Thursday, June 18, 2009

NEWS FLASH: The synthesis report has been released today! The synthesis report is available for download at www.climatecongress.ku.dk

Today (18th June 2009) the synthesis report from the IARU international scientific congress Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges & Decisions was presented at the European Policy Centre (EPC) in Brussels. The synthesis report provides the background for and theexplanation of these six key messages. This full report was handed over to the new Prime Minister of Denmark and host of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) in December, Mr. Lars L√łkke Rasmussen. The Danish government will hand over these messages to COP15 decision makers. The report has been written by a team of 12 international climate experts and it has undergone an extensive international review by the Scientific Steering Committee, the session chairs, the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) and by a group of scientists from the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU). The synthesis report is available for download at www.climatecongress.ku.dk.

“The report gives an important overview of what science can tell us today about global warming, and perhaps most importantly what we can do about it. The report presents the very newest scientific evidence that has emerged since the IPCC report came out in 2007. I hope the busy negotiators will have time to study the report carefully before they meet in Copenhagen, because a lot of new data have emerged”, says Katherine Richardson who presented the report together with two other members of the writing team: Professor John Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research and Chairman of the Munasinghe Institute for Development, Professor Mohan Munasinghe.

Friday, June 5, 2009

"How credible is the Copenhagen COP 15 as the framework process to prevent climate catastrophe?" questions Dr. Peter Carter (GreenHeart Education)

Peter Carter is a retired doctor and a founding director of CAPE (Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment – in Canada). He challenges that the Bali-Copenhagen negotiations are not credible so long as they not based on the science of the full extent of the risks to huge regional populations of the most climate change vulnerable and to all future generations of all species. So long as the process restricts the science base to the 2007 IPCC assessment (AR4) it cannot be based on these risks and is not credible. The IPCC AR4 is based on artificial scenarios and the real world is beyond the worst case IPCC scenario. The IPCC temperature projections omit the greatest of all dangers- the additional warming of carbon feed backs. In today's real world the very worst carbon feedbacks are happening- in the Arctic. Join the dialogue at http://climatesustainabilityplatform.ning.com/


This is an excellent project! Humanity must have a reliable climate sustainability framework, and incredible though it is the world is not working on any credible climate framework. The fine intent and principles of the 1992 Framework Climate Change Convention continue to be ignored and the Convention weakened by negotiations supposedly on how to strengthen and implement it.

For developing a real and reliable framework there is a first question to be addressed before all others. How credible is the Copenhagen COP 15 as the framework process to prevent climate catastrophe? The evidence shows, I am sad to say, that the process is set up to formalize global climate catastrophe - rather than to prevent it. It is hard to see how the world wide political will can be raised to the extent of rebuilding the world to run on renewable energy when the UN negotiations give the world the message that we are not even past dangerous climate interference.

First and foremost for a climate sustainability platform we must insist that the painful but clear fact we are past dangerous climate interference, facing catastrophe and in a state of planetary emergency be formally acknowledged. This is the position, after all, of Ban Ki moon James Hansen and John Holdren.

The negotiating process itself is highly dangerous because of the false 'no danger no emergency' message given the world, because it reinforces a number of fatally (really) false politically determined assumptions, is based on publshed science up to January 2006 (IPCC AR4) and because it restricts policy options to a choice of a few paths all leading to catastrophe.
If the process can't work right for preventing climate catastrophe the process must be put right.

Related to the planetary emergency the top irregularity in the current process to address,for a climate sustainability platform, is what constitutes dangerous climate interference.The Bali-Copenhagen negotiations are based on the incredibly ridiculous and clearly fatal assumption, by the IPCC and endorsed by the FCCC Secretariat, that there can be no scientific definition of dangerous climate interference. The IPCC scientists are not allowed by IPCC rules to say the D word because that would be 'policy prescriptive'. It is unbelievable, as the IPCC is effectively in charge of the future of the planet - but in all the IPCCs 2007 reports the D(angerous) word cannot be found once. Imagine flying in a plane if the engineers had said they couldn't define what would be dangerous in its construction design plans. This dangerous assumption about not defining dangerous climate interference makes the negotiations fail on credibility from the start. They are after all supposed to be making policy for preventing dangerous interference- aren't they ?

