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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
Caribbean energy experts recommend creation of new Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE)
The technical design and institutional set-up of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) was successfully validated by energy experts and specialists of CARICOM Member States in a regional workshop, held from 21 to 22 July 2014 in Roseau, Dominica. The event was co-organized by the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Sustainable Energy Initiative – SIDS DOCK, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica, with financial support of the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC).
The workshop follows-up on the official request of SIDS DOCK to UNIDO in August 2013, to assist the small island developing states in the Caribbean, Pacific, Indian Ocean and Africa, in the creation of a SIDS network of regional sustainable energy centres. With technical assistance from UNIDO, a consultative preparatory process for the Caribbean centre was launched in close coordination with the Energy Unit of the CARICOM Secretariat. The process included the development of a needs assessment and project document on the technical and institutional design of the centre. With the inputs received at the regional workshop, the needs assessment and the project document on the technical and institutional design of the centre will be finalized.
It was recommended to create CCREEE under the umbrella of the existing institutional framework of CARICOM. It was agreed to submit the final CCREEE project document for consideration by the next Ministerial Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) of CARICOM. It was suggested to launch a competitive selection process for the host country of the Secretariat of CCREEE.
Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, endorsed the establishment of the CCREEE, and announced Dominica’s interest in hosting the centre. “Dominica has the highest percentage of renewable energy (RE) in its energy mix among the Caribbean countries, therefore, Dominica would be the ideal location,” he said. By 2017, Dominica will become the only Small Island Developing State to export electricity. A partnership between the Government of Dominica and a French Consortium will develop a geothermal power plant for export and subsea transmission lines to French neighbours – Guadeloupe to the north, and Martinique to the south.
Ambassador Vince Henderson, Permanent Representative of the Commonwealth of Dominica to the United Nations, and Chair of the SIDS DOCK Steering Committee, who spearheaded the initiative for the establishment of regional RE and EE centres, expressed gratitude on behalf of the small island developing states to the government of for providing the funding for the establishment of the regional centres in the Pacific and the Caribbean and the support to African SIDS through the ECREEE. “The establishment of regional centres for RE and EE is one of the most progressive steps that UNIDO, SIDS DOCK and our governments can take towards the transitioning from fossil fuels to RE, and CCREEE will work with regional institutions, like the OECS, CARICOM, CREDP and CDB, to pool human and financial resources to transform the regional energy sector,” he noted.
Dr. Pradeep Monga, Director of the Energy and Climate Change Branch of UNIDO, said the importance of the regional energy centre is to boost inclusive and sustainable industrial development in Caribbean islands. “The centre will play an important role in empowering the local private sector and industry to take advantage of growing job and business opportunities in the sustainable energy sector,” Mr. Monga stressed.
The over 60 Caribbean experts and specialists, development and private sector partners in attendance recommended that the centre focuses particularly on policy implementation, capacity development, knowledge management, awareness raising and the creation of business opportunities for the local sustainable energy industry. The centre will act as a think-tank and hub for sustainable energy and will play a key role in creating economies of scale and a competitive sustainable energy market and business sector. It will address existing barriers and strengthen drivers through regional methodologies and tools. It will act as the central service provider for the development and implementation of SIDS DOCK and Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL) activities.
The centre will become part of UNIDO´s Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres. The SIDS centres will be announced as an innovative south-south partnership at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, scheduled to take place from 1 to 4 September 2014 in Apia, Samoa.
Further information on the workshop is available at: http://www.ccreee.org
For more information:
Mr Al Binger, Energy Advisor, CARICOM Climate Change Centre, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Martin Lugmayr, Sustainable Energy Expert, UNIDO, email@example.com
Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre Dr Kenrick Leslie, CBE, recently led a team of experts from the Caribbean to the Pacific in a bid to strengthen existing South-South collaboration with the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
“Like the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean islands are small in size, vulnerable to climate change and the lives of our people are based on utilising natural resources,” said Dr Leslie.
Over the last five years the 5Cs executed over 16 climate change projects across the Caribbean at a cost of approximately US$45 million, much of which is of a similar nature to that which SPREP has been undertaking in the Pacific.
The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Secretariat (UNISDR) has released a study on disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CAA) in the Pacific, titled “Disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in the Pacific: an institutional and policy analysis.” The study analyzes the level of integration of DRR and CCA activities across the region.
DRR is the concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through analysis and management of their causal factors. It reduces exposure to hazards, lessens the vulnerability of people and assets, and improves management of the land and environment and preparedness for adverse events (UNISDR, 2009).
CAA is defined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCCC) as ‘adjustments in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects that moderate harm and exploit beneficial opportunities. This can include: (a) adapting development to gradual changes in average temperature, sea level and precipitation; and (b) reducing and managing the risks associated with more frequent, severe and unpredictable extreme weather events” (UNISDR, 2010).
The 67-page report includes analysis of seven Pacific island countries: the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Palau, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. The results indicate that despite the low level of integration at the operational level, countries are making efforts to develop Joint National Action Plans for DRR and CCA.
The report says there is strong evidence of an increase in the observed frequency and intensity of weather and climate-related hazards. An assertion buttressed by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change IPCC), which anticipates that in the short to medium term many impacts of climate change may manifest themselves through changes in the frequency, intensity or duration of extreme weather events. Having made these observations, the report makes an urgent call for a paradigm shift in DRR noting that the recent Global Assessment Report on DRR shows that mortality and economic loss risk are heavily concentrated in developing countries, disproportionately affecting the poor and posing a real threat to the achievement of the MDGs.
The report also outlines challenges and barriers to integration, highlights evolving good practice towards integration, and provides recommendations for regional and national stakeholders for further action. Key recommendations include: the establishment and maintenance of a database of DRR, CCA and related projects, and a database of Pacific-focused case studies and good practices; to co-convene meetings on disaster risk management (DRM) and CCA at times and locations that maximize coordination and integration opportunities; to develop an integrated Pacific Regional Policy Framework for DRM, CCA and mitigation for implementation post-2015; and for donors, Pacific island governments, nongovernmental and relevant regional organisations to work collectively and promote greater integration of DRR and CCA.
The study was produced in collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), with resources from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
Peruse the full report here.