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MEDIA REPORTS

CLIMATE AND ATMOSPHERE

This page was updated on: 01/14/10

2009

 

Climate and Atmosphere Media Reports Archives: 2010; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002

DECEMBER 2009

UNEP PROVIDES TRAINING TO YEMENI RESEARCHERS TO COMBAT WATER SCARCITY
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has extended the Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE) project to Yemen, with a view to transferring scientific knowledge that may contribute to fighting climate change, food crises and water scarcity. UNEP, the World Health Organization, Yemen’s Environmental Protection Authority and the Ministry of Water and Environment trained 30 Yemeni researchers, scientists, planners and lecturers in the use of OARE to support the country as it faces increasing environmental challenges due to climate change. According to a recent World Bank report, Yemen, whose economy largely depends on the fishing and oil industries, is facing a steep decline in fish stock and production.

The OARE project started in 2007, when UNEP, in partnership with the WHO, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Yale and Cornell Universities, international publishers and private sector groups built one of the largest electronic collections of scientific knowledge in environmental and related areas.

Link to further information
UN press release, 30 December 2009

GEF TO FUND CLEAN ENERGY TRANSPORT IN LATIN AMERICA
The World Bank has approved two Global Environment Facility (GEF) grants to fund clean energy transport in Mexican and Brazilian cities. Grants for  US$5.38 million  for cities in Mexico and US$8.53 million for cities in Brazil were approved as part of the regional Sustainable Transport and Air Quality (STAQ) Program, which seeks to reduce the emission of air pollutants in several important Latin American cities, fostering long-term increases in the patronage of less energy intensive transport modes. Participating cities were selected through a competition in which 47 cities from 12 countries in Latin America participated as part of the GEF’s STAQ Program implemented in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

Links to additional information
World Bank press release, 28 December 2009
World Bank press release, 29 December 2009

 

NORWAY LAUNCHES CLIMATE GROUP ON FORESTS
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg announced, on 22 December 2009, that he would put together a group of rainforest countries, including Brazil, Indonesia, Guyana, Gabon and Papua New Guinea, with the goal of ensuring that efforts against deforestation will be central in a climate agreement in Mexico in 2010.

In related news, during the Copenhagen negotiations, Australia, France, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States collectively agreed to dedicate US$3.5 billion as initial public financing between 2010-2012 for REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, including conservation, sustainable forest management (SFM) and stock enhancement).

 

Links to further information
Norwegian Government website, 22 December 2009

UK Government press release, 16 December 2009

CLIMATE INVESTMENT FUNDS INVEST IN ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND CLEAN ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES
Countries governing the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) endorsed the infusion of a total of US$800 million from the CIF Clean Technology Fund (CTF) for Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand to invest in a range of innovative climate activities. These include catalyzing private sector investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy through local banks, transmission system upgrades to reduce losses and support renewable energy development, and significant urban transport improvements.

The CIF have also launched a new program: Scaling up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries (SREP), with pledges for US$260.7 million. The Clean Technology Fund (CTF) also approved financing of US$750 million on 2 December 2009, to accelerate global deployment of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). It will do so by investing in the CSP programs of five countries: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.

Links to additional information
CIF press release, 16 December 2009
World Bank press release, 14 December 2009

UNEP AND ICLEI LAUNCH CARBONN
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has announced a joint initiate with the Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) to create the Bonn Center for Local Climate Action and Reporting - carbonn. According to UNEP, carbonn aims to facilitate the access of local governments to climate benchmarking instruments. carbonn will assist local governments report and compare their commitments, policies, programs and performance in greenhouse gas emission reductions. It will also play a role in developing standards and providing guidance on local emissions accounting and reporting.

Link to further information
UNEP press release, 14 December 2010

 

EMISSION REDUCTIONS COMMITMENTS AND PLEDGES ANNOUNCED IN THE RUN UP TO COPENHAGEN

With the anticipated Copenhagen Climate change talks set to convene from 7-18 December 2009, various countries have unveiled emission reduction pledges and commitments. US President Barack Obama has announced he will attend the event and address negotiators on 9 December, where he will make a provisional pledge to cut US greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. China has announced that it will trim its “carbon intensity” by 40-45 percent by the year 2020 as compared to 2005 levels. Carbon intensity is defined as the amount of greenhouse gases emitted for each unit of nation income. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has pledged to cut Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions by between 36.1-38.9 percent from projected 2020 levels, if industrialized countries provide the requisite support. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unveiled what they called a "green partnership," affirming their commitment to fighting climate change. Russia has also raised its 2020 targets from an earlier 10-15% pledge up to 22-25% (from 1990 levels).


Links to further information

Reuters press report, 26 November 2009
China View press report, 19 November 2009
Voice of America press report, 26 November 2009

Chicago Tribute press report, 26 November 2009
Clean Tech brief, 1 December 2009

ANI News report, 25 November 2009

 

UNDP, IEA AND WHO REPORT UNDERLINES NEED FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AGREEMENT TO ADDRESS ENERGY POVERTY
On 23 November 2009, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), with the support of the International Energy Agency (IEA), released a new report titled “The Energy Access Situation in Developing Countries: A Review Focusing on the Least Developed Countries and Sub-Saharan Africa.” The report indicates that over 1.5 billion people currently lack access to electricity. 

At the launch of the publication at UN Headquarters in New York, US, Olav Kjorven, Assistant Administrator and Director of Development Policy at UNDP, highlighted the need to ensure that any new climate agreement adequately addresses energy poverty. Noting that over three billion people rely on highly polluting solid fuels for cooking, he stated that “For a climate deal to work, it also has to be a development deal.” IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol added that improving energy access for the disenfranchised would not have a significant impact on the environment, citing a recent study that found that if everyone in the world got access to electricity, carbon dioxide emissions would rise by only 0.9%.

Links to further information
UN News Centre, 23 November 2009
UNDP press release, 23 November 2009
UN press conference transcript

 

UNFPA REPORT FOCUSES ON WOMEN, POPULATION GROWTH AND CLIMATE CHANGE
On 18 November 2009, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) launched “The State of World Population 2009 Report on Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate Change.” At the launch of the report, UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid noted that the report focuses on the impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable, such as the 1.5 billion poor people living under US$1 dollar a day, and on poor women who are most likely to lose their livelihoods and to die of natural disasters. The report stresses that policies, programmes and international agreements should take into account the special and unique needs and potential of women as agents for change. It makes the case that access to reproductive health services, including family planning and lower fertility rates, can contribute to climate mitigation and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The report also focuses on investments that can empower women and girls, such as education and health interventions, which can reduce poverty and contribute to addressing climate change.

