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The Commonwealth is bringing together global experts to thrash out new ideas for not just reducing climate change but actually reversing its effects by mimicking success stories in nature.
At a two-day gathering on Friday and Saturday at the 52-country organisation’s headquarters in London, a diverse band of experts in fields such as biomimicry, carbon sequestration, design and regeneration traded ideas for practical schemes that could pull carbon out of the air and put it back into the Earth.
Rather than a series of presentations, the conference instead saw experts from around the world huddle in groups to brainstorm.
“Some of our island states in the Pacific and the Caribbean will be hit first and potentially disappear, therefore climate change has been an issue of real importance to the Commonwealth,” Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland told AFP.
– Termite mound buildings –
Examples were shared of concrete absorbing carbon, ecologically destroyed landscapes flourishing again through getting carbon back into the soil, and getting more productive agriculture through mimicking the ecosystems of wild, untended land.
There were discussions on buildings designed like termite mounds that ventilate themselves with cool air, or making ships’ hulls like shark skin.
Also mooted were vertical axis wind turbines arranged in school-of-fish formation so the ones behind gain momentum from the vortices, creating far more wind power than regular wind farms.
“It’s stunning, but this is not inventing anything new. Life’s been at it for 3.8 billion years,” biomimicry expert Janine Benyus told AFP.
“We’re talking about bringing carbon home — rebalancing the problem of too much carbon in the air and not enough in the soil,” she added, stepping out of a workshop.
With its diverse membership covering a quarter of the world’s countries, action within the Commonwealth often paves the way for wider global agreements.
The climate change accords reached at its biennial summit in Malta last December were instrumental in the Paris COP21 UN climate conference deal struck later that month, which agreed to cap global warming at less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
– ‘Practical, practical, practical’ –
Scotland will take forward ideas and outcomes from the London workshop to the COP22 summit in Marrakesh in November.
“We’re setting off the starter pistol for this race,” the secretary-general said.
“The Commonwealth is seeking to be the platform through which ideas can be transferred.
However, in the arena of climate change, many intriguing proposals get ditched on the grounds of cost, practicality or fears that they could end up inflicting environmental damage.
“We’re looking at how we can share real solutions and help each other to get there faster,” said Scotland.
“We’re saying ‘practical, practical, practical’. If it works, it’s affordable, implementable and makes the difference, then we need people to understand they can believe in it.”
Some sessions focused on so-called big picture ideas, looking at Earth as a complete system.
Delegates discussed how carbon can be used as a resource, in which returning it to the ground can bring about lasting soil fertility and jobs and thereby political stability.
“Life creates conditions conducive to life. It’s about creating new virtuous circles rather than vicious ones,” said Daniel Wahl, who designs regenerative cultures.
“If we do a good job, we can find the funding because the will is there,” he told AFP.
“The time of ‘them and us’ thinking is past. The people who were against each other now have to come together.
“People are dying today from the effects of climate change. To them, it’s not an intellectual debate any more.”
Credit: Daily Mail Online
The Australian High Commissioner to CARICOM Ross Tysoe AO says “impressive work” is being carried out by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), which he experienced first-hand during a recent visit.
The envoy cited the Centre’s effective management of Australia’s technical and cooperation assistance in supporting Belize’s Barrier Reef Marine System, adding that Australia is pleased to have contributed to this project which included a coral reef early warning station. The Ambassador said the project is a “fantastic example” of CARICOM-Australia cooperation. Speaking on Thursday, April 04, 2013 following the formal acceptance of his letter of credence by CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, the envoy said he is convinced Australia’s aid programmes are “in safe hands”.
Cooperation between CARICOM and Australia was formalised in November 2009 at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, between the leaders of CARICOM and Australia. At that meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed, paving the way for Australia to make some $60 million (AUS) available over four years to CARICOM for cooperation in areas of special mutual interest.
The areas of cooperation include climate change, disaster risk reduction and emergency management; regional integration, including trade facilitation; education, including in the fields of science and technology, provision of scholarships and training of diplomats; university co-operation; food security and agricultural co-operation; renewable energy, microfinance; border security and sport, youth and culture.
Read 5Cs Welcomes Australia’s High Commissioner to CARICOM to learn more about Ambassador Tysoe’s recent visit to Centre.
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) welcomes the Australian High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago Ross Tysoe AO, who also holds non-resident accreditation to 13 other CARICOM countries, for a two day meeting this week. Yesterday the High Commissioner joined a team from the Centre on a tour of the Calabash Cay Coral Reef Early Warning System, which was procured and installed with assistance from the Australian government.
Earlier this week the High Commissioner met with CCCCC’s Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie and members of the management team to discuss a raft of plans and reflect on Australia’s longstanding relationship with the Centre. Australia first engaged the Centre in 2007 when High Commissioner Tysoe’s predecessor made a courtesy visit to the regional climate change centre.
Since then the Centre has enjoyed an excellent relationship with Australia. At the 2008 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued a communiqué in which he indicated Australia’s commitment to support the Centre’s work. Since then the Centre has received in excess of US$5 million in institutional support through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).
**This article was updated on March 15, 2013