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St. Lucia Commits to Solar Power

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PRESS RELEASE – The Government of Saint Lucia has a target of generating 35% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. This pristine island currently depends on dirty diesel generators for power, but has ambitious goals to revolutionize its economy with solar, wind, and geothermal energy. Solar represents the easiest attainable resource, and Saint Lucia is already famous for its sunshine, which draws visitors from around the world.

To mark the start of its own renewable revolution, the Government of Saint Lucia has partnered with the non-profit Solar Head of State to install solar panels on the public residence of the Governor-General, Government House. Solar Head of State’s mission is to help world leaders to role-models in environmental stewardship by encouraging the adoption of solar PV on prominent government buildings. Saint Lucia’s officials first announced their intention to install the panels on the Government House at the Paris COP21 Climate Conference in December 2015.

Saint Lucia’s recently appointed Minister, with responsibility for Renewable Energy, Hon. Dr. Gale Rigobert, said, “The commitment of Saint Lucia to transit from dependence on fossil fuels to more renewable sources of energy is demonstrated here by this project to install solar panels at the Governor General’s official residence.”

The plan will also help to reduce energy costs for citizens of Saint Lucia which, like most island nations, suffers from astronomically high electricity costs that hinder economic development. The government, in collaboration with the local electricity utility LUCELEC, is currently completing the bidding process on its first utility scale installation, a 3MW solar PV facility that will power 5-8% of the national energy demand.

Solar Head of State assembled an international consortium of project donors from across the clean energy sector to carry out the project. Major contributions were received from California-based solar installation company Sungevity and from the California Clean Energy Fund. Panels were donated by manufacturer Trina Solar and inverters from Enphase Energy. Support was also received from Elms Consulting, a London-based strategic consulting firm working to accelerate sustainable development on islands. Australian firms Wattwatchers and Solar Analytics provided system-monitoring expertise and equipment.

The engineering and construction was donated by British Virgin Islands based Free Island Energy; and Saint Lucian company Noah Energy. Strategic partners include the Rocky Mountain Institute, the Carbon War Room, and the Clinton Climate Initiative.

“This is a terrific opportunity to help grow the local economy and create local jobs. Free Island Energy and Noah Energy trained local trades to build this project, and now there are trained solar technicians in Saint Lucia – keeping money and skilled jobs on the island,” said Marc Lopata, President of Free Island Energy.

Solar Head of State also has won support from globally prominent sustainability and renewable energy champions including high-profile entrepreneur and adventurer, Sir Richard Branson; environmentalist and founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben; and former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, who became the first 21st century solar head of state when he put an 11.5kW solar system on his Presidential Palace in 2010.

Sir Richard Branson, a long-time supporter of Caribbean efforts to use renewable energy commented “It’s wonderful to see this type of leadership for a cleaner and brighter future in this region that I love so much – and from a small island too! Congratulations, Saint Lucia and Solar Head of State on this fantastic initiative that sends a positive and strong message to the world.”

Danny Kennedy, author of ‘Rooftop Revolution’ and Sungevity co-founder, played a key role in both the installation of solar on Nasheed’s Presidential Palace in the Maldives in 2010, and in pressing President Obama to bring solar back to The White House in 2011. Now he hopes this campaign will go global and world leaders everywhere will take the initiative to install solar on their residences.

“There will be a time when not using solar will be unthinkable for any elected leader, and it is closer than many people think,” said Kennedy. “Once they get the opportunity to have rooftop solar, people love it. But at the start of the solar uptake process, support from governments and leadership by example from political leaders is vital to building early momentum.”

“That’s why the example being set by the Government of Saint Lucia to accelerate the adoption of clean energy in the Caribbean, is so important. It’s one roof today, but will be many over the years ahead. The rooftop revolution has come to Saint Lucia.”

Starting with Saint Lucia, Solar Head of State’s smart solar roll-out is focused on five small states in the Caribbean this year and early next year. Then the campaign will be looking further afield to Asia and the Pacific islands towards the end of 2017 and beyond.

