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MEDIA REPORTS

CLIMATE AND ATMOSPHERE

This page was updated on: 01/14/10

2008

 

Climate and Atmosphere Media Reports Archives: 2010; 2009; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002

 

DECEMBER 2008

UNEP’s Climate Neutral Network Gains Participants
The UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Climate Neutral Network (CN Net), a coalition of public, private and governmental entities, has gained new participants. The new participants include URBN Hotels, China’s first carbon neutral hotel, Tesco Lotus, Thailand’s largest supermarket chain and Rios Tropicales, a Costa Rican eco-adventure company.

Link to further information
UNEP Press Release, 7 December 2008

UNDP SENDS A MESSAGE FROM DOHA TO POZNAŃ
On 3 December 2008, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Kemal Derviş commended the outcome document from the Financing for Development Conference, held in Doha, Qatar, from 29 November-2 December 2008, for endorsing the call of the UN Secretary-General to reaffirm international commitments to address poverty reduction and achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The UNDP Administrator highlighted that Doha recognized the centrality of meeting developed countries’ commitment made in Monterrey 2002 to increase official development assistance (ODA) by 0.7 percent of GNP to developing countries by 2015, as essential to resolve the triple crisis posed by financial turmoil, global poverty and climate change. He stressed that the crises are interconnected and called upon negotiators at the UN climate change conference in Poznan to focus on opportunities, such as establishing an effective carbon market and price of carbon, and mechanisms for resource flows to developing countries to finance green growth policies and poverty reduction. He noted that UNDP will continue to support developing countries to build up the capacities required to promote sustainable green growth, while reducing poverty.

Links to further information

UNDP Newsroom, 3 December 2008
UN News Centre, 4 December 2008

UN HCHR CALLS FOR A HUMAN RIGHTS APPROACH TO TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE

As the world celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR) Navi Pillay stressed that a wide range of universally recognized rights – such as the right to food, to adequate housing and water, and to life – are under threat due to climate change. Earlier this year, the Human Rights Council mandated the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to undertake a study on the interlinkages between human rights and climate change. The OHCHR study is emphasizes the need for a human rights based approach to provide the legal rationale to climate change policies and programmes currently under negotiation, indicating that human well-being and security in developed and developing countries are under risk. The study also gives special consideration to the poorest and most marginalized groups, as age, gender, and socio-economic status can reduce or increase vulnerability. The Human Rights Council will consider the study next March and make it available to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, in December 2009.

 

Links to further information
OHCHR News

OHCHR climate change consultation meeting

Ozone SECRETARIAT RELEASES REPORT OF COP/MOP
The Ozone Secretariat has released the report of the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention and the Twentieth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. In related news, the Multilateral Fund has released a summary of the report of its Executive Committee’s 56th meeting.

Link to further information
The COP/MOP report
Report of the 56th Executive Committee Meeting of the Multilateral Fund

UNEP DTIE RELEASES MONTREAL PROTOCOL WHO’S WHO
The UN Environment Programme Division of Technology, Industry, and Economics’ (UNEP DTIE) OzonAction Programme has released a Montreal Protocol Who’s Who.

Link to further information
Who’s Who

NOVEMBER 2008

UNEP Releases Climate Change Survey Results
A new survey, in line with an earlier poll of youth carried out by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) as a part of UNite to Combat Climate Change campaign, suggests that the environment remains a concern despite the financial downturn. Conducted by the HSBC Climate Partnership, the poll of 12,000 people from 12 countries, including the US, China and Brazil, shows that: 43% of respondents think climate change is a bigger problem than the economy; 75% or respondents want their countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least as much as other countries; and 55% of respondents want their governments to invest in renewable energy.

Link to further information
UNEP Press Release, 27 November 2008

First Carbon Neutral Airline Joins UNEP’s Climate Neutral Network
The first carbon neutral airline, NatureAir of Costa Rica, has joined the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Climate Neutral Network (CN Net). NatureAir has been climate neutral since 2004 and has improved its fuel efficiency by seven percent in three years. It offsets its remaining emissions by purchasing carbon credits from Costa Rica’s payment for environmental services scheme. Costa Rica itself aims to be climate neutral by 2021, and was among the first four countries to join CN Net.

Links to further information
UNEP Press Release, 20 November 2008
UN News Centre article, 20 November 2008
UN Dispatch article, 20 November 2008

UN CLIMATE CHIEF HIGHLIGHTS OBAMA’S ROLE, NEW TECHNOLOGY
Commenting during an interview in Beijing on Barack Obama’s election as the next U.S. President, Yvo de Boer, who heads the UNFCCC Secretariat, said this may give renewed impetus to global talks on curbing heat- trapping pollution. De Boer said that Obama is committed to developing a strong domestic policy and to engaging in the international negotiations,' adding that “Leadership from the U.S. on this issue can have a huge impact on the dynamics of these negotiations.'”  Obama “brings a really fresh and constructive perspective on this issue,'' said de Boer, “He's indicated that he's willing to go ahead and show leadership on the part of the U.S. but that he would expect other countries to follow.''

Meanwhile, the UNFCCC chief has also highlighted the crucial role of technology in a future international agreement. At the opening of the Beijing High-Level Conference on Climate Change: Technology Development and Technology Transfer, de Boer stressed that technology and finance are crucial to achieving stronger action on mitigation and adaptation, and that technology is crucial for an ambitious outcome in Copenhagen 2009.

Links to further information
Yvo de Boer’s Beijing conference speech, 7 November 2008
Bloomberg news report, 6 November 2008

WORLD BANK CREATES GREEN BOND TO FINANCE MITIGATION AND ADAPTATION
The World Bank, in partnership with SEB and Scandinavian institutional investors, will raise funds for projects seeking to mitigate climate change or promote adaptation through the issue of a “World Bank green bond.” A result of its “Strategic Framework for Development and Climate Change,” the green bond seeks to provide an innovative approach financing. The bonds will be issued for a total amount of Swedish kronor (SEK) 2.325 billion (about US$300 million at current exchange rates), with an annual interest rate of 0.25 percent above Swedish government bond rates. It will have a maturity of six years. SEB will be the lead manager and offer the bonds to investors through its distribution network.

Link to further information
World Bank press release, 6 November 2008

US EPA APPROVES METHYL BROMIDE ALTERNATIVE

One of most effective alternatives to methyl bromide in pre-plant uses, methyl iodide, has been approved for use in the US. The approval, however, concerns some due to the toxic chemical’s neurotoxicity, among other serious human health effects of methyl iodide.

 

Links to further information

Chemical & Engineering News, 27 October 2008

San Francisco Chronicle, 2 November 2008
USEPA’s methyl iodide website

OZONE SECRETARIAT PREPARES FOR QATAR MEETING
The parties to the Montreal Protocol and the Vienna Convention are preparing for the twentieth
Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol and the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention, which will convene in Doha, Qatar, from 16-20 November 2008. Parties are expected to consider decisions on, inter alia, the replenishment of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, disposal of ozone-depleting substances (ODS), and essential-use and critical-use exemptions.

Link to further information
Meeting website

OCTOBER 2008

WORLD BANK FOREST CARBON PARTNERSHIP FACILITY EXPANDS TO 30 COUNTRIES
The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) announced its expansion from 20 to 30 developing countries to support capacity building efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). Developing countries are working with 11 industrialized countries and one non-governmental organization thought this innovative partnership and international financing mechanism to combat tropical deforestation and climate change. The FCPF is comprised of two components – a Readiness Fund and a Carbon Fund. The World Bank, which acts as the secretariat for the FCPF, announced that it would underwrite the US$2.3 million start-up expenses for the Facility.

Link to further information
World Bank Press Release, 24 October 2008

UNEP Children’s Art Exhibit Focuses on Climate Change
The UN kicked off its “UNite to Combat Climate Change” campaign on 23 October 2008 with the “Paint for the Planet” art exhibition. The exhibition was followed by an auction on 25 October 2008 in New York and on eBay.com. The auction’s proceeds will be donated to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to be directed towards children affected by climate-related disasters. The exhibit and auction mark the beginning of the “UNite to Combat Climate Change” campaign, the UN’s campaign calling for a definitive agreement at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December 2009. The paintings will travel to climate change meetings for the next 14 months, and will finally be displayed in Copenhagen in December 2009.

In conjunction with the campaign, the UNEP has released results of a survey it says highlights how concerned young people are about climate change. The results show that youth worldwide believe climate change to be a top concern.

