‘The green economy is the future,’ UN chief says in Beijing, urging climate solutions that strengthen economies, protect the environment
#Parisagreement; #climatechange; SDGs; UnitedNations; #greendevelopment;
United Nations, Apr 28 (Canadian-Media): Winning the race against climate change to keep our planet livable and on a healthy trajectory requires action rooted in sustainable solutions aligned with the Paris Agreement and the United Nations (UN)-driven 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, Secretary-General António Guterres said on Saturday, Leader’s Roundtable on Promoting Green and Sustainable Development to Implement the 2030 Agenda was held in Beijing, China on 27, April, 2019, UN reports said.
Image Credit: UN China/Zhao Yun: Leader’s Roundtable on Promoting Green and Sustainable Development to Implement the 2030 Agenda was held in Beijing, China on 27, April, 2019
“To put it simply, we need green development. We need sustainable development. And we need it now,” the UN chief told world leaders in Beijing, discussing ways to boost green development as part of a conference on China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Painting a sobering picture of the challenges ahead – for the planet and the broader effort to secure improved human well-being while reducing environmental risks – Mr. Guterres recalled that the last four years were the hottest on record and that natural disasters have wreaked havoc in nearly every region of the globe.
“No country or community is immune. And, as we know, the poor and vulnerable are the first to suffer, and the worst hit,” said Mr. Guterres, warning that the climate crisis threatens decades of progress and jeopardizes all our plans for inclusive, sustainable development.
“And the clock is ticking. Science has clearly told us that we have only 12 years for this transformation, if we want to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”
Yet the race to head off a climate catastrophe and ensure a safe and secure planet for all can be won, he said, with global action rooted in solutions that are sustainable and aligned with the landmark Paris accord and the UN 2030 Agenda.
To help generate ambition and to showcase practical, feasible and ambitious solutions to meet globally agreed goals, Mr. Guterres is convening a Climate Action Summit in New York on 23 September.
“I am calling on leaders to come with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020,” he said, referring to efforts by each country under the Paris Agreement to reduce national emissions and adapt faster to the impacts of climate change.
The Secretary-General said these plans must show how greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by 45 per cent over the next decade and how the world can get to net zero emissions globally by 2050 through strong mitigation and adaptation measures.
“It is why I have been asking leaders around the world to adopt carbon pricing that reflects the true cost of emissions, end subsidies on fossil fuels, and stop construction of new coal plants beyond 2020,” he explained, noting that he is also counting on leaders to make sure their plans include women as key decision-makers and address the disproportionate impacts many women experience from climate change.
In all this, Chinese leadership will continue to be crucial, said Mr. Guterres, stressing that new renewable energy jobs in China now outnumber those created in the oil and gas industries. China also played a pivotal role in building bridges and securing an agreement at last December’s UN Climate Conference in Katowice – and will host next year’s second Global Sustainable Transport Conference.
The Belt and Road Initiative, with its huge volume of investment, said, Mr. Guterres, is an opportunity to propel the world into a green future and help countries transition to low-carbon, clean-energy pathways with new infrastructure that is sustainable and equitable.
“The momentum for transformational change is growing,” said the Secretary-General, stressing that the “green economy is the future,” and more governments, cities and businesses than ever understand that climate solutions strengthen economies and protect the environment at the same time.
New technologies are delivering energy at a lower cost than the fossil-fuel-driven economy, he continued, and solar and onshore wind are now the cheapest sources of new power, in virtually all major economies.
#SouthernOcean, #UniversityofMelbourne; #Extremeoceanwinds; #waveheights
Australia, Apr 26 (Canadian-Media): Extreme ocean winds and wave heights are increasing around the globe, with the largest rise occurring in the Southern Ocean, University of Melbourne research shows.
Image Credit: Professor Ian Young: Global trends in extreme (90th percentile) wind speed over the period 1985-2018. Areas in red indicate increasing values, whereas blue indicates decreases.
Researchers Ian Young and Agustinus Ribal, from the University's Department of Infrastructure Engineering, analysed wind speed and wave height measurements taken from 31 different satellites between 1985-2018, consisting of approximately 4 billion observations.
The measurements were compared with more than 80 ocean buoys deployed worldwide, making it the largest and most detailed dataset of its type ever compiled.
The researchers found that extreme winds in the Southern Ocean have increased by 1.5 metres per second, or 8 per cent, over the past 30 years. Extreme waves have increased by 30 centimetres, or 5 per cent, over the same period.