The evidence from the Arctic is screaming at us what dangerous is. It's there and it's now. The Arctic stage is now set for runaway global warming due to all the changes to that region- at a warming of 0.78oC. That is the direst of planetary emergencies. "The potential for runaway greenhouse warming is real and has never been more clear. With possibilities of collapsing ice sheets, methane bubbling out of permafrost, desiccated rainforest ecosystems, and sporadic ocean circulation patterns, concern is growing that Earth's life-support systems are approaching thresholds that contain tipping points." (UNEP Year Book 2009). The accelerated melt down of the summer Arctic Ocean (now projected for 2015-2030) will make the northern hemisphere agriculture vulnerable and let loose much more methane from the Arctic feedbacks. Planet Earth has been made a dangerous place for all of us and we are all in a dire state of emergency.

Just stay at 0.78oC and runaway has to happen - just a question of time. Yes, it's terrifying but it is true and has to be faced. It does lend even more credibility to the suggestion of Professor Hans Schellenhuber to the Guardian (September 2008) that none of the proposed greenhouse gas reduction targets are sufficient and that it may be only a reduction of C02 levels to the pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million can ensure a stable climate. It has to be under 320 ppm judging by the Arctic today. 'Insufficient' means, in Ban Ki moon's apt word - oblivion for humanity but the current UN process denies any possibility of such catastrophe. So we must give the future a good guard rail and that surely puts safety below 300ppm.

The Bali-Copenhagen negotiations are not credible so long as they not based on the science of the full extent of the risks to huge regional populations of the most climate change vulnerable and to all future generations of all species. So long as the process restricts the science base to the 2007 IPCC assessment (AR4) it cannot be based on these risks and is not credible. The IPCC AR4 is based on artificial scenarios and the real world is beyond the worst case IPCC scenario. The IPCC temperature projections omit the greatest of all dangers- the additional warming of carbon feed backs. In today's real world the very worst carbon feedbacks are happening- in the Arctic.

2 degrees to extinction
Next on the list of these fatal false assumptions (there are several) is the assumption of the politically determined 2oC danger limit which is now in fact regarded as the global warming target to aim for.The negotiations are offering the world a choice between 2oC and 1.5oC. This is really no choice at all. Even the 2oC policy source, the EU says 2oC is not safe. The original EU policy was 1 to 3oC. As James Hansen has said 2oC is 'disastrous'. The published science is consistent over the past 15 years as showing that anything above 1oC cannot be considered safe. Bill Hare in World Watch's State of the Planet 2009 is a recent expert opinion on this issue. As we will go over 2oC, Hare advises a plan for mitigation to peak (past 2oC) for as short as possible and get back down to 1oC as quick as possible.

A small fact of the science when considering a dangerous level of global warming, that the Copenhagen process ignores, is the total additive cumulative effects of global warming climate disruption and sea level rise lasting for over one thousand years.The science is definite on global warming lasting 1000 years. Though the earliest and greatest danger for human survival is the multiple climate change damages to agriculture- food and water security do not rate high in the science base for the negotations. If the world allows the Copenhagen negotiations to stick humanity to a 1.5 or 2oC target plan runaway global warming and global catastrophe will be our legacy. The computer models have proved extremely inaccurate and unreliable, with their projections proving to be out by many decades. Even so the negotiating process is relying on the modeling results of the IPCC 2007 assessment. We need no more delays so from now more modeling. We had best take our cue from the best model there is- the real planet Earth model. This model says 2oC or 1.5oC is planning on catastrophe. So long as the negotiations are based on a the choice of a 1.5oC or 2oC global warming target they are criminally negligent (at best!) The world has to (at the very least) ensure that future generations are not being condemned to any risk of global climate catastrophe. There is no way we do that by a 1.5 to 2oC policy restriction (lasting for 1000 years), and we had best assume the safe target for the future of humanity and life on Earth can be no higher than a global warming of 0.5oC. The ice core record indicates that because we can't be certain about agriculture above 0.5oC - and 100% certain on climate sustainability for agriculture we have to be.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

TWN is concerned that the submissions of several developed country Parties are a substantial deviation from the Convention and Bali Action Plan!