Links to further information
Paint for the Planet website
UN News Centre article, 23 October 2008

CNN.com article, 24 October 2008

FINANCIAL CRISIS MUST NOT SLOW CLIMATE ACTION, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL
Focusing on the financial crisis at the expense of addressing climate change would result in a “double blow,” according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In his acceptance speech for
the UN Association-New York Humanitarians of the Year Award, the Secretary-General underlined the enormous benefits that could accrue from making the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“Present circumstances make it hard to talk about ‘smart money.’ But many scientists and other experts believe fervently that clean energy will be the investment wave of the future, and that there are fortunes to be made by putting resources behind wind, solar, biomass and other renewables.  Last year alone, this part of the energy sector attracted nearly $150 billion in investments,” he said.

The Secretary-General also highlighted the great benefits of acting “for people, for the environment and for the bottom line.” He warned that delaying action on climate change would make the world “poorer, more polluted, more prone to natural disasters and less stable.”

Link to further information
UN Press Release, 23 October 2008

UN-HABITAT REPORT FOCUSES ON COASTAL CITIES’ VULNERABILITY TO CLIMATE CHANGE

The UN Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) has launched the State of the World’s Cities 2008/2009: Harmonious Cities, a flagship report published every two years by the UN agency. The Report indicates that half of humanity currently lives in cities, and that this proportion will increase to 60% within two decades. The report also finds that urban growth is most rapid in the developing world, and stresses the importance of harmony among the spatial, social and environmental aspects of a city, and between their inhabitants. In relation to climate change, the report finds that many cities are at risk from rising water levels, and more needs to be done now to mitigate the impact this will have on their populations and assets.

 

Link to further information
UN-HABITAT Press Release, 23 October 2008

COUNTRIES SELECTED TO SERVE ON WORLD BANK CLIMATE INVESTMENT FUND BOARDS
Two sets of seven donor countries and seven potential recipient countries have been selected to serve on the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) Trust Fund Committee and the Strategic Climate Fund (SCF) Trust Fund Committee, respectively, to oversee decisions concerning investments and implementation of the recently created World Bank Climate Investment Funds (CIF). The US$6 billion Funds were created in September to provide interim, scaled-up funding to help developing countries in their efforts to address climate change in their development strategies. According to the CIF design, donor and potential recipient countries must hold an equal number of seats, to be selected through a consultation process. Both Trust Fund Committees will meet again in November to carry on their work. The selection of projects is expected early in 2009.

Link to further information
World Bank Press Release, 17 October 2008

UN AND EU PARTNERSHIP – HIGHLIGHTS OF DEVELOPMENT SUCCESS
The UN Team in Brussels has released its third annual report, which details UN/EU partnership achievements. The report is based on inputs collected from UN Country offices around the world. Emphasis is placed on the support that the UN and EU provide to national development strategies and initiatives related to strengthening national capacities. The report details how UN/EU cooperation has positively impacted people in the areas of humanitarian assistance, sustainable livelihoods, democratic inclusive processes and policy formulation. Special emphasis is given to human rights, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights celebrates its 60th anniversary, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) vis-à-vis emerging challenges such as high food and energy prices and climate change. The report also includes a section on strengthening governance, which details the work of the European Commission at different international fora, in particular the OECD/DAC Environment Working Group. The report also recalls that the 2007 European Development Days focused on climate change, and takes stock of such events.  

Link to further information
Improving Lives: Results from the Partnership of the United Nations and the European Commission in 2007

UNWTO Summit: Responding to the Economic Downturn and Staying on Course with the Climate and Poverty Reduction Agenda
The UN World Trade Organization (UNWTO), in partnership with the World Travel Market, will hold a Ministers’ Summit at the World Travel Market in London, UK, on 11 November 2008, under the theme “Responding to the Economic Downturn and Staying on Course with the Climate and Poverty Reduction Agenda.” During the meeting, tourism ministers will consider climate and poverty goals in the context of the economic downturn. Items on the Summit’s agenda include: tourism as a driver of socio-economic progress and poverty alleviation; the UNWTO’s Davos Declaration Process on Climate Change; and TOURpact, the first UN Global Compact Industry Sector Network, which calls on the tourism sector to actively support UN objectives.

Link to further information
UNWTO Ministers’ Summit website

DE BOER COMMENTS ON POZNAN TALKS, FINANCIAL CRISIS
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer has outlined his expectations for the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland, including the impact the financial crisis may have on the climate talks.

In a press briefing at UN headquarters in New York, US, on 10 October 2008, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary referred to the financial crisis as the “biggest earthquake” to hit the financial system in generations, warning that it could hurt progress on combating climate change. However, he added that combating climate change could provide an opportunity to develop new markets, investments and jobs by targeting clean energy development. During the briefing, he also commented on the EU’s response to the current crisis, noting that the EU is struggling to pass its energy and climate package. He said such difficulties were unfortunate because the current crisis presents an opportunity to rebuild the financial system in a way that supports sustainable growth and clean industry.

On the upcoming climate negotiations in Poznan in December, de Boer said it will be the first time where a “real negotiating text will be on the table” following the exchange of ideas on mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance since the Bali conference in December 2007. He indicated that a single negotiating text should be presented in Poznan, and that it would serve as the basis for negotiations in 2009 in the lead-up to the Copenhagen negotiations in late 2009. He also highlighted Poznan as the first formal opportunity for ministers to take stock of progress since Bali, and to provide guidance for 2009. He urged ministers in Poznan to affirm their intention to take a cooperative approach to climate change and provide developing countries with the financial and technological support they will need.

De Boer also highlighted his other expectations for Poznan, including his hopes that negotiators would operationalize the Adaptation Fund, launch reforms to help streamline the CDM, clarify further how action to avoid deforestation can be part of a long-term climate regime, and discuss how reducing emissions on agriculture can contribute.

De Boer’s comments came just days before a gathering of environment ministers was scheduled to take place in Warsaw, Poland. The ministerial gathering from 13-14 October is intended to help prepare for the Poznan talks.

Links to further information
UN webcast of daily press briefing, 10 October 2008 (note: Yvo de Boer’s segment begins 28 minutes and 40 seconds into the broadcast)
BBC news report on EU climate package discussions, 6 October 2008
Reuters news report on impact of financial crisis on climate talks, 2 October 2008
International Herald Tribune report on Warsaw meeting, 12 October 2008

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT SUPPORTS EMPHASIS ON CHALLENGE OF WATER SCARCITY AND DROUGHT IN UNCCD AND UNFCCC
The European Parliament adopted an own-initiative report on water scarcity and droughts in the EU on 9 October 2008. In doing so, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) urged the European Commission and Member States to acknowledge that deforestation and unrestrained urban development are contributing to growing water scarcity. The Parliament also emphasized that any supply of water, regardless of the purpose of its consumption, must comply with the principle of fair water tarification.
MEPs also supported the view that the environmental value of forests and agricultural production must be reassessed in a context of climate change, and supported the Commission's commitment to continue to highlight the challenge of water scarcity and drought at the international level, in particular through the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Link to further information
European Parliament Press Release, 9 October 2008

OZONE HOLE LARGER THAN IN 2007

According to the European Space Agency, German and Dutch researchers’ analysis of satellite data suggests that the ozone hole over Antarctica is larger this year than in 2007. The area of the thinned ozone layer this year was about 27 million square kilometers, while in 2007 it was 25 million square kilometers.

 

Links to further information
CNN article, 7 October 2008

WMO’s Antarctic Ozone Bulletin, 24 September 2008

 

Germany Increases Support to UNEP

During a meeting with UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner, at UNEP’s headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, German Federal Minister for the Environment Sigmar Gabriel announced that his country will increase its funding for the organization’s work on clean energy and climate proofing vulnerable economies.

Gabriel specified that the additional US$18 million will be raised by auctioning emission certificates on the European carbon market, and will be provided over three years. The funds will be used in UNEP projects supporting: developing countries’ clean energy and energy efficiency efforts; adaptation in vulnerable economies; and developing countries’ capacity in international climate negotiations.

 

Link to further information
UNEP Press Release, 3 October 2008

HFC-FREE REFRIGERANT USED IN US, INDIA PHASES OUT CFCs
The first US trials utilizing a Greenpeace-developed refrigeration technology are being run by Ben & Jerry’s in Boston and Washington, DC. Since the phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), due to their ozone-depletion potential, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have been widely used as coolants, but they have been found to be both ozone-depletors and potent greenhouse gases. Two German scientists developed the HFC-free technology, which has been taken up widely in Japan and Europe, but until now it has not been allowed in the US.

