Thursday, November 12, 2015

WBGU Co-Chair Schellnhuber on Divestment from economic activities which ...

Heads of state or government will address the issue of climate finance at the G20 summit on 15./16. November 2015 in Antalya. In an interview WBGU-Co Chair John Schellnhuber highlights the importance of the divestment movement. Divestment describes the withdrawal of investments (stocks, funds or bonds) from the fossil fuel sector. These assets can then be reinvested in sustainable sectors.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Bhutan reaffirms to remain carbon neutral | Kuenselonline

Bhutan has reaffirmed to remain carbon neutral and pursue low emission development to achieve the ambitious global targets of climate change post 2020.

National Environment Commission (NEC) vice chairperson and agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji submitted Bhutan’s commitments or the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat yesterday.

Countries across the globe committed to create a new international climate agreement by the end of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris this December. In preparation, countries agreed to outline what post-2020 climate actions they intend to take under a new international agreement.

National Environment Commission (NEC) officials said the INDC submission indicates the actions the countries will take under a new climate agreement.

These contributions will largely determine whether the world achieves an ambitious 2015 agreement and is put on a path toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient future after 2020.

Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said, “Bhutan’s INDCs are more than our fair share of efforts to combat climate change.” He called on the global community to provide adequate support in the country’s resolve and efforts to fulfil the commitments.

The minister said Bhutan’s contribution to combat climate change is made with the view that there is no need greater, or more important, than keeping the planet safe.

NEC’s Climate Change division head Thinley Namgyel said, “Bhutan today emits 2.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) against the sequestration by forests, which is about 6.3 million tonnes of CO2.”

“In addition, export of surplus clean hydroelectricity to the region will help to offset emissions up to 22.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2025,” he said.

Today, Bhutan offsets 4.4 million tonnes of CO2e through exports of hydroelectricity, while access to clean electricity is almost 100 percent in urban areas and 94 percent in rural areas.

However, challenges remain aplenty.

Although the highest emissions are from the agriculture sector, they have more or less remained constant, but emissions from sectors such as industries and transport are rapidly increasing.

From 2000 to 2013, emissions from the energy sector rose by 191.6 percent to 0.79 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Emissions from the industrial processes increased by 154.3 percent to 0.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) and the emissions from waste jumped 247.54 percent to 0.16 million tonnes of CO2e in the same period.

Bhutan’s INDC builds on the declaration to remain carbon neutral made in 2009. The officials said the INDC cover a wide range of sectors and draw on existing legislations, policies and strategies.

Mitigation measures

Some mitigation measures are in place such as sustainable land management practices, improved livestock management, promotion of organic agriculture and promotion of zero emission vehicles.

The 11th Plan has integrated carbon neutral development as part of the national key result areas to guide planning and implementation of development activities within all sectors.

To reduce green house gas emissions, the country identified nine strategies, plans, and actions.

Managing the energy demands promoting energy efficient appliances and integrating low emission strategies in urban and rural settlements through green buildings and sustainable construction methods are some of the strategies identified for mitigation.

The country remains highly vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change because of the fragile mountain ecosystems and economic structure.

“The most vulnerable sectors are water resources, agriculture, forests and biodiversity and hydropower sectors,” the INDC stated. “It’s projected that both the frequency and intensity of extreme climate events would increase with changing climate.”


Besides being a land locked and poor country, the country is threatened by climate change because the population depends highly on agriculture and the significant role of hydropower in its economic development.

Despite following a cautious approach to development by balancing economic development and environment conservation, climate change threatens to derail the gains the country made towards sustainable socio-economic development.

“Therefore, international support is essential to address the adverse impacts of climate change that are already starting to taking place and also to safeguard the gains made towards sustainable development,” the INDC stated.

The country has its National Adaptation Programme of Action in 2006, and updated in 2012, of which few priority actions are being implemented.

For adaptation to adverse impacts, 10 priority adaptation needs are identified.

The INDC also elaborates on how the country would implement each of mitigation and adaption measures. The actions were decided after thorough consultations with NGOs, private sector and government agencies.

The INDC actions would also be integrated in the 12th Plan, as they would take effect after 2020.

“The success of the implementation of the actions in the INDC will depend on the level of financial and technical support received,” the document states.

It states that the country remains committed to addressing climate change and strives towards a legally binding agreement to keep global temperature increase to not more than 1.5 degree Celsius.