Links to further information
UNFPA press release, 18 November 2009
UNFPA state of the world population 2009

NOVEMBER 2009

DEVELOPMENT BANKS ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE, ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLES IN CHINA AND ADAPTATION IN THE PACIFIC

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing a total of EUR 134 million in four operations that will contribute to the abatement of 830 thousand tons of CO2 emissions per year in China. The projects include, inter alia, the construction and operation of a sodium carbonate and ammonium chloride co-product plant, using the CO2 currently vented from the existing fertilizer complex. All projects will seek CDM registration for carbon credit generation.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved US$3.47 million in grants to help the 14 Pacific developing countries build up their capacity to respond to challenges posed by climate change. Projects will support the mainstreaming of climate change risk management into each country’s development strategies and programs.

In related news, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a cooperation agreement to share their expertise in support of sustainable development, including on the economics of climate change. The two institutions have agreed to cooperate by sharing knowledge in several areas including sustainable urban development, environmental sustainability and the economics of climate change.

 

Links to further information

EIB press release, 30 November 2009

ADB press release, 24 November 2009

OECD press release, 27 November 2009

 

WORLD BANK ORGANIZES ROUNDTABLE ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

The World Bank organized a roundtable on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change organized by the World Bank and First Peoples Worldwide, in Washington DC, USA.  The event brought together indigenous peoples representatives from around the world as well as non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and bilateral and international organizations to exchange ideas, forge partnerships, and create synergies to map the way forward for an Indigenous Peoples Climate Action Fund (IPCAF), a fund to be managed and implemented by First Peoples Worldwide, with the World Bank playing an advisory role.


Link to further information

World Bank press release, 18 November 2009

 

WORLD BANK GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT MARKETPLACE AWARDS US$4.8 MILLION TO INNOVATIVE ADAPTATION IDEAS

The World Bank awarded close to US$5 million to twenty-six innovative climate adaptation projects, through a contest for community-based ideas to tackle the effects of climate change. Winning projects include SZTR Sunce’s initiative to mitigate the effects of climate change induced bacterial blooms on commercial fishponds (Serbia); the University of Los Baños ‘Bell and Bottle’ initiative – providing a low cost, high efficacy flood and landslide warning system (the Philippines); and the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan’s idea to build elevated bamboo houses, essentially lifting communities in flood zones out of harm’s way (Ecuador).

 

Links to further information

World Bank press release, 13 November 2009


UNDP AND SPAIN SIGN NEW PARTNERSHIP TO BOOST EFFORTS TO ADDRESS POVERTY AND CLIMATE CHANGE
On 10 November 2009, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark and Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation Soraya Rodriguez signed a multi-year Strategic Partnership Agreement primarily supporting UNDP projects targeting poverty and addressing climate change. The close to €400 million partnership will help finance projects that aim to reduce poverty and vulnerability by supporting interventions that improve environmental management and service delivery at the national and local levels, increase access to new financing mechanisms and enhance capacity to adapt to climate change. 

The earlier agreement signed between Spain and UNDP dates back to 2006, when the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Achievement Fund was established to manage €528 million – the largest contribution from a single bilateral donor into the UN system. Currently, the MDG Achievement Fund has financed about 130 projects across 50 countries in five regions. The Fund has six thematic funding windows including gender equality and women’s empowerment; culture and development; economic governance; youth, employment and migration; conflict prevention and peace building; and environment and climate change.
 

Under the thematic window for environment and climate change, 16 Joint Programmes have been approved so far, and are being implemented in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Jordan, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Senegal and Turkey, with an estimated total budget of $90 million.


Links to further information

UNDP press release, 10 November 2009

MDG Achievement Fund

 

CLIMATE INVESTMENT FUNDS TO CHANNEL US$1.1 BILLION FOR AFRICA

The Climate Investment Funds (CIF) will invest US$1.1 billion through several projects. Mozambique, Niger and Zambia will each receive up to US$50-70 million in additional resources to help integrate climate risk and resilience into their core development planning. South Africa will receive US$500 million to support its goals of generating four percent of the country’s electricity needs from renewable energy by 2013, and  Morocco will receive US$150 million to help establish a national Energy Development Fund. Egypt will use US$300 to support relevant sector development policies and strategies, such as the Power Sector Strategy and Greater Cairo Urban Transport Strategy.


Link to further information

World Bank press release, 5 November 2009

 

CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS ENCOURAGED TO NOMINATE OBSERVERS TO CLIMATE INVESTMENT FUND’S SUB-COMMITTEES
The self-selection process for non-profit civil society observers on two sub-committees of the Climate Investment Fund’s (CIF) Strategic Climate Fund – the Forest Investment Program (FIP) and the Scaling up Renewable Energy Program in Local Income Countries (SREP) – is accepting nominations to participate as observers during CIF meetings and to register to vote on the nominees. Application instructions and criteria will be posted in Arabic, Bahasa Indonesian, Chinese, French, Nepali, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, and nominations are due by 4 December 2009.
 

Links to further information

Call for nomination of experts

CIF CSO Self-selection process website

CIF website

WORLD BANK LAUNCHES MULTICAT PROGRAM TO INSURE AGAINST FLOODS, HURRICANES AND WIND STORMS
The World Bank launched the MultiCat Program – a catastrophe bond issuance platform that gives governments and other public entities access to international capital markets to insure themselves against the risk of natural disasters. The types of events that may be insured are earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and other wind storms. The platform, designed specifically to help governments from developing countries access affordable insurance coverage through the capital markets, allows participants to buy insurance coverage for multiple perils, countries and regions. The program is flexible and supports a wide variety of structures, including the pooling of multiple risks, to take advantage of diversification benefits.

Link to further information
World Bank press release

OCTOBER 2009

INDIA AND CHINA SIGN MEMORANDUM TO COOPERATE ON CLIMATE CHANGE 
A Memorandum of Agreement on Cooperation on addressing Climate Change between the Governments of the People’s Republic of China and India was signed during a bilateral meeting in New Delhi, India, involving the countries’ respective environment ministers. This Agreement is aimed at strengthening cooperative activities between China and India on mitigation, programmes and projects. Technology development and demonstration, including energy conservation efficiency, renewable energy, methane recovery and utilization, afforestation and sustainable management of forests and ecosystems and transportation will also be covered by the Agreement.  

It was signed on the sidelines of an Indo-China joint workshop on national action plans on climate change, which opened on 21 October 2009. The technical workshop was organized to enable representatives from the two countries to share their experience on scientific, technical and policy aspects relating to climate change issues, in light of similarities in the national action plans both countries have prepared.

