Archive | International Relations & Treaties

U.N. Climate Chief to Leave in July

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 18 (UPI) — The United Nation’s top climate official, Yvo de Boer of the Netherlands, said he will leave in July to work on environmental issues in the private sector.

His departure comes amid uncertainty as to whether the 193 member nations of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change can produce a final treaty in Mexico in December, The Washington Post said Thursday

“Working with my colleagues … in support of the climate change negotiations has been a tremendous experience … but I believe the time is ripe for me to take on a new challenge,” de Boer said in a statement.

Unclear was whether the Copenhagen, Denmark, accord on climate change can be the basis for a lasting treaty, the Post said. While all major emitters have stated their commitments to reduce carbon output during the next decade, several key countries have not formally signed off on the document.

De Boer will join the consulting group KPMG as global adviser on climate and sustainability, and work with several universities.

“The political commitment and sense of direction toward a low-emissions world are overwhelming,” he said. “This calls for new partnerships with the business sector, and I now have the chance to help make this happen.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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U.N. Climate Change Panel Unveiled

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 12 (UPI) — British and Ethiopian officials lead a panel called to help find financing for developing countries’ fight against climate change, the United Nations said.

The Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing will be charged with developing practical proposals to boost short- and long-term financing for mitigation and adaptation strategies in developing countries, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday in a news release issued from New York.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will head the group.

Among the objectives in the Copenhagen Accord reached at December’s U.N. conference in the Danish capital is to jump-start immediate action on climate change, raise $100 billion annually by 2020 and guide negotiations on long-term action.

“There will be an even balance between developing and developed countries” in the new Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, Ban said, stressing the need for speed: “Developing countries need to move as quickly as possible toward a future of low-emissions growth and prosperity.”

The panel’s other members, whose names will be announced soon, will be appointed for 10 months, Ban’s office said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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China's Odd Climate-change Remark

NEW DELHI, Jan. 26 (UPI) — China’s top climate-change negotiator said he was keeping an open mind on whether global warming was man-made or the result of natural cycles.

Speaking in New Delhi following the conclusion Sunday of a two-day meeting of ministers from the BASIC group of the most powerful emerging economies — China, India, Brazil and South Africa — Xie Zhenhua said climate change was a “solid fact.” But, he said, more and better scientific research was needed to determine the causes.

India and South Africa’s environment ministers seemed to be taken by surprise by Xie’s comments made during a news briefing, the Telegraph reports. The Indian delegate to the BASIC meeting, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, said he did not believe his Chinese counterpart had meant what he said, while South Africa’s minister, Buyelwa Sonjica, said she could not “second guess” what Xie had meant by his comments.

Xie’s remarks appeared to undermine the BASIC group’s main argument, that Western developed countries should foot the bill for poor countries to switch to low-carbon models because their emissions are responsible for climate change.

The BASIC group played a key role in drawing up the Copenhagen Accord in December’s climate-change talks.

In a joint statement following the New Delhi meeting, the BASIC group noted the accord represents a high-level political understanding among the participants on some of the disputed issues of climate-change negotiations.

The BASIC group said they would disclose the voluntary steps the countries would take to help reduce global warming by the Jan. 31 deadline set during the Copenhagen negotiations.

During the briefing, Ramesh said the value of the Copenhagen Accord lies not as a standalone document, “but as an input into the two-track negotiating process” under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will culminate in Mexico City in December 2010.

The group called for Denmark, chair of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations, to hold at least five meetings of the working groups before the Mexico conference.

Rich nations should ensure the early distribution of $10 billion pledged for 2010 at Copenhagen to address climate change in the least developed nations and island states, noted the statement.

“That is the basic minimum,” Ramesh said.

“If $10 billion as promised in the Copenhagen accord does not flow to Africa, to small island states and to the LDCs [least developed countries] we believe that frankly the developed countries are not serious,” he said. “That is the first milestone that has to be achieved. You have to put money on the table, you have to identify the projects and money has to start flowing.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Canada Seeks National Polar Policy as Arctic Scientists Lack Funding

EDMONTON, Alberta, Jan. 13 (UPI) — Canada needs a national polar policy to fund studies in the Arctic — one of fastest changing landscapes on Earth, a University of Alberta researcher said.

Canadian scientists find it increasing difficult to find money to monitor glaciers, sea ice and animals affected by the melting environment in the Arctic, John England said Wednesday in an online edition of the journal Nature.

“The capacity to support researchers in remote field sites has plummeted,” England said, adding, “There simply isn’t enough money for the air support that Canadian scientists need to get people and supplies into the wilderness.”

The underfunded and important Polar Continental Shelf Program needs to be linked with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, which is the main funding body for science in Canada, he said.

“Now is an opportune time to apply pressure to change this,” England said, noting Canada has a responsibility to lead in stewardship of the Arctic.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Engineering, International Relations & Treaties, Policy, Law, & Government, Snowpack & Ice0 Comments

Canadians Deem Climate Change Top Threat

OTTAWA, Jan. 11 (UPI) — Canadians think climate change is a bigger threat to their well-being than terrorism, a poll released Monday indicates.

A survey commissioned by the Canadian Defense and Foreign Affairs Institute and conducted by the Innovative Research Group Inc., found that nearly half of the respondents called climate change a “critical threat,” while only 28 percent deemed terrorism to be such a threat, Canwest News Service reported.

