Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Warning over Cuba emergence

Cayman among countries most impacted, report says

The emergence of Cuba as a rival for tourists and investment dollars will change the travel landscape in the Caribbean forever, industry leaders have warned.

“The likelihood that cruise lines will drop some existing ports to accommodate Cuba port visits is real and the proximity of Cuba to the U.S. mainland can allow for Cuba to be easily added to a schedule that can impact itineraries to near markets such as the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and Jamaica,” the report says.

Caribbean tourism officials are pushing for a new partnership with the U.S. amid growing concern that the thawing of relations with Cuba will have drastic consequences for neighboring islands.

“The biggest and most disruptive pebble to be dropped into the Caribbean pool in fifty years will arrive with the opening of travel to Cuba for United States citizens,” the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association warns in a position paper.

The association says islands closest to Cuba, including the Cayman Islands, are likely to suffer the “greatest ripple effects.”

The association is looking to create a Caribbean Basin Tourism Initiative to help boost investment and travel across the region with help from the U.S. The initiative calls for technical and policy support from the U.S. to ensure the stability of tourism-based economies in the region if U.S. tourists are, as expected, allowed to visit Cuba after a 50-year embargo.

“While U.S. tour, airline and cruise executives are eyeing the tourism potential of the long-forbidden paradise 90 miles south of Key West, Florida, conflicted stakeholders throughout the wider Caribbean have legitimate concerns [over] whether there will be a level playing field and whether the rest of the region will grow tourism arrivals or lose tourism investments and arrivals as they divert to Cuba,” said Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association President Emil Lee. More

If the Cayman Islands builds a new cruise dock, destroying many dive sites in the vicinity of George Town in the process, and the islands then see some cruise lines deserting the Cayman Islands for Cuban ports where will we be then? Should these islands be developing stay-over tourism and extending the existing runway to direct accomodate long-haul flights from Europe, the Midle East and East Asia?



Monday, June 29, 2015

On The Legal Front: Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions (CSAS)

The only way to win the carbon war soon enough to avert unacceptable casualties of young people and other life on the planet is to carry out the battle on several fronts simultaneously.

Dr. James Hansen

(That’s the reason for the expansive name of our organization, Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions (CSAS), and also the reason that we support disparate organizations, including Citizens Climate Lobby, Our Children’s Trust, 350.org…).

We sometimes ask if we are using our time right, spending too much time on the legal front?[1] After all, the end game begins only when we achieve an across-the-board transparent (thank you, Pope Francis, for recognizing that!) carbon fee. Focus on a carbon fee is high priority because of the danger that Paris agreements may amount to little more than national “goals” and, what’s worse, more effete ineffectual “cap-and-trade” shenanigans. A focus on science is also needed, as there is still no widespread recognition of the urgency of emission reductions, and better understanding of the science is required to achieve a good strategy to restore energy balance.

The legal approach complements recognition of the moral dimensions of climate change. Can you imagine civil rights advancing without help of the courts? Yet courts will not likely move, and they did not move in the case of civil rights, until the public recognizes the moral dimension and begins to demand action. So it is also essential to get the public more widely involved.

When a judge issues a ruling it has certain gravity. It seems that courts retain more respect with the public than legislatures do. So it is wonderful to report two important legal victories this week. Both are due to remarkably capable, determined individuals, who simply will not give up.

First, the Dutch case. The Netherlands, which will cease to exist within a century or so if the world stays on its present carbon path, is an appropriate place for the first European case in which citizens attempt to hold a state responsible for its inaction in the face of clear danger. The Dutch district court in the Hague ruled for the plaintiff, Urgenda, an environmental organization. The court ordered the Dutch government to reduce emissions 25% by 2020, a stiff order. The hero behind the scenes was lawyer, legal scholar, and author Roger Cox, who has relentlessly pursued this action for the past several years on behalf of young people and future generations.

In Seattle, the King County Superior Court Judge ordered the State to reconsider the petition of eight youth, who brought their case with the help of Our Children’s Trust, requesting that the state reduce emissions consistent with dictates of the best available science. The latter was provided in testimony to the court by Pushker Kharecha, Deputy Director of CSAS, based on our paper in PLOS One, which was not disputed by Washington State, and which calls for a reduction of emissions by 6% per year. The relentless behind-the-scenes champions in this case are Julia Olson (director of Our Children’s Trust) and legal scholar Mary Woods.

