Newsletter of the
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
Volume 15, Number 6 --- 15 June 2013
Article submission: firstname.lastname@example.org Deadline next issue 13 July 2013
Secretariat Email: email@example.com General Secretary Emily Firth
Postal address: 12B Chemin de Maisonneuve, CH-1219 Chatelaine, Geneva, Switzerland
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From the Editor, Request for information for upcoming newsletters
This newsletter is an opportunity for IEF members to share their experiences, activities, and initiatives that are taking place at the community level on climate change action. All members are welcome to contribute information about related activities, upcoming conferences, news from like-minded organizations, recommended websites, book reviews, etc. Please send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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University of Geneva Prize-winning course
Certificate of Advanced Studies in Sustainable Development (in French)
On 14 June, the University of Geneva Certificate of Advanced Studies in Sustainable Development, in which IEF is a partner, was awarded the Cantonal Distinction in Sustainable Development 2013, at a ceremony presided over by the State Councillor for Regional Affairs, the Economy and Health of the Republic and Canton of Geneva, Switzerland. This training programme for mid-career professionals is celebrating its 10th anniversary. It offers 180 hours of instruction over 9 months and has provided interdisciplinary training to over 200 people in the environmental, economic and social fields from government, enterprises and civil society organizations. IEF President Arthur Dahl has been on the scientific committee and taught in various modules since its founding in 2003.
From Wikipedia: The University of Geneva (French: Université de Genève) is a public research university located in Geneva, Switzerland.
It was founded in 1559 by John Calvin, as a theological seminary and law school. It remained focused on theology until the 17th century, when it became a center for Enlightenment scholarship. In 1873, it dropped its religious affiliations and became officially secular. Today, the university is the second-largest university in Switzerland. It has programs in various fields but is particularly acknowledged for its academic and research programs in international relations (with Geneva being hostess to a dense agglomeration of international organizations), law, astrophysics, astronomy, genetics (with a record of prominent contributions to the fields of planetary science, genetics, developmental psychology, neuroscience, and theology ). The university holds and actively pursues teaching, research, and community service as its primary objectives. In 2009, the University of Geneva celebrated the 450th anniversary of its founding.
The university is a member of the League of European Research Universities. It was ranked 73rd worldwide by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, and 69th in the QS World University Rankings in 2011. Classes are mainly taught in French.
United Nations proposals for Sustainable Development Goals
The United Nations is making some progress in defining Sustainable Development Goals, one of the outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) last year. One aim is to carry over and complete work on the Millennium Development Goals for poverty reduction for which the target year was 2015. Another is to extend concrete goals for action to all countries and to other dimensions of sustainable development.
A report of the UN General Assembly Open Working Group Meeting on Sustainable Development Goals on 22-24 May is available at http://www.iisd.ca/download/pdf/enb3203e.pdf. The Open Working Group is discussing a series of thematic clusters until February 2014. Its programme of work is available at http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/1778Pow2805.pdf.
The UN High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda has issued its report "A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies Through Sustainable Development" which is now available at http://www.post2015hlp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/UN-Report.pdf. It includes proposals for 12 illustrative universal goals and national targets. Responses to the panel report are invited at http://www.post2015hlp.org/outreach/outreach-stakeholder-responses-to-t…
Interfaith dialogue on ecology in Luxembourg
As part of a series of interfaith dialogues on ecology in Luxembourg, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Arthur Dahl spoke on the "Challenge of Ecology: the Baha'i Perspective" at a well-attended meeting on 30 May at the Luxembourg Baha'i Centre with participants from various faith communities. He also gave a separate presentation for the Baha'i community on Baha'i principles of governance.
UN Environment Head Welcomes Signal to Combat Climate Change by World's
Two Largest Economies – China and US Announcement to Phase-Down HFCs
Can Form Part of Wider Action in Run-Up to 2015
Nairobi, 9 June 2013 - A decision by China and the United States to cooperate on phasing down a group of synthetic chemicals in order to combat climate change was today welcomed by Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Mr Steiner said the announcement, made by President Barack Obama and Chinese President Jinping Xi at their retreat in California this weekend could signal a new and perhaps transformational chapter in international cooperation on climate change.
The American and Chinese heads of state announced they would be targeting Hydroflucorcarbons (HFCs) -a group of replacement chemicals for products such as refrigerators and foams for which there are already a range of climate and ozone-friendly alternatives. HFCs are beginning to replace another group of chemicals known as HCFCs that damage the ozone layer-the thin gassy layer around the Earth that filters out deadly levels of ultra violet light from the sun.
While HFCs are ozone -layer friendly they are however powerful greenhouse gases: if taken up by industry over the next few years and decades they are likely, by 2050 to amount to emissions equivalent to 3.5 to 8.8 Gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide. That is comparable to total current annual emissions from transport, estimated at around 6-7 Gt annually according to a UNEP-coordinated study from 2011.