Link to further information
Indian Government Press Information Bureau, 19 October 2009

EU DECLARES SUPPORT FOR FAST ACTION ON HFCS UNDER THE MONTREAL PROTOCOL
At the recent Bangkok Climate Change Talks that convened from 28 September-9 October 2009, the European Union (EU) declared support for using the Montreal Protocol to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The EU joined the US, Canada, Mexico, the Federated States of Micronesia, Mauritius and other nations in seeking rapid action under the Montreal Protocol to eliminate the acute threat to climate posed by HFCs. The proposal leaves HFC emissions in the “basket” of gases regulated by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), but allow the Montreal Protocol to phase down production and use of HFCs. Primarily used as substitutes for ozone-depleting chemicals, HFCs, although ozone friendly, have global warming potentials hundreds to thousands of times greater than CO2. Proponents of the proposal point to the Montreal Protocol’s historic success in controlling and eliminating ozone depleting substances, which indicates that it already has the infrastructure necessary to phase out HFCs quickly.

Link to further information
Reuters, 8 October 2009

SEPTEMBER 2009

UNEP ANNOUNCES NEW CLIMATE NEUTRAL NETWORK MEMBERS
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has announced that sixteen new umbrella organizations, including cities, cooperatives, railways, postal services, industry and civil society associations, have joined the Climate Neutral Network – an initiative to promote global action to de-carbonize our economies and societies. The announcement came on “Go Carbon Neutral Day,” 23 September, which was held as part of Global Climate Week, 21-25 September 2009.

Link to further information
UNEP press release, 23 September 2009

AFRICAN NATIONS PROMOTE CLIMATE “RIGHTS”, CONSIDER COMPENSATION DEMAND

Industrialized countries should pay significant compensation to African countries to help them cope with climate change, according to a draft proposal to be considered by the African Union in October. The proposal reportedly proposes at least US$67 billion per year in environmental damages. Commenting on the idea, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi suggested African nations might walk out of talks in Copenhagen if their demands were not met.

In other related news, West African countries have established a common position on climate change and human rights. A declaration on the topic was adopted in September by members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The issue will also be addressed by the African Union at its meeting in October.

 

Links to further information

ECOWAS human rights-climate declaration, 17 September 2009

AFP/Yahoo report, 3 September 2009

VoA report, 24 August 2009

 

JAPAN ANNOUNCES NEW EMISSIONS TARGET

Japan's incoming Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020. The Democratic Party of Japan, which won last month’s national elections, promised during the campaign to reduce the country’s emissions 25 percent from 1990 levels. It is not yet clear how much of the emissions cuts will come from domestic reductions in Japan, and how much from carbon offsets. However, Prime Minister Hatoyama said this pledge would be contingent on similarly ambitious goals by other major polluters.

 

Links to further information

New York Times press article, September 2009

Brisbane Times press article, September 2009

US SUBMITS REVISED AMENDMENT PROPOSAL TO PHASE DOWN HFCS UNDER MONTREAL PROTOCOL
The US Government has submitted a revised amendment proposal to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol. The submission builds on the proposal submitted by the Federated States of Micronesia and Mauritius and discussed at the 29th Open-Ended Working Group of the Montreal Protocol in July this year. The US submission proposes an alternative methodology for establishing baselines and proposes phase-down targets for developed and developing countries. The US also proposes to establish arrangements between the Montreal Protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in the “very near future.”

Links to further information
US HFCs submission, September 2009
US cover letter

IDB RELEASES NEW VERSION OF BIOFUELS SUSTAINABILITY SCORECARD
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has released a new version of its Biofuels Sustainability Scorecard, which will enable users to better anticipate the impacts of potential biofuel projects on sensitive issues such as indigenous rights, carbon emissions from land use change, and food security.

Link to further information
Biofuels Sustainability Scorecard

OZONE DAY CELEBRATIONS
International Ozone Day 2009 was celebrated on 16 September. As part of the celebrations UNEP, together with United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Industrial Development Organization and others, produced a documentary looking at the challenges faced in trying to phase out HCFCs, a coolant gas used in air conditioners across the developing world, which is the main ozone depleting substance that also contributes to climate change. The documentary will be aired on the BBC World Service.

Link to further information
OzonAction website

UN AGENCIES TO USE CLIMATE-RELATED DATA TO FIGHT HUNGER

The World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have partnered to share information on weather patterns and other climate-related data that can help predict the occurrence of the next emergency food shortage and to fight against global hunger.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding signed by both agencies, WMO will facilitate WFP’s access to data on droughts, lower precipitation, floods, hurricanes, mudslides and other forms of weather events and climate change impacts that can damage crops and peoples’ livelihoods. This information will enable

WFP to expand its emergency forecasting abilities and analyses for its emergency preparedness, disaster risk reduction and vulnerability assessment efforts to facilitate prompt food assistance.

Links to further information
UN News Centre, 4 September 2009
WFP News, 4 September 2009

TEEB UPDATE HIGHLIGHTS ECOSYSTEM PRESERVATION’S KEY ROLE IN COUNTERING CLIMATE CHANGE
Investing in the restoration and maintenance of the Earth’s ecosystems can play a key role in countering climate change and climate-proofing vulnerable economies, says a new climate issues update by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) project, which was launched by Germany and the European Commission and is hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

The issues update was launched by TEEB study leader Pavan Sukhdev, with German Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, European Commission Director-General for Environment Karl Falkenberg, and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. The update indicates that ecosystems represent one of the biggest untapped allies against climate change, and underlines the need for an agreement on funding for forests and for addressing damage caused by rising temperatures and ocean acidification to coral reefs.
Investing in ecosystem-based measures such as financing Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) could assist in combating climate change and also be a key anti-poverty and adaptation measure. Coral reefs, on the other hand, have a key role to play in coastal defense against a predicted rise in storm surges and other extreme weather events.

Links to further information
UNEP press release, 2 September 2009

TEEB website

WORLD BANK ANNOUNCES DEVELOPMENT MARKETPLACE FINALISTS
The World Bank announced 100 finalists of the Development Marketplace contest on Climate Change Adaptation. Twenty-five projects will receive grants of up to US$200,000 and were selected based on their innovation, objective and measurable results, project design and organizational capacity, sustainability of impact, and growth potential. The finalists come from 47 countries and will present their projects at World Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC, US, in mid-November.

Link to additional information
Development Marketplace website

UNEP LAUNCHES SEAL THE DEAL WEBSITE
 The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched a website – Seal the Deal (http://www.sealthedeal2009.org/) – to support the UN-led Seal the Deal climate change campaign. Users are encouraged to support the Seal the Deal campaign by signing an online, global petition that will be presented by civil society to governments of the world in Copenhagen in December 2009. The website also includes climate news and a forum for public discussion.