Government lawyers, in the Netherlands and Washington State, scurried off after the verdicts to prepare appeals. If they win their appeals, it will not deter the youth or their supporters, who must be relentless in advancing the essential legal front. More on other legal plans soon. More

[1] At present I am involved in 11 legal cases. It could be more – it hurts to turn down requests, but there is only so much time. It would be fewer cases, if I didn’t have the help of a brilliant young lawyer, Dan Galpern.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

One Size Fits None: Drought forecasting in the Caribbean

A summary of the first-ever dry season Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum

By Elisabeth Gawthrop

Most extreme climate and weather events involve an unwanted surplus — too much rain, too much wind or too much snow and ice. Drought is a little different: it’s the absence of something. It takes time for a drought to build, making it fundamentally different to monitor or forecast than many climate and weather events. In the Caribbean, much of the interaction between forecasters and decision makers has revolved around the wet season events— especially hurricanes and floods. These short, high impact events deserve this attention, but scientists and decision makers have also started working together to develop useful information about other kinds of climate impacts, namely drought.

In an effort to improve drought forecasts and their use by stakeholders, the first dry season Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) took place in St. John’s, Antigua in December 2014. CariCOF is one of many regional COFs around the world that bring together climatologists, meteorologists, and the people who might use the information they produce (e.g. representatives from health, agriculture, water management, etc.).

Before this past December, the Caribbean only hosted such a meeting just before the wet season. But if rainfall during the wet season isn’t sufficient, drought can manifest and become further exacerbated during the dry season. Adrian Trotman of the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), the main organizer of the event, explains in the video below why the Caribbean needed a dry season COF. Trotman is an assiduous, energetic scientist who constantly motivates the conference attendees; he brilliantly blends the fun, laid-back Caribbean spirit with the focus needed to move climate resilience in the region forward.

The Endless Solar


5 Radical Takeaways from the Pope’s Letter on Climate

Pope Francis recognizes that there’s no way to stop climate change without confronting the way the world does business. That’s huge.

Pope Francis just released an "encyclical," a letter meant to serve as a guide to understanding our personal relationship to some of the most complex issues of the day through religious doctrine. This particular encyclical is on climate change and is addressed not just to the globe’s 1.2 billion Catholics, but to everyone of any — or no — faith. In it, Pope Francis boldly challenges us all to take an honest look inside our hearts and question the foundations of a society that’s created wealth for some at the expense of others and "our common home"— the planet earth.

Here are five key quotes from the encyclical that will shake up the global climate debate.

1. Climate change and inequality are inextricably linked.

"We have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor." It’s not hard to see how climate change hits people living in poverty first and worst, and inevitably widens the gulf between rich and poor. After extreme weather washes away their homes or drought kills their crops, those living in poverty have a harder time bouncing back than those with savings accounts and sturdier houses. But what’s really radical is how the Pope names inequality itself as an impediment to solving a looming planetary and human rights crisis. The encyclical calls out "masters of power and money" to stop masking the symptoms and address climate change in service of the common good.

Pope Francis boldly challenges us all to take an honest look inside our hearts and question the foundations of a society that’s created wealth for some at the expense of others and "our common home"— the planet earth.

2. The global economy must protect the Earth, our common home.

"The economy accepts every advance in technology with a view to profit, without concern for its potentially negative impact on human beings." Today’s global economy profits at the environment’s expense. And the pursuit of growth is fueling environmental degradation, natural disasters, and financial crises. Pope Francis envisions a people-and-planet-first economy more in harmony with the environment that would prevent imbalances of wealth and power and foster peace among nations.

3. Everyone must divest from fossil fuels and invest in the future.

"We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels… needs to be progressively replaced without delay." Pope Francis is crystal clear that the current development model based on the intensive use of coal, oil, and even natural gas has to go. In its place we need renewable energy options and new modes of production and consumption that combat global warming. This is precisely what a growing movement of students, faith communities, socially responsible investors and everyday citizens are calling on individuals and private and public institutions to do: Divest their money from fossil fuels and invest it in climate solutions like wind, solar, and energy efficiency.

4. It’s time for powerful nations to pay their fair share.

"A true ‘ecological debt’ exists, particularly between the global north and south. … In different ways, developing countries, where the most important reserves of the biosphere are found, continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future." Countries in the global North have benefitted from fossil fuel-driven industrialization, while developing countries bear the brunt of the related greenhouse gas emissions. So while everyone must act to avoid climate disruption, rich countries have a greater responsibility. For starters, they must make rapid, deep cuts in carbon emissions. And they have to keep their promise to finance the cost for poorer countries to build climate resilience and transition to renewable energy through the Green Climate Fund.

5. There’s no easy way out of this.

"Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation, or blind confidence in technical solutions." There’s only one way to meet the climate challenge: Extinguish the "dig, burn, dump economy." And markets and technology can’t be relied on to do the job. Gimmicks like trading carbon credits as a financial commodity or burning coal in "cleaner" power plants are distractions from the only real solution: Stop digging up and drilling — then burning — oil, gas, and coal.

