International Solidarity

World Kudos For Malaysia In Keeping Sabah Coal-Free

Posted on February 18, 2011. Filed under: International Solidarity |

-The Star-

(Bernama) — Malaysia has received a pat on the back from the international community for its decision not to use coal to generate energy in Sabah, a move that will open the doors to clean power options in the state.

World Bank Chief Technical Specialist for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Prof Daniel M. Kammen said that by cancelling a proposed coal-powered plant in favour of sustainable energy options, Malaysia had opted to invest in a healthy economy and environment for Sabah.

“This is a turning point that should bring deserved praise and partnerships to Malaysia at the upcoming climate conference in Durban, South Africa.

“I’m truly thrilled by the efforts of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and for their leadership in directing the course of the nation and state towards a diverse mixture of energy resources.

“This will help stabilise energy costs, bring new entrepreneurs into the energy field, create job growth and cut local environmental impact and global greenhouse gas emissions growth,” he said in a statement on Friday.

Green SURF (Sabah Unite to Re-Power the Future) had commissioned Kammen to prepare an energy options report for Sabah in his capacity as Professor of Energy at the University of California in Berkeley.

Energy and environmental victories often don’t get the attention that negative events do, but here is a case where a collaborative set of environmental groups led by Green SURF worked with elected officials to hold dialogues with the public, and to bring critically needed technical materials such as the energy options report we produced to decision makers.

“I am thrilled to have been able to work with the people of Sabah on this victory, and look forward to watching the international community learn from Sabah s triumph of planning and partnership, he said.

World Land Trust Chief Executive Officer and Founder John Burton congratulated the government on making a rational decision that will have major benefits for all.

It is good that they listened to public opinion and shows a genuine commitment to the environment, Burton said.

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Singapore presses Indonesia to act on forest fires

Posted on October 22, 2010. Filed under: Forestry/Wetlands, International Solidarity |


SINGAPORE — Singapore on Thursday urged Indonesia to take action on forest fires on Sumatra island as air pollution reached health-threatening levels in the neighbouring city-state.

“It is a matter of very serious concern as a health hazard that has not just affected Singapore but also the southern part of West Malaysia,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement.

“Our ambassador in Jakarta has been instructed to inform the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Minister for Foreign Affairs (George Yeo) would like to speak to the Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa tomorrow,” it said.

Air pollution in Singapore reached unhealthy levels on Thursday due to smoke from forest fires in Sumatra, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said.

The situation had deteriorated since Wednesday, the first day the haze was detected in Singapore.

The three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) recording rose to 108 as of 6:00pm (1000 GMT), according to data on the NEA’s website. A PSI reading between 101-200 is considered unhealthy.

“Hazy conditions are expected to persist as the prevailing winds will continue to bring smoke haze from Sumatra to Singapore,” the NEA said.

Singapore’s environment minister Yaacob Ibrahim has already expressed “deep concern” about the haze to his Indonesian counterpart Gusti Muhammad Hatta.

The minister “expressed his deep concern that the haze situation would further deteriorate if Indonesia does not put in place immediate and enhanced measures to curb the hotspot situation in Sumatra,” the NEA said.

“He urged Indonesia to allocate the necessary resources, and implement timely and effective measures to solve the haze situation.”

The problem has also affected Malaysia, where schools in the coastal town of Muar have been closed since Wednesday after air quality reached dangerous levels.

The haze, which came less than a week after an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Brunei on how to deal with the problem, was a hot discussion topic on the Internet.

“OMG… No wonder I’m feeling so terrible today,” said candycetoh in a message on the social networking site Twitter.

In a Facebook post, Farin Jaffar said he was “super irritated” with the haze, which builds up during the dry season when farmers clean their land by burning, affecting tourism and contributing to health problems across the region.

Indonesia’s government has outlawed land-clearing by fire but weak law enforcement means the ban is largely ignored.

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Sabah joins global parties for a cleaner world

Posted on October 5, 2010. Filed under: International Solidarity |

-Free Malaysia Today-

By Queville To

KOTA KINABALU: When 10/10/10 comes around next Sunday, environmentally conscious Sabah will pitch in on a global effort to cut carbon emissions.

Local environmental group, Green SURF (Sabah Unite to Re-Power the Future), has organised a “beach clean-up party” in a worldwide effort to create awareness on climate change and the need for clean energy.

It will be part of the over 5,200 Global Work Parties that will be carried out worldwide on Oct 10.

