Wednesday, July 29, 2015

UNESCO Reports on Climate Change Education Activities

21 July 2015: A report by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reviews the organization's recent work to support education policymakers and educators of teachers to incorporate climate change into their curriculum.

The report, titled 'Not Just Hot Air: Putting Climate Change Education into Practice,' presents results and lessons learned from country pilots in the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Mauritius, Tuvalu and South Africa.

Based on the case studies, as well as brief profiles of climate change and education in 16 countries' sustainable development policy processes, the document provides recommendations to policymakers in five areas: policy development; government and resources; curriculum development; capacity building of teachers and education planners; and public awareness, communication and stakeholder involvement.

According to the publication's conclusions, some of the remaining challenges to integrating climate change into education are: a lack of systematic information on existing climate change-related learning; a lack of clear governance structures for addressing education and skills development for sustainable development; the requirement that teachers have an accurate understanding of climate change and of how it relates to broader issues of sustainable development; and weak or non-existent public awareness about climate change or its politicized nature in some countries.

UNESCO, through its Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development programme, is working to capitalize on education as a tool to combat climate change through raising awareness of its causes and effects, and preparing students to both take action on its causes and face its impacts. [UNESCO Press Release] [Publication: Not Just Hot Air: Putting Climate Change Education into Practice] More


Sunday, July 26, 2015

There's an eerie foreshadowing to some of the author's musings from 54 years ago.

Aldous Huxley—author of the classic Brave New World, little-known children's book wordsmith, staple of Carl Sagan's reading list—would have been 118 today.

To celebrate his mind and his legacy, here is a rare 1958 conversation with Mike Wallace—the same masterful interviewer who also offered rare glimpses into the minds of Salvador Dalí and Ayn Rand—in which Huxley predicts the "fictional world of horror" depicted in Brave New World is just around the corner for humanity.

There's an eerie foreshadowing to some of the author's musings from 54 years ago.

He explains how overpopulation is among the greatest threats to our freedom, admonishes against the effects of advertising on children, and, more than a century before Occupy Wall Street, outlines how global economic destabilization will incite widespread social unrest. Use the following link to view the video. More



Saturday, July 25, 2015

BA must find solution to Bermuda service problems

Delays and cancellations: British Airways must work towards rebuilding customer loyalty on the Island, a reader writes

Dear British Airways,

I am writing this letter not to help destroy your reputation but to help to stop you from destroying it.

The simple truth is the scale of delays and cancellations of BA 2233/2 have reached a point where the people of Bermuda, our business visitors and our vital tourists are nervous using your service.

Nervous for two reasons: first, because travel involves organisation, expense and personal commitment to show up, and all of those go to hell when you cancel or severely delay a flight.

Second, we’re starting to get concerned about why our plane breaks so much. It doesn’t feel right. Are you sure it’s OK?

The odd technical issue here and there, every couple of months, seems acceptable but once or twice a week? Really? It’s lucky you manage to catch all these technical issues when the plane is on the ground. So far.

I’ve heard two great excuses from your staff, neither of which sends me rushing to stroke my Gold loyalty card.

First, it’s our fault because we’re the last big plane to leave Gatwick and if any earlier departures have problems, they get to swap. Second, we’ve got a very special plane because the business class section is so vast it doesn’t hold many people, so when something snaps it’s hard to find another one like it.

You’re in danger of allowing annoyance to turn to resentment. You hold monopolistic power; with that should come a deeper respect for our custom, not what feels like a casual disregard.

I encourage you to take out a full-page ad in the Gazette apologising for the disruption that is continuing to occur because we don’t get an apology when we go back to the airport 24 hours later to try again. We get told we’re lucky to be on the next flight because many people are not.

I encourage you to give us a plane that works and to take a look at your problems over recent months and identify a solution that doesn’t continuously ruin our plans. That way you will rebuild some loyalty and perhaps enjoy another ten years of no competition.

A few of my friends told me that I’ll never get another upgrade if I send this message. I can’t live like that, unfortunately; you need honest feedback now.

Back to that Gold card, for about ten years I have stuck it on my briefcase like many of the other people who live in airports.

It was sort of a badge of pride and honour, but now when most people see it, it’s closely followed by a tale of woe: a missed wedding, a missed graduation, a missed appointment, a disappointed child left at school, a messed-up start to a holiday or business trip with missed objectives.

We’re tired of scrambling to rescue the situation at great personal and financial cost. We need you to step up.

We have an America’s Cup to host; it’s important to us that it’s a success.

We have international business we’re trying to nurture and grow in the face of adversity. It needs a reliable communication link to compete.

We have friends and family we want to see, vacation days we want to take, tourists we need for our economy to grow.

You have a lot of planes. Find a sustainable solution that deserves your unique status on this Island.