The findings showed a marked decrease on the critical assessment of terrorism compared with a similar poll conducted a year ago. In the earlier survey, climate change and terrorism were rated about equally as a threat at 52 percent and 49 percent respectively.

Senior research fellow Lt. Gen. Michael Jeffery told Canwest the shift has happened because terrorism is not on the front burner for many Canadians, adding that that is a “dangerous perception. We are not aware that the world around us has changed and is continuing to change, and emerging from that very, very different world are increasing threats to Canada, Canadians and our way of life.”

Canwest said the online survey was conducted among members of Innovative’s Canada 20/20 panel, included 1,229 responses, with a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

European Commission to Aid Drought Stricken Guatemala

BRUSSELS, Jan. 8 (UPI) — A drought-stricken section of Guatemala will receive almost $2 million in emergency humanitarian aid from the European Commission, officials say.

The EC’s Humanitarian Aid department has set aside the money to ensure some 20,000 residents have enough food, water and seeds.

The drought, caused by El Nino, has left parched a corridor of Guatemala bordering El Salvador and Honduras, an EC release said Friday.

“Central America, especially Guatemala, has been particularly hard hit by El Nino this season,” said Karel De Gucht, the EC commissioner for development and humanitarian aid. “Thanks to our presence in Nicaragua, we have been able to quickly appraise the situation in the region and to rapidly intervene to assist the most vulnerable.”

In parts of Guatemala, the commission says, 70 percent of the harvest has been lost to the drought.

The EC also is setting up food-for-work programs and improving food and water stocking systems.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Drought, International Relations & Treaties0 Comments

President Barack Obama Gets 40% Approval Rate on Performance at Climate Summit in Copenhagen

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 (UPI) — A U.S. poll says only 40 percent of Americans are happy with President Barack Obama’s performance at the Climate Summit in Copenhagen.

The Angus Reid Public Opinion Poll, however, found 57 percent support the commitment to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by half, relative to 1990 levels, by 2020, the market research group Vision Critical said Tuesday.

The online survey of 1,005 U.S. adults found 42 percent welcome a promise to hold the increase in global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius and 39 percent agree with a pact to set up a fund to help poorer nations cope with climate change.

The survey said 66 percent express little or no confidence in countries being able to reach the temperature goal and only 19 percent think the Copenhagen Accord will become legally binding in the future.

Among respondents who say they believe global warming is caused by human activity, 51 percent say they are content with Obama’s performance in Copenhagen. In contrast, 39 percent of respondents who say global warming is caused by natural changes say they were happy with the president’s performance. Just 21 percent of those who say global warming is an unproven theory were pleased with his performance.

The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

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Lithuania to Shut Down Nuclear Plant Thursday as Country Looks to Join European Union

VIAGINAS, Lithuania, Dec. 31 (UPI) — Lithuania’s nuclear power plant will cease operations Thursday, moving the Baltic country a step closer to membership in the European Union, officials said.

Observers said the shutdown of the Soviet-era plant, scheduled for an hour before midnight, will mean higher energy prices and greater reliance on Russia for energy supplies, the BBC reported.

The facility in Viaginas, which opened 26 years ago when the country was part of the former Soviet Union, supplies about 80 percent of Lithuania’s power.

The European Union required the plant be shut down as a condition for Lithuania’s membership and allocated about $1.2 billion to cover a part of the plant’s decommissioning costs, the BBC said.

Critics of the shutdown said the facility could operate safely for another 10 to 15 years.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Nuclear0 Comments

Greenpeace Magician Breathes Fire During Climate March in New Delhi

Magician Breathes Fire During Climate March in New Delhi

A magician breathes fire as he performs during a climate change march in New Delhi, India on December 12, 2009. The protest march was organized by Greenpeace to coincide with the recent global climate conference in Copenhagen. UPI/Rashmi Singh

Date Taken: December 22, 2009

Posted in International Relations & Treaties0 Comments

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown: Climate Talk Progress Held for Ransom

LONDON, Dec. 21 (UPI) — The new global treaty was held hostage by some countries opposed to a deal in Copenhagen, Denmark, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday.

After nearly two weeks of stalled talks on a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol for curbing greenhouse gases, the countries approved a five-page document that recognizes the need to limit global temperatures from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius in 10 years, but doesn’t require signatories to take steps to address climate change. As explained by U.S. President Barack Obama Friday, countries will list “concrete commitments” into the document’s appendix, and would be subject to international consultation and analysis, leading to a hoped-for more binding document later.

Brown said the agreement — considered weak by environmental groups and some European leaders — called for reform of the way such negotiations occur, The Guardian reported.

Brown said the deal a “first step toward a new alliance to overcome the enormous challenges of climate change.” He also called on countries to show resolve to turn the agreement into a legally binding treaty.

“The talks in Copenhagen were not easy,” Brown said. “We must learn lessons from Copenhagen and the tough negotiations that took place. Never again should we face the deadlock that threatened to pull down these talks. Never again should we let a global deal to move towards a greener future be held to ransom by only a handful of countries.”

Looking ahead, Brown said the global community should consider international body to handle environmental stewardship.

“I believe that in 2010 we will need to look at reforming our international institutions to meet the common challenges we face as an international community,” Brown said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy & Fuels, International Relations & Treaties, Nature & Ecosystems, Policy, Law, & Government, Pollution & Toxins, Recycling & Waste0 Comments

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