Archive for the ‘#environment’ Tag
(Excerpts from a statement by Maurice F. Strong, delivered to theSpecial United Nations General Assembly Event on Rio+20, New York, October 25th, 2011)
“Time precludes my elaborating on the various actions that could be taken at Rio+20 which would make it a major milestone on the pathway to sustainability. As most of these have already been raised at the High-level Symposium in Beijing and the Delhi Ministerial Dialogue in New Delhi, I will note them only briefly here.
Objective evaluation by civil society organizations in each country of their performance in implementing their commitments at the Earth Summit and other fora;
Establishment of a process of continuing assessment of the performance of each country in its implementation of past commitments and accountability for them. This should lead to a system in which countries which fail to meet their commitments are subject to penalties and sanctions.
Establishment of an investment instrument in the form of “Earth Bonds” to be purchased by private sector foundations, funds and individuals, for investment in sustainable development projects, principally in developing countries; The World Bank’s initiative in issuing Green Bonds to finance climate change projects provides a useful precedent. The World Bank and/or its private sector affiliate the International Finance Corporation could also be the issuers of the Earth Bonds. They and the regional development banks could initiate and manage projects funded by the Earth Bonds. A high level group of experts is now developing the proposal.
Agreement to establish a system based on Principles 21 and 22 agreed at the Stockholm Conference in 1972 through which victims of environmental damage in one country resulting from development in another country can seek legal recourse and compensation for the damages they have suffered.
Under today’s conditions, this and other measures that I am raising will be deemed unrealistic. But denial cannot change the reality, only increase its dangers. What seems unrealistic today will become inevitable tomorrow, too late to change. The need for such actions is real and urgent. Rio+20 cannot do it all but it can and must set these processes in motion and give them the support and impetus they require.”
via Maurice F. Strong.
“International policies that would direct “just 2 percent of global GDP into 10 key sectors would kick-start” the global transition to a more sustainable, ‘Green Economy,’ according to a UN Environmental Program report.
All the elements to enact a transition to a “low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially inclusive global economic model” are here now, and businesses and governments are already promoting and fostering greater investments in 10 key sectors UNEP has singled out: agriculture, energy, buildings, water, forestry, fisheries, manufacturing, waste, tourism and transport.
Investing 2 percent of global GDP in these sectors would not only “shift the global economy on to a more sustainable growth trajectory, but it would maintain or increase growth over time compared to the current business models,” according to UNEP’s “Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication.”
Investing $100 billion to $300 billion per year in sustainable agriculture between now and 2050, according to UNEP, “could lead to better soil quality and better yields for major crops, representing a 10% increase over the current strategies.”
“The elements of a transition to a Green Economy are clearly emerging across developing and developed countries alike,” UNEP executive director Achim Steiner stated. “There are now some nations going further and faster than others, which is in many ways generating a ‘pull factor’ that, if maintained, may bring others along over the coming months and years.”
Time is Ripe
The time is ripe, the UN points out, as UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiators, stakeholders and participating observers prepare to convene in Durban, South Africa at the end of the month to try and negotiate an extension or a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.
“With the world looking ahead to the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012, the UNEP Green Economy report challenges the myth that there is a trade-off between the economy and the environment,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement issued on the release of the report.
“With smart public policies, governments can grow their economies, generate decent employment and accelerate social progress in a way that keeps humanity’s ecological footprint within the planet’s carrying capacity.” ”
via Invest 2% of GDP in 10 Sectors Result: A Green Global Economy | CleanTechnica.
More Jobs, Less Pollution report….need to think different ly about our waste and ways of dealing with it…
“There is increasing pressure to combust the materials in our waste stream for one time energy benefit. But this is not only a waste a resources, it is a jobs killer: The new report More Jobs, Less Pollution shows that recycling produces between 10 to 20 times more jobs per ton of material processed than does combustion or landfilling.However, the United States lacks the policies to recover higher levels of materials from our wastes and we lack the policies to get the materials that we do recover recycled at manufacturing facilities in the USA. As a result, the recycling system in the USA is underachieving, and it is supporting jobs abroad. The promise of recycling remains unfulfilled.We need to change that.”
via An Investment in Recycling Will Create Millions of New Green Jobs | GreenBiz.com.
