THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS Tuesday, 18 September 2007 UNEP and the Executive Director in the News Espoirs d'accord à Montréal sur la protection de la couche d'ozone (AFP) Ozone-harming chemicals focus of Montreal talks (The Globe and Mail) Canada receives UN award for ozone protection leadership (Canada NewsWire) Ozone Treaty Could Slow Climate Change (IPS) Conférence de Montréal sur l'environnement Couche d'ozone et réchauffement climatique au menu (SDA) More progress urged on ozone hole (BBC) Unfinished business of ozone protection (BBC) Thailand joins forces with UN in combating climate change (Thai News Service) Acting locally (Sunday Telegraph) OCM starts tree-planting programme (The Star) UN Environment Bid (East African Business Week) Other Environment News Canada would like leadership role in getting rid of ozone-depleting chemical (The Canadian Press) Kudos for a working eco-treaty (The Christian Science Monitor) From Ozone Success, a Potential Climate Model (The New York Times) Beijing plays down Olympic smog fears (The Financial Times) Climate change tops future humanitarian challenges: Annan (AFP) Return of GM: ministers back moves to grow crops in UK (The Guardian) UK 'needs carbon neutral target' (BBC) Vinci et Bouygues vont mettre Tchernobyl sous cloche (Le Monde) Calif. suit on car greenhouse gases dismissed (Reuters) Mammoth dung, prehistoric goo may speed warming (Reuters) Greenland: the emerging nation (The Independent) Stars back the clean green road machine (The Observer) Vatican Penance: Forgive Us Our Carbon Output (The New York Times) For New Center, Harvard Agrees to Emissions Cut (The New York Times) Environmental News from the UNEP Regions ROAP ROA ROLAC Other UN News UN Daily News of 17 September 2007 S.G.‘s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 17 September 2007 UNEP and the Executive Director in the News ================================================================= AFP : Espoirs d'accord à Montréal sur la protection de la couche d'ozone MONTREAL 17 sept 2007 Un accord qui permettrait de préserver la couche d'ozone tout en luttant contre le réchauffement climatique "est à portée de main", lors d'une conférence internationale à Montréal, mais il dépendra d'un accommodement avec la Chine, ont indiqué des responsables lundi. Les représentants de 190 pays, dont quelque 70 ministres ou vice-ministres de l'Environnement, ont entamé à Montréal une réunion d'une semaine, au cours de laquelle ils espèrent parvenir à un accord sur une accélération du calendrier d'élimination de substances appauvrissant la couche d'ozone, les HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbures). Ces substances utilisées dans la réfrigération ou la climatisation sont aussi un puissant gaz à effet de serre et leur élimination plus rapide que prévue aurait aussi un effet bénéfique dans la lutte contre le réchauffement climatique. Le programme des Nations unies pour l'environnement (PNUE) estime qu'accélérer de 10 ans l'élimination des HCFC permettrait de réduire de 3,5% les émissions de gaz à effet de serre de la planète. Le protocole de Montréal, considéré comme l'accord multilatéral sur l'environnement le plus efficace à ce jour, prévoit l'élimination des HCFC en 2030 pour les pays développés, et en 2040 pour les pays en développement. "Un accord est à portée de main", a déclaré Achim Steiner, directeur exécutif du PNUE, lors de la séance d'ouverture de la conférence, mais il a laissé entendre, comme d'autres responsables, qu'il faudrait s'entendre avec la Chine sur un montant d'aide destiné à aider ce pays à faire face aux coûts de l'abandon des HCFC. Selon M. Steiner, il existe parmi les participants à la conférence un accord de principe sur l'accélération de l'élimination des HCFC, ainsi que des engagements sur la poursuite du financement multilatéral, qui atteint quelque 2 milliards de dollars. En revanche, il reste à résoudre la question de l'impact financier d'une élimination accélérée des HCFC sur différents pays, en particulier la Chine. "La Chine est prête à faire la transition vers de meilleures substances chimiques, mais elle a besoin d'un soutien financier du fond multilatéral pour faciliter cette transition", a expliqué Claudia McMurray, secrétaire d'Etat adjoint pour l'Environnement, qui dirige la délégation américaine. Elle a estimé que l'accord dépendrait de cet aspect financier. L'accélération de l'élimination des HCFC a été proposée par les Etats-Unis, a-t-elle rappelée. Elle est soutenue notamment par l'Union européenne et le Canada. La conférence de Montréal célèbre le 20e anniversaire du Protocole de Montréal, un accord signé le 16 septembre 1987 qui a déjà réussi à éliminer une première génération de substances appauvrissant la couche d'ozone (SAO), les CFC (chlorofluorocarbures), et est unanimement salué comme un succès. L'ozone, une molécule issue de l'oxygène, joue un rôle essentiel en filtrant les rayons ultra-violets B, responsables notamment des cancers de la peau. "On estime que d'ici 2060, le protocole de Montréal aura permis d'éviter environ 20 millions de cancers de la peau dans le monde, plus de 330.000 décès et plus de 129 millions de cas de cataracte", a déclaré le ministre canadien de l'Environnement John M. Baird. M. Steiner a appelé les pays participants à ne pas laisser échapper cette occasion "historique" de progresser simultanément dans la préservation de la couche d'ozone et dans la lutte contre le réchauffement climatique. Un succès à Montréal serait bienvenu pour démontrer la capacité de l'ONU à gérer ces dossiers, une semaine avant le sommet sur le réchauffement climatique qui doit avoir lieu à New York à l'initiative du secrétaire général, Ban Ki-Moon, a-t-il ajouté. _________________________________________________________________________ The Globe and Mail (Canada): Ozone-harming chemicals focus of Montreal talks MARTIN MITTELSTAEDT September 17, 2007 One of the world's biggest environmental success stories was the Montreal Protocol negotiated in Canada in 1987 to curb releases of chemicals blamed for destroying the ozone layer. This week, environment ministers and senior officials from 191 countries, including Canada, will be meeting again in Montreal to try for a repeat performance: they're hoping to reach an agreement to accelerate the phase out of the last major ozone-destroying chemical in widespread use, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, or HCFCs. The talks, if successful, could have a major silver lining because HCFCs not only damage the upper atmosphere's protective ozone, but they are also a potent greenhouse gas. HCFCS are used in millions of home appliances, such as air conditioners and refrigerators, and for making foam. The UN estimates that an accelerated phase out could lead to a reduction of 3.5 per cent in the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Print Edition - Section Front "If governments adopt accelerated action on HCFCs, we can look forward to not only a faster recovery of the ozone layer, but a further important contribution to the climate change challenge," said Achim Steiner, executive-director of the UN Environment Program. There are high hopes the talks, which begin today, will lead to a deal because strong support for a quicker phase out exists among leading industrialized countries. However, proposals for eliminating the chemicals faster may not be embraced as enthusiastically in some developing countries, such as China, worried about the cost of switching to HCFC alternatives. Canada has publicly endorsed a quicker phase out, as has the United States, a country usually opposed to multilateral agreements. James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the United States would propose that deadlines for phasing out HCFC gases be moved forward by 10 years at the Montreal meeting. "We're going to propose to significantly shorten the timeline... both because we can get the ozone benefits and because these are very strong greenhouse gases," he told Reuters. "It would produce at least two times the reductions [in greenhouse gases] than the Kyoto Protocol." The Montreal Protocol currently stipulates that HCFC use end by 2030 in industrialized countries and by 2040 in developing countries. Federal Environment Minister John Baird, who will attend the meeting, as will approximately 70 to 90 of his foreign counterparts, welcomed as constructive the U.S. position, although as one of the conference hosts he declined to publicly endorse a specific date for a more rapid phase out. He said he wanted Canada to have the flexibility to move the talks forward, without being formally tied to the proposals of a specific country. "Here is a great opportunity to finish the job on protecting the ozone layer and to step up our efforts to fight global warming," Mr. Baird said. Ozone depletion first emerged as a major problem in the early 1980s, after the discovery by scientists of a giant hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, and shortly afterwards, of a similar phenomenon over the Arctic. These findings led the way for the Montreal Protocol, considered the world's first international agreement to deal with an environmental problem. The UN hopes a success at the Montreal talks will set the stage for a meeting of heads of state on climate change hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Sept. 24. The climate talks, at the UN's headquarters in New York, will try to build support for a new regime on reducing greenhouse gas emissions before the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. _________________________________________________________________________ Canada NewsWire: Canada receives UN award for ozone protection leadership September 17, 2007 Monday 5:00 PM Eastern Time Canada's Environment Minister, John Baird, today received an award on behalf of the Government of Canada from the United Nations Environment Programme for Canada's important contribution to making the Montreal Protocol on ozone protection a success. "I am honoured that Canada has been recognized by the United Nations for its leadership in protecting the ozone layer," said Minister Baird. "Twenty years ago, under Canadian leadership, we took a major step forward to protect the ozone layer. Twenty years later, Canada is again showing leadership by pushing for an aggressive phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). I am proud of the role Canada continues to play on the world stage." Under the Montreal Protocol, countries have committed to eliminating harmful substances, called hydrochlorofluorocarbons that deplete the ozone layer and contribute to global warming. As the host of the 20th Anniversary meeting in Montreal, Canada has joined with the United Nations and other countries in calling for serious action now in order that ozone preservation and climate change - are addressed together. Protocol signatories are meeting this week to chart the future of the Protocol, to ensure that the world remains on track to phase out the remaining uses of ozone-depleting substances. The original Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed in 1987 by 24 countries, including Canada. Since then, more than 190 countries have signed on, and more than 95% of the chemicals that harm the ozone layer have been eliminated. ______________________________________________________________________ IPS: Ozone Treaty Could Slow Climate Change By Stephen Leahy MONTREAL, Sep 17 (IPS) - Delegates from 191 nations are in Montreal, Canada this week to celebrate and extend the world's most successful environmental treaty, the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer. With 95 percent of the target chemicals now eliminated, there is strong support to accelerate the phase-out of newer ozone-depleting chemicals that are also powerful greenhouses gases. In fact, many experts believe this meeting could do more to reduce greenhouse emissions than the more widely-publicised Kyoto Protocol. Challenges do remain -- the United States continues to use large amounts of methyl bromide, an ozone-depleting substance (ODS), and the economic booms in China and India have rapidly increased the numbers of air conditioners using replacement chemicals. Delegates attending the 20th anniversary celebration of the Montreal Protocol and the official 19th Meeting of the Parties here refer to themselves as the "ozone family". They came in the mid-1980s to tackle the recent discovery of holes and thinning of the ozone layer that protects every biological being from harmful exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Increased levels of UV in recent decades have been linked to higher levels of skin cancer, eye disease and other health problems in humans and many other species. "The science behind the causes of ozone depletion was not very strong at the time," noted Tom McElroy, an ozone researcher at Environment Canada. "But the international community proceeded to deal with the problem because of the potential risks," McElroy said in an interview. Scientists Sherwood Rowland of the United States and Mario Molina of Mexico started research in 1974 that gradually established that two chemical families -- chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs (found in refrigeration, air conditioning and aerosol propellants), and halons (in fire extinguishers) -- were reducing the amount of ozone in the stratosphere. They, along with Dutch scientist Paul Crutzen, won the Nobel Prize for their work. Rowland and Molina, who spoke to delegates on Sunday, said they had to develop a new kind of atmospheric chemistry, but the mounting evidence that ozone levels had fallen more than 30 percent over Antarctica alarmed some nations, particularly Argentina. "In the southern part of Argentina, children couldn't play outside because of the ozone hole in the spring," said Romina Picolotti, Argentina's environment minister. "There was enough scientific evidence to act. You don't need to be 100 percent certain," Picolotti told IPS. Argentina, along with the United States, Canada and a few other countries, pushed for an international treaty to curb ozone-depleting substances such as CFCs. "In nine months, agreement had been reached -- an astonishingly quick period of time," said Richard Benedick, the chief U.S. negotiator and former ambassador. In 1987, 24 countries signed on to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, and today 191 countries participate in the treaty. Benedick says this quick agreement came as a result of creating a flexible treaty that could be adjusted as the science improved and that had the full cooperation of the chemical industry. The small number of nations also made it easier to negotiate -- unlike today's enormous meetings such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. "Negotiations in 1987 were acrimonious but we reached a fragile balance," recalled Victor Buxton, a chemical engineer and one of Canada's representatives. Where formal agreements couldn't be reached, countries opted for informal ones on many key issues such as technology transfer, emissions credits, and financial assistance. The Montreal Protocol had incentives built in to encourage non-participant countries to join sooner rather than later, and added trade sanctions to eliminate imports from other countries. The final key was the creation in 1990 of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, a multi-million-dollar fund to help developing countries phase out production and use of ozone-depleting chemicals. Some 49 industrialised countries have contributed over 2.2 billion dollars to date and 146 countries have received monies from the fund. "The Multilateral Fund was the key to the Montreal Protocol's success," said Ambassador Juan Antonio Mateos of Mexico, adding, "We're unable to create one for the Kyoto Protocol." In addition, there has been a push against multilateral agreements internationally, with many countries favouring unilateral or bilateral approaches, he said. "We most move back to multilateralism if we are to get a strong climate treaty," Mateos told IPS. Although the ozone depletion issue is not entirely solved and the ozone layer will not recover until 2060 or 2070, climate change is the major topic of conversation here. There are two reasons for this: most ODS are also global warming gases and there is hope that the Montreal Protocol can be a model for a strong and effective climate treaty. Between 1990 and 2000, the elimination of those ODS resulted in a net reduction of 25 billion tonnes of global warming gases. "The latest science shows that an accelerated phase-out of ODS under the Montreal Protocol can help us get to a low carbon future," said Achim Steiner, U.N. undersecretary- general and executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) at a press conference here. HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons), the less damaging replacements for the older CFCs, have now become widespread in products such as refrigeration systems, air conditioning units and foams. But HCFCs are very powerful greenhouse gases. Under the Montreal Protocol, use of HCFCs is set to cease in developed countries in 2030 and in developing ones in 2040. A more rapid freeze on consumption and production of HCFCs, and bringing forward the final phase-out to 10 years or so would over the coming decades deliver cumulative emission reductions equaling up to 38 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide, according to UNEP. The Kyoto Protocol is intended to eliminate a mere two billion metric tonnes in a first 2008-12 phase. Annually, that could represent a cut equal to over 3.5 percent of all the world's current greenhouse emissions. In contrast the Kyoto Protocol, the main greenhouse gas emission reduction treaty, was agreed with the aim of reducing developed countries' 1990 emissions levels by just over five percent by 2012. Countries here profess support for a more rapid phase-out, but the details have yet to be negotiated. "If we can use the Protocol to accelerate the phase-out it will be a tremendous benefit for the ozone layer and a major contribution in the reduction in greenhouse gases," said Steiner. ______________________________________________________________________ SDA (Suisse) : Conférence de Montréal sur l'environnement Couche d'ozone et réchauffement climatique au menu 17 septembre 2007 lundi 5:21 PM CET Montréal (ats) Les représentants de 191 pays, dont la Suisse, ont entamé lundi une réunion d'une semaine à Montréal pour tenter de faire d'une pierre deux coups en matière d'environnement. Ils souhaitent protéger la couche d'ozone tout en luttant contre le réchauffement climatique°. Ces pays réunis pour cette conférence du Programme des Nations unies pour l'environnement (PNUE) vont discuter de l'accélération de l'élimination de substances chimiques appauvrissant la couche d'ozone, en s'appuyant sur le succès du protocole de Montréal, dont ils ont fêté dimanche le 20e anniversaire. Le protocole de Montréal, signé le 16 septembre 1987, est considéré comme le traité écologique le plus efficace en ayant réussi à éliminer une bonne partie des substances appauvrissant la couche d'ozone (SAO), utilisées pour la réfrigération (réfrigérateurs ou climatiseurs). Substances "dommageables" Par ailleurs, chose qui était ignorée au moment de sa signature, le protocole a aussi eu un effet très positif en matière de lutte contre le réchauffement climatique. "Un certain nombre de substances sont dommageables aussi bien pour le climat que pour la couche d'ozone", a expliqué à l'ATS l'ambassadeur Thomas Kolly, chef du secteur international de l'Office fédéral de l'environnement (OFEV). Ces substances bannies en raison de leur effet sur l'ozone ont aussi un important pouvoir réchauffant. L'ozone, une molécule issue de l'oxygène joue un rôle essentiel en filtrant les rayons ultra-violets B, responsables notamment des cancers de la peau. Le protocole a permis de stopper la production des CFC (chlorofluorocarbures) utilisés dans les aérosols et la réfrigération. Et il prévoit que l'utilisation de la deuxième génération de gaz réfrigérants moins nocive, les HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbures) cessera en 2030, dans les pays développés, et en 2040 dans les pays en développement. Réticences de la Chine attendues Selon les indications de l'OFEV, les HCFC sont également à l'origine des problèmes liés à la couche d'ozone. L'accélération du calendrier d'élimination de ces HCFC sera au centre des discussions à Montréal. L'Union européenne et les Etats-Unis sont favorables à une accélération de l'élimination des HCFC, de même que le Canada hôte de la réunion. Les experts s'attendent toutefois à des réticences de la part de la Chine. La conférence de Montréal précède de quelques jours la réunion de quelque 50 chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement sur le thème du réchauffement climatique à l'initiative du secrétaire général de l'ONU, Ban Ki-Moon, en prélude à l'Assemblée générale des Nations unies. ______________________________________________________________________ BBC: More progress urged on ozone hole By Richard Black Environment correspondent Faster progress is needed to safeguard the ozone layer, according to one of the scientists who discovered the "ozone hole" over Antarctica. Writing on the BBC News website, Joe Farman calls for faster phase-out of some ozone-destroying chemicals, and for the destruction of stockpiles. The Montreal Protocol regulating these substances is 20 years old this week. Some of Dr Farman's arguments have been echoed by senior figures in the UN, and by European and US politicians. He is critical of the agreement that allows developing countries to keep on using some ozone-depleting chemicals until 2040. It is surely time to consider collecting the existing stockpile, and destroying it "Frequent reviews rescued the Montreal Protocol from deficiencies in the original draft, and another comprehensive re-examination is clearly needed," he writes in the BBC's Green Room series. Joe Farman was one of three British Antarctic Survey scientists who reported signs of severe damage to the ozone layer over Antarctic - the "ozone hole" - in 1985. Member countries of the Montreal Protocol are meeting this week, again in Montreal, to review progress. Faster, sooner, cheaper The 1987 Montreal Protocol was designed to phase out chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons which were found to be depleting the ozone layer in the Earth's stratosphere, the higher portion of the atmosphere. The ozone layer blocks ultraviolet-B radiation from the Sun, which can cause skin cancers and other medical conditions, as well as harming wildlife. Industrialised nations phased out almost all CFC production in 1995, with developing countries having a deadline of 2010. Many of the substances, used in applications such as refrigeration, aerosols and fire- fighting, could be replaced relatively easily with related families of chemicals including hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These cause much less damage to the ozone layer; but production in the developing world is now increasing so fast that there is renewed concern about their impact. Current regulations mean that in 2015, developing countries will have to freeze their HCFC use at or below the level it is then, phasing out entirely by 2040. "The rate of HCFC use is skyrocketing," noted Clare Perry, senior ozone campaigner with the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). "So it's actually going to cost less to phase it out sooner when investment in plant and equipment is at a lower level." French Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said the EU would be pushing for a faster phase-out at this week's ozone treaty meeting. "The schedule for eliminating HCFCs must be pushed up by 10 years - that will be the benchmark for deciding if the negotiations are succesful," she said. Accelerating the phase-out would require new funds from the industralised world, as well as changes to the current funding regulations. Joe Farman also wants cash set aside to combat leakage of ozone-depleting chemicals, such as the fire retardant halon 1301, from developing world installations. "There is some production in developing countries," he writes, "but the main source is now through leaks from existing installations, and during recycling. It is surely time to consider collecting the existing stockpile, and destroying it." Perverse climate HCFCs also contribute to climate change. They are much more potent, molecule for molecule, than carbon dioxide; one byproduct of HCFC manufacture, HFC23, is 11,700 times more powerful. Joe Farman Joe Farman discovered major Antarctic ozone depletion in the 1980s Reducing HCFC use "offers the international community the chance to make rapid gains both concerning the ozone layer and global climate change," said UN Environment Programme (Unep) executive director Achim Steiner in the run-up to this week's summit. And President Bush's chief environmental advisor James Connaughton said that accelerating HCFC phase-out by 10 years would "produce at least twice the reduction (in greenhouse gas emissions) of the Kyoto Protocol". However, some environmentalists believe there is an element of political spin here intended to divert attention from carbon dioxide, which is much more important overall as a greenhouse gas. There is also concern that the Kyoto Protocol may be creating a "perverse incentive" for companies to boost HCFC use. The protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) funds the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries. It can be used to pay for equipment to trap and burn HFC23. "In 2005, the destruction of HFC23 accounted for 64% of the value of all CDM projects, and 51% in 2006," Dr Farman writes. "There is currently much debate on whether carbon trading based so heavily on burning HFC23 constitutes sustainable development." ______________________________________________________________________ BBC: Unfinished business of ozone protection VIEWPOINT Joe Farman There is a popular belief that the ozone layer has been "saved". Not so, says Joe Farman, one of the scientists who discovered the Antarctic ozone "hole" - even as the Montreal Protocol celebrates its 20th birthday, much remains to be done. Readers of Lewis Carroll may recall the words of an old song that came into Alice's head in Through the Looking Glass: "Tweedledum and Tweedledee agreed - to have a battle". What was agreed in Montreal 20 years ago? Essentially, governments would be invited to ratify a protocol to control substances that were depleting the ozone layer. For chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a family of chemicals widely used by industry, most notably in aerosols and refrigerators, consumption was to be held at 1986 levels from July 1989, and reduced in steps to 50% of 1986 levels by 1999. For halons - bromine-containing substances favoured for fire-fighting - consumption would be frozen at 1986 levels in 1992. International protocols are seen by some as one more set of rules from which to gain advantage Under such measures, the accumulation of chlorine and bromine in the atmosphere would not be stopped, but merely slowed down. The most important article in the protocol committed member governments to a review every four years. Without this article, the outlook would have been very bleak! Mapping the hole It seemed a very poor return for negotiations that had started in 1977, and was variously termed a success, a compromise, a muddle, and a failure - all with some justification. Perhaps the working group were overtaken by events; they were trying to complete a protocol which was already too weak given the flood of information which scientists were amassing about the severity of the problem. The 1970s and 80s saw seminal scientific papers on ozone The mid-70s saw the publication of several seminal scientific papers identifying the possibility of ozone-destroying chain reactions in the stratosphere. Ozone depletion in early spring over Antarctica had been reported in the journal Nature in May 1985, much more severe than any prediction, and confirmed by Nasa in October 1985. In reporting the Nasa results, the Washington Post newspaper gave the world the expressive term "ozone hole". In 1986, the US National Ozone Expedition (Noze) to McMurdo Station in Antarctica had produced much evidence to support the view that the depletion was driven by chlorine chemistry. The same year, the giant chemicals company Du Pont, reminded of a promise made in 1975, wrote to its CFC customers in September 1986 declaring that it now accepted the need for some controls. Against this background, the timing of the announcement of the protocol, and the weakness of the measures, make sense only as a pre-emptive move astutely designed to preserve some credibility for the negotiators, and to give industry time for orderly reorganisation. World tour The protocol was ratified and came into force on 1 January 1989 in line with the timetable. The review procedure was set in motion at once. By then, a consensus had been reached on the main scientific issues, NGOs had fought vigorous campaigns for public awareness, and industry was responding to the problem much faster than had initially seemed possible. Various sets of amendments, all named after the cities where they were negotiated - London, Copenhagen, Vienna, and so on - were brought in. Most notably, in 1999, $232m were committed to fund the complete closure of CFC production in China and India within a decade. The main concern in all these negotiations was to replace CFCs quickly with new chemicals, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) being the options preferred by industry. Some 75% of global CFC production was in the hands of 13 groups of companies, who were quite content to close down old CFC plant if the protocol would allow reasonable time for the industry to profit from investment in HCFC and HFC production. Supercomputer Some supercomputers still use ozone-depleting substances The negotiators readily accepted this; these transitional substances were made subject to guidelines rather than controls, and their future was originally left open-ended, as consensus could not be reached on a phase-out date. In my view this approach was deeply flawed. Technical surveys had already shown that large quantities of CFCs and halons had been released unnecessarily by poor working practices. The quantities of replacements needed were much less than current consumption. More emphasis should have been placed on prudent long-term goals, with active encouragement of the development of halocarbon-free and energy-efficient technologies, to protect the ozone layer, slow down the forcing of climate change and reduce the cost of technologies such as refrigeration in developing countries. Easy cash? There is still some unfinished business. The amount of halon 1301 (used in large stationary fire protection systems for such things as supercomputers and art collections) in the atmosphere is still rising, and is likely to continue to do so for at least 10 years, despite the fact that production in developed countries ceased in 1994. There is some production in developing countries, due to cease in 2010; but the main source is now through leaks from existing installations, and during recycling. It is surely time to consider collecting the existing stockpile, and destroying it. It is also time to reconsider the controls for HCFCs. Politicians have often stated that the experience gained with the Montreal Protocol would ease the way for slowing down climate change through the Kyoto Protocol. In fact serious problems are now arising between the Protocols. Under Montreal, developing countries need not control consumption of HCFC22 (used mainly for air- conditioning equipment) until 2016, and may maintain the 2015 consumption level until complete phase-out by 2040. A by-product of HCFC22 manufacture is HFC23, a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 11,700 times greater than that of carbon dioxide. In developing countries, this used to be allowed to escape into the atmosphere. Now, any which is trapped and burnt can be counted as a credit for carbon trading under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol. In 2005, the destruction of HFC23 accounted for 64% of the value of all CDM projects, and 51% in 2006. It is reported that an Indian chemicals firm (SRF) has so far sold credits worth $96m in the 2006-7 financial year, its second largest revenue stream. This example acts as a reminder that international protocols are seen by some as one more set of rules from which to gain advantage. There is currently much debate on whether carbon trading based so heavily on burning HFC23 constitutes sustainable development. The moral seems to be there should never be open-ended agreements on future emissions. Frequent reviews rescued the Montreal Protocol from deficiencies in the original draft, and another comprehensive re-examination is clearly needed. Joe Farman, Brian Gardiner and Jonathan Shanklin, then of the British Antarctic Survey, reported severe ozone depletion over Antarctica - the "ozone hole" - in May 1985. Dr Farman is now based at the European Ozone Research Co-ordinating Unit. _________________________________________________________________________ Thai News Service: Thailand joins forces with UN in combating climate change September 18, 2007 Tuesday Thailand, through the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), will cooperate with the United Nations in combating the escalating problem of climate change. Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to support the United Nation Environment Prgram (UNEP)'s measures against global warming in Bangkok on 14 September 2007. Following the MoU signing, the UNEP will support the BMA in carrying out the Bangkok Assessment Report on climate change. The Governor noted that the report would lead to the international community's recognition of the Thai capital as a city conserving the environment. The BMA has launched a campaign to create public awareness on helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the root cause of the global warming problem, since May 2007. Thailand has also joined a global move on barring imports of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by 2010. The excessive use of CFCs in consumers' products, such as air conditioners, refrigerators and freezers, increases greenhouse gas emissions and depletes the ozone layer in the atmosphere which deteriorate the problem of global warming. _________________________________________________________________________ Sunday Telegraph (Australia): Acting locally September 16, 2007 Sunday Kim McKay, Jenny Bonnin Sometimes the most worthwhile causes are in your own backyard. Though many aspects of our culture encourage us to believe the important thing in life is to be rich and famous, research shows that happiness has little to do with spending money. The most contented people are those who spend their time helping others and contributing to their community. Voluntary work is not only worthy in itself but can also help develop those skills recognised as value creators in modern business - initiative, creativity, teamwork and the ability to extrapolate from one experience to another. You can even make a real commitment to a culture of volunteerism in your workplace by setting aside time - on Friday afternoons, for example - when staff can work individually or collectively on social projects. To ensure it isn't just seen as slack time, make the work part of performance reviews, with agreed goals and evaluation indicators. To locate a cause you'd like to support, check out the following websites: Conservation Volunteers at www.conservationvolunteers.com.au, Volunteer Match at www.volunteermatch.com.au or www.cleanup.org.au Remember to consider an organisation that is local and matches your personal or business values and purpose. For more on how to be True Green go to www.betruegreen.com Kim and Jenny are the authors of True Green: 100 Everyday Ways You Can Contribute To A Healthier Planet and True Green @ Work: 100 Ways You Can Make The Environment Your Business (ABC Books). Email your environmental questions to email@example.com CLEAN UP THE WORLD An estimated 35 million people from around 120 countries will participate this weekend in the 15th Clean Up the World campaign, a great Australian export. Established in 1993 by the Clean Up Australia team, the campaign partners Clean Up the World with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), to inspire communities around the globe to take action, improving their environment and limiting the impacts of climate change. This year, Clean Up the World highlights the threat of climate change, and how to minimise its impact. "We have a responsibility to protect generations now and in the future. The global challenge of climate change requires that we ask no less of our leaders, or ourselves," says Ian Kiernan, founder and chairman of Clean Up. For more information, visit www.cleanuptheworld.org ( Q ) Our office would like to become involved with a local community group. How do we go about it? Jane, Brisbane ( A ) Companies and community groups now want meaningful partnerships based on mutual exchange: your office has valuable skill and expertise, while a community group knows all about being mission-focused and how to deal with different stakeholders. A partnership may include product donation, financial assistance and sharing technical expertise, depending on the size and focus of your business. For more information, visit the Prime Minister's Community Business Partnerships website at www.partnerships.gov.au ______________________________________________________________________ The Star (Malaysia): OCM starts tree-planting programme By Y.P. SIVAM firstname.lastname@example.org Sept 17 THE Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) want to play an active role in the Billion Tree Campaign – a project undertaken by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – in an effort to save the environment. The OCM, as an affiliate of the IOC, have initiated the project in Malaysia. The OCM‘s first tree-planting programme in Malaysia was launched with five trees, donated by Kuala Lumpur City Hall, planted at Padang Merbok on Sunday, in conjunction with the Mizuno Wave Run. Besides OCM secretary Datuk Sieh Kok Chi, the others given the honour of being part of the programme were KL City Hall senior landscape architect R. Vijayakumar, Mizuno Corporation Japan‘s Asia Oceania Department Sports Business Section head Taizo Asai, World of Sports (WOS) chief operating officer Ean Ooi and Pacesetters Athletics Club president Munning Jamaluddin. The UNEP and IOC had taken the responsibility of being part of the first global tree- planting project, launched in Nairobi during the 12th conference of the Parties of the Framework Convention on Climate Change in Nov 2006. To date, the UNEP and its partners have received about 822 million pledges. The IOC had also invited all National Olympic Committees, including the OCM, to participate in the Billion Tree Campaign. The OCM have taken the initiative to liase with the National Resources and Environment Ministry, KL City Hall, National Sports Associations, sponsors and supporters on participation in the Billion Tree Campaign. Sieh, who also took part in the Mizuno Wave Run, said the OCM had received pledges of more than 300 trees. ―We have started with five trees – this is the beginning. The OCM will be carrying out more tree-planting events with support from the National Sports Associations as well as other sports organisers,‖ said Sieh. The OCM had also placed boxes at several locations in Padang Merbok for the participants to dispose unwanted things. Sieh said most of the things could be recycled and would be handed over to the authorities. ―The place was clean as the participants showed their concern for the environment by throwing the unwanted things into the boxes,‖ added Sieh. The Mizuno Wave Run, organised by World of Sports, attracted about 2,959 participants. ―We were unable to accept more. It was a very successful Run even though we did not offer any cash prizes,‖ said Da Costa. Former national junior R. Kunasegaran won the men‘s Open category after clocking 39:17 to finish ahead of Eliud Kiprono Chemwolo(39:28) and Casey Lim Khon Seng (39:50). In the women‘s Open category, the winner was Mariana Mohammad in 45:20, followed by A. Amutha (46:10) and Emilia Jamil (49:18). _________________________________________________________________________ East African Business Week: UN Environment Bid September 17, 2007 Monday The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have launched a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) bazaar website. The CDM bazaar is a web portal designed to facilitate exchange of information among buyers, sellers and service providers engaged in the Kyoto protocol clean development mechanism. Under the CDM, projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries and contribute to sustainable development can earn certified emission reductions (CERs) credits. The website would allow stakeholders in the CDM to post information such as potential emission reduction projects that are seeking for financing, CERs available for sale, buyers looking for carbon credits to purchase, services available, carbon market related events and employment opportunities. Countries with a commitment under the Kyoto Protocol buy certified emission reduction credits to cover a portion of their emission reduction commitments under the Protocol. According to a statement from the UN office, the CDM has seen exponential growth in the number of projects with strong interest in developing countries for projects and in developed countries for CERs. UNFCCC executive secretary Yvo De Boer says the CDM Bazaar would help buyers and sellers and all those that serve the market get down to business. Achim Steiner, the UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "The CDM is playing an important role in meeting the climate change challenge, however, if the benefits are to be more widely shared especially in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa, more efforts need to be put into building developing-country capacity." ================================================================= Other Environment News ================================================================= The Canadian Press: Canada would like leadership role in getting rid of ozone- depleting chemical Sept 18 MONTREAL (CP) — Canada is hoping to play a leadership role to get dozens of countries, including the United States and China, to agree to speed up the elimination of a widespread ozone-depleting chemical. Environment ministers and officials from almost 200 countries are meeting in Montreal this week to discuss hydrochlorofluorocarbons - HCFCs - used in such things as home appliances and air conditioners. "It's tremendously important to the planet," Environment Minister John Baird said Monday. HCFCs are greenhouse gases that damage the atmosphere's protective ozone layer. The meeting comes on the 20th anniversary of what is known as the Montreal Protocol, a United Nations agreement involving 191 countries negotiated to lower the level of chemicals being blamed for destroying the ozone layer. "The exciting thing we're seeing at this conference is American leadership and Chinese engagement and co-operation," Baird told a news conference. Negotiations are set to try to bring forward the deadline - currently 2030 for developed countries and 2040 for developing countries - to get rid of HCFCs. Baird also said he's getting "good vibes" from Europe and "enthusiasm" from Argentina about working toward the elimination of HCFCs. "Canada is very supportive of a plan to expedite the phase-out of these harmful gases, not just for ozone preservation, but we're trying to provide a leadership role in this." Baird said a date to eliminate the ozone-depleting chemical will have to be negotiated among signatories to the Montreal Protocol. U.S. official Claudia McMurray praised the protocol for what it has accomplished since 1987. "Ninety-five per cent of the chemicals that we have identified as being the causes of this problem, their production and their consumption have been eliminated," said McMurray, assistant secretary for Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. McMurray said the ozone is making a recovery as a result of the Montreal Protocol and is projected to return to pre-1980 levels between 2050 and 2075. "I wouldn't want to tell the public to stop wearing sunscreen because we're certainly not in that position, but it's a very short period between now and the projections that scientists are making for the recovery to occur." The Sierra Club of Canada praised the Montreal Protocol for "its binding targets and timelines" that are helping the ozone to slowly recover. It says a UN protocol is the only tool that has "ever solved a global atmospheric environmental problem" and remains the best way to avert climate change by greenhouse gases. But it criticized Canada for its stance on the Kyoto Protocol. "Canada accepted its historical responsibility for emissions of ODS (ozone-depleting substances) yet now refuses to assume its historical contributions to global warming by undermining Kyoto and pointing fingers at China," Emilie Moorhouse, a Sierra Club atmosphere and energy campaigner, said in a statement. Baird said the Montreal Protocol is more successful than the Kyoto Protocol "because it's got developing countries rowing together with the developed world." The Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions expires in 2012 and has caused much political wrangling among various countries. Baird said there has been plenty of talking with Kyoto and "not enough real action." _________________________________________________________________________ The Christian Science Monitor: Kudos for a working eco-treaty On the 20th anniversary of a pact to save the ozone layer, the world draws lessons to act on climate change. from the September 17, 2007 edition This month, 191 nations will honor (and maybe mend) a pact that's saving the atmosphere's ozone layer. The 20th anniversary of the Montreal treaty, however, not only marks a win in phasing out ozone-depleting chemicals used in coolants, it's a model for more action on global warming. The 1987 treaty has worked well to prevent more of the sun's ultraviolet rays from striking Earth. So well in fact that the United States is proposing at this week's anniversary- gathering in Montreal to move up one of the treaty's deadlines. It wants to end the substitute use of a family of chemicals, known as hydrochlorofluorocarbons, or HCFCs. Back when the treaty took effect in 1987, this form of chlorine was pushed as a transitional replacement for far more damaging chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, that had been used in refrigerators, fire extinguishers, and other products since the 1930s. Under the treaty, 95 percent of CFCs have been phased out in richer nations while in poorer nations, more than half of CFC use has ended. But while the newer chemicals (HCFCs) deplete ozone to a small degree, scientists have since proven that their use also produces a byproduct 12,000 times more powerful as a heat- trapping agent than carbon dioxide. They are thus a contributor to that other atmosphere- altering problem, global warming. In addition, chemical companies such as DuPont – which invented CFCs – have created substitutes for HCFCs that have little or no effect on the protective, stratospheric ozone. The new substitutes would further close the "holes" created in the ozone layer, mainly above the poles. But another big reason to phase out HCFCs more quickly, as the US proposes, is to improve the Kyoto Protocol, and thus perhaps help the drive for a successor treaty. Under the 1997 Kyoto treaty, a company in a participating developed country can forgo cleaning up its own carbon pollution by paying for a project in another country that will contribute to a slowing of carbon output. One popular source of such "carbon credits" is building incinerators to destroy a byproduct made during the manufacture of HCFCs. China has reportedly earned more than $4 billion so far in credits from companies in Europe and Japan by burning the byproduct, known as HFC-22. That gives China a perverse incentive to keep making HCFCs. And these relatively inexpensive credits for the incinerators are pricing out better types of carbon credits. China now wants to adjust the Montreal pact so it can continue to sell credits for HCFC plants. It also opposes the US proposal that would move up the deadline for an HCFC- phaseout to the year 2030 from 2040 for developing countries. To prevent the perverse pecuniary application of both treaties, the loopholes in both the Kyoto and Montreal treaties obviously need to be fixed. In addition, nations not party to Kyoto need to study the lessons of the Montreal treaty, which may be the world's most successful environmental pact. It was a global effort, albeit one targeted at only a few industries with little impact on consumers. But it was one that saved untold numbers of lives. Gratitude for that treaty's effects can compel solutions for a new one on global warming. _________________________________________________________________________ The New York Times: From Ozone Success, a Potential Climate Model By ANDREW C. REVKIN Published: September 18, 2007 In 1985, scientists studying the air over Antarctica stumbled on a gaping breach in the billion-year-old atmospheric radiation shield that makes Earth‘s surface habitable. Satellite instruments monitoring the ozone layer are used to create images depicting ozone over Earth. The blue and purple show where there is the least amount of ozone; the green, yellow and red show where there is more. The discovery of a seasonal ―hole‖ in this veil of ozone molecules was so unexpected — ―the surprise of the century,‖ one chemist later called it — that it was presumed to be a data glitch. It wasn‘t. Soon other experts found a connection between the ozone hole and the use of chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, and similar synthetic chemicals in solvents, refrigeration, sprays and the like. The chemical threat to the ozone layer had been identified in 1974, and industries and governments were planning to shift to safer substitutes. But it took the ozone hole, glaring from satellite images like a purple bruise, to make eliminating such chemicals a global imperative. On Sept. 16, 1987, an initial batch of countries signed the Montreal Protocol, a treaty that has since grown and led to bans on 95 percent of the ozone-eating compounds. On Sunday, diplomats, scientists and environmentalists gathered in Montreal to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the treaty and to spend a week discussing possible new steps to speed an end to remaining ozone threats. Many are using the anniversary to bolster the idea that a similar success can be achieved with carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases linked to global warming (including some of the ozone-destroying chemicals and some of the replacements for them). Fresh international climate talks begin at the United Nations on Monday and at a meeting in Washington organized by the White House late next week. Some veterans of both the ozone and climate fights insist that the Montreal success is a model for climate action. ―The lesson from Montreal is that curbing global warming will not be as hard as it looks,‖ said David D. Doniger, an early campaigner against ozone-damaging chemicals for the Natural Resources Defense Council who now directs the group‘s climate work. But many experts on the circumstances — scientific, diplomatic and economic — surrounding the 1987 treaty signing say that while some things are similar now, like the looming environmental risks revealed by evolving science, almost everything else is very different. Ozone molecules, tenuous trios of oxygen atoms, serve as a planetary sun block of sorts, limiting the bombardment of the Earth‘s surface by ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancers and cataracts, and harm some plants and animals. When F. Sherwood Rowland and Mario J. Molina first posited in 1974 that CFCs and similar chemicals could waft to the stratosphere and break up ozone, the threat quickly captured public attention. In 1977, long before the climate disaster movie ―The Day After Tomorrow,‖ Hollywood released ―Day of the Animals,‖ in which ozone destruction caused wildlife to run amok. But it was cancer that really brought the issue home, said Susan Solomon, a senior scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who in 1986 led work linking CFCs and related chemicals to polar ozone losses. ―Skin cancer is deeply personal, and virtually every person on the planet has either known someone who has had cancer or had it themselves,‖ Dr. Solomon said. The risks from global warming are far different, said Dr. Solomon, who was the co-leader of the latest scientific report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. ―It is much less personal for most people, except perhaps if you‘re in places like Vanuatu,‖ she said, referring to one of several low-lying island nations threatened by rising seas. ―It‘s mostly beyond our generation.‖ In the 1980s, despite persistent scientific uncertainties over the threat to the ozone layer, action to move away from ozone-damaging chemicals was swift, largely because there was little cost involved and alternatives were developed as the need arose, experts said. To preserve the ozone shield, the United States, joined soon by Canada and Scandinavian countries, banned ―nonessential‖ uses of CFCs — hair sprays, for example — in 1978, just three years after the theory was first described in the journal Nature. The Natural Resources Defense Council, seizing on an opening left by a proposed rule to limit CFCs that was written in the last days of the Carter administration, filed a lawsuit in 1984 that prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to seek broader bans. The domestic action helped set the stage for treaty talks. ―That N.R.D.C. suit was critical because it turned the burden of proof around from having to show there was a problem to proving there was not,‖ said Roger A. Pielke Jr., a political scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Still, $135 billion worth of air conditioners and other equipment in the United States, and billions more around the world, relied on the old chemicals, and the science remained murky. So DuPont and other companies waited to seek alternatives, according to company scientists. In 1985, the murk cleared somewhat. An international scientific assessment of CFCs and ozone created a near-worldwide consensus that the risks of allowing the long-lived chemicals to keep building in the atmosphere were unacceptable. DuPont, while gaining less than 2 percent of its revenues from such compounds, saw a need to find substitutes and the prospect of new markets, and began a $500 million research effort that spawned a suite of alternatives. With global warming, in contrast, economists and climate experts say it will take billions of dollars a year in basic research, sustained over many years, to even have a chance of finding energy sources that can compete with fossil fuels but produce no greenhouse gases. In addition, the ozone treaty gave developing countries a decade-long grace period on CFC phaseouts and compensated them for the cost of shifting to safer chemicals. Talks over strengthening climate agreements have stumbled repeatedly over efforts to get concrete commitments on emissions cuts from the United States, and the involvement of developing countries, particularly giants like China. The final momentum for the Montreal treaty was provided by the discovery of the ozone hole, which served as kind of wake-up call, for the first time bringing home the realization that humans could have a direct effect on the planet‘s future. Environmental campaigners have for years been seeking a comparable icon for climate change, be it drowning polar bears, Hurricane Katrina or the deadly European heat wave of 2003. But the incremental nature of the threat posed by building greenhouse gases is for many still trumped by concerns like Iraq and health care. Mack McFarland, the chief atmospheric scientist for DuPont, said the surprise appearance of the ozone hole should serve as a warning to anyone waiting for stronger evidence of danger before acting to cut emissions of greenhouse gases. ―The science of ozone is so simple compared to the global climate system,‖ Dr. MacFarland said. Referring to the discovery of the polar hole, he added: ―If we missed something so fundamental with ozone, what are we missing with the climate system? Admittedly, it can go either way. But do we want to take that chance?‖ _________________________________________________________________________ The Financial Times: Beijing plays down Olympic smog fears By Mure Dickie in Beijing Published: September 17 2007 22:13 China has no plans to order factories in and around Beijing to suspend operations during next year‘s Olympic Games, despite widespread concerns about the effect of air pollution on athletes. In an interview with the Financial Times, Liu Qi, Beijing Communist party chief and head of the Olympic organising committee, waved aside worries that bad air could mar a sporting event in which the government has invested enormous political capital. ―We are completely confident that Olympic athletes will be able to take part in their competitions normally next August,‖ said Mr Liu, who is the capital‘s most powerful official. With analysts reporting that concentrations of fine particulates and ozone often hit unsafe levels in Beijing in summer, it had been widely assumed that China would order some companies in the city and nearby provinces to close or reduce production during the event. However, Mr Liu said that while regional governments were co-operating with efforts to combat air pollution, their focus was on implementing existing environmental rules rather than on temporary measures. ―The main thing is to strengthen factories‘ management of gases and reduce emissions of pollutants,‖ said Mr Liu, one of 23 members of the Chinese Communist party‘s politburo. ―We have not made any demand for suspensions of operations.‖ His comments are Beijing‘s most direct response yet to speculation about how it will handle an issue that has threatened to overshadow its otherwise smooth Olympic preparations. Last month, celebrations to mark one year to go to the August 8 2008 opening of the games were clouded by warnings from Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, that bad air could force changes to the timing of some outdoor events. But Mr Liu said trials last month of measures to reduce emissions had gone well, with air pollution falling about 20 per cent in the city. The measures have included removing 1.3m cars from the streets, through an alternate day ban on odd and even number plates, the suspension of earth-moving work and bans on some types of heavily polluting vehicles. Mr Liu said 28 of August‘s 31 days had enjoyed ―good weather‖ with a relatively healthy rating of two on the city‘s benchmark five-point pollution index. Such confidence contrasts sharply with the perceptions of some observers in Beijing, who still found many days last month unpleasantly smoggy. It is also unclear whether local action alone will be enough to address air quality concerns. A report this year by the US energy department's Argonne National Laboratory said that even if Beijing itself emitted no manmade pollutants, fine particulates and ozone could still hit dangerous levels. The government has long struggled to enforce environmental standards, and even if pre- Olympic efforts are more effective, the gains could be outweighed by the sheer pace of China‘s industrial development. Mr Liu said the Chinese Academy of Sciences was working with local environmental officials and US companies to draw up a comprehensive assessment of air pollution in Beijing and might make the report public. More than 100 Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai have said they will take part in the country‘s first official urban ―car-free day‖ on Saturday, barring vehicles from selected areas and ordering officials to swap their sedans for public transport. _________________________________________________________________________ AFP: Climate change tops future humanitarian challenges: Annan Mon Sep 17, 12:02 PM ET GENEVA (AFP) - Former UN chief Kofi Annan warned Monday that climate change was likely to be the most urgent humanitarian challenge in the future, highlighting some one million people hit by recent flooding in Africa. Annan said he wanted the impact of climate change on refugee flows and humanitarian strife around the world to be a first priority of a new forum he is launching on October 17. "This is perhaps the single most important humanitarian challenge of years to come," Annan told journalists in Geneva. "Climate change is already taking place and affecting the lives of thousands of communities," he said. The former UN chief highlighted the floods in recent weeks across a swathe of sub-Saharan Africa, the plight of some 10 million East Africans hit by floods or drought in recent years, and an estimated 20 million in South Asia affected by heavy monsoon flooding this year. The Global Humanitarian Forum being set up by the former UN Secretary General, with Swiss government funding, aims to plug a gap in international disaster relief and prevention by bringing together governments, aid agencies, the military, the business world and academics. "This forum will serve as a catalyst and will build ties... that's something which isn't being done at the moment," said Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey. Annan, who left the top UN post in January, said he wanted to "eliminate these rigid divisions" between different actors which he said stifled prevention measures or hampered the delivery of relief aid. "We have too much focus on reaction, we sit and wait for things to happen. We have to have a change in culture," Annan said. The new Geneva-based forum's foundation board is due to meet for the first time next month. Several of Africa's poorest countries warned on Friday that they were in dire need of assistance due to severe floods, extending from Ghana in the west to Sudan in the east, that have left more than 200 people dead. _________________________________________________________________________ The Guardian: Return of GM: ministers back moves to grow crops in UK Climate concerns will reduce chance of new public backlash, says industry Alok Jha, science correspondent Monday September 17 2007 Government ministers have given their backing to a renewed campaign by farmers and industry to introduce genetically modified crops to the UK, the Guardian has learned. They believe the public will now accept that the technology is vital to the development of higher-yield and hardier food for the world's increasing population and will help produce crops that can be used as biofuels in the fight against climate change. "GM will come back to the UK; the question is how it comes back, not whether it's coming back," said a senior government source. Attempts to introduce GM to Britain in the late 1990s met a wave of direct action from activists tearing up crops. At the same time supermarkets such as Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer barred GM ingredients from their ranges for fear of provoking a consumer backlash. In 2004, the government announced that no GM crops would be grown in the country for the "foreseeable future", prompting Lord Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association to declare: "This is the end of GM in Britain." Recent polls also revealed that about 70% of the European public remained opposed to GM foods. However, ministers are confident that the technology's virtues will be more apparent this time because of increased public awareness of pressing environmental concerns. "The ability to have drought-resistant crops is important not only for the UK but for other parts of the world," said the source. "And the fact that some GM crops can produce higher yields in more difficult climactic conditions is going to be important if we're going to feed the growing world population." Ministers are reluctant to publicly back the effort at this stage, admitting that a previous attempt to introduce GM crops to the UK in 2004 fell victim to poor public relations. "We had a bad consultation on GM and it set research back in the UK a very long way indeed," the source added. In that year, scientists published the results of several field scale trials of GM crops, which assessed their impact on the environment. Although the technology was subsequently cleared by the government, biotech companies in the UK decided to lie low after backlashes from the media, NGOs and consumers. But industry attempts to reverse the situation are now gathering momentum. Earlier this year, the plant science company BASF began field trials in Cambridge and Yorkshire of a potato that has been genetically modified to resist blight, the fungus that devastated Ireland's potato crop and caused the famine of the 1840s. A successful result could lead to the potato being the first in a line of GM crops grown in the UK. "We have absolutely every confidence that GM will be used in the UK," said Julian Little, chairman of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, which represents several major biotechnology companies that produce GM crops. "It's worth remembering that there are approximately 100m hectares (247m acres) of GM crops being grown around the world by about 10 million farmers. There is absolutely no question at all that this is technology that is being seen to work in other countries and why on earth would you not want to be interested in the UK?" Farmers have been lobbying ministers over a way to bring back GM technology. Peter Kendall, the president of the National Farmers Union (NFU), has written to ministers asking them to have a national debate to highlight the benefits. Helen Ferrier, chief scientist at the NFU, said: "We have written to ministers on various topics related to GM - including the more general issues of we've got to look at this more sensibly and try and have a conversation about it based on what's happening and not on emotions and what happened five years ago." Environment groups accused the government yesterday of putting industry wishes above the concerns of the public. "Unfortunately the public and media have thought we've won the battle and GM's gone away and people aren't really worrying about it at the moment. It certainly hasn't gone away," said Clare Oxborrow, a GM campaigner at Friends of the Earth. Graham Thompson, of Greenpeace UK, said the government still saw GM as a public relations issue. "The population has comprehensively rejected GM in the UK and over most of Europe so they're constantly having to be as bullish as possible.The purpose of the crops primarily is to give intellectual property rights to biotech companies. They're fulfilling their purpose perfectly in those terms. But they're not really doing much for the farmer." But Mr Little said environment campaigners had misled the public into fearing GM. "All of the suggestions that they've made about the horrible things that could happen, nothing's happened." He pointed to Australia as a place where public opinion on GM technology was turned around. "There's a country that has gone through the moratoriums, has gone through the we're-not-sure, the NGOs have been in there and caused mayhem, and come out the other end saying this is a useful technology and the public support it." "There is no question in our minds that we'll win," said Mr Little. "This is a safe, high- quality technology that's been proven to work." _________________________________________________________________________ BBC: UK 'needs carbon neutral target' The Liberal Democrats are calling for Britain to become entirely carbon neutral by 2050 in an "ambitious" attempt to reclaim the green agenda. The move follows recent high-profile Tory and Labour announcements. The Lib Dem conference in Brighton is expected to back a motion calling for an "urgent" response to the "serious threat" of climate change. But delegates are likely to reject a separate proposal to end the party's opposition to nuclear power. 'Overwhelming' The Lib Dem conference will vote on a range of environmental policies, including new incentives and targets for energy to come from renewable sources. The party also wants taxes on highly polluting cars, a climate change charge for domestic flights and a toll on road freight, with cash raised used to fund rail improvements. Look you need a thick skin in this business...and the one thing the public does see through is if you try to be something you are not Sir Menzies Campbell At-a-glance: Day one Environment spokesman Chris Huhne presented a motion calling for 30% of the UK's electricity to be produced from "clean, non-carbon-emitting sources" by 2020 - rising to 100% by 2050. He said climate change was "the greatest threat facing our children and our grandchildren", adding that it was necessary to "come up with coherent proposals" to tackle it. Mr Huhne proposed a high-speed rail link between London and the North and special "green mortgages" to encourage people to buy environmentally friendly homes. Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell said his party was the only one to stand up and say what has to be done to address climate change. "We should be working towards a carbon-neutral Britain by 2050. We should be working towards the elimination of petrol-driven motor cars," he told BBC1's Breakfast programme. "We should be really radical in what we do - the urgency of the problem is really enormous." The conference motion says the scientific evidence for climate change is "overwhelming" and that "if decisive action is not taken in the next decade, any prospect of a stable climate may be lost". But the Lib Dem leadership is maintaining the party's opposition to nuclear power. Unfair This is being challenged by Chris Davies, the party's climate change spokesman in the European Parliament. He said: "I have always been opposed to nuclear power. It is expensive, creates a legacy of radioactive waste and has absorbed public resources that should have been used to develop alternative technologies. "But the imperative now is to fight global warming. We cannot ignore the fact that our existing nuclear power stations do not release carbon dioxide. "Carbon emissions will rise as they come to the end of their lives." Meanwhile, Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Vincent Cable attacked the government over the Northern Rock crisis. He unveiled research suggesting voters believe the wealth gap in the UK is unfair. 'Genuine disgust' "It's clear that the Lib Dems' emphasis on fairer taxes - but not higher tax levels - with tax cuts for those on lower and middle incomes, strikes a chord with the voters," he said. "There is a genuine disgust at some of the tax dodging by the super rich, including the abuse of non-domicile status, and a large majority share our wish to see a crackdown." The Lib Dems are stressing they are on full general election alert, with campaigns manager Ed Davey warning on Sunday that a poll could be announced "in nine days' time" at Labour's annual conference in Bournemouth. Mr Davey shrugged off his party's opinion poll ratings, which have dipped below 20% in recent weeks, saying they would improve once a poll was called because of increased media exposure. 