The Sabah environmental coalition, which has seen growing support from children to executives and businesses, will be holding events at the Tanjung Aru beach here and in Kampung Sinakut, Lahad Datu, the site of a proposed 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant.

The coalition of NGOs registered its Borneo-Global Work Party — Coast2Coast — with, an
international grassroots campaign aimed at mobilising people to reduce carbon emissions to the scientifically-determined safe level of 350 parts per million (ppm), from the current 390-ppm level.

Green SURF’s Cynthia Ong said that being part of the worldwide network with more than 5,200 events in 175 countries is significant for Sabah in efforts to eliminate dirty and promote clean energy.

“We are changing the energy conversation and we are excited to be part of a global climate change movement with,” Ong said in a statement yesterday.

Green SURF members will work alongside the people of Kota Kinabalu and Kampung Sinakut to collect trash at both locations and spell out “350” on the beach. A local recycling plant will take the trash when the event ends.

Evolving society

Ong said the two beaches were chosen as venues to highlight their vulnerability to rising sea levels resulting from climate change.

She said the event, starting at 10.10am, was also a platform to celebrate the first anniversary of the founding of Green SURF, which has in a short span strengthened the civil society movement to address energy and related environmental and social justice issues.

“Our initial focus was on the coal-fired power plant on the east coast of Sabah where we advocated clean energy options.

“Within a year, we held numerous events, recommended a clean energy option for Sabah and built both local and global movements to support our campaign.

“The voice of civil society is crucial for accountability and we need to be an integral part of the conversation. A civil society taking ownership and responsibility is a sign of an evolving society,” she said.

Green SURF is made up of Land Empowerment Animals People of which Ong is executive director, WWF Malaysia, Sabah Environmental Protection Association, Malaysian Nature Society Sabah branch and Partners of Community Organisations.

The five NGOs came together after the federal government announced the construction of the coal plant at Kampung Sinakut, on the shores of the Coral Triangle.

They scored an impressive first in their campaign for clean energy in mid-August when the Federal Department of Environment rejected the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposed project.

Around the world, several events will be organised to celebrate the Global Work Parties:

  • Male, Maldives: President Mohamed Nasheed will be installing a set of solar panels on the roof of his presidential residence on Oct 7 to kick off the weekend of action.
  • Mexico City: the mayor will sign a commitment to cut carbon emissions by 10% and join thousands for a solar-powered festival in Chatultepec Park.
  • The US: more than 1,000 events will be held ranging from parishioners weather-proofing their church in Atlanta to citizens in Nebraska planting native grasses to restore the prairie to a hip-hop show at an urban farm in Oakland, California.
  • China, India and the US: More than 850 campuses will join 10/10/10 as part of the great power race, a student clean energy competition.
  • Oakland, California: hundreds of citizens, politicians and musicians will plant a community garden at Oakland’s Laney College (one of 20 events in the Bay Area).
  • Eastern Europe: organisers have signed up nearly 10,000 schools to plant trees on 10/10/10.
  • Iraq: students will host a clean energy rally to put solar panels on the University of Babylon.
  • Jordan, Israel and Palestine: more than 100 cyclists will be taking part in a three-day bicycle relay to carry water from Yarmouk River and the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea to symbolise the need for cooperation to stop climate change and save precious water resources.
  • Davao City, the Philippines: thousands of students will be planting mangroves to protect their coastline.
  • Namib Desert, Namibia: an education centre will be installing six solar panels as part of its effort to go carbon neutral.
  • Goma, Congo: a town that has become home to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing regional conflicts, citizens will plant thousands of trees to help reforest an area that has been depleted by the need for firewood.
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Fashion fast

Posted on March 2, 2010. Filed under: International Solidarity |

-The Star-

A group of women are eliminating new apparel for one year.

COULD you go a full year without buying new clothes? Impossible, you say? But that’s exactly what a bunch of ladies intend to do. In the movement dubbed The Great American Apparel Diet, they pledged to not buy any new togs for 12 whole months.

The “fashion fast” kicked off last Sept 1 with 20 Americans, and has since grown to over 100 members from the United States, Denmark, Germany, Croatia, Serbia, Canada, Italy and Britain.

Retail therapy: For many women, shopping is a normal pick-me-up. So asking them not to shop will be a tough call.