United Airlines just announced that Flight 1403, scheduled to take off today, Monday November 7th will be powered by Solazyme’s algae-derived biofuel. This will be the world’s first commercial biofuel powered flight. The flight’s route, from Houston to Chicago, is significant in several ways. First, the departure from Houston can be taken to symbolize a departure from the ”big oil” that Houston has come to represent. Second, it represents a full merging of United and Continental. The flight will be traveling from Continental’s hub in Houston to United’s hub in Chicago. Continental pilots will be manning the cockpit of the United 737-800 Eco-Skies aircraft.The fuel, branded Solafuel, is a 40/60 blend of algae-based fuel and traditional petroleum-based jet fuel that was produced by a partnership between Solazyme and UOP.Back in February, Solazyme announced a partnership with Qantas to provide biofuel to the Australian carrier, but United has beaten them to the punch with the first commercial flight. Solazyme was also the first company to produce an algae-derived jet fuel that met FAA specifications. In what is certain to become a major new industry, a major competitor has emerged in Sapphire Energy, which was named one of the top ten green startups of 2010, receiving more than $100 million in venture capital funding.Other players in this new field that were also spotlighted at last week’s Algal Biofuels Organization ABO Summit in Minneapolis include Phycal, BioProcess Algae, Heliae and Algenol.Two years ago, Continental Airlines launched the first US biofuel test flight, also from Houston, burning a blend of 50 percent standard aviation fuel, 3 percent algae-based fuel from Sapphire also partnering with UOP and 47 percent jatropha oil. A month earlier, Air New Zealand ran a test flight using 50/50 jet fuel and jatropha oil. Some consider jatropha, a tropical succulent, a promising jet fuel alternative, but concerns have been raised about the amount of water required to grow it, which is said to be five times more than corn or sugar cane.Meanwhile, Solazyme is producing not only oil, but also food, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Last month they announced an expanded agreement with Unilever to produce algae-derived oils for making soap and other personal care products, presumably, to cut back on the use of palm oil and petroleum-derived components.A week later, their Solazyme Roquette Nutritionals subsidiary announced that it will begin producing its microalgae derived food ingredient, Whole Algalin Flour, at Roquette’s commercial production plant in Lestrem, France.Writing about the ABO conference, biofuels analyst Jim Lane says, “It could be that biofuels, renewable chemicals and materials have an overly complicated and wrongly-told story. What investors have been trained to think is that “green” equals “higher costs,” [meaning it] is a luxury, requires subsidies, and is currently unaffordable. Their belief: carbon mitigation is a cost that will be saddled on the hard-pressed and possibly unemployed consumer. They have come to believe that renewables equal subsidies… The message of the industry’s current investors to the world: the military should provide the capital for renewable diesel, that airlines should build out aviation biofuels, that governments need to provide incentives, tax credits, mandates and tariffs for the development at scale of everything else. And that anything not already paid for by any of the above should be paid for by oil companies, who apparently should be delighted at the opportunity to invest in putting themselves out of business.”RP Siegel, PE, is the President of Rain Mountain LLC. He is also the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water. Like airplanes, we all leave behind a vapor trail. And though we can easily see others’, we rarely see our own.
via United Completes First Commercial Biofuel Powered Flight.
The cornerstone of most waste management strategies is the waste hierarchy, also known as the ”3 Rs” – reduce, reuse, recycle. The aim is to extract the maximum practical benefit from products and to generate the minimum amount of waste.
It can be compared to a six-layer pyramid.
· At the peak is the ultimate aim – the prevention of waste.