'Out of touch' He said the Lib Dems were determined to smash the "cosy" two party consensus, stressing the party's "distinctive" policies on the environment, nuclear power and Iraq. He also hit back at Lord Rogers, the Lib Dems' former leader in the Lords, who said people had been "disappointed" by the performance of Sir Menzies Campbell. Mr Davey said: "I think on this particular issue, he is totally out of touch." He said people who had worked closely with Sir Menzies since he took over as leader had been "impressed" by his performance, he added. Sir Menzies insisted he had "a spring" in his step. "Look you need a thick skin in this business...and the one thing the public does see through is if you try to be something you are not," he told the BBC. _________________________________________________________________________ Le Monde : Vinci et Bouygues vont mettre Tchernobyl sous cloche 17.09.07 | 07h56 Plus de vingt ans après l'explosion du réacteur n° 4 de la centrale nucléaire de Tchernobyl, le 26 avril 1986 en Ukraine, une solution pérenne de confinement de la radioactivité encore présente dans le bâtiment détruit est en vue. Lundi 17 septembre, le consortium Novarka, conduit par les sociétés françaises Vinci et Bouygues, devait signer avec les autorités ukrainiennes un contrat de 430 millions d'euros, prévoyant la construction d'une arche englobant le réacteur et le sarcophage assemblé en urgence après l'accident. Les dimensions de l'ouvrage seront impressionnantes : 260 mètres de large, 150 mètres de long et 105 mètres de haut, 18 000 tonnes de charpente métallique – contre 7 300 tonnes pour la tour Eiffel. "Cette arche aura deux fonctions, décrit Pierre Berger, président de Vinci Construction Grands Projets. Elle assurera le confinement du réacteur. Et elle soutiendra un pont roulant et des outils robotisés qui permettront aux Ukrainiens de lancer la déconstruction du sarcophage." Ce dernier avait été édifié en sept mois par des milliers de "liquidateurs", afin de protéger la région déjà contaminée par les 190 tonnes estimées de combustible nucléaire restant dans l'enceinte éventrée. Il n'est pas étanche aux intempéries et on estime à 100 m2 la surface des interstices ouverts dans sa structure de béton et d'acier. Il a en outre rapidement montré des signes de fragilité, une menace inacceptable compte tenu des quelque quatre tonnes de poussières radioactives susceptibles d'être propulsées dans l'environnement. RAILS DE BÉTON Il a déjà fallu consolider la cheminée d'aération commune aux réacteurs 3 et 4, et renforcer les poutres couvrant le toit. Ces opérations, tout comme l'arrêt des autres réacteurs (en 2000), ont mobilisé la communauté internationale. Celle-ci, à l'instigation de l'Ukraine, du G7 et de l'Union européenne, a adopté, en 1997, un plan plus ambitieux pour la couverture de Tchernobyl. Aujourd'hui doté de quelque 800 millions d'euros, le fonds destiné à le mettre en œuvre est géré par la Banque européenne de reconstruction et de développement. Mais ces financements ont été longs à assembler et l'instabilité politique en Ukraine n'a pas facilité la conclusion du marché. Novarka l'a emporté face à la firme américaine CH2M Hill. "Cela va permettre de démontrer le savoir-faire français, se félicite Pierre Berger, dans un secteur – la déconstruction nucléaire – qui offrira d'énormes débouchés au cours des cinquante prochaines années." Les travaux, qui devraient durer trois ans, ne débuteront pas avant 2009, le temps d'affiner le projet. Pour limiter l'exposition des ouvriers aux rayonnements, l'arche, faite de poutres d'acier boulonnées, sera assemblée à proximité du réacteur, puis glissée au-dessus de celui- ci sur des rails de béton. Le chantier devrait mobiliser un millier d'ouvriers, essentiellement ukrainiens, et une centaine d'expatriés pour le compte de Novarka. Si l'arche est censée offrir une protection pour une centaine d'années, elle ne répond que partiellement à la menace posée par le réacteur n° 4. "La récupération du cœur radioactif, sa prise en charge et son conditionnement posent encore des problèmes techniques et de financement", note ainsi Jean-Bernard Chérié, secrétaire général de l'Institut pour la radioprotection et la sûreté nucléaire. _________________________________________________________________________ Reuters: Calif. suit on car greenhouse gases dismissed Mon Sep 17, 2007 7:56pm EDT By Adam Tanner SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A U.S. federal judge tossed out a lawsuit by California's attorney general on Monday seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from six automakers for damaging the state with climate-changing greenhouse gases. Martin Jenkins, a federal judge in the Northern District of California, said the issue of global warming should be decided in the political rather than legal arena. "The Court finds that injecting itself into the global warming thicket at this juncture would require an initial policy determination of the type reserved for the political branches of government," Jenkins wrote in approving the automakers' motion to dismiss the case. The suit, filed in September, targeted General Motors Corp, Ford Motor Co, Toyota Motor Corp, the U.S. arm of Germany's DaimlerChrysler AG and the North American units of Japan's Honda Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co Ltd. "The Court is left to make an initial decision as to what is unreasonable in the context of carbon dioxide emissions," Jenkins wrote. "Such an exercise would require the Court to create a quotient or standard in order to quantify any potential damages that flow from Defendants' alleged act of contributing 30 percent of California's carbon dioxide emissions. "The balancing of those competing interests is the type of initial policy determination to be made by the political branches, and not this Court." The suit was the first seeking to hold manufacturers liable for global warming damages caused by greenhouse emissions. It said cars made by the six automakers account for more than 30 percent of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions in California, the most populous U.S. state. "We understand why a district federal judge may not want to jump into a global warming thicket with both feet," Ken Alex, California's supervising deputy attorney general, said in an interview. "Having said that, the basic tenet of law is that where you describe a harm then there needs to be a remedy for it." "Right now because the political branches -- the federal government, Congress and the executive branch -- have not acted, the state of California is left without a remedy." Alex said his office would consider whether to appeal the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, saying judges frequently decided reasonable standards in cases such as dumping of pollution into rivers. According to the suit, California spends millions of dollars to deal with a reduced snow pack, beach erosion, ozone pollution and the impact on endangered animals and fish. California has also targeted the auto industry with first-in-the-nation rules adopted in 2004 requiring automakers to reduce emissions from cars and light trucks. _________________________________________________________________________ Reuters: Mammoth dung, prehistoric goo may speed warming Mon Sep 17, 2007 3:12am EDT By Dmitry Solovyov DUVANNY YAR, Russia (Reuters) - Sergei Zimov bends down, picks up a handful of treacly mud and holds it up to his nose. It smells like a cow pat, but he knows better. "It smells like mammoth dung," he says. This is more than just another symptom of global warming. For millennia, layers of animal waste and other organic matter left behind by the creatures that used to roam the Arctic tundra have been sealed inside the frozen permafrost. Now climate change is thawing the permafrost and lifting this prehistoric ooze from suspended animation. But Zimov, a scientist who for almost 30 years has studied climate change in Russia's Arctic, believes that as this organic matter becomes exposed to the air it will accelerate global warming faster than even some of the most pessimistic forecasts. "This will lead to a type of global warming which will be impossible to stop," he said. When the organic matter left behind by mammoths and other wildlife is exposed to the air by the thawing permafrost, his theory runs, microbes that have been dormant for thousands of years spring back into action. As a by-product they emit carbon dioxide and -- even more damaging in terms of its impact on the climate -- methane gas. According to Zimov, the microbes are going to start emitting these gases in enormous quantities. Here in Yakutia, a region in the north-eastern corner of Siberia, the belt of permafrost containing the mammoth-era soil covers an area roughly the size of France and Germany combined. There is even more of it elsewhere in Siberia. "The deposits of organic matter in these soils are so gigantic that they dwarf global oil reserves," Zimov said. U.S. government statistics show mankind emits about 7 billion tonnes of carbon a year. "Permafrost areas hold 500 billion tonnes of carbon, which can fast turn into greenhouse gases," Zimov said. "If you don't stop emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere ... the Kyoto Protocol (an international pact aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions) will seem like childish prattle." METHANE EMISSIONS It might be easy to dismiss the 52-year-old, with his beard and shock of wavy hair, as an alarmist crank. But his theory is grabbing attention in the scientific community. "There's quite a bit of truth in it," Julian Murton, member of the International Permafrost Association, told Reuters. "The methane and carbon dioxide levels will increase as a result of permafrost degradation." A United Nations report in June said there was at yet no sign of widespread melting of permafrost that could stoke global warming, but noted the potential threat. "Permafrost stores a lot of carbon, with upper permafrost layers estimated to contain more organic carbon than is currently contained in the atmosphere," the report said. "Permafrost thawing results in the release of this carbon in the form of greenhouse gases which will have a positive feedback effect to global warming." CRACKS IN THE WALLS Zimov is chief scientist at the Russian Academy of Science's North Eastern Scientific station, three plane rides and eight times zones away from Moscow. At Duvanny Yar on the shores of the Kolyma River, the phenomenon that Zimov describes in speeches at scientific conferences can be seen first hand. The steep-sided river bank, until now held up by permafrost, is collapsing as the ice melts. Every few minutes, a thud can be heard as another wedge of soil and permafrost comes tumbling down, or a splash as a chunk falls into the river. Nearby, Zimov points to an area so far unaffected by the melting -- a forest of larch trees with berries and mushrooms and covered with a soft cushion of moss and lichen. Further down the slope though, the landscape is covered with trees toppled over as the soil disintegrates. Brooks murmur down the slope carrying melted water. Elsewhere, places that five or 10 years ago were empty tundra are now dotted with lakes -- a result of thawing permafrost. These 'thermokarst' lakes bubble with methane, over 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The permafrost thaw affects those rare outposts where humans have settled. In Chersky, a town of 3,000 people, apartment blocks have cracks running through their walls as the earth beneath them subsides. Many have been demolished as unsafe. So few people live in or visit this wilderness that the changing landscape on its own is unlikely to worry people on the other side of the world. But Zimov warns that people everywhere should take notice, because within a few years, the knock-on effect of the permafrost melting in Siberia will be having a direct impact on their lives. "Siberia's landscape is changing," he said. "But in the end local problems of the north will inevitably turn into the problems of Russia's south, the Amazon region or Holland." (Additional reporting by Alister Doyle) The Independent: Greenland: the emerging nation Published: 17 September 2007 The arctic ice is melting to reveal a very different Greenland. Daniel Howden finds a large island with a small population thPublished: 17 September 2007 The sled dogs are over the hill. Climbing out of Ilulissat past the wooden houses built to withstand the arctic cold, their howls form a sad chorus. Up on the plateau in clear view of the glacier, thousands of them prowl among disused sleds, chained to the tundra in packs waiting for a winter that no longer comes. Each Spring the inhabitants of this northern outpost, more than a hundred miles inside the Arctic Circle, march through the darkness along this route to the edge of the ice fjord to greet the first light of the year. On that morning the sun appears for 20 minutes. It is one of the few remaining constants for Greenlanders in a world that has otherwise changed beyond comprehension in the past decade. The Jakobshavn glacier still calves icebergs larger than supertankers into the vast Disko Bay but the ice sheet that once crept south each year to provide the dog-sledders with a frozen hunting ground is now an infrequent visitor. The glacier itself is accelerating into the sea at a rate by now visible to the naked eye. A very different Greenland is emerging from underneath the thawing ice. The largest and most northerly island in the world is home to a tiny population of just 56,000. Most of its interior is weighed down by an immense ice cap, the glacial fingers of which provide the spectacle of Greenland's ice-fjords. During the winter the polar sea ice stretches south shutting off sea routes to the settlements that dot its jagged coastline. This harsh landscape was where Aleqa Hammond grew up in a family of hunters. Now the foreign minister of Greenland's home rule government, she is also one of the chief advocates of this unique country's bid for independence. For centuries under the sway of Norway, it is now a self-governing province of Denmark that had been thought to be too weak economically to stand on its own but that, she claims, is about to change. "The economic independence of Greenland is within range," she told participants at the Religion Science and the Environment symposium. Greenland depends for its survival on a £300m annual grant from Copenhagen but the vast mineral wealth believed to be lying beneath the seabed could dwarf that income if it could only be verified and exploited. Her administration is already in talks with nine multinationals who want oil exploration licenses. And Greenland's politicians talk like true believers in the coming bonanza. "In this bay at the next fjord you can touch the oil," says Ms Hammond. Since the Norse leader Erik the Red was exiled to its southern shore and boasted of finding a "green land" in a bid to entice others to join him, outsiders have been arriving on this continental-sized island bringing their own misconceptions with them. Minik Rosing is a geologist and a giant of a man born to parents from Greenland and Denmark who has a pretty good idea how the outside world thinks of the Inuit: "He's a little stubby guy outside an igloo with a big smile." Under Danish patronage the Inuit were treated almost as backward children unready for the modern world. Greenlanders weren't even allowed kerosene lamps, says Rosing, "because they weren't trusted with this dangerous item." When the Second World War came the US moved into Greenland to mine cryolite and they sold locals the lamps they wanted. "Everyone [in Greenland] remembered the war as it got light inside. Elsewhere everyone remembered the war for the lights going out," jokes Rosing. Today, outsiders come in search of the first victims of climate change. And amid the melting ice they find them. Aqqaluk Lynge, a renowned local poet and politician has become an effective spokesman for the Inuit, chronicling the immense impact of global warming on his homeland. "Our hunters report disappearing animals, new animals appearing, seas and ice changing, sea currents moving," he says. "In other words their world is ending." Not everyone agrees this is a tragedy and modern Greenland's challenges are more complex than a lament for lost hunting grounds. In Ilulissat the fishermen are landing record catches of Halibut and an influx of cruise ships means the Hotel Arctic now boasts shining aluminium igloos with views of the bay. There is a kind of frontier fever for minerals. The home rule government is sponsoring a "bounty hunting" competition, encouraging ordinary people to send in rock samples with the most valuable winning a prize. The entire flying capacity of Air Greenland is booked out for much of the arctic summer by diamond prospectors looking for the new Kimberley. US metals giant Alcoa has already signed a memorandum of understanding and a huge new smelter is planned that could bring jobs to more than 3,000 people, or one-tenth of Greenland's entire workforce. In Qassiarsuk, once home to Erik the Red, they are farming lambs and growing potatoes and radishes. The local paper carries a headline on rows over food prices but the entire notion of Greenland potatoes would have been laughable five years ago. Growth and change of this scale and rapidity has been followed by social strains. The capital Nuuk is home to fewer than 15,000 people but its problems would be familiar to any metropolis. Alcoholism, unemployment and suicide make for a depressing urban roll call. Rather than pristine ice floes and polar bear hunting it was this down-at-heel world in which Peter Lyberth grew up. Better known as "PandL", he's Greenland's leading hip-hop artist. A softly spoken, squat man in his 20s, standing outside a bleak block of flats, he tells a story familiar to rappers the world over. The son of a travelling fisherman and an alcoholic mother his Inuit lyrics are all about neglect. "I write about my life," he says. "I write about my neglected childhood and about suicide. Everyone in Greenland knows someone or has someone in their family who has killed themselves." A sudden opening out to the rest of the world has brought serious concerns that this bewildering pace of change could accelerate and that the tiny local population could be overrun by newcomers. "Greenlanders could very quickly be a minority in their own country," says Rosing. The Inuit are not alone in feeling the effects of climate change both good and bad. The arctic paradox is that while consumption of fossil fuels has spurred global warming and progressively melted the ice sheets, it has also opened new areas to commercial shipping and enabled exploration for more oil and gas. This in turn has triggered a new scramble for the North Pole. The twin promises of mineral wealth and control over the fabled Northwest Passage has prompted the likes of Norway and Canada to study their claims to the Pole, while Russia has sent a submarine under the ice to plant a titanium flag on the sea bed at magnetic north. The US is not far behind and is contemplating ratifying the UN Law of the Seas Convention to enable itself to stake a claim to the North Pole, if only to further delay its rivals. The mounting tensions between Moscow and Washington have sparked fears of widespread militarisation of the arctic. The toxic consequences of the last arms race are all too fresh to many Greenlanders. The US airbase in Thule in northwest Greenland was set up during the Second World War and became a strategic staging post for America's nuclear bombers during the Cold War. In 1968 one of the B-52s suffered an electrical fire and crashed near the site. At least one of the bombs was never recovered and is believed to be rusting somewhere under the sea ice. The radiation has had horrendous consequences for nearby Inuit. Ms Hammond remembers her visit there three years ago. She went polar bear hunting for five weeks with men from an area near the base and says they were incredible hunters. "I said to one of them 'your son must be a great hunter soon'. But he had no son. None of them have children." Denmark itself is spending millions on studying the undersea mountain range known as the Lomonosov Ridge and battling Canada for ownership of the remote rock outcrop of Hans Island in a bid to further its claims. However, the Danes continue to insist that independence is a matter for the Greenlanders to decide and that Copenhagen will not stand in their way. Svend Auken, a former environment minister and leader of Denmark's Social Democrats is unequivocal, saying there is overwhelming support for an independent Greenland. "It would not even take a vote in the Danish parliament," he insists. And as for the Danes' claim to the arctic: " Once they become independent that's their North Pole." Not everyone is convinced that it will work that way. Rosing, famous for the discovery of the world's earliest known traces of life at Isua knows as much as anyone about what lies beneath the surface of Greenland. "We're not the new Saudi [Arabia]," he jokes. "We have no palm trees." He points out that the vast oil reserves in the Middle East were easy to get to which is why they were exploited ahead of Canada's tar sands or similar deposits in Venezuela. He says if anything Greenland is the "new Norway" . But even that could have unforeseen consequences. "As soon as we find oil that will end independence," he predicts. "Everyone thinks that oil will buy us independence but how would we absorb all of this wealth? "As everyone gets more desperate for that commodity you don't want to be a very small, very independent country, very far from anywhere else. Independence based on oil is probably not a good idea." Additional reporting by Eirene Vourloumis _________________________________________________________________________ The Observer: Stars back the clean green road machine BMW banks on the Arnie factor as it launches new breed of hydrogen car Ned Temko Sunday September 16, 2007 Angelina Jolie has done it. With Brad Pitt, as it happens. But then, so has Christian Ude, who is staid, 60 and the mayor of Munich. They have all driven the latest bid by the world's car makers to develop a 'hydrogen car' - in this case, a 'clean energy' version of BMW's top- of-the-range 7 Series. A hundred of the cars, which can alternate between hydrogen and petrol power, have rolled off the company's assembly line in Germany since the end of last year. Last week, two dozen were handed to VIPs in California. Under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, green is the new black for motorists there. And the new 'Beamer', the Hydrogen 7, was suddenly the epitome of cool. Not just cool, but cold. What makes it run is a double-insulated cylinder - behind the rear passenger seat - which is full of liquid hydrogen kept at minus 253C. Crucially for campaigners who want to make greener cars a practical mainstream alternative, the BMW is designed around a conventional internal combustion engine. Other companies' hydrogen vehicles use the element in fuel cells to power a battery-operated engine. Not only does the BMW look and drive like a conventional Series 7, but it can also be switched seamlessly back into 'petrol mode' if necessary. That is particularly important, according to local hydrogen-car supporters, because it could make the car practical for everyday driving without the large-scale network of filling stations required to bring hydrogen into the motoring mainstream. California is a world leader in hydrogen car use and it is where the immediate push for change is likeliest to come, but Schwarzenegger's promised 'highway' of hundreds of filling stations 20 miles apart is still years away. There are currently about two dozen in the state. That is just one of the hurdles car companies face before getting large numbers of cars such as the Hydrogen 7 onto dealer forecourts. 'It's all about infrastructure,' explained Andreas Klugescheid, of BMW's clean energy unit in California. 'All the major companies are working on hydrogen cars, but the key to moving this forward is to get a reliable, wide hydrogen infrastructure in place.' Hydrogen can be produced from any energy source. But to many environmental campaigners' dismay, by far the most popular source is currently carbon-based energy, particularly natural gas. 'The hydrogen car is still cleaner,' Klugescheid said, 'because what comes out of the exhaust pipe is not CO2 but H2O - water. Yet clearly, what we all want is to produce as much hydrogen as possible from renewable sources of energy.' Still, last week's launch was the latest signal that the move to create greener cars is gathering pace. Toyota's 'hybrid' Prius, which uses an on-board computer to switch between petrol and battery power, is the industry leader. But Toyota, too, has been developing hydrogen cars, along with virtually all the major car companies. In January, Ford rolled out a £1m prototype of a HySeries Edge - a version of its popular SUV developed with the help of millions of dollars in US government support. Klugescheid said BMW wanted to show such cars need not seem futuristic and had aimed to give the Hydrogen 7 an appeal similar to other Series 7 models. 'The key is to convince more and more people that hydrogen cars can be built for clean performance, style and comfort, not just in the future,' he added. 'The option for what we call environmentally sustainable mobility is already here.' Cool fuel Ned Temko takes the BMW Hydrogen 7 for a Californian test drive: "As I settled in for a three-hour drive across northern California in BMW's Hydrogen 7, the only clue that this was no ordinary car came when I pressed the 'start' button. For a second or two, there was a high-pitched whine, a bit like an electric lawnmower with mechanical problems. But then came the low purr of the engine. As I made my way into the San Francisco traffic I had to glance down at the glowing 'H2' signal to convince myself that supercooled hydrogen, not petrol, was powering me along at a silky smooth, if not strictly legal, 80-90mph. Only two small buttons distinguished the car from the identical wood-and-leather interior of BMW's conventional Series 7 cars. The first, which I intermittently pressed in the vain hope of sensing some difference in performance, switched the car from H2 to petrol mode and back again. The second opened the 'hydrogen fuel cap', indispensable when I pulled into the specially provided 'hydrogen fill-up station' outside Sacramento. Five minutes later, the car was full of juice again. Another push of the start button, the brief whine as the engine came to life, and we were off again - just like a 'real' BMW ... only without the C02". The New York Times: Vatican Penance: Forgive Us Our Carbon Output By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL Published: September 17, 2007 TISZAKESZI, Hungary — This summer the cardinals at the Vatican accepted an unusual donation from a Hungarian start-up called Klimafa: The company said it would plant trees to restore an ancient forest on a denuded stretch of land by the Tisza River to offset the Vatican‘s carbon emissions. The trees, on a 37-acre tract of land that will be renamed the Vatican climate forest, will in theory absorb as much carbon dioxide as the Vatican will produce in 2007: driving cars, heating offices, lighting St. Peter‘s Basilica at night. In so doing, the Vatican announced, it would become the world‘s first carbon-neutral state. ―As the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, recently stated, the international community needs to respect and encourage a ‗green culture,‘ ‖ said Cardinal Paul Poupard, leader of the Pontifical Council for Culture, who took part in a ceremony marking the event at the Vatican. ―The Book of Genesis tells us of a beginning in which God placed man as guardian over the earth to make it fruitful.‖ In many respects, the program seems like a win-win-win proposition. The Vatican, which has recently made an effort to go green on its own by installing solar panels, sought to set an example by offsetting its carbon emissions. Hungary, whose government scientists are consulting on the project, will take over large swaths of environmentally degraded, abandoned land restored as a native forest. That will have a beneficial effect on the climate here, and provide jobs in an economically depressed area. Klimafa, an 18-month-old company, gets the Vatican‘s seal of approval and free publicity for its first project. In addition to the Vatican, several European governments, as well as Dell, the computer maker, have bought carbon offsets that will be backed by planting trees on the land. ―It seems so obvious, but no one was doing it,‖ said David Gazdag of Klimafa, who brokered the project with backing from his San Francisco parent company, Planktos International, which specializes in ecosystem restoration. But creating and selling carbon ―offsets‖ or ―credits‖ is still a novel idea for business and science, and much debate remains. The calculation for planting trees is especially complicated. Planting forests is only ―a partial solution, and a temporary one,‖ said Laszlo Galhidy, a forestry officer for the environmental group WWF Hungary, although he praised the project as useful. Young forests — dominated by growing trees — soak up a lot of carbon dioxide, but once the forests mature, they absorb far less, he said. Also, he said, there is no scientific system for predicting the exact carbon-absorbing capacity of a project like the Vatican forest, whose trajectory depends on rainfall, temperature and how fast the trees grow. The Kyoto Protocol and the European Union‘s cap and trade program set emissions targets for countries or large companies. Those that exceed their allowances by emitting too much carbon need to purchase carbon credits from countries or companies that do not need their allotment, or from companies like Klimafa that create credits through green projects like planting trees. On the European Union market, carbon credits are trading at about $28, with one credit countering one ton of emitted carbon dioxide. Klimafa says its donation to the Vatican is worth about $130,000. The European Union program allows for a much-needed transfer of money from the more developed countries of Western Europe to the new economies of the East. Countries and companies in the West tend to exceed their allowances, whereas Eastern countries tend to have excess credits to sell because so many polluting Communist-era factories have been shut. Also, many of the former Eastern bloc countries had to decommission farmland to join the European Union in accordance with its agricultural policy. In Hungary, as in other new member states, huge tracts of marginal fields have been bought by the government from farmers and are available for reforesting. The land that will hold Klimafa‘s first eco-restoration project, originally called Forest Island, was cleared in the Middle Ages, though it is on a flood plain and has always been risky to farm. The area is a mix of weeds, wetlands, a lake and a few fields of corn that farmers are planting illegally even though they no longer own the land. Much of the land is a jumble of goldenrod and amorpha fruticosa, a weed that grows like wildfire. Gergely Torda, a plant biologist from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences who is consulting on the project, scans the land as a blank canvas, describing plans for what will be planted where. Later this year, Klimafa will begin clearing the weeds, using local labor, and then start environmentally sensitive planting of native saplings like willows, beeches, ash, certain poplars and oaks. The growing forest will absorb 10 times the carbon that the land currently absorbs, and will be self-sustaining, Mr. Torda said. Klimafa has been given the right to restore the land by the Bukk National Park, which owns it; costs will be covered by carbon credit purchases. Mr. Torda said it would take 50 to 150 years to produce a mature forest. After the Vatican agreement was announced, Msgr. Melchor Sánchez de Toca Alameda, an official at the Council for Culture at the Vatican, told the Catholic News Service that buying credits was like doing penance. ―One can emit less CO2 by not using heating and not driving a car, or one can do penance by intervening to offset emissions, in this case by planting trees,‖ he said. The New York Times: For New Center, Harvard Agrees to Emissions Cut By FELICITY BARRINGER September 18, 2007 Harvard has agreed to limit greenhouse gas emissions from the university‘s proposed four- building science center in the Allston section of Boston, the state‘s environmental officials announced yesterday. The agreement, which Harvard entered voluntarily at the state‘s suggestion, will cut emissions 50 percent below the levels required by the national standard, said the state‘s energy and environment secretary, Ian A. Bowles. Mr. Bowles said the Harvard agreement represented the first legally enforceable limits on emissions from a large real-estate project. The complex is 537,000 square feet. ―I expect the Allston project is going to be watched carefully around the country as other institutions and other states step forward to take on such commitments in years to come,‖ Mr. Bowles said. Mandatory controls of the heat-trapping gases that scientists have linked to global warming have thus far been considered largely in the context of industry and vehicle emissions. But the design of buildings — how they are heated, cooled, insulated and a host of other details — plays a significant role in determining national energy use and emissions. This year Massachusetts announced a greenhouse gas emissions policy that covers major real-estate projects. All qualify for regulation under the state‘s environmental protection laws, and their developers must quantify the total greenhouse gas emissions associated with the projects and detail what they are doing to reduce those emissions, a news release from Mr. Bowles‘s office said. In an interview, Chris Gordon, the chief operating officer of the Allston Development group at Harvard, said he welcomed the opportunity to commit the university to the new standards. And, while he declined to estimate publicly how much the science complex would cost, he said he did not expect the new design measures to add significantly to the overall bill. ―First of all, the technology associated with green construction has dropped dramatically in the last decade,‖ Mr. Gordon said. ―Geothermal wells, natural ventilation, natural lighting — most of it doesn‘t cost a premium anymore. Also, we think the operating costs will go down. When you save 50 percent on greenhouse gases, you‘re burning less fuel and buying less fuel.‖ Mr. Gordon said it was not possible, in a short span of time, to quantify the exact tonnage of the greenhouse gas reductions to which the university had committed. Harvard‘s commitment to reductions mirrors what colleges and universities across the country are doing, including Carnegie Mellon and Arizona State. To date, 399 college presidents have signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, pledging to assess their greenhouse gas emissions and develop a strategy for reducing them, or buying offsets, with the goal of becoming carbon neutral, or adding no carbon-dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. ―We are acting as a model for the rest of society saying we are going to do everything we can to reduce our emissions,‖ said an organizer of the initiative, Anthony Cortese. ―The bigger commitment we are making is that we are going to create the knowledge and the graduates that will help society‖ achieve the same goals. Harvard is not a signatory to the climate initiative, but Mr. Gordon said in a statement: ―Harvard‘s Allston campus ultimately will be the university‘s greatest expression of environmental sustainability. Today‘s decision continues progress towards an environmental strategy that benefits both the university and the community.‖ Residents of the Allston neighborhood have been skeptical, if not prickly, about the university‘s expansion from Cambridge. The move is part of a 50-year plan that would increase the campus footprint by about 50 percent. Construction on the science complex, the first part of the expansion, is set to begin this fall and end in 2011. This year, two members of a task force formed by Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston criticized the development plans in an article in The Boston Globe. They singled out the science complex for its 125-foot height, which they said was incompatible with the smaller neighborhood homes. But, when contacted yesterday about Harvard‘s agreement with the state, Brent Whelan, one of the critics, said the green component of the construction was one good aspect of a project that had raised concerns about the future of the neighborhood, and about communications between the university and Allston residents. Although some of the new design elements will add to the height of the complex, Mr. Whelan said that was an acceptable trade-off. ―There are some consequences for the green construction,‖ he said, ―but I think most people agree that it‘s a really, really good thing they‘re doing.‖ After approving the plans for the science complex, with the commitment to keep greenhouse gases from energy use 50 percent below the national standard of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Mr. Bowles signed documents setting the terms for the coming environmental reviews of the rest of the Allston project, as it develops. These establish greenhouse gas limits about 30 percent below those in the national standard. Katie Zezima contributed reporting from Boston. _________________________________________________________________________ ROAP Media Update 18 September 2007 UNEP or UN in the news Shanghai Daily : UN award for Nanning's disaster plan Scoop : Montreal Protocol, Kyoto Protocol, Mutual Scoop : Fossil Fuels Efficiency Projects Get Boost Cosmos : Ozone treaty celebrates two decades Korea Times : UNGC: Initiative for Environmental and Social Principles ABC Science Online : Could Kyoto Protocol learn from Montreal? General Environment News The Hindu : ‗Clean Bangalore Green Bangalore‘ campaign launched by Rotary Club Viet Nam News : Clean Up the World Day launched Yahoo News : Worst pollution sites include India, China: survey Yahoo News : Australia says some water cuts permanent The Daily Star : Forest crisis and wildlife conservation The Daily Star : Floods, rains and Dhaka city drainage The Daily Star : The Sydney APEC Summit China Daily : China plays important role as peace-maker Asahi : Forestry Agency, ministry at loggerheads over recycling The Japan Times : Typhoons more predictable but still deadly The Jakarta Post : Saving marine resources through Coral Triangle Initiative The Jakarta Post : Hotels share green message with students The Jakarta Post : `Development review needed' to save Bali UNEP or UN in the news Shanghai Daily : UN award for Nanning's disaster plan 2007-9-18 - SOUTHWEST China's Nanning is one of seven cities from around the world to win the 2007 United Nations Habitat Scroll of Honor Award for the municipal government's work in streamlining disaster responses. "The Nanning municipal people's government is awarded for developing China's first Integrated City Emergency Response System to streamline under one roof all the city's police and fire emergencies, paramedic ambulance responses and traffic accident reporting systems, along with 30 other non-emergency public services that were previously managed by a variety of different administrative departments," said a UN-Habitat statement. "The city's integrated emergency response system has tapped the potential of public resources to the full and made the city safer since its establishment in May 2002," said Nanning's vice mayor Qian Xueming. Nanning, capital city of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, has an urban population of about 2.45 million and has been listed among China's most livable cities. Other winners of this year's awards include individuals and institutions from Russia, Cuba, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Palestine and Tanzania. The Habitat Scroll of Honor is awarded each year for World Habitat Day, which was established by the UN General Assembly in 1989 to raise awareness about the state of human settlements. http://www.shanghaidaily.com/article/?id=331598&type=National ………………………………. Scoop, New Zealand : Montreal Protocol, Kyoto Protocol, Mutual Tuesday, 18 September 2007, Press Release: United Nations The Montreal Protocol and the Kyoto Protocol mutually supportive say top UN officials International efforts to safeguard Earth's climate and protect the ozone layer are mutually supportive, say the United Nation's top climate change and environment officials. Negotiations on the future direction of the Montreal Protocol in protecting the ozone layer, which start in Montreal today, and the UN Climate Change Conference set for Bali in December will shape further climate action beyond 2012, when the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol ends. "The Montreal Protocol is successfully assisting in the repair and recovery of the ozone layer. The Kyoto Protocol is tackling perhaps the greatest challenge of our generation - climate change. However, what is also emerging in 2007, and emerging with ever greater clarity, is that both treaties are mutually supportive across several key fronts," said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. The Kyoto Protocol's clean development mechanism (CDM) has led to the destruction of large volumes of the very potent greenhouse gas HFC-23, a by-product of the production of the coolant HCFC-22, and is currently the only reliable mechanism available to prevent emissions of this gas in the short term, according to a new report by the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) of the Montreal Protocol to be released in Montreal this week. "The Kyoto Protocol's CDM is assisting to destroy HFCs. Meanwhile, governments here in Montreal look set to back an accelerated freeze and phase-out of HCFCs, with important benefits for the ozone layer and also for climate change," Mr. Steiner added. "This kind of cooperation underlines the importance of the UN and its related environmental agreements, demonstrating in clear and concrete terms how, by combining their strengths, they can more efficiently and cost effectively realize the sustainability goals of our time," said Mr. Steiner . Parties to the Kyoto Protocol decided in Montreal in 2005 that the CDM should not lead to an increase in HCFC-22, a gas regulated by the Montreal Protocol. "The Parties to the Kyoto Protocol have been guided by the dual objective of safeguarding the climate and protecting the ozone layer when shaping climate action. This dual objective has also guided the regulation applied to the generation of CDM carbon market credits from the destruction of HFC-23 in older refrigerant factories. New plants and expanded production do not qualify under the CDM," said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Parties to the Kyoto Protocol will consider in Bali in December if and then how the CDM could also provide incentives for the destruction of HFC-23 in new plants, without stimulating production of the refrigerant HCFC-22, and will take the findings of the TEAP report into account. "The worst of all cases would be for HFC-23 emissions to go unmitigated," according to the TEAP report. "Steps to accelerate the phase-out of HCFCs under the Montreal Protocol would make a significant contribution to the global effort to address climate change. The potential in this area is very encouraging and, when combined with significant opportunities to reduce emissions from other sectors, such as energy, buildings and deforestation, demonstrates that solutions to the climate threat are available. The Bali conference needs to put in motion a global campaign to capture all of these opportunities and the Montreal Protocol can continue to make a contribution, building on its past successes," said Mr. de Boer. About the UNFCCC With 191 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership. It is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which has to date 175 member Parties. Under the Protocol, 36 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing transition to a market economy, have legally binding greenhouse gas (GHG) emission limitation and reduction commitments, while developing countries have non-binding obligations to limit emissions. The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system. About the CDM There are currently more than 780 registered CDM projects in 48 countries, and about another 1320 projects in the project registration pipeline. The CDM is expected to generate more than 2.2 billion certified emission reductions (tradable CERs) by the time the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012, each equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide. About UNEP The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been the voice for the environment in the UN system since 1972. It is an advocate, educator, catalyst and facilitator, promoting the wise use of the planet's natural assets for sustainable development. It also plays a key role in a broad range of activities and awareness campaigns related to climate change, with many partners including national governments, youth organizations, business, industry and the media. UNEP's capacity-building activities related to CDM include regional awareness and information programmes in Africa and Asia. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0709/S00423.htm ............................................... Scoop, New Zealand : Fossil Fuels Efficiency Projects Get Boost Tuesday, 18 September 2007, Press Release: United Nations Projects that improve efficiency of fossil fuels to receive boost – UN Projects boosting the burning efficiency of fossil fuels are now eligible to be registered under the United Nations-backed Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which allows projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries and contribute to sustainable development to earn certified emission reduction credits (CERs). The CDM Executive Board, which made this decision, has also approved a way to monitor emissions from these types of projects. "Fossil fuel will remain a big part of the world's energy mix for decades to come," said Hans Jürgen Stehr, the Board's chair. "It's essential that we burn that fuel as efficiently as possible." In reaching its conclusion, the Board faced a challenge in finding a means to prevent these projects from inadvertently prolonging the use of fossil fuel or competing against renewable sources of energy. The Board overcame this hurdle by establishing a feature limiting the number of CERs that can be earned and then by limiting the number of projects eligible for registration in a given country based on the percentage of fossil fuel covered by projects used. There are now almost 800 CDM projects registered in nearly 50 countries. These projects, and the more than 1,300 others awaiting registration, will generate 2.2 billion CERs, each equivalent to one ton of carbon dioxide, by 2012. That is also the year that the Kyoto Protocol, the current global framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, will expire. A major summit will be held in Bali, Indonesia, this December to determine future action on mitigation, adaptation, the global carbon market and financing responses to climate change for the period after the Protocol's conclusion. In July, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that countries must agree to a successor pact to Kyoto three years before its expiration to be ready for ratification to allow them to make it law in time. In a related development, top UN climate change and environment officials underscored the ties between the international treaty protecting the world's climate, the Kyoto Protocol, and the global agreement to preserve the Earth's ozone layer. "The Montreal Protocol is successfully assisting in the repair and recovery of the ozone layer. The Kyoto Protocol is tackling perhaps the greatest challenge of our generation - climate change," said UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner. "However, what is also emerging in 2007, and emerging with ever greater clarity, is that both treaties are mutually supportive across several key fronts." According to a new report by a Montreal Protocol panel to be released shortly, Kyoto's CDM is the only reliable means available currently to prevent emissions of the potent HFC- 23 greenhouse gas in the short term. It was agreed by those participating in the Kyoto Protocol in 2005 that the CDM should not result in an HCFC-22, which is a gas regulated under the Montreal Protocol. "The Parties to the Kyoto Protocol have been guided by the dual objective of safeguarding the climate and protecting the ozone layer when shaping climate action," noted Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Representatives from almost 200 governments are in Montreal, Canada, on the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, and will discuss a recently-released UNEP report which details the benefits of accelerating the phase-out of HCFCs, chemicals used to replace chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are more damaging to ozone. Under the Montreal Protocol, HCFCs - which are widely used in refrigeration systems and air conditioners - are scheduled to be eliminated in developing countries in 2030 and in developing ones in 2040. But the new study points to the advantages of pushing the dates forward by a decade. Global greenhouse emissions could be slashed by more than 3.5 per cent, and the report notes that speeding up the transition to HCFC alternatives could stimulate technological advances as well as return ozone levels to health pre-1980 levels several years earlier. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0709/S00407.htm .................................................. Cosmos, Australia : Ozone treaty celebrates two decades Monday, 17 September 2007Agençe France-Presse PARIS: The 186-nation treaty that protects Earth from the Sun's dangerous ultraviolet rays feted its 20th anniversary yesterday, with the U.S. and Europe poised to call for an accelerated timetable for banning ozone-depleting chemicals still in use. Experts estimate that there would have been an additional 100 million cases of cancer around the world had the Protocol not been adopted. Former UN head Kofi Annan described the treaty as "perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date." By its very success, the Montreal Protocol underscores the failures of another UN-brokered attempt to prevent environmental catastrophe: the negotiations on how to cope with climate change. Global warming bonus As it turns out, the two are linked in ways unforeseen 25 years ago when scientists first sounded the ozone alarm: Patching up the ozone layer will help reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that drive global warming, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). A key meeting of signatories starting today in Montreal will decide just how quickly that should happen. Trimming 10 years off the timetable for phasing out the chemicals that eat up atmospheric ozone – a protective blanket of oxygen molecules 25 km above the Earth's surface – could cut CO2 emissions by 35 billion tonnes, according to Sylvie Lemmet, an official in the UNEP's technical division. That is 15 times greater than the carbon dioxide reductions targeted by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol – the troubled global treaty for reducing greenhouse gases – between 2008 and 2012. The ozone layer is a filter for solar radiation, and when part of that filter is removed, it causes additional warming of the Earth's surface. Ozone-depleting chemicals also contribute to global warming through the direct emission of potent greenhouse gases. "If governments adopt accelerated action on HCFCs, we can look forward to not only faster recovery of the ozone layer, but a further important contribution to the climate change challenge," said UNEP head Achim Steiner. Hydrochlorofluorocarbons are the stop-gap compounds that replaced even more damaging substances known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Both families of chemicals – used in products ranging from hair spray to fire retardants to refrigerants – deplete the stratosphere's ozone. Switching to newer, and more energy efficient, technologies would also help curtail global warming. "For the European Union, the schedule for eliminating HCFCs must be pushed up by 10 years – that will be the benchmark for deciding if the negotiations are successful," said French Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet ahead of the meeting. "We have the agreement of the United States" for the amended calendar, she said. Fully reversed by 2065 The current calendar calls for developed countries to stop using these compounds in 2030, and developing nations in 2040. Some 88,000 tons of ozone-depleting substances are still produced every year, 85 per cent of them in the industrialized world. Experts estimate that an additional 10,000 to 15,000 tonnes are produced illegally. Stratospheric ozone provides a natural filter against harmful ultraviolet rays from the Sun, which can damage plant DNA and cause sunburn, cataracts and skin cancers. The first warnings came in 1984, when scientists said a gaping hole had opened over the Antarctic, and that 30 to 40 percent of the layer had already disappeared. In October 2006 the ozone layer's open wound spanned a record 29.5 million km2 and showed a loss of 40 million tonnes, exceeding the previous record of 39 million tonnes set in 2000, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). There is already so much of the slowly degrading pollutant in the atmosphere that large ozone holes – which open in August and close again in December – are expected to persist for decades. But barring a string of extremely cold winters, the ozone depletion will stop and fully reverse itself, returning to normal sometime around 2065, says the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Since the Montreal Protocol was adopted on 16 September 1987, 95 per cent of targets for CFCs elimination by 2010 have already been met. http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/1586 ............................................... Korea Times : UNGC: Initiative for Environmental and Social Principles By Kim Sue-young, Staff Reporter The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) was launched at the U.N headquarters in New York on July 26, 2000, to support universal environmental and social principles. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his predecessor Kofi Annan stressed the importance of the compact. The U.N. agency aims to help firms implement their corporate social responsibility and suggest solutions for global issues. Stressing communication among members, it has established about 40 local networks to help participants jointly advance the compact and its principles related to anti-corruption activities and other human rights, labor and environmental issues. It also holds an annual forum for the local networks to share their experiences and knowledge and compare progress. Through the forum, member nations can also learn effective measures to solve their problems from other participants. The UNGC runs an inter-agency team for consistent support to spread the compact's principles within the U.N. and among participants. The team consists of six U.N. agencies which include the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights; the International Labor Organization; the U.N. Environment Program; the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime; the U.N. Development Program; and the U.N. Industrial Development Organization. Multinational firms such as CNN, Coca Cola and the Financial Times registered with the UNGC program. Now, thousands of companies worldwide are participating in the compact which advocates the 10 universal principles in the fields of human rights, labor, environment and anti- corruption. Below are the 10 principles that the UNGC is seeking. Human Rights • Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights. • Principle 2: They should make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses. Labor Standards • Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining. • Principle 4: They should uphold the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labor and • Principle 5: The effective abolition of child labor. • Principle 6: The elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. Environment • Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges. • Principle 8: They should undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility. • Principle 9: They should encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies. Anti-Corruption • Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery. http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2007/09/113_10313.html ............................................... ABC Science Online, Australia : Could Kyoto Protocol learn from Montreal? Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters, Monday, 17 September 2007 Could the solution to global warming be as simple as a switch of cities? For those who think the Kyoto Protocol is not working to cut greenhouse gas emissions that are heating the planet, why not take some lessons from the Montreal Protocol, praised as the world's most successful climate treaty? Both the UN and the Bush administration plan to try out this idea this week as parties to the treaty gather in Montreal, 20 years after the pact to cut ozone-depleting chemicals was signed. The Montreal Protocol aims to cut down on emissions of chemicals that deplete the stratospheric ozone layer, which shields earth from ultraviolet solar radiation that can cause skin cancer and other ailments. The ozone layer is still thin in spots, especially over the south pole, but the treaty is considered a raging success because it mapped a way to cut production of ozone-depleting substances. So far, 191 countries from the developed and developing world have signed this pact, and have phased out more than 95% of ozone-depleting substances. Because some chemicals that eat stratospheric ozone also contribute to global warming, the UN Environment Programme and the White House plan to urge speeding up some requirements of the Montreal Protocol. They argue that this would have a bigger impact on climate change than the Kyoto Protocol, signed in Japan in 1997. "We will push for an agreement among the parties to accelerate the phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), chemicals that not only destroy the ozone layer, but contribute significantly to climate change," the US State Department said in a statement before the meeting. Faster phase-out James Connaughton, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, says Washington wants HCFCs, used in refrigerators and air conditioners, phased out 10 years earlier than under the current timetable. "It would produce at least two times the reductions [in greenhouse gases] than the Kyoto Protocol," Connaughton says. The US and Australia are not part of the Kyoto Protocol, arguing that it would cost jobs and wrongly exclude developing nations like China and India from goals to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change is a more complex problem than ozone depletion, this consultant says, requesting anonymity. And the big problem with climate change remains CO2 emissions, not ozone-depleting chemicals, the consultant says. All the industries covered by the Montreal Protocol account for perhaps 5% of total global warming emissions, the consultant says, while CO2 from energy production and mobile sources accounts for 75%. Annie Petsonk of the US-based non-profit consultancy Environmental Defense notes a fundamental difference between the Montreal and Kyoto treaties. In the ozone pact, all countries are compelled to cut back on the amount of ozone-eating substances they produce. But developing countries have a 10-year grace period and get financial incentives to do it. Under the Kyoto Protocol, developing countries are exempt from limiting emissions from greenhouse gases, Petsonk says. Drusilla Hufford, director of stratospheric protection at the US Environmental Protection Agency, says some part of the Montreal Protocol's success was its genesis: based on science and flexible in the way its goals could be met. It also had the support of the US administration, which is not the case with the Kyoto agreement on climate change. The link between ozone depletion and climate change? Climate change and ozone depletion are two separate but related environmental threats, according to the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists. In summary, CFCs and their HCFC replacements trap heat, but make far less of a contribution to atmospheric warming than CO2. Ozone itself also traps heat, albeit via a different mechanism to CO2. Near the ground, ozone is formed from air pollutants and traps heat. In the stratosphere, ozone heats the surrounding air when it is photo-dissociated by solar ultraviolet photons, but cools the surrounding air when it radiates infrared energy to space. The heating effect, which occurs only in daylight, is more effective than the cooling effect, which occurs day and night. Reducing ozone-depleting gases alone will not solve global warming, scientists say. But they say efforts to reduce all types of emissions to limit global warming will also be good for the recovery of the ozone layer. http://abc.net.au/science/news/stories/2007/2034605.htm?enviro General Environment News The Hindu, India : ‘Clean Bangalore Green Bangalore’ campaign launched by Rotary Club Staff Reporter BANGALORE: Even as Bangalore is losing its green cover for developmental purposes, Rotary Clubs have launched a campaign to plant saplings in several areas and educational institutions to help retain the green cover. The Rotary Clubs of Bangalore South Region on Sunday launched the ―Clean Bangalore Green Bangalore‖ campaign as part of World Ozone Day, by planting saplings at BDA layouts, at Chikkegowdanpalya in Bansahnakri 6th Stage here. The chief convener of the movement, Ashok Maheshwari, told The Hindu that thousands of saplings would be planted across the city by 41 Rotary Clubs during the 2007-2008. ―Earlier, we had concentrated on creating awareness on ozone-related issues, but we have taken up tree planting programmes seriously from this year. This movement focuses on result-oriented action-based activities about environment,‖ he added. The club is mostly looking at planting Honge saplings and flowering plants that are more suitable to the region. ―Similar programmes to plant saplings in Tumkur and Kolar would be launched in a few weeks, and over 10,000 plant saplings would be planted in these regions,‖ Mr. Maheshwari added. Involvement Earlier, inaugurating the campaign, the Union Minister of State for Planning, M.V. Rajasekharan, said that the local people should be involved in the programme for its success. Stating that the hole in the ozone layer is a cause for concern, he said that organisations such as Rotary should be in the forefront of the movement. Recalling his interest in plantation, the Minister said that he was managing a forest property developed by his ancestors that is over hundred years old, and not a single plant has died. ―Movement to spread greenery is for all ages,‖ he added. Mr. Maheshwari highlighted the medical problems that could be caused due to depletion of ozone layer. He said: ―Depletion of Ozone layer can also have adverse effects on plant growth, thus reducing agricultural productivity." http://www.hindu.com/2007/09/17/stories/2007091760290400.htm ................................................ Viet Nam News : Clean Up the World Day launched 17-09-2007 - HCM CITY — More than 3,000 people joined Viet Nam‘s 13th national Clean Up the World Day, which was launched last Friday in Bien Hoa City in Dong Nai Province and in Binh Luc Town in Ha Nam Province. The campaign was jointly organised by the Ministry for Natural Resources and Environment, the Australian Embassy and the Australian Consulate General in HCM City, in collaboration with the Viet Nam Youth Union. "The slogan — Our climate, Our action, Our Future — this year is not merely a warning but a request for specific and practical action to respond to global climate changes that are causing serious consequences in many countries, including Viet Nam," said Nguyen Cong Thanh, Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Environment. Graham Pearce, Australia‘s acting consul general in HCM City, said: "I‘m very happy to see that this campaign has received such enthusiastic support. The participation of over 2,000 volunteers in Bien Hoa today is a testament of the importance of this program and the commitment of the Vietnamese people to the environment and their country." In HCM City, the campaign was jointly organised by the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment and the District 10 People‘s Committee. The campaign, initially launched for residents of District 10, was made citywide to address environmental concerns with waste. Volunteers fanned out to collect rubbish and disribute leaflets to raise public awareness. The day originally began on January 8 in 1989 as Clean Up Sydney Harbour Day. The following year, the first Clean Up Australia Day was held at 5,000 locations across Australia, and more than 300,000 people took part. In September 1993, the first Clean Up the World Day was held, marking the transition from an Australian initiative to a global event. Each year, Clean Up the World Day mobilises an estimated 35 million volunteers across 120 countries, making it one of the largest community-based environmental campaigns in the world. Examples of community-led Clean Up the World activities include recycling and resource recovery; tree planting; education campaigns; water re-use and conservation; competitions and exhibitions; and restoration projects. Viet Nam has been a strong supporter of the clean-up day since its first involvement in 1994. In 2006, thousands of people in the country participated in the campaign, by planting trees, cleaning up the beach, dredging canals and clearing areas. —VNS http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/showarticle.php?num=03SOC170907 ……………………………………. Yahoo News : Worst pollution sites include India, China: survey Sun Sep 16 - NEW YORK (AFP) - Poisonous industrial sites in India, China and the former Soviet Union topped a new ranking this week of the world's most polluted places, where millions of people are threatened by toxic chemicals, a US-based environment watchdog said. The lead production base of Tianying, eastern China and the industrial town of Vapi, India were among new additions to the top 10 list of "worst polluted places" by the Blacksmith Institute in New York and the environmental clean-up group Green Cross Switzerland. "Mining, Cold War era legacy pollution and unregulated industrial production are the major culprits behind the pollution identified by the Blacksmith Institute report," the group said in a statement. Vapi "exemplifies a region overwhelmed by industrial estates -- more than 50 poison the local soils and groundwater with pesticides, PCBs (carcinogenic chemicals), chromium, mercury, lead, and cadmium." The study ranked places based on the scale of the pollution and the number of people at risk. "Children are sick and dying in these polluted places, and it's not rocket science to fix them," the institute's director Richard Fuller said in the statement. Also new since last year in the polluted top 10 is Sumgayit, Azerbaijan -- "a former Soviet industrial base polluting the area with industrial chemicals and heavy metals," the report said. "Cancer rates in Sumgayit are 22 to 51 percent higher than the national average; genetic mutations and birth defects are commonplace." The top 10 featured another Chinese city, Linfen in northern Shanxi province; Sukinda in India; Dzerzhinsk and Norilsk in Russia; La Oroya, Peru and Kabwe, Zambia. The other was Chernobyl, the site of a devastating nuclear reactor explosion in Ukraine in 1986. Some 12 million people were affected in these top 10 places, according to the report. The institute highlights the health threats to children from industrial pollution, such as the stunting effect of lead poisoning on intellectual development. Places on the top 10 list are not ranked relative to one another for more or less severe pollution. The institute also compiled a "dirty 30" list of other places it described as "very toxic and dangerous to human health," including sites in Kyrgyzstan and the Dominican Republic. The only geographic regions not ranking in the 30 were the Middle East and Oceania. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070917/wl_asia_afp/usworldenvironment;_ylt=Aldk_q5wb ARChHwmY4hQPixpl88F ………………………………….. Yahoo News : Australia says some water cuts permanent Sun Sep 16 - SYDNEY (AFP) - Some water restrictions introduced in Australia's most populous state because of a long-running drought will become permanent because of the threat of global warming, officials said Sunday. Banned forever will be the practice of hosing pathways and the daytime use of sprinklers to water lawns and gardens. The New South Wales government said the restrictions would remain in place even when the drought is over and dam levels are at capacity. "We know that climate change is real, it's here and the changes brought by climate change are going to change the way we use water," state Premier Morris Iemma said. "With the decline in average rainfalls, an increase in hot days... it means we have to be smarter about how we use water." Iemma said the restrictions were common sense in Australia, the world's driest inhabited continent. Many Australian cities have water restrictions in place and New South Wales, the eastern seaboard state of which Sydney is the capital, introduced mandatory water restrictions in 2003. Water Utilities Minister Nathan Rees said he expected little opposition to the move, particularly as there had been a shift in the way people used water in recent years. "These measures are not just about the drought that we're currently in but for droughts in years to come," he said. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070916/sc_afp/australiawarmingclimatewater;_ylt=AhRJIot WtuI1tPUwNtr1kFhpl88F …………………………………………….. The Daily Star, Bangladesh : Forest crisis and wildlife conservation The IUCN Regional Conservation Forum being held (10-14 Sept) in Nepal brings together conservation experts from across Asia to talk about Protected Areas and biodiversity. In Bangladesh, as the forest cover has fallen in recent decades, the quality and health of our system of Protected Areas -- created initially as refuges for wildlife -- has suffered even more grievously. In this writeup, Ishtiaq U Ahmad and Philip J DeCosse identify the evolving challenges to conservation and propose a practical roadmap for harmonizing national wildlife conservation needs with the aspirations of rural populations living in and around Protected Areas. Since the creation of the Forest Department's first Wildlife Circle in the mid-1970s, wildlife conservation issues have received less attention than plantation forestry and traditional silvicultural practices. From the perspective of the typical Range or Beat Officer in the field and this is often said by staff ―there is nothing to do in a Protected Area‖ (those areas designated under the Wildlife Act 1974). As trees fall and forests are thinned, wildlife disappears. The total number of Hoolock Gibbon our only ape species will soon be in double digits in the wild. Flagship species such as the Asian Elephant and the Bengal Tiger are in similar states of crisis, as are hundreds of lesser known species of cats, birds, butterflies and plants, to name a few. How has this neglect of our once pristine Protected Areas and the consequent loss of biodiversity come to pass? Challenges The Forest Department has faced a number of challenges. The Wildlife Act allows for little involvement of local communities in conservation of Protected Areas, leaving Forest staff to conclude that their principal role is to keep everyone out of the Areas, and to arrest and or prosecute those who do enter. Because there is no plantation work to be done in a Protected Area, budgets for management of the areas have been much smaller than other Reserve Forests. In the absence of any Protected Area Management Plans or any systematic wildlife management training -- local Forest staff have focused almost exclusively on the goal of ―keeping people out‖. In those Protected Areas where staff and other local or national powerful interests have been less than honest, Protected Areas have provided an ideal venue for theft of logs, fuel wood, and establishment of brick fields or other encroachment of lands. The reigning de facto fiscal policy of recent decades namely, that forests are to provide an important contributor to the Government's annual revenue -- has also adversely affected wildlife. Forest Officials under pressure to meet annual revenue targets set by the Government have naturally paid less attention to the Protected Areas, from which only scant revenue from visitation has been generated. Consider the challenges of managing the forest impact of the brick burning sector alone. A single brick field makes on average 2.4 million bricks a year, and this requires 1,000 tons of fuel wood, or the equivalent of 40,000 head loads of wood from the forest. Although the Brick Burning Control Act explicitly prohibits brick fields within 3 km of any Protected Area or Reserve Forest, many brick fields have situated themselves directly adjacent to Protected Areas because they can extract ―free‖ wood fuel and clay. At one Protected Area in the south of the country, 15 brick fields have situated themselves either directly inside or immediately adjacent to the forest. In a single year, this number of brick fields will require 600,000 head loads of fuel from the forest to operate. Addressing this sort of threat to Protected Areas requires an approach fundamentally different than the exclusionary approach included in the Wildlife Act. Eco-parks and nature recreation In the past decade, the Government has responded to the loss of natural areas primarily by fencing of small subsections of the larger Protected Areas and designating them as Eco- Parks or Safari Parks, with the principle objective of nature recreation. These recreation areas six of which are now in operation -- provided an opportunity for 800,000 paying visitors in the last year alone to have a taste of nature. Many of those that have visited these areas have never seen wild animals before, nor walked through a forest. In providing a nature experience for these hundreds of thousands of citizens, the Forest Department has provided an important service to the nation. Participation, livelihoods and conservation Eco-Parks and Safari Parks, however, are not a sufficient response to the need for wildlife conservation nor to the needs of local populations that have depended on the forests. That can only be addressed through protection and regeneration of larger natural ecosystems and the participation of local stakeholders. To this end, the Forest Department has recently taken important steps in setting a new strategy and approach for Protected Areas management, based on the now-accepted ideas of participation, rights and benefits. Under the Department's Nishorgo Program for Protected Area Management, collaborative management Councils have been established for pilot Protected Areas and local stakeholders are taking part as ―co-managers‖ of the Protected Areas with the Forest Department. Today, this Nishorgo approach is being followed at five pilot Protected Areas and is now being extended to other areas. The work of Nishorgo parallels similar collaborative Protected Area management efforts undertaken in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia, not to mention Europe and the US. Promising results are emerging, both in reduction of conflict and in forest conservation. Practical steps for moving ahead Participation, rights and benefits-sharing form the three core values on which the Department can consolidate and expand improved wildlife management, but a number of other actions should follow. In their assessment of Forest Department's institutional capacity for wildlife management in 2004, Drs. Khairul Alam and Art Mitchell recommended that more senior officers be given direct responsibility for managing individual Protected Areas, not least because of the complex socio-economic challenges faced at the PA level. The role and authorities of Assistant Conservators of Forest (ACFs) in particular need to be enhanced at the level of Protected Areas. If local communities are to become active supporters of conservation, they must see livelihood benefits. Entry fees to Protected Areas where they are charged now are channeled directly back to the central government, without any benefit to the local communities. Entry fees should be charged at all Protected Areas where Co-Management Committees are active, and those Committees working to conserver the areas should receive compensation in the form of a proportion of these entry fees and other fees generated by the Areas. More extensive investment in modern Protected Area management training approaches needs attention. Currently, there exist no Master's or even Diploma programs in ―Protected Area Management‖ in Bangladesh. Systematic re-training of field and central staff in modern participatory wildlife management can be gainfully undertaken at the Forest Academy. The Wildlife Act and a new Wildlife Policy have been in re-drafting stages for some time, but work remains to be done to integrate the two documents so as to present a forward- looking roadmap consistent with international norms and current best practices in Bangladesh. The two documents would benefit in particular from explicit inclusion of the following important concepts: collaborative management; stakeholder benefits sharing; respect for minority or indigenous rights; restrictions on select activities within defined landscapes; community-conserved areas; and, prior consultation before creation of new Protected Areas. The Wildlife Advisory Board established under the Wildlife Act has not been as strategic as it could be. In recent years, it has been pressed to meet and discuss issues such as zoo permits and crocodile importation that might be addressed elsewhere. It would be timely for the Board to constitute a technical ―Scientific Advisory Sub-Committee‖ of active and eminent wildlife-related researchers that would provide both advice and oversight to the wildlife work of the Forest Department and to the activities of the newly created Co- Management Councils. There is no shortage of nature-lovers in Bangladesh, but these individuals have not yet coalesced as advocates for conservation of a unified system of Protected Areas. When land at Bhawal National Park is encroached or brick fields destroy Teknaf Game Reserve, civil society has been largely silent. Without an active constituency in support of Protected Area conservation, our flagship species will soon be gone, and lesser known species will follow behind. It would be timely now for a grassroots network of ―Friends of the Protected Areas‖ to emerge. The Forest Department working with local Co-Management Councils possess the skills and vision to turn the tide on rapid wildlife habitat loss we face. The policy and institutional changes identified here can help ensure that the Department achieves its Nishorgo vision of ―Saving Nature for Future Generations‖. Ishtiaq U. Ahmad is the Conservator of Forests for Wildlife at the Forest Department. Philip J. DeCosse is Chief-of-Party of the Forest Department's Nishorgo Support Project. http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=3882 ……………………………………. The Daily Star, Bangladesh : Floods, rains and Dhaka city drainage Prof Mustafizur Rahman Tarafdar Every time major floods occur in the country and every time it rains, the city of Dhaka faces acute drainage problem. Parts of the city go under water. In the densely populated city, woes of people know no bounds. In 1954, 1956, 1988, 1998 devastating floods occurred submerging 70 percent or more of the country. Along with the country most of the Dhaka city except pockets of high spots went under various depths of water. There was flood water in old city, eastern and western parts. However in earlier years, as the eastern and western parts of the city were mostly agricultural lowlands with a few or no human habitation, flood damage remained confined to the city proper only. There was no huge and cry and suffering of people as it is today in the eastern part. In spite of huge investment over the years, particularly after 1988 floods when almost whole city of Dhaka went under water, the 