Category Archives: General

SHUTDOWN! Forest destruction blocked by Greenpeace to save the climate

SHUTDOWN! Forest destruction blocked by Greenpeace to save the climate | Greenpeace International:

“12 November 2009

Forest protection is one of the fastest ways to save the climate.
International — While politicians continue to talk, we’re taking action at the frontline of forest and climate destruction in Indonesia. Barack Obama is about to arrive in Asia for his first official visit while the US continues to block progress ahead of the critical UN climate summit.

With up to a fifth of global greenhouse gas  emissions coming from cutting down and burning forests, it’s clear we cannot avert a climate disaster unless world leaders take action of their own to stop the destruction.

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Fifty of our activists – from Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Brazil and Finland – shut down deforestation operations in the heart of the Indonesian rainforest and stopped companies clearing and destroying the carbon-rich forest peatland and asked Obama to live up to the promise he made to take decisive action on climate change. With just weeks left before December’s critical UN climate summit, his administration is actively undermining and stalling the climate change negotiations.

One group unfurled a huge 20×30 metre banner in a freshly destroyed area of rainforest that read “Obama: you can stop this”. Others locked themselves to all seven digging machines that were in the middle of destroying the rainforest in one of the pulp and paper concessions in the Kampar Peninsula – owned by Asia Pacific Resources International Holding Limited (APRIL — one of Indonesia’s biggest pulp and paper producers). In spite of intense heat, swarms of mosquitoes and tropical rain – our activists managed to hold their nerve and remained locked onto the digging machinery. Workers even started three of the excavators and moved one of them with three of our activists still on its roof. They only stopped when other activists bravely sat right in front of the machine.

Things began to get tense about 10 hours into the action – when company staff broke the chains and started another of the four diggers – even though it had 7 activists locked onto it. The police moved in to stop the protest. Our activists are currently detained by the police.

Liar, liar – trees on fire!
In response to a letter we sent voicing our concerns about forest destruction in this region, pulp and paper company APRIL stated that it had ceased operations in the Kampar Peninsula. But we knew otherwise. So, earlier this week we released fresh evidence – including aerial surveillance images – that left no doubt that APRIL is destroying this rainforest. This data also raised damning suspicions that the company is draining and destroying forest peat that is deeper than three meters – the maximum depth allowed by Indonesian law.

A few hours ago, we brought this evidence to a public meeting held by APRIL in the regional capital of Pekanbaru where the company was introducing the latest of a string of so-called ‘High Value Forest Assessments’ aimed at greenwashing its image.

Watch this space to see what happens next…

Dam it! We need forest protection NOW!

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Today’s action took place on the Kampar Peninsula on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, where we have set up a ‘Climate Defenders’ Camp’. Rainforest and the destruction of the forest’s carbon-rick peat soil in Indonesia emits huge quantities of CO2 and has driven Indonesia to become the world’s third largest climate polluter after China and the US. The peatland in this area alone stores approximately 2 billion tonnes of carbon. Our activists at the camp have spent the past weeks constructing dams across the canals – built by paper companies to prepare the land for plantations – to prevent them draining and destroying the forest and its peat and releasing alll this CO2 to the atmosphere.

In two days, President Obama joins 20 other Heads of State in Singapore to discuss Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) – just a few weeks before he and other leaders must agree an historic deal to avert a climate crisis at December’s UN climate summit. Instead of continuing to block progress – Obama and other world leaders need to push for an ambitious, fair and effective deal that includes ending the destruction of the world’s rainforests.

To end global deforestation, industrialised countries must invest 30 billion euros in forest protection (on an annual basis, mostly from polluters, not taxpayers). This is less than the US gave to individual banks during the financial crisis last year – a staggering $180 billion went to bailout AIG alone.

Take Action
Join our activists by calling on world leaders to agree on a firm pact in Copenhagen this December – including a fund for forests.”

(Via .)

Reviewing and Verifying International Climate Action | World Resources Institute

Reviewing and Verifying International Climate Action | World Resources Institute: “World Resources Institute

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Reviewing and Verifying International Climate Action

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By Paul Joffe on November 11, 2009

Climate change is a global issue that requires action from all countries. As the U.S. Congress develops a domestic climate and energy package, the United States seeks assurance that other countries will also act and a means to track the progress of commitments by verifying that actions have been implemented.

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Climate change is a global issue that requires action from all countries. As the U.S. Congress develops a domestic climate and energy package, the United States is seeking assurance that other countries will act and that there is a means to track the progress of commitments by verifying that actions have been implemented.

This is an important issue in the international climate change negotiations which will co”

(Via .)