Pope Francis is calling for solutions to climate change that is rooted in our "deepest convictions about love, justice, and peace." His letter to the world illuminates a radical, compassionate path that shows what it truly means to have faith in humanity. More



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pope Francis, in Sweeping Encyclical, Calls for Swift Action on Climate Change

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Thursday called for a radical transformation of politics, economics and individual lifestyles to confront environmental degradation and climate change, as his much-awaited papal encyclical blended a biting critique of consumerism and irresponsible development with a plea for swift and unified global action.

The vision that Francis outlined in the 184-page encyclical is sweeping in ambition and scope: He described a relentless exploitation and destruction of the environment, which he blamed on apathy, the reckless pursuit of profits, excessive faith in technology, and political shortsightedness. The most vulnerable victims are the world’s poorest people, he declared, who are being dislocated and disregarded.

"Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods," he wrote. "It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day."

The first pope from the developing world, Francis, an Argentine, used the encyclical — titled "Laudato Si’," or "Praise Be to You" — to highlight the crisis posed by climate change. He placed most of the blame on fossil fuels and human activity while warning of an "unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequence for all of us" if swift action is not taken. Developed, industrialized countries were mostly responsible, he said, and were obligated to help poorer nations confront the crisis.

"Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods," he wrote. "It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day." More




Wednesday, June 17, 2015

World Day to Combat Desertification (June 17, 2015)

Environment – Climate – World Day to Combat Desertification (June 17, 2015)

On World Day to Combat Desertification, dedicated this year to the theme “Attainment of food security for all through sustainable food systems,” France reaffirms its commitment to sustainable land management.

The challenge is twofold: feeding humanity while preserving the environment. France allocates €200 million per year to concrete projects to combat desertification and land degradation, mainly through the French Development Agency. The International Civil Society Forum, “Désertif'Action 2015,” recently brought together in Montpelier 300 participants from 60 countries.

Combating desertification will help to improve capacity to absorb carbon, adapt to climate change and stabilize populations in areas that remain habitable. It’s key to the success of COP21 and the reason behind the “4 pour 1000” (4 per thousand) initiative backed by France, which combines the restoration of degraded land, food production and the fight against climate disruption and is aimed at increasing soil organic matter levels by 4 parts per thousand per year.

Climate - European Climate Diplomacy Day (June 17, 2015)

On the occasion of the second edition of European Climate Diplomacy Day, Laurent Fabius will receive, at the Quai d’Orsay, more than 50 European ambassadors and diplomats, who will travel there from the Champs Élysées by bicycle. By doing so, they will demonstrate their commitment to ensuring the success of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference and their support for Laurent Fabius, COP21 President.

In almost 60 countries on five continents, French diplomats will participate together with their British, German and EU colleagues in events aimed at raising awareness among the general public and policymakers.

Televised interviews, round tables, exhibitions, screenings, training workshops for journalists, the awarding of climate scholarships and even stage plays will facilitate exchanges with the public and highlight the practical measures already undertaken to reduce carbon emissions.

Excerpts from the daily press briefing by Romain Nadal, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international Development' spokesman (Paris, june 17th 2015)


Facebook/Consulat general de France Miami

Twitter: @FranceinMiami


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Ten Island Challenge Still may be open to Cayman

Rocky Mountain Institute and Carbon War Room Merge in Strategic Alliance

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and Carbon War Room (CWR)—two leading nonprofits tackling climate change through market-based solutions—are aligning to catalyze an energy revolution that can unlock the greatest wealth-creating opportunity in modern history, the organizations announced today. RMI and CWR will together leverage the agile power of markets to combat climate change, bolster economic prosperity, and tackle other social and environmental issues created by the global dependence on fossil fuels. The organizations’ alliance will multiply their respective impacts by jointly accelerating demand and financing for low-carbon solutions that are technically feasible and cost effective today.

"For the past five years, CWR has punched well above its weight, leveraging the creativity and convening power of fellow entrepreneurs to tackle climate challenge. By marrying Rocky Mountain Institute’s analytical rigor and energy-system expertise with CWR’s bold and agile entrepreneurial approach, together we can go further, faster," said Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Carbon War Room.

The merged organization will leverage their complementary DNA—market-based, independent, non-partisan role—and the distinct strengths of each to accelerate businesses, markets, and industries to a tipping point where clean energy solutions develop unstoppable momentum.

"For more than 32 years, RMI had partnered with industry and business with significant successes in transforming energy use across the transportation, buildings, industrial, and electricity sectors,"said Amory Lovins, RMI co-founder, chief scientist, and chairman emeritus. "Now, we can capitalize on Carbon War Room’s proven ability to engage and excite corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and investors to rally around innovative ideas and take action."

Current RMI CEO Jules Kortenhorst will lead the alliance, while current CWR president José Maria Figueres will chair a single, combined Board of Trustees.