In other CFC news, Indonesia has reported that the illegal import of CFCs persists, while India has reported phasing out CFCs 17 months ahead of the deadline imposed by the Montreal Protocol

Links to further information
Environmental News Service article, 1 October 2008
Jakarta Post article, 17 September 2008
Tribune News Service, 16 September 2008

USEPA EMPLOYEE RECOGNIZED FOR OZONE WORK
Stephen Andersen, a long-time employee of the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), recently received the Career Achievement Medal of the Service to America Medals, in recognition of his role in implementing the Montreal Protocol. Andersen, who is currently the Director of Strategic Climate Projects for the USEPA, began work on the ozone layer in 1974, and has since played a key role in motivating the public and private sectors to collaborate in addressing ozone depletion.

Link to further information
Details of award

SEPTEMBER 2008

US NORTHEAST LAUNCHES COUNTRY’S FIRST CAP-AND-TRADE MARKET
Ten states involved in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the US have held that country’s first auction of carbon dioxide emissions allowances. The auction, held on 25 September 2008, involved 59 participants from the energy, financial and environmental sectors.

Link to further information
RGGI Press Release, 29 September 2008

WMO Highlights State of the Ozone Layer

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently released data showing that the ozone hole is already larger in September 2008 than it was in 2007. Their press release emphasized the need for continued ozone measurements to monitor the ozone hole, and highlighted the Montreal Protocol’s climate benefits. The release also emphasized the atmospheric interactions between ozone and climate change, saying that the cooling effect of greenhouse gases on the stratosphere, coupled with possible increased moisture, appear to facilitate ozone depletion and could delay recovery of the ozone layer.

 

Link to further information
WMO Press Release, 16 September 2008

UNEP LAUNCHES COLLABORATION ON CHEMICAL SAFETY
On 16 September 2008, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and Dow Chemical of China launched a partnership on emergency preparedness and safety in the Chinese chemical industry. The collaborative project, in line with UNEP’s Bali Strategic Plan on Technology Support and Capacity Building, will build capacity in China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, as well as in the chemical industry.

Link to further information
UNEP Press Release, 16 September 2008

World Tourism Day focuses on Climate Change
T
he World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) World Tourism Day, which focused on the response of the tourism industry to climate change and was hosted in Peru, was observed on 27 September 2008. World Tourism Day kicked-off a year-long campaign during which the UNWTO aims to: raise awareness of the positive role of tourism in sustainable development; advance tourism in the UN global response to the challenges of climate change and poverty alleviation; promote the Davos Declaration Framework for the Tourism Sector and encourage its implementation by all stakeholders at a global level; encourage tourism stakeholders to adapt, mitigate and use new technology; and secure financing for the poorest countries.

Link to more information
World Tourism Day website

OZONE SECRETARIAT RELEASES BIANNUAL NEWSLETTER
The Ozone Secretariat released the first issue of its new biannual e-newsletter, Centrum, on 16 September 2008, the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. In the newsletter, Achim Steiner, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, emphasizes the importance of the choices that remain to implement the 2007 historic decision on hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). Marco Gonzalez, the Ozone Secretariat Executive Secretary, discusses the goal of the newsletter, saying that it seeks to enable the identification of possible linkages that arise between different multilateral environmental agreements. Also included is the UN Secretary-General’s message recognizing the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, in which he encourages governments to look for synergies among multilateral environmental agreements as the Parties to the Protocol did when deciding to accelerate the phase-out of HCFCs.

In addition, UNEP, UNESCO, UNICEF and WHO have launched a new interactive multimedia ozone education pack for secondary schools.

Links to further information
Centrum newsletter
Ozone Education Pack

CLIMATE CHANGE TO BE A PRIORITY DURING UNGA’s 63rd SESSION
Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, a former foreign minister of Nicaragua and the new President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), opened its 63rd session on 16 September 2008 with a call to democratize the UN in order to deal more effectively with the world’s most pressing problems, including the impact of climate change, widespread hunger and poverty, and unequal access to water. He noted that the session’s main objective would be to democratize the UN and ensure the Assembly has the ability to fulfil its mandate. The President added that UNGA would focus during this session on examining the root causes of major problems, such as the current food crisis and its effect on hunger and poverty.

The previous day, outgoing UNGA President Srgjan Kerim closed the Assembly’s 62nd session, noting that while Security Council reform had been the most difficult issue of the session, climate change and the Millennium Development Goals had been “the closest to his heart.” He recalled the commitments by member States to negotiate within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to fix the common goals for future greenhouse gas emission targets after the Kyoto Protocol expires. He also highlighted the importance of the discussion of public-private partnerships to tackle climate change, underlining that this challenge cannot be resolved solely by intergovernmental negotiations.

 

Links to further information
UN Press Release (new President’s speech), 16 September 2008
UN Press Release (outgoing President’s speech), 16 September 2008

 

USEPA EXPANDS OZONE PARTNERSHIP, OZONE DAY CELEBRATED

The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) honored Harris Teeter and Giant Eagle as the recipients of the first GreenChill Advanced Refrigeration Partnership Environmental Achievement Award last week. In addition, USEPA announced it has welcomed eight new GreenChill partners, including Dow Chemical and the grocery stores Shop’n Save and Alberstons. GreenChill is a USEPA cooperative alliance with the supermarket industry and other stakeholders to reduce emissions of ozone-depleting substances and greenhouse gasses.

In other ozone news, the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer was celebrated on 16 September 2008, with the theme “Montreal Protocol – Global partnership for global benefits.”  In the UN Secretary-General’s message recognizing the day, he emphasized that the success of the Protocol demonstrates that environmental protection can be sustained through economic downturns, and encouraged governments to look for synergies among multilateral environmental agreements as the Parties to the Protocol did when deciding to accelerate the phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).


Links to further information
EPA Press Release, 9 September 2008
Secretary-General’s Message on International Ozone Day, 16 September 2008

COPENHAGEN CLIMATE TALKS “MOST IMPORTANT GATHERING SINCE THE SECOND WORLD WAR”
The Copenhagen climate change negotiations scheduled for December 2009 will be the most important gathering since the Second World War, according to Nicholas Stern. Speaking at a conference in Switzerland, the British economist, who authored the 2006 Stern Review on the economic implications of climate change, warned that failure to reach agreement would be a serious setback to efforts to combat climate change, and would severely damage the carbon markets.

Link to further information
Environmental Finance
/WBCSD, 11 September 2008

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RECONSIDERS BIOFUELS TARGET
The European Parliament’s industry committee has proposed reducing the EU’s existing 10% target for adopting traditional biofuels for road transport by 2020. Instead, the committee had advocated a 6% target for traditional biofuels, with the other 4% coming from electricity or hydrogen from renewable sources, or from second-generation biofuels. The proposal comes in the wake of concerns that biofuels have affected food prices and deforestation. The biofuels target is part of a larger series of goals that address climate change and energy issues.

Links to further information
BBC news, 11 September 2008
Spiegel Online International, 11 September 2008

UNEP LAUNCHES GLACIER REPORT AT IPCC29
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) launched a new facts and figures report on glaciers and ice caps during a side event to the 29th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on 1 September, 2008, in Geneva. “Global Glacier Changes: Facts and Figures” presents recent fluctuations of glaciers and ice caps and underlines an overall trend of glaciers’ retreat. Wilfried Haeberli, Director of WGMS, noted that glaciers offer unique demonstration objects of global climate change. The new publication confirms the global trend of collapse and disintegration of glaciers. In particular, it indicates that the average annual melting rate of glaciers doubled after the turn of the millennium, with record losses posted in 2006 for key reference sites. Peter Gilruth, Director of the Division of Early Warning and Assessment, UNEP, underlined UNEP’s work on synthesizing scientific information on global environmental issues and noted that the new report on glaciers will become a key information resource. Haeberli highlighted that the lack of data on glaciers in some vulnerable regions undermines the ability to provide precise early warning for countries and populations at risk. In this regard, he called for strengthening the monitoring network in the Tropics, Central Asia and the Polar regions (IISDRS sources).

Link to further information
Full report

OZONE SECRETARIAT RELEASES DOCUMENTS IN PREPARATION FOR COP8

The Ozone Secretariat has released numerous documents in advance of the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention (COP8) and the Twentieth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP20), which will convene 16-20 November 2008, in Doha, Qatar. The released documents include: financial reports and the past and future budgets of the Trust Fund for the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and of the Trust Fund for the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer; the provisional agenda for MOP20 and COP8; the Report of the Implementation Committee under the Non-Compliance Procedure for the Montreal Protocol on the work of its fortieth meeting; and an Information Note for Participants. MOP20 and COP8 will consider, inter alia, the outcomes of the seventh meeting of the Ozone Research managers of the Parties to the Vienna Convention, the status of the trust funds and of ratification, replenishment of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, disposal of ozone-depleting substances (ODS), and essential-use and critical-use exemptions.