TWN says Southern NGOs are extremely concerned that the submissions of several developed country Parties are a substantial deviation from the Convention and Bali Action Plan, and that this has resulted in a proposed negotiating text that, in many parts, do not comply with the legal mandate of the AWG-LCA. Some proposals go even further and would amount to re-writing the Convention. TWN says they are concerned that by introducing extraneous proposals and even creating legal commitments that are inconsistent with the Convention, there is a high risk of failure in Copenhagen. They therefore propose that the text be restructured in accordance with the Bali Action Plan mandate and that the operational text follows specific Convention provisions that seek to be fully implemented. The following is a statement by the Third World Network at the AWG-LCA plenary in Bonn (1 June 2009)

Item 3: Enabling the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention through long-term cooperative action now, up to and beyond 2012

We reiterate that as NGOs in developing countries, we are actively working to support national efforts to address the climate challenge while also meeting the basic needs of our people through sustainable development. The Convention’s principles, architecture and commitments are crystal clear: based on science that affirms the causal relationship between human activity and global warming, and the historical responsibility of developed countries, concerted actions are needed. Such actions have to be equitable and in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. We are therefore extremely concerned that the submissions of several developed country Parties are a substantial deviation from the Convention and Bali Action Plan, and that this has resulted in a proposed negotiating text that, in many parts, do not comply with the legal mandate of the AWG-LCA. Some proposals go even further and would amount to re-writing the Convention.

The goal of the Bali Action Plan is to reach an “agreed outcome” to truly implement the Convention. However, developed countries in their proposals want to change the nature of the obligations of developing countries under the Convention, relegate the Kyoto Protocol to history and introduce unprecedented categories of developing countries in order to minimize their share of responsibility in dealing with climate change. The developed world has already used up more than its fair share of the atmospheric space to reach its current level of development. Yet their proposals on a long-term global goal for emissions reductions in Paragraph 12 coupled with the proposed Annex 1 reduction targets in Paragraph 14 reflect a continuing disproportionate claim to the remaining limited atmospheric space. Developing countries are asked to forego their development space while developed countries continue their high per capita emissions. The proposal in Paragraph 15 requiring developing countries to for example deviate between 15 to 30% below the baseline by 2020 is a major new commitment that is not in the Convention and Bali Action Plan. It is contentious, and not based on science or law and needs to be removed from the text.

The mandate of Paragraph 1(b)(ii) of the Bali Action Plan is further distorted by developed counties’ proposals to differentiate developing countries despite the high degree of controversy on this issue in the last sessions of the AWG-LCA. It is widely acknowledged that the level of ambition for finance and technology has to be very high, if we are to have results in mitigation and to meet the vast challenges of adaptation. Yet these “make or break” blocks for the Copenhagen outcome have been collapsed into one block together with capacity building. We are concerned that by introducing extraneous proposals and even creating legal commitments that are inconsistent with the Convention, there is a high risk of failure in Copenhagen. We therefore propose that the text be restructured in accordance with the Bali Action Plan mandate and that the operational text follows specific Convention provisions that seek to be fully implemented. We also propose that text proposing commitments and actions that are not in line with the Convention and Bali Action Plan be identified and distinguished so that Parties can proceed with the priority issues that can be decided upon in Copenhagen.

Finally we would like to inform Parties that a civil society initiative has been launched, called “Repay the climate debt: A just and effective outcome for Copenhagen”. On the basis of historical responsibility of the developed world that is the cornerstone of the Convention, NGOs call for 3 actions from developed countries:
i. Repay their adaptation debt to developing countries by committing to full financing and compensation for the adverse effects of climate change on all affected countries, groups and people;
ii. Repay their emissions debt to developing countries through the deepest possible domestic reductions, and by committing to assigned amounts of emissions that reflect the full measure of their historical and continued excessive contributions to climate change; and
iii. Make available to developing countries the financing and technology required to cover the additional costs of mitigating and adapting to climate change, in accordance with the Convention.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"If the Copenhagen climate conference goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right in our planet" says Prof. M S. Swaminathan

"Anthropogenically induced changes in climate leading to adverse alterations in temperature, precipitation and sea level pose a mega threat to the lives and livelihoods of people every where in our planet. However, it is only the poor nations and the poor in all nations who will suffer most because they lack adequate coping capacity" says Prof. M S Swaminathan is Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) and Chairman, M S Swaminathan Research Foundation in India.