Reviewing and Verifying International Climate Action

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Reviewing and Verifying International Climate Action: “

Climate change is a global issue
that requires action from all
countries. As the U.S. Congress
develops a domestic climate
and energy package, the United
States seeks assurance that
other countries will also act and
a means to track the progress of
commitments by verifying that
actions have been implemented.

Climate change is a global issue that requires action from all countries. As the U.S.
Congress develops a domestic climate and energy package, the United States is
seeking assurance that other countries will act and that there is a means to track
the progress of commitments by verifying that actions have been implemented.

This is an important issue in the international climate change negotiations
which will convene in Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2009. One of the
reasons the United States stands to benefit from an international agreement
on climate change is that it can provide the needed system of verification to
assure effort by all nations and a level playing field.
Other countries are acting or pledging action on clean energy. Examples include:

  • Mexico has pledged to halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
  • China’s climate change program includes reducing energy intensity per unit
    of GDP by 20 percent between 2006 and the end of 2010 and increasing
    non-fossil fuel-based and renewable energy to 15 percent of the energy mix
    by 2020.
  • Brazil has said it will reduce its deforestation rate 70 percent from recent
    levels by 2017.
  • Indonesia announced in September that it would craft a policy to cut emissions
    by 26 percent by 2020 from ‘business as usual’ levels.
    As countries come forward with national commitments, the international
    community will need common procedures and processes to verify actions.

A structure of international verification is not a new concept.
China and other countries participate in review under the
Montreal Protocol on ozone depletion, the nuclear nonproliferation
treaty, the International Monetary Fund and the World
Trade Organization. Also, the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency is working in China and other countries to build capacity
on monitoring and verification. These systems demonstrate
that an international system of accountability is feasible
and can provide a workable structure for verification of action
on ambitious international goals. Copenhagen offers an
opportunity to put forward a new climate policy verification
approach.

Review and Verification in the International Climate Framework

The United States is party to the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which
requires that countries report on their efforts to reduce
greenhouse gases and support emissions reduction (mitigation)
in other countries. This reporting is done through
national inventories and national communications. National
inventories report quantitative information on
countries’ greenhouse gas emissions and their removal,
while national communications report on a wider range
of activities related to climate change, including policies,
adaptation efforts, and research.

The concept of verifying what countries are doing to mitigate
greenhouse gases has become know in UNFCCC language
as the pledging of actions and commitments in a way that is
‘measurable, reportable and verifiable’ (MRV). This term was
coined in the Bali Action Plan, the roadmap for the current
climate negotiations agreed upon by the United States and
other nations at the UN climate meeting in 2007. The plan
calls for mitigation (emissions reduction) commitments and
actions by both developed and developing countries, as well
as support for the actions of developing countries in the form
of technology transfer, financing and capacity building. According
to the plan, these commitments, actions, and support
would all be ‘measurable, reportable and verifiable.’

How International Review Helps the United States

Clear rules for how countries will measure, report and
verify their actions will be useful in the U.S. climate and
energy debate. U.S. stakeholders have wanted reassurance
that other countries, including developing countries
such as China, are acting. A strong international reporting
and verification system can improve confidence regarding
other countries’ actions. U.S. legal compliance with
future domestic climate policy must also be transparent
and communicated internationally.

Building on Review and Verification in the UNFCCC

The UNFCCC’s structure of national inventories and national
communications forms a basis for a system of transparent
measurement, reporting and verification. However, a new
agreement will need to strengthen this framework, to ensure
robust reporting from all countries, of commitments, actions
and support. To help achieve such an outcome, developed
countries such as the United States can provide financial and
technical support to build the capacity for measuring, reporting
and verifying actions in developing countries. There are
several proposals being discussed under the UNFCCC climate
negotiations on ways in which the current framework can be
improved. Also, an international verification system needs to
be harmonized across countries, and the methods used must
be comparable in all nations.

An international climate agreement that has a robust
global system of measuring, reporting, and verifying can
provide assurances for the United States that other countries
are implementing their commitments. This type of
international assurance can complement and support U.S.
domestic action.

(Via WRI Stories Feed: All.)

Malnutrition: How Much is Being Spent?

Malnutrition: How Much is Being Spent?: “

Democratic Republic of Congo 2009 © Kate Geraghty

Malnutrition is one of the biggest contributors to child mortality. Here, an MSF worker screens a Congolese child for malnutrition with a MUAC, a tool that measures his middle-upper arm circumference.

Malnutrition is an urgent humanitarian emergency that contributes to the deaths of 3.5 to 5 million children under five each year. Millions more are left vulnerable to illnesses or suffering from physical or mental disabilities due to malnutrition. This in turn contributes to impediments to education and development in affected countries.