Link to further information
Seal the Deal website

NORTH AMERICAN LEADERS COMMIT TO PHASE DOWN HFCS UNDER MONTREAL PROTOCOL
In the lead up to the 21st session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP 21) and to the December 2009 Copenhagen meeting on climate change, Mexico, the US, and Canada released the North American Leaders’ Declaration on Climate Change and Clean Energy. Released on 10 August 2009, the declaration committed leaders to work together under the Montreal Protocol to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), thereby bringing about significant reductions of this potent greenhouse gas.

Link to further information
North American Leaders press release

OZONE DAY PUBLIC AWARENESS POSTERS AND PRIVATE SECTOR ENGAGEMENT GUIDELINES AVAILABLE
The Ozone Secretariat has produced six posters to raise public awareness about the ozone layer. The posters can be downloaded and adapted for use in Ozone Day national events. International Ozone Day is 16 September 2009. OzonAction has also released guidelines for National Ozone Units to celebrate International Ozone Day by engaging the private sector. 

Links to further information
Ozone Secretariat website
UNEP DTIE OzonAction website

EVALUATION OF COSTS OF ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE PUBLISHED
The International Institute for Environment and Development (UK) and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Imperial College London (UK) have published an evaluation entitled “Assessing the costs of adaptation to climate change: a review of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and other recent estimates.” The costs have been used as the basis for discussion regarding the levels of investment needed for adaptation to climate change and have been influential in the debate concerning funding for climate change. The purpose of the report is to assess these estimates and consider ways to improve them in the future.

The report maintains that the real costs of adaptation are likely to be two to three times greater than estimates for the year 2030 made by the UNFCCC in 2007, and it indicates that this underestimation could weaken the outcome of UNFCCC negotiations, which are due to culminate in Copenhagen in December. The UNFCCC has estimated the global costs of adapting to climate change to be US$40-$170 billion each year. But the reports authors say that these estimates were produced too quickly and did not include key sectors such as energy, manufacturing, retailing, mining, tourism and ecosystems. Other sectors that the UNFCCC did include were only partially covered. The report also evaluates estimates of the costs of adaptation made by preceding studies by the World Bank, 2006; by Sir Nicholas Stern, 2006; by Oxfam, 2007; and by the UN Development Programme, 2007.

Links to further information
The report
ENS News report, 27 August 2009

NITROUS OXIDE THE MOST SERIOUS CAUSE OF OZONE LOSS: REPORT
In a report published in Science magazine, researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration find that nitrous oxide is emerging as the leading artificial cause of ozone loss. According to the report, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the major chemical targets of the Montreal Protocol, inhibit the ozone-destroying actions of nitrous oxide, so as CFCs are phased out, the harmful influence of nitrous oxide increases. Most of the nitrous oxide in the atmosphere emerges naturally, through the action of bacteria in the soil, but the gas is also produced as a result of human activity, including through the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers, the application of livestock manure to fields and the burning of biofuels.

Links to further information
New York Times, 27 August 2009
Abstract

AUGUST 2009

ITTO FUNDS PROJECTS ON FOREST GOVERNANCE AND BUILDING A VOLUNTARY CARBON MARKET SCHEME
The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) has disbursed funds to initiate implementation of two projects under its new thematic programmes, Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (TFLET) and Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Enhancing Environmental Services in Tropical Forests (REDDES). The funded projects aim to strengthen the capacity of local communities to manage their forests in Chaiyaphum Province, Thailand, and to build a voluntary carbon marketing scheme to promote SFM.

Link to further information
ITTO media release, 19 August 2009

UN GLOBAL COMPACT TO SET UP CLIMATE CHANGE THINK TANK ON US CONTAMINATED SITE
The UN has announced that one of the US’ most polluted sites will be redeveloped as a green technology complex. When completed in 2012, the complex will house a climate change think tank called the UN Global Compact Sustainability Center, which will work to identify green solutions to global environmental challenges and provide a conference centre and UN offices. 

The Hunters Point Shipyard, located on San Francisco Bay, US, was once the US military’s largest facility for applied nuclear research. A US$500-million clean-up project is headed by the UN Global Compact group and the US Environmental Protection Agency. The UN Global Compact was launched in 2000 and is supported by six UN agencies, including the UN Environment Programme.

Link to further information
UN press release, 11 August 2009

JULY 2009

US AND CHINA SIGN MOU TO ENHANCE CLIMATE CHANGE COOPERATION
The US and China have signed a “U.S.-China Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to Enhance Cooperation in Climate Change, Energy, and the Environment.” The agreement was signed during the first round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which convened in Washington, DC, US, from 27-28 July 2009. The MOU indicates that the two countries “resolve to pursue areas of cooperation where joint expertise, resources, research capacity and combined market size can accelerate progress towards mutual goals,” including on: energy conservation and energy efficiency; renewable energy; cleaner uses of coal, and carbon capture and storage; sustainable transportation, including electric vehicles; modernization of the electrical grid; joint research and development of clean energy technologies; clean air; clean water; natural resource conservation; and combating climate change and promoting low-carbon economic growth.

Through the MOU, the US and China agree to establish a “Climate Change Policy Dialogue and Cooperation” as a platform for the two countries to address global climate change and to identify and resolve areas of concern. They agree that this platform will promote: discussion and exchange of views on domestic strategies and policies for addressing climate change; practical solutions for promoting the transition to low-carbon economies; successful international negotiations on climate change; joint research, development, deployment, and transfer, as mutually agreed, of climate-friendly technologies; cooperation on specific projects; adaptation to climate change; capacity building and the raising of public awareness; and pragmatic cooperation on climate change between cities, universities, provinces and states of the two countries.

Link to further information
The MOU

UNEP AND ICRAF DEVELOPING CARBON MEASURING METHODS
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), a research center of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), are partnering in a project to provide the basis for widespread adoption of agroforestry and other sustainable forms of agriculture. The Carbon Benefits Project, launched in May 2009, is developing a standard and reliable method for accurately measuring, monitoring, reporting and projecting how much carbon each kind of land use is storing. This global project makes use of the latest remote sensing technology and analysis, soil carbon modeling, ground-based measurements and statistical analysis.