Most climate predictions warn that South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa will suffer most from the impact of global warming, since these regions also represent hotspots for hunger and poverty. It is doubtful whether they can achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal of reducing hunger and poverty by half by 2015. In fact the available evidence indicates that hunger and poverty are increasing in many nations of South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa.


Countries in Asia and Africa are still predominantly rural where agriculture comprising crop and animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry and agro-processing, constitutes the predominant source of livelihood. More than sixty percent of the population live in rural areas and are engaged in farming and farm related occupations. Along with my colleague S. K. Sinha, I showed over twenty years ago that even a one degree centigrade rise in mean temperature, will reduce the duration of the wheat crop in North India by nearly a week resulting in a drop in yield of about five hundred kilograms per hectare. Also, the prospect for sea level rise will affect adversely the physical and economic survival of coastal fisher, farming and other communities. Melting of Himalayan glaciers and ice sheets will lead to the occurrence of serious floods in the Indo-Gangetic Plains. Drought will cause hardship not only to human population but also to farm animals. For example, India has a human population of nearly 1.2 billion and a farm animal population of over five hundred million, both of whom require food and water.

Discussions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the international political level are important. At the same time, steps have to be taken to promote climate literacy at the local level in order to enhance the adaptation and coping capacity of local populations to the more frequent occurrence of drought, floods, higher mean temperature, and rise in sea level. This is why as early as 1973, I had proposed the development of local level drought and flood codes as well as a code for maximizing the benefits of good weather conditions. Such codes can provide an action plan tailored to local socio-cultural and agro-ecological conditions. For example, in the case of crops, the local codes would help in preparing contingency plans for adjusting land and water use to suit different weather probabilities. In each village, a woman and a man can be trained to serve as Climate Risk Managers . They should be well versed in the art and science of mitigating the impact of climate change on human health, animal welfare, crop husbandry and livelihoods.


The alternative cropping strategies and crop life-saving techniques developed to ensure food security in an era of climate change should be backed up with appropriate input supply arrangements. Just as food grain reserves are important for food security, seed reserves are important for crop security. “Store grain and water everywhere” should be the motto of local level Climate Risk Managers.

While every effort should be made to improve the survival of small holding agriculture, steps should be taken concurrently to enhance opportunities for multiple livelihoods in order to ensure a minimum income. The biovillage model of sustainable human security I had introduced in villages in South India in 1992, could become an effective mechanism for adaptation to climate change. In the biovillages, rural women and men adopt a two pronged strategy involving strengthening ecological security through field gene (i.e. insitu on-farm conservation of land races of crop plants) and seed banks, and food security through grain and water banks. The biovillage communities work for an era of biohappiness through the conservation and sustainable and equitable use of life support systems like land, water, biodiversity and forests. We need to promote a conservation continuum ranging from farmers’ fields to the Global Seed Vault established by Nordic countries and the Government of Norway at Svalbard near the North Pole. The M S Swaminathan Research Foundation has also set up a Resource Centre for Genes for mitigating the impact of climate change. This Resource Centre aims to assemble two sets of genes – naturally occurring and novel genetic combinations created by the recombinant DNA technology. Genes for tolerance to higher temperature, drought, flood and sea level rise are being either assembled or created. For example, genetically modified rice varieties possessing genes for salinity tolerance have been bred by transferring genes from the mangrove species Avicennia marina. Similarly, drought tolerant strains of rice and other crops are being developed by using Prosopis juliflora as the donor of drought tolerance. Genes for salinity and submergence tolerance are being assembled from the Orissa state of India which is a centre of diversity for rice. Examples are : SR 26B for salinity tolerance and FR 13A for flood tolerance.

From the foregoing, it will be obvious that climate awareness as well as conservation action at the Grassroots level can help local communities to manage better the adverse impact of climate change. Local level Climate Risk Managers can spread both climate and genetic literacy and create awareness of the fact that Climate Change Saviour Crops and varieties can help to save lives and livelihoods. While the genetic and knowledge enhancement of the coping capacity at local level is important, there is also need for concerted action at the global level to reduce greenhouse gas emission. This is why the Copenhagen Conference is crucial to human security and survival. If the Copenhagen climate conference goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right in our ecologically troubled but still compassionate planet.

(Source: http://en.cop15.dk/blogs/view+blog?blogid=1412)

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