Ban puts Onus on U. S. for Climate Change Talks `Breakthrough' (Bloomberg) The U. N.'s Hot Air on Climate Change (Time)




НазваниеBan puts Onus on U. S. for Climate Change Talks `Breakthrough' (Bloomberg) The U. N.'s Hot Air on Climate Change (Time)
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THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS

Wednesday, 26 September 2007





UNEP and the Executive Director in the News

  • Ban puts Onus on U.S. for Climate Change Talks `Breakthrough' (Bloomberg)

  • The U.N.'s Hot Air on Climate Change (Time)

  • Nations agreed to combat global warming; Ozone Deal to Cut Down C02 Emissions (IPS)

  • Rechazan que EU bloquee pacto post – Kyoto (Reforma)

  • Davos: Segunda Conferencia Internacional sobre Cambio Climático y Turismo (Latitud 2000)







Other Environment News



  • Act on climate change, UN urged (Reuters)

  • Climate 'stars' Schwarzenegger, Gore take spotlight at U.N. summit (AP)

  • Governor takes warming lead in U.N. summit (The Sacramento Bee)

  • Broad gap persists on climate change; Rift as wide as ever between EU and U.S. (IHT)

  • United Nations: Benn calls on US to adopt binding aims on emissions (The Guardian)

  • US criticised over climate forum (The Independent)

  • After UN push on climate, Bush to promote US agenda (AFP)

  • Clinton sets sights on inspiring Asian philanthropy (Reuters)

  • Man causing climate change – poll (BBC)

  • An Int'l Court to Try Ecological Crimes? (IPS)

  • Un consensus se dessine en France sur une diminution des pesticides (Le Monde)

  • Grenelle de l'environnement : trois questions à Yann Arthus Bertrand (Le Point)

  • US envoy: EU risks new trans-Atlantic trade fight by including airlines in emissions program (AP)

  • China warns of catastrophe from Three Gorges Dam (Reuters)

  • Environment: ‘Smokescreen’ hangs in air (The Financial Times)

  • Alberta : la ruée vers l'or sale (Le Monde)




Environmental News from the UNEP Regions


  • ROLAC

  • ROAP

  • ROA

  • RONA

  • ROWA



Other UN News


  • UN Daily News of 25 September 2007

  • S.G.’s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 25 September 2007


UNEP and the Executive Director in the News



=================================================================


Bloomberg: Ban puts Onus on U.S. for Climate Change Talks `Breakthrough'


By Kim Chipman and Hans Nichols


Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) -- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon heightened expectations for global climate-change talks and put increased pressure on the U.S. to help achieve a ``real breakthrough'' on cutting greenhouse-gas emissions.