In this unconventional diet, participants can devour as much as they like – so long as it is existing clothes in their closets. So they will have to rummage through their wardrobes and make do with what they have. They cannot purchase new clothing, save for underwear, footwear and accessories (like jewellery and scarves, which can help refresh the wardrobe) until Sept 1, 2010. They are, however, allowed to swap clothes with friends and accept gifts of new clothes from friends and family. But fasters cannot specifically request new clothes as gifts.

The woman who mooted the movement is Sally Bjornsen, 46, of Seattle, in the United States. Realising that she was wearing mostly jeans and T-shirts, yet has a closet full of clothes and was giving away clothes which she had never or hardly wore, she decided to exa­­­mine why she was driven to shop.

Out of that exploration, The Great American Apparel Diet was born.

“I want to see what life is like when women just say no to the new apparel pick-me-up,” writes Bjorsen in the group’s website.

“A lot of women in the programme currently spend a fair amount of time planning, pondering and preparing their wardrobes. This preoccupation is usually motivated by what they want at that moment rather than what they actually need. As a result, a lot of us end up with a bunch of weird things in our closets. All that time and energy could be re-focused towards other creative endeavours. Who knows how much time, money and energy will be saved on the diet.”

Bjorsen admits that the experiment is a stretch for many of the fashion “dieters” as they are, after all, women who used to buy, buy, buy. Ranging in age from 19 to 60, they come from all walks of life and many are self-confessed shopaholics. One admits to having over 70 pairs of jeans and over 100 dresses, while another has to buy something new every day. And one does not wear her clothes more than two times.

Yup, these women desperately need help to wean them off their addiction. They blog about their efforts and support each other at http://www.TheGreatAmericanApparel Their reasons for joining the movement vary; and it is not just to save money. For some, it was simply a personal choice to re-evaluate their shopping habits. Some just wanted to clear closet clutter while others wanted to consume less and be friendlier to the environment. Some just wanted a challenge.

“I have enough clothes to last a lifetime. I’ve realised with age that I will always have enough and I will always feel like I never have enough. And I need to learn to live with that. Period,” writes designer Stephanie Greco, 49.

Laura Zielinski, 42, a technology executive and online shopping aficionado, hopes that with less time spent shopping, she can pursue her other passions, such as cooking and gardening. “I spend too much time thinking and talking with people about clothes. I want to dedicate brain space to other things,” she writes.

Many participants have found the apparel diet “do-able”, since most have way too much stuff in their closets anyway. Says one woman: “There are people living in abject poverty all over the world, people who never wear anything new, and I can’t manage a year?”

One dieter says it is easy to forego shopping if you already have a pretty well-stocked closet in the first place. All you need to do is to accessorise to update the look. For some, however, the diet is proving hard to stick to than initially thought. Quite a few have crashed their diet and bought clothing that they felt they just had to have or which were on sale.

Six months into the diet, some dieters found that foregoing shopping has a host of benefits. Stephanie Greco says in an interview with Time: “I’ve learned that I need very little. I may want a lot more, but I certainly don’t need it. I’ve learned that we are used to so much excess we can’t even see it. In terms of my shopping habits, I’ve learned that I like not having it as an option to pass time. It’s one less thing to think about and I find it kind of liberating.”

Tricia Young realised a few weeks into the diet that she could have a new wardrobe if she put different things together. “I’m loving wearing things I have owned for years and never wore. I’m also discovering new hobbies instead of shopping during my free time. I’m saving money in other areas as well because I’m avoiding shopping areas.”

And for Bjornsen, the woman who started it all and whose clothing expenditures used to touch US$5,000 (RM17,500) annually, the diet has transformed her into a responsible consumer.

“I am no longer beholden or hypnotised by the idea that fashion isn’t good unless it is brand new. Fashion is about personal style and how you wear things. I have become interested in creative ways to be fashionable without being so ‘consumptive’. I am now more interested in where apparel is made and how it is made. I definitely think that at the end of the year, I will shop differently,” she told Time.

Come Sept 1, 2010, the women will be allowed back into malls, department stores and online websites. But, will they want to?

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Economist who sounded alarm dismisses climate summit as ‘ploy’

Posted on December 15, 2009. Filed under: Climate Change, International Solidarity |

-The Ottawa Citizen-

The U.S. economist who predicted in 1972 that the world was facing environmental disaster has ridiculed the Copenhagen climate change summit and says only a series of global crises will incite the world to take concrete action.