Thursday, July 23, 2015

New Energy Outlook 2015


By 2040, the world's power-generating capacity mix will have transformed: from today's system composed of two-thirds fossil fuels to one with 56% from zero-emission energy sources. Renewables will command just under 60% of the 9,786GW of new generating capacity installed over the next 25 years, and two-thirds of the $12.2 trillion of investment. • Economics – rather than policy – will increasingly drive the uptake of renewable technologies. All-in project costs for wind will come down by an average of 32% and solar 48% by 2040 due to steep experience curves and improved financing. Wind is already the cheapest form of new power generation capacity in Europe, Australia and Brazil and by 2026 it will be the least-cost option almost universally, with utility-scale PV likely to take that mantle by 2030.

• Over 54% of power capacity in OECD countries will be renewable energy capacity in 2040 – from a third in 2014. Developed countries are rapidly shifting from traditional centralised systems to more flexible and decentralised ones that are significantly less carbon-intensive. With about 882GW added over the next 25 years, small-scale PV will dominate both additions and installed capacity in the OECD, shifting the focus of the value chain to consumers and offering new opportunities for market share.

• In contrast, developing non-OECD countries will build 287GW a year to satisfy demand spurred by economic growth and rising electrification. This will require around $370bn of investment a year, or 80% of investment in power capacity worldwide. In total, developing countries will build nearly three times as much new capacity as developed nations, at 7,460GW – of which around half will be renewables. Coal and utility-scale PV will be neck and neck for additions as power-hungry countries use their low-cost domestic fossil-fuel reserves in the absence of strict pollution regulations.

• Solar will boom worldwide, accounting for 35% (3,429GW) of capacity additions and nearly a third ($3.7 trillion) of global investment, split evenly between small- and utility-scale installations: large-scale plants will increasingly out-compete wind, gas and coal in sunny locations, with a sustained boom post 2020 in developing countries, making it the number one sector in terms of capacity additions over the next 25 years.

• The real solar revolution will be on rooftops, driven by high residential and commercial power prices, and the availability of residential storage in some countries. Small-scale rooftop installations will reach socket parity in all major economies and provide a cheap substitute for diesel generation for those living outside the existing grid network in developing countries. By 2040, just under 13% of global generating capacity will be small-scale PV, though in some countries this share will be significantly higher.

• In industrialised economies, the link between economic growth and electricity consumption appears to be weakening. Power use fell with the financial crisis but has not bounced back strongly in the OECD as a whole, even as economic growth returned. This trend reflects an ongoing shift to services, consumers responding to high energy prices and improvements in energy efficiency. In OECD countries, power demand will be lower in 2040 than in 2014.

• The penetration of renewables will double to 46% of world electricity output by 2040 with variable renewable technologies such as wind and solar accounting for 30% of generation – up from 5% in 2014. As this penetration rises, countries will need to add flexible capacity that can help meet peak demand, as well as ramp up when solar comes off-line in the evening. More



Climate Change and Moral Responsibility -

On Tuesday, the British medical journal The Lancet will publish a landmark report highlighting the inalienable and undeniable link between climate change and human health.

We warmly welcome the report’s message of hope, which confirms the fact that climate change is more than just a technical or financial challenge (as Pope Francis did in his encyclical letter on June 18) and confirms the voice of health in the discussion on climate change. Indeed, the central premise of the Lancet commission’s work is that tackling climate change could be the single greatest health opportunity of the 21st century.

It is no surprise that climate change has the potential to set back global health. The greenhouse gas emissions that are warming our planet come from industrial activity that pollutes our air and water, and the temperature changes may lead to drought that brings malnutrition. Those with little or no access to health care — children and the elderly in particular — are more vulnerable to such predicaments.

However, health is symptomatic of a larger problem, which undermines and fragments our broader worldview. In addition to highlighting the effects of climate change, we must address the root of the problem. In so doing, we will discover how the benefits of assuming moral responsibility and taking immediate action — not just on matters related to health, but also world economy and global policy — far outweigh the cost of remaining indifferent and passive.

It is this vital link that The Lancet’s report conclusively and authoritatively demonstrates. In short, it proves that our response to climate change — both in terms of mitigation and adaptation — will reduce human suffering, while preserving the diversity and beauty of God’s creation for our children. God’s generous and plentiful creation, which we so often take for granted, is a gift to all living creatures and all living things. We must, therefore, ensure that the resources of our planet are — and continue to be — enough for all to live abundant lives.

The report could not appear at a more significant and sensitive time in history. This year, as all eyes look ahead to the Paris climate negotiations and as governments prepare to sign a universal commitment to limit global temperature rises, we have reached a critical turning point. We are — as never before — in a position to choose charity over greed and frugality over wastefulness in order to affirm our moral commitment to our neighbor and our respect for the Earth. Basic human rights — such as access to safe water, clean air and sufficient food — should be available to everyone without distinction or discrimination.

Because of our faith in God as creator, redeemer and sustainer, we have a mission to protect nature as well as human beings. The obligation of all human beings is to work together for a better world, one in which all human beings can flourish; our Christian vocation is to proclaim the Gospel inclusively and comprehensively.