1998 floods appeared most devastating. About Dhaka city, drainage situation aggravated due to silted-up, blocked drainage channels. WASA's limited storm water drainage is too inadequate for a city of 850 sqkm (Greater Dhaka). Causes and problems Causes of floods and drainage problem vary in different zones (areas) of the city depending on topography (elevation, high, low), proximity to rivers, peculiar areas like housing estates etc. Two main causes of floods in the city are river floods and runoff from rainfall. River floods: Rivers surrounding the city like the Sitalakhya, Buriganga, Turag, Tongi and Balu cause floods in the city. This year low lying areas in the eastern part of the greater Dhaka city was heavily flooded. One point is that for some reasons the proposed flood protection eastern embankment/bypass was yet to be constructed. The western flood protection embankment protected Uttara, Airport, Nikunja and other areas from floods of Turag and Buriganga. Rainfall: Due to bad drainage system in the city where most of the channels were encroached upon by the land grabbers or were choked up or filled up with illegal dumping of solid and construction wastes water logging occurs all around the city. Most of former flowing/living channels are now non-existent. Even the large ones like the Begunbari channel were either encroached upon or the outfall closed with consequence that runoff cannot flow as it used to in 50's, 60's and even 70's Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara and Uttara lakes are blocked at the outfall. Many other channels in the eastern Dhaka, South Badda, Khilgaon, Bashaboo, Shahjahanpur, Jatrabari etc. were partly or full occupied by unauthorised illegal structures. If channels are improved, heavy runoff will quickly flow outside the city. Housing estates: Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara and Uttara and perhaps other satellite towns like Bashundhara, Asian City, Amin Group etc. are relatively on higher lands and runoff thus flows into the lakes which incidentally work as buffer flood control reservoirs. Except some pockets of transient water-logging in the above areas waters are quickly drained off. Eastern part: The eastern area of the city is heavily affected by river floods and also by runoff. Flood water ... standing as river levels remain high. It strongly suggests pumping of flood/runoff waters when the eastern embankment would be constructed. Similar pumping is necessary in western embankment area. Old city: The old city is affected by runoff form rainfall. Numerous low pockets remain water-logged. If drainage channels are built or water flows through improved channels this flood situation will improve. WASA may also be of help with storm water drains. It is necessary as open drains may be difficult to run because of congestion in the area and its unique situation/location. Water-logging in DND Project: One of the earliest irrigation projects, the DND (Dhaka- Demra-Narayanganj) project was built by the then EPWAPDA (now BWDB). The project was meant for producing rice crops by irrigation. In recent years agricultural low lands were purchased or illegally acquired for residential use. Canals were encroached upon, both irrigation and drainage channels were encroached upon by influential people. Due to heavy downpour on June 15, 2007 the whole Dhaka city and adjoining areas were flooded. With drainage channels closed here and there, DND project area was fully water-logged. Another reason is that due to low level of the outfall of the drainage channels, natural drainage is not possible due to higher level of water of the river Sitalakhya. As a result the water of the DND needed to be pumped out. But sometimes some of the pumps remain out of order. BWDB should keep the pumps in good working condition at all times. Some unconventional causes: Though the unconventional causes like the slow subsidence of ground surface in general can occur over a long period of time, they deserve serious consideration. For gradual subsidence over many years might turn out to be serious in magnitude and dimension. This may happen for both natural and man-made causes. Natural process soil erosion: Anytime heavy rainfall occurs, it erodes some soil in the city area. Ceaselessly the rainfall has caused erosion and sediment was transported away by runoff to the adjoining rivers bounding the city, through rills, small channels. Only a proper contour survey available for 50's or 60's or later years may be compared to see the magnitude of erosion, consequently lowering the ground surface level (subsidence) Man-made causes: There are two such causes of land susbidence -- Subsidence due to pumping: Due to continuous pumping by hundreds of deep tubewells, ground water level below Dhaka city is falling. It may be mentioned that for continuous pumping in Tamil Nadu and Gujrat States in India, ground water dried up in millions of tubewells. There is no irrigation now, only low-yielding rain-fed agriculture is in practice. Drinking water is brought to the large affected area with hundreds/thousands of trucks daily! One may ascertain difference between ground level now and that some 30 or 40 years ago and estimate the evidence and extent of subsidence. Groundwater aquifer (aquifer is water holding stratum/layer of soils) consists of trillions of water-filled voids. As pumping continues over the years, voids are depleted of water and as a result due to overhead soil pressure empty voids may get contracted which may accentuate subsidence. Though a very long term process, it may happen. It is worth investigation and studies. High rise buildings: For the last 25 years or so thousands of high rise buildings were constructed all over Dhaka. Though developers generally take good care in foundation design considering bearing capacity versus subsidence, there are thousands of multi-storied buildings which were privately constructed. I have doubt whether they took care of foundation design adequately. In the years to come there may be a global effect of millions of tons of imposed weight on the surface which may cause subsidence in the soft alluvial sedimentary soils underlying the city. A six-storey residential building on 5 katha (3600 sft) may weigh 5000-7000 tons. Our learned geologists and foundation engineers might have answer to this. If the answer is an emphatic yes, it may be of concern to all of us. All the above three causes particularly the man-made ones might look speculative at the moment. But after serious investigations, comprehensive relevant surveys and intensive studies, we might obtain a suitable answer. June 15, 2007 rainfall: Let us analyse the rainfall of June 15, 2007 that occurred for a duration 6 hours (6 pm to 12 midnight) with a total rainfall of abut 100mm. Greater Dhaka has on area of 850 km2. Preliminary estimate shows that a flow (discharge) of 3,000 m3/s was generated in the greater Dhaka and 2,000m3/s in the metropolitan area. Both the figures are designed discharge. Canals of 200m bottom width x 1.5 deep x side slope 1.5:1 x bed slope 1/1000 and other canals of 150m, 100m, 50m and 30m bottom width can be designed for the drainage of the greater Dhaka city. About 35 trapezoidal channels of various capacities are required to achieve drainage of the city. Begunbari channel takes off from Dhanmondi lake but Mirpur road blocked it near Panthapath crossing. It is again perhaps blocked by roads notable Nazrul Islam Avenue before Sonargaon Hotel. It resurfaced behind the hotel. On its way a lot of illegal structures, some multi-storey buildings were constructed between Sonargaon Hotel and its crossing at Shahid Tajuddin Road (Tejgaon Road). The channel then veers north-eastward meeting the combined drainage channels from Gulshan-Banani lake and Mohakhali drainage channel at a point 5 km south of Gulshan Lake (E). Then it moves east-southeastwards meeting a north-south channel in low areas south of Badda and moves eastward to the proposed Eastern Bypass. Begunbari channel is the main drainage channel of the city, both larger in dimension and longer in stretch, and moves west to east draining the crowded parts of the city: Tejgaon, Mohakhali, Kawran Bazar, Panthapath, Banani-Gulshan and open areas in the east and Green Road, Farmgate area. With 200m width and proper designed dimensions, it can carry a discharge of 400-500m3/s i.e. 1/7th to 1/6th (15%) of the total runoff generated by June 15 rainfall. Begunbari appears to have large catchments. It also drains entire Badda, Rampura and Khilgaon areas, open areas in the east on both sides of Begunbari. The feeder channels, Mohakhali-Banani-Gulshan lake, north-south canal meeting Bagunbari should be excavated and improved. Begunbari channel acts like a drainage divide between the north and south of the metropolitan area. Another divide existed in old city, now filled up Dholai Khal channel which ran west to east dividing the old city drainage to the canal from the north and south. From contour plan of the Begunbari and catchment and characteristics of channel catchment plan, synthetic unit hydrograph may be drawn by using maximum daily rainfall data for 20 to 30 years. From unit hydrograph peak flood of 25 years, 50 years or 100 years frequency versus depths can be determined for the design of channels. Similar methods can be used for other channels in other zones/areas. Some recommendations Master Plan: Master plan of Dhaka City Drainage should be prepared by an experienced consulting engineering firm. A national committee composed of experts from relevant organisations may guide and oversee the activities of the firm. The whole city may be divided into drainage zones according to topography and location. Eastern Bypass: An embankment by the east of the city (Eastern Bypass) may be constructed as quickly as possible. If the Eastern Bypass is delayed for the Master Plan, the city will continue to suffer. Western embankment was not delayed for the Master Plan. Cleaning of canals: All silted up and choked up channels large, medium or small, should be excavated and made efficient for drainage of rain water. These moribund channels should be cleared and designed to carry runoff in 25 or 35 channels as outlined earlier. Open area drainage: Drainage channels in the open areas between the city and the existing west and the proposed eastern Bypass will be designed to carry flow and evacuate in the embankment sluices. In some points pumping may be required. We are to design pumps, pump houses etc. Embankment: Embankment along the Buriganga in the southern side should be strengthened in order to prevent river floods. Drains should carry runoff from rainfall. Protection from future grabbing: Excavated/cleared existing closed or blocked channels should be protected from future grabbing by enacting strict laws, if necessary. DND drainage: Drainage channels in DND project area should be cleared and made efficient to carry runoff. Pump house should be made efficient and repaired when necessary. Water-logging in DND area is man-made artificial creation. Multi-disciplinary national committee: A multi-disciplinary national committee composed of experts from relevant organisations may be formed to find causes and effects of floods and drainage problems in the city (Greater Dhaka and Metropolitan area), and outline preventive and regulation measures. The committee will assist in the selection of an experienced consulting company. The Committee will prepare its own TOR and draft TOR for the consultants. The committee will continue to guide and oversee the activities of the consultants during its tenure. The writer is professor of Civil Engineering in the World University of Bangladesh, Dhaka and a Water Specialist (formerly in World Bank, Washington DC and Planning Commission). http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=3883 ………………………………….. The Daily Star, Bangladesh : The Sydney APEC Summit Barrister Harun ur Rashid A catchy slogan appeared in Sydney ―Twenty-one leaders, one great city‖ for APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Coopera-tion) Summit. The Summit took place on 7th and 8th September and the delegations including ministers, senior officials and top business leaders started arriving at Sydney from 3rd of September. Australians took pride in holding the Summit at the beautiful harbour city, although about $300 million dollars of taxpayers' money were spent. During the Summit, the central business district of Sydney became a ―fortress‖. Friday 7th Sep, the first day of the summit, was declared a public holiday to ease the traffic of the office goers. Currently APEC countries represent 60% of world's GDP and 40% of world's population. Five of the world's six biggest standing armies and four of the world's eight declared nuclear powers cluster around the table. Furthermore, around the APEC table are also six of the world's ten biggest carbon-emitting countries. The leaders include one absolute monarch, Communist heads of states and other heads of states/governments including the big three-- the US, China and Russia. Every year APEC provides an opportunity for Asian and Pacific leaders to meet with the US President, other than bilateral visits, which are strictly one-on-one affairs that do not allow regional interplay. AUSTRALIA'S INITIATIVE APEC Forum was an initiative of Australia's Labour Prime Minister Bob Hawke in 1989 in which 12 countries participated. His successor Paul Keating elevated it to a summit level in agreement with President Clinton and the first was held in 1993. It regularly meets every year. Last year it met in Vietnam. Apart from the Commonwealth, Australia has not been a member of any Asian Forum. It is an ―odd-man out‖ in the area because although it is geographically located in the Asia Pacific region, its history is tied with Britain. Furthermore its ―White Immigration‖ policy which had alienated Asian countries was only dismantled totally in 1974, although the policy was getting relaxed since 1968. Necessity is the mother of invention and the then Australian Prime Minister followed the spirit of the adage and invented a forum in which Australia could mix with Asia- Pacific countries. After Britain joined the European Union in the early 70s, Australia's economy had to depend on its exports to Asia and currently 80% per cent of its exports go to Asian and Pacific countries and China has become the largest trading partner. MEMBERS OF APEC The eligibility of membership is that a country must be in Asia and share borders with the Pacific directly or indirectly through sea, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore via Malacca Straits and Thailand through the Gulf of Thailand. Now it has grown to 21 countries including Russia, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Canada, the US, China, Australia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, South Korea, New Zealand, Philippines, and Brunei. APEC is founded on economic cooperation and not on the basis of nation-state and that is why Taiwan and Hong Kong are members. There is a moratorium for new members but some countries including Australia want to get India as a member. Some countries oppose India's entry because India cannot claim to be a Pacific country given its geography. Its main agenda was trade and economic cooperation. Gradually the agenda has expanded into security, climate change and energy. Since 9/11, terrorism has become an important agenda item. Business leaders of the member countries simultaneously meet and discuss major global and regional issues and recommend plans for action to the political leaders. WHAT DID IT ACHIEVE IN SYDNEY? The agenda items have been broadly discussed but concrete results are missing. What was important was that the world leaders had the opportunity to discuss sensitive and regional issues in bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Summit meeting. Since the US is bogged down in Iraq, at the Sydney Summit, President Bush concentrated his remarks on Iraq and national security. Among Asian issues, he only mentioned Burma's abuses of human rights. Critics pointed out that President Bush should have realised that it was Asia Pacific forum and should have devoted to the issues affecting the Asian Pacific countries. China's President discussed trade promotion among countries and Russian President wanted a broader agenda for APEC that might include corruption in some Asian Pacific countries that posed a threat to trade and investment promotion. WHY IT DID NOT ACHIEVE MUCH? Sydney APEC Summit did not achieve much because the interests of member countries are so varied that consensus is not easily achieved on big issues. APEC is too big and handling too many issues is difficult when it was originally set up to unlock trade and investment across member-economies. Asia Pacific region is diverse and APEC in its present form does not address regional security. Furthermore APEC is economic, too broad and India is missing. How can one talk seriously on security issues at a forum where both China and Taiwan are present? That is why two other forums in the region have cropped up. One is the ASEAN +3 (Japan, China and Korea) group and the other is East Asian Summit with ASEAN + 3 +Australia, New Zealand, and India. None of the forums includes the US. TWO QUESTIONS ARE FOREMOST IN THE REGION First, the main concern is how to handle China's rise. Currently the US, Japan and Australia have a security alliance and they want India to join the trilateral alliance to contain the rise of China. To ease concerns of China, Australia's largest trading partner, Australia and China agreed to hold annual meeting on security matters. (During APEC meeting, Australia signed a $45 billion gas export deal with China.) Some commentators have indicated that the present policy of the US towards China as a ―strategic competitor‖ is wrong and instead the US should have a regional security forum with China, Japan and Korea. The main issue is how to turn China's entry into strategic environment of Asia Pacific into a positive factor. Second, the rise of China and India is so significant and intimidating that some stresses are inevitable in neighbouring countries. The neighbours look at the rise of the two countries with both admiration and apprehension. Adjustments will be easier and smoother if neighbours of China and India get a voice in a forum in addressing the impact of emerging economic political and strategic landscape at the 21st century. None of the forums indicated above could address the above two burning issues. CONCLUSION Some strategists say that a new forum, consisting of the US and representatives from countries of East Asia, South Asia and North Asia, is to be set up for addressing the issues concerning the countries of the region. Its sole function would be to discuss the central issues affecting regional security and prosperity. The author is former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva. http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=3999 ………………………………….. China Daily : China plays important role as peace-maker By Xiong Guangkai, Updated: 2007-09-18 China's security policy is based on the basic reality that it is a developing country with the strategic goal of achieving peaceful development. With regard to the international situation, China's security policy is based primarily on three aspects. First, the country keeps a close watch on non-traditional security threats as well as attaches great importance to coping with traditional security threats. The core of the country's national security is to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity and guarantee its survival and development. In the post-Cold War era, local wars and armed conflicts have been raging across the world. The year 2006, for example, saw 44 wars in various regions of the world, five more than 2005, a "peak year" after the Cold War ended. This shows that hegemonism and power politics still exist and the world is not at peace. On China's part, national reunification has yet to be completely achieved and therefore the traditional security threat remains. China pursues a national policy that is defensive by nature, and also adopts an active-defense strategy. The non-traditional security threat, represented by terrorism, is posing a serious danger to humanity, particularly in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks. Although China is not the primary target of international terrorism, it is also confronted by terror threats. For example, East Turkistan terrorist elements list our overseas institutions and personnel as targets. Experience shows that purely military action does not work effectively. Instead, comprehensive measures are called for. Striking at the root cause of the problem as well as its harmful effects is the right prescription. Single handedly, one country alone cannot get things done satisfactorily. International cooperation is the best way. The Chinese government is opposed to all forms of terrorism and maintains that its root cause should be eliminated. At the same time, China is strengthening its anti-terror international cooperation. Last month, for example, Chinese troops were committed to a joint anti-terrorism exercise staged in Russia's Cheliyabingsk area, together with other member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Second, while paying attention to security in the military and political areas, China is particularly concerned with energy, climate and public-hygiene security, as well as economic, cultural, information and financial security. As the second largest energy-consuming country and also the second largest energy- producing nation in the world, China is highly concerned about the issue of energy security. Over the decades, China has supplied more than 90 percent of its energy, including coal, petroleum and natural gas, for its own use, 20 percentage points more than the average level of countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. China has put energy saving at the top of its agenda. In 2006, energy consumed in producing a unit of GDP dropped by 50 per cent compared with 1990. The country also encourages the development of renewable energy such as wind power, solar and bio-energy. In 2006, renewable energy accounted for 7 percent of the country's total energy consumption. At the same time, China plays an active role in international energy cooperation, based on the principle of "mutually-beneficial cooperation, pluralistic development and collective guarantees". The country has bilateral dialogue with the world's chief energy consuming countries such as the United States, Japan, India and the European Union. The country is also a full member of a number of multilateral energy cooperation bodies, including the International Energy Forum, the World Energy Council and the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. It also has close ties with the International Energy Agency. In April this year, the first China-Japan ministerial energy dialogue turned out to be a success, with both sides deciding to strengthen cooperation in energy saving, petroleum substitution and new energy forms. On May 21, China, the United States, Russia, Japan and France jointly convened a meeting on global nuclear-energy partnerships and cooperation. Climate security is also important to China. In the general context of global warming, the country's climate has also changed dramatically. Over the last 100 years or so, for instance, the average annual temperature in the country has risen 0.5 to 0.7 C. The climate issue poses a new challenge to mankind and calls for cooperation between all members of the international community. The Chinese government holds that climate change is an issue of development as well as one of environment. China sticks to the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" as described by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and appeals to the developed countries to fulfill the emission-reduction goals decreed by the Kyoto Protocol, provide aid to developing countries, and, after 2012, make commitments to further reduce emissions. Not long ago, the EU decided to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. The G8 summit also agreed to seriously consider the proposal that their emissions be cut by 50 percent by the year 2050 compared with 1990. China appreciates their efforts in this regard and hopes that the developed countries will fulfill their pledges. China is actively implementing its international obligations although its per capita carbon dioxide discharge is not yet one-third that of the average level of developed countries. The Chinese government has also formulated a package of policy documents, decreeing that energy consumption used to produce a given amount of GDP be reduced by 20 percent by 2010, compared with 2005, and that the percentage of forest-covered land be raised to 20 percent. Since the outbreak of bird flu in 2003, the issue of public health has been of great concern to the international community. The Chinese government has introduced an epidemic reporting system and reinforced cooperation with other countries in this field. Third, China is actively involved in international security cooperation while paying attention to its homeland security. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China always makes sure that the UN's authority is maintained and its role brought into full play. And the country also makes an effort to see that world peace and stability is safeguarded within the framework of the UN. For example, China was actively involved in defusing the Korean Peninsula nuclear crisis, and is doing the same on Iran's nuclear bid. It supports the UN Security Council's resolutions 1695 and 1718 on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, as well as resolutions 1696, 1737 and 1747 on Iran's nuclear issue. Thanks to China's efforts and also other relevant parties, the Six-Party Talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear crisis has made significant progress. The talks have now entered the stage of "action to action". China also plays an active role in UN peace-keeping missions. Since 1989 the country has participated in 17 peace-keeping operations, dispatching a total of 7,511 personnel. Among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China has contributed the biggest number of peace-keeping personnel. In addition, China is strenuously pushing for regional security dialogue and cooperation. China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan set up the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in 2001, which provides a new model for regional security cooperation and ideas with regard to pushing regional dialogue and cooperation. China is also involved in the "10 plus 1" dialogue between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China and the "10 plus 3" dialogue between ASEAN on the one hand and China, South Korea and Japan on the other. China initiated the convening of the ASEAN Regional Security Policy Conference, which helps to largely promote military exchanges and mutual trust between the members of grouping. China also plays an active role in dialogue and cooperation within the frameworks of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the East Asia Summit and the Asia-Europe Meeting. Now that peaceful development is an integral part of China's national policy, we advocate that an international security climate based on mutual trust and cooperation be created; mutual trust be promoted through dialogue; disputes be settled through consultation and negotiation; and stability be achieved through cooperation. On this basis, various traditional and non-traditional security problems could be settled and worldwide challenges and threats could be effectively tackled. The author is chairman of the China Institute for International Strategic Studies http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2007-09/18/content_6113993.htm ............................................... Asahi, Japan : Forestry Agency, ministry at loggerheads over recycling 09/18/2007, BY SEIICHIRO UTANO, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN Most people take it for granted that recycling paper saves trees and helps the environment. In fact, all paper used in government copier machines comes from recycled paper. But the Forestry Agency--in the name of environment protection--wants that practice to change. It is calling for lumber harvested when thinning forests to be used as the paper for copier machines in government offices. The agency says thinning is important for the environment, and making paper is the only viable way of getting rid of the wood. And as international demand for scrap paper grows, paper producers complain that recycling has become too expensive. The agency's position has put it at odds with the Environment Ministry, which says modifying its strict rules on recycled paper would undermine the practice of recycling in general. Under the Law on Promoting Green Purchasing, which took effect in 2001, all paper used in government copier machines has been 100-percent recycled. About 80 percent of paper used in government offices, or 58,000 tons a year, is copier paper. Paper used for purposes besides copier machines must be at least 70-percent recycled. But that policy runs against efforts to thin forests, according to the Forestry Agency. It says thinning is vital to maintain the health of forests, which in turn stops soil runoff, preventing landslides and river flooding. However, lumber harvested for thinning has little value in the wood market. As much as 8.5 million tons of thinned lumber has simply been piled up and left behind in forests. "We are campaigning for the use of lumber from thinning," said an agency official who declined to be named. "If we cannot use it to make copier paper, we will be placed in a difficult position." In fiscal 2005, the government of Hokkaido stipulated that at least 15 percent of copier paper used in its offices must be made from thinned lumber from the northern island. However, other local governments are reluctant to go it alone or break with the policy of Tokyo. "Unless the central government changes the rule, we cannot do it at our own discretion," said a Kumamoto government official. In June, the governments of Hokkaido and four prefectures in the Kyushu region sent a letter to the central government's Regulatory Reform Council demanding that the 100- percent rule be eased so they could use copier paper made from timber from thinned forests. But the Environment Ministry regards the increased use of recycled copier paper as one of its major achievements. Recycled copier paper accounted for 34 percent of the entire market in fiscal 2005, up from 11 percent in fiscal 2000, a year before the law took effect. The collection rate of paper for recycling also rose from 60 percent to 70 percent in the past five years, but that paper has increasingly gone overseas. Demand for paper for recycling in China, Thailand and South Korea soared, growing from 370,000 tons in 2000 to 3.89 million tons in 2006. Eighty percent of that went to China. The exports offset the rise in collections, and overall recycling in Japan has remained steady, at around 60 percent. Demand has also driven up the price of waste paper. In July, the Japan Paper Association, an industry organization, asked the Environment Ministry to relax the waste paper rule for copier paper used in government offices from 100 percent to 70 percent. But the ministry won't budge. "Copier paper that is 100 percent recycled is the symbol of recycling of resources," a ministry official said. "The 100-percent rule is meant to improve the global environment with public money. A reconsideration of the rule could lead to a retreat from the whole system. We cannot reconsider it so easily." He also said that the merits of thinning forests had yet to be proved beyond a doubt. The government reconsiders its procurement policies every year. The Environment Ministry will hold hearings for that purpose to consider whether some changes are necessary in its procurement policies for the next fiscal year.(IHT/Asahi: September 18,2007) http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200709180072.html ......................................... The Japan Times : Typhoons more predictable but still deadly By JUN HONGO, Staff writer Most years, the typhoon season peaks in September, as illustrated by the recent Typhoon No. 9, called Fitow, which killed two, and Typhoon No. 11, also known as Nari, which approached Okinawa last week. The seasonal turbulence remains a threat to Japan despite improvements in meteorological satellites and weather forecasting technology — and some experts theorize that global warming may have altered its characteristics. Following is some basic information on typhoons: How many typhoons are there annually? The Meteorological Agency defines a typhoon as any tropical cyclone with wind speeds above 61.9 kph and is generated in a U-shaped area surrounded by the international date line, 100 degrees east longitude and the equator. The major distinction between typhoons and hurricanes, which affect Central and North America, is in their place of origin. According to the Meteorological Agency, there was an average of 26.7 typhoons a year between 1971 and 2000, with 10.8 of them reaching within 300 km of the Japanese archipelago. During this time span, an average of 2.6 typhoons made landfall annually. Why is September considered the peak of the typhoon season in Japan? In fact, statistics show that more typhoons develop in August than in any other month, but weather conditions in September in the vicinity of Japan help them reach the archipelago. While typhoons prior to the peak season have a propensity to head westward because of the powerful trade wind, in September the presence of high pressure systems in the Pacific area pushes the turbulence northward. Typhoons are then blown eastward toward Japan due to strong winds blowing from continental Asia. In addition, typhoons in September tend to join forces with autumn's seasonal precipitation front above Japan. What was the most destructive typhoon ever to hit Japan? The worst typhoon in recorded history was 1959's Typhoon No. 15, later named the "Ise- wan" (Ise Bay) Typhoon by the Meteorological Agency. The colossal storm, which at times generated wind speeds of more than 180 kph, made landfall in Wakayama Prefecture on Sept. 26. It took 5,098 lives and left nearly 39,000 people injured, while 40,000 houses and buildings were completely destroyed. It was the largest number of deaths caused by a natural disaster in Japan until the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake killed 6,434 people. Experts have suggested that the damage caused by the Ise-wan Typhoon was aggravated by the geographical characteristics of Ise Bay, which induced high storm surges, and a lack of disaster-prevention measures by the central and local governments. How strong are typhoons? Studies show that the energy unleashed by an average typhoon can reach a force 100 times greater than that generated by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. However, the force of typhoons usually wanes through friction with sea or land surfaces, and is also influenced by temperatures and wind force in the surrounding atmosphere. What is the driving force of a typhoon? Typhoons are typically formed in areas with water temperatures above 27 degrees, because their power source is latent heat, or the energy released from vaporized water when it condenses and forms clouds, and which stimulates a typhoon's formation. Warm ocean water not only nourishes the turbulence but also heats the surrounding air. Because a high temperature is equal to lighter air, such a condition decreases air pressure in the area and causes winds to blow inward. Does global warming influence the size or frequency of a typhoon? In theory, global warming will facilitate typhoon development as it expands areas with high water temperatures. Some experts suggest that recent destructive hurricanes, including Katrina and Rita, were strengthened by global warming. Takehiko Yamamura, author of more than 10 books on disaster prevention and the director of the private think tank Disaster Prevention System Institute, warns that the higher the water temperature near Japan gets, the more power a typhoon can sustain before striking the country. However, other studies suggest the opposite and argue that warmer climates may diminish typhoons, because high temperatures tend to spawn various wind speeds and wind directions at different altitudes in the atmosphere. Such conditions, known as wind shear, are believed to spread, and therefore weaken, the power of hurricanes and typhoons. Although a report by the Meteorological Agency in 2005 indicated that ocean temperatures have risen 0.48 degree in the last 100 years, no definitive conclusion has been made regarding the effect that global warming has on typhoons. Can typhoons be tamed? Unlike earthquakes, which are erratic, typhoons have become predictable because of the improvement in meteorological forecasts — and there have been attempts to tame them before they cause further damage. One method tried by the U.S. government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration between 1962 and 1983 was to scatter iodide from an airplane in the air surrounding a hurricane when it developed over the ocean. Theoretically, the tactic would diffuse the power of the hurricane through premature precipitation. However, the experiments, known as "Project Stormfury," did not provide any definitive conclusions. In Japan, studies to modify typhoons have been halted because of concerns over the possible decrease of annual precipitation. How are typhoons named? Beginning in 2000, typhoons which originate in the northwest Pacific or South China Sea have been named by a Typhoon Committee consisting of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and the World Meteorological Organization. This group includes Japan and 13 other Asian countries, and employs a list with some 140 names on it, starting with "Damrey" (elephant in Thai) and running through "Saola" (the name of a rare antelope in Vietnamese). Fitow, the name given the recent typhoon that hit Japan, was the 37th name on the list. It