The Bahamas has become the latest recruit to Richard Branson's green energy drive for Caribbean islands.
Branson's Carbon War Room NGO is aiming to help islands in the region transition from expensive fossil fuel imports to using their own renewable energy resources as part of its Ten Island Challenge programme.
This week the Bahamas joined the push, committing to developing 20MW of solar PV generation in the outer Family Islands, bringing energy efficiency and solar solutions to a local high school, and replacing streetlights across the nation with energy efficient LED lights.
Carbon War Room plans to support these goals by providing the country's government with a range of technical, project management, communications, and business advisory services.
The Bahamas joins the islands of Aruba, Grenada, San Andres and Providencia in Colombia, Saint Lucia, and Turks & Caicos in the challenge, which aims to generate how small states can decarbonise in a cost-effective manner.
"The Bahamas' entry into the Ten Island Challenge signals another step forward for the Caribbean region in the effort towards a clean energy future," Branson said in a statement. "The progress made in The Bahamas will help inspire other islands to work towards accomplishing their renewable energy objectives."
While the focus to date has been on Caribbean islands, earlier this year Peter Boyd, Carbon War Room's chief operating officer, told BusinessGreen the programme could expand into the Pacific and to isolated communities, military bases, or mines. "There are island energy economies even if the 'island' isn't surrounded by water," he said at the time.
"If we save Tuvalu, we save the world" - UN Climate Convention, Peru
9 December 2014, Lima, Peru - The Prime Minister of Tuvalu paid homage to ancestors buried in Peru at the UN Climate Convention today. Taking the floor at the High Level Segment of the 20th Conference of the Parties, he began his statement acknowledging the interesting and tragic historical connection with Peru.
During the 1860's slave traders known as blackbirders took approximately 400 people from Tuvalu to work in Peru. None of them ever returned.
"There are Tuvaluans buried here on this land and we pay our respects to our ancestors who were brought here against their will," stated Hon. Enele Sosene Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu - remembering the history of Tuvalu before looking to the future.
"I am here at this important meeting as the highest representative of the people of Tuvalu. I carry a huge burden and responsibility. I carry their hopes that there will be a future for Tuvalu. This is an enormous burden to carry. It keeps me awake at night. No national leader in the history of humanity has ever faced this question. Will we survive or will we disappear under the sea? I ask you all to think what it is like to be in my shoes."
On the frontlines of climate change, the greatest single threat to the island atoll, Tuvalu is heartened by the progress leading to a new climate change protocol made at the UN Climate Convention in Peru yet also very clear that they will not support a new protocol without a substantive programme on loss and damage. The new agreement must be agreed upon by the end of December, 2015 in Paris, the host of the next Conference of the Parties.
"Tuvalu, and I suspect most of the world, believes that reaching a comprehensive new protocol in Paris is absolutely essential. We cannot repeat Copenhagen. We cannot suffer the frustration and humiliation of being asked to accept a half-hearted response to a critical global crisis."
"The new protocol must be comprehensive it must cover all issues in a meaningful way. It has to include effective mitigation targets for all countries. It must deliver real outcomes on adaptation and loss and damage. It must deliver the necessary finance to transform our society. And it must deliver the technology and the necessary capacity building to ensure everyone can respond to climate change. All these pillars are essential."
The coral atoll nation of Tuvalu consists of nine inhabited islands with the highest point above sea level being four meters. Now experiencing climate change impacts through saltwater intrusion into agricultural areas, lack of potable water and coastal erosion - the fate of Tuvalu is in the hands of the international community.
"I ask everyone who leaves this room to look into the eyes of the first child they see. I want everyone to look into the child’s eyes and imagine what those eyes will see in ten or twenty years. Will they see hell or will they see a sustainable planet."
"Let us stand proud in Paris. Let us look into the eyes of children and say, yes we have a real future for you. Let us make 2015 the year we saved the Earth! Let us make 2015 the year we saved Tuvalu. For if we save Tuvalu we save the world."
To access the full statement presented by Hon. Enele Sosene Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu at the High Level Segment of the 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change please visit: http://unfccc.int/files/meetings/lima_dec_2014/statements/application/pdf/cop20_hls_tuvalu.pdf
As Typhoon Hagupit hits the Philippines, one of the biggest peacetime evacuations in history has been launched to prevent a repeat of the massive loss of life which devastated communities when Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the same area just over a year ago.