The two heads of state said they would work through the Montreal Protocol, the UNEP-hosted treaty established to protect the ozone layer, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to achieve international action in respect to phasing down the consumption and production of HFCs.
Mr Steiner said: "Along with a variety of recent signals from several key countries including China and the United States, this one on HFCs by these two key economies is welcome as the world moves towards a universal UN treaty on climate change by 2015 -certainly allowing the market for HFCs to grow will only aggravate the challenge of combating climate change".
UNEP in partnership with over 60 countries and organizations is also working to phase-down some HFCs and other so called short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon or 'soot' and methane under a one year old initiative called the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.
This voluntary coalition is promoting reduction of short lived climate pollutants to tackle air pollution, bring widespread benefits for health and agriculture as well as to lead to near term climate benefits. While short lived climate pollutants are responsible for a substantial fraction of near-term climate change, actions on short term climate pollutants need to be complemented by deep and rapid cuts in CO2 emissions if global mean temperature increase over the 21st Century is to be held below 2°C.
"It is widely recognized that securing a meaningful treaty and keeping an average global temperature rise under 2 degrees C this century will require all hands on deck-what however must not be overlooked or sidelined is the urgency to also tackle the principle greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, as part of negotiations underway under the UN climate convention," he said.
"The signal from China and the United States in respect to HFCs is important as both a confidence builder and if it paves the way to a universal agreement involving all nations that reflects the science of where all emissions are today and where they need to be by a series of deadlines beginning with 2020," said Mr Steiner.
Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2013
and Global Status Report - 2013
Renewable Energy: World Invests $244 billion in 2012, Geographic Shift to Developing Countries. Installed capacity continues to grow as solar prices drop 30-40%, new wind installations surge
For only the second time since 2006, global investments in renewable energy in 2012 failed to top the year before, falling 12% mainly due to dramatically lower solar prices and weakened US and EU markets.
There was a continuing upward trend in developing countries in 2012, with investments in the South topping $112 billion vs $132 billion in developed countries - a dramatic change from 2007, when developed economies invested 2.5 times more in renewables (excluding large hydro) than developing countries, a gap that has closed to just 18%.
The main issue holding back investment last year was instability in the policy regime for renewable energy in important developed-economy markets. Future investment is likely to coalesce in countries that can offer policies that command investor confidence, plus the need for extra generating capacity and strong renewable power resources.
After being neck-and-neck with the US in 2011, China was the dominant country in 2012 for investment in renewable energy, its commitments rising 22% to $67 billion, thanks to a jump in solar investment. But there were also sharp increases in investment for several other emerging economies, including South Africa, Morocco, Mexico, Chile and Kenya.
The other major theme of 2012 was a further, significant reduction in the costs of solar photovoltaic technology. The levelised cost of generating a MWh of electricity from PV was around one third lower last year than the 2011 average. This took small-scale residential PV power, in particular, much closer to competitiveness.
The Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment Report (GTR) is a sister publication to the Renewables Global Status Report (GSR) produced by REN21 (see below). The most recent edition of the report, launched in June 2012, is available at http://www.ren21.net/gsr.
First released in 2005, REN21's Renewables Global Status Report (GSR) has grown to become a truely collaborative effort of over 500 authors, contributors and reviewers, and is today the most frequently referenced report on renewable energy market, industry and policy trends. It provides testimony to the undeterred growth of electricity, heat, and fuel production capacities from renewable energy sources, including solar PV, wind power, solar hot water/heating, biofuels, hydropower, and geothermal.
This latest Renewables Global Status Report provides a comprehensive and
timely overview of renewable energy market, industry, investment and policy
development worldwide. 2012 saw:
• a shift in investment patterns that led to a global decrease in clean energy investment
• continuing growth in installed capacity due to significant technology cost reductions and increased investment in developing countries.
• renewables progressively supplementing established electricity systems, demonstrating that the implementation of suitable policies can enable the successful integration of higher shares of variable renewables.
• the emergence of integrated policy approaches that link energy efficiency measures with the implementation of renewable energy technologies.
Ten years after its original publication ARC has revised
a groundbreaking book on the links between religion and conservation
June 5, 2013:
Jointly written by ARC's Martin Palmer and Victoria Finlay in 2003 Faith in Conservation explores the spiritual and practical value of involving religions in environmentalism, with many practical examples of their unique contribution to conservation action from ancient times to the present day.
The book's publication was an important collaboration between ARC and the Washington-based World Bank, reflecting the latter's commitment to supporting progressive developments in environmental strategies as well as the growing understanding of the enormous potential strength of many religious organisations as investors.