To this purpose, as early as the mid-1980s, when the faith-based environmental movement that has come to be known as creation care was neither political nor fashionable, the Ecumenical Patriarchate initiated pioneering environmental initiatives. In 1989, it established a day of prayer for the protection of the natural environment and, from 1991 to this day, instigated a series of symposia and summits on an international, interfaith and interdisciplinary basis. Its ecumenical and ecological vision has been embraced in parishes and communities throughout the world.

In 1984, the Anglican Consultative Council adopted the Five Marks of Mission, the fifth of which is: "To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth." In 2006, the Church of England started a national environmental campaign, Shrinking the Footprint, to enable the whole church to address — in faith, practice and mission — the issue of climate change. In 2015, a clear direction has been set for the Church of England’s national investing bodies in support of the transition to a low-carbon economy that brings its investments into line with the church’s witness.

As representatives of two major Christian communions, we appeal to the world’s governments to act decisively and conscientiously by signing an ambitious and hopeful agreement in Paris during the United Nations’ climate conference, COP 21, at the end of this year. We hope and pray that this covenant will contain a clear and convincing long-term goal that will chart the course of decarbonization in the coming years. Only in this way can we reduce the inequality that flows directly from climate injustice within and between countries.

The Lancet report is further proof that all of us must act with generosity and compassion toward our fellow human beings by acting on climate change now. This is a shared moral responsibility and urgent requirement. Civil society, governmental authorities and religious leaders have an opportunity to make a difference in a way that bridges our diverse opinions and nationalities. More




The Lessons of the Loess Plateau

From John Dennis Liu here are the bare bones of what I have learned studying the Loess Plateau. There is more detail for those who crave knowledge.

John Dennis Liu

1. Functional ecosystems gave rise to life and are necessary for life to continue.

2. Ecosystem degradation has local, downstream (regional) and global impacts suggesting that we must rethink the way we see our relationship with the Earth. This is an essential part of globalization.

3. Human activity without ecological understanding leads to ecosystem collapse.

4. 4. Poverty and ecological destruction are interrelated. You must solve them together.

5. The collapse of ecosystem function is linked to the collapse of civilization.

6. It is possible to rehabilitate large-scale damaged ecosystems and restore ecosystem function that has been lost over vast areas.

7. It is necessary to differentiate and designate ecological and economic land to ensure that there will be at least some land that is able to function ecologically.

8. In order to restore ecosystem viability it is necessary to address the root causes of the degradation and so all unsustainable agricultural practices must end.

9. In order for unsustainable agricultural practices to end, policies must reflect these principles, alternative livelihoods must be identified, training and investment must be provided to help transition the poorest toward sustainable behaviors. They cannot do this alone.

10. Land tenure ensuring uninterrupted access to agricultural land for those who live near subsistence agriculture is required or they will be forced to devastate common ecological lands to survive.

11. Governments must understand these lessons and their policies must reflect these principles.

12. Ecosystem function and the ecosystem benefits that accrue have not been valued by traditional economic systems and so those systems are false.

13. The survival of people who live in or near large degraded ecosystems and the survival of people who live in wealth far from these places in the developed world, are both dependent on restoring viability to large ecosystems that have been disrupted or destroyed by human activity.

14. Learning these lessons will ensure that future generations will enjoy rushing rivers, forests, wildlife and more efficient, productive farms, as well as living in peace and prosperity.

15. We need to understand what is at stake. History provides strong, compelling evidence that ignoring these lessons will lead to ecosystem collapse and the end of our civilization.

16. When we look toward the future do we see growing deserts, more people living lives of desperation and poverty, or do we see forests, rivers, healthy and wealthy people with a sustainable future? These are two different paradigms. When we achieve the second paradigm the entire dynamic changes. This is exactly what is needed now to address climate change, poverty, and ecosystem health. The lessons of the Loess Plateau help to illustrate a sustainable future for humanity and represent "EARTH’S HOPE".



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Port plan to undergo economic impact assessment

An economic impact assessment for the proposed cruise berthing facility is in the works, The Cayman Reporter understands.

George Town's Proposed Cruise Terminal

Minister of Finance Hon Marco Archer confirmed that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) has been contracted to carry out the assessment. The Cayman Reporter inquired if the assessment has already started and how much this assessment will cost the country, but Mr Archer has not responded at press time.

The Cayman Islands has already done an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to the tune of $2.5 million based on the current proposal of a two finger pier. The EIA indicated that dredging and its silt plume could impact 15 acres of coral reef. Now that the EIA has been completed and the Department of Environment (DoE) is the process of completing a report on the assessment to submit to Cabinet, a call for the examination of the proposal’s impact on the entire economy has been made.

Founder and Director-General at The Cayman Institute, Nicholas Robson, said to grasp the full impact of the proposal its impact on the country’s economy must be evaluated. He believes the economic impact assessment should state how financing a cruise port, that could destroy a significant part of the reef on the south-west of the island, will affect the country. He believes it should look at how many jobs will be affected in the retail sector as well as in to water sports industry.