As the world's oceans become stormier, Professor Young warns this has flow on effects for rising sea levels and infrastructure.
"Although increases of 5 and 8 per cent might not seem like much, if sustained into the future such changes to our climate will have major impacts," Professor Young said.
"Flooding events are caused by storm surge and associated breaking waves. The increased sea level makes these events more serious and more frequent.
"Increases in wave height, and changes in other properties such as wave direction, will further increase the probability of coastal flooding."
Professor Young said understanding changes in the Southern Ocean are important, as this is the origin for the swell that dominates the wave climate of the South Pacific, South Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
"Swells from the Southern Ocean determine the stability of beaches for much of the Southern Hemisphere, Professor Young said.
"These changes have impacts that are felt all over the world. Storm waves can increase coastal erosion, putting costal settlements and infrastructure at risk."
International teams are now working to develop the next generation of global climate models to project changes in winds and waves over the next 100 years.
"We need a better understanding of how much of this change is due to long-term climate change, and how much is due to multi-decadal fluctuations, or cycles," Professor Young said.
The research was published today in Science.
#Microbes; Earth'sSurface; 'Nature'' #Physics; #SpaceScience; #EarthScience;
#HealthandMedicine; #isotopes; #volcanochains; #geologicaltimescales
Costa Rica, Apr 25 (Canadian-Media): Two years ago a team of scientists visited Costa Rica's subduction zone, where the ocean floor sinks beneath the continent and volcanoes tower above the surface. Their research proved that microbes can affect the cycle of carbon moving from Earth's surface into the deep interior, said a new study in the journal 'Nature'.
Photo Credit: Peter Barry: Calcite deposits near a waterfall in Costa Rica.
This groundbreaking study shows that microbes consume and—crucially—help trap a small amount of sinking carbon in this zone. This finding has important implications for understanding Earth's fundamental processes and for revealing how nature can potentially help mitigate climate change.
At a subduction zone there is communication between Earth's surface and interior. Two plates collide and the denser plate sinks, transporting material from the surface into Earth's interior. Showing that the microbes at the near-surface are playing a fundamental role in how carbon and other elements are being locked up into the crust provides a profound new understanding of Earth processes and helps researchers model how Earth's interior may develop over time.
Co-author, Professor Chris Ballentine, Head of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford, said: 'What we've shown in this study is that in areas that are critically important for putting chemicals back down into the planet—these big subduction zones—life is sequestering carbon. On geological timescales life might be controlling the chemicals at the surface and storing elements like carbon in the crust.'
This is the first evidence that subterranean life plays a role in removing carbon from subduction zones. It has been well established that microbes are capable of taking carbon dissolved in water and converting it into a mineral within the rocks. This study demonstrates that the process is happening on a large scale across a subduction zone. It is a natural CO2 sequestration process which can control the availability of carbon on Earth's surface.
Lead author, Dr. Peter Barry, who carried out the research while at the Department of Earth Sciences, Oxford University, said: 'We found that a substantial amount of carbon is being trapped in non-volcanic areas instead of escaping through volcanoes or sinking into Earth's interior.
'Until this point scientists had assumed that life plays little to no role in whether this oceanic carbon is transported all the way into the mantle, but we found that life and chemical processes work together to be the gatekeepers of carbon delivery to the mantle.'
During the 12-day expedition, the 25-person group of multi-disciplinary scientists collected water samples from thermal springs throughout Costa Rica. Scientists have long predicted that these thermal waters spit out ancient carbon molecules, subducted millions of years before. By comparing the relative amounts of two different kinds of carbon—called isotopes—the scientists showed that the predictions were true and that previously unrecognized processes were at work in the crust above the subduction zone, acting to trap large amounts of carbon.
Following their analyses, the scientists estimated that about 94 percent of that carbon transforms into calcite minerals and microbial biomass.
Photo Credit: Patricia Barcala Dominguez: How carbon is cycled near volcano chains.
Senior author, Karen Lloyd, Associate Professor of Microbiology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, said: 'These microbes are literally sequestering carbon. Scientists are actively working on carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change and carbon capture and storage as a means to bury greenhouse gases over long time periods. Our study is a really good example of where this is happening naturally, and it was previously unrecognised. This study shows that this happens on a big, reservoir scale.'