NEC officials said there are three likely outcomes from the conference. “It could be a climate change protocol, the strongest in terms of legality, which the least developed and islands countries wants,” Thinley Namgyel said.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

WBGU Co-Chair Dirk Messner on the new Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations recently published the catalogue of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). WBGU-Co Chair Dirk Messner explains in an interview how important it is to take into account the limits of the Earth system in implementing these goals. In detail, the following planetary guard rails should be complied with:

• Limit global warming to 2°C – to avoid irreversible climatic consequences, and limit ocean acidification to 0.2 pH units – to keep the marine environment intact.

• Stop the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services – to protect the natural life-support systems.

• Stop land and soil degradation – in order not to jeopardize global food production.

• Limit the risks posed by long-lived and harmful anthropogenic substances.

• Stop the loss of phosphorus – since this element is the limiting factor in food production.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Global Citizens Day of Action 2015: Who lights the way and what follows afterwards?

By Kimbowa Richard

On 24 September, thousands around the world plan to make a call on leaders to ‘light the way’ to a better future for people and planet. In 2015, World leaders will meet at key summits to set the goals and targets that will affect how we tackle issues like poverty, inequality and climate change for years to come. These include the UN General Assembly due 15th – 28th September 2015 to adopt a new set of Global Goals. 193 world leaders will commit to 17 Global Goals to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years. End extreme poverty. Fight inequality & injustice. Fix climate change. These Goals are to be achieved in all countries and for all people.

Hence, the Global Citizens Day of Action that brings together CSOs under Action2015 movement seeks to mobilize citizens to call upon their leaders to take action on poverty, inequality and climate change as they adopt the new Global Goals this September. This day is in also in line with the UN’s 2015 slogan: ‘Time for Global Action for People and Planet’

Intertwined: Inequality, climate change and poverty

The UN MDG Report (2015) provides starting point on what is pending to address global inequalities that come in various forms across regions and countries. For example millions of the poorest and those disadvantaged because of their sex, age, disability, ethnicity or geographic location that are being left behind. Hence, targeted efforts will be needed to reach the most vulnerable people across the globe that face the 3 horrors of poverty, inequality and climate change on a daily basis with little hope of breaking this bondage. For example, poor people’s livelihoods are more directly tied to natural resources, as they often live in the most vulnerable areas. They therefore suffer the most from environmental degradation in form of overexploitation of marine fish stocks, forest degradation, water scarcity due to droughts and flood conditions.

Who to ‘Light the Way’ now and in the long-run?

According to the UN MDG Report (2015), the global mobilization behind the Millennium Development Goals has produced the most successful anti-poverty movement in history. The landmark commitment entered into by world leaders in the year 2000 - to “spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty”— was translated into a framework of eight goals and, then, into wide-ranging practical steps that have enabled people across the world to improve their lives and their future prospects.

The emerging post-2015 development agenda, including the set of Sustainable Development Goals, strive to reflect lessons from the MDGs, build on successes made and put all countries, together, firmly on track towards a more prosperous, sustainable and equitable world. But then, in light of these lessons, who should take the drivers’ seat to propel the Global Goals? What criteria should be followed in selecting these leaders from the global to local levels?

In the foreword to the UN MDG Report (2015), UN Secretary General – Ban Ki Moon provides some useful clue in this regard, by noting that ‘further progress will require an unswerving political will, and collective, long-term effort’. He further adds that, ‘we need to tackle root causes and do more to integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development’.

What follows afterwards?

The challenge is therefore on how to harness and sustain the ‘latent’ political will that has been shown since the start of 2015, evidenced by the high-profile meetings and pronouncements during the G7 Summit in Germany (June – 8, 2015) and the Financing for Development Conference held in Addis Ababa (July 13 – 16, 2015).

The success of the 17 Global goals needs redoubling of efforts to truly achieve this universal and transformative agenda. Having a collective effort means citizens, communities, municipalities, townships, nations, regional and international bodies should be ready to support one another in pursuance of these global goals. Relatedly, long-term effort means investment in knowledge and information sharing, skills development (for example on monitoring of data on the global goals to inform planning in real time in order to ‘count the uncounted so that can we reach the unreached’) and manpower exchange with less or no conditionalities to enable experiential learning and mutual support.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Kigali introduces a car-free street | The New Times - Rwanda

One of the busiest streets downtown between Centenary House and the junction that leads to Ecole Belge was declared car-free, putting Kigali closer to its dream of becoming a modern and green city.