Link to further information
Ozone Secretariat Documents

AUGUST 2008

 

SEA-LEVEL RISE THREATENS MANGROVES

Initial results of research carried out by IUCN and three universities show that mangrove ecosystems are under threat from climate change, as their sediment surface level generally does not keep pace with sea-level rise. The greatest impact is expected to be on those mangroves where there is limited area for landward migration, such as Pacific Island mangroves. IUCN notes, however, that adaptation measures can offset these anticipated mangrove losses and increase resilience to climate change. Some management options to this end include: adaptive coastal planning; better control of activities within the catchment that affect long-term trends in the mangrove sediment levels; rehabilitation of degraded mangrove areas; and designation of protected area networks that include mangroves and functionally linked ecosystems.

Link to further information
IUCN press release, 29 August 2008

TOYOTA JOINS UNEP’S CLIMATE NEUTRAL NETWORK

Toyota Motor Europe has become the first car manufacturer to join the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Climate Neutral Network. This initiative, launched in February 2008, aims to bring together public and private entities that pledge to significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Additional companies that joined the Climate Neutral Network in August included  the Carbon Association of Australasia, CO2focus, EcoSecurities, Green Cabs and Wairau River Wines.

 

Links to further information
Climate Neutral Network release, 18 August 2008

UNEP Press Release, 18 August 2008

 

REFRIGERATION COMPANY VIOLATES US CLEAN AIR ACT
Tyler Refrigeration, a manufacturer of commercial refrigeration systems, has agreed to pay a fine after disclosing to the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) that it illegally imported hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are ozone-depleting refrigerants, from Mexico. Under the settlement reached between the USEPA and Tyler Refrigeration, the company will pay a fine of US$ 18,899.

Link to further information
USEPA News Release, 11 August 2008

EQUAL WEIGHT GIVEN TO DEVELOPED AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES IN GOVERNANCE OF WORLD BANK CLIMATE INVESTMENT FUNDS
The World Bank’s launch of two new climate investment funds (CIF) on 1 July 2008 presents a novel institutional arrangement to channel an expected US$5 billion for climate-change related investments. The new World Bank Funds will provide equal representation to developing and developed nations, through a Trust Fund Committee, which will work by consensus and include eight representatives from donor countries and recipient countries, respectively. The fund will manage additional resources to those already committed to other World Bank managed funds, namely the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and the Adaptation Fund. A Partnership Forum is also envisaged to meet annually as a broad-based meeting of stakeholders, including donor and eligible recipient countries, multilateral development banks, UN agencies and processes, the GEF, the Adaptation Fund, bilateral development agencies, NGOs, private sector entities, and scientific and technical experts. The meeting is expected to provide a forum for dialogue on the strategic directions, results and impacts of the CIF. At the Partnership Forum, donor and recipient countries will agree, within their respective caucuses, on their representation on the Trust Fund Committees.

Link to additional information
Climate Investment Funds website

JULY 2008

THREE STUDIES EXPLORE SOIL’S ROLE AS CARBON SINK
Three recently published studies have explored the role of soils as a carbon sink. Each study focused on a different region in the Western Hemisphere: a long-term study in Canada found that, within ten years, much of the gain in soil organic carbon in response to improved practices on semiarid prairie soils likely occurs; a study in Argentina attributed the carbon sequestration process to the effect of tillage systems on crop productivity; and a study in the US explored soil carbon saturation levels.

Link to further information
Science News, 30 July 2008

SOUTH AFRICA, INDIA AND JAPAN ANNOUNCE CLIMATE PLANS

The governments of South Africa, India and Japan have each set out their visions for tackling climate change in the coming years. The announcements were the latest in a series of recent policy announcements by a number of countries as multilateral negotiations on climate change begin to intensify.

 

In a media statement issued on 28 July 2008, South Africa’s Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, indicated that his Government wanted to limit global temperature increases to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. He stated that greenhouse gas emissions should stop growing at the latest by 2020-2025, stabilize for up to ten years, and then decline in absolute terms, and that South Africa would “demonstrate leadership in the multilateral system by committing to a substantial deviation from baseline, enabled by international funding and technology.” Mitigation strategies would include mandatory targets for energy efficiency and in other sub-national sectors, increasing the price of carbon through an escalating carbon tax or alternative market mechanism, exploring carbon capture and storage, and “ambitious and where appropriate mandatory national targets for the reduction of transport emissions.” The government will hold a national summit in February 2009 and will adopt a final domestic policy by the end of 2010, once international negotiations for the post-2012 period have been completed.

 

India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change was released recently by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Plan stresses the development and use of new technologies. It outlines eight “national missions” dealing with solar energy, energy efficiency, a sustainable habitat, water, the Himalayan ecosystem, a “green India,” sustainable agriculture, and strategic knowledge. Further, it states that India’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions would never exceed those of developed countries. However, it maintains India’s previous position of not outlining specific emission reduction targets.

 

On 29 July 2008, Japan’s cabinet approved a plan to cut emissions by up to 80 percent by 2050 and set up an experimental carbon trading system in late 2008. The plan was first proposed by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in June. The plan also includes plans to increase solar energy by forty times by 2030, build more nuclear power, and develop carbon capture and storage technology.

 

Links to further information

South African climate vision statement, 28 July 2008

India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change, July 2008

AFP/Yahoo report on Japan’s climate plan, 29 July 2008

Linkages Update report on Japan’s carbon trading plan, 20 June 2008


NORTH AMERICAN REGIONAL CLIMATE INITIATIVE SETS OUT WORK PLAN

The Western Climate Initiative – a collaboration involving several US and Mexican states and Canadian provinces – has released plans for a regional cap-and-trade programme for 2012-2020. The plans, published online on 23 July 2008, contain recommendations for the design of the emissions trading scheme, allowance banking, and an offsets component that would give opportunities to lower emissions reduction costs. The Initiative, which was launched in 2007, has set a goal of reducing emissions by 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. On 17 July 2008, Ontario became the latest state/province to request formal membership as a full partner in the group. The Initiative now includes provinces representing three-quarters of Canada’s economy and states worth one-fifth of the US economy.

Links to further information
Cover Memo for the Western Climate Initiative’s draft design, 23 July 2008
Draft Design Recommendations for the WCI cap-and-trade programme, 23 July 2008

Ontario announcement, 17 July 2008

PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY VIOLATES US CLEAN AIR ACT
Bristol-Meyers Squibb, a pharmaceutical company, has agreed to reduce its emissions of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), an ozone-depleting refrigerant, as a part of an agreement with the US Environmental Protection Agency. The changes agreed under a consent decree filed in US federal court will cost the company about US$3.7 million, in addition to the $127,000 in civil penalties assessed.

Links to further information
Consent Decree, 8 July 2008

PharmTech article, 17 July 2008

ADB ESTABLISHES US$100 MILLION CARBON FUND
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has established a new fund to finance clean energy projects in the Asia-Pacific region that generate carbon credits beyond 2012. The new Future Carbon Fund is designed to stimulate investments in clean energy projects and maintain momentum until an agreement on a post-Kyoto climate framework is reached. Participants in the fund may include both public and private sector entities in ADB’s 67 member countries.

Link to further information
Asian Development Bank press release, 8 July 2008

PLUMMETING PENGUIN POPULATIONS INDICATE CHANGES IN OCEANS -- STUDY
A study published in the journal Bioscience indicates that penguin populations have plummeted in Argentina, mirroring declines in many species of the marine flightless birds due to climate change, pollution and other factors.
Dee Boersma, a University of Washington professor who led the research, noted that since 1987, the population of the largest breeding colony of Magellanic penguins located at Punta Tombo on Argentina’s Atlantic coast has decreased by 22 percent. She listed warming climate, oil pollution, depletion of fisheries, becoming entangled in fishing nets, and coastal development that eliminates breeding habitats as causes of this decline.

Link to further information
Reuters, 1 July 2008

G8 FINANCE MINISTERS SUPPORT, AND WORLD BANK BOARD APPROVES, CLIMATE INVESTMENT FUNDS
The G8 Finance Ministers meeting, which convened in preparation for the Summit of the G8 Heads of State and Government, met from 13-14 June 2008, in Osaka, Japan. During the meeting, Ministers expressed their support for two Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) designed by the World Bank to complement existing bilateral and multilateral efforts, until a post-2012 framework under the UNFCCC is implemented. The CIFs are comprised of a US$10 billion Clean Technology Fund and another multi-billion dollar Strategic Climate Fund. Together, these funds seek to scale up public and private finance for the deployment of clean technologies, prevention of deforestation, and development of climate resilient economies in developing countries. Some NGOs have objected to the funds’ support of “clean coal” power plants, noting that “clean coal” has “nothing to do with renewable energy.”