He noted that it is also imperative to analyse the true strengths and weaknesses of the cruise tourism and stay-over tourism to these islands.

“We should be weighing up the cruise passenger industry and its per-capita spend against stay-over tourism. Should we be looking into lengthening the runway to 10,000 feet to be able to accommodate long haul flights from Europe and points east? The Persian Gulf and China have many high net worth individuals which may well want to come to the Cayman Islands. We have already had Mr. Lee Ka-Shing one of the richest men in Hong Kong residing and doing business here,” he said.

Furthermore, Mr Robson stated that it is important for Cayman to know how many cruise passengers it can manage. “If we try and take too many cruise passengers per day none will have an enjoyable experience,” he said.

Commenting on his own stance on the port plans Mr Robson said he is for any initiative that will have the greatest benefit to the majority of the people in the Cayman Islands. “A decision made today will affect the Cayman islands for many years into the future. Furthermore, with Cuba opening up the cruise industry may find that more passengers want to go to Cuba, causing some of the cruise lines dropping Cayman,” he said.

The Advancement of Cruise Tourism in the Cayman Islands (ACT) member Chris Kirkconnell told The Cayman Reporter that the ACT was formed because members involved in the cruise industry felt that the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA), the tourism sector’s representative group, was only concerned about stay-over businesses. Those involved in cruise felt that in order to have a voice they had to start a group of their own.

“Once we formed ACT CITA tried to convince us that we didn’t need a separate entity and it seemed like they were trying to give us some kind of attention up until now. If you look at the member makeup of CITA its much more heavily stay-over focused than cruise,” Mr Kirkconnell expressed. More


Germany, Greece, and the Future of Europe

NEW YORK – I have been helping countries to overcome financial crises for 30 years, and have studied the economic crises of the twentieth century as background to my advisory work. In all crises, there is an inherent imbalance of power between creditor and debtor. Successful crisis management therefore depends on the creditor’s wisdom. In this regard, I strongly urge Germany to rethink its approach to Greece.

Jeffery Sachs

A financial crisis is caused by a country’s excessive indebtedness, which generally reflects a combination of mismanagement by the debtor country, over-optimism, corruption, and the poor judgment and weak incentives of creditor banks. Greece fits that bill.

Greece was heavily indebted when it joined the eurozone in 2001, with government debt at around 99% of GDP. As a new member, however, Greece was able to borrow easily from 2000 to 2008, and the debt-to-GDP ratio rose to 109%.

When a country’s prosperity depends on the continued inflow of capital, a sudden stop or reversal of financial flows triggers a sharp contraction. In Greece, the easy lending stopped with the 2008 global financial crisis. The economy shrunk by 18% from 2008 to 2011, and unemployment soared from 8% to 18%.

The most obvious cause was lower government spending, which reduced aggregate demand. Public-sector workers lost their jobs, and construction projects ground to a halt. As incomes declined, other domestic sectors collapsed.

Another factor in Greece’s economic collapse is less obvious: the contraction of bank credit. As banks lost their access to interbank credit lines from abroad, they restricted lending and called in outstanding loans. Domestic savers also withdrew their deposits, fearing for the banks’ solvency and – thanks largely to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble – for their country’s continued eurozone membership. Like shrinking aggregate demand, the contraction of bank loans had a multiplier effect, with growing financial fragility inducing depositors and overseas financial institutions also to withdraw credits and deposits from Greek banks.

In normal circumstances, economies overcome a debt crisis by cutting government deficits, shifting production from domestic sales to exports, and recapitalizing banks. The budget surplus and export revenues allow the economy to service its foreign debt, while bank recapitalization permits renewed credit expansion.

If the export boost is large enough and rapid enough, the earnings it brings largely offset the decline in domestic demand, and overall output is stabilized or even returned to growth. Spain, Ireland, and Portugal were all able to cushion their post-2008 slumps with a surge in export earnings. Remarkably, Greece could not. In fact, Greek export earnings in 2013, at €53 billion, were actually €3 billion lower than in 2008, even after domestic demand collapsed.

That is not surprising, for three reasons. First, because the European rescue packages did not recapitalize the Greek banking sector (the focus was on bailing out German and French banks), potential exporters could not obtain the operating credit required to support their retooling needs. Second, Greece’s economic base is too narrow to support a significant short-term increase in exports. Third, administrative, regulatory, and tax obstacles hindered the export response, especially as the tax increases in the rescue packages made it even harder for small and medium-size enterprises to grow and establish new markets abroad.

In my view, the policy response by Greece’s partners, led by Germany, has been unwise and highly unprofessional. Their approach has been to extend new loans so that Greece can service its existing debts, without restoring Greece’s banking system or promoting its export competitiveness. Greece’s initial €110 billion bailout package, in 2010, went to pay government debts to German and French banks. As a result, Greece owes an ever-larger share of its debt to official creditors: the International Monetary Fund, the European Financial Stability Fund, and, increasingly, the European Central Bank. While Greece’s debts to private creditors have been partly cut, this was too little too late, because it cannot even service its debts to official creditors.