Since Faith in Conservation first emerged a decade ago there has been a real growth in understanding of the importance of religion as a force for environmental protection, both within religious traditions themselves and also the environmentalist world. This increasing awareness means that the book's reissue in a revised edition will hopefully continue to reach newer and wider audiences.
Download a pdf version of Faith in Conservation (2013).
Faith in Conservation New Approaches to Religions and the Environment
Martin Palmer and Victoria Finlay
Revised edition © 2013, The Alliance of Religions and Conservation ARC
Kelston Park, Bath BA1 9AE, United Kingdom, Telephone +44 (o) 1225 758 004
Internet www.arcworld.org, E-mail email@example.com
Originally published © 2003 The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
THE WORLD BANK, 1818 H Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20433
Making Nigeria’s development more climate-resilient and less carbon-intensive
June 10, 2013 STORY HIGHLIGHTS
• Nigeria is on track to become the world’s 20th largest economy
• But climate change could impact the country’s development
• Two new reports solutions provide to help Nigeria achieve growth while remaining climate resilient
ABUJA, June 10, 2013—As Nigeria preps to become the world’s 20th largest economy, its leaders are looking at ways to lessen the impacts of climate change and grow the country’s economy with a reduced carbon footprint.
In 2012, during the rainy season, flooding killed nearly 400 people, displaced an estimated 3.8 million more, damaged oil production facilities and destroyed homes and businesses. Today, the government, along with its international partners, is taking steps to rebuild, and making climate resiliency and lowcarbon growth part of its development plans.
Two new reports from the World Bank, Toward Climate-Resilient Development in Nigeria and Low-Carbon Development Opportunities for Nigeria, examine the many challenges Nigeria faces from potential climate change effects in several sectors, such as agriculture, energy and water management.
In agriculture, which accounts for 40 percent of the country’s GDP and employs 70 percent of Nigeria’s people, higher temperatures and more erratic rainfall could contribute to a long-term 20-30-percent reduction in crop yields, according to the reports. Climate change impacts the production of livestock by reducing feed and increasing thermal stress to animals. Declining domestic yields could lead to a 40 percent increase in rice imports in a country where much of the fast-growing population depends on rice as a staple of its diet.
“Various climate models indicate that average temperatures across Nigeria are expected to rise an average of 1–2°C by 2050 and even more during the winter,” says Raffaello Cervigni, Lead Environmental Economist at the World Bank and author of the two reports. “In this way, climate change is likely to make food, energy, and water security harder for Nigeria to achieve.”
According to Cervigni, these likely impacts will be felt the most by the country’s poorer segments of the population which have less means to adapt and diversify the sources of their livelihoods.
A Way Forward
The reports, launching on June 10 in Abuja, propose specific policies, technologies, and other solutions to help Nigeria develop its economy while remaining climate resilient.
Toward Climate-Resilient Development in Nigeria takes a comprehensive look at the potential impacts of climate change on agriculture, livestock, and water resource management.
According to the report, to help protect vulnerable rain-fed crops against the harsher climate of the future, farmers can incorporate sustainable land management practices such as agroforestry—where trees are integrated with crops, animals, or both to provide shade and natural fertilization—and conservation agriculture methods such as low or no tillage, which reduces soil depletion.
These farming practices, the report says, can not only increase yields, but also reduce their fluctuations in the uncertain climate of the future, thereby increasing food and income security for farmers and enhance the ability of people in rural communities to protect themselves against climate change-related impacts.
Low-Carbon Development in Nigeria outlines a low-carbon strategy that would position Nigeria as a regional and international leader on climate action. Adopting a low-carbon strategy in the power sector, for example, including energy efficiency, solar and wind energy; and combined cycle technology in gasfired generation, could provide the electricity Nigeria needs to grow, but with cost savings in the order of 7%, and avoiding the emission of close to 2 billion tons of CO2.
In the oil and gas industry, a low-carbon strategy that focuses on reducing natural gas flaring and capturing the gas for commercial use (in the power and other sectors) could generate as much as US$7.5 billion in net additional gains.
Overall, this low-carbon scenario could generate net benefits in the order of two percent of GDP over 25 years, according to the report.
While both reports note that low-carbon, climate resilient development is possible and often economically attractive, the approach is by no means easy in Nigeria or elsewhere. A variety of barriers, including lack of information and technology, limited capacity in institutions and lack of financing, stand in the way; thus the need to act now to overcome these barriers and reap the benefits of a development path that will allow Nigeria’s economy to grow - even as the climate changes - and its people to thrive.
Websites to check out
Bonn Climate Change Conference – June 2013
Reports from the International Institute for Sustainable Development on the latest climate change negotiations.
Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future
The IEF has long partnered with Stakeholder Forum at UN conferences.
Updated 17 June 2013