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved the CIFs on 1 July 2008, following an extensive public consultation process. The funds are designed to provide grants, highly concessional loans, and/or risk mitigation instruments for the implementation of country-led programs and investments. Developing countries will have an equal voice in the governance structures of the funds, and decisions on the use of funds will be made by consensus. An annual Partnership Forum will be held to provide a venue for talks on the strategic directions, results and impacts of the CIFs, the first meeting of which will take place in September, 2008, with initial project or programme approval expected by the end of 2008.

Links to further information
G8 summit information
G8 Finance Ministers meeting
Friends of the Earth press release, 4 June 2008
World Bank press release 2009/001/SDN  

World Bank Climate Investment Funds

PRIVATE SECTOR URGES G8 TO SUPPORT “GREEN INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION”
Executives from 100 of the world’s largest multinational corporations delivered a message to the G8 to support significant long-term cuts in greenhouse gases and support a green “revolution.” The recommendations, which were delivered to the Japanese Government ahead of the 7-9 July 2008 Hokkaido G8 Summit, support an “environmentally effective and economically efficient” agreement post-2012, when the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period expires. The recommendations, which also include at least halving emissions by 2050, were developed following discussions supported by the World Economic Forum and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Links to further information
CEO Climate Policy Recommendations to G8 Leaders (full statement), July 2008
World Economic Forum news release, 20 June 2008
Globe-Net article, 26 June 2008

JUNE 2008

UNGA PRESIDENT DISCUSSES ‘CLIMATE REFUGEES’
UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Srgjan Kerim, speaking at the first annual meeting of the Global Humanitarian Forum, which convened from 24-25 June 2008, in Geneva, Switzerland, discussed the populations being forced from their homes due to climate-related events and environmental changes. In his address, he emphasized the role of the private sector in addressing climate change, and its need for predicable policy on which to base business decisions. He also underscored the role of the UN in responding to the related challenges presented by climate change and sustainable development.

Links to further information
UN News Centre article, 24 June 2008
Text of UNGA President's remarks, 24 June 2008

UNEP CONSIDERS ENVIRONMENTAL REFUGEES ON WORLD REFUGEE DAY
On World Refugee Day, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) noted the high proportion of refugees that are environmental refugees. Citing the International Federation of the Red Cross, UNEP highlighted that climate change is a bigger cause of population displacement than war and persecution.

Link to further information
UNEP press release, 20 June 2008

UNEP RELEASES ATLAS DOCUMENTING AFRICAN ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE
A new publication containing photographs, satellite imagery and narrative illustrates changes to the African global environment over the past 36 years. The UN Environment Programme launched Africa: Atlas of Our Changing Environment in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 10 June 2008 at the 12th session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN). The publication documents deforestation, the effects of climate change, and the impact of growing urban centers in Africa. Images highlight dramatic changes, including the shrinking glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro and in Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains.

Links to further information
UNEP Press Release, 10 June 2008
Africa: Atlas of Our Changing Environment

JAPAN PROPOSES CARBON TRADING TRIAL AND DOMESTIC EMISSION TARGETS
The Japanese Government has announced plans for a trial national carbon market, to be launched in the last quarter of 2008. In a speech delivered on 9 June 2008, Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda also outlined a domestic long-term target of 60-80% emissions reduction, and indicated that medium-term targets would be announced in 2009. Prime Minister Fukuda was also reported to have indicated that a 14% reduction target by 2020, compared to current levels, appeared achievable. These announcements come one month before Japan is to host the annual summit of the Group of 8 industrialized countries, which is expected to discuss climate change among other issues.

Links to further information
Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 9 June 2008
Reuters news report, 9 June 2008

CLIMATE BILL STALLS IN US SENATE
Draft legislation aimed at setting a limit on US greenhouse gas emissions and introducing a cap-and-trade system has been blocked in the US Senate. The bill was unable to gain the 60-vote minimum support needed to overcome attempts by some legislators to block its progress. The legislation would have sought to reduce emissions by 19% from current levels by 2020, and more than two-thirds percent below current levels by 2050. Supporters expect the legislation will be revived in 2009.

Links to further information
Reuters/Yahoo news, 6 June 2008
BBC news, 6 June 2008

REGIONAL CONSULTATION CONVENES ON CLIMATE CHANGE STRATEGIES FOR AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK AND WORLD BANK
The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank jointly organized a regional consultation on their respective strategies on climate change, on 4 June 2008, in Dakar, Senegal. Participants at the event agreed that energy security and long-term climate risk management and adaptation constitute strategic priorities that need to be implemented in their respective countries, and called on both institutions to harmonize their strategies in order to: make them complementary; reflect national and sub-regional strategies in their climate change strategies; and set up an innovative financial mechanism for African countries.

Link to further information
AfDB press release, 6 June 2008

OCEAN DAY FOCUSES ON CLIMATE CHANGE
World Ocean Day, celebrated on 8 June, was first proposed in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit by the Government of Canada.  Although not yet officially designated by the UN, a number of countries mark 8 June each year to raise awareness of issues related to the protection of the marine environment. This year’s celebrations revolved around the theme “helping our climate/helping our ocean,” with a special focus on coral reefs, to take advantage of International Year of the Reef 2008.

Link to further information
World Ocean Day website

 

EUROPEAN PROJECT ON OCEAN ACIDIFICATION LAUNCHED

The European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA) was launched on 10 June 2008. This EU research project is a consortium of over 100 scientists from 27 organizations in nine countries to address ocean acidification. Its goal is to document ocean acidification, investigate its impact on biological processes, predict its consequences for the next 100 years, and advise policy-makers on potential thresholds or tipping points that should not be exceeded.  

Link to further information
EPOCA website

WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY OBSERVED
In advance of World Environment Day, which is observed on 5 June, Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, likened fossil fuel dependence to a “dangerous addiction.” World Environment Day 2008 was hosted by Wellington, New Zealand, under the theme is “Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy.”

Links to further information
Text of Secretary-General's statement, 23 May 2008
Press Release on World Environment Day Event, 23 May 2008

World Environment Day 2008 website

USEPA HONORS OZONE LAYER PROTECTION WINNERS
The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) honored the winners of this year’s Climate Protection and Stratospheric Ozone Layer Protection Awards on 19 May 2008, in Washington, DC, US. Thirty-nine
individuals, organizations and companies from around the world were recognized for their efforts to protect the Earth’s climate and stratospheric ozone layer. Ozone protection awardees included  the Chinese negotiators at the 19th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, who played a key role in the agreement to accelerate the phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and the National Ozone Unit from Bahrain, which has led efforts to phase-out ozone depleting substances in the region. Climate protection awardees included the Climate Protection Team of Durwood Zaelke and Scott Stone (US), Romina Picolotti (Argentina) and Rajendra K. Pachauri (India).

Links to further information
USEPA Press Release, 19 May 2008
2008 Ozone Protection Awards website

2008 Climate Protection Awards website

MAY 2008

OZONE SCIENTIST HONORED AS ONE OF WORLD’S MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE
Susan Solomon, an atmospheric scientist with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is credited by Time magazine as playing a key role in saving the stratospheric ozone layer through her work in the Arctic to confirm ozone depletion and the role of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in ozone depletion. She is also recognized for her efforts related to climate change, in her role as co-chair of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Link to further information
Time article, May 2008

NEW STUDY SHOWS MAJOR CLIMATE IMPACTS
A study from NASA and several other institutions shows that anthropogenic climate change has affected a wide range of Earth’s natural systems. The research, which was published on 15 May 2008 in the journal Nature, showed impacts ranging from the thawing of permafrost to changes in growing seasons.

Link to further information
NASA announcement, May 2008

INDUSTRY WARNS ABOUT HCFC IMPORTS
The Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy is warning that illegal hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) imports appear to be rising, as demand for these refrigerants remains strong in the face of diminishing supply given the recent agreement to accelerate their phase-out under the Montreal Protocol.
 

Link to further information
Earth Times article, 21 May 2008

G-8 CONSIDERS LONG-TERM TARGET, EC URGES CDM REFORM
The Group of Eight (G-8) major industrialized countries and other major economies are expected to consider long-term targets for cutting emissions by 2050, according to news reports. The issue of long-term targets is expected to be on the agenda for the G-8 leaders’ summit in July in Hokkaido, Japan, and for pre-Summit talks among environment ministers, scheduled for late May in Kobe.   

Meanwhile, the European Commission is calling for a reform to the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) for the post-2012 period, according to reports. The Commission apparently favors sectoral approaches and limiting the number of credits available under the CDM.  