“Copenhagen? I don’t take it seriously. The whole thing is a huge ploy,” said Dennis Meadows, co-author of The Limits to Growth, a blockbuster report that argued the world faced catastrophe if population growth and resource use wasn’t reconciled with environmental sustainability.

He said only a tiny proportion of the world’s population is even aware world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, are gathering in Denmark’s capital city this month to seek an accord to limit climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions.

“This conference is essentially about doing as little as possible, not as much as possible,” Meadows, 67, told the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel this week. “I think 98 per cent of humans haven’t even heard the word Copenhagen.”

He said it’s critical the public do more to reduce their carbon footprint and ease energy dependence, but he said it’s too late to do much more than slow climate change.

“It might have been possible to prevent serious climate change in the 1970s and 1980s, but it isn’t any more,” said Meadows, who earlier this year was awarded Japan’s prestigious $500,000 prize from the country’s Science and Technology Foundation.

“We are on a roller-coaster at the top of the hill, and all we can do is hold on tight.”

The world will only take dramatic action when faced with “a series of crises,” he predicted.

“It is only when there are abrupt climate changes, unpleasant ones, that the willingness will come about to really do something.”

He said the world’s population of 6.8 billion people is excessive, and only possible because such a large proportion live in poverty, unable to own the pollution-causing cars and homes with modern appliances.

“If you think it is acceptable to have a small elite that enjoys a decent lifestyle and a large majority that is excluded from that, then the Earth can probably sustain five to six billion people,” he said.

“If you want everyone to have the full potential of mobility, adequate food and self-development, then it is one or two billion.”

Meadows was among a group of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who co-authored the 1972 study on behalf of the Club of Rome, a think-tank established four years earlier to advise the world on environmental sustainability.

The report used computer simulation models to assess the impact of population growth on food and industrial production, pollution, and consumption of non-renewable natural resources.

A majority of the scenarios predicted disaster if growth and consumption trends didn’t change significantly. The report was explosive and controversial, selling more than 12 million copies in 30 languages.

Though the report was criticized at the time, the quality of the projections turned out to be “amazingly good, unfortunately,” Meadows said.

“We are in the midst of an environmental crisis, which we predicted then. The difference is that we have lost 40 years during which humanity should have acted.”

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Making sense of COP15

Posted on November 26, 2009. Filed under: International Solidarity |

-The Nut Graph-THERE is already a flurry of heated debate and innovative awareness campaigns in the run-up to the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference, which will be held in December 2009 in Denmark. Expect more as government officials, scientists, civil society organisations and the media converge in Copenhagen for what is expected to be the most important climate change event in recent years.

But how do we make sense of the different views and official positions that will come out of this conference? In view of the gravity of the climate change challenge and the widespread global effect it has, civil society organisations and the media are organising themselves to provide rapid or meaningful responses to the conference discussions.

Many are using the online media to network and publish information and commentaries on what the conference discussions mean to society and the environment. And chances are, instead of actively searching for the relevant articles and videos being churned out, some of us will rely on subscribed and forwarded alerts via e-mail and social networks like Facebook and Twitter to stay in the loop.



The Copenhagen conference is also known as COP15, as it will be the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Running from 7 to 18 Dec 2009, COP15 will include government representatives from 192 nations. Meanwhile, UN bodies and inter-governmental and civil society organisations can be accredited observers of the conference.

The government representatives are expected to negotiate a new protocol, which commits industrialised countries to meet certain emission goals. What makes this new treaty such a big deal is that it is supposed to determine how to improve the implementation of the goals of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol was the first binding international agreement which set greenhouse gas emission targets to address climate change. Under the Kyoto Protocol, 37 industrialised nations were required to cut greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5%, from 1990 levels, by 2012.

Many are not meeting the target, as governments of developed economies, the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, face pressure from industries and dispute the prescribed reduction targets and mechanisms. The “Copenhagen Protocol”, if one were to emerge in December 2009, would need to figure out how to overcome the hurdles that its predecessor faced.

Fresh Air Center

sprouting leaves
(© Liyana Y / Flickr)

TckTckTck, a global alliance of individuals and organisations calling for a fair, ambitious and binding climate change agreement, is roping in bloggers and campaigners to make sense of the conference discussions and decisions. It has set up a rapid response digital media hub in Copenhagen for these bloggers and digital campaigners.