Maarten de Moor, co-author and professor at the National University of Costa Rica's Observatory of Volcanology and Seismology, said: 'It is amazing to consider that tiny microbes can potentially influence geological processes on similar scales as these powerful and visually impressive volcanoes, which are direct conduits to Earth's interior. The processes that we have identified in this study are less obvious, but they are important because they are operating over huge spatial areas in comparison to volcanoes.'
The researchers now plan to investigate other subduction zones to see if this trend is widespread. If these biological and geochemical processes occur worldwide, they would translate to 19 percent less carbon entering the deep mantle than previously estimated.
Co-author Donato Giovannelli, Assistant Professor at the University of Naples Federico II and affiliated scientist at the CNR-IRBIM and Rutgers University, said: 'There are likely even more ways that biology has had an outsized impact on geology, we just haven't discovered them yet.'
Dr. Peter Barry, now an Associate Scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, added: 'We have people from three different fields working together and only with such an interdisciplinary approach can you make such breakthroughs. Moving forward, this will change how people look at these systems. For me that is thrilling.'
#climatechange; #UniversityofCalifornia; #StanfordUnivinPaloAltoCalifornia
Ottawa, Apr 24 (Canadian-Media): Over the past half-century, climate change has been blamed for heat waves, flooding, and rising seas, Science Magazine study said.
Photo Credit: European Scientist Newsletter
Now, researchers say warmer temperatures are widening the chasm separating richer and poorer countries, effectively boosting the economies of many wealthy polluters while dampening growth in much of the developing world. As a result, inequality between the haves and have-nots is already 25% greater than it would be in a cooler world, the paper asserts.
Though he disagrees about the numbers, University of California, Berkeley, economist Solomon Hsiang says the paper provides clear evidence that climate change has stunted economies in the developing world. “The study’s statement that warming should have already harmed economic opportunities in poor countries is extremely important,” he wrote in an email.
The new work builds on previous research that found economic activity peaks at an average temperature of 13°C. Call it a “Goldilocks” condition that’s neither too hot nor too cold. Lower temperatures can hamper weather-dependent sectors like agriculture, but hotter temperatures can wither crops, sap workers’ energy, and exacerbate social conflicts. That study found that climate change could reduce overall global economic output by 23% by 2100.
In the new study, the duo of climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh and economist Marshall Burke, both at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, used climate and economic models to tease out the economic impacts of climate change country by country, starting in 1961. Their model compared how each country performed in hotter and colder years, while accounting for other factors such as technological innovations and gyrations in the global economy. From each country’s response to temperatures, the modelers created two “worlds,” one reflecting actual global warming and another without greenhouse gas pollution.
Comparing them showed that between 1961 and 2010, many countries near the equator, which are generally poorer, lost an average of more than 25% of potential growth in gross domestic product (GDP) because of global warming, the researchers report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Many cooler, mostly wealthier countries, in contrast, enjoyed an economic bump of 20% or more, thanks to warmer weather. Since 1961, for example, Norway’s per capita GDP grew an extra 34%, while India lost almost the same amount.
As global temperatures have risen, some economies have wilted while others enjoyed an extra lift. The difference follows a geographic pattern, according to a new study: Hotter countries closer to the equator suffered, while cooler ones benefited.
NOAH S. DIFFENBAUGH; MARSHALL BURKE
Small economic damages can have outsize effects, because those in one year can ripple out to future years, Burke says. For instance, an agribusiness that lost money in a heat wave might invest less in equipment or research. “Even small changes in the growth rate compound over time and you can see big effects,” he says.
Hsiang, who was the lead author of a 2017 paper that concluded the U.S. economy would lose approximately 1.2% of GDP with a 1°C increase in average temperatures, cautions against giving too much weight to the numbers, especially the apparent gains for cooler countries. The approach doesn’t confirm the results with “real world evidence that it actually happened,” he says.
Burke acknowledges that more complete economic data could make for more certainty. But he defends the results as “the best possible interpretation of the data,” and says they could feed discussions about whether richer nations responsible for the lion’s share of historic emissions should compensate poorer nations for climate damage. And both Hsiang and the Stanford researchers agree on the need for more research on climate and inequality. One big question: Does warming exacerbate inequality within a country?
#InternationalMotherEarthDay; #climateaction; #climatechange; #2015ParisAgreement; SDGs; #2019 Climate Action Summit
United Nations, Apr 22 (Canadian-Media/UN): Marking International Mother Earth Day, the United Nations (UN) on Monday debated how best to build “an equitable and sustainable future” for all, through enhanced education and climate action, on the road to a key international summit on the issue due to take place in September, UN reports said.