means flower in the Yapese language used in Micronesia. What can we do to prevent damage? Although typhoons caused thousands of deaths from the 1930s to 1950s, advancements in disaster prevention, such as positioning breakwaters, have reduced their potential for damage, according to Yamamura of the Disaster Prevention System Institute. "It is still vital that each and every one of us has a handle on the area they live in, including the location of nearby rivers," he said. "Emergency goods such as radios should be stockpiled as well." The Weekly FYI appears Tuesdays (Wednesday in some areas). Readers are encouraged to send ideas, questions and opinions to National News Desk http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070918i1.html .............................................. The Jakarta Post : Saving marine resources through Coral Triangle Initiative The Indonesian government has invited six Asia-Pacific countries to take part in a joint effort to preserve marine and biological resources through the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security in the Coral Triangle Area located in the Asia- Pacific region. The initiative was proposed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during the recent APEC meeting in Australia. Country director of The Nature Conservancy's Indonesia Program, Rili Djohani, talked with The Jakarta Post's Desy Nurhayati about the issue. Question:What is the Coral Triangle Initiative? Answer:The Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) was initiated by The Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry in an effort to safeguard the biological resources of marine and coastal areas. Indonesia has the richest coral in the world, both in its quantity and diversity, especially in the seas in the central and eastern areas of the country. The area, called the Coral Triangle, is adjacent to the Philippines, Malaysia (Sabah), East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Through the CTI, we are encouraging the government to preserve the abundant marine resources by establishing multilateral partnerships with the other countries. We are very pleased that our President has his own vision concerning environmental problems and has addressed the issue during the APEC meeting. Hopefully, his proposal will be a good start for engaging the countries so as to cooperate in safeguarding the area. How big are the biological resources in the Coral Triangle area? The Coral Triangle area stretches from the central part of Indonesia to the Solomon Islands, and up from the Indian Ocean across the Philippines to the Pacific Ocean. Scientists have conducted many studies and identified the area as the epicenter of marine diversity on the planet. It is home to more than 600 coral species, or 75 percent of all known coral species, and around 3,000 fish species. Most of them are endemic. The triangular-shaped region also serves as the spawning and juvenile growth site for various kinds of fish. Aside from its biodiversity, the area also supports the livelihoods of over 120 million people living along the coastlines of the six countries, and benefits billions more worldwide. The marine resources also contribute to the nature-based tourism industry in the region. Tourists from around the world visit the area to enjoy the beauty within the ocean that they could never find at other sites. Coral species in the area have survived for millions of years. Even today, they are resilient to the effects of mass coral bleaching and global warming, thanks to the ocean currents that bring cold water around the area, thus protecting the coral from damaging effects. Corals are critically important for the well-being of other populations as they are the lungs of the ocean. But the species are now threatened by overfishing, destructive fishing and coastal development. Therefore, it is our responsibility to save the area, not only environmentally, but also economically. It would be a shame if we lost these resources, especially the coral. They are very diverse, resilient and populous. Once they're destroyed, we will likely never get them back. What constraints do you see in preserving our marine resources? We lack human resources trained in marine conservation. The government once had a maritime training center for civil servants, NGOs and the public, but it was closed in 1992. Another constraint is that there are so many threats against our oceans, including overfishing and destructive fishing. Our species are at risk from such threats. In recent years, the central government and local administrations, NGOs and communities have taken action to protect the marine ecosystem. And the number of protected species has increased over the last several years, but we need to have better management and enforcement. Indeed, the government has conducted training in forestry and fishery protection. But there has been no training in marine conservation. We hope that the government will reestablish the training center so as to produce more trained personnel. What do you think about our country's efforts so far to safeguard marine areas and their resources? We see that the government has been paying attention to this issue and has done much to preserve our marine biological resources. Cooperation between the central government and the local administrations has improved. Local people have also played an important role in preserving marine areas. However, policy and enforcement needs to be improved. Marine law enforcers should have better knowledge about biological resources, especially protected species. In 2000, The Nature Conservancy established the Coral Triangle Center, which is based in Bali. The center is aimed at addressing threats to the world's most diverse oceans, and works to establish protected marine areas. Our approaches are on-site conservation, technical support such as training, and policy formulation. We have managed to establish marine conservation areas at Komodo Island in East Nusa Tenggara, Wakatobi in Southeast Sulawesi, Raja Ampat in West Papua and Derawan in East Kalimantan. We need the government to give us support so that we can establish more conservation areas to protect more species. What are your expectations now that the government has proposed the initiative? The government's action to reach out to neighboring countries during the APEC meeting has been a good political sign. We need those countries to establish joint forces for better management and enforcement in the Coral Triangle area. We expect that the government will immediately take pro-active measures, not merely make political commitments. We will meet with the other stakeholders to discuss a work program as a follow-up to the CTI and to provide us with a clear framework about what we can do under the scheme. We also need to find out how committed the other five countries are to the initiative. Hopefully, we can present the implementation plan to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali in December to draw the attention of the international community. It is hoped that the CTI will not only attract the political commitment of the countries involved, but also attract international funding from government institutions, NGOs and the private sector. We are optimistic that the CTI program will be successful. In the short term, it will help restore the Coral Triangle area, parts of which have been degraded by human action, while in the long term it will preserve the biological resources, especially coral and fish, for future generations. http://www.thejakartapost.com/detailnational.asp?fileid=20070917.H04&irec=3 …………………………….. The Jakarta Post : Hotels share green message with students Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Nusa Dua, Bali Wearing Clean up The World 2007 t-shirts, students from SD Benoa 4 elementary school screamed excitedly at the sound of their school's name being called Saturday. "We won! We won!" a girl in the crowd shouted, finding it hard to contain her excitement. To the disappointment of other students at the Bali Tourism Development Cooperation's (BTDC) amphitheater, SD Benoa 4 had been declared the Most Environmentally Friendly School of 2007. Hundreds of elementary school students from nine schools around Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa had taken part in the one-month Clean Up the World environmental campaign organized by 17 hotels in the area. The campaign was held in conjunction with Clean Up the World Day, which was observed in 120 countries worldwide between Sept. 14 and 16. As part of Bali's campaign, students were taught how to separate organic garbage from normal garbage. They also participated in a beach clean-up in the Nusa Dua area. The climax of the month was Saturday's quiz at the amphitheater, during which the victorious school would be named. Herry Sanjaya, 11, from SD 9 Benoa elementary school said he learnt a lot from the campaign and had lots of fun. "Now I dispose of garbage in the correct places. I also know how to separate organic waste from normal waste," he said. Herry said he asked his mother to provide a separate trash bin for organic waste after learning about the benefits of separating trash by hotel staff. His school won second prize in the competition. "I am very proud of our achievement. We have also planted trees in our school yard," he said. Nusa Dua is one of Bali's most exclusive areas and is home to a number of five star hotels, including the Grand Hyatt, the Westin Resort, the Laguna Resort and the Bale Nusa Dua. According to I Made Mantra, the president director of BTDC, the area has been certified by Green Globe -- a worldwide certification program for the tourism industry. "We wanted to spread environmental awareness to the community. Staff from several hotels came up with the idea to work together in an environmental campaign, and we decided to aim it at students," Mantra said. "We think they are a good target because environmental awareness should be taught from a young age and they are essentially the future guardians of the environment," he said. Westin Resort spokesperson Rainata Tjoa said every hotel involved in the program carried out educational workshops in schools. The schools then competed to be named the most environmentally friendly in the area. "We plan to conduct this program every year," Rainata said. http://www.thejakartapost.com/detailbali.asp?fileid=20070917.D09&irec=1 …………………………………. The Jakarta Post : `Development review needed' to save Bali Denpasar - The rapid development of tourism-related facilities have caused serious environmental degradation to the island's farm land, and therefore the government's plan must be reviewed to save the island from more destruction, a noted academic said during a seminar Friday. The rector of Denpasar-based Warmadewa University, Made Sukarsa, told the audience at the one-day seminar on the Bali master plan, that the existing policy of "spoiling" investors for the sake of getting more revenues must be stopped if the people of Bali wanted their island's environment and culture to be saved. Bali has been a paradise for local and foreign investors wanting to put their money into various construction projects, such as hotels, villas, resorts, malls and other entertainment venues. Tourism, the rector said, had badly affected the natural environment of Bali. The development of tourism facilities often took place on former fertile riceland, vulnerable coastal areas, on hillsides and along rivers, which in reality needed to be preserved as water catchments. The seminar was organized by Warmadewa University's Engineering Department, and featured a number of experts on planning, as well as representatives of the tourism industry, religious leaders and cultural observers. "There needs to be an instant shift in the development paradigm," Sukarsa said.leaders must start to focus on tourism as a way of improving public welfare, while at the same time not sacrificing the land." The provincial government has been too eager to invite investors to develop projects, while at the same time neglecting proper planning and monitoring," the rector said. The lack of law enforcement had enabled many investors to violate the master plan. I Wayan Runa, an environmental expert, said this now was the right time for the Balinese people and leaders to rethink the development paradigm. Bali is due to elect a new governor in 2008. "It is very timely. Whoever becomes governor must have a comprehensive understanding of tourism, development, culture and the environment. He or she needs to have a clear and well-thought-out vision for the development of Bali over the next five years," Runa said. "Bali is rich in cultural and religious heritage. Therefore, all development must be in line with our own concepts," Runa added. What is happening at the present time, Runa said, was that the majority of development projects had gone beyond the Balinese concept of natural and religious equilibrium. Jro Gede Karang Tangkid Suarshana, a prominent figure in the Bali tourism industry, said there was something very wrong with the policy of tourism development that had been applied in Bali for the last 40 years. "Tourism is actually a bonus for the Balinese people. The main focus now must be placed on agriculture and culture," Suarshana said.has been intertwined with agriculture because we have deep roots in agriculture." The saddening fact was that many Balinese people had sold their ancestral lands, ricefields and plantations to outsiders (investors). "The development of the tourism industry only benefits investors and a small number of people, while the majority of the Balinese have given up their assets," he said. Most tourism-related properties in Bali belong to non-Balinese. The Bali provincial government must be strict in regulating which parts of the island should be open to tourism development.the regulations are already in existence. The problem lies in their implementation and law enforcement," he explained. http://www.thejakartapost.com/detailbali.asp?fileid=20070917.D10&irec=2 _________________________________________________________________________ ROA Media Update 18 September 2007 UN – UNEP In The News UN hails global fight to restore ozone layer New York, UN (PANA): UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has described the battle to restore the ozone layer as ―one of the great success stories of international cooperation''. He said Monday the use of ozone-depleting substances in both rich and poor countries had reduced drastically during the past 20 years. In his message to mark the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, Ban said when the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed two decades ago, nearly two million tonnes of such substances were released annually. ―Today,‖ he said, ―the developed world has nearly phased out these substances entirely and their use in the developing world has decreased by over 80%.‖ The Secretary General noted that measures against ozone- depleting substances had yielded broader benefits, since many of the chemicals contribute to global warming. ―Their dramatic reduction has helped bolster measures to counter climate change," he noted. While hailing these achievements, the UN chief, however, cautioned against complacency. ―Scientists are warning that the ozone layer will remain particularly vulnerable for some time. State Parties must continue to implement the agreement and ensure that the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in developing countries is completely phased out by 2010, the deadline imposed by the Montreal Protocol,'' he said. The Montreal Protocol, which opened for signature 16 Sept., is an annex to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. Since the adoption of the two pacts, the international ozone regime has expanded to address almost 100 ozone- depleting chemicals for refrigeration, electronics, foam-making and other industries. Web portal to serve Clean Development Mechanism launched Nairobi, Kenya (PANA): The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have launched a Web Portal, the CDM Bazaar, to facilitate exchange of information among buyers, sellers and service providers engaged in the Kyoto Protocol's clean development mechanism (CDM). The CDM Bazaar was designed by the carbon finance team at the UNEP RISOE Centre in Denmark, in cooperation with the UNFCCC secretariat, and allows stakeholders in the CDM to post information, such as potential emission reduction projects looking for financing, buyers looking for carbon credits to purchase, services available, carbon market related events, and employment opportunities, among others. Under the CDM, projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries and contribute to sustainable development can earn certified emission reduction (CER) credits. Countries with a commitment under the Kyoto Protocol buy CERs to cover a portion of their emission reduction commitments under the Protocol. "The CDM has seen exponential growth in number of projects, with strong interest in developing countries for projects and in developed countries for CERs and the CDM Bazaar will do just what its name suggests; help buyers and sellers and all those that serve the market get down to business," said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC in Bonn. Achim Steiner, UN Under- Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, agreed with the sentiments and lauded the move taken by the UNFCCC in collaboration with the UN environmental management and conservation body. "The CDM is playing an important role in meeting the climate change challenge. However, if the benefits are to be more widely shared, especially in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa, more efforts need to be put into building developing-country capacity. ''The CDM Bazaar is therefore a very welcome new networking initiative with the potential to complement and perhaps broaden the impacts of the physical carbon fairs and Expos now emerging in parts of the world," the UNEP chief observed. He was optimistic that by posting on the CDM Bazaar the CERs they have for sale, developing-country CDM project proponents could expect competitive offers from carbon credit buyers. The website is not, however, meant to be a trading platform for CERs, but rather an information exchange platform designed to create opportunities for CER buyers and sellers and CDM service providers, he cautioned. UNFCCC, which boasts a near universal membership (191 parties), is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which to date has 175 member parties. Under the Protocol, 36 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing transition to a market economy, have legally binding greenhouse gas (GHG) emission limitation and reduction commitments, while developing countries have non-binding obligations to limit emissions. The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system. General Environment News Retour au Cameroun des 4 gorilles illégalement exportés en Malaisie Dakar, Sénégal (PANA) : Quatre gorilles originaires des plaines occidentals du Cameroun frauduleusement introduits dans le zoo de Taiping, en Malaisie, à l'aide de documents falsifiés, seront rendus au Cameroun en novembre, indique un communiqué du Fonds international pour la protection des animaux (IFAW). Les gorilles, un mâle et trois femelles, seront transférés au Centre camerounais de réhabilitation des primates, mettant ainsi fin à une saga qui a entouré pendant cinq ans les quatre animaux qui ont été confisqués en 2004 par le gouvernement malaisien et transférés au zoo de Pretoria, en Afrique du Sud. L'annonce officielle du transfert de ces animaux, surnommés les "Taiping Four", a été faite par le ministre adjoint sud-africain des Sciences et de la Technologie, Derek Hanekom, lors d'une cérémonie qui s'est déroulée vendredi au zoo de Pretoria en présence des représentants des gouvernements malaisien et camerounais ainsi que ceux de l'IFAW, organisation qui finance le transfert des gorilles. Le communiqué précise que le transfert des gorilles a été obtenu au prix d'une intense campagne menée par l'IFAW et d'autres associations telles que Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA), Last Great Ape Organisation (LAGA), International Primate Protection League (IPPL) et la Fondation Born Free. Benin to get 32b cfa against coastal erosion Cotonou, Benin (PANA): The Benin parliament has authorised the ratification of loan agreements with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), aimed at financing the fight against coastal erosion in Cotonou, parliamentary sources said here Monday. Benin's 32-billion-cfa Maritime Protection Project east of Cotonou will enable the protection of 7.5km of an urban strip, with two major hotels, under threat from the sea. It will also make it possible to protect all buildings in the area and stabilise the project area in the long term, while contributing to the rehabilitation of Siafato and the construction of seven new hotels. The Atlantic Ocean current is having a serious impact on the Benin seafront, especially since the construction of the port of Cotonou. The port's facilities have compounded coastal erosion with the congestion in the port area. According to the Ministry of Environment, the east coast of Cotonou has shrunk by 400 metres in 40 years, which represents 10 metres a year. Apart from the construction of sea walls, the government will enforce, from 30 Sept., a ban on sand extraction and has rehabilitated access roads to continental sand extraction sites. Nigeria: Ondo Govt Orders Oil Coys to Mop-Up Oil Spillage in Ilaje Vanguard (Lagos): Oil Companies Operating in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State have been ordered by the State Government to immediately mop-up the oil spillage which has ravaged the communities in recent time. Giving the order at a meeting in Akure with representatives of the Oil Companies, the host Communities, the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency and Environmental Experts, the State Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Environment, Mr. Ayo Ifayefunmi, declared that the mopping-up of the oil spill is very crucial and urgent, given its devastating effect on the health and livelihood of the affected people. Mr. Ifayefunmi explained that there is the need for cooperation and networking among the stakeholders for the cleaning up of the spillage considering the damage that such spill is capable of causing to the land, plant, water and animal. http://allafrica.com/stories/200709170579.html Zimbabwe: 'Eradicate Exotic Plants to Save Biodiversity' The Herald (Harare): Zimbabwe is under attack from invasive species and there is need for stakeholders to channel efforts towards eradication of the exotic plants to save biodiversity. Environment and Tourism Deputy Minister Mr Andrew Langa told a Press conference last Thursday that invasive species pose a major threat to vegetation and biodiversity, which were crucial in mitigating the rate of global warming. Invasive species are exotic plants, which threaten the existence of indigenous and other species by penetrating and replacing vegetation. "Zimbabwe is under attack from a variety of this type of species and I would like to call upon environmental stakeholders, the media included, to focus on raising awareness as well as eradication of these species in order to save biodiversity," he said. He said it was worrying to note that Victoria Falls, one of the country's prestigious tourist destinations, had been invaded by more than three varieties of the invasive species, major among them being the Lantana camara. An official from Environment Africa, Mr Barnabas Mawire, said controlling Lantana camara was very difficult as the plant was spread through various ways such as its leaves, seeds, stem and the root. http://allafrica.com/stories/200709170161.html Namibia: Katima Cleans Up, Recycles The Namibian (Windhoek): The joint efforts of the Katima Mulilo town council and Namibia Breweries to clean up the regional capital of the Caprivi have borne fruit. The first truckload of glass and metal collected for recycling is on its way to South Africa. Concerned about the impact of pollution on the environment, Namibia Breweries (NBL) forged partnerships with various public- and private-sector players. This resulted in the delivery of beverage cans and bottles by the Katima Mulilo-based Ku Na Ni Musebesi Project to Cape Town for recycling. Partners are NEO Paints, NamPower, Collect-a-Can, Move-a-Mess, the Glass Recycling Company, NBL, Etosha Transport, Coimbra OK Foods, and the Katima Mulilo Town Council, all supporting the cleaning up of Katima Mulilo, which is emerging as an important tourist thoroughfare. The project was initiated in 2006 in an effort to establish a recycling venture to address some of the town's waste management problems. http://allafrica.com/stories/200709170588.html East Africa: Lawyers Call for Tight Controls for Multinationals Over Environment Issues East African Business Week (Kampala): Representatives of big multinational corporations in Commonwealth countries may soon have their day in the Courts of Law to account for human and environmental rights the conglomerates abuse. This was one of the proposals advanced by lawyers at the Commonwealth law conference in Nairobi last week, seeking to tighten the noose around large companies for impunity and abuse of human rights. "We should look at the criminalisation of these things and go beyond the veil of corporations as legal entities," said Tanzanian lawyer, Mr. Charles Rwecungura. The lawyers faulted host nations, mainly developing countries, for creating incentives that are sympathetic to multinationals. They said this leads to abuse of workers rights and the environment with impunity. http://allafrica.com/stories/200709171232.html Uganda: Epidemics, Famine Coming After Floods The Monitor (Kampala): Floods currently battering the country mostly in eastern and northern Uganda are forecast to get only worse. Experts have painted a bleak picture of an already devastated region saying heavier rainfall is on the way in the coming weeks, and it will spread to the central and other regions as well. The floods, triggered by torrential rains have so far led to the deaths of at least 10 people, displaced thousands more and destroyed crops, livestock and buildings. The Cabinet will sit this week to determine if the most affected region should also be declared a disaster area. However, Ugandans in other regions should also brace themselves for similarly heavy rains for the next two-three months. Serious consequences such as waterborne diseases, landslides and destruction of infrastructure and food shortage particularly in urban areas are inevitable. The Department of Meteorology has said the heavy rainfall will not only get worse but also spread to all parts of the country. According to the seasonal rainfall forecast for September - December, which was released by the department last week, there is "an increased likelihood" of above normal rainfall over most parts of the country. http://allafrica.com/stories/200709170013.html _________________________________________________________________________ ROLAC Media Update 18 September 2007 Amazon Logging Means Short-Lived Prosperity By Roberto Villar Belmonte* - IPS/IFEJ Life in the Amazon is marked by waves of ephemeral bonanza followed by depression, says a study of economic, environmental and social indicators from the last three decades. BELEM, Brazil, Sep (Tierramérica).- Devastation, violent land conflicts and rapid -- but temporary -- economic growth are the traces left by deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon over the last 30 years, according to a new study. In the past three decades, 700,000 square kilometers of jungle have been consumed -- 17 percent of the original forested area. Logging produces an initial boom of prosperity, because the extraction of timber, in most cases illegal, is very lucrative. Then come the farmers and ranchers. But the wealth lasts, at most, 20 years. Because of the Amazon's abundant rainfall, farming is complicated. When the timber runs out, there is a tendency of the local economy to collapse. Only a few, mostly those working in mining, escape this pattern. This dynamic was revealed by researchers Adalberto Veríssimo and Danielle Celentano, of Imazon (Institute of Man and Environment of the Amazon) in a study published in August, "The Advance of the Frontier in the Amazon: From Boom to Collapse", which analyzes the region's economic, social and environmental indicators. Celentano describes the deforestation as a wave that cultivates jobs and income through the exploitation of timber. But it also cultivates violence and degradation of natural resources. After the wave passes, "the conflicts diminish, as do the benefits of logging, which is especially predatory, given that agriculture cannot absorb the same amount of labor nor generate the same income," said Celentano in an interview. The experts divided the 770 Amazonian municipalities into four zones: the non-forest, which covers 24 percent of the area of sites in transition between the savannahs of the Cerrado and the jungle; areas currently being exploited (14 percent, with 26 municipalities); the already deforested (10 percent, with 218 municipalities); and the forested (52 percent of the region, with logging at five percent). Their research shows that the destruction of the forest has produced more harm than wealth in the local economy -- a debt that the entire planet ends up paying. The Amazon contributes just over eight percent of Brazil's gross domestic product (GDP), but its deforestation is responsible for nearly 70 percent of the country's climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions. Rural Amazon producers argue that if Europe and the United States logged their forests in order to grow, "we can do it too." In the short term, their argument is valid. But the Amazonian per capita GDP (2,320 dollars) has risen just one percent in the past 15 years, and remains 40 percent below the national mean. In São Francisco do Pará, which has experienced some periods of prosperity, 96 percent of the jungle has disappeared. Of its 14,000 inhabitants, 62 percent are poor, and 31 percent indigent. This is repeated in many municipalities of the northern state of Pará. In Primavera, for example, GDP feel 20 percent in the past two decades. Deforestation hit 95 percent and nearly half the population lives on less than one dollar a day. However, the Institute researchers note that it is impossible to be sure that this will be the fate of the areas currently being deforested. Meanwhile, 60 percent of the 386 rural murders reported in Brazil between 1997 and 2006 were committed in the Amazon, nearly half in areas under intense logging. In that period, land conflicts in the region more than doubled, from 156 to 328. Of the 1,012 cases of slave labor documented between 2003 and 2006, 85 percent were in Amazonian areas. The Imazon study shows a different pattern in the non-forested area, which is more arid and therefore has better conditions for agriculture. The best example is Sinop, one of the principal cities of the western state of Mato Grosso, with intense lumber activity, with the raw material coming from other regions. Sinop also has vast farm production, especially soybeans. Despite losing 65 percent of its forest, the local economy did not collapse and the city has excellent infrastructure. Overall, the rate of forest loss is on the decline. It was 25 percent less in the August 2005- July 2006 period. And for this year, officials expect a reduction of 30 percent in total area deforested, for a 12-month total of 10,000 square kilometers -- the lowest since satellite monitoring of the forest began. The improvement is attributed to greater government regulation and to a decline in crop prices -- which slowed the expansion of the agricultural frontier. But there are signs of price recovery, and that could put to the test the will to stop deforestation, because when farmers are turning a profit they tend to expand their areas of cultivation. A recent episode illustrates these tensions. On Aug. 20 in Juína, a municipality of northwestern Mato Grosso, dozens of farmers, with the support of Mayor Hilton Campos, expelled two French journalists and seven Greenpeace and indigenous rights activists who tried to visit a recently logged area in Rio Preto, which the Enawene-nawe people claim as their ancestral territory. "The cities along the agricultural frontiers in the Amazon are lawless lands. The reaction of the rural producers here is normal. For them, our objective is to block their agricultural and ranch projects," Marcelo Marquesina, forestry engineer and Greenpeace campaigner for the Amazon, said in an interview. In late August, a federal court suspended 99 projects for rural settlement created since 2005 by the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) in the west of Pará state. The ruling was the result of a lawsuit filed by Greenpeace. The complaint argued that INCRA accelerated the creation of settlements in biologically rich areas of the jungle in order to benefit lumber interests. UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE DAILY NEWS 17 September 2007 ================================================================= Recent surge in Darfur violence threatens peace talks, says Secretary-General 17 September - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed deep concern at the recent surge in fighting across the war-torn Darfur region in Sudan, warning that it jeopardizes the chances of success of the peace talks being held next month to try to end the conflict. ―The Secretary-General strongly urges all parties to show restraint and cease all military action in order to create a positive atmosphere for the envisaged political negotiations,‖ his spokesperson said Ban Ki-moon in a statement. He cited last week‘s attacks in the town of Hashkanita when, according to reports of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), aerial bombardments involving helicopter gunships and military clashes on the ground caused the deaths of many civilians. Mr. Ban also referred to the attacks last month that took place in Adilla, South Darfur, and Wad Banda, in the neighbouring Kordofan region. ―The Secretary-General is alarmed by the fact that the reported attacks took place in spite of the signing of a joint communiqué on 6 September, during the Secretary-General‘s visit to Sudan, in which the Government of Sudan committed to a full cessation of hostilities in Darfur in the lead-up to the political negotiations,‖ the statement said. Those negotiations between the Sudanese Government and the Darfur rebels, scheduled to begin in Libya on 27 October, will be led by the UN and AU envoys to Darfur, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim. More than 200,000 Darfurians have been killed and at least 2.2 million others forced to flee their homes since 2003 because of the fighting between rebels, Government forces and allied Janjaweed militia groups. In July the Security Council authorized the establishment of the first hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force (to be known as UNAMID) to take over from AMIS and try to quell the violence in Darfur, an arid and impoverished region on Sudan‘s western flank. Today‘s statement by Mr. Ban‘s spokesperson was released as the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported that a vehicle belonging to a non-governmental organization (NGO) was carjacked by two armed men in North Darfur state over the weekend. The armed men forced the driver and 10 other staff members of the NGO out of the vehicle. In a separate incident in South Darfur state, two men stopped a three-vehicle UN-NGO convoy and robbed passengers in one vehicle of their satellite phones, mobile phones and money before allowing them to escape unharmed. The other two vehicles were able to turn around and escape. Humanitarian conditions in Darfur are deteriorating, says UN report 17 September - The humanitarian situation inside Darfur deteriorated further last month, with thousands of civilians fleeing their homes, camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) becoming increasingly crowded and recent heavy rains only adding to the misery of many locals in the war ¬ravaged Sudanese region, according to a United Nations report released today. The August overview by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also finds that violence inside the IDP camps scattered across Darfur is worsening, making it harder for aid workers to reach people in need and carry out their work. More than 240,000 Darfurians are newly displaced or have been re-displaced this year, which means over 2.2 million people have fled their homes since the conflict between rebels, Sudanese Government forces and allied Janjaweed militia groups began in 2003. At least 200,000 people have also been killed in that period. At the end of July the Security Council authorized the creation of a hybrid UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur (to be known as UNAMID) of some 26,000 troops and police officers to quell the violence and improve humanitarian access. The overview notes that armed elements are present in many of the IDP camps, sometimes conducting violent activities that force a shutdown of aid operations until security can be restored. All operations inside Kalma camp in South Darfur state were suspended for three days last month because of insecurity, while there was a two-day shutdown at Zalingei camp in West Darfur. The ongoing violence in the Jebel Marra region of West Darfur has limited relief operations there as well, according to the report, which said the situation is being exacerbated by the annual rainy season that in turn is affecting sanitary conditions in the camps and promoting the spread of waterborne diseases. Many aid workers are also coming under direct attack. During August seven vehicles belonging to the humanitarian community were hijacked or stolen and four convoys were attacked. In total, five aid workers were kidnapped or abducted, and three were beaten. So far this year five aid workers have been killed and the remaining workers have had to relocate more than 20 times. ―This has a direct and tangible impact on the quality and quantity of aid and results, in some cases, in the inability to reach those in need,‖ the overview stated. But OCHA said there were some positive signs, with humanitarian access improving in several areas of North Darfur state, including Korma, Kutun, northern Dar Zaghawa and Um Keddada. Aid workers are bringing relief to an estimated 4.2 million people across Darfur, an arid and impoverished region in western Sudan, and about 3.1 million of those people received assistance in July from the World Food Programme (WFP). Food assistance is rising at the moment in a bid to bridge the annual ―hunger gap‖ among Darfur‘s rural residents ahead of the harvest season. Outgoing General Assembly president urges more dialogue among civilizations 17 September - As the United Nations General Assembly wrapped up its sixty-first session today, the outgoing president, Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain, urged greater focus in the years ahead on dialogue among civilizations before passing the gavel to her successor, Srgjan Kerim of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Outgoing GA president, ―From my perspective, as the only woman President for a generation, and the first from the Arab Sheikha Haya (centre) world, I have come to see the United Nations as a global family – a family that is becoming ever more interdependent,‖ said Sheikha Haya. She acknowledged that differences will naturally arise but emphasized that ―it is only in the spirit of collective responsibility that we can take further steps to build greater trust and cooperation.