In related news, 11 large Brazilian companies have agreed to start measuring and reporting their greenhouse gas emissions using a voluntary registry – the Brazil Greenhouse Gas Protocol Programme.

Links to further information
Kyodo / AP / AOL news, 18 May 2008
Reuters/PlanetArk news, 16 May 2008

Environmental Finance/WBCSD report, 15 May 2008

Reuters/WBCSD report, 9 May 2008

CFC-FREE ASTHMA INHALERS CAUSE CONSUMER CONCERN
The phase-out of asthma inhalers that do not contain ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) is reported to be a continuing source of concern to consumers in the US. Although the full phase-out of metered-dose inhalers with CFCs, driven by commitments made under the Montreal Protocol, will take effect 1 January 2009, some reports indicate that 4 to 5 million users still have not transitioned to the CFC-free inhalers. Advocates and users point to higher prices, lack of education, and differences in how the inhalers function and taste as reasons for resistance.

Link to further information
New York Times article, 13 May 2008

CHINA, JAPAN DISCUSS CLIMATE ACTION; GREENPEACE QUESTIONS CARBON STORAGE
Japan and China have agreed to collaborate on climate change mitigation and will reiterate a commitment to a post-2012 agreement, according to reports. A joint statement was expected by the countries’ leaders on 7 May 2008, which was anticipated to refer to a sectoral approach – something that Japan is reported to favor. According to one report, the agreement would also refer to carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.

In related news, Greenpeace has released a new report that labels CCS as a “scam.” Its report, entitled “False Hope,” refers to technologies for capturing carbon dioxide as “unproven.” The use of CCS is currently being considered as part of an agreement for the post-2012 period, although a final deal is not expected until December 2009.

Links to further information
The Asahi Shimbun, 6 May 2008
AFP news, 5 May 2008

Greenpeace release, 5 May 2008

SCIENTISTS CONSIDER INTERACTION BETWEEN CLIMATE CHANGE AND OZONE DEPLETION
In an article published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, scientists report that their modeling simulations suggest that the recovery of the ozone layer, expected in about 60 years, will reduce winds over the Southern Ocean that have protected the interior of Antarctica from some of the impact of global warming. As a result of this expected change in winds, Antarctic temperatures are expected to increase.

In other news on the interaction of ozone depletion and global warming, scientists have reported that a suggested global warming solution, in which sulfate particles would be sprayed into the stratosphere to block the sun and cool the planet, would exacerbate Arctic ozone depletion and delay recovery of the Antarctic ozone hole by 30 to 70 years.

Links to further information
Science abstract, 24 April 2008
ScienceNow article, 24 April 2008
Reuter's article, 24 April 2008
Geophysical Research Letters abstract, 26 April 2008
ScrippsNews article, 1 May 2008

Reuter's article, 2 May 2008

APRIL 2008

RUSSIA COOL ON POST-2012 EMISSIONS CAP
The Russian Federation is not in favor of placing binding limits on carbon emissions post-2012, according to a news report. In a media interview, Russian official Vsevolod Gavrilov reportedly said Russia would resist capping emissions on fossil fuels, apparently stating that “this would not be our model,” and citing instead a focus on transferring technology, market mechanisms, and support.

Link to further information
Reuters/ENN report, 29 April 2008

STUDY SUGGESTS SUBSTANTIAL ILLEGAL TRADE IN OZONE DEPLETING CHEMICALS
A United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) study on Asian trade in chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) suggests wide discrepancies in import and export figures, with 7000-14,000 tonnes of CFCs smuggled each year into developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The study’s results support the recent emphasis on illegal trade as one of the roadblocks remaining in protecting the stratospheric ozone layer. India and South Korea are the two remaining large producers of CFCs in the region.

Links to further information
Herald Sun article, 23 April 2008
The Times of India article, 27 April 2008

UNITAR TO ORGANIZE WORKSHOP ON BIODIVERSITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE
The UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the Kushiro International Wetland Centre, in partnership with Japan-UNDP Partnership Fund and the Secretariats of the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity, will organize a workshop on biodiversity and climate change in the context of wetlands and water resource management, to be held from 29 June - 4 July 2008, in Kushiro, Japan. The workshop aims to support the sharing of scientific facts and policies on biodiversity, wetlands and climate change, provide analytical knowledge to understand and practically use the scientific data and documentation, facilitate exchange of ideas and strengthen the Kushiro/UNITAR network of experts in wetlands, biodiversity and climate change. Up to 30 participants will be selected, including national policy-makers and project managers from environmental, climate or water disciplines and working on biodiversity and climate change issues.

Link to further information
UNITAR Series on biodiversity webpage

CDM PASSES 1000 PROJECTS
The Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has passed a major milestone with the registering of its 1000th project. The CDM, which allows for developed countries to receive credits for their emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol by developing projects in developing countries, has registered 1000 projects in two-and-a-half years.   

Links to further information
UNFCCC press release, 14 April 2008

ILO DIRECTOR-GENERAL CALLS FOR DIALOGUE TO ADDRESS EMPLOYMENT DIMENSION OF CLIMATE CHANGE
On 10 April 2008, on the occasion of
the Spring 2008 Meetings of the IMF and World Bank, International Labour Office (ILO) Director-General Juan Somavia identified four priorities for the multilateral system: fiscal policies for social and economic stability; international regulation of financial markets; sustainable enterprise development; and the employment dimension of policies to address climate change. Somavia noted that enterprises will invest in building up an economic infrastructure to tackle carbon emissions, adapting production systems and shifting to renewable resources to mitigate climate change effects. He emphasized the role for dialogue between management and union representatives as “an essential mechanism for developing strategies for such transitions that are both efficient and equitable,” as existing jobs become redundant and new jobs are created. He highlighted that “green” jobs may be one of the solutions against the current economic slowdown, and said that the ILO is partnering with UNEP on the Green Jobs Initiative, to promote dialogue and action to address the challenges of climate change to employment.   

Links to further information
UN News Centre, 10 April 2008

Statement of Juan Somavia, ILO Director-General

ISO TO DEVELOP AN ENERGY MANAGEMENT STANDARD
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has launched a project to develop an international standard for energy management, following the successful examples of the ISO 9000 series on quality management and the ISO 14000 series on environmental management. The creation of a project committee (referred to as ISO/PC 242) signals the first step in the development of the standard, which is expected to provide a practical and widely recognized approach to increasing energy efficiency, reducing costs and improving environmental performance by addressing both the technical and management aspects of rational energy use. It will also offer organizations with operations in more than one country a single, harmonized standard for implementation across the organization, and provide a logical and consistent methodology for identifying and implementing improvements that may contribute to a continual increase in energy efficiency across facilities. The standard is intended to be broadly applicable to various sectors of national economies, including utility, manufacturing, commercial building, general commerce and transportation sectors, and therefore could have influence on as much as 60 percent of the world’s energy demand. A working group meeting co-organized by UNIDO and the China Standard Certification Service convened in Beijing, China, on 9-11 April 2008, and the secretariat of ISO/PC 242 will be held jointly by the ISO members for the United States and Brazil: ANSI (American National Standardization Institute) and ABNT (Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas).

Links to further information
ISO press release, 27 March 2008
Working Group Meeting: Towards an International Energy Management System Standard, Beijing, China, on 9-11 April 2008

CLIMATE-HEALTH LINKS HIGHLIGHTED ON WORLD HEALTH DAY
On the occasion of World Health Day 2008, Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), issued a statement indicating that climate change will erode the foundations of public health, and noting that “climate-sensitive impacts on human health are occurring today.” To address the health effects of climate change, WHO is coordinating and supporting research on the most effective measures to protect health from climate change, with specific attention to vulnerable populations in developing countries.

Links to further information
World Health Day 2008 website
UNEP press release, 7 April 2008

GEF-FUNDED BIOMASS GAS PLANT INAUGURATED IN RURAL INDIA
On 24 March 2008, a biomass gasifier plant that converts wood or agricultural residues into a combustible gas mixture was inaugurated in Boregunte, a remote village in the Karnataka region of southern India. The plant was funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and supported by the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the Government of India, the Government of Karnataka, and the UN Development Programme. It is the second plant commissioned under the Biomass in Rural India (BERI) project, which seeks to promote remote communities’ access to electricity in an environment friendly, carbon neutral way, and it has the capacity of delivering 250 kilowatt-hours of electricity. Additional plants are scheduled to be commissioned in the same region during 2008.