Billed officially as an Interactive Dialogue on Harmony with Nature, the UN General Assembly session involved Member States and top officials discussing the need to take urgent action against the pace of global warming, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement, to keep carbon dioxide emissions to well-below two degrees Celsius.
In a tweet to mark Earth Day, UN chief António Guterres said it was vital “every day” to “commit to taking better care of our planet. Please do everything in your power to tackle climate change – the defining issue of our time”, he said.
“Climate change is one of the largest threats to sustainable development globally,” said the concept note prepared for the General Assembly meeting, “and is just one of many imbalances caused by the unsustainable actions of humankind, with direct implications for future generations.”
Only we can prevent ‘irreparable damage’
President of the General Assembly, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, said that taking care of nature was, in essence, “taking care of people”. She also noted the importance of respecting life-cycles of the natural world, and contributing to biological diversity so that the world can “continue and prosper”.
“We are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to the planet and to its inhabitants” she tweeted. “We are at a crossroads; this is the moment in which we decide the path we wish to take, to avoid reaching a point of no return in global warming. We already know the results of inaction.”
Day honours ‘life and sustenance’ earth provides
The international day recognizes a collective responsibility, as called for in the 1992 Rio Declaration, to promote harmony with nature and the Earth to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations of humanity.
It also provides an opportunity to raise public awareness around the world to the challenges regarding the well-being of the planet and all the life it supports.
To boost ambition and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the UN Secretary-General will host the 2019 Climate Action Summit on 23 September, to meet the climate challenge.
#UnitedNations; #InternationalLabourOrganization; #e-waste; #UNEWasteCoalition
United Nations, Apr 17 (Canadian-Media): A “toxic flood of electric and electronic waste” that is growing by the day across the world, should be urgently converted into a source of decent work, that can also protect populations from its harmful effects, the United Nations labour agency said on Wednesday.
Governments, workers and employer organizations reached agreement at a meeting of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva, urging that “at all levels”, countries should look to increase and invest in better waste management infrastructure and systems to deal with “the rapidly growing flows of e-waste in ways that advance decent work”.
“Every stage of the reuse, recycling, refurbishing, resale” process, when it comes to technology “has to be looked at in much more systematic ways”, said Nikhil Seth, Chair of the ILO Global Dialogue Forum on Decent Work in the Management of Electrical and Electronic Waste.
Countries also recognized the crucial need to protect those working with toxic and hazardous e-waste, which negatively affects both them and the environment.
“Workers handling e-waste have no voice, no bargaining power”, said worker vice-chairperson, James Towers, pointing out that “they are breaking hazardous materials by their hands.”
Moreover, he added that “these workers are unaware of the many risks associated with handling e-waste”.
A ‘great business opportunity’
The world produces as much as 50 million tonnes of e-waste a year, and although it is valued at 55 billion euros, or more than 60 billion dollars, only 20 per cent of e-waste is formally recycled, according to ILO.
It is, however, becoming an increasingly important resource for in the informal work sector. Along the e-waste value chain, they recover, refurbish, repurpose and recycle electrical and electronic equipment, bringing innovative services and products to the market, aiding the whole “circular” recycling economy.
“There is [a] great business opportunity in the e-waste sector”, stressed employer vice-chairperson, Patrick Van den Bossche
“We need to step up our efforts in creating decent and sustainable jobs, fostering an enabling environment for sustainable enterprises, offering new products and new services, and adding value through enhancing the circular economy”, he affirmed.
Government vice-chairperson Aniefiok Etim Essah spoke about how e-waste is littering the landscape of his country, Nigeria, as well as other African nations, arguing that this can be turned into a positive: “Our youth possesses the creativity and potential for learning skills to manage e-waste, giving us the opportunity to increase youth employment,” he said.
ILO is a member of the UN E-Waste Coalition, formed to increase collaboration, build partnerships and more efficiently provide support to help States address the e-waste challenge.
E-Waste: We must urgently act to advance decent work and protect the planet, by email@example.com
#Quebec; #poweroutage; #freezingrain; #Laval; #Lanaudièreregions; #Laurentians
Quebec, Apr 9 (Canadian-Media): More than 250,000 hydro clients across southern Quebec were without power on Tuesday after freezing rain hit the region on Monday, media reports said.