Ban convened the largest gathering ever of world leaders to discuss global warming in New York yesterday and to set the agenda for the opening later this year of negotiations on a new, stronger international treaty to stem rising world temperatures.


```I have high expectations of all countries, including the United States,'' Ban, 63, said after the meeting. While he expressed optimism that the ``political will'' to forge a new accord is gaining momentum, he also said that it might be a ``long and difficult negotiation process.''


World leaders at the climate conference, joined by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Vice President Al Gore, indirectly put the focus on the U.S. by stressing the need for the world's major emitters to agree on greenhouse-gas cuts. The U.S., the world's largest economy, is the biggest source of such emissions.


``I still see hurdles'' to reaching reduction targets, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters. ``Negotiating how to break it down, defining the instruments and partitioning the shares will be very, very difficult.''


President George W. Bush vowed in June to have the U.S. participate in upcoming climate negotiations, and his administration is holding its own meeting on the topic later this week. Still, he remains opposed to the mandatory emissions cuts that Merkel and other heads of state say are necessary to combat the worst effects of a warming planet.


Talks in Indonesia


That sets the stage for a possible stalemate in December when UN countries meet in Indonesia to begin climate talks.


World leaders, UN officials and environmentalists alike say it's crucial that the U.S. as the biggest emitter sign on to any new treaty. U.S. involvement is also viewed as vital because those involved in the issue say it may spur developing nations such as China that are rapidly growing sources of pollution to agree to mandatory emission cuts.


``There's no answer to climate change without the participation of the U.S.,'' Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, said in an interview.


Last night, Bush attended a dinner with other leaders hosted by Ban to discuss global warming and the steps ahead.


Seeking a `Breakthrough'


``If we don't act now, the impact of climate change will be devastating,'' Ban said earlier in the day. A ``real breakthrough'' will be needed to reach a new treaty before the current agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, expires in 2012, he said.


Schwarzenegger, 60, told the climate summit that California, which last year passed the first state law to reduce heat-trapping gases, ``is moving the U.S. beyond debate and doubt to action.'' He said, ``The time has come to stop looking back at the Kyoto protocol.''


Gore, 59, who has focused his work since leaving office on raising awareness of the global warming threat, repeated a call to have a new climate treaty in place before Kyoto expires.


``We can't continue business as usual,'' the Tennessee Democrat, who lost the 2000 presidential election to Bush, said at a UN luncheon. ``We must put a price on carbon.''


Freedom Agenda


Still, the issue likely will make up a small part of Bush's address to the UN General Assembly this morning. Instead, he will concentrate on global humanitarian concerns and advancing freedom. Specifically, he will announce new sanctions on Myanmar's military regime and urge the UN to take tougher action against the country formerly known as Burma.


Bush, 61, will call for the UN and governments around the world ``to do all they can to support a process of political change in Burma,'' National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said.


Bush's speech today also will touch ``a little bit'' on Iran, according to Hadley.


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking yesterday during a controversial visit to Columbia University in New York, defended his views questioning the Holocaust.


University President Lee Bollinger, under fire from protesters who said Ahmadinejad should never have been invited, referred to his guest as a ``petty and cruel dictator.''


Thousands of protesters demonstrated outside the auditorium where Ahmadinejad was speaking. Bollinger defended the invitation, saying free-speech principles in the U.S. require open debate. Ahmadinejad will address the UN today after Bush speaks.


Middle East


Bush, 61, heads into the UN meeting after affirming the U.S. commitment to an independent Palestinian state yesterday. At the same time, an administration official scaled back expectations for a Middle East peace meeting in November.


Bush had a 90-minute meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas where they discussed issues related to the planned international gathering on a peace settlement and Palestinian security changes.


The president also met yesterday with representatives of the UN, the European Union and Russia, which along with the U.S. make up the so-called Quartet on Middle East peace.


To contact the reporter on this story: Kim Chipman in New York at kchipman@bloomberg.net ; Hans Nichols in New York at hnichols2@bloomberg.net .

_________________________________________________________________________


Time: The U.N.'s Hot Air on Climate Change


Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2007 By BRYAN WALSH


Early in Monday's high-level United Nations meeting on climate change, officials proudly told reporters that the summit, which brought together leaders and ministers from over 150 nations to discuss global warming, would be carbon neutral. The greenhouse-gas effect of the 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide produced to hold the meeting and to fly U.N. staff and participants to New York would be offset by a $15,800 investment in a small-scale hydroelectric project in Honduras. Thus, in terms of its ecological impact on the world's climate, it would be as if the summit had never happened at all.