Link to further information
UNEP press release

PROTOCOL TO THE ARHUS CONVENTION TO ENTER INTO FORCE
The Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers to the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Aarhus Convention is set to enter into force on 8 October 2009, after France’s ratification was deposited with the UN Secretary-General on 10 July 2009. Pollutant release and transfer registers are inventories of pollutants from industrial sites, but also smaller, widespread sources such as traffic, agriculture and small and medium-sized enterprises. Under the Protocol, facilities will be required to report annually on the amounts of certain pollutants they release to the environment or transfer to other facilities. The Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers will help identify the biggest polluters in communities across Europe. The Protocol also covers facilities releasing large quantities of greenhouse gases known to contribute to global warming and thus offers a new tool to countries battling climate change. The European Union’s 27 Member States are expected to release their first annual reports on the release and transfer of the Protocol’s list of pollutants on 30 September 2009.

Link to further information
UNECE press release

UN EXECUTIVE HEADS CALL FOR COPENHAGEN TO BE TURNING POINT FOR A GLOBAL GREEN ECONOMY
The United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), which groups the executive heads of the organizations of the UN system, issued a statement saying that the solidarity of the international community is being tested and economic recovery should be “the turning point for an ambitious and effective international response to the multiple crises facing humanity.” They further noted “the most representative testing case is when governments meet to seal the deal on climate change in Copenhagen in December 2009. Let Copenhagen be the turning point for ushering in a global green economy.” Their joint statement was issued as an initiative of CEB’s High-level Committee on Programmes (HLCP).

Link to further information
Joint statement

WORLD BANK SEEKS COMMENTS ON ITS WORK ON CLIMATE CHANGE
The World Bank is seeking comments on the implementation of its Strategic Framework on Development and Climate Change. In order to help disseminate its climate-related work since the adoption of the Framework in 2008, the Bank has issued a special report on “The Bank Group at Work” and a “Technical Report.” Comments will be posted online, and the deadline for submissions is 31 July 2009.

Links to further information
World Bank consultations

SHARING GENETIC RESOURCES KEY TO ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE IN AFRICA
As temperatures in Africa rise rapidly, the food security of many Africans will depend on farmers in one country gaining access to climatically suitable varieties cultivated in other African countries and beyond, a study published in Global Environmental Change concluded. The study, conducted by researchers at Stanford University’s Program on Food Security and the Global Crop Diversity Trust, warns that neglect of African crop collections held in genebanks means that breeders do not have access to all varieties of Africa’s primary cereal crops that would allow farmers to adapt to climate change.

Links to further information
Global Crop Diversity Trust press release, 19 June 2009
The
study’s abstract

MAY 2009

UNDP ASSISTS GEORGIA IN TRAINING OF REFRIGERATION WORKERS
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has reported on its efforts to assist the Georgian Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources in meeting its country’s international commitments under the Montreal Protocol. This assistance includes support for training for refrigeration service specialists. In late May 2009, UNDP assisted three Vocational Education and Training Centres in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Kobuleti, Georgia, through the provision of safety equipment for the training of refrigeration and air conditioning service professionals, as well as through funding study tours to Germany for some graduates.

Link to further information
The Messenger Online, 29 May 2009

APRIL 2009

GAMBIA WORKING WITH UNDP TO PHASE OUT ODS
The Gambia’s National Environment Agency and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) convened a one-day seminar, on 15 April 2009, in Banjul, Gambia. Organizers presented tools, equipment and checks to companies that are end users of ozone depleting substances as an incentive from UNDP.

Link to further information
Foroyaa news service, 15 April 2009

UNEP ANNOUNCES 2009 CHAMPIONS OF THE EARTH
On 22 April 2009, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced seven innovators of positive environmental change as UN UNEP 2009 Champions of the Earth at a gala event in Paris, France. This year’s winners were: Norwegian Environment Minister Erik Solheim; tropical forest and climate campaigner Kevin Conrad; photographic and public awareness pioneer Yann Arthus-Bertrand; wind power entrepreneur Tulsi Tanti; biomimicry specialist Janine Benyus; recycling innovator Ron Gonen; and the Ethiopian youth organization Tena Kebena. This year, the awards moved away from geographical distribution to recognize achievements in the areas of Policy Leadership, Science and Innovation, Entrepreneurial Vision, Inspiration and Action, and Next-Generation Champions.

Link to further information
UN press release

NEW EU REGULATION ON SUBSTANCES THAT DEPLETE THE OZONE LAYER
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) approved a compromise update to the EU law on substances depleting the ozone layer. The new law brings EU legislation in line with developments of the Montreal Protocol aiming at protecting the ozone layer, but goes beyond it. The agreement covers the marketing ban of certain substances, but also substances contained in refrigerators and insulation material in buildings. As well as preventing the destructive effects of UV radiation, it will also assist against climate change.

The phasing-out of the production of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) will be brought forward by five years and shall be achieved by the end of 2019. MEPs agreed that the production of HCFC’s has to be further decreased during the period 2017-2019: it should fall to 7% in relation to 1997 levels.

The EU expects further environmental and health benefits will be gained through a reduction and ultimate phase-out by 18 March 2010 of the use of methyl bromide (used as a pesticide), which until that time can be used only for preventing the introduction and spread of pests through international trade (quarantine and pre-shipment applications).

Although most of the harmful substances are no longer produced and used in new equipment, thousands of tonnes are contained in existing refrigeration equipments and insulation material in buildings. The new regulation lists responsibilities for undertakings to prevent the substances from being released into the atmosphere to prevent further damage to the ozone layer. It also tightens up the provisions on recovery and destruction of these substances.

Link to further information
EU press release

EBRD FUNDS CLEAN ENERGY INVESTMENTS ACROSS EASTERN EUROPE AND THE BALKANS
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is intensifying its lending for energy efficiency and clean energy projects. It has recently established two new facilities worth a total of €110 million to finance investments by enterprises in the Western Balkans in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. This is a continuation of the EBRD’s drive to promote energy efficiency and to unlock new sustainable sources of energy throughout the whole EBRD region, including in the Western Balkans where energy intensity remains relatively high.

The EBRD also approved a €15 million loan to the United Bulgarian Bank to promote lending to private industrial companies in Bulgaria to finance energy efficiency and small renewable energy projects. It is also financing an independent Siberian energy firm’s gas flaring project, with a loan of up to €90 million to help Irkutsk Oil Company implement a plan to cut gas flaring at its East Siberian oilfields by the end of this year and to restructure its debt. 

Link to further information
EBRD press releases

WORLD BANK CLIMATE INVESTMENT FRAMEWORK REQUESTS FEEDBACK ON FOREST PROGRAM
The World Bank is seeking feedback on the design documents for its Forest Investment Program (FIP), a part of its Climate Investment Framework (CIF) that seeks to pilot and demonstrate new approaches to forest management that lead to major impacts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from forests. The deadline for comments on the design documents is 6 April 2009. A revised document will then be prepared for approval at the final design meeting, to be held on 7-8 May 2009, in Washington DC, US.