Year after year, Greece’s creditors have promised that the bailout packages would bring about a meaningful rebound in output, employment, and exports. Instead, the country has experienced a depression comparable to the decline in output and employment that Germany suffered from 1930 to 1932, the years that preceded Hitler’s rise. Many Germans may despise Greece’s current Syriza government, which pledged to end the policy of creditor-imposed austerity; but four consecutive governments – center-left, technocratic, center-right, and left – have implemented it.

All of these governments have failed. Perhaps Antonis Samaras’s center-right government from 2012 to 2015 came closest to succeeding, but it could not survive, politically, the severe austerity that it was being forced to impose. Nor did Greece’s creditors do anything to help Samaras’s government out of its political bind, even though it was a government they liked.

To overcome an economic crisis, the creditor must be smart and measured. It is right to demand strong reforms of a mismanaged debtor government; but if the debtor is pushed too hard, it is the society that breaks, leading to instability, violence, coups, and pervasive human suffering. While the debtor loses the most, the creditors also lose, as they are not repaid.

The formula for success is to match reforms with debt relief, in line with the real needs of the economy. A smart creditor of Greece would ask some serious and probing questions. How can we help Greece to get credit moving again within the banking system? How can we help Greece to spur exports? What is needed to promote the rapid growth of small and medium-size Greek enterprises?

For five years now, Germany has not asked these questions. Indeed, over time, questions have been replaced by German frustration at Greeks’ alleged indolence, corruption, and incorrigibility. It has become ugly and personal on both sides. And the creditors have failed to propose a realistic approach to Greece’s debts, perhaps out of Germany’s fear that Italy, Portugal, and Spain might ask for relief down the line.

Whatever the reason, Germany has treated Greece badly, failing to offer the empathy, analysis, and debt relief that are required. And if it did so to scare Italy and Spain, it should be reminded of Kant’s categorical imperative: Countries, like individuals, should be treated as ends, not means.

Creditors are sometimes wise and sometimes incredibly stupid. America, Britain, and France were incredibly stupid in the 1920s to impose excessive reparations payments on Germany after World War I. In the 1940s and 1950s, the United States was a wise creditor, giving Germany new funds under the Marshall Plan, followed by debt relief in 1953.

In the 1980s, the US was a bad creditor when it demanded excessive debt payments from Latin America and Africa; in the 1990s and later, it smartened up, putting debt relief on the table. In 1989, the US was smart to give Poland debt relief (and Germany went along, albeit grudgingly). In 1992, its stupid insistence on strict Russian debt servicing of Soviet-era debts sowed the seeds for today’s bitter relations.

Germany’s demands have brought Greece to the point of near-collapse, with potentially disastrous consequences for Greece, Europe, and Germany’s global reputation. This is a time for wisdom, not rigidity. And wisdom is not softness. Maintaining a peaceful and prosperous Europe is Germany’s most vital responsibility; but it is surely its most vital national interest as well. More


IRENA Conference Launches Martinique Action Plan for Renewables Deployment on SIDS

14 July 2015: A conference organized by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has launched an action plan to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy in small island developing states (SIDS).

The Martinique Action Plan outlines practical steps for deploying renewable energy resources and technologies in SIDS. It also seeks to demonstrate commitment of 27 SIDS and 19 development partners to the IRENA of SIDS Lighthouses Initiative in the run-up to the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference.

The ‘Martinique Action Plan for Renewable Energy Deployment on Islands' (MAP) focuses on the development of wind, marine, geothermal and sustainable biomass resources. It also identifies steps for promoting biomass and waste-to-energy systems, boosting renewable electricity generation on island power grids, and launching renewable desalination systems to meet increasing demands for freshwater.

The MAP recommends: supporting the energy transition of SIDS through concrete actions, including opening markets, facilitating financing and building capacities; facilitating the implementation of programmes and projects to achieve concrete outcomes, including through enabling policy environments and promoting successful business models; and contributing, where applicable and appropriate, to the development of concrete actions with a view to demonstrating progress at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, in November-December 2015.

It also, inter alia: emphasizes renewable energy as a key means for mitigating climate change and strengthening resilience to its impacts; notes public-private partnerships' role in unlocking investment capital; and acknowledges support from civil society and community engagement as critical for long-term success.

In September 2014, the Third International Conference on SIDS in Apia, Samoa, adopted an outcome document, titled ‘SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway,' which supports actions to, inter alia, develop a strategy and targeted measures to promote energy efficiency and foster sustainable energy systems, and calls for the establishment and strengthening of innovative energy road maps in SIDS.