“One of the biggest evacuations in peacetime” strikes a sickening chord. Is this peacetime or are we at war with nature?
I was about to head to Lima, when I got a call to come to the Philippines to support our office and its work around Typhoon Hagupit (which means lash). In Lima another round of the UN climate talks are underway to negotiate a global treaty to prevent catastrophic climate change. A truce of sorts with nature.
But these negotiations have been going on far too long, with insufficient urgency and too much behind the scenes, and not so much behind the scenes, interference from the fossil fuel lobby.
This year, like last year and the year before these negotiations take place against a devastating backdrop of a so-called ‘extreme weather event’, something that climate scientists have been warning us about if we don’t take urgent action.
Tragically, we are not taking urgent action. Nature does not negotiate, it responds to our intransigence. For the people of the Philippines, and in many other parts of the world, climate change is already a catastrophe.
Only one year ago, Super Typhoon Haiyan killed thousands, destroyed communities and caused billions of dollars in damage. Many survivors who are still displaced have this week had to evacuate the tents they have been living in as Typhoon Hagupit carves a path across the country as I write.
It’s too early to assess the impact so far—we are all hoping early indications will spare the Philippines of the same pain that was experienced after Haiyan.
Here in Manila, we prepare to travel to the impacted areas in the wake of Typhoon Hagupit, or Ruby, as it has been named. We will offer what minor assistance we can.
We will stand in solidarity with the Filipino people and we will call out those who are responsible for climate change, those who are responsible for the devastation and who should be helping pay for the clean up and for adaptation to a world in which our weather is an increasing source of mass destruction.
With heavy hearts we prepare to bear witness. We challenge those in Lima to turn their attention from the lethargy and process of the negotiations and pay attention to what is happening in the real world.
We call on them to understand that climate change is not a future threat to be negotiated but a clear and present danger that requires urgent action now!
Each year, the people of the Philippines learn the hard way what inaction on emissions mean. They might be slightly better prepared and more resilient, but they are also rightly more aghast that each year—at the same time—the climate meetings seem to continue in a vacuum, not prepared to take meaningful action, not able to respond to the urgency of our time and not holding accountable the Big Polluters that are causing the climate to change with ferocious pace.
Before leaving for Manila I also received a message from Yeb Saño, climate commissioner for the Philippines: “I hope you can join us as we bear witness to the impact of this new super typhoon. Your help would be very valuable in delivering a message to Lima loud and clear.”
Yeb was the Filipino chief negotiator for three years at the UN climate talks and recently visited the Arctic on a Greenpeace ship to witness the Arctic sea ice minimum. Two years ago in Doha, as Typhoon Pablo took the lives of many he broke through the normally reserved language of dispassionate diplomacy that dominates UN climate treaty talks:
“Please … let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage to … take responsibility for the future we want. I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”
I am joining Greenpeace Philippines and Yeb to visit the worst hit areas, document the devastation and send a clear message from climate change ground zero to Lima and the rest of the world that the ones that are responsible for the majority of emissions will be held accountable by the communities that are suffering the impacts of extreme weather events linked to climate change.
We will call on the heads of the fossil fuel companies who are culpable for the unfolding tragedy to examine their consciences and accept their historic responsibility. They say the truth is the first casualty of war, in this war against nature, the truth of climate science is unquestionable.
Please join us. Please add your voice by signing our petition calling on Big Polluters to be held legally and morally accountable for climate damages. After signing the petition you will be redirected to a site where you can make a donation to the relief efforts of partner organizations. More
Announcing “Disastersand Ecosystems: Resilience in a Changing Climate”, a new Massive Open OnlineCourse (MOOC) to be launched on 12 January, 2015
What we all know is that disasters are increasing worldwide. Population growth,environmental degradation and climate change will likely exacerbate disasterimpacts in many regions of the world. What role do ecosystems play in reducingdisaster risks and adapting to climate change? This is the topic of an exciting new Massive Open Online Course thatwill go live in January 2015. It was developedjointly by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Center for NaturalResources and Development (CNRD) and the Cologne University of Applied Sciences(CUAS), Germany. This is UNEP’s first MOOC, developed through its engagement with universities worldwide including the Global Universities Partnership on Environment for Sustainability (GUPES).