Links to further information
UNDP press release, 24 March 2008
BERI website

MARCH 2008

ENVIRONMENT CRIME HIGHLIGHTED AS SERIOUS PROBLEM
The World Customs Organization and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) are highlighting illegal trade in ozone-depleting substances, hazardous waste, endangered species and other environmentally sensitive items as a serious problem with a global impact. According to their press release, the international community is increasingly mobilized to address this problem, in which organized crime groups are involved. Participants in a recent meeting at the World Customs Organization agreed on an Action Plan to fight environment crime that emphasizes the prioritization of environment crime within Customs administration, as well as international cooperation.

Link to further information
World Customs Organization Press Release, 27 March 2008

ARCTIC’S LONG-TERM SEA ICE DECLINING - NASA
Long-term sea ice in the Arctic is declining significantly, according to new research released by NASA. While a cold winter in some parts of the Arctic had led to an increase in new sea ice, the “perennial” or longer-term sea ice that remains over summer has continued to decline. The 2007 summer witnessed the smallest area of ice yet recorded for the Arctic.

Links to further information
NASA press release, 18 March 2008
BBC news report, 18 March 2008

GLACIER MONITORING CENTRE REPORTS RECORD THINNING
The world’s glaciers continue to melt away at record speed, according to findings from the World Glacier Monitoring Service, a centre supported by the UN Environment Programme and based at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Data from close to 30 reference glaciers in nine mountain ranges in Antarctica, Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America and the Pacific indicates that, between 2004-2006, the average rate of melting and thinning more than doubled.

Links to further information
World Glacier Monitoring Service website
UNEP press release, 16 March 2008

UNDP RECEIVES US$ 137 MILLION GRANT FROM JAPAN

With a view to strengthening its partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Japan transferred a grant of US$ 137 million to UNDP on 12 March 2008. According to UNDP, the grant will support projects such as reconstruction assistance in Afghanistan and the response to humanitarian crisis and peace-building in Africa, with a particular focus on African countries that are vulnerable to climate change. US$ 96 million will be earmarked for the latter project.

Links to further information
UNDP press release, 12 March 2008

STRATOSPHERIC OZONE AFFECTS ATMOSPHERIC AIR FLOWS
The results of climate simulations conducted at the Alfred Wegner Institute, published in “Geophysical Research Letters,” suggest that stratospheric ozone chemistry significantly influences airflow patterns. The authors of the article highlighted these interactions between ozone and climate as one source of uncertainty in climate models.

Link to further information
NASA media alert, 7 March 2008
Geophysical Research Letters article abstract, 8 March 2008

US READY FOR BINDING EMISSIONS TARGETS; HOLDS TALKS WITH CHINA, DENMARK
The US would accept “binding international obligations” on its greenhouse gas emissions if other countries do likewise, according to statements from Bush administration officials. At a news conference in Paris, France, on 25 February 2008, James Connaughton and Daniel Price indicated a willingness on the part of the US Administration to take on binding targets, perhaps as soon as the G8 summit in July 2008. However, Price emphasized that all major economies, including developing nations such as China and India, would need to take on binding obligations. Responding to the US announcement, the head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Yvo de Boer, welcomed the openness to binding goals, but said calls for China and other developing countries to take on similar obligations was “not realistic.”   

Meanwhile, the US has also been engaged in talks with Danish and Chinese officials. According to reports, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen told US President George W. Bush in a meeting on 1 March 2008, that American leadership was needed to reach a new global agreement in Copenhagen in 2009, and to help motivate countries such as China and India to contribute. United States and Chinese officials also met on the weekend of 1-2 March 2008, in Seattle, Washington, to discuss clean energy. The meeting is expected to lead to more high-level discussions in the future.

Links to further information
Washington Post report, 2 March 2008
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2 March 2008
BBC news report, 25 February 2008
AP report, 25 February 2008

JAPAN PLANS RENEWABLES SUPPORT FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Japan is planning to join the US and UK by contributing almost US$2 billion to a new fund to support the use of renewable energy technology in developing countries, according to news reports. The funding, which would match similar announcements by the US and UK in recent weeks, follows a recent pledge by Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukoda at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2008, that his government would earmark US$10 to support climate change and energy activities in developing countries.  

Links to further information
Reuters/ENN report, 1 March 2008
World Economic Forum report, January 2008 

MDG CARBON FACILITY SET TO LAUNCH FIRST PROJECTS
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has announced an agreement with financial services group Fortis to launch the first projects of the MDG Carbon Facility. Three methane capture projects located in Uzbekistan, Macedonia, and Yemen, and a renewable energy project in Rwanda, will aim to use financing from carbon credits to benefit the environment, as well as to further economic and social development.

“The MDG Carbon Facility enables us to do two things at once: Support sustainable development at ground level and also make a real contribution to worldwide efforts to mitigate emissions,” said Olav Kjørven, UNDP Assistant Administrator and a member of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Change Team. The partnership between UNDP and Fortis covers an initial pipeline of projects that will generate 15 million carbon credits during the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period (2008-2012).

Links to further information
UNDP press release, 21 February 2008
MDG Carbon Facility website

FEBRUARY 2008

CHINA ADDRESSING ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF INCREASED AIR CONDITIONING DEMAND
The demand for air conditioning in China has increased dramatically in recent years – tripling in the last decade. As a party the Montreal Protocol, however, China is reportedly beginning to take measures to decrease air conditioning units’ use of ozone depleting chemicals.

Link to further information
Global Industry Analysts press release, 28 February 2008
Forbes story, 10 February 2008 

DEFORESTATION IN SUMATRA FOR PULP AND PALM OIL CAUSES GLOBAL CLIMATE IMPACT AND LOCAL WILDLIFE LOSSES
A recent study by WWF and partners has found that 4.2 million hectares of tropical forests and peatlands have been cleared in the last 25 years in a central Sumatran province. The land conversion, mostly for industrial palm oil and pulp and paper production, released annual carbon emissions equivalent to 58 percent of Australia’s annual emissions. Concurrent to the loss of 65% of the province’s forest cover, elephant populations declined by 84%, and tiger populations by 70%.

Link to further information
WWF Media Release, 26 February 2008

UNEP ANNOUNCES CLIMATE NEUTRAL NETWORK
The Climate Neutral Network (CN Net), a new online initiative to address climate change, has been launched by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), in cooperation with the UN Environment Management Group. Four countries – Costa Rica, Iceland, New Zealand and Norway – as well as four cities and five corporations, have teamed up to initiate the CN Net in an effort to unite the growing number of nations, local authorities and companies that are pledging to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The aim of the initiative is to support the sharing of ideas and lessons learned on greenhouse gas emissions reductions or offsets that could help lead to zero net emissions. The initiative was launched during the 10th Special Session of UNEP’s Governing Council in February 2008.

Link to further information
UNEP press release, 21 February 2008

VALUE OF SATELLITE OBSERVATIONS REVIEWED
At a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, scientists – in response to a National Research Council retrospective on Earth observations – lauded the many achievements made possible by observations from space, highlighting the importance of satellite monitoring for the environment, including for ozone and climate monitoring. Scientists are worried that replacements for the last generation of observational satellites have not been developed, and will hamper the future monitoring of environmental change.

Links to further information
MSNBC story, 19 February 2008
Earth Observations from Space: The First 50 Years of Scientific Achievements, National Research Council report, December 2007

BUSH, BAN TALK CLIMATE CHANGE; CHINA RULES OUT TARGETS
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged US President George W. Bush to take the lead in post-Bali talks to secure a global post-2012 agreement on climate change. During their meeting in Washington, DC, US, on 15 February 2008, Ban reportedly told Bush that he was counting on US leadership.

Meanwhile, a senior Chinese official has reiterated his government’s position that China would not accept binding greenhouse gas emissions targets or limits as part of the current multilateral negotiations. In an interview reported by the Greenwire news service, Ambassador Yu Qingtai indicated that China would continue domestic initiatives but would not be bound by emissions targets.

Links to further information
Reuters/PlanetArk news report, 18 February 2008
Greenwire/WBCSD, 14 February 2008

NORWAY TO FUND CLIMATE CHANGE RESEARCH IN HIMALAYAS
The Norwegian Government has announced that it will provide NOK 25 million in financial support to the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Nepal and its work on climate change in the Himalayan region. The Centre is facilitating the exchange of knowledge and information between Himalayan countries, to improve nature conservation and to adapt to climate change. Norway will also offer financial support for the Norwegian research centres CICERO and UNEP/GRID-Arendal to convey their competence and experience to ICIMOD and their partners.

Link to further information
Norwegian Government news release, 8 February 2008

ADJUSTMENTS TO HCFC PHASEOUT TO ENTER INTO FORCE IN MAY 2008
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his capacity as depositary of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, has advised parties that the adjustments made to the Montreal Protocol at the Nineteenth Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (17-21 September 2007) will enter into force on 14 May 2008. The changes accelerate the phaseout of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). Recent increases in HCFC production in developing countries have been linked to unintended perverse incentives unintentionally created by the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.