“Our goal is to help civil society define the narratives coming from COP15, align our messages and actions to emerging strategic priorities, encourage sharing and collaboration, and break through the noise by connecting powerful NGO, blogger, and independent digital media channels together,” TckTckTck says on its website.

TckTckTck’s partners include civil society organisations such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Oxfam and Amnesty International. Also part of the alliance are the World Council of Churches, the Global Campaign Against Poverty and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Bella Center being set up (© Claus Starup / Bella Center A/S)

The digital media facility, called the Fresh Air Center, comprises two spaces. One of them is the Bella Center, which provides the space and facilities for accredited bloggers, communications staff and digital campaigners to work. They can use it to correspond with their organisations, write about COP15 and conduct interviews in a dedicated space equipped with live streaming and video archive capabilities.

“We will manage daily briefings and bring in experts and other stories providing inside [information], and all content will be live-streamed to the larger, downtown space,” TckTckTck says.

While the Bella Center can accommodate about 35 people, the second space is a larger community centre in a building called “The Husset” (house) in downtown Copenhagen. The space, large enough for 120 to 200 people, has a hot desk section for bloggers and campaigners to write, publish, communicate and conduct private meetings. There is also a lounge area for them to network or just chill out. The Fresh Air Center aims to “align our messages and amplify them from COP15 to the world while also serving as a fun space where members of civil society can connect and relax,” TckTckTck says.

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South-East Asia among ‘most vulnerable’ to climate change

Posted on April 27, 2009. Filed under: Climate Change, International Solidarity |

(Earth Times)Bangkok – With 80 per cent of South-east Asia’s 563 million people living within 100 kilometres of the coastline, the region is among the “most vulnerable” to climate change, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) warned Monday. South-East Asia, responsible for about 12 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions, can expect to see an average temperature rise by 4.8 degrees Celsius and a 70-centimetre increase in sea levels by the year 2100 if no serious measures aretaken to halt global warming,a regional survey on the economic effects of climate change, released in Bangkok, said.

The report, which took 15 months to compile, provides a detailed forecast on the negative economic and social impact of climate change on Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam over the coming decades if the world community fails to act on greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change is already evident in the region, where the average temperature rose 0.1 to 0.3 degrees Celsius between 1951 to 2000, the sea level is rising 1-3 millimetres a year and in the frequency of extreme weather events witnessed in recent decades, the report noted.

The worst is yet to come.

“If the world continues ‘business as usual’ by 2100 the cost of preventing the problems we are looking at will be equivalent of 6.7 per cent of combined gross domestic product, more than twice the global average loss,” ADB assistant chief economist Juzhong Zhuang said.

South-East Asia is deemed particularly vulnerable to climate change because of its long coastlines and high reliance on the agricultural sector which still employs 43 per cent of the labour force.

While climate change is expected to result in declining rainfall in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam over the next three decades, the Philippines will see increased precipitation throughout the century, the ADB report said.

Rice production in the region could decline 50 per cent by 2100, unless adaptation measures are implemented such as switching to drought- and flood-resistant strains of rice, it warned.

“The rice yield decline would range from 34 per cent in Indonesia to 75 per cent in the Philippines, with the decline projected to start in 2020 for most countries,” it said.

“South-East Asian governments need to invest now in adaptation measures such as coastal zones, sea wall and in the agricultural sector in drought and flood resistant crops,” ADB vice president Ursula Shaeffer-Preuss said.

Besides investing in adaptation measures, the region also needs to get serious about reducing it own emissions of greenhouse gases. In 2000, South-East Asia accounted for 5,187 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, or 9.3 tons per annum per capita, compared with the world average of 6.1 tons.

Of that, 75 per cent was accounted for by “land use change and forestry,” a category that covers the mass destruction of forest lands in Indonesian and Malaysia to plant palm oil plantations over the past two decades as the world demand for palm oil has soared.

Indonesia in 2000 accounted for 59 per cent of the region’s greenhouse gas emissions, Thailand 6 per cent, Philippines 4 per cent, Vietnam 2 per cent, Singapore 1 per cent and the rest of South-East Asia 28 per cent.

Malaysia’s data was not included in the ADB report.

Indonesia’s former environmental minister, Emil Salim, a leading economist who helped compile the ADB report, said it will require political will and persuasiveness to alter the region’s past practices. ”

You mist hit hard and say if we don’t do anything on this then you and I will all suffer,” Salim advised his government. “Common language is crucial, not this language we use in this report,” he told a press conference.