Despite the fact that malnutrition has regained the world’s attention in recent years, especially in light of the 2007-2008 surge in food prices, international donor funding falls drastically short of the enormous needs. The World Bank estimates that $12.5 billion is needed yearly from the international donor community to effectively address malnutrition. A new report by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), released in advance of the 2009 World Food Summit, reveals that the current funding for the years 2004-2007 averaged $350 million annually—30 times less than the amount need to fight malnutrition.

MSFs report ‘Malnutrition: How Much is Being Spent?’ documents that international donor funding flows have remained flat and insufficient since 2000 and makes a plea to donors, recipient countries, and international organizations to increase their commitments considerably. In addition, the report shows only 1.7 percent of emergency food aid actually addresses nutritional needs. MSF recommends that  interventions target nutrition if the scourge of malnutrition is to be reduced.

(Via Doctors Without Borders.)

WWF: Climate deal must include strong deforestation target

WWF: Climate deal must include strong deforestation target:

WWF is calling for an ambitious and bold climate deal at COP 15 to give clear guidance and incentives for the forestry sector to do its part in stopping catastrophic climate change and adapt to predicted changes. © Simon de Trey White / WWF-UKBuenos Aires, Argentina – Global leaders must support a clear and effective deforestation target at climate talks in Copenhagen in December, or they risk crippling the world’s ability to control climate change.

As the XIIIth World Forestry Congress came to an end on Friday, WWF called for an ambitious and bold climate deal at COP 15 to give clear guidance and incentives for the forestry sector to do its part in stopping catastrophic climate change and adapt to predicted changes.

To this end, WWF during the Congress proposed a global target of zero net deforestation by 2020 to avoid runaway climate change and stop the current catastrophic trend of species loss.

In particular, negotiators must agree to strong financial and emissions reduction commitments to craft a climate deal that enables developing countries to halt forest loss.

‘Setting immediate deforestation targets is a key component of any climate change agreement,’ said Rodney Taylor, Director of WWF International’s Forest program. ‘If the global deal on climate change ignores the dangers of unchecked deforestation, it will set the world on an accelerated path to savage climate change.’

Despite conservation efforts, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate – 13 million hectares per year, or 36 football fields a minute. It generates almost 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and halting forest loss has been identified as one of the most cost-effective ways to keep the world out of the danger zone of runaway climate change.

‘A zero net deforestation by 2020 target will set the scale and urgency needed to gather the political will to stop forest loss,’ Taylor said.

WWF will continue to advocate for a strong deforestation target to be included in relevant international treaties and agreements, including in the Convention on Biological Diversity and COP 15.

‘WWF received strong feedback at the Congress from various sectors, including governments, other NGOs, and the private sector to support our target on deforestation,’ said Gerald Steindlegger, WWF International’s Forest Manager on Global Policy.

Many developing countries already are adopting major deforestation policies that mirror WWF’s call for zero net deforestation by 2020.

On Wednesday, government representatives from Argentina and Paraguay pledged during a special ceremony co-hosted by WWF and its partner organization Fundacion Vida Silvestre at the Congress to work towards zero net deforestation in the Atlantic Forest, and to implement a package of measures that include national legislation to enforce those commitments.

The Atlantic Forest initially spanned 500,000 square kms, shared between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. However, only 7.4 percent of the forest is left today – or about 35,000 square kilometers, making it one of the most threatened and fragmented subtropical forests in the world.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian government already has established a zero deforestation target by 2010 for the Atlantic Forest. Brazil also has pledged to establish protected areas covering at least 10 percent of the forest.

This year, the World Forestry Congress brought together more than 4,000 participants in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

(Via WWF – Environmental News.)

World leaders need to rescue talks from climate of diplomatic pessimism

World leaders need to rescue talks from climate of diplomatic pessimism:

Diplomatic pessimism threatens chances to reach a Global Deal in Copenhagen. © WWF Philippines/Vicson Chua

“Gland, Switzerland – World leaders must respond to an outbreak of diplomatic pessimism on the chances of reaching a legally binding global deal on climate change in Copenhagen this December, WWF said today.

‘Talking down your chances is no way to go into a negotiation,’ said WWF Global Climate Deal leader Kim Carstensen following repeated comments this week by UN climate chief Yvo de Boer which have been followed by statements from a range of ministers and high-level representatives from industrialized countries.

At the recent UN climate summit just last month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon summed up comments from more than 100 Heads of State as ‘a keen willingness by every leader to contribute to the successful conclusion of negotiations in Copenhagen.

‘They also expressed readiness to commit their nations to reach an effective agreement that is fully subscribed to and acted upon, by all,’ Ban said.

Carstensen said that at least two thirds of the world’s nations, economies, businesses and new markets were ‘ready and waiting’ for the certainties a legally binding agreement in Copenhagen would bring.