‖ The President called for all concerned to accept their shared responsibilities and work together for positive change. ―More than ever before, we need to focus on the underlying lack of dialogue between civilizations, cultures and nations that is at the core of many of today‘s problems,‖ she said. ―We must tackle these issues squarely and, in doing so, we will have to move beyond the outdated mindset that separates the world into donors and recipients – North and South.‖ Sheikha Haya, the first female General Assembly President since 1969 and the first Muslim woman to hold the post, has long emphasized the need to bridge the gap between Islam and the West. ‗Civilizations and the challenge for peace‘ was the theme of one of several thematic debates she organized during the session to revitalize thinking on various issues. On taking office last year, Sheikha Haya told reporters: ―It does not matter that I am a Muslim or a Christian or Jewish. We are human beings and we have the same worries and we have the same problems.‖ In her speech today, Sheikha Haya thanked Assembly members for their support during the past year and welcomed her successor, the president-elect of the 62nd session of the General Assembly, Mr. Kerim. The incoming president is ―an accomplished academic, a captain of industry, and an experienced diplomat. He is also a great believer in the United Nations.‖ At the invitation of Sheikha Haya, Mr. Kerim, a former foreign minister and UN ambassador with international experience in academia, took the podium and received the presidential gavel from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. President Kerim will use this gavel for the first time tomorrow afternoon to officially open the Assembly‘s sixty-second session. In recent interviews, he has stressed his plans to focus the session on five main themes: responding to climate change; financing for development; implementing the global counter- terrorism strategy; advancing on management reform; and following up on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Secretary-General pledges UN support to Sierra Leone’s president-elect 17 September - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today pledged continuing support for Sierra Leone following the announcement of the opposition victory in presidential elections, the first since United Nations peacekeepers left in 2005 after helping to bring peace and stability to the West African country that was torn asunder by a brutal 10-year civil war. In a statement issued by his spokesperson Mr. Ban commended all Sierra Leonean parties and their supporters ―for exercising patience and restraint‖ during the tallying of votes in the 8 September poll, in which Ernest Bai Koroma of the All People‘s Congress Party received 54.6 per cent and incumbent Vice-President Solomon Berewa of the Sierra Leone People‘s Party obtained 45.4 per cent of the total valid votes cast. The final result was announced today. Mr. Ban extended his warm congratulations to Mr. Koroma and also commended the National Electoral Commission and Sierra Leone‘s security agencies for the professional and efficient manner in which they performed their duties during the period, which saw two rounds of voting since neither of the top candidates received sufficient votes to be elected outright. ―The Secretary-General wishes to assure the newly elected government of Sierra Leone of the continued support of the United Nations as the country continues to move towards durable political stability and sustainable economic development,‖ the statement concluded. The statement was echoed by the Secretary-General‘s Executive Representative, Victor Angelo, who praised the statesmanship shown by Mr. Koroma and Mr. Berewa and by the outgoing President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah for ―ensuring a peaceful process‖ during the counting period. ―The elections are over,‖ Mr. Angelo said in his statement. ―We all agree that the focus from now on is on ensuring national cohesion and unity, consolidating the gains made during the past five years and addressing the many challenges the country is still facing.‖ The presidential and parliamentary elections were Sierra Leone‘s second since the end of the civil war in 2002, and the first since the withdrawal of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). Since then assistance has been channelled through the UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL), which today announced one more example of UN aid with the handing over of audio-visual equipment and computers to the Voice of Children Project (VOC), managed by the Office. Presiding at the hand-over ceremony, UN Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador Fabrienne Demal, a Belgian pop star popularly known as Axelle Red, praised the children for their courage and enthusiasm and advised them to take their newly acquired journalistic skills seriously. The Voice of Children project is regarded internationally as a highly successful communications tool for stimulating critical discussion among children in peace consolidation environments. It was launched as a non-profit public service radio facility for and by the children of Sierra Leone on the issues that affect their lives most intimately. More action needed to curb threat of nuclear terrorism, UN watchdog warns 17 September - Stepping up his fight to reinforce nuclear security and prevent nuclear terrorism, the head of the United Nations atomic watchdog agency today called on all countries to ratify an international agreement strengthening the protection of nuclear materials. ―Out of 128 States Parties, only 11 so far have accepted the amendment,‖ UN International Atomic IAEA General Conference Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei told the Agency‘s annual General 2007 Conference in Vienna. ―I would urge all States Parties to do so,‖ he said referring to an amendment to the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, aimed at preventing nuclear and radioactive materials from falling into the hands of terrorists. The Amendment on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material seeks to strengthen these safeguards. ―With the renewed interest in nuclear power generation, comparable attention and commitment must be given to ensuring the nuclear safety and security infrastructure that must go with it,‖ Mr. ElBaradei added, noting that three strong factors are driving a renewed global interest in nuclear power – steady growth in energy demand, increasing concerns about energy security, and the challenge of climate change. ―In my view, the role of the Agency is not so much to predict the future as to do its utmost to plan and prepare for it,‖ he stressed in a wide-ranging review of the Agency‘s work. Although the IAEA‘s nuclear security work has clearly improved overall nuclear security, ―much remains to be done in shaping the nuclear security framework, in building up-to-date security systems and in dealing with the legacy of past lax security,‖ he said. ―This is not a problem that can be solved overnight; it takes time and resources to achieve a sustainable, internationally acceptable level of nuclear security.‖ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for new levels of international cooperation in addressing security and environmental challenges. ―The activities of the IAEA are more important than ever to advance safe and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, promote non- proliferation and disarmament, and reduce the risks of nuclear terrorism,‖ he said in a message delivered by UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Sergio Duarte. Mr. ElBaradei reiterated many of the points he made to the Agency‘s Board of Governors last week on Iran‘s nuclear programmes, noting that the IAEA has been able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear materials and has been given additional information and access needed to resolve a number of long outstanding issues, such as the scope and nature of past plutonium experiments. Many countries see the programme as a means to obtain nuclear weapons but Iran‘s says it is solely for nuclear power generation. But Iran has not suspended enrichment related activities as called for by the Security Council, although it has agreed on a work plan with the Agency for resolving all outstanding verification issues. ―Naturally, Iran‘s active cooperation and transparency is the key to full and timely implementation of the work plan,‖ he stressed. ―If the Agency were able to provide credible assurance about the peaceful nature of Iran‘s past and current nuclear programme, this would go a long way towards building confidence about Iran‘s nuclear programme, and could create the conditions for a comprehensive and durable solution.‖ Laying out a seven-point framework for the use of nuclear energy based on lessons learned and current reality, he called for: robust technological development and innovation in nuclear power and nuclear applications; a new multinational framework for the fuel cycle to assure supply and curb proliferation risk; universal application of comprehensive safeguards allowing for unannounced on site inspections; recognition of the linkage between non-proliferation and disarmament with deep cuts in existing arsenals; a robust international security regime; an effective and universal nuclear safety regime, a cornerstone for any expansion in the use of nuclear power; and sufficient funding for the Agency to meet its increasing responsibilities. Mr. ElBaradei also dwelt on the Agency‘s other multi-faceted tasks, from helping to eradicate the disease-bearing tsetse fly in Zanzibar by using the sterile insect techniques and helping countries improve radiotherapy and nuclear medicine programmes to aiding Bangladesh in dealing with arsenic poisoned groundwater and enhancing various types of grain from North Africa to the Andes mountains of Peru. DR Congo Government forces commit worst of widespread abuses – UN report 17 September - Government soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) remain responsible for the country‘s worst human rights abuses, carrying out arbitrary executions and raping, robbing or extorting civilians, according to the latest report by the United Nations peacekeeping mission. The human rights assessment for July, released today, shows that Congolese police, soldiers and members of rebel groups fighting the Government have also perpetrated serious abuses, especially in the violence-wracked Kivu provinces in the far east of the vast country. The UN mission, known as MONUC, reported that a widespread climate of impunity allows many of these abuses to go unpunished, even months after they were committed. It cited a separate report by the UN Human Rights Office in the DRC indicating that Congolese soldiers and police officers used indiscriminate and excessive force – and in some instances carried out summary executions – in quelling protests in Bas-Congo province by an opposition movement in late January and early February. Six months after those events, the people responsible for the human rights violations have not been arrested. Today‘s report details numerous instances of human rights abuses by the Congolese armed forces (FARDC), including at least 10 documented cases of arbitrary executions and one particularly gruesome case on 29 July in which a soldier in North Kivu province allegedly raped and then chopped to death a Hutu woman and her three-month-old baby. It further outlines rights violations by the Congolese national police (PNC) and by armed rebel groups, including the murder and rape of villagers and the extortion and robbing of civilians. The assessment also finds continued weaknesses and systemic failures in the administration of justice across the DRC and that prison inmates and family members who visit them in jail have been beaten by authorities. Yakin Ertürk, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, conducted a 12-day visit in July to the DRC, where she met with Government officials, UN agencies, national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and victims of violence. Ms. Ertürk denounced the shortcomings of the criminal justice system in dealing with cases of sexual violence, including the high number of alleged perpetrators who have been granted bail after being charged with serious crimes. She described the patterns and level of sexual violence in South Kivu province as the worst she has ever seen in four years as a Special Rapporteur. Nepal: UN human rights official condemns killings, urges halt to violence 17 September - Urging tolerance and calling on the population to desist from further violence, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (OHCHR) today condemned the killings of a local leader and a member of the Armed Police Force in south-central Nepal. The police officer was killed in a wave of violence triggered by the death of Mohit Khan, a local leader in Kapilvatsu, and there have been unconfirmed reports of more murders and rising ethnic tensions. Shops have been attacked, cars and homes have been burned and at least one mosque was destroyed by fire. ―We appeal to the population to abide by the curfew imposed by local authorities and to respect places of worship while law enforcement agencies investigate the murder of Mr. Khan,‖ said OHCHR-Nepal Representative Richard Bennett. ―Cool heads are needed; violence simply undermines the genuine efforts to bring about durable peace during this transition period.‖ OHCHR-Nepal recommends that the authorities of the Himalayan nation take immediate steps to provide humanitarian assistance to the many people who have been uprooted by the violence. UN tribunal on Rwandan genocide hears arguments on sentencing of former mayor 17 September - Prosecutors at the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the Rwandan genocide today urged its judges to sentence to 12 years‘ imprisonment a former mayor who has pleaded guilty to a charge of extermination as a crime against humanity. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), sitting in Arusha, Tanzania, heard closing arguments from both prosecutors and defence lawyers in the case of Juvénal Rugambarara, who served as mayor of Bicumbi commune in Kigali-Rural Prefecture from September 1993 to April 1994. The prosecution said a prison sentence of not less than 12 years was appropriate, while the defence team argued for a more lenient sentence, calling five character witnesses to say that he had saved many Tutsis during the genocide. Judges Asoka de Silva (presiding), Taghrid Hikmet and Seon Ki Park will announce their decision at a date to be fixed. In July Mr. Rugambarara made the guilty plea after two years of negotiations with prosecutors, who agreed to withdraw eight other charges that included genocide, torture and rape. During a hearing that month he also apologized for his actions in the genocide. ―I pay sincere tribute to all the innocent victims of the shameful cowardice and humbly bow and plead for forgiveness from the bottom of my heart… I solemnly pledge to join the rallying cry of those who say ‗never again,‘‖ he said at the time. The ICTR found that Mr. Rugambarara – who worked as a medical officer for much of his adult life – failed as mayor to take the necessary and reasonable measures to establish an investigation into the killings committed in Bicumbi commune during the genocide or to apprehend and punish the perpetrators. Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered, mostly by machete or club, across Rwanda in less than 100 days starting in early April 1994. Later that year the Security Council established the ICTR to deal with the worst cases. UN officials see progress in eliminating landmines but urge further action 17 September - On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Anti-Personnel Mine-Ban Treaty, over a dozen United Nations officials have joined their voices to hail progress in reducing these weapons while urging greater action to eliminate them. In a joint statement issued by the heads of UN departments, agencies, funds and programmes that are members of the UN Mine Action Team, 14 officials said the steady decline in casualty rates, the return of formerly mined areas to productive civilian use and the destruction of tens of millions of these indiscriminate weapons are ―encouraging‖ developments. ―The Anti-Personnel Mine-Ban Treaty is a testament to what can be achieved when the international community works collectively to tackle a grave humanitarian and development challenge,‖ the officials said. The UN Mine Action Team of organizations collectively pledged to exert all possible efforts to assist mine-affected countries in meeting their obligations to clear mined areas, assist victims, destroy stockpiled mines, and educate all people about the dangers of mines and explosive remnants of war. ―Mine-affected countries themselves should also do everything in their power to meet their obligations. We call on those in a position to do so to support all aspects of mine action for as long as it takes to finish the job,‖ the officials said. Tomorrow‘s anniversary coincides with the opening of the General Assembly‘s sixty- second session, and the statement urges participants to ―rise to the challenge of protecting the rights of the estimated 400,000 people who have survived mine and explosive remnant of war accidents.‖ They also called on all States to ratify the new Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to develop a legally binding instrument prohibiting cluster munitions ―that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.‖ The statement was endorsed by Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO); Kemal Dervis, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP); Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); High Representative Sergio de Queiroz Duarte of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs; Under-Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations; António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); John Holmes, Emergency Relief Coordinator; Jan Mattsson, Executive Director of the Office for Project Services; Rachel N. Mayanja, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women; Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP); Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of the UN Children‘s Fund (UNICEF); and Robert B. Zoellick, President of the World Bank. ―As the world reflects on the progress made by mine-affected countries in the past 10 years, we also look forward to the next decade, envisioning a world free from the suffering caused by anti-personnel mines,‖ they said. At a press conference earlier this year, Mr. Guéhenno estimated that up to 20,000 people each year are killed by landmines, some dating from conflicts that have long ended. Officially known as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, the pact is also known as the Ottawa treaty for the city where it was signed on 18 September 1997. Nuclear test ban pact’s anniversary should spark push for ratification – Ban Ki-moon 17 September - As the eleventh anniversary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) approaches, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on participants at a meeting in Vienna designed to foster its entry into force to intensify efforts toward this goal. Next week‘s milestone ―will not be a time for celebration, but for re-dedication to the noble work that lies ahead in achieving the Treaty‘s entry into force,‖ Mr. Ban said. ―Persistent efforts on the part of States and civil society will be required in order to achieve that historic goal,‖ he added in a message to the Fifth Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT, which was delivered by Sergio Duarte, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. The Treaty, which would outlaw all nuclear tests, moves the international community ―towards the larger goals of ridding the world of nuclear weapons and preventing their proliferation,‖ he said. Mr. Ban said the Treaty‘s Preparatory Commission has made ―significant advances‖ in preparing for the establishment of the future CTBT Organization and the Treaty‘s verification regime. The pact has been signed by 177 States, with 140 ratifications, including 34 of the 44 States listed in Annex 2 to the Treaty, whose ratification is essential for its entry into force. ―I call upon those States that have not signed or ratified the CTBT to do so as soon as possible, especially States whose ratification is needed for the Treaty‘s entry into force. I also urge States to maintain their moratoria on all types of nuclear explosions and to refrain from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty,‖ the Secretary-General said. The 44 States listed in Annex 2 to the Treaty and required for its entry into force all have nuclear power or research reactors. Of those, the 10 that have not ratified the CTBT are China, the United States, the Democratic People‘s Republic of Korea (DPRK), India, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel, Indonesia, Iran and Colombia. The 34 key States which have already ratified CTBT are: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, the Republic of Korea, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Viet Nam. Greenhouse gases could aggravate ozone loss and slow recovery, UN agency says 17 September - Increased atmospheric concentrations of global warming greenhouse gases (GHGs) could lead to more severe loss in the polar regions of ozone, the naturally occurring gas that filters out cancer-and cataract-causing ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, according to the United Nations meteorological agency. While GHGs will lead to a warmer climate at the Earth‘s surface, at the altitude the ozone layer is found the same increase is likely to lead to a cooling of the atmosphere, the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in a paper marking the 20th anniversary of the UN-backed Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Lower temperatures enhance the chemical reactions that destroy ozone. At the same time, the amount of water vapour in the stratosphere has been increasing at the rate of about 1 per cent per year. A wetter and colder stratosphere means more polar stratospheric clouds, which is likely to lead to more severe ozone loss in both polar regions, WMO added. A cooling of the winter stratosphere over the last decades has indeed been observed, both in the Arctic and in the Antarctic, the agency noted, adding that these changes could delay the expected recovery of the ozone layer. WMO called on all nations with stratospheric measurement programmes to enhance them. It also urged funding agencies to support research on stratospheric ozone and harmful UV radiation. In 2007, the ozone hole in the Antarctic appeared relatively early, and earlier than in 2006, when the largest and most severe Antarctic ozone hole on record occurred. During the last couple of weeks the growth of the hole has been quite similar to that observed in 2006, but it is still too early to determine how large it will be. ―Over the next 10 to 20 years, high quality global observations of ozone and ozone- depleting substances will be particularly critical in verifying the effectiveness of the actions taken under the Vienna Convention in 1985, the Montreal Protocol of 1987 and its amendments and adjustments,‖ WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said. The two pacts seek to phase chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons which deplete the ozone. ―As ozone-depleting substances reach a broad peak and slowly begin to decline, the search for recovery of ozone requires vigilance,‖ Mr. Jarraud said. ―The changes in [global climate] conditions may indeed have implications for ozone recovery.‖ New UN initiative launched to recover assets stolen by corrupt leaders 17 September - The United Nations today launched a new partnership between the World Bank and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to help developing nations to recover assets stolen by corrupt leaders and invest those funds in development programmes. ―Corruption undermines democracy and the rule of law,‖ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the inauguration of the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative. ―It leads to violations of human rights. It erodes public trust in government. It can even kill – for example, when corrupt officials allow medicines to be tampered with, or when they accept bribes that enable terrorist acts to take place.‖ The proceeds from criminal activities, corruption and tax evasion worldwide is estimated to be between $1 trillion and $1.6 trillion, and one quarter of the gross domestic product of African States – or $148 billion – is lost to corruption yearly. Additionally, public officials from developing and transition countries collectively receive bribes worth between $20 billion and $40 billion every year, which is equivalent to 20 to 40 per cent of flows of official development assistance. ―Many developing countries are haemorrhaging money desperately needed to try to support the attack against poverty,‖ said Robert B. Zoellick, president of the World Bank, an independent specialized agency of the UN. ―Of course, the development impact of theft on such a massive scale is devastating.‖ He cited the example of former Nigerian President Sani Abacha, members of his family and accomplices who collectively stole between $3 billion and $5 billion of the country‘s public assets in five years. That sum exceeds the federal Government‘s 2006 expenditures on education and health, and could also have provided antiretroviral therapy for 2 million to 3 million Nigerians living with HIV/AIDS for a decade. UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa underlined the importance of acting quickly to retrieve stolen funds. ―Time is crucial. Stolen assets are more likely to be detected during the initial phase and therefore before they disappear in an international money laundromat,‖ he said, noting that only 10-15 per cent of such funds are recovered a decade or so after the crime has taken place. Mr. Costa pointed out his Office‘s experience in Nigeria – where some $5 billion of stolen monies has been recovered – to shrink fraud. To both reclaim stolen funds and to prevent deter such crimes, the World Bank and UNODC believe that developed countries – often the source of bribes, kickbacks and other illegal incomes, as well as the location where stolen funds are kept – and developing countries must work in tandem. The World Bank and UNODC appealed for all countries to ratify the UN Convention against Corruption, which only half of the Group of Eight (G8) developed countries has done. Mr. Costa stressed that one of the Convention‘s breakthroughs is that banking secrecy is no longer an obstacle to money-laundering investigations, which could deal a serious blow to efforts to export stolen funds. ―Developing countries frequently lack the institutional capacity to locate and repatriate stolen assets, so this initiative will provide financial and technical assistance to strengthen the institutional capacity of government agencies to do so,‖ Mr. Zoellick said. ―And it will also help these countries bring their laws into compliance with the UN Convention against Corruption.‖ The StAR Initiative will endeavour to ensure that there is no safe haven for the proceeds derived from corruption, as well as to suppress the flow of these funds among countries. Top UN human rights official ‘very concerned’ over state of emergency in Fiji 17 September - The United Nations top human rights official has voiced deep concern over the re-imposition of a state of emergency in Fiji. Under accepted rules of international law, ―such far-reaching restrictions of rights may only be introduced in time of a public emergency when the life and existence of the nation is threatened,‖ UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said in a statement issued in Geneva Louise Arbour. ―Restrictions may only be applied to the extent and time strictly required by the situation and they may not be discriminatory in application. The impact of the measures imposed in Fiji is heightened by the increased pressure being placed on the independence of the country‘s judiciary,‖ she added. Six expatriate Court of Appeal judges in the South Pacific country resigned earlier this month to protest against the acting Supreme Court Chief Justice‘s handling of the administrative matters of the Court. Extended delays are said to continue in the formation of an independent tribunal to hear the case of the removal of the Chief Justice in January, the statement said, noting that the ability of truly independent institutions to function effectively and vindicate rights is indispensable, particularly in the current circumstances. Ms. Arbour underlined the need for the Fiji Human Rights Commission to play an effective and independent role in addressing current human rights challenges in the country, fully in line with the international standards applicable to national human rights institutions. Projects that improve efficiency of fossil fuels to receive boost – UN 17 September - Projects boosting the burning efficiency of fossil fuels are now eligible to be registered under the United Nations-backed Kyoto Protocol‘s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which allows projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries and contribute to sustainable development to earn certified emission reduction credits (CERs). The CDM Executive Board, which made this decision, has also approved a way to monitor emissions from these types of projects. ―Fossil fuel will remain a big part of the world‘s energy mix for decades to come,‖ said Hans Jürgen Stehr, the Board‘s chair. ―It‘s essential that we burn that fuel as efficiently as possible.‖ In reaching its conclusion, the Board faced a challenge in finding a means to prevent these projects from inadvertently prolonging the use of fossil fuel or competing against renewable sources of energy. The Board overcame this hurdle by establishing a feature limiting the number of CERs that can be earned and then by limiting the number of projects eligible for registration in a given country based on the percentage of fossil fuel covered by projects used. There are now almost 800 CDM projects registered in nearly 50 countries. These projects, and the more than 1,300 others awaiting registration, will generate 2.2 billion CERs, each equivalent to one ton of carbon dioxide, by 2012. That is also the year that the Kyoto Protocol, the current global framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, will expire. A major summit will be held in Bali, Indonesia, this December to determine future action on mitigation, adaptation, the global carbon market and financing responses to climate change for the period after the Protocol‘s conclusion. In July, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that countries must agree to a successor pact to Kyoto three years before its expiration to be ready for ratification to allow them to make it law in time. In a related development, top UN climate change and environment officials underscored the ties between the international treaty protecting the world‘s climate, the Kyoto Protocol, and the global agreement to preserve the Earth‘s ozone layer. ―The Montreal Protocol is successfully assisting in the repair and recovery of the ozone layer. The Kyoto Protocol is tackling perhaps the greatest challenge of our generation – climate change,‖ said UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner. ―However, what is also emerging in 2007, and emerging with ever greater clarity, is that both treaties are mutually supportive across several key fronts.‖ According to a new report by a Montreal Protocol panel to be released shortly, Kyoto‘s CDM is the only reliable means available currently to prevent emissions of the potent HFC- 23 greenhouse gas in the short term. It was agreed by those participating in the Kyoto Protocol in 2005 that the CDM should not result in an HCFC-22, which is a gas regulated under the Montreal Protocol. ―The Parties to the Kyoto Protocol have been guided by the dual objective of safeguarding the climate and protecting the ozone layer when shaping climate action,‖ noted Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Representatives from almost 200 governments are in Montreal, Canada, on the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, and will discuss a recently-released UNEP report which details the benefits of accelerating the phase-out of HCFCs, chemicals used to replace chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are more damaging to ozone. Under the Montreal Protocol, HCFCs – which are widely used in refrigeration systems and air conditioners – are scheduled to be eliminated in developing countries in 2030 and in developing ones in 2040. But the new study points to the advantages of pushing the dates forward by a decade. Global greenhouse emissions could be slashed by more than 3.5 per cent, and the report notes that speeding up the transition to HCFC alternatives could stimulate technological advances as well as return ozone levels to health pre-1980 levels several years earlier. Pacific Ocean countries take part in UN meeting on tsunami preparations 17 September - Experts from countries bordering the Pacific Ocean are gathering in Ecuador this week for a United Nations-organized meeting to assess the state of preparations in the region, home to most of the world‘s tsunamis, to predict and deal with any future killer waves. The four-day meeting of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System, starting today in Guayaquil, will hear reports from participating nations about what they are doing to be ready for a potential tsunami. The group‘s members will also examine the progress – through improved seismic data, sea- level measurements and deep-ocean tsunami detection – towards strengthening the regional response to any tsunami and to reducing any public risks. The Pacific Ocean, which covers a third of Earth‘s surface, is particularly vulnerable to tsunamis because it is surrounded by a series of mountain chains, deep-ocean trenches and arcs of islands that are known for the frequency and strength of earthquakes. In 1979, the so-called Tumaco earthquake in South America triggered a tsunami that killed 200 people on the coast of Colombia. The Pacific Tsunami Warning System (PWTS), which has been in place since 1965, now serves 26 countries with rapid information on approaching tsunamis, public awareness campaigns and advice on how to mitigate the impact of these natural disasters. This week‘s meeting has been arranged by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). New thinking needed to rebuild Afghan agriculture, UN-sponsored book says 17 September - Efforts to rebuild the rural economy of Afghanistan must start with a better understanding of the country‘s complex history, social background and extraordinary resilience of the Afghan people in repeatedly rebuilding their livelihoods, according to a new United Nations-sponsored book. ―Reconstructing Agriculture in Afghanistan,‖ co-published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the British publishing house Practical Action Publishing, is an attempt to advance development theory for fragile states by putting food security at the heart of a twin-track approach that integrates short-term emergency response to longer-term food security interventions for sustainable development. The impact of recent history is significant on a country where 85 per cent of people rely on agriculture and which witnessed the destruction of irrigation systems by the Soviet army occupying it from 1979-89 and the subsequent migration of rural workers, the emergence of the Taliban regime and a countrywide drought that blighted wheat yields as well as livestock, savings and land. At the same time however, the book argues that the brutal state-building of the 19th century and the influence of empires then predominant in the region, chiefly Russia and Britain, have all helped shape the agricultural landscape, creating a diverse legacy of different ethnic and regional identities, local economies and administration, self-interest and illicit trade. These provincial markets and networks help explain the ―extraordinary resilience‖ of the Afghan people, in repeatedly rebuilding their livelihoods despite a historical backdrop of disruption and political instability, the book argues. As an example of cultural traditions and their impact, one chapter discusses the often- misunderstood role of women in helping shape the agricultural landscape. ―The position of women has been a potent symbol of Afghanistan to the outside world,‖ co- editor Adam Pain said. ―There is a perception that women are completely powerless, but women are more powerful and are a lot more economically active than people give them credit for, in agriculture and elsewhere.