· The next layer is minimisation, where you generate as little waste as possible.
· Below this is reuse, where you repair rather than throw away.
· The next layer is recycling where waste materials are processed into new products.
· Fifth from the top is energy recovery where energy is extracted from remaining waste.
· Finally, the bottom line, the disposal of anything that is left.
Various strategies have been considered to deal with waste. Producer responsibility is a strategy designed to promote the integration of all costs associated with a product up to its eventual disposal. Manufacturers, importers or vendors of a product are required to be responsible for its end-of-life disposal. The costs of this would obviously be reflected in the purchase price.
Another strategy is the polluter pays principle. In this case the polluting party is responsible for paying for the impact caused to the environment. With respect to waste management, this will generally mean being required to pay for appropriate disposal of waste.
An example of this principle would involve the kerbside collection vehicle weighing each bin as it was being emptied and the consumer subsequently being billed accordingly.
One of the most critical issues with respect to waste management is education and awareness. The world’s natural resources are in grave danger. Environmental pollution and degradation are occurring at an unprecedented scale and speed.
Waste material represents a fantastic resource that in many cases is simply there waiting to be tapped. To simply bury it in the ground or burn it is not a realistic option in the 21stcentury.
via Waste | The Earth Times | Encyclopaedia.
“The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has published an interesting data collection of how the world has dealt with its ecological challenges since the first Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Despite some progress in certain areas, overall the picture does not look rosy.
The publication entitled “Keeping Track of our Changing Environment: From Rio to Rio+20″ is part of UNEP’s “Global Environmental Outlook-5″ (GEO -5) series, the UN’s landmark report on the state and outlook of the global environment. The complete GEO-5 report will be launched in May 2012, one month before the Rio+20 in Brazil.
Although the authors of the report have carefully avoided providing any critical evaluation of the statistical data, anyone reading the 111-pages study can hardly conclude that global leaders have done a great job since they received a wake-up call about the world’s sustainability challenges twenty years ago.
Here are a few of the “gloomy” messages of the study:
World population has grown by 26% since 1992 (from 5.5 billion to 7 billion).
More people than ever live in megacities.
Global average meat consumption grew from 34 kg per person per year to 43 kg.
GDP has continued to increase but there are increasing doubts as to whether this has created more quality of life and more happiness.
The global use of natural resource materials increased by over 40% between 1992 and 2005, from about 42 to nearly 60 thousand million tonnes.
CO2 emissions increased by 36% between 1992 and 2008, from around 22 000 million to just over 30, 000 million tonnes.
The ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 1998.
Sea levels have been rising at an average rate of about 2.5 mm per year between 1992 and 2011.
Oceans are becoming more acidic: the ocean’s pH declined from 8.11 in 1992 to 8.06 in 2007.
Nearly all mountain glaciers around the world are retreating and getting thinner; and the speed with which this is happening is increasing.
Forest area has decreased by 300 million hectare since 1990, an area larger than Argentina.
Biodiversity is in serious decline and every year more species move closer to extinction.
The world has seen a huge increase in natural disasters.
Food production has continued to rise but only thanks to more use of fertilizer. It takes an average of seven to ten calories of input energy (i.e., mostly fossil fuels) to produce one calorie of food.
Irrigation has raised crop yields but also put pressure on freshwater availability
Since 1992, the proportion of fully exploited fish stocks increased by 13% and overexploited, depleted or recovering stocks increased by 33%, reaching 52% and 33%, respectively, of all fish stocks.
In 2010, 1,440 million people globally—that is 20% of the world population—are still suffering from “energy poverty.
And here are a few of the “good stories”:
Over the past 20 years, the Human Development Index has grown globally by 2.5% per year, climbing from 0.52 in 1990 to 0.62 in 2010, or 19% overall, showing substantial improvement in many aspects of human development but big inequalities still remain.
Women’s political influence is rising.
