binding agreement on climate change to be reached by 2015; that we will have to present a clear picture of climate change financing — $100 million a year by 2020.


Short-term financing is going to expire by the end of this month; then we [will] have to agree on mid-term financing by 2015 from next year, then ultimately by 2020 — $100 million.  A Green Climate Fund Secretariat has already been established in Sombong, [Republic of] Korea, and this is almost an empty shell.  How to fill this empty shell with $100 million?  That will be a very important one; that will do something about our own credibility; that will do something about giving confidence and trust and a sense of hope to many in the developing world, particularly those vulnerable countries.  We have to make it happen.


This morning, I have convened an informal brainstorming session where ministers and business community leaders, civil society, as well as former AGF — Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing — members participated.  There are many options — workable options.  They are on the table; they are in the hands of the Member States.  How, in a balance[ed] way, to organize our plan for $100 million will be a very important one.  Therefore my expectation in this Doha meeting is that first, we come out with strong commitment on [the] second commitment period for the Protocol; [second], a strong commitment on [a] globally-binding legal framework on climate change by 2015, which will ultimately be effective by 2020; and [third] mobilize this money — $100 million.


Those are three maybe expectations.  I learned that [there] are some mixed feelings — optimism or pessimism — but we have to work on the basis of optimism.  If there is no optimism, there is no result; this is what I am asking you.


The United Nations is very much committed.  A report by UNEP [United Nations Environment Programme], WMO [World Meteorological Organization] and World Bank recent report suggest that we are the problem; that climate change is approaching fast much faster than we expect and we know.  The recent Hurricane Sandy which struck many countries in the Caribbean and also New York, Manhattan and New Jersey — that was tragic — I have never seen such tragic things.  I was not in the United States during the time of Katrina — but this is the second most serious destructive hurricane, also this is very tragic and destructive.  It has given us some awakening call, a call to action:  that before it is too late, we have to take action.


Doha is an important milestone pointing towards 2015, when we will finally be able to agree on this climate agreement, and I really count on your strong commitment.  As the Secretary-General, I am not going to engage in negotiating; that’s not my mandate.  But as the Secretary-General, I have a broad mandate to talk about peace and security, and well-being and prosperity, development, sustainable development, that’s my responsibility.  So therefore, I’m really going to continue to press Member States, in a political way.  I don’t have any tools to press you physically [laughter], but I have important tools, moral tools to urge leaders and I am sure we are in the good hands of his Highness here, al-Attiyah, President of COP 18, and his leadership, and I am sure that we will have a very good outcome.


I’m going to meet major groupings of countries or individual countries to discuss how we can work together.  You are all important building blocks.  When all these building blocks are united, I think we can make it happen.  We have a responsibility as I have often said, that we have a moral responsibility, and as ministers and as leaders, you have a political responsibility for our future generation.  Please remember that we are loaning our future from our next generation.  That is a very important factor that we should never forget.


Let us avoid our scepticism.  Let us prove wrong all those doubters on climate change and let us also avoid obstructions by certain people, who that when they present technically impossible and practically sometimes impossible, but ideally very visionary things.  We are now in the beginning of this process, so it is important that we come out of Doha with a clear message, the sense of hope that this can be done by 2015, and I really count on your leadership and strong commitment.  Your voices are much important, and I will add my own voice to your voices.  And I really thank the leaders of United Nations, World Bank and the Member States for all your leadership.

CLIMATE CHANGE : An open letter to Obama from the world’s poorest countries

Developing countries excluding LDCs (Least Dev...
Developing countries excluding LDCs (Least Developed Countries) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As president you have helped those who cause climate change more than those affected most by it. Helping the world’s poorest adapt is now a matter of urgency, and it can be your great legacy. The Guardian reports

Dear President Obama,

As the lead negotiator for the world’s 48 Least Developed Countries(LDCs) in the United Nations climate change negotiations, I congratulate you on your re-election. I also want to express my admiration for your response to superstorm Sandy: without the preparations that you made, the impacts to those hit by the storm would have been even more devastating. As communities in the north-east work to rebuild and recover, the world has an opportunity to begin a new, reality-based conversation about climate change.

I write with a simple request: as this discussion continues in the world’s most developed countries, remember those who live in its poorest regions. Remember that as a result of climate change, this kind of fatal weather event has become commonplace for us while we lack the infrastructure and resources to adequately protect our citizens.

As researchers at Brown University’s climate and development lab have shown, climate-related disasters such as droughts, extreme temperatures, floods, and hurricanes have caused an estimated 1.3 million deaths since 1980. Two-thirds of these deaths (over 909,000) occurred in the least developed countries. We are only 12% of the world’s population, but we suffer the effects of climate-related disasters more than five times as much as the world as a whole.

Given this reality and your early commitment to leading a science-directed discussion about the changing climate, I was surprised that you only mentioned climate change in your re-election campaign a few times, and not once in your three debates with Mitt Romney. We know that 70% of US citizens now recognise the reality of human-caused climate change. As the world’s largest economy, the US has a unique opportunity and responsibility to take bold action on this issue. Indeed, the wellbeing of the citizens of your nation and mine depends on your ability to lead at this critical juncture. It is time to end the climate silence.

Later this month, representatives of the world’s nations will meet in Doha, Qatar, for the annual negotiations on the UN climate change treaty. When you were first elected president, your words gave us hope that you would become an international leader on climate change. But you have not lived up to this promise. The framework that you put in place sets the planet on course to warm dangerously, and delays action until 2020 – this will be too late. This year’s meeting in Qatar may be our last chance to put forward a new vision and plan to reverse this course. Your legacy, and the future of our children and grandchildren depend on it. We ask you to lead in two ways.

First, join with the European Union, the LDCs and the Alliance of Small Island States in taking on ambitious national commitments to reduce climate pollution. Go beyond the commitments that you made in Copenhagen in 2009. The climate is changing faster than we thought, and we must respond with increased ambition.

Second, provide adequate funding to help the LDCs and other vulnerable nations to adapt to this new climate reality. In 2010, the wealthiest countries directed about $1.5bn to help developing countries adapt to a changing climate. Over the same period, they spent over $400bn subsidising fossil fuel industries. They gave the main contributors to human-caused climate change more than 250 times the support they offered those whom it harms most.

Countries from Gambia and Haiti, to Malawi and Bangladesh need the “predictable and adequate” funding promised in Copenhagen so that they can take simple steps to protect their citizens. This means moving drinking water and irrigation wells away from coasts, where saltwater is intruding into aquifers; it includes developing drought-resistant crops and helping small farmers in fragile, semi-arid regions survive. We have to prepare roads and cities, villages and farms for floods, hurricanes and heat waves. We need to equip people with the weather prediction, early warning systems and emergency response that citizens of the developed countries take for granted.

With 20 years of international climate change negotiations behind us, there is simply no longer time or cause for wealthy countries to continue to stall in taking real action to fulfil the promises they have made. Having the wealthy nations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions steeply is fundamental, but helping the poorest of us cope with its impacts is an immediate necessity.

Mr President, remind the world that the devastation of climate change is shared by all its citizens. Remember that this reality is changeable. Make changing it your legacy.

• Pa Ousman Jarju is the chair of the Least Developed Countries group at the UN climate change negotiations