The MOOC covers a broad range of topics from disastermanagement, climate change, ecosystem management and community resilience. Howthese issues are linked and how well-managed ecosystems enhance resilience to naturaldisasters and climate change impacts are the core theme of the course.
The MOOC is designed at two levels: the leadership track, with the first 6 units providing generalintroduction to the fundamental concepts, which is suitable for people from allbackgrounds who wish to have a basic undertaking of the topic. The second level, or expert track comprises 15 units with more in depth learning on thevarious tools of ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and climate changeadaptation.
The course is delivered by both scientists and practitioners.In addition there are guest lectures from global leaders and experts, such as Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Julia Marton-Lefèvre, former Director General of the International Union for the Conservationof Nature (IUCN), Rajendra Pachauri of Teri University and Margareta Wahlströmof the UN International Strategy on Disaster Reduction (UNISDR).
Students will have the opportunity to enhance their knowledgethrough quizzes, real life and fictitious problem-solving exercises, additionalreading materials, videos and a discussion forum. An Expert-of-the-Week will be available torespond to questions and interact with students. Students will receive weeklynewsletters with up-to-date news on ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction andadaptation.
The course is invaluable for universities around the world,where faculty members can use it to update their curriculum and use thelectures and teaching materials for blended learning for their own courses. Atthe same time, the MOOC format also allows those currently outside theuniversity system to learn about the new developments in the area of disastersand climate change, without having to enroll in a university or pay for anonline course. Those who successfully complete the course will be provided witha course certificate.
Visit: www.themooc.net<http://www.themooc.net/>, or enroll directly at:
21 November 2014: The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Centre for Natural Resources and Development (CRND), the Climate Services Partnership, the International Centre for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM) and the government of Flanders, Belgium, organized an international symposium on ‘Building a Community of Practice on Drought Management Tools'.
St Helena is a UK Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic, currently served by a single ship, 6 days voyage from Cape Town. In 2016 the first airport will open, breaking the island’s isolation and greatly increasing biosecurity risk. The Policy is the result of over a full year’s work, with extensive stakeholder and public consultation. It provides the framework for preventing or mitigating against the increased risk of introduction of new and potentially harmful pests, weeds and diseases to St Helena associated with the air access and a new cargo system.
St Helena’s national vision for biosecurity is: ‘an effective biosecurity system of shared responsibility that protects the sustainable future of our Island, allowing a vibrant economy, safe movement of people and goods, and enhanced livelihoods and health.’
Biosecurity St Helena, as the policy document is known, is guided by seven principles: leadership, communication, shared responsibility, risk and evidence-based decision making, cooperation and equity. An implementation plan is also in place for priority actions to be delivered by responsible agencies.
Deputy Chair for Economic Development, Derek Thomas, said in his speech at the launch event that: "Having a biosecurity policy for the first time gives us a guiding document to help us achieve our vision and our response to our biosecurity challenge. Itrequires the support, participation and compliance of all St Helenians and visitors alike".
The document and other information on St Helena’s biosecurity system can be found athttp://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/st-helena-biosecurity-service/
Amidst the recent release of scientific reports on climate change, the key message has been for urgent action to limit global warming, before time runs out.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released their Synthesis Report on the 5th Assessment Report in October, the World Bank released the "Turn down the heat, confronting the new climate normal" report in November and the United Nations Environment Program released their "Bridging the 2014 Emission Gap Report" also in November.
According to the "Turn down the heat" report and an accompanying press release - climate change impacts such as extreme heat events may now be unavoidable because the Earth’s atmospheric system is locked into warming close to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by mid-century, and even very ambitious mitigation action taken today will not change this.
This does not mean, however, that long-term warming of 1.5°C is locked in, or that achievement of the 1.5°C warming limit, as called for by vulnerable countries like Pacific Islands, is no longer possible.
"What we see from the scientific literature is that it's clear that we can indeed hold warming below 2 degrees in this century probably with the most aggressive mitigation emission reduction options. We can limit peak warming close to 1.5 degrees and slowly reduce that to below 1.5 degrees by 2100," said Prof. Bill Hare of the Climate Analytics Group, Potsdam Institute.
"This is going to involve fairly major changes in policy settings now but this is what we are negotiating for, to have the emissions go down in the 2020's and if we can do that fast enough then its technically and economically feasible to bring warming back to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century."
