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Caribbean considers new climate change approaches

PRESS RELEASE:- Commonwealth countries may soon be the benefit from a process called “regenerative development.”

Recently, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland welcomed high commissioners and climate change innovators to a Commonwealth-facilitated conference in London, calling on all to work together on technologies and approaches that have the potential to reverse climate change.

In her opening remarks, the Secretary-General noted that climate change can wreak havoc on ecosystems and societies. Some of the Commonwealth’s small island developing states face obliteration because of rising sea levels. In other countries, climate change is causing famine, migration and desertification.

Secretary-General Scotland pointed out that time and time again in Commonwealth countries including Dominica, Fiji, and more recently Mozambique, climate-related disasters had undone decades of development gains.

“The magnitude of the threat from climate change especially to those whose endowment or stage of development renders them more vulnerable and less resilient makes it necessary to shift from mere adaptation and mitigation, towards approaches capable of transforming climate change into a window of opportunity.”

Regenerative development is one such approach.

Mary Robinson, the president of the climate justice activist group—the Mary Robinson Foundation—stated that it was time that the narrative on climate change differed.

“We do need a new narrative on climate change and it’s a narrative based on solutions. The idea of regenerative development to tackle climate change makes much sense because we need to get carbon out of the atmosphere as much as possible.”

Regenerative development seeks to reverse the degeneration of ecosystems caused by human activities.

Credit: Government of Saint Lucia

Commonwealth brainstorms climate change responses

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.

A Commonwealth gathering in London will bring together experts in biomimicry, carbon sequestration, design and regeneration, to discuss ideas for practical s...

A Commonwealth gathering in London will bring together experts in biomimicry, carbon sequestration, design and regeneration, to discuss ideas for practical schemes that could pull carbon out of the air and put it back into the Earth ©Greg Baker (AFP/File)

“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.”

New high for global greenhouse gas emissions

New high for global greenhouse gas emissions ©Simon MALFATTO, Paz PIZARRO (AFP)

Credit: Daily Mail Online

Caribbean Needs $30 Billion of Investment to Cut Fossil-Fuel Use

Banner for Climate Resilient Islands Partnership

Credit: Climate Resilient Islands Partnership Promo

The Caribbean needs to lure as much as $30 billion of investment to cut reliance on fossil fuel and expand renewable energy, partly by securing attractive payments for generators of clean power, a regional development bank said.

“Most of our countries are highly dependent on fossil fuels for power generation,” Caribbean Development Bank President Warren Smith said in an interview in London. “This vulnerability to volatile oil prices has contributed hugely to the competitiveness challenges of Caribbean industries.”

About $20 billion is needed in the next five to 10 years to replace power plants and upgrade distribution and transmission, he said. Another $10 billion is required to improve roads and airports and “climate-proof” current infrastructure. There is potential to replace 4,750 megawatts of fossil-fuel generation with renewables through 2019, Smith said.

The bank is talking with regional utilities interested in building clean-energy plants to feed power into the grid.

Nations need to attract investors by amending their laws to ensure generators are paid “equitable” fees for electricity. Barbados and Jamaica already have legislation in place and other countries should follow their lead, Smith said.

Barbados plans to get 29 percent of its power from clean sources by 2029 and Jamaica 30 percent by 2030. Barbados Light & Power Co. said June 12 it planned to build an 8-megawatt solar park. The bank is working with other islands to draft laws and draw investors to projects. Cutting fossil-fuel dependence would also help cut trade and debt imbalances in the region.

The islands should coordinate legislation to help counter the small size of their individual markets, according to Smith.

Eastern Caribbean islands including St Lucia and Grenada are working together on the Eastern Caribbean Energy Regulatory Authority to oversee utilities and advise governments on green energy development and cross-border interconnection, according to the website of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.

“Our role is to catalyse investments,” Smith said. “We’ll work with other financial institutions, including the other multilateral banks, to provide a percentage of the debt financing required at relatively low rates of interest.”

The bank will offer loans to the energy industry that are subject to generators meeting goals.

To contact the reporter on this story: Louise Downing in London at ldowning4@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net Tony Barrett, Alex Devine

Credit: Louise Downing, Bloomberg

Major overhaul of international negotiations needed to save global coastal cities

Experts warn that only a complete overhaul of our economic growth and international negotiations can prevent sea level rises that will destroy coastal cities like New York and London.

Projektipäivät 2012 keynote by Ian T. Dunlop on the same issues he spoke about at the UN. From Infocrea on Vimeo.