Salim advised regional governments to make climate change part of this fiscal stimulus packages being introduced this year to counter the global recession.

“Climate change can be coped with through mitigation and adaptation if we put our political will into it,” Salim said. “That’s the message.”

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New gloomy findings on global warming

Posted on March 16, 2009. Filed under: International Solidarity, International Watch |

BY MARTIN KHOR– Last week’s gathering of 2,500 scientists found the climate change situation is much worse than previously reported. They called on politicians to act quickly and decisively.

WITH the world in economic recession, there is a temptation to downgrade or sideline climate change. That would be a great mistake.

However serious the recession, the effects of climate change will be even more devastating and long lasting.

Last week, 2,500 scientists met in Copenhagen and issued a grim warning that the climate situation is far worse than what had been depicted in 2007 by the United Nations’ inter-governmental panel on climate change (IPCC).

They said that global warming is increasing beyond the worst forecasts, threatening to trigger irreversible shifts on the Earth’s environment, and resulting in social conflict and war in much of the world.

In a statement addressed to politicians, scientists warned: “The worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realised. There is a significant risk that many of the trends will accelerate, leading to an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climatic shifts.”

One example is that the IPCC predicted the sea level would rise by 7ins-23ins by the end of the century. But recent research showed that the rise could be 20ins-39ins.

The rising sea level is caused by the melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and the effect is to flood coastal areas, causing millions of people to move from their homes and lands.

Warning that “dangerous climate change” is imminent, the statement said there is “no excuse for inaction” and that weak and ineffective governments must stand up to big business and vested interests.

The British economist Lord Nicholas Stern, who in 2006 wrote a famous book on the economics of climate change, said his report had under-estimated the risks of global warming.

“The reason is that emissions are growing faster than we thought, the absorption capacity of the planet is less than we thought, the probability of high temperatures is likely higher than we thought, and some of the effects are coming faster than we thought,” he said.

The effects will be devastating unless politicians grasped the gravity of the situation, added Stern. The most talked about scenario is for the average global temperature to rise by 2°C-4°C by the end of this century (compared with pre-industrial levels).

But Stern warned that a 6°C rise is an increasing possibility. That could mean massive rises in sea levels, whole areas devastated by hurricanes and others turned into desert, forcing billions of people to leave their homes.

Much of southern Europe would look like the Sahara, many of the world’s major rivers would dry up in the dry season or re-route, Stern added.

Hundreds of millions or probably billions would have to move, and the implications of that is “extended conflict, social disruption, war essentially, over much of the world for many decades”.

The conference heard that much of the Amazon rainforest may already be doomed. A study by the Hadley Centre of Britain showed that even a rise of just 2°C (above pre-industrial levels) could cause 20%-40% of the forest to die in the next hundred years.

But this horror story is from the best scenario, that global emissions will peak in 2015 and then decrease significantly from then, while in fact emissions are presently still rising.

A temperature rise of 3°C would see drought destroy 75% of the forest, and a 4°C rise would kill 85%, according to a Guardian report of the paper. The loss of the Amazon would in turn have a catastrophic effect on climate.

Another study showed that global warming may be converting tropical forests from net carbon sinks (that absorb carbon) to net carbon emitters.

Rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere increase the growth of trees but also cause trees to die younger, and this reduces the carbon storage capacity of the rainforests.

According to a Guardian report, Australian scientist David Hilbert estimated that each degree of temperature rise will result in 14 tonnes of carbon emissions per hectare of rainforest, equating to 24.5 gigatonnes of carbon worldwide, or two-and-a-half times the world carbon emissions in 2007.

At a warming rate of 0.05°C per year, forests will produce 1.2 gigatonnes a year of carbon, more than they are currently absorbing as a sink (about 1 gigatonne a year).

The Copenhagen meeting also heard other scientific findings showing why the climate situation is worse than that depicted by the IPCC’s 2007 reports.

The Guardian columnist George Monbiot reported:

> Partly because the IPCC estimates took no account of meltwater from Greenland’s glaciers, the rise in sea levels this century could be two or three times as great as it forecast, with grave implications for coastal cities, farmland and freshwater reserves.

> A warming of 2°C in the Arctic could trigger a massive bacterial response in the soils there. As the permafrost melts, bacteria are able to start breaking down organic material that was previously locked up in ice, producing billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide and methane. This could catalyse one of the world’s most powerful positive feedback loops, with warming causing more warming.