Link to further information
World Bank CIF website

MILLIONS OBSERVE EARTH HOUR
Millions of people around the world took part in the third annual WWF sponsored event to call attention to climate change by turning off their lights for an hour at 8:30 pm on 28 March 2009, in a symbolic call to change the Kyoto Protocol. It is predicted that participation in this year’s event exceeded that number for 2008, when some 53 million in 371 cities in 35 countries participated.

Links to further information
Text from Secretary-General’s video message
Eweek.com News Report, 30 March 2009

US AND CANADA PETITION IMO TO CREATE EMISSIONS CONTROL AREA AROUND THEIR COASTLINES

The US and Canada submitted a joint proposal to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on 27 March 2009, requesting that specific areas of their coastal waters be designated an Emissions Control Area (ECA). The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), which announced the submission, indicated that, by 2020, the ECA designation could prevent between 3,700 and 8,300 premature deaths annually, and avoid approximately 3.4 million instances of respiratory ailments, such as asthma, by reducing by 96% the sulfur in ships’ fuels, as well as cut emissions of PM by 85% and NOx by 80%. The IMO is expected to begin reviewing the proposal in July.

Links to further information
USEPA Oceangoing Vessels webpage

ENS news report, 30 March 2009

MARCH 2009

ARCTIC COUNCIL AND CBD SIGN MEMORANDUM OF COOPERATION
The Arctic Council Working Group on Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) signed a memorandum of cooperation aiming at increasing cooperation and addressing the increased challenges to arctic flora and fauna as a result of climate change.

Link to further information
Arctic Council press release, 31 March 2009

US TO HOST MAJOR ECONOMIES FORUM
US President Barack Obama has announced that he will host a “Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate” to help facilitate efforts to negotiate a post-2012 climate change agreement. Leaders from 16 major economies have been invited to a preparatory session on 27-28 April 2009 in Washington, DC, US, to ”help generate the political leadership necessary” to achieve an international pact to cut greenhouse gas emissions later this year. Two additional preparatory sessions are expected, but the dates and venues have not been determined yet. The sessions will prepare for a meeting in La Maddalena, Italy, in July 2009, on the sidelines of the G8 meeting and hosted by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Links to further information
US State Department Press Release, 28 March 2009
US State Department Press Briefing, 29 March 2009

EC RELEASES REPORT ON SOILS’ ROLE IN CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION

The European Commission (EC) has released a report that underlines the role that soils can play in mitigating climate change. The report “Review of existing information on the interrelations between soil and climate change,” is a synthesis of the best available information on the links between soil and climate change, and highlights that soils contain around twice the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and three times the amount to be found in vegetation. The authors underline the need to sequester carbon in soils, adding that the technique is cost competitive and immediately available, requires no new or unproven technologies, and has a mitigation potential comparable to that of any other sector of the economy.

Links to further information
CLIMSOIL study
Europa press release, 5 March 2009

UNEP’s Carbon Finance Initiative Proceeds
Carbon Finance for Agriculture, Silviculture, Conservation and Action against Deforestation (CASCADe), which is coordinated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UNEP Risø Centre in partnership with the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development and the French National Forestry Office, recently selected four projects to move forward, pending formal approval of their Project Idea Notes. The initiative, which began in December 2007, seeks to enhance expertise in generating carbon credits, primarily in land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) and bioenergy, and focuses on the following countries: Benin, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Madagascar, Mali and Senegal.

Link to further information
CASCADe Website

US AND CANADA LAUNCH CLEAN ENERGY DIALOGUE
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and US President Barack Obama announced on 19 February 2009 that their countries would launch a new initiative to further cross-border cooperation on environmental protection and energy security. The US-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue will commit senior officials from both countries to undertake efforts to collaborate on the development of clean energy science and technologies that will reduce greenhouse gases.

Link to further information
White House press release

GEF APPROVES CLIMATE-RELATED PROJECTS
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council has approved an intersessional work programme, including climate change projects amounting to US$47.46 million. Climate projects approved include several energy efficiency projects in China, India, Turkey and Russian Federation, and a sustainable transport project in Pakistan. The energy efficiency projects target energy efficiency in commercial buildings, in the railway system, in small and medium-sized enterprises, and in industry.

Link to further information
GEF intersessional working programmes

FEBRUARY 2009

UNEP’S CN NET RECORDS 100th PARTICIPANT

The City of Copenhagen, which will host the UN Climate Change Conference in December 2009, became the 100th participant in the Climate Neutral Network (CN Net). CN Net is an initiative of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) that promotes low-carbon economies and involves cities, companies, non-governmental organizations, countries and UN agencies. Other recent additions to CN Net include Microsoft, Daejeon, South Korea, the Norwegian County of Aust-Agder, Deutsche Bank and News Limited.

 

Links to further information

UNEP press release, 19 February 2009
UN press release, 19 February 2009

 

Informal Consultations on Draft UNGA Resolution on Security and Climate Change Held

In closed meetings convened by the Permanent Mission of Tonga and the Pacific Small Island Developing States, informal consultations were held on 6 February 2009 and 12 February 2009, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on the UN General Assembly (UNGA) draft resolution on “Security and climate change” (A/63/L.8). The threat posed by climate change to security and prosperity emerged at the Sixth UK-Caribbean Ministerial Forum in July 2008, and has gained prominence in the UNGA with this draft resolution, which calls on the UN Security Council to consider and address the security threat posed by climate.

 

Links to further information

UN Journal, 6 February 2009

UN Journal, 12 February 2009

Draft Resolution

 

UNEP’s CN Net Announces New Members: Sporting Events
The UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Climate Neutral Network (CN Net) has added new participants, including the 2014 Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the FIFA 2010 World Cup, “Rally Norway,” the Norwegian Grand Prix and the Norwegian Golf Federation. These sporting events and organizations will work to neutralize their carbon footprint through greening of the events and offsetting of the remaining carbon emissions, including from travel. CN Net, which now has over 100 participants, was launched in February 2008 during UNEP’s Governing Council in Monaco, and is an online forum set up by UNEP, in cooperation with the UN Environment Management Group, to tackle the challenge of increasing greenhouse gases.

 

Link to further information
UNEP Press Release, 11 February 2009

 

UNite to Combat Climate Change Campaign Organizes Kilimanjaro Climb
In cooperation with the UN’s UNite to Combat Climate Change campaign and as a part of the Kilimanjaro Initiative’s fourth annual ascent to the “rooftop of Africa,” ten underprivileged youth from urban areas in Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana summited Mount Kilimanjaro. This year’s climb is intended to raise awareness of climate change.