Emergency officials said Tuesday afternoon that power will not be fully restored for at least another 24 hours.
Most of those cases were in the Laval and Lanaudière regions north of Montreal, and the Laurentians, located northeast of Quebec City.
#China; #ChinaAvalanche; #Xiinjiang
Urumqi, Apr 8 (Canadian-Media): Ten people were trapped after avalanches hit a mountainous area in Changji Monday in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, according to Urumqi's fire brigade.
The snowslide was first reported to hit a valley in Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang, but later confirmed to strike a grassland in the Ashili township in Changji, a city near Urumqi, said Urumqi's fire brigade.
One person was injured and one was in weak condition among the ten people that were trapped in the avalanches, said the head of the rescue team.
Land rescue forces will spend two days rescuing those trapped due to multiple avalanches, but the remaining provisions can only support them for one day, said the head of the rescue team.
The local emergency department is asking for helicopters to join the rescue efforts due to the poor traffic conditions caused by the avalanches.
Overhaul of global financial system needed to fight against climate change and poverty, says major UN report
#AminaMohammed; #EconomicandSociaForum; #ZhenminLiu; #BanglaDesh; #Dhaka; #ForuminFinancingforDevelopment, #AntónioGuterres; #climatechange; #poverty; #technologychange; #geopolitics; #multilateralism; #financialstability
United Nations, Apr 5 (Canadian-Media): A major new UN-led report, involving more than 60 international organizations, warns that a comprehensive overhaul of the world’s financial system is necessary, if governments are to honour commitments to tackle critical issues, such as combating climate change and eradicating poverty by 2030.
Image courtesy of World Bank/ Dominic Chavez: Residents living in a slum in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh
The 2019 Financing for Sustainable Development Report, says that achieving the financing needed to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – the UN’s plan of action for peace, planet and prosperity – is not just about finding additional investment, but also building supportive financial systems, and global and national policy environments, which are favourable to sustainable development.
At a press conference on Thursday, following the release of the report, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said that it delivers a “sobering message”, showing low wage growth, rising inequality and debt distress, and stagnating aid levels.
Climate change, said Ms. Mohammed, continues to threaten sustainable development in all regions, and, despite international commitments to limit a rise in global temperatures, greenhouse gas emissions actually rose by 1.3 per cent during the course of 2017.
The report also shows that it is becoming increasingly difficult to create conditions to bring about positive change. The reasons include rapid changes in technology, geopolitics and climate, and the inability of national and multilateral institutions to adapt.
In addition, increasing inequality has hit many people’s faith in the multilateral system and, in his foreword to the report, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, says: “Our shared challenge is to make the international trading and financial systems fit for purpose to advance sustainable development and promote fair globalization.”
Recommendations for a sustainable economy, financial system
Despite the many problems and roadblocks outlined in the report, the international organizations involved found that interest in sustainable investment is growing in the finance community, with some three-quarters of individual investors showing interest in how their financial behaviour affects the world.
The responsibility rests with governments to recommit to multilateralism, and to take policy actions that will create a sustainable and prosperous future Zhenmin Liu, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs
The report also contains a number of recommendations for ways to bring about a more sustainable global economy and financial system. These include a shift to long-term investment, and an inclusion of sustainability as a central risk factor; a revamp of the multilateral trading system; and addressing the concentration of markets into the hands of a small number of powerful companies, which are not limited by national borders.
The Deputy Secretary-General noted that encouraging longer-term credit ratings, carbon taxes, and meaningful disclosure on the social and environmental costs of doing business, are all examples of incentives aligned with sustainable development goals.
Ms. Mohammed continued with a call for better regulation to manage financial technology, commonly referred to as fintech. Whilst fintech has allowed more than half a billion people to gain access to financial services, enabling progress on the 2030 Agenda in developing countries, regulators are struggling to keep pace and, if fintech is allowed to grow in an unsupervised manner, it could put financial stability at risk.
In a statement, Zhenmin Liu, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Chair of the Task Force that issued the report said there is a major opportunity to overcome bottlenecks in sustainable financing in 2019, but insisted that “the responsibility rests with governments to recommit to multilateralism, and to take policy actions that will create a sustainable and prosperous future.”
Between April 15 and April 18, the UN will discuss the findings of the report at the Economic and Social Forum (ECOSOC) Forum in Financing for Development, where Member States agree on measures necessary to mobilize sustainable financing.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)