Perhaps the most bitter-sweet report from Copenhagen was the “good news” that the current world recession could cause greenhouse gas emissions to drop by 40%-50%, according to an estimate by Terry Barker, director of the Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research at Cambridge University.

The world should cut emissions very steeply. But this should be done in a planned way that minimises economic disruption. Having the global recession to do the job of cutting emissions is the wrong way, and hopefully it does not prove to be the only way.(The Star)

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Japanese firm in tree-planting project

Posted on November 30, 2008. Filed under: International Solidarity |

Kota Kinabalu: Japanese company, Fujitsu Group Malaysia, together with several organisations embarked on a tree-planting project at its Eco Forest Park in Kinarut, near here, from Nov 28 to Dec 1.

The project kicked off with 31 members of the Fujitsu Group from Japan and 19 members of the Advantest Corporation on Thursday, while on Friday, 30 members from four Fujitsu Group of companies and 21 members of the Kota Kinabalu Japanese elementary school took part in the same activity.

The group will follow up the activity with weeding and removing of unwanted trees on Monday (Dec 1), while the next day, an environmental awareness class will be held which, among others, highlights the benefits of 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle).

Since Nov 2006, the company had carried out six reforestation operation where a total of 37, 500 seedlings have been planted covering an area of about 150 hectares.

The tree-planting project at the Eco Park started with the first phase (from 2002-2004) involving an area of 70 hectares while a further 70 hectares was planted with Dipterocarpaceas seedlings in the second phase (2005-2007).

Fujitsu joined the Business and Biodiversity Conference by signing a Leadership Conference on May 9, 2008 at the 9th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Biodiversity in Bonn, Germany.

Apart from Malaysia, the company is also involved in other reforestation activities in other countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.

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Safoda works with Ovas to develop Kinarut Eco Park

Posted on November 24, 2008. Filed under: Ecology, Forestry/Wetlands, International Solidarity |

Japanese help to further develop Eco Park

Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Forestry Development Authority (Safoda) is collaborating with Japanese non-governmental organisation (NGO), Overseas Volunteer Activity Support (Ovas), to further develop the Eco-Forest Park at Kinarut.

Safoda will be working with Ovas, with the support of the Greenery Fund of Japan, to plant 1,600 fruit trees (wild durian and clone mango) on 3.5 hectares within the Park.

A tree-planting ceremony was held at the Park, Saturday, to commemorate the collaboration, in the presence of Safoda’s Research and Development (R&D) Division manager Crispin Kitingan, Japanese Consul-General Masashi Kono, chairman of Ovas, Susumu Chida and Director of Ovas, Dr Kazuko Tsuzuki.

About 35 volunteers from Japan, Rotary Club of Luyang and students from S.M Shan Tao took part in the half-day tree-planting activity.

Earlier, Safoda General Manager Francis G. Otigil extended his gratitude to the Greenery Fund of Japan and Ovas for funding the planting of 3.5ha of fruit trees and for providing funds for the maintenance of access roads.

“Despite the small scale of funding, I was made to understand that this is just a starting point of their efforts to assist Safoda in realising the plan for the development of the park,” he said in his speech delivered by Crispin.

“I hope the good relations between the people of Japan and Malaysia will continue to be strengthened and that Ovas and other donors continue their noble efforts of conserving and preserving the environment through this kind of projects,” he added.

According to Otigil, the Safoda Kinarut project is the Research and Development Centre for the production of improved planting materials of the Acacia mangrium and acacia hybrid species and it is now popularly known to the Japanese as the Safoda Kinarut Eco Forest Park.

He said to date more than 200ha of indigenous tropical timber of different species have been planted.

Meanwhile, Masashi Kono said the project would support the restoration of multifunctional tropical forests and contribute to the furtherance of awareness of environmental protection in the local communities.

He said, in this context, the Government of Japan is providing Official Development Assistance in the field of technical cooperation by dispatching experts and volunteers for such programmes as the Borneo Biodiversity and Ecosystems Conservation Programme as well as providing funds to support the research and development for the preservation of the tropical forest in Sabah.

Chida, meanwhile, said Ovas has been studying various ways to support the development of the Park and arranged some funding from the Greenery Fund of Japan and collaborated with Safoda to plant fruit trees in the Park.

He said although the plan is small in scale, aside from the harvest of the fruits in the future the planting will also to a certain extent contribute to the restoration of the forest to help reduce global warming.–Daily Express

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