"Those that are arguing it's not possible are expressing a political judgment, not a scientific judgment."
There will be climate change impacts experienced by several regions including the Pacific islands, before warming is reduced as limiting peak warming close to 1.5°C by mid century will still result in significant damage.
At the present levels of warming (about 0.8°C above preindustrial) the impacts of climate change are already being felt in many regions of the world. Continued damage is forecast to the coral reefs in the Pacific and other tropical oceans, there is the huge risk of damage to water supply resources in dry regions and substantial drops in crop yield in regions such as sub Saharan Africa.
"On top of that we'll also be experiencing quite major increase in extreme heat events even for 1.5 degrees warming so whatever happens we're going to have to go through some very severe changes," explains Professor Hare.
Here in Lima, Peru at the 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP20), the Pacific islands are calling for a 1.5 degree limit to global warming by 2100. The next two weeks of climate negotiations continue the work being done by the Pacific islands as members of the Alliance of Small Islands States, lobbying for the 1.5 degree limit to global warming to be agreed upon in Paris next year.
The new climate treaty is to be agreed upon by the end of December in 2015 in Paris.
"Strengthening the long-term temperature goal to 1.5 degrees is of critical importance for us. Even at the current temperatures, our small low lying islands are being battered by king tides, salt water intrusion, coastal erosion, coral bleaching, ocean acidification, loss of species and habitats," said Ms. Ana Tiraa, Head of the Cook Islands delegation at the UNFCCC COP 20.
"These will only be exacerbated at higher temperatures, with due respect to other parties, the Cook Islands calls for ambition levels that are high enough to keep temperature rise below 1.5 degrees. Temperature rises above 1.5 degrees cannot be an option for low lying small islands if we have a hope of surviving."
According to Prof. Hare, at present there is confidence that with aggressive mitigation action warming can be held to below 2 degrees yet another decade of inaction will most likely lead to warming at 2 degrees or above. The message is clear that the time for action is now.
"It is still feasible to bring global warming to below 1.5 degrees by 2100 but whether or not the world politics and major economies will take enough action in the coming five to 20 years is in question. We are entitled to be skeptical given the inaction that has characterised the last decade as to whether that looks happening but it's not a scientific judgment or statement, the option is well and truly open to bring warming back to below 1.5 degrees. More
How can civil society organizations (CSOs) build a broad movement that draws in, represents and mobilises the citizenry, and how can they effect fundamental, systemic transformation, rather than trading in incremental change?
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Has organised civil society, bound up in internal bureaucracy, in slow, tired processes and donor accountability, become simply another layer of a global system that perpetuates injustice and inequality?
How can civil society organizations (CSOs) build a broad movement that draws in, represents and mobilises the citizenry, and how can they effect fundamental, systemic transformation, rather than trading in incremental change?
This kind of introspective reflection was at the heart of a process of engagement among CSOs from around the world that gathered in Johannesburg from Nov. 19 to 21 for the “Toward a World Citizens Movement: Learning from the Grassroots” conference.
Organised by DEEEP, a project within the European civil society umbrella organisation CONCORD which builds capacity among CSOs and carries out advocacy around global citizenship and global citizenship education, the conference brought together 200 participants.
“It is important that people understand the inter-linkages at the global level; that they understand that they are part of the system and can act, based on their rights, to influence the system in order to bring about change and make life better – so it’s no longer someone else deciding things on behalf of the citizens”
– Rilli Lappalainen, Secretary-General of the Finnish NGDO PlatformKey partners were CIVICUS (the World Alliance for Citizen Participation, which is one of the largest and most diverse global civil society networks) and GCAP (Global Call to Action Against Poverty).
The three-day gathering was part of a larger series of conferences and activities that were arranged to coincide during the 2014 International Civil Society Week organised by CIVICUS, which closed Nov. 24.
Global citizenship is a concept that is gaining currency within the United Nations system, to the delight of people like Rilli Lappalainen, Secretary-General of the Finnish NGDO Platform and a key advocate for global citizenship education.
At the heart of this concept is people’s empowerment, explains Lappalainen. “It is important that people understand the inter-linkages at the global level; that they understand that they are part of the system and can act, based on their rights, to influence the system in order to bring about change and make life better – so it’s no longer someone else deciding things on behalf of the citizens.”