At the 2014 Climate Summit, in September 2014 in New York, US, IRENA launched the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative, a joint effort of SIDS, development institutions and other partners aimed at mobilizing funding and political will to advance the deployment of renewable energy in islands around the world

The MAP was launched at the ‘Island Energy Transitions: Pathways for Accelerated Uptake of Renewables' conference, organized on Martinique, from 22-24 June 2015, by IRENA, in cooperation with the Government of France and the French Region of Martinique.

The conference, which attracted the participation of representatives of governments, companies, banks, development partners and subject matter experts, covered topics such as renewable energy resources, technologies, markets, financing, and the sharing of best practices. [IRENA Press Release] [Martinique Action Plan for Renewable Energy Development on Islands] [Island Energy Transitions Conference Webpage] [IISD RS Coverage of the Third International Conference on SIDS] [IISD RS Story of SIDS Lighthouses Initiative Launch]

read more:





Tuesday, July 21, 2015





For immediate release, 19 July 2015

Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands



The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) today became the first small island state to set a new emissions reduction target for 2025, and the first developing country to adopt the simpler and more robust absolute economy-wide target that is usually expected of industrialized countries.

RMI’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution – or ‘INDC’ – includes a commitment to reduce emissions by 32% below 2010 levels by 2025, and also includes an indicative target to further reduce emissions to 45% below 2010 levels by 2030. This is in line with RMI’s longer-term vision to move towards net zero emissions by 2050, or earlier if possible.

The preference for a 2025 target is consistent with calls by the US, Brazil and the world’s most vulnerable countries for shorter five-year commitments to avoid locking in insufficient ambition all the way to 2030, some 15 years away. It will strengthen calls from a growing majority that all countries must come back to the table by 2020 to see if stronger action is possible, particularly as renewable energy and other low-carbon technology becomes cheaper and more efficient.

As RMI once again mops up the damage after the latest in a series of climate disasters to hit the low-lying atoll nation, the new targets reaffirm RMI’s commitment to strong climate leadership in the Pacific region, as recognized by the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership adopted in the country when it hosted Pacific Island Leaders in September 2013. RMI’s new target builds on those previous efforts, but are now based on the more rigorous data collected during the preparation of RMI’s greenhouse gas inventory for 2010, which is soon to be submitted to the UNFCCC in the country’s ‘Second National Communication’.

Speaking on the release of the INDC, the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Christopher J. Loeak, said:

"I am proud that, despite the climate disasters hitting our shores with increasing regularity, we remain committed to showing the way in the transition to a low-carbon economy. We may be small, but we exemplify the new reality that going low carbon is in everyone’s interests. It improves our economy, our security, our health and our prosperity, particularly in the Pacific and more broadly in the developing world."

"With these ambitious targets, we are on track to nearly halve our emissions between 2010 and 2030, en route to becoming emissions-free by the middle of the century. The science says this is what’s required globally. We have now joined the United States, the European Union, Ethiopia and others in setting a long-term decarbonization strategy. When added together in Paris, these strategies will stamp fossil fuels with an expiry date."

"Having an absolute economy-wide target means no-one has to look into a crystal ball to understand what it means for how much CO2 goes into the atmosphere. Unlike ‘below business-as-usual’ and ‘GDP intensity’ targets, our numbers don’t rely on unknown variables like size of population and future economic growth. This is the simplest and most robust type of target that a country can adopt. It says ‘we mean business’, and we’re not continuing with ‘business as usual’."

Speaking from Paris, where he is preparing to attend an informal Ministerial meeting on the negotiations convened by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, RMI Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tony de Brum, added:

"Leadership requires vision. Despite the costs of climate change spiraling out of control, we have once again shot for the upper end of what’s possible with our limited resources and international support."

"Since the 2008 oil price shock, the Marshall Islands has embarked on one the world’s most aggressive rollouts of renewables and energy efficiency measures. This helped us to peak our emissions in 2009, just before Copenhagen. But going forward, we’ll need to go harder, upscaling not only on solar, but also biofuels and wind, as well as the potential use of transformational technology, such as Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion. If we can show OTEC to work in our waters, it could change the global energy landscape altogether, delivering clean, green power to big coastal cities all over the world."

"With most of the big emitters’ targets now on the table, everyone knows we are falling well short. This is not something that can be ignored, nor swept away by political expediency. There can be no more excuses for delay or for low-balling ambition on the false premise that coal and other dirty fuels somehow increase prosperity. Exactly the opposite is true. Our message is simple: if one of the world’s smallest, poorest and most geographically isolated countries can do it, so can you."

Media contact:

Thom WoodroofeRMI Ministry of Foreign Affairs

+61 419 668 093 | +44 7958 264 007







Sunday, July 19, 2015

Caribbean Countries Should Brace For Eventual Massive Earthquake

The Seismic Research Centre (SRC) of the University of the West Indies (UWI) is warning the region to “move expeditiously” towards building resilience amid predictions the Caribbean could be hit with an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 or greater, Caribbean 360 reports.