The Kilimanjaro Initiative, which has brought close to 100 people to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro since 2006, is supported by the UN Federal Credit Union, the UN Environment Programme, the UN Human Settlements Programme and the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace. The Initiative aims to encourage young people to have self-belief and to enable youth to take on a constructive role in their communities.

Link to further information
UNEP press release, 5 February 2009

NGOs QUESTION WORLD BANK LOANS FOR ADAPTATION
A group of non-governmental organizations, Action Aid USA, Friends of the Earth International and Jubilee USA Network, have issued a press release questioning the adequacy of World Bank loans to poor countries to address adaptation. They stress that, the “World Bank must provide grants, not loans, to finance adaptation to climate change. After all, the Bank's largest shareholders caused the climate crisis through their emissions. Asking poor countries to go into further debt to clean up a mess they didn't create is outrageous.”

The Pilot Program on Climate Resilience (PPRC) is the first operational program in the World Bank’s Strategic Climate Fund. The objective of the PPCR is to explore ways to integrate climate risk and resilience into core development planning. The PPCR would provide approximately US$500 million in grants and loans. Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Tajikistan and Zambia have been invited to participate in the PPCR.

Links to further information
Joint NGO Press Release, 5 February 2009
World Bank Press Release, 30 January 2009
Carbon Investment Funds website

ADB CONSIDERS REVISED ENERGY POLICY TO INCORPORATE CLIMATE CHANGE CHALLENGES
The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Board of Directors is currently reviewing an update to its Energy Policy, a document that guides the Bank’s operations in the energy sector. The draft policy has been finalized incorporating views received from both internal and external stakeholders and will align ADB’s energy operations to meet energy security needs, facilitate a transition to a low-carbon economy, and achieve ADB’s vision of a region free of poverty. ADB expects the Board of Directors to adopt the updated energy policy in March 2009.

Link to further information
Proposed updated ADB Energy Policy

WORLD BANK SEEKS FEEDBACK ON CLIMATE CHANGE STRATEGY IN SOUTH ASIA
The World Bank’s South Asia region is in the process of seeking feedback from interested parties on its draft climate change strategy. The strategy, titled “Towards a Climate Change Strategy for South Asia,” will articulate the guiding principles for the Bank's climate-related work in the region. This is part of an ongoing consultation process that will be held around the region from 1 February-31 March 2009.

Link to further information
“Consulting on climate change in South Asia”

WORLD BANK ANNOUNCES CLIMATE CHANGE-RELATED COMPETITIONS
The World Bank invites young people up to 25 years old to enter its annual essay competition on how climate change affects youth, and how to tackle it with youth-led solutions. The deadline for submissions (which may include videos and photos) is 22 February 2009. Authors should think how climate affects them in their country, town or local community, and evaluate its consequences, as well as the role of youth-led initiatives in the ‘green economy.’

This year’s Development Marketplace competition for seed grants will be focused on innovations for climate change adaptation. Eligibility requirements and grant size will be announced soon.

Links to further information
The essay competition
The Development Marketplace awards

EC RELEASES CLIMATE CHANGE PROPOSAL, US APPOINTS SPECIAL CLIMATE CHANGE ENVOY
The European Commission has released a communication titled “Towards a comprehensive climate change agreement in Copenhagen.” The 28 January 2009 document calls for 30 percent cuts in greenhouse gases for developed countries along with other measures it hopes will provide a blueprint for global talks in Copenhagen. It also proposes 15-30 percent cuts from all but the poorest developing countries below “business as usual levels.” Additional proposals address the creation of an Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development-wide carbon market by 2015, and innovative international funding sources based on the polluter pays principle and the ability to pay. The Communication is addressed to the Council, Parliament and EU consultative bodies. The European Council is expected to give its response in March 2009.

In other climate change-related developments, the US Administration has appointed Todd Stern as Special Envoy on climate change. In this position, the former senior White House negotiator in the Kyoto and Buenos Aires climate talks will be the chief climate negotiator in UN and other climate sessions. Secretary of State Clinton noted, in announcing Stern’s appointment, that President Obama is also considering allowing California to implement stricter car emission regulations and is pushing the US auto industry to improve the fuel-efficiency of its fleets.

 

Links to further information
EC Communication

US State Department Transcript of Todd Stern Appointment

 

DENMARK LAUNCHES COP15 WEBSITE

The Danish Government, which will host the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP15) and Fifth Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP5) in December 2009 in Copenhagen, has launched a host country website. In addition to providing information on practical matters such as accreditation and accommodation for COP 15, the site is aimed at stimulating global debate on climate change in order to create support for an ambitious agreed outcome in Copenhagen. The website is available in the six official UN languages and Danish.

 

Link to further information
The
website

INTERNATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY AGENCY ESTABLISHED
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) held its founding conference in Bonn, Germany, on 26 January 2009, bringing together representatives from over 100 governments. IRENA was set up to promote renewable energy worldwide and help create conditions for renewable energy development. IRENA will focus on providing policy advice for national governments, facilitating technology transfer and capacity building.

On 27 January, the Preparatory Commission convened for the first time, and decided on the Agency’s initial steps, including the procedure and criteria for selecting IRENA’s interim Director-General and interim headquarters. Signatories of IRENA were invited to put forward applications for the interim headquarters and nominations of candidates for the post of interim Director-General until 30 April 2009. The Preparatory Commission is scheduled to decide on the location of the interim headquarters and the interim Director-General in June 2009.

 

Link to further information
IRENA Founding Conference website

INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMS DAY OBSERVED
International Customs Day was observed on 26 January 2009, with the theme “Customs and the Environment: Protecting our Natural Heritage.” Celebrations at the World Customs Organization (WCO) in Brussels, Belgium, highlighted the growing problem of illegal trade in environmentally sensitive items, including ozone depleting substances, as well as measures developed by the WCO to put in place relevant international agreements’ provisions related to the trade of ozone depleting substances and other environmentally-sensitive items.

Link to more information
Information note

JANUARY 2009

LEADING SCIENTISTS AT UN FORUM CALL FOR ACTION TO HALT RISING ACIDITY IN WORLD’S OCEANS
Prince Albert II of Monaco urged political leaders to take notice of the Monaco Declaration on Ocean Acidification, which was developed by participants attending a UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) symposium on “The Ocean in a High-CO2 World,” which took place from 6-9 October 2008, in Monaco. The Declaration notes that levels of acidity are accelerating and that its negative socio-economic impacts can only be limited by cutting back on the amounts of greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere. The Declaration was released in January 2009, with a call from over 150 leading marine scientists from 26 countries for immediate action by policymakers to sharply reduce carbon dioxide emissions so as to avoid widespread and severe damage to marine ecosystems from ocean acidification. James Orr, UN Marine Environment Laboratories, a Monaco-based subsidiary of the International Atomic Energy Agency, stated that “the chemistry is so fundamental and changes so rapid and severe that impacts on organisms appear unavoidable.”