RMI and CWR’s first joint program, The Ten Island Challenge, launched earlier this year. It is laying the groundwork to shift Caribbean island energy systems from dependence on expensive, dirty imported diesel to economies powered by clean, efficient, and renewable sources. Already under way in six countries—Aruba, Colombia, the Bahamas, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Turks and Caicos—the Ten Island Challenge will also demonstrate that entire economies can adopt low-carbon solutions while boosting private investment, enhancing and diversifying the local job market, and opening greater socioeconomic development opportunities.

Private-sector organizations like RMI and CWR have the independence and flexibility to convene the right players in the right markets," Figueres said. "The real barrier is slow adoption rates, not inadequate technologies or lack of opportunities. The alliance can expand pockets of innovation and rapidly bring them to scale." More




Friday, June 5, 2015

A Fossil Fuel Free World is Possible: How to Power a Warming Earth Without Oil, Coal and Nuclear

"There’s all sorts of, kind of, false beliefs about renewable energy, but things have changed. Wind is, right now, not only one of the fastest — between wind and solar — are the fastest growing new sources of electric power in the United States, but wind is actually the cheapest form of electricity by far in the U.S. today.

Floating Offshore Wind Turbines

The unsubsidized cost without the subsidies is about 3.7 to five cents per kilowatt hour. Subsidies are another 1.5 cents to drop those costs per kilowatt hour. That compares with natural gas which is six to eight cents per kilowatt hour. So wind is one half the cost of natural gas. Utility scale solar is about the same as natural gas now; it’s also around six to eight cents per kilowatt-hour unsubsidized."

Well, it turns out that people today can actually control their own power in their own homes. You can put solar panels — I mean wind turbines may be only in a few locations in your back yard, but you can combine solar panels on your roof top with batteries and Tesla has a new battery pack that you can put in your garage that can — where you can store electricity during the day that from the solar, and then use it — use that electricity when there are peak times of electricity because that is when the price is much higher. But people can do other things. They can weatherize their home, they can use energy efficient appliances. There are a lot of things that people can do to reduce energy use and go towards 100 percent renewable energy. Using heat pumps instead of gas heaters. Getting electric cars instead of gasoline cars. More



HSBC to pay $43 mn in probe over Swiss subsidiary’s tax evasion

HSBC said it will pay 40 million Swiss francs ($43 million) in compensation to Geneva authorities to avoid charges of money laundering for its Swiss subsidiary. The fine is the biggest ever in Geneva’s history.

"The investigation found that neither the bank nor its employees are suspected of any current criminal offences," HSBC said in a statement on Thursday, according to the Guardian. The bank added that the probe was closed.

The Genevan authorities said the payment, which is being described as "compensation"rather than a fine, was in line with the profits obtained by HSBC from processing illicit funds.

The bank also said it has improved practices to keep clients from using the bank "to evade taxes or launder money," and drastically reduced the number of its accounts.

When announcing the fine, the judge warned HSBC it was its final warning.

"This is an excuse which will only apply once," Olivier Jornot, Geneva’s chief prosecutor said, according to the Guardian. He also blamed the weakness of Swiss law with regards to criminal funds entering the financial system.

Geneva opened a money laundering investigation into HSBC’s alleged illegal tax activity earlier in February. Swiss police then raided the bank’s Geneva office. Europe’s largest bank came under fire after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published a report naming 100,000 clients that were using the bank to dodge taxes.

The revelations came from a list of HSBC’s clients stolen by a former HSBC computer technician, Herve Falciani, back in 2008. Falciani shared the confidential data with French authorities. More


Why did the Cayman Islands not prosecute HSBC for allegedly money laundering in the Cayman Islands? Editor



Thursday, June 4, 2015

Informal GLISPA Meeting in Bonn to Discuss COP21

GLISPA will be holding an informal face to face meeting for interested countries and organizations currently in Bonn at the UNFCCC inter-sessional meeting on either 10 or 11 June 2015. This meeting will be hosted by Ambassador Jumeau as Chair of the GLISPA Steering Committee. The meeting will focus on opportunities to showcase island leadership in adaptation and resilience as part of the upcoming UNFCCC COP21 in Paris, France in December 2015 and specifically the interest in GLISPA coordinating events to achieve this.

Seychelles Ambassador Ronny Jumeau

Anyone interested in showcasing island leadership in adaptation and resilience is welcomed to attend this meeting. Please email Susi Menazza at smenazza@tnc.org if you are interested in participating. She will confirm the date/time/venue with those that RSVP in the near future.

Please note, GLISPA will also host a global teleconference later in June along a similar lines. More information will be available shortly. Thank you to those of you that have reached out to indicate your interest in supporting such an event.

For the best newsfeed on island issues, check http://sids-l.iisd.org/>, http://www.sidsnet.org>, http://www.globalislands.net/>