‘We have spent almost two years to putting all the building blocks in place to get a groundbreaking outcome of Copenhagen. What we now need is political will and determination, not this puzzling outbreak of diplomatic pussyfooting’, said Carstensen

‘It makes no sense to move from the brink of concluding a deal to the brink of a descent into going nowhere.’

Carstensen said that increasingly progressive positions for strong actions in the developing world was putting more pressure on developed nations to enter a legally binding agreement on reducing their emissions and financing low carbon development.

A string of Heads of State meetings over the next month will give leaders the opportunity to repeat their commitment to a global legally binding deal that keeps the world well below the two degree danger level, Carstensen said.

ASEAN leaders are meeting today and over the weekend in Thailand, European leaders meet next week to agree their climate finance position, an APEC meeting is scheduled for Singapore in November and a string of bilateral meetings are also planned.

‘There are ample opportunities and an enormous need for leaders to put these negotiations back on track,’ said Carstensen.

(Via WWF – Climate change news.)

Pesticide Endosulfan Ruled “Highly Toxic”

Pesticide Endosulfan Ruled “Highly Toxic”: “Bookmark and Share

by Ben Block on October 23, 2009

FMC chemical plantAn international scientific review committee ruled last week
that endosulfan, a widely used pesticide, is highly toxic to humans and
wildlife.

The ruling concludes debate on whether the chemical should
be classified as a persistent organic pollutant (POP), a decision that could
result in a global ban.

‘Thankfully the science – rather than political and economic
interests – has been at the fore, and now there is a clear body of experts who
support endosulfans eradication as a POP,’ said Juliette Williams, founding
director of the London-based Environmental
Justice Foundation.

Endosulfan
has been linked to mental retardation and death among farm workers, especially
in circumstances when the chemical was applied excessively or improperly.
Reproductive health effects and kidney failure have also been observed among
those exposed at lower concentrations.

In the Arctic, bird, marine mammal, and fish populations are accumulating endosulfan in their fat cells.
The chemical is able to travel long distances via wind and water currents, a
characteristic trait of POPs.

Endosulfan is now one step away from inclusion in the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic
Pollutants
, the international treaty that enforces bans on poisonous
pesticides and other toxic chemicals.

Once the review committee evaluates the socio-economic
impact of phasing out endosulfan, international negotiators will meet in May
2011 to decide appropriate control measures.

At least 10,000 metric tons of endosulfan are still produced
each year and applied on fruits, vegetables, and grains in some 30 countries.
The substance is currently being phased out in about 60 countries, including those
in the European Union, Thailand, and Niger, according to Karl Tupper, coordinator
of Pesticide Action Network (PAN)-North
America’s
environmental monitoring program.

‘A dwindling number of countries are actively using
endosulfan,’ Tupper said. ‘The U.S.
and Canada
are in the midst of a re-evaluation of the chemical…. Were pretty confident
the U.S.
is going to ban it by the end of this year.’

India’s
representative to the POPs review committee was the lone opponent of listing
endosulfan as a POP. The Indian delegation has accused the European Union, the
main proponent of an endosulfan ban, of targeting the chemical in order to
promote the European pesticide industry’s patented products.

The Indian delegation also raised questions about the
scientific evidence of endosulfan’s toxicity, although Tupper said that the
representatives were supporting their argument with studies produced more than
20 years ago.

‘Indias
influence has been unfortunate in that it has, to a degree, politicized a
process which is meant to be based on science,’ Williams said.

India
is among the world’s leading producers, exporters, and consumers of endosulfan.
The government also owns Hindustan Insecticides, Ltd., a major endosulfan
producer. 

Due to India’s
financial interest in continuing endosulfan use, environmental groups including
the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) and PAN requested that the
country recuse itself from the committee’s decision.

‘Most delegates were blissfully unaware of the conflict of
interest,’ said Mariann Lloyd-Smith, a senior advisor to the Australia-based National
Toxics Network Inc. and an IPEN co-chair.

Nine pollutants were added to the Stockholm Convention in
May, the first new toxics included in the treaty since a group of chemicals
known as ‘the dirty
dozen’
was first banned in 2001.

In addition to the endosulfan ruling, the review committee
agreed to evaluate whether the flame retardant HBCD, used primarily in thermal
insulation foams, qualifies as a POP.

Ben Block is a staff
writer with the
Worldwatch
Institute
. He can be
reached at
bblock@worldwatch.org.

This article is a product of Eye on Earth, Worldwatch Institute’s online news
service. For permission to reprint Eye on Earth content, please contact Juli
Diamond at
jdiamond@worldwatch.org.

(Via Worldwatch Institute.)