The value of internationally traded products has tripled between 1992 and 2009, from over US$ 9 to 28 million millions.
Although overall energy and material use continue to grow, there is a simultaneous general decline in emissions, energy and material use per unit of output (resource efficiency).
The consumption of ozone-depleting substances decreased by 93% from 1992 to 2009, and 98% since the Montreal Protocol’s was established in 1987.
Numerous multilateral environmental agreements were signed since 1992.
The private sector is increasingly adopting environmental management standards.
Land area used for organic farming is growing by nearly 13% per year.
Investment in sustainable energy has skyrocketed in recent years (although from very low starting levels).
The “global village” has developed rapidly as a result of new technologies and the Internet.
All in all, the UNEP study is an impressive work of data collection but it could have done with a little bit less spin and a bit more “hard” evaluation. But then again, maybe this document has a political function and the real meat can be expected in May of next year? ”
By Willy De Backer
Head of the Greening Europe Forum
via Report for Rio+20 shows world still increasing its ecological debts > Friends of Europe > Friends of Europe | Library | Paper.
GWANGJU, Oct. 11 (Yonhap) -Hundreds of mayors and environment experts from more than 100 cities across the globe were to gather Tuesday in this southwestern city for an urban environment summit in a bid to address the wide range of environmental issues facing cities, organizers said.
The 2011 Gwangju Summit of the Urban Environmental Accords (UEA), hosted by the Gwangju metropolitan government, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the U.S. city of San Francisco, welcomed some 600 mayors, scholars and activists to the city about 330 kilometers southwest of Seoul, with the summit scheduled to open later in the day.
Signed in June 2005 by mayors from 52 cities to celebrate World Environment Day, the UEA has emerged as a hallmark of urban leadership’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The four-day summit, under the theme “Green City, Better City,” brings together representatives from nearly 130 cities and international organizations.
A total of 115 cities, including Curitiba, Brazil, and Barcelona, Spain, have registered for the event, adding to hopes that the summit will attract a record number of foreign officials and mayors to discuss the future of the global environment. Mayors from 23 different cities and deputy mayors from 11 cities are slated to attend.
The 115 cities are comprised of 52 from Asia, 37 from South Korea, 12 from Europe, six from Africa, six from North and South America, and two from Oceania.
A dozen international organizations, including UN-Habitat; the World Bank; and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, are participating as sponsors.
In addition, a handful of well-known officials and activists have joined the panel of keynote speakers. They include Achim Steiner, executive director of the UNEP; Joan Clos, executive director of U.N.-Habitat; and Earth Policy Institute President Lester Brown.
The summit will delve into two major topics: developing a system to evaluate environmental policies and trying to revive a previous effort to set up an emissions trading framework.
Summit attendees will try to develop a practical and universal index to evaluate cities’ eco-friendly policies. The existing standards are either outdated or do not consider the differences between developed and developing countries.
The other goal of the summit is to set up a framework for the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) as part of global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A joint study with the UNEP has been under way since 2007.
The CDM was created under the Kyoto Protocol as one of several ways to facilitate carbon trading in an effort to get cities to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The 1997 protocol obliges nearly 40 developed countries to reduce their emissions over a five-year period through the end of 2012 by an average of 5.2 percent from 1990 levels.
But the CDM has not led to a functional carbon trading system, and so summit attendees are hoping to discuss the agreement and hammer out a new framework for emissions trading.
At the close of the summit, the participants are expected to announce the Gwangju Declaration and Gwangju Initiative summarizing what they discussed, which includes opening an office to implement the aforementioned two goals and forming a consultative body of environment-friendly cities.
Meanwhile, a group of well-known officials and activists are also slated to discuss environmental issues at symposiums and forums on the sidelines of the summit on subjects such as finding a solution to the endangered Earth and environmental issues facing metropolises and developing countries.
via Gwangju set to launch urban environment summit | YONHAP NEWS.