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Haiti’s Cry for Help as Climate Change is Compared to an Act of Violence against the Island Nation — Global Issues


Haiti’s Environment Minister Joseph Jouthe says that “climate change is a very big terror in Haiti”, and without funds the Caribbean island nation is unable to adapt and mitigate against it. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS
  • by Desmond Brown (madrid)
  • Friday, December 13, 2019
  • Inter Press Service

“Climate change is a very big terror in Haiti. It’s very hard for us to deal with climate change,” Jouthe told IPS on the margins of the United Nations climate summit, the 25th Conference Of The Parties (COP25), in Madrid, Spain.

“Haiti is not responsible for what’s going on with climate change but we are suffering from it. We want better treatment from the international community.”

Jouthe said Haiti remains committed to strengthening its resilience to climate shocks and to contributing to the global effort to mitigate the phenomenon.

Haiti is pursuing a four-fold objective in relation to climate change:

  • promoting, at the level of all sectors and other ministries, a climate-smart national development;
  • creating a coherent response framework for country directions and actions to address the impacts of climate change;
  • promoting education on the environment and climate change as a real strategic lever to promote the emergence of environmental and climatic citizenship; and
  • putting in place a reliable measurement, reporting and verification system that can feed into the iterative planning processes of national climate change initiatives.

But Jouthe said the country simply cannot achieve these targets without financial help.

“In Haiti all the indicators are red. We have many projects but as you may know CARICOM doesn’t have enough funding to build projects,” he said.

Patrice Cineus, a young Haitian living in Quebec, said access to funding has been a perennial problem for Haiti.

But he believes Haiti is partly to blame for the seeming lack of inability to quickly receive financial help.

“Haiti, my country needs to build evidence-based policies, and this will make it easier to attract help from the international community,” Cineus told IPS.

“If we don’t have strong policies, it’s not possible. We need research within the country. We need innovative programmes within the country and then we can look for financial support and technical support.

“We cannot have access to funding because the projects we are submitting are not well done. We don’t use scientific data to build them. They are not done professionally,” Cineus added.

Cineus’ theory appears to be substantiated by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), which helps CARICOM member states address the issue of adaptation and climate change.

The centre’s Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie said since 2016, under an Italian programme, it is required to develop projects that would help countries adapt to different areas of climate change.

“One of the areas that we have been considering, and we spoke with Haiti, is to build resilience in terms of schools and shelters that can be used in the case of a disaster.

“Funds have been approved but, unfortunately, unlike the other member states where we have already implemented at least one, and some cases two, projects, we have not been able to get the projects in Haiti off the ground,” Leslie told IPS.

“Each time they have identified an area, when we go there the site is not a suitable site and then we have to start the process again.”

While Haiti waits for funding, Dr. Kénel Délusca, current head of mission of a technical assistance project, AP3C, of the Ministry of Environment and Environment and the European Union, said the country remains one of the world’s most vulnerable to climate change.

Scientists say extreme weather events like hurricanes, floods and droughts will become worse as the planet warms, and Island nations like Haiti are expected to be among the hardest hit by those and other impacts of a changing climate, like shoreline erosion.

“The marine environment is extremely important to the Haitian people. There are more than 8 million people living in coastal communities in Haiti,” Délusca told IPS.

“There are more or less 50,000 families whose activities are based on these specific ecosystems. In other words, this is a very important ecosystem for Haiti and different levels – at the economic level, at the cultural level, at the social level.”

Haiti is divided into 10 départements, and Délusca said nine of them are coastal. Additionally, he said the big cities of Haiti are all located within the coastal zone.

“These ecosystems are very strategic to the development of Haiti. The Haitians have a lot of activities that are based on the marine resources. We also develop some cultural and social activities that are based on these environments,” Délusca said.

For poor island countries like Haiti, studies show, the economic costs, infrastructural damage and loss of human life as a result of climate change is already overwhelming. And scientists expect it will only get worse.

Though Haiti’s greenhouse gas emissions amount cumulatively to less than 0.03 per cent of global carbon emissions, it is a full participant in the 2015 Paris climate agreement and has committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emission by five percent by 2030.

© Inter Press Service (2019) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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Issue 1315: Europe’s struggle against a global scourge (Print Edition)



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Industrial Energy Efficiency is a Climate Solution — Global Issues


Staff from MCI Santé Animale, one of the 18 companies that have participated in energy management training organized by UNIDO´s Industrial Energy Accelerator in partnership with the Moroccan government, at work, as the country moves to reduce its reliance on fossil fuel imports. Credit: UNIDO
  • Opinion by Tareq Emtariah (vienna)
  • Friday, December 13, 2019
  • Inter Press Service
  • Tareq Emtariah is Director of the Department of Energy at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

However, historic slowdowns in energy efficiency progress persist. As we conclude another Conference of Parties (COP25) on climate change, and move into a new decade with unprecedented environmental challenges, governments have to put industrial energy efficiency back on the agenda before it is too late.

I have worked in the energy sector for nearly 25 years. During this time, I have witnessed some incredible advances. Yet, now, when we should be doing everything in our power to reduce the unnecessary use of fossil fuels, we are instead witnessing a slowing of progress on energy efficiency, with the International Energy Agency reporting last month that progress on energy efficiency had declined to its slowest rate since this decade began.

Among the many reasons for this “historic slowdown” is a lack of national government commitment for the cause, which is seriously hampering wide-scale change.

Prioritising industrial energy efficiency is one way that governments can simultaneously ease pressure on the economy, enhance energy security and the environment in the here and now. It’s what we at UNIDO refer to as the “invisible solution”.

Tareq Emtariah – Credit: UNIDO

A large-scale shift toward more energy efficient practices in industry would enable companies to massively reduce their power bills. In economic terms, industrial energy efficiency can increase productivity, lower manufacturing costs, and create more jobs.

When it comes to the environment, the widespread adoption of energy efficiency measures could reduce industrial energy use by over 25%. This potential is a significant reduction of 8% in the global energy use and 12.4% reduction in global CO2 emissions.

With this in mind, here are five practical steps governments can take to harness industrial energy efficiency against climate change:

1. Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, at least for those industries which are large enough to afford it. Analysis commissioned by the IMF this year found that if fossil fuels