See photos of Solar Head of State here.

 MEDIA CONTACTS

Solar Head of State

James Ellsmoor – Email: jellsmoor@solarheadofstate.org; Phone : +1 919 338 4564 / +1 758 722 8404

Maya Doolub

mdoolub@solarheadofstate.org

+44 7817 638 324

Government of Saint Lucia

Permanent Secretary Sylvester Clauzel

sylvester.clauzel@govt.lc

+1 758 468 5840 / +1 758 720 3119

GWP Launches Global Support Programme for NDCs, Water, Climate, and Development

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Ms Christiana Figueres, Morocco’s Delegate Minister of Environment Ms Hakima El Haite, GWP Executive Secretary Mr Rudolph Cleveringa.

Global Water Partnership (GWP) has launched a global programme to assist countries to implement the adaptation component of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – the climate plans submitted to the UNFCCC ahead of the Paris Agreement.

The launch took place at this year’s UNFCCC climate conference in Bonn, SB44. The event was attended by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Ms Christiana Figueres and COP 22 host, Morocco’s Delegate Minister of Environment Ms Hakima El Haite, who both opened the session together with GWP Executive Secretary Mr Rudolph Cleveringa.

“NDCs are at the heart of the Paris Agreement and Adaptation is at the heart of the urgency”, said Ms Figueres. She reported that 85% of NDCs include adaptation.

Mr Cleveringa said that GWP will support countries to develop investment plans for water-related commitments in their NDCs, and he called for the urgent need to act on water, now.

“Water is the most cited ‘sector’ in NDCs. By the end of November 2015, 129 countries (including the EU), submitted their NDCS to the UNFCCC. 92% of them included water as a priority”, he said – adding that water also topped the list of the global top 10 risks to business and economic progress, according to the 2015 World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report.

Morocco’s Minister of Environment, Ms Hakima El Haite, welcomed GWP’s support to assist countries in implementing their adaptation commitments in NDCs.

‘Poor countries are not ready and need support to develop national adaptation plans. When we started to talk about adaptation, it was to make the voices of the most vulnerable heard’, said Minister El Haite.

Ms Figueres encouraged all countries to finish or at least start their National Adaptation Plans (NAPs). The UNFCCC Chief also encouraged countries to consider adopting the 1.5 degrees in the Paris Agreement as the target for mitigation and 2 degrees as the target for countries to prepare adaptation plans.

“This is not an official position of the Parties, but can be a way forward to help countries prepare for adaptation”, she said.

Welcoming the adoption of the Paris Agreement and the SDG goal on water in 2015, the GWP Executive Secretary stressed that SDGs and NDCs provide an opportunity for countries to put water on national agendas.

The adaptation component of NDCs provides an opportunity for countries to outline current and future actions to improve water security. For many countries, water security is key for climate change adaptation and essential to economic development.

GWP recognizes the challenge that many countries face in adapting to climate risks. Many countries faced challenges in preparing their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). Many will face challenges in implementing their actions in NDCs. Mr Cleveringa reported five priorities for GWP’s global support programme on NDCs, Water, Climate and Development:

  1. Support to formulation of NDC road maps and implementation at the national and subsector level. This will be linked to existing and planned adaptation activities such as NAPs and other water-related strategies.
  2. Support to formulation of NDC investment plans. This includes estimating the finance and investment requirements, sources of finance, linking national budget planning processes to medium term expenditure frameworks, absorption, financial management capacity, and potential to mobilise private investments.
  3. Support to project preparation and development of funding proposals to implement NDC investment plans. Countries will be assisted to prepare proposals for submission to international climate funds such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and others.
  4. Capacity development for planning, implementation, and monitoring of NDC activities.
  5. Promote south-south cooperation and coordination at all levels in implementation of NDCs, NAPs, and SDGs.