Energy expert Ian Dunlop and policy-planner and scholar Tapio Kanninen delivered a stark message in New York at the end of April that even limiting global warming to 2°C could eventually produce sea level rises of up to 6 to 7 metres (23 feet), wiping out coastal cities like New York, London, Shanghai and Tokyo. They told shocked audiences at the United Nations that if we continue with current policies, temperatures could rise 4°C or more, leading to sea level rises of up to 70 metres (230 feet).

See CARICOM’s Liliendaal Declaration on Climate Change and Development (2009), which calls for  global average surface temperature increases to be limited to  below 1.5° C of pre-industrial levels.

Kanninen and Dunlop were in New York to address a series of packed meetings and panel discussions, organised by the Finnish Mission to the United Nations, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the Club of Rome, the Temple of Understanding and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

They presented new evidence demonstrating the severity of the crisis of global sustainability and global survivability and discussed with diplomats, political decision‐makers, sustainable development experts and NGOs how to persuade the UN and other international institutions to take immediate emergency action.

Commenting on recent scientific findings, Ian Dunlop – with over 30 years’ experience at the Royal Shell Group as engineer and senior executive and a former leader of Australia’s Emissions trading panel said: “Today’s leaders refuse to accept that climate change science and the concept of peak oil condemns the international community to a catastrophic future. Why are we still exploring for fossil fuels, since we can only burn off 20-30% of reserves if we wish to keep climate change to the 2 °C limit, while current policies will result in warming of 4-6 °C?” he asked.

This level of temperature rise means that the globe can only carry 0.5-1 billion people, not the present 7 billion, leading experts evaluate.

Tapio Kanninen, a former long time UN staff member and policy-planner, said that scientists have determined a number of “tipping points” that exponentially and dramatically accelerate global warming trends. As they begin to kick in, in a matter of years not decades, we must take action before it is too late to avert a catastrophe.

The severity of the global crisis goes unrecognised: we need a global emergency response and new policy models

Dr Kanninen said current international and national institutional and political systems are incapable of preventing the increasing severe global crises; it requires a change in the entire system plus an emergency response. If runaway climate change leads to rising sea levels the next move has to be to urgently overhaul the UN and our global governance system so it is capable of dealing with rapidly changing global and regional conditions.

Ian Dunlop said that many scientists and practitioners are wrongly dubbed ‘alarmist’, but diplomats, politicians and the whole intergovernmental system have failed to grasp the severity of the crisis. If we fail to act we could find ourselves like a ‘ship of fools’ floating on rising sea levels.

Failing to institute a major global policy change will inevitably lead to the gradual implosion of the economic, ecological and social structures on which we depend, and they called for “An urgent joint effort by member states, NGOs and scholars to improve the quality of global negotiations on climate change and sustainable development”.

Setting up new structures

Faced with the reality gap between what scientists predict and what politicians are prepared to do, part of the solution to global inertia lies in creating an independent Global Crisis Network of regional, national and local centres with a global coordination unit that will interact with a revamped UN.  Eventually, the UN Charter has to be totally rewritten to correspond to the new global reality.

Source: The Club of Rome, an international think-tank, based in Switzerland, with 1500 members and over 30 National Associations. Its mission is to undertake forward-looking analysis and assessment on measures for a happier, more resilient, sustainable planet

The Limits to Growth, a 1972 report to the Club of Rome was written by Denis Meadows, Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers and William Behrens III. It used computer models to project possible future scenarios with different assumptions of how humans would react to earth’s physical limitations.

Dr Tapio Kanninen is Senior Fellow at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a Co-Director of the Project on Sustainable Global Governance. He was Chief of the Policy Planning Unit in the Department of Political Affairs (1998–2005) at the United Nations and worked earlier to set up a global environmental statistical framework in a UNEP-funded project in the UN Statistical Division. He is a member of the Club of Rome.

Ian Dunlop is an Australian Energy Expert, a fellow to the Centre of Policy Development and a former senior executive at the Royal Dutch Shell Group. He is Chair of Safe Climate Australia, Deputy Convenor of the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil and a Club of Rome member.

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung is a German political foundation with over 100 offices around the world, including an active UN office. It is the Germany’s oldest organisation to promote democracy, political education, and promote students of outstanding intellectual abilities.

The Temple of Understanding is an interfaith NGO working to promote global survivability, and an active member of the NGO community working on the inside of the United Nations to advance social justice.

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