 

Link to further information

UNESCO Press Release, 30 January 2009

UN Secretary-General DISCUSSES CLIMATE in Davos
In two events at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underlined the threat of climate change, called on the world’s leaders to use the current economic crisis to launch a new Global Compact entailing a “Green New Deal,” and called for a positive outcome from the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. In addition, he called for investment in renewable energy and technological development as a means of addressing the economic crisis, and highlighted the need for long-term thinking.

Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, also participated in sessions in Davos, discussing the need for countries to agree on reduction targets for carbon dioxide this fall. In a session on “biofuelling the future,” Steiner discussed the many factors that must be taken into consideration when thinking about the tradeoffs inherent in a possible transition towards biofuels.

Links to further information
UN Press Release, 29 January 2009
UNEP Press Release, 29 January 2009
UN Secretary-General�s Remarks, 29 January 2009
 

UNEP�s CN Net Announces New Members
The Australian cities of Sydney and Brisbane, in addition to Greenfest, an Australian music festival, Clean Up the World, an Australian community-based environmental campaign, and BalanceCarbon, an Australian carbon management company, have joined the UN Environment Programme�s (UNEP) Climate Neutral Network (CN Net). Sydney, Australia�s biggest city, became Australia�s first carbon neutral local government in 2007. Brisbane, Australia�s third largest city, aims to become carbon neutral by 2026.

Link to further information
UNEP Press Release, 26 January 2009

QATAR JOINS GLOBAL GAS FLARING REDUCTION PARTNERSHIP
The World Bank�s Global Gas Flaring Reduction partnership (GGFR) welcomed Qatar as the first Gulf State to join the global effort to reduce the flaring of gas associated with oil production. The GGFR partnership estimates that globally some 150 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas are flared or wasted every year, adding about 400 million tons of greenhouse gases in annual emissions. This is equivalent to almost all the potential yearly emission reductions from projects currently submitted under the Kyoto mechanisms. The amount of gas flared in the Middle East alone (about 30 bcm) could feed a 20 million ton liquefied natural gas plant. The World Bank thus called on other oil producing countries and companies in the Middle East to join worldwide efforts of reducing the venting or flaring of natural gas, and of increasing energy efficiency to mitigate climate change.

Link to further information
World Bank Press release, 25 January 2009

IBERIAN RENEWABLE ENERGY CENTRE TO BE ESTABLISHED
The Governments of Spain and Portugal have announced that they will establish a joint renewable energy research centre. The Iberian Renewable Energy Centre will be located in Badajoz, Spain, and will help the two nations to improve their expertise in this area.

Link to further information
AFP News release, 22 January 2009

Documentary on the UN Calls for Global Efforts to Tackle Climate Change
A new documentary on the work of the UN, entitled �Planet UN,� had its world premiere at UN Headquarters in New York, US. The film calls for unprecedented and concerted global efforts to confront threats such as the food, energy and financial crises, climate change and nuclear threats. The film features interviews with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other senior UN officials, and is directed by French documentary-maker Romuald Sciora.

Link to further information
UN Press Release, 21 January 2009

UN secretary-general: Climate Change is the �One True Existential Threat to Our Planet�
In his first press conference of the year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted 2009 as �the year of climate change.� He stressed that the climate change conference in Copenhagen is only 11 months away, and indicated that he would engage world leaders, including in the US, on the key issues in the negotiations, beginning later this month at the World Economic Forum in Davos and working toward a high-level meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly�s general debate in September.

Link to further information
UN Press Release, 12 January 2009

GEF DEVELOPS FIVE NEW PROGRAMMATIC APPROACHES
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has highlighted its shift in the focus of its portfolio to a programme-based approach, in an effort to secure larger-scale and a more sustained impact on the global environment. In this regard, five new programme approaches approved by the GEF Council during its 34th Council meeting in November 2009 include: a GEF Strategic Programme for West Africa on Biodiversity, led by the World Bank, to scale-up biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in the region in support of poverty alleviation and growth; a GEF Strategic Programme for West Africa on Energy led by UNIDO, to scale up investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency in the region; a Framework for Promoting Low Greenhouse Gas Emission Buildings led by UNDP, aimed at promoting low-energy and low-emissions buildings, with projects submitted by UNDP and some by UNEP; a programme to Reduce Industry�s Carbon Footprint in Southeast Asia through Compliance with a Management System for Energy, led by UNIDO, which aims to promote sustainable energy efficiency improvement in the industrial sector through training at the level of systems and facilitating the introduction of energy management standards, involving five national projects in Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia; and a Strategic Programme for Sustainable Forest Management in the Congo Basin led by the World Bank, aimed at strengthening the protection and sustainable management of forest ecosystems, and also contributing to long-term innovative finance architecture for sustainable forest management in the region by supporting payment schemes for ecosystem services, public-private partnerships and the establishment/strengthening of trust funds. 

Links to further information
GEF Press Release, 9 January 2009
GEF Council documents

DIGITAL MAP OF AFRICA�S DEPLETED SOILS TO BE PRODUCED
The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), a research center of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), will produce a detailed digital soil map of 42 sub-Saharan countries. The project, named the African Soil Information Service (AfSIS), will provide information necessary to overcome soil depletion and improve crop production through better soil management. AfSIS is supported through a four-year grant of US$18 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. The project will use innovative technologies such as remote sensing via satellite and infrared spectroscopy to analyze the chemical and physical properties and organic matter of soil samples. This information will be made available via the Internet and ultimately will become part of a global soil mapping initiative called GlobalSoilMap.net.

Links to further information
CIAT press release
AfSIS website

FAO RELEASES FORESTS AND CLIMATE CHANGE VIDEO
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UN), with the Forestry Commission of the United Kingdom, has produced a 17-minute video on �Forests and Climate Change: a Convenient Truth.� The video shows how forests can contribute to the mitigation of climate change, stressing the importance of reversing forest loss. The video explains how society can combat climate change by conserving and managing existing forests, by tackling causes of deforestation and by planting new forests. It stresses the use of wood as a renewable energy source and as a raw material. A section on adaptation notes how the world�s changing climate will affect the health and composition of forests and stresses the importance of adapting and planning ahead for the changes. The DVD is available in all UN languages, as well as Italian.

Links to further information
FAO Press Release
The Video

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