“We must develop, legislate and enforce Building Codes using up-to-date seismic hazard maps based on the latest available science. Preparedness measures at the individual levels are insufficient and greater efforts are needed to facilitate self-resilience,” the SRC said in a statement as it marked the fifth anniversary of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that rocked Haiti in 2010, killing an estimated 300,000 people.

The SRC said that the earthquake in Haiti “should have been the wakeup call for a fundamental shift in regional mechanisms for coping with seismic hazards.”

It said major earthquake disasters around the world have stimulated similar shifts and resulted in greater resilience to seismic hazards in these regions.

“This has not happened in the Caribbean and the region continues to be extremely vulnerable to seismic events,” the SRC said, adding “research suggests that the region is capable of generating an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 or larger every 3-5 years.

“Of more concerns, we are long overdue for a magnitude 8.0 earthquake, which has 32 times more energy than the Haiti event. In light of these sobering facts, it is imperative for the region to move expeditiously towards building resilience to such events,” it added.

The SRC said that while there have been advances in many areas, “the effectiveness of the implemented strategy from country to country still needs to be measured.

“The need for broad-based impact assessments for seismic hazards and risks is now greater than ever with clearly established short term and long term objectives. Every year that passes without the necessary measures being in place is a year closer to a repeat of the Haiti disaster. Now is the time to be ready,” the SRC added. More


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

5Cs Wins Energy Globe Award for Renewable Energy and Potable Water Project in Bequia, St Vincent and the Grenadines

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) received the 2015 Energy Globe Award for its renewable energy and potable water work in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Cayman Islands should be emulating this initiative and moving towards potable water production for Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Editor

Energy Globe, an internationally recognized trademark for sustainability, is one of the most important environmental prizes today with 177 participating countries. The award, which is made from a cross-section of over 1, 500 entries annually, is given in recognition of outstanding performance in terms of energy efficiency, renewable energy and resource conservation.

The CCCCC won the 2015 Energy Globe National Award for the project “Special Programme for Adaptation to Climate Change”. The project was executed on the island of Bequia in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and focuses on the production and provision of clean drinking water for more than 1,000 people. This is being done through the acquisition and installation of a reverse osmosis desalination plant. The project is deemed highly sustainable as the water input is inexhaustible sea water and the energy used is solar, a renewable, carbon-free source.

The landmark project was also presented by Energy Globe as part of a global online campaign ( on World Environment Day. The campaign ran under the patronage of UNESCO and in cooperation with UNEP and received significant recognition.

“To be honoured with this award is a great recognition of our work for a better environment and motivates us to continue our endeavours in the future,” – Henrik Personn, Renewable Energy Expert, CCCCC

Since completing this key project, we have applied the lessons learned in Belize and on the Grenadian islands of Petite Martinique and Carriacou. Review the poster above to learn more about the progress we are making in Grenada:



Monday, July 13, 2015

Caribbean States 'lighting path' towards sustainable future, says UN chief in Barbados

"I want to salute Caribbean countries for taking on ambitious renewable energy targets. By 2020, for example, Barbados will be one of the world's top five leading users of solar energy on a per capita basis. You are lighting the path to the future,"

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon My main message to you is to remain fully engaged and keep working with us to strengthen our partnership during this vital year for humanity. Together, we can build a better, more sustainable world, for all.said during a high-level symposium focused on sustainable development in the Caribbean.

This meeting was among the UN chief's first stops in Barbados, where later on Thursdayhe is expected to make opening remarks to the 2015 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Summit, and where tomorrow, he will, among others, hold an interactive dialogue at the University of the West Indies.

"Twenty years ago, this very building was the site of the First Global Conference on Small Island Developing States that adopted the Barbados Programme of Action – the first compact between this group and the international community," he noticed

For small island developing States, Ban added, this space is "hallowed ground."

Encouraged by the presence of so many leaders of governments, regional and international organizations, the private sector, academia, and civil society, the Secretary-General highlighted the "continuing Caribbean commitment to put our world on a safer, more sustainable and equitable pathway," a few days from theThird International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

"As leaders of some of the most vulnerable countries in the world, you don't need to be told that our planet is at grave risk. You are on the climate frontlines. You see it every day," he continued.

Convinced that sustainable development and climate change are "two sides of the same coin," the UN top official went on to say that this generation could be the first to end global poverty, and the last to prevent the worst impacts of global warming "before it is too late."

To get there, he underlined, the international community must make sure that the proposed sustainable development goals (SDGs) are "focused, financed and followed up – with real targets, real money and a real determination to achieve them."

Considering these goals as a sort of a "to-do list for people and the planet", Ban emphasized that it will take partnerships to make that happen. In that regard, he said, the Third International Conference on Small Islands Developing States in Samoa last year laid a pathway for collective action and success within the post-2015 development agenda.

But, as the world prepares for a new sustainability framework and the sustainable development goals, a number of critical partnership areas must be strengthened, in particular the need for capacity building; financing; access to technology; and improved data collection and statistics.

Member States also must continue working together to link the global agenda to regional agendas and to deepen regional integration and to address the "unique needs and vulnerabilities" of small island developing states and middle-income countries, such as the debt challenge.