Mr Mohamed Benyahia, COP 22 Head of Side Events and member of the COP 22 Steering Committee from Morocco government applauded the partnership between Morocco and GWP. ‘This is just a beginning, an important step for south-south cooperation as we progress towards Marrakesh in COP 22.’

Mr Alex Simalabwi, GWP’s lead on climate change, lauded the partnership with Morocco and announced that the support on NDCs builds on GWP’s flagship programme on water, climate, and development, and associated programmes on drought and flood management, jointly implemented with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Since 2012, GWP, through its climate programme, has assisted over 60 countries on four continents (Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Caribbean) to integrate water security and climate resilience into national development.

Credit: Global Water Partnership

Green jobs boom: The frontline of the new solar economy

The growth in renewable energy is fuelling new jobs in Asia and Africa. Meet three beneficiaries of the new green economy from Zambia, Pakistan and Kenya

Placing solar panels on roof of house to charge, Longisa, Bomet district, Kenya
Placing portable solar panels on roof of house to charge, Longisa, Bomet district, Kenya Photograph: Corrie Wingate
 While the price of oil is plummeting, taking with it a significant number of jobs, the renewable energy job market is booming. It is estimated that it will grow to 24m jobs worldwide by 2030 – up from 9.2m reported in 2014 – according to analysis by the International Renewable Energy Industry (Irena), which predicts that doubling the proportion of renewables in the global energy mix would increase GDP by up to $1.3tn across the world.

The rise and rise of the solar industry has been the largest driver of growth. In 2014, it accounted for more than 2.5m jobs, largely in operations, maintenance and manufacturing – now increasingly dominated by a jobs boom in Asia.

The industry is providing hope and income to workers – present and future – across the global south.

Sheila Mbilishi, ‘solar-preneur’, Zambia

Although employment in renewable energy is comparatively low across Africa, the sunny continent is where the need and potential for employment is perhaps greatest. A fast-growing economy and population is driving demand for energy, but two-thirds of people in sub-Saharan Africa still lack access to electricity.

Now the renewables revolution is witnessing the rise of a generation of African “solar-preneurs” who are creating small-scale businesses by taking solar energy – in the form of lights, radios and mobile-phone charging facilities – into local communities.

In western Zambia, Sheila Mbilishi is self-employed and sells solar lights to local residents and businesses. The 67-year-old widow and mother of six buys the lights for $5 from the social enterpriseSunnyMoney – part of the UK based charity SolarAid – and sells them on with a 50% profit margin.

“They sell like cupcakes,” says Mbilishi. “There is life in the lights – people got interested in them.” They are popular with pupils who want to study after dark, businesses during electricity blackouts or as a replacement for toxic kerosene lamps in homes.

Since starting the business three years ago, it has provided Mbilishi with a significant source of income, helping her to open a shop and build a two-bedroom flat. “The difference is huge,” she says. “Selling lights has helped me a lot. I have built a house out of the lights. Owning personal ones has helped me too with the current load shedding – electricity is usually off and I am not affected by no light.”

Shehak Sattar, renewable energy student, Moscow

For Shehak Sattar, choosing to study renewable energy was more a social than a personal decision. “I want to practise something different from the mainstream. It is related to the concept of believing in humanity and our survival on earth,” he says.

Shehak Sattar at the ational University of Science and Technology in Moscow

FacebookTwitterPinterest: Shehak Sattar at the National University of Science and Technology in Moscow Photograph: National University of Science and Technology in Moscow

The 27-year-old Pakistani student is now four months into a masters degree in the science and materials of solar energy at the National University of Science and Technology in Moscow, funded by a scholarship. The course is in its first year and has mostly attracted international students – from Afghanistan and Iran to Nigeria and Namibia.

Before coming to Moscow, Sattar worked for NGOs and other agencies in Pakistan, installing and spreading the transmission of solar energy to remote communities and to slums in Islamabad and Lahore. Larger solar projects are now starting to come online in Pakistan, amid ambitions to construct the world’s largest solar farm.