It's hard not to conclude that the summit's political effect may be just as nonexistent. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon gave what was by his mild-mannered standards an impassioned speech calling for rapid action on climate change, and world leader after world leader rose to the lectern to emphasize the danger of global warming. "Today, the time for doubt has passed," Ban said in his opening address. "The time for action is now."


But at the end of the one-day session, the delegates hadn't come much closer to achieving the next meaningful step in the battle against climate change: negotiating a more complete successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2012. Though political awareness of the need to grapple with climate change was clearly at an all-time high — scores of national leaders don't suddenly convene at the U.N. without a decent reason — the global political will to actually do something still seems lacking. It's now 20 years since the issue of climate change was first raised in the U.N.'s General Assembly chamber by the island nation of Malta, 15 years since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and 10 since after the Kyoto Protocol was drafted — and many governments speak as if they'd just discovered global warming. Other concerns remain more pressing, including the war in Iraq — a fact that was made apparent when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahadinejad (who skipped the climate meeting) gave his speech at Columbia University in the afternoon, drawing crowds of delegates around nearby televisions. The essential deadlock that has held up stronger international action on climate change — striking an acceptable balance of responsibilities between developed and developing countries — remains unbroken, and there was little evidence that would change before the next major U.N. climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, at the end of the year.


That was in no small part due to the absence of one national leader in particular: U.S. President George W. Bush, who chose not to address the U.N. meeting, though he did attend a dinner for leaders at Ban's request. (Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke instead, emphasizing the importance of investment in clean energy technologies, over specific limits for greenhouse gases.) But Bush will be at a climate change summit of his own at the end of the week. The White House invited major carbon emitters — including developing giants China and India — to Washington to discuss long-term goals on climate action. Both U.N. and Administration officials insist the two summits would be complementary, not competitive, but since the White House continues to insist on mostly voluntary action to cut carbon emissions, and the U.N. process is based on Kyoto-style mandatory cuts, contradiction seems inevitable. "People are concerned because [the White House] does have a history of going its own way," Gro Harlem Brundtland, a U.N. special envoy on climate change, told TIME. "But the U.N. process is absolutely the way we have to go. Climate change affects every nation."


But even if President Bush's meeting is meant to derail the U.N. conference — and the very fact of the summit raises hopes that the long-time climate skeptic may be thawing — the U.N. process could easily stall on its own. The Kyoto Protocol required emission cuts from developed countries that ratified the treaty, but not from developing countries, including fast-growing emitters like India and China. That double standard was the stated reason the U.S. refused to ratify Kyoto, and it needs to be fixed in the next round of climate negotiations. But there was little said in New York Monday to indicate that a solution would be found soon. Developing countries insist with much justification that they can't be expected to constrain their growing economies to slow carbon emissions, but it's difficult to see how citizens in developed countries — and not just in the SUV-loving United States — will accept strict limits while their economic competitors in India and China are allowed free rein. Nor is there much time to figure it out. "We only have two years to reach an agreement on post-Kyoto, and only three years to prepare the ground," says Achim Steiner, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme. "It's down to the wire."


Beating the diplomatic buzzer will require innovation, and there were glimpses of the necessary creativity on Monday. Representatives from the Carbon Disclosure Project, a non-profit connected to hundreds of institutional investors controlling $41 trillion in assets, reported that major corporations have begun to increasingly act on climate change — outpacing many governments. Indonesia, the third-biggest carbon emitter after the U.S. and China, hosted a side meeting of rainforest nations, where they called for forest protections to be a larger part of Kyoto's successor agreement when negotiations start in Bali. (Deforestation is responsible roughly 20% of global carbon emissions.) "There is no better chance than in Bali to act decisively," Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told delegates at the close of the summit.


But the most inspiring words came from a prominent American politician who did show up at the U.N.: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The green-hued Republican, who backed a 2006 California law to reduce state greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2020 — exactly the sort of mandatory cut President Bush refuses to consider — told delegates that the time for debate was finished. "The consequences of global climate change are so pressing, it doesn't matter who was responsible for the past," he said. "What matters is who is answerable for the future. And that is all of us." Pointing to California's success in creating two vital new industries — computers and biotech — and the entrepreneurial energy unleashed in the rapidly growing developing world, Schwarzenegger contended that humanity could innovate its way out of the climate change deadlock. That might be a bit simplistic, but when Schwarzenegger called for "action, action, action, action" it was hard to argue with him.