Link to further information
Ozone Secretarial website
BBC News, 24 September 2007

UNFCCC ANNOUNCES DATES FOR FIRST SESSION OF NEW SUBSIDIARY BODY
The Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has confirmed that the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention, and the fifth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG), will be held from 31 March - 4 April 2008. The venue for the sessions will be announced shortly, following further consultations.

Link to further information
UNFCCC website

CRITICAL USE EXEMPTION FOR GOLF COURSES DERIDED
Golf courses’ receipt of a critical use exemption from the phaseout of methyl bromide in the US is, according the author of this opinion piece, an example of a drift away from enjoyment of the “natural environment.”

Link to further information
Monterey County Herald, 3 February 2008

MONTREAL PROTOCOL CONTINUES TO BE HIGHLIGHTED AS BIPARTISAN SUCCESS
Former US President Ronald Reagan’s support for the Montreal Protocol is discussed by this author as one of the arenas in which pragmatism overcame the divide between Democrats and Republicans in the US.

Link to further information
The Daily Green, 3 February 2008

JANUARY 2008

TWO SUPERMARKET CHAINS JOIN EPA’S GREENCHILL PARTNERSHIP
Whole Foods and Hannaford Brothers, two supermarket chains, have joined eight other founding members of the GreenChill Partnership, a voluntary partnership established by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Partners agree to inventory and set reductions targets for greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting substances.

Links to further information
EPA Press Release, 28 January 2008
Associated Press, 28 January 2008

EU, US CONSIDER CLIMATE PLANS; JAPAN PONDERS POST-2012 BASELINE
The European Commission is set to release specific plans for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Outlining the goals in a speech delivered in London, UK, on 21 January 2008, European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso referred to actions “to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 20%... meet the target of an overall share of 20% for renewables in the EU's overall energy consumption, and increase our energy efficiency by 20%.” Barroso stressed market mechanisms and the need for a comprehensive international agreement for the post-2012 period. He indicated that the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme would be extended to include more greenhouse gases and “all major industrial emitters,” and also urged a focus on “sustainable biofuels.” Some media reports have noted internal disagreements over the role of nuclear energy – an issue that Barroso’s speech did not address. The Commission’s plans were scheduled for release on 23 January.

Meanwhile, the US has reportedly warned that the EU should not use climate change as a reason for trade protectionism, with US trade representative Susan Schwab expressing concerns at a meeting in Brussels after French President Nicolas Sarkozy suggested that an EU tax could be placed on countries that do not agree to limit their carbon emissions.

The US also recently announced plans for a large fund to assist developing countries gain access to clean energy technologies – an announcement that Yvo de Boer, the head of the UNFCCC Secretariat, praised as a “Marshall Plan” for climate change.  

In other news, reports suggest that Japan may propose using the year 2000 as the baseline year for emissions targets for the post-2012 period, rather than the Kyoto Protocol’s current 1990 baseline. For most countries, emissions were higher in 2000 than in 1990, making targets based on a 2000 baseline potentially easier to achieve.  

Links to further information
AFP report on Japan’s baseline proposal, 21 January 2008
BBC news report on climate change “protectionism,” 21 January 2008
Barroso’s speech on climate change, European Commission release, 21 January 2008

AFP/India Times article on EU plans, 21 January 2008
Reuters/PlanetArk report on US technology fund, 17 January 2008

US ALLOCATES 2008 METHYL BROMIDE CRITICAL USE EXEMPTIONS

The US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has issued final methyl bromide production and import critical use exemptions for 2008. Under the Montreal Protocol, industrial nations agreed to end all use of methyl bromide by 2005, because it is a potent ozone depletor. Since 2004 however, some countries have invoked a “critical use exemption” to extend their deadline. The EPA authorized 4,813,452 kilograms (4,813.5 metric tonnes) of methyl bromide for approved critical uses in 2008, which will include strawberry and tomato production, as well as commodity fumigation. This amount is less than the amount authorized by the meeting of the Montreal Protocol parties, which authorized 5,355,946 kilograms. According to the EPA, the authorized amount was adjusted to account for the increased use of alternatives among methyl bromide users, and unused methyl bromide from previous years, effectively reducing more than 500,000 kilograms of potential methyl bromide releases.

 

Link to further information

US EPA Newsroom, 20 December 2007

STUDY WARNS AGAINST RISING MEDITERRANEAN SEA LEVELS
According to the study Climate Change in the Spanish Mediterranean, released by the Spanish Oceanographic Institute, the level of the Mediterranean is rising rapidly and could increase by another half meter in the next 50 years unless climate change is reversed. The salinity of the sea has also risen, in part due to the reduced rainfall in the region. The study also notes that these trends are global phenomena.

Link to further information
TerraDaily, 18 January 2008

WMO LAUNCHES CLIMATE CHANGE STRATEGY
The World Meteorological Organization has announced a new strategy for using dozens of satellites to monitor climate change and extreme events. The strategy highlights the role of a strengthened system of satellites and was a focus of discussions at the annual WMO Consultative Meetings on High-level Policy on Satellite Matters taking place in New Orleans, US, from 15-16 January 2008.

Link to further information
WMO Press Release, 11 January 2008

IUCN SURVEY PLACES BIODIVERSITY AT CENTER OF CLIMATE DEBATE
A survey of 1,000 climate decision-makers and influencers from across 105 countries conducted by GlobeScan, IUCN-the World Conservation Union and the World Bank immediately prior the Bali Climate Change Conference concluded that these individuals emphasize biodiversity protection as a means to help guide climate actions. Among other key findings, the survey revealed that respondents consider biofuels produced from food crops like corn to have the least potential of 18 technologies for reducing carbon emissions over the next 25 years.

Links to further information
IUCN press release, 10 December 2007
The survey

BARCLAYS CAPITAL LAUNCHES GLOBAL CARBON INDEX
Barclays Capital has launched a Global Carbon Index that will track the performance of carbon credits associated with the world�s major greenhouse gas emissions trading schemes, initially the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the Kyoto Protocol Clean Development Mechanism. Commenting on the launch, a Barclays Capital representative said the index will offer investors direct and transparent access to the global carbon arena, which has the potential to become one of the world�s largest and most important commodities markets. Barclays Capital is a signatory to the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), a global partnership between the UNEP and the financial sector.

Links to further information
ClimateBiz Press release, 10 December 2007
UNEP FI website

KYOTO PROTOCOL�S FIRST COMMITMENT PERIOD BEGINS
The first �commitment period� has started for countries with emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol. The commitment period, which began on 1 January 2008, will continue for five years, concluding on 31 December 2012. During this period, most industrialized countries and countries with �economies in transition� (including the Russian Federation, the Baltic States, and several Central and Eastern European States), are obliged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions below levels agreed under the Protocol. These targets compare emissions for the period 2008-2012 against a baseline year of 1990. While each country�s target differs, the average reduction expected from this group is five percent. In an effort to meet their obligations, many countries are already employing domestic measures, as well as using the Protocol�s �flexible mechanism� (emissions trading, joint implementation, and the Clean Development Mechanism, CDM). In December 2007, the 100 millionth certified emission reduction (CER) credit under the CDM was issued, with UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer highlighting this as a significant achievement after only two years in operation.

Links to further information
Background information on the Kyoto Protocol
UNFCCC Secretariat press release, 18 December 2007

EU TO INCLUDE AVIATION IN EMISSIONS TRADING SCHEME
The EU�s Environment Council has decided to include aircraft emissions in the EU�s emissions trading scheme. The decision, which was taken on 20 December 2007, just days after the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali drew to a close, would include aviation emissions starting in 2012. Under the scheme, aviation emissions would be capped at the level of emissions during 2004-2006. The Council agreed on an exemption for operators with �very low traffic levels� - mostly operators from some developing countries. There will also be exemptions for military flights, and allowances for new entrants and �very fast-growing airlines.�

While the European Commission praised the agreement, some others have been critical. Industry groups said the proposal would cost airlines billions of dollars annually, while environmental organizations have said the scheme is too lenient and would represent a subsidy to industry. Some were also concerned at the level of ambition of the scheme and the timing for its introduction, since an earlier proposal would have seen the scheme introduced in 2011, one year earlier than the final deal.

Links to further information
European Commission press release, 20 December 2007
ENN/Reuters news report, 20 December 2007
BBC news report, 20 December 2007
Transport and Environment/Aviationwatch press release, 2 January 2008
Aviationwatch news release, 23 December 2007

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