“There has been a general electricity crisis in Pakistan. People are waiting for alternatives to rescue them from this suffering,” he says.

Once he has completed his course, Sattar wants to work at a university in Pakistan “to convert the attention of students to renewable energy sources” by lecturing and researching methods to make solar energy more efficient.

“We have to fight more,” he says. “We have to fight against the people who will be digging for petroleum in the coming 20 years because it will destroy our ecology’s balance.”

Mohamed Abdikadir, solar panel installer, Dadaab, Kenya

The promise of renewable energy in refugee camps could save humanitarian agencies hundreds of millions of dollars and provide job opportunities for thousands of young refugees.

Mohamed Abdikadir, 21, was born in the refugee camp complex at Dadaab in eastern Kenya, where the average family spends $17.20 per month – 24% of their income – on energy. The complex is home to more than 330,000 refugees.

Like most of his neighbours, Abdikadir’s family came to the camp after fleeing the civil war in Somalia more than two decades ago. Both his parents have since died, leaving Abdikadir to provide for his 10 younger siblings. He is now one of 5,000 young people trained to install solar panels as part of a programme in Kenya and Ethiopia organised by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), which has recruited local teachers to deliver it.

Solar panels in Dadaab refugee camp
Solar panels in Dadaab refugee camp Photograph: NRC

“It was hard [to learn] at first but I tried my best and now it is easy,” says Abdikadir. After completing a six-month programme a year ago, he gets up at 5am every day to pray before preparing breakfast and collecting the tools for his job in Dadaab’s dry desert landscape. “There is a lot of sun here.Renewable energy is very good in this environment.”

Before he started the programme, Abdikadir earned money by selling water but he could only make enough to provide one meal a day for his family. Now, with the extra income from solar installations – $10 on an average day – his siblings are eating three meals daily, have new clothing and are able to attend a fee-paying school.

“I am the breadwinner of the family,” he says. “[The programme] has really helped me. Before I was idle. It helps with my daily bread, my daily income.”

Abdikadir now wants to expand his education to incorporate other forms of renewable energy. Meanwhile, the NRC recently announced plans to deliver a similar programme on a larger scale for Syrians at Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

Credit: The Guardian

Why This Year’s El Niño Could Grow Into a Monster

El Niño, warmer than average waters in the "Niño3.4" region of the tropical Pacific Ocean, affects weather around the world. NOAA Visualization Lab

El Niño, warmer than average waters in the “Niño3.4” region of the tropical Pacific Ocean, affects weather around the world. NOAA Visualization Lab

 

The odds are increasing that an El Niño is in the works for 2014—and recent forecasts show it might be a big one.

As noted by Chris Farley, El Niños can boost the odds of extreme weather (droughts, typhoons, heat waves) across much of the planet. But the most important thing about El Niño is that it is predictable, sometimes six months to a year in advance.

That’s an incredibly powerful tool, especially if you are one of the billions who live where El Niño tends to hit hardest—Asia and the Americas. If current forecasts stay on track, El Niño might end up being the biggest global weather story of 2014.

The most commonly accepted definition of an El Niño is a persistent warming of the so-called “Niño3.4” region of the tropical Pacific Ocean south of Hawaii, lasting for at least five consecutive three-month “seasons.” A recent reversal in the direction of the Pacific trade winds appears to have kicked off a warming trend during the last month or two. That was enough to prompt US government forecasters to issue an El Niño watch last month.

Forecasters are increasingly confident in a particularly big El Niño this time around because, deep below the Pacific Ocean’s surface, off-the-charts warm water is lurking:

That giant red blob is a huge sub-surface wave of anomalously warm water that currently spans the tropical Pacific Ocean—big enough to cover the United States 300 feet deep. That's a lot of warm water. Australia Bureau of Meteorology

That giant red blob is a huge sub-surface wave of anomalously warm water that currently spans the tropical Pacific Ocean—big enough to cover the United States 300 feet deep. That’s a lot of warm water. Australia Bureau of Meteorology

As that blob of warm water moves eastward, propelled by the anomalous trade winds, it’s also getting closer to the ocean’s surface. Once that happens, it will begin to interact with the atmosphere, boosting temperatures and changing weather patterns.