_________________________________________________________________________


IPS: Nations agreed to combat global warming; Ozone Deal to Cut Down C02 Emissions


September 25, 2007 Tuesday

Stephen Leahy


The sun shone bright and warm here on Friday, the final day of the 19th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer. Outside, caravans of pre-school children in strollers or holding hands as they walked sported hats and long-sleeved shirts to protect their delicate skin.

It can be easy to forget that the sun was not always so dangerous, and that modern society is responsible for putting chemicals into the atmosphere that continue to destroy the ozone layer that protects all life from harmful levels of solar ultraviolet radiation.

And we forget that things could have been far worse without international action in the form of the Montreal Protocol, which opened for signature 20 years ago this week.

Sadly, that action came late and was not vigorous enough for millions of people who have or will get skin cancer.

Today, more than one million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year and more than 10,000 people will die as a result in the United States alone. That's nearly 90 percent more skin cancer than in the 1960s. Medical costs for treatment for non-fatal form of skin cancer in the U.S. is more than a half billion dollars a year.

A 2002 British study by the Imperial College of London looked at both medical and other costs, such as loss of productivity, for both forms of skin cancer and determined the total annual cost was nearly 300 million dollars. Britain has 'only' 70,000 cases, with 2,000 in the fatal melanoma form.

And then there are the incalculable costs to individuals and their families.

Skin cancer rates will continue to climb because the ozone layer will remain crippled for decades by past and current emissions of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons, chemicals used as refrigerants, aerosol propellents, solvents, foam blowing agents and as fire extinguishers.

In fact, because skin cancer takes many years to manifest, excess skins cancers will triple from present rates by 2040, according to statistics from Environment Canada. In Australia, most of the U.S. southwest and northern Mexico, and over large parts of Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay, skin cancers will soar even higher by 2060, reports the Dutch National Institute for Public Health.

Without further action by the 191 member nations of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, skin cancer rates will not return to normal until well into the next century.

Sri Lanka will phase out CFCs by 2008, two years ahead of our obligation under the Protocol, said the head of the Sri Lanka delegation at the 19th Meeting of the Parties (MOP19) in Montreal.

Developed countries phased out production of CFCs by 1996, and developing countries have until 2010, but many already have. That will be 36 years after the first definitive scientific evidence that CFCs were removing 10 to 20 percent of the ozone layer each year.

Industry denied their products were the cause of the measurable ozone depletion until 1980, and then argued that replacing these chemicals would be very costly. But by 1987, industry agreed and became participants in the Montreal Protocol process, which sanctioned the use of their CFC replacement chemicals called hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

The few scientists among the many government officials and chemical industry representatives attending the MOP19 noted that many of the delegates here do not have scientific backgrounds and often do not have access to scientific advice on ozone chemistry in their home countries. Some privately asked scientists to explain what ozone is, how it is formed and depleted.

Here's their explanation: Ozone is formed at the equator where the sun is the strongest. Warm air at the equator rises along with ozone and flows towards the colder polar regions. Without this flow there would be little ozone in these regions. Ozone-depleting chemicals have their biggest impacts furthest from the equatorial areas where new ozone is constantly being made.

The switch from CFCs to HCFCs was done at some cost in Sri Lanka and elsewhere, and many governments received more than 2 billion dollars from developed countries in the past 15 years.

HCFC's also destroy ozone, but at about five percent the rate of CFCs. Previously, they were also to be phased out globally but not until 2040. However they were also known to be a powerful greenhouse gas, 10,000 greater than carbon dioxide on a molecule by molecule basis. HFC doesn't damage ozone but it also is a strong greenhouse gas.

Although the ozone layer is still in poor shape, total emissions of ozone damaging chemicals has slowly declined since 1998, so the focus here in Montreal was on climate change. It turns out that a minor acceleration of just 10 years in the HCFC phase-out and an earlier production freeze could keep the equivalent of 38 billion tonnes of CO2 out of the atmosphere over 25 years. The United States emits about 7.5 billion tonnes a year currently.

Billions more CO2 could be avoided by an even earlier phase-out, said Alexander von Bismarck, campaigns director for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), an environmental group based in London, England.

EIA, Greenpeace and the Worldwide Fund for Nature lobbied delegates to seize “this unique opportunity” to combat climate change and heal the ozone layer sooner.

“This could be one of the greatest unilateral steps to fighting climate change the world has yet seen,” Bismarck told IPS.

In the end, delegates agreed to freeze production of HCFCs in 2013 and to advance the final phase-out to 2030. Environmental groups agreed with final phase-out of 2030 but wanted a 2008 freeze -- which would save an additional four billions tonnes of CO2, they calculated.

For its own reasons, industry agreed with environmentalists. An earlier freeze means there is less machinery and equipment to convert later, explained Mack McFarland, chief atmospheric scientist for DuPont, a multinational chemical company and major U.S. manufacturer of HCFCs and which now also manufactures alternatives.

Not surprisingly, money to assist developing countries like China make the transition from HCFCs to alternative chemicals was the contentious issue and affected the timing of the production freeze.

“The precise and final savings in terms of greenhouse gas emissions could amount to several billions of tonnes,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, which has responsibility for the Montreal Protocol.

“Historic is an often overused word, but not in the case of this agreement made in Montreal,” Steiner said in a statement at the close of the conference.

While a long way from the hoped-for 38 billion tonnes, given the weakened state of multilateralism and international agreements of the past decade, “historic” might be the right word since virtually every country in the world agreed to do something good for the health of the global community and are actually prepared to pay for it.

_________________________________________________________________________


Reforma (Mexico) : Rechazan que EU bloquee pacto post - Kyoto;

Ricardo Sánchez: Director para América Latina y el Caribe del PNUMA


September 25, 2007 Tuesday

Rosa María Luebbert

La cumbre patrocinada por George W. Bush no restará importancia a la reunión sobre cambio climático de la ONU, aseguró ayer Ricardo Sánchez, director regional del Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA).

Estados Unidos, país que más gases contaminantes genera, no asistió ayer al encuentro ecológico de la ONU. Sin embargo, promovió para los días 27 y 28 una reunión sobre seguridad energética y cambio climático, a la que invitó a 16 naciones.

Según Sánchez, esta convocatoria no muestra una fractura entre Washington y el organismo internacional ni tampoco debilitará el nuevo acuerdo que busca renovar al Protocolo de Kyoto que vence en 2012.

"Esa no es nuestra lectura, y menos después de que EU planteara que considera que la ONU es el marco apropiado para continuar las negociaciones sobre el cambio climático", dijo a REFORMA vía telefónica.

Recordó que Washington impulsó el Protocolo de Montreal, firmado el sábado, el cual busca adelantar 10 años la eliminación de sustancias nocivas para la capa de ozono.

"Que EU haga esta reunión aprovechando que los Jefes de Estado están en Nueva York, no es para dividir, al contrario, es para contribuir a crear consensos para que estos países lleguen a la cumbre de Bali con ideas más claras que permitan avanzar con más rapidez hacia nuestro objetivo", sostuvo.

La reunión en Bali, Indonesia, en diciembre, tiene el objetivo de realizar un acuerdo piloto que establezca nuevas medidas para reducir el calentamiento global y que sea la base para el tratado post-Kyoto.

Por otra parte, Sánchez descartó que la ausencia de Felipe Calderón a la sesión haya sido un desaire.

"El Presidente Calderón, hay que reconocerlo, ha tenido un programa ambiental extraordinario desde que asumió su responsabilidad (...). Seguramente por alguna razón puntual no ha podido asistir", señaló.

"México ha mostrado un liderazgo fuerte en el tema ambiental a nivel internacional. Obviamente un factor circunstancial como la no asistencia a esta reunión no puede opacar los esfuerzos del Gobierno de Calderón", agregó.

_________________________________________________________________________


Latitud 2000 : Davos: Segunda Conferencia Internacional sobre Cambio Climático y Turismo


martes, 25 de septiembre de 2007


La compleja relación entre turismo y cambio climático demuestra que el sector turístico tiene un papel importante que desempeñar tanto en la mitigación de su propio impacto como en la adaptación a la evolución de las normas globales de comportamiento.


La OMT lleva varios años estudiando la relación entre el clima y el turismo, y en 2003 convocó en Djerba (Túnez) la primera Conferencia Internacional sobre Cambio Climático y Turismo. La Declaración de Djerba estableció un marco de acción para los agentes de los sectores público y privado.


El compromiso de la OMT con el desarrollo sostenible y la lucha contra la pobreza cumple un papel crucial cuando se consideran las implicaciones más amplias del cambio climático. Como principal organización dedicada al turismo del sistema de las Naciones Unidas queremos garantizar que el sector turístico desempeñe su papel en esta cuestión.

Es necesario que haya coherencia entre la lucha contra la pobreza y las medidas relativas al cambio climático y el turismo es un actor protagonista en ambos campos, ya que constituye el principal motor económico para diversos países en desarrollo.


En Davos, del 1 al 3 de octubre de 2007.


La Conferencia de Davos se organiza conjuntamente con el Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA) y cuenta con el apoyo del Foro Económico Mundial y del Gobierno suizo.


La OMT ofrece acceso directo a los principales actores públicos y privados que modelan el futuro de uno de los sectores económicos más dinámicos, que representa a la vez una de las principales fuentes de ingresos para muchos países en desarrollo.


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