"And we need to keep forging the way forward towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient development pathway that will benefit both people and the planet," the Secretary-General underlined.

He gave the assurance that, through the Green Climate Fund, and in working with world leaders, he will continue to insist that small islands and least developed countries are top funding priorities.

"My main message to you is to remain fully engaged and keep working with us to strengthen our partnership during this vital year for humanity. Together, we can build a better, more sustainable world, for all."

Later, in an address to an event on ending violence against women, the Secretary-General said the Caribbean has among the highest rates of sexual assault in the world. Three Caribbean countries are in the global top ten for recorded rapes. Moreover, he noted that in the eastern Caribbean, UNICEF estimates that child sexual abuse rates are between 20 and 45 per cent – meaning at least one in five precious children are affected. Most are girls who have no choice but to live close to their attacker.

"They desperately need our help. Too many women are afraid to seek help. One study showed that up to two thirds of all victims suffer without ever reporting the crime. I am outraged by this. Shame belongs to the perpetrators – not the victiWe have to change mindsets – especially among men," declared the UN chief.

In that light, he said he was proud to be the first man to sign onto the UN's HeForShecampaign, and he invited more men to take the HeForShe pledge.

"I encourage you to join UNICEF's End Violence global campaign. And every day, I count on all of you to work for true equality."

In the margins of the 36th meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community in Barbados, the Secretary-General met with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Maxine McClean, of Barbados, a country he congratulated for its upcoming leadership of CARICOM. More



Sunday, July 12, 2015

When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job

In the photo: Glaciologist Jason Box, left, at work on the Petermann Glacier on Greenland’s northwest coast, which has lost mass at an accelerated pace in recent years. Box and his family left Ohio State for Europe a couple years ago, and he is relieved to have escaped America’s culture of climate-change denial.

Jason Box

The incident was small, but Jason Box doesn’t want to talk about it. He’s been skittish about the media since it happened. This was last summer, as he was reading the cheery blog posts transmitted by the chief scientist on the Swedish icebreaker Oden, which was exploring the Arctic for an international expedition led by Stockholm University. “Our first observations of elevated methane levels, about ten times higher than in background seawater, were documented … we discovered over 100 new methane seep sites…. The weather Gods are still on our side as we steam through a now ice-free Laptev Sea….”

As a leading climatologist who spent many years studying the Arctic at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at Ohio State, Box knew that this breezy scientific detachment described one of the nightmare long-shot climate scenarios: a feedback loop where warming seas release methane that causes warming that releases more methane that causes more warming, on and on until the planet is incompatible with human life. And he knew there were similar methane releases occurring in the area. On impulse, he sent out a tweet.

“If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we’re f’d.”

The tweet immediately went viral, inspiring a series of headlines:




Box has been outspoken for years. He’s done science projects with Greenpeace, and he participated in the 2011 mass protest at the White House organized by In 2013, he made headlines when a magazine reported his conclusion that a seventy-foot rise in sea levels over the next few centuries was probably already “baked into the system.” Now, with one word, Box had ventured into two particularly dangerous areas. First, the dirty secret of climate science and government climate policies is that they’re all based on probabilities, which means that the effects of standard CO2 targets like an 80 percent reduction by 2050 are based on the middle of the probability curve. Box had ventured to the darker possibilities on the curve’s tail, where few scientists and zero politicians are willing to go. More


Friday, July 10, 2015

Tufton Wants Laws On Water Harvesting

EFFORTS TO preserve the country’s water reserves must be supplemented by legislation that makes rainwater harvesting compulsory for all housing developments and other such major projects which put a drain on Jamaica’s limited water resources during construction.

Dr Christopher Tufton

That is the recommendation from Dr Christopher Tufton, who told The Gleaner that such legislation is overdue, given Government’s failure to examine and report back on a resolution passed in the Senate March 1, 2013 on legislating rainwater harvesting.

“This is yet another example of a country that gives lip service to sustainable development, while citizens have to experience the hardships from a water crisis each year. We have heard nothing of the resolution since then, and as is customary, we act surprised that we are in another water shortage crisis, even though we have this situation each year,” said the former government minister.

He wants to make it mandatory that developers include in their applications information on how they will harvest and store rainwater for use during the life of the project. The legislation also speaks to the incorporation of features such as guttering on individual buildings, to ensure that water conservation becomes a part the Jamaican culture going forward.

“What it would mean is that one could determine to what extent existing projects could be retrofitted or adjusted. For new projects, however, part of their design should include a rainwater harvesting process. Now, it does add to the cost of construction, but in some countries, they have done things like tax rebates, among other things, to incentivise developers,” Tufton said. “So once construction is done, you could get a tax write-off in a short period of time to keep costs to a minimum.”

Acknowledging that this additional cost might prove a deterrent for some investors, Tufton said one has to look at the much bigger picture of the emotional distress and financial fallout the country is now experiencing. More