‖ The book also examines the role of the opium trade, which dominates so much debate on a country that accounts for more than 90 per cent of the world‘s illegal output. Any approach to eradicating the trade needs to take into consideration local economies and power structures, where limited access to land and credit have left many farmers with little or no alternative to opium cultivation. Development initiatives are taking place across the country, including an FAO project helping villagers set up their own businesses providing high-quality seed to farmers, and another developing a national agricultural information network that tracks food pricing, crop yields and weather warnings. The book stresses that it is through long-term planning and good government, local and national, that Afghanistan can push forward, while education is also crucial. Serbian tennis sensation Ana Ivanovic named UNICEF National Ambassador 17 September - Tennis superstar Ana Ivanovic has officially been named as a National Ambassador for the United Nations Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) for her home country of Serbia, where she will advocate for children‘s rights, especially in the realms of education and child protection. ―This is a great honour for me to be invited to be UNICEF Ambassador,‖ said Ms. Ivanovic, speaking Maria L. Fornara and Ana Ivanovic at the Vladimir Rolovic elementary school in the capital Belgrade. ―I love children, and I relish this opportunity to help them in some small way.‖ Ranked number six in the world, the tennis ace has contributed funds to allow three schools to implement the ―School without Violence‖ programme. ―I‘m looking forward to supporting UNICEF‘s ‗child-friendly schools‘ concept,‖ she said. ―Serbia is already on a good way in this respect thanks to UNICEF‘s activities. I will give my contribution and hope that it will add up to the positive changes that are occurring for children in Serbia.‖ The schools benefiting from Ms. Ivanovic‘s generosity are the Vladimir Rolovic school, the Desanka Maksimovic primary school in Kovin and the Vera Radosavljevic primary school in Negotin. Welcoming the star athlete to the UNICEF family, the agency‘s Acting Representative in Serbia, Maria-Luisa Fornara, said Ms. Ivanovic has ―demonstrated power and potential of sports and to further UNICEF‘s mission in building a Serbia fit for children.‖ Fellow Serbian tennis ace Jelena Jankovic will also officially become a UNICEF National Ambassador when she returns to her country. They will join the ranks of two other UNICEF National Ambassadors in Serbia: Aleksandar Sasa Djordjevic, a national and international-caliber basketball player, who was appointed in 2005, and Emir Kusturica, a world-famous film director named in 2002. Meanwhile, Martha Schteingart, the renowned Mexican urban thinker and lecturer, has been named as the winner of this year‘s UN Human Settlements Programme (UN- HABITAT) Lecture Award. As one of the most prominent urban researchers in Latin America, Professor Schteingart‘s research interests include urban land and housing, urban structure and social movements, urban development and transport, poverty and social policies, governance and local management, and the urban environment. For over three decades, she has been a professor and researcher at the Center for Demographic and Urban Studies at El Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City, and is currently a visiting lecturer at the Urban & Regional Planning Program at the University of Michigan. The Award, first bestowed last year, is organized by the Global Research Network on Human Settlements to recognize outstanding and sustained contribution to research and thinking in the human settlements field. Dramatic changes in global meat production could increase risk of human diseases – UN 17 September - Global animal food production is undergoing a major transformation that could lead to a higher risk of disease transmission from animals to humans, and excessive concentration of animals in intensive production systems should be avoided, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today. Industrial poultry ―The risk of disease transmission from animals to humans will increase in the future due to human and production livestock population growth, dynamic changes in livestock production, the emergence of worldwide agro-food networks and a significant increase in the mobility of people and goods,‖ FAO said in a policy brief – Industrial Livestock Production and Global Health Risks. ―There is no doubt that the world has to depend on some of the technologies of intensive animal food production systems,‖ said FAO livestock policy expert Joachim Otte. ―But excessive concentration of animals in large scale industrial production units should be avoided and adequate investments should be made in heightened bio-security and improved disease monitoring to safeguard public health,‖ he added. To satisfy higher demand for meat as the world‘s population continues to rise, livestock production and densities have significantly increased, often close to urban centres. Industrial animal production has become more concentrated, using fewer but more productive livestock breeds. ―These developments have potentially serious consequences for local and global disease risks, which, so far, have not been widely recognized by policy makers,‖ FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Joseph Domenech said. Globally, pig and poultry production are the fastest growing and industrializing livestock sub-sectors, with annual production growth rates of 2.6 and 3.7 per cent over the past decade. In industrialized countries, the vast majority of chickens and turkeys are now produced in houses with 15,000 to 50,000 birds. This trend can also be observed in developing countries in Asia, South America and parts of Africa. Industrial pig and poultry production relies on a significant movement of live animals. In 2005, for example, nearly 25 million pigs, more than 2 million pigs per month, were traded internationally. This movement and the concentration of thousands of confined animals increase the likelihood of transfer of pathogens. Confined animal houses also produce large amounts of waste, which may contain substantial quantities of pathogens. Much of this waste is disposed of on land without any treatment, posing an infection risk for wild mammals and birds. While the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu virus is currently of major global concern, the ‗silent‘ circulation of influenza A viruses (IAVs) in poultry and swine should also be closely monitored internationally, FAO said. A number of IAVs are now fairly widespread in commercial poultry and to a lesser extent in pigs and could also lead to emergence of a human influenza pandemic. The agency called on producers to apply basic bio-security measures. Production sites should not be built close to human settlements or wild bird populations, farms should be regularly cleaned and disinfected, the movements of staff and vehicles should be controlled, and employees should be trained in bio-security. FAO, in association with the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the intergovernmental World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), is tackling these global threats through surveillance and research networks for early detection of animal diseases and better scientific cooperation between countries. FAO has also established an emergency management centre that supports countries in responding to animal disease outbreaks. Chinese doubles ace teams up with UNESCO to fight gender inequality 17 September - China‘s Grand Slam-winning Zheng Jie today became the latest female tennis ace to join forces with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Educational Organization (UNESCO) to encourage the emergence of gender equality around the world. Ms. Zheng is the third player on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour to be named a ―Promoter of Gender Equality‖ and will be involved in campaigns to raise awareness, both in China and outside, of gender equality issues. The partnership between UNESCO and the WTA Tour tries to raise awareness and funding through the named Promoters as well as through mentoring, scholarship and fellowship projects designed to create opportunities and the kind of environment for women and girls to succeed in all walks of life. UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said today that he was delighted to announce the appointment of Ms. Zheng, who joins four-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams of the United States and the rising French top-20 player Tatiana Golovin as a Promoter of Gender Equality. ―These accomplished young women serve as leaders and role models for women and girls around the world, sending a singularly important message: gender equality is not an outdated, impossible dream, but a goal that can and must be realized in order for us to achieve peace and sustainable development,‖ he said. Ms. Zheng, 24, from Cheng Du, became one half of her country‘s first-ever Grand Slam champions when she teamed with compatriot Yan Zi to win the Australian Open and Wimbledon doubles titles last year. She has also won three singles titles since 2005. After being appointed at a ceremony today in Beijing, Ms. Zheng said she was ―truly honoured‖ to be named to the post. ―Not only through my efforts as a tennis player, but also because of my passion for women‘s rights, I hope that I can make a difference on this very important issue,‖ she said. Global fight to restore ozone layer hailed by Secretary-General 16 September - The battle to repair the ozone layer ―represents one of the great success stories of international cooperation,‖ with the use of ozone-depleting substances in both rich and poor countries reduced drastic ally during the past 20 years, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today. In his message to mark the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, Mr. Ban said that when the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed two decades ago, nearly 2 million tons of such substances were released annually. Today, the developed world has nearly phased out these substances entirely and their use in the developing world has decreased by over 80 per cent. The Secretary-General noted that measures against ozone-depleting substances have yielded broader benefits, since many of the chemicals contribute to global warming. ―Their dramatic reduction has helped bolster measures to counter climate change,‖ he said. While hailing these achievements, Mr. Ban cautioned against complacency. ―Scientists are warning that the ozone layer will remain particularly vulnerable for some time. State Parties must continue to implement the agreement, and ensure that the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in developing countries is completely phased out by 2010, the deadline imposed by the Montreal Protocol,‖ he said. The Montreal Protocol, which opened for signature on 16 September 2007, is an annex to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. Since the adoption of the two pacts, the international ozone regime has expanded to address almost 100 ozone-depleting chemicals for refrigeration, electronics, foam-making and other industries. UNICEF welcomes adoption of Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples 16 September - Welcoming the General Assembly's adoption of a declaration outlining the rights of the world's estimated 370 million indigenous people, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has called for greater policies and programmes to tackle the poverty, discrimination and exclusion faced by indigenous children. UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman issued a statement praising UN Member States after they voted in the Assembly on Thursday – after more than 20 years of debate – to approve the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A non-binding text, the Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues. The Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations. It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development. The majority of the 370 million indigenous people worldwide are children or adolescents, Ms. Veneman said, noting that they are often among the most marginalized and vulnerable members of their societies. ―In particular, UNICEF welcomes the recognition in the Declaration that indigenous children sometimes need special assistance to realize the rights – to an education and to protection from exploitation, discrimination and harm – that all children possess,‖ she said. Ms. Veneman said it was vital that the Declaration is followed by the introduction and implementation of policies and programmes to increase the opportunities available to indigenous children. She added that she hoped the adoption of the Declaration would also build greater momentum towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the global agreed set of targets for reducing economic and social ills, all by 2015. Ms. Veneman's remarks join similar statements from General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour welcoming the Declaration's adoption. The UN Daily News is prepared at UN Headquarters in New York by the News Services Section of the News and Media Division, Department of Public Information (DPI) DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL 17 September 2007 The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today‘s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Ashraf Kamal, Spokesman for the General Assembly President. Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Good afternoon, all. **Statement on Sudan The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the recent upsurge in fighting in Darfur, which could adversely affect the success of the upcoming political negotiations due to begin in Libya on 27 October. Reports of the most recent fighting in Hashkanita, Northern Darfur, on 10 and 11 September, involving aerial bombardments and ground military clashes, refer to the death of dozens of civilians. This has occurred in spite of the signing of a Joint Communiqué on 6 September, during the Secretary-General‘s visit to Sudan, in which the Government of Sudan committed to a full cessation of hostilities in Darfur in the lead-up to the political negotiations, under the auspices of the African Union and the United Nations. The Secretary-General reiterates his concern that acts by any of the parties, including the ones that occurred in Adilla, Southern Darfur, and Wad Banda, Kordofan, last month, endanger the peace process. The Secretary-General strongly urges all parties to show restraint and cease all military action in order to create a positive atmosphere for the envisaged political negotiations. **Statement on Sierra Leone The Secretary-General welcomes this morning‘s announcement by Sierra Leone‘s National Electoral Commission of the official results from the second round of the presidential elections, which took place on 8 September. The results show that Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma of the All People‘s Congress Party received 54.6 per cent of the vote and Vice-President Solomon Berewa of the Sierra Leone People‘s Party obtained 45.4 per cent of the total valid votes cast. The Secretary-General extends his warm congratulations to Mr. Koroma and commends all Sierra Leonean parties and their supporters for exercising patience and restraint during the tallying of the votes. He also commends the National Electoral Commission and Sierra Leone security agencies for the professional and efficient manner in which they performed their duties during this period. The Secretary-General wishes to assure the newly-elected government of Sierra Leone of the continued support of the United Nations as the country continues to move towards durable political stability and sustainable economic development. ** Sudan Meanwhile, the UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reports that a vehicle belonging to a Non-Governmental Organization was carjacked by two armed men in North Darfur over weekend. The armed men forced the driver and 10 other staff members off the vehicle. Also yesterday, in South Darfur, two unknown men stopped a three-vehicle UN/NGO convoy and looted Thuraya (satellite) phones, mobile phones and money from the passengers of the first vehicle, while the other two vehicles managed to turn around and escape. The first vehicle was later released with all passengers unharmed. Following a shooting of an NGO vehicle by armed men, Sudanese authorities at the request of NGOs assisted in escorting them to Nyala, the capital of South Darfur. And in Southern Sudan, government officials and aid agency representatives held a donor conference on security challenges and focused their discussion on the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants. ** Democratic Republic of the Congo The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has released its report on human rights in the country for the month of July. The report finds that Congolese government soldiers remain the main rights abusers in the country and are responsible for at least ten documented cases of arbitrary executions. Police officers were also involved in violations of the rights to life, physical integrity and liberty, while members of the various armed groups opposed to the government continue to perpetrate serious human rights abuses in the Kivus. The report also finds continued weaknesses and systemic failures in the administration of justice. Prison detainees, including at least one pregnant woman, continue to suffer various forms of abuse. **Violence in Nepal Over in Nepal, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the Sunday killings of a local leader and a member of the Armed Police Force. The High Commissioner‘s office is also urging the Nepalese people to show tolerance and refrain from further violence, adding that violence undermines the genuine efforts to bring about durable peace during this transition period. Meanwhile, the UN Mission in Nepal is monitoring the situation and has dispatched officers to the area, along with the Human Rights Office in Nepal, which is conducting its own human rights investigation. **IAEA The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is holding the 51st session of its General Conference in Vienna today, and its Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, informed the Conference that Iran and the Agency‘s Secretariat agreed last month on a work plan for resolving all outstanding verification issues. These verification issues, ElBaradei said, are at the core of the lack of confidence about the nature of Iran‘s programme, and are what prompted actions by the Security Council. He called Iran‘s agreement on a work plan, with a defined timeline, ―an important step in the right direction‖. But he added that it is ―regrettable‖ that Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities, and is continuing with its construction of the heavy water reactor at Arak. ElBaradei also welcomed the return of the Democratic People‘s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the verification process and the active cooperation that the Agency team has received from the DPRK. We have his statement upstairs. Also, the Secretary-General, in a message delivered by High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Sergio Duarte, said that the IAEA‘s activities are more important than ever to advance safe and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, promote non-proliferation and disarmament and reduce the risks of nuclear tension. That message is available upstairs. **Security Council Here at Headquarters, the members of the Security Council are holding their monthly luncheon with the Secretary-General today. ** Rwanda On Rwanda, Prosecutor Hassan B. Jallow of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is seeking a minimum of 12 years imprisonment for Juvenal Rugambarara, a former mayor of Bicumbi Commune who in July pleaded guilty to a single count of extermination as a crime against humanity. The Tribunal says that a date for the sentencing has yet to be chosen and will be announced later. ** Guatemala In a press release we issued late on Friday, we announced the appointment by the Secretary-General of Carlos Castresana Fernández of Spain to head the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, established under an agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Guatemala that entered into force on 4 September 2007. Castresana took up his duties immediately, and this morning he arrived in Guatemala to begin a week-long preparatory mission during which he will consult with officials in Government, judicial and security institutions, as well as representatives of political parties, civil society and the diplomatic corps. **Mines The UN agencies, funds and programmes that jointly provide mine action services have issued a statement applauding the progress made in the struggle against the scourge of landmines since the Anti-Personnel Mine-Ban Treaty was adopted 10 years ago. The steady decline in casualty rates, the return of formerly mined areas to productive civilian use, and the destruction of tens of millions of these indiscriminate weapons are encouraging. The Anti-Personnel Mine-Ban Treaty is a testament to what can be achieved when the international community works collectively to tackle a grave humanitarian and development challenge. We have copies of the joint statement upstairs. ** Montreal Ozone Meeting Twenty years after the adoption of the Montreal Protocol to reduce gases that damage the ozone layer, environment ministers from around the world are meeting this week in Montreal to discuss speeding up some of the Protocol‘s provisions. In a message to mark yesterday‘s International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, the Secretary- General hailed the success of the Montreal Protocol, saying it shows that there are global instruments that can help curb the impact of human activities on the global environment. Such success should be replicated, he said, urging continued multilateral action on the world‘s many other environmental problems. We have more information upstairs, along with a press release on next Monday‘s high-level climate change meeting, convened by the Secretary-General to secure political commitment and build momentum ahead of December‘s UN Climate Change Conference in Bali. Heads of state and other top officials from more than 150 countries are scheduled to attend. **World Bank/UNODC Report The UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Bank are today launching a joint Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, aimed at helping developing countries recover assets stolen by corrupt leaders, help invest those assets in effective development programmes and combat safe havens internationally. The launch is taking place at 4 pm in Conference Room 5. The Secretary-General, World Bank President Robert Zoellick and UNODC head Antonio Maria Costa will speak. Upstairs in my office, we have copies of the press release and the fact sheet, both of which are embargoed until 4 p.m. **Press Conferences And we have several press conferences scheduled for tomorrow and the day after. At 10.30 a.m. tomorrow, the Secretary-General will hold a press conference on the upcoming high-level event on climate change, which will take place at the UN Headquarters on the 24th of September. Press kits on the event are available here and upstairs. Please note that since the Secretary-General will be briefing you, there will be no noon briefing tomorrow. Tomorrow at 1 p.m., the President of the 62nd session of the General Assembly, Srgjan Kerim, will hold a press conference on the opening of the session, to take place at 3 p.m. tomorrow. But before all this, today at 3 p.m. there will be a press conference by Robi Damelin and Khaled Abu Awwad of the Parents‘ Circle on an exhibit entitled ―Offering Reconciliation‖, which is currently taking place at the UN Visitors‘ Lobby and features the works of 135 Israeli and Palestinian artists. This press conference is sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Sweden. And just looking ahead, on Wednesday at 11:15 a.m., Craig Barrett, Chairman of the UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development, and CEO of Intel Corporation; Hamadoun Toure, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union; Walter Fust, Director-General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation; and Mohsen Khalil, Director of Global ICT and the World Bank Group, will brief you on the new ―Connect Africa Initiative‖, a joint effort to bring ICT connectivity to the continent. Our guests at the noon briefing on Wednesday will be Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Kline, who will brief you on human trafficking and the world premiere of the film ―Trade‖, starring Mr. Kline. Later that day at 3 p.m., there will be a press briefing by the UN Safety and Security Service and the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit on the upcoming high-level events and the General Assembly 62nd session. This is all I have for you, thank you. **Questions and Answers Question: Going back to the item on Darfur, is there any particular party that the Secretary-General holds responsible for this recent escalation of violence -- or the UN groups there –- who is responsible? Spokesperson: Well, what he is asking right now is that the ceasefire become a reality before the peace talks. He is asking for calm, so the peace talks can proceed, as scheduled. Question: Yeah, but this particular round, does the UN… You don‘t hold any particular party responsible. Who started the fighting, or something like that? Spokesperson: We are not dealing with this at this point. Question: On this Quartet meeting, which will take place on 23 September, and [inaudible] will take place. Where will it take place? Spokesperson: It will be here. Both meetings will be here. There will be the first meeting from 4 to 6, which will be the meeting of the principals. After the meeting of the principals, there will be a press conference with the principals and Mr. Blair. And then right after that, there will be a meeting with the Arab partners. Question: Where at the UN? Spokesperson: Well, we don‘t have the exact location yet. At any rate, it will not be an open event, but you will have access, too. There will be a stakeout at the Delegates‘ Entrance. Question: Any news about this clarification from Israel regarding the overflight over Syria? Spokesperson: No, we don‘t have any more on this. Question: Are you expecting anything? Spokesperson: So far, we haven‘t got anything additional from what I told you Friday. Question: [inaudible] Spokesperson: I think, as I have mentioned, this is a matter for which Syria has written a letter to the Security Council, so it is right now in the hands of the Security Council. If there is any further action to be taken, it will be taken by the Security Council. Question: Last week, President Mubarak of Egypt and the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia said that their countries will not attend the regional peace meeting in Washington if there is no clear agenda and if the core issues are not discussed. Now, we have learned that Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, does not intend to go to Washington if there is no agreement with Prime Minister Olmert. What can the Secretary-General do to advance the bilateral discussions between the Israelis and Palestinians in such a way as to allow them to go to Washington? Spokesperson: The event in Washington is not organized by the UN, as you know. We are having the Quartet meeting, which was just asked about, which is going to be on the 22nd. So I think our effort is focused on that meeting here in New York, at Headquarters. Question: The Rwandan general, who was supposed to be the Deputy of UNAMID in Darfur is now reportedly in El Fasher -– I guess, he has now begun his job, so I wanted to know: does this mean that the openness of the UN said for human rights groups to submit proof if they have any on his previous record in Rwanda -– is that period for receiving information closed? What does this indicate? Spokesperson: So far, the UN has requested from a number of organizations to provide tangible information to support the allegations against Major-General Karenzi. Apparently, there was not enough evidence for anything to change, so the African Union, the United Nations have decided to proceed with the appointment, because they don‘t want to exclude the candidate on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations. However, if further information should come through about these allegations, of course, this case will be reconsidered. Question: I was wondering if the Secretary-General has any reaction to the criticism of Mr. ElBaradei by the US Administration. I mean, that he is basically siding with Iran. Does the Secretary-General share the same views? Spokesperson: No, he is following the process, and he is listening to what is happening right now at the conference that is taking place at the IAEA. Question: And he has no reservations about the agreement he has reached with the Iranians, Mr. ElBaradei? Spokesperson: It is right now a process that is in the court of IAEA. Question: Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for President, has written a press release that he has written a letter to Ban Ki-moon having to do with President of Iran‘s attendance at the General Assembly session. So I guess I just wanted to know: has such a letter been received and if the Secretary-General has any response to it? Spokesperson: The letter would be from whom? Question: Mitt Romney, a previous Governor of Massachusetts, running for the Republican nomination for the US President. Spokesperson: I am not aware of a letter, but I will ask whether it has been received. Question: The Mitt Romney letter comes on the heels of other people such as Elie Wiesel and so on asking to ban Iran from membership at the UN because of its violation of the UN Charter by threatening a Member State. The question is: does the Secretary-General have anything to add to that angle? Spokesperson: Well, any questions about the membership of a Member State – it has to go through the General Assembly. It cannot go through any other body. Question: But does the Secretary-General have anything to say about that? Spokesperson: No. I think, Ashraf is waiting to give you his last press briefing. Question: About the Special Tribunal for Lebanon – will there be a special Security Council meeting? Spokesperson: There is one scheduled for the 19th, yes. Question: Do you know if Nicolas Michel will come to brief us? Spokesperson: We have asked him to brief you at the stakeout after, and I hope this can be done. I don‘t know at exactly what time they will be examining the issue of the Tribunal. Question: Will the Secretary-General, tomorrow at this press conference, focus exclusively on climate change, or will he cover other subjects and take questions? Spokesperson: He will take questions on all subjects. Thank you very much. Ashraf? Briefing by Spokesperson for General Assembly President Thanks. **Closing of 61st Session The 61st session of the Assembly had its last meeting this morning. In her remarks concluding the session, Assembly President Haya Rashed Al Khalifa states, ―It is clear to me, without any doubt, that when we stand united we are stronger; when we pursue our common goals with purpose …, the General Assembly makes a real difference... To do this effectively we must all accept our shared responsibilities and differences to work together for change.‖ ―More than ever before, we need to focus on the underlying lack of dialogue between civilizations, cultures and nations that is at the core of many of today‘s problems. ―We must tackle these issues squarely and accept that while doing this, we have to face some fundamental issues related to conflict, poverty, injustice and human indignity. In doing so, we will have to move beyond the outdated mindset that separates the world into donors and recipients -– North and South.‖ ―We must match our words with deeds -– our rhetoric with action,‖ she continues. ―The promises that Member States of the United Nations have made deserve to be kept. Living up to our promises and achieving the MDGs by 2015 is one of the greatest gifts that we could give to humanity, and our future prosperity and stability. We cannot allow our commitments to become pledges, then only words that symbolize our broken promises. ―My challenge now to you,‖ the president concludes, ―is to continue to carry the torch of multilateralism forward -– to bring light where there is darkness, to bring hope where there is fear.‖ Copies of this statement are available upstairs. **Security Council Reform And at the same meeting this morning, the Assembly decided ―that the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council‖ -– the item euphemistically referred to as the reform of the Security Council -– ―should be considered during the sixty-second session of the General Assembly, so that further results may be achieved, including through intergovernmental negotiations, building on the progress achieved so far, particularly in the sixty-first session, as well as the positions of and proposals made by Member States.‖ This was my last briefing to you. I thank you so much, and if you have no further… **Questions and Answers Question: You mentioned building on the achievements‖ – so what was achieved during the 61st session concerning the Security Council reform? GA Spokesman: Well, I think we are closer than ever to movement on that item, and what happened in the past few days can demonstrate that. Now, whether that translates into reality, or not – I‘ve said in the last briefing that I do not see it during my lifetime – but I‘ve always been optimistic, and I have been wrong before. Question: Could you elaborate on what happened in the last few days? Spokesperson: You know what happened in the last few days – there was a draft resolution that was tabled by a group of Member States, but it was withdrawn at the last moment, when the language of the report was changed to accommodate the different interests of Member States. Question: I asked this question before – maybe you have an answer. What are the immediate plans of the President? Spokesperson: She‘ll go back to Bahrain and resume her law practice. Matthew? Question: Sure, Ashraf, I have one very dry question for you… Spokesperson: Nah, that‘s a surprise – a dry question from you, Matthew? Question: In the Journal today, there is an incredibly long agenda, and I guess they are just running through items… Spokesperson: That‘s almost… if it‘s not adjourned by now, it will be adjourned in the next few seconds. Question: So what I don‘t understand: it says ―administration of justice at the United Nations‖, but meanwhile, ACABQ has just started considering that. So is it just that all these items are just being passed over to the next session? Spokesperson: Yes, most of them are passed over to the 62nd session. Question: OK, so that‘s why it is going so fast. Spokesperson: Yeah, that‘s why it‘s so dry. Question: And also, there is this thing about Article 19 – the countries that are behind in… Does this get voted today, whether they are still allowed to still vote if they are behind? Spokesperson: Every time there is a vote – not just at the end of the 61st session, at the end of every session – there is always a report on who is falling behind or who is going to fall behind if the session ended today. But every time there is a vote at the General Assembly, a list of countries that have no right to vote because they have fallen under Article 19 is read out, and some of these countries sometimes meet their obligations, like, one night before. So they are out of being under Article 19, and they are allowed to vote. Question: But in the case of Somalia, the request for payment is to the Transitional Government? Spokesperson: I‘ll have to check on that… Yeah, it has to be – it‘s the Government that the UN recognizes. Question: Do you have any information about the application that Taiwan has submitted for membership? Spokesperson: Yes, it was returned. Question: Has the President conveyed to the new President any lessons she has drawn from her experience? Spokesperson: I think they have had several very long meetings, and she basically told him about everything that she went through. Question: Did she convey to him any lessons in writing? Spokesperson: I am sure, yeah – a report was referred to him in writing, as well. And the current team met with the incoming team to talk about all the items that were discussed during the session. Question: You mean, it was rejected? [letter by a Member State transmitting a letter from the Republic of China ( Taiwan)] Spokesperson: It was returned. Question: Can you speak about the content of that? Was it a new form? Spokesperson: A letter from the Office of the President was sent to the Mission of the Marshall Islands, making referrence to the 1971 General Assembly resolution 2758, and indicating that the General Committee of the Assembly would make a recommendation on whether the item should be included on the agenda of the 62nd session. Question: Was it anything new this time that they proposed? Spokesperson: New from what? Question: From the form that they submitted last time? Spokesperson: I wasn‘t aware of the form submitted last time, so I couldn‘t tell you if it was new or not. [This is the first time that there has been mention of application for membership.] Question: Who will be the Spokesman for the new President of the General Assembly? Spokesperson: Janos Tisovszky, a very nice man. Thank you so much.
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