The process of introspection around building an effective civil society movement that can lead to such change began a year ago at the first Global Conference, also held in Johannesburg.
The discourse there highlighted the need for new ways of thinking and working – for the humility to linger in the uncomfortable spaces of not knowing, for processes of mutual learning, sharing and questioning.
This new spirit of inquiry and engagement, very much evident in the creative, interactive format of this year’s conference, is encapsulated in an aphorism introduced by thought-leader Bayo Akomolafe from Nigeria: “The time is very urgent – let us slow down”.
Akomolafe’s keynote address explored the need for a shift in process: “We are realising our theories of change need to change,” he said. “We must slow down today because running faster in a dark maze will not help us find our way out.”
“We must slow down today,” he continued, “because if we have to travel far, we must find comfort in each other – in all the glorious ambiguity that being in community brings … We must slow down because that is the only way we will see … the contours of new possibilities urgently seeking to open to us.”
A key opportunity for mutual learning and questioning was provided on the second day by a panel on ‘Challenging World Views’.
Prof Rob O’Donoghue from the Environmental Learning Research Centre at South Africa’s Rhodes University explored the philosophy of ubuntu, Brazilian activist and community organiser Eduardo Rombauer spoke about the principles of horizontal organising, and Hiro Sakurai, representative of the Buddhist network Soka Gakkai International (SGI) to the United Nations in New York, discussed the network’s core philosophy of soka, or value creation.
A female activist from Bhutan who was to join the panel was unable to do so because of difficulties in acquiring a visa – a situation that highlighted a troubling observation made by Danny Sriskandarajah, head of CIVICUS, about the ways in which the space for CSOs to work is being shrunk around the world.
The absence of women on the panel was noted as problematic. How is it possible to effectively question a global system that is so deeply patriarchal without the voices of women, asked a male participant. This prompted the spontaneous inclusion of a female member of the audience.
In the spirit of embracing not-knowing, the panellists were asked to pose the questions they think we should be asking. How do we understand and access our power? How do we foster people’s engagement and break out of our own particular interests to engage in more systems-based thinking? How can multiple worldviews meet and share a moral compass?
Ubuntu philosophy, explained O’Donoghue, can be defined by the statement: “A person is a person through other people.”
The implications of this perspective for the issues at hand are that answers to the problems affecting people on the margins cannot be pre-defined from the outside, but must be worked out through solidarity and through a process of struggle. You cannot come with answers; you can only come into the company of others and share the problems, so that solutions begin to emerge from the margins.
The core perspective of soka philosophy is that each person has the innate ability to create value – to create a positive change – in whatever circumstances they find themselves. Millions of people, Sakurai pointed out, are proving the validity of this idea in their own contexts. This is the essence of the Soka movement.
His point was echoed the following evening in the address of Graca Machel, wife of the late Nelson Mandela, at a CIVICUS reception, in which she spoke of the profound challenges confronting civil society as poverty and inequality deepen and global leaders seem increasingly dismissive of the voices of the people.
Then, toward the end of her speech, she softly recalled “my friend Madiba” (Mandela’s clan name) in the final years of his life, and his consistent message at that time that things are now in our hands.
What he showed us by his example, she said, is that each person has immense resources of good within them. Our task is to draw these out each day and exercise them in the world, wherever we are and in whatever ways we can.
Those listening to Machel saw Mandela’s message as a sign of encouragement in their efforts to create the World Citizens Movement of tomorrow. More
Portraits of Resilience | Christine Germane | TEDxRenfrewCollingwood
Published on Nov 26, 201 4 • This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Listen as photographer and educator Christine Germane tells the stories of Portraits of Resilience, a unique project that illustrates the ethical dimension of the climate change discussion through documenting and sharing the personal stories of indigenous youth. Since 2000, Christine Germane has been collaborating with Indigenous communities as a photographer, educator and curator. The international photojournalism project titled Portraits of Resilience has allowed her to work with indigenous youth to illustrate the personal and ethical effects of climate change on their communities. Since its creation in 2008, the project has occurred in 12 countries and has been exhibited internationally, including the launch at the National Museum of Denmark. With a range of education, awards, and project coordination experience within art and design under her belt, Christine's exceptional work has provided youth with a medium to share their voice during a crucial period of time.
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