Friday, July 1, 2016

Inside the Green Economy - promises and pitfalls in 9 theses | Heinrich Böll Foundation

The green economy is being put forward as a model to solve ecological and economic crises. But can it really deliver? Thomas Fatheuer, Lili Fuhr and Barbara Unmüßig of the Heinrich Böll Foundation set out to explore the underlying assumptions, hypotheses and propositions of the green economy and to spell out their consequences in the real world.

The authors call for radical realism and the courage to recognize the complexity of the global crises. They assert that the great task will be to continue the project of modernity, embracing the latest knowledge about planetary boundaries as well as the old vision of broad democratic participation and an end to poverty and injustice. Red more:

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Paris talks: indigenous people and small farmers say rich are setting the agenda | The Guardian (UK)

By John Vidal, The Guardian

Poor communities on the climate change frontline say their voices are not being heard in Paris, and that more powerful groups are setting back their cause

n the climate talks “blue zone”, in the Parisian district of Le Bourget, are the governments, their advisers and lawyers, big business and the financiers. Facebook has a stall, along with UN agencies and scientific bodies.

But the world’s 4 billion small farmers, fishermen and women, indigenous peoples, hunters and gatherers, rural workers, pastoralists, and young people on the frontline of climate change, inhabit the “green zone”, beyond the fence where the decision-makers do not go.

Many of those in the green zone say they are excluded, and feel hurt that they have no seat at the table. The more powerful, richer voices are able to drown out their ideas and even set back their causes at the Paris talks.

“Right now, the talks are a failure. Our voices are not being heard,” said Jorge Furagaro Kuetgaje, climate coordinator for Coica, the Indigenous People of the Amazon Basin.

Furagaro Kuetgaje and a colleague travelled for 10 days to get to Paris, to press for one sentence about indigenous rights to be included in the final text. This week it was expunged by negotiators, reportedly by a bloc of countries led by the US, UK and Norway, which had previously supported them.

“We think that mining and oil companies that are on our territory or that want to be there, they have more power in the negotiations,” Furagaro Kuetgaje said. “So our voice is not heard. Yet we indigenous peoples live in the forests, and we protect nature and biodiversity and reduce climate change.

“For us to continue to conserve the tropical forests … we need to have strong rights to those forests. Death should not be the price we pay for playing our part in preventing the emissions that fuel climate change.” A Global Witness report found that at least 116 environmental activists were murdered in 2014, and 40% of the victims were indigenous.

Around 500 Amazonian Indians, Sami people from the Arctic, Dayaks from Indonesian rainforests devastated by mining, Sioux Indians fighting oil sands development in the Canadian province of Alberta, and Marshall Islanders whose homes and hospitals are inundated by rising water, say they are disappointed that their voices have not been heard.

But since last Friday, when news reached the many groups that all reference to indigenous peoples had been removed, the mood has darkened further, and the sense of betrayal is palpable.

“We came here with solutions. We do not understand why people make decisions for us in this way. Now the Colombian government has signed an agreement with Britain and Germany to avoid deforestation in the Amazon. But no one asked us. We were not consulted. We will lose our autonomy,” said Furagaro Kuetgaje.

Equally disappointed in the way the negotiations are going are representatives of farmers’ organisations and agro-ecologists, who say the agenda in the talks has been to promote the interests of agribusiness.

Via Campesina, an international umbrella organisation of farmers’ groups, has brought people from 30 countries to press the point that smallholder farmers, who are estimated to produce 70% of the world’s food grown for humans, can prevent climate change more effectively than industrial farms can.

Like indigenous leaders, they feel betrayed by the process and fear that the hidden agenda in Paris is to introduce more intensive farming, which will throw smallholders off the land and encourage agribusiness to “grab” African and Asian rural areas to grow biofuels, palm oil and animal feed.

“While our leaders openly welcome multinational companies and their false solutions, we must urgently change the direction where agriculture is headed, to achieve a real positive approach for the climate. Given this, peasant agriculture and agro-ecology are considered economical, favouring both the environment and peasants,” said a spokesman for Via Campesina. “The real solutions to stop greenhouse gas emissions coming from agriculture and the food system are peasant agriculture and agro-ecology.”

They were backed this week by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the only UN organisation with a remit to work exclusively with small farmers. “If we are going to sustainably improve the livelihoods of the developing world’s smallholder farmers in the context of a changing climate, we need to ensure that their priorities are understood and reflected in policies,” said Ifad’s vice-president, Michel Mordasini.

Ifad’s report, The Policy Advantage, says smallholder farmers “know best the realities they face … and if they are not adequately involved in processes to formulate policy responses, they risk losing out and being sidelined in decisions that directly determine their ability to cope and adapt”. 

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.