There are signs that this huge pool of sub-surface warmth is starting to emerge on the surface in recent days:

Nino 3.4 region has skyrocketed in last 30 days from -0.5C to +0.5C today. Yikes. Anthony Sagliani

Nino 3.4 region has skyrocketed in last 30 days from -0.5C to +0.5C today. Yikes. Anthony Sagliani

Which means that April 2014 could be the month the mega El Niño gets officially underway.

Credit: Mother Jones- See more of the article here.

Turn Down the Heat! Climate Change Will Hit the Poor the Hardest

Turn Down the Heat, a new World Bank commissioned climate report released on June 19, looks at likely impacts of present day, 2°C, and 4°C warming across Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and South East Asia. It describes the risks to agriculture and livelihood security in Sub-Saharan Africa; the rise in sea-level, loss of coral reefs and devastation to coastal areas likely in South East Asia; and the fluctuating water resources in South Asia. 

Turn Down the Heat warns that poor communities will be the most vulnerable to climate change. The report explores the risks to lives and livelihoods in these three highly vulnerable regions. Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience (Read it in Issuu, Scribd, Open Knowledge Repository) takes the climate discussion to the next level, building on a 2012 World Bank report that concluded from a global perspective that without a clear mitigation strategy and effort, the world is headed for average temperatures 4 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial times by the end of this century.

Climate-smart agriculture takes centre stage

SPDA_ThomasMueller-365x365The Meridian Institute and Climate Development and Knowledge Network (CDKN)  recently  launched a set of case studies and headline findings on ‘Agriculture and Climate Change: Learning from experience and early interventions.’

Agriculture is on the frontline of climate change impacts and solutions. The scientific community continues to deepen its understanding of how changing temperatures and rainfall patterns, and climate impacts such as salt water intrusion, will affect agricultural yields.  Climate change affects the incidence of diseases and pests, as well as beneficial species such as pollinators, and so urges us to reassess the relationships among the many elements of agricultural ecosystems.

Adapting our agricultural systems and practices to these new realities will be essential for human food security and nutrition, as well as for sustaining the other goods and services (including products for fuel and fibre) that such ecosystems provide.

Many aspects of farming practice affect greenhouse gas emissions and are important to the conversation on climate mitigation. Some farming systems generate significant emissions but, with some modification, these emissions could be reduced. Introducing new forms of land management and inputs (for fertility and pest control) can make a big difference to agriculture’s carbon footprint.

CDKN has been supporting the Meridian Institute since November 2011 to convene a dialogue among developing country leaders on how agriculture’s contribution to climate change adaptation and mitigation could  be effectively taken forward under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As detailed in our project description and the Meridian Institute’s website, Meridian facilitated these dialogues throughout 2012-13 and produced a set of case studies and briefing notes to support the discussions.

Practical case studies of early efforts to develop climate-smart agriculture are now presented in a collected volume, available for download here.

The collection aims to provide comparison across diverse initiatives from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia to Vietnam, Nepal, and India, to Bolivia. For each pilot initiative, programme managers present:

  • The objectives of the initiative
  • Funding arrangements
  • How local capacities and community involvement are engendered
  • How success is defined and measured and
  • Outcomes and lessons learned.

Sam Bickersteth, CDKN’s Chief Executive and an agriculture specialist, outlines the current status of agriculture talks within the UNFCCC here.

For additional resources including a graphical summary of the workshop at which the case studies were presented, a film of panel presentations, and PowerPoint slides, please visit: http://www.climate-agriculture.org/LEEI.aspx

*This article was published by CDKN Global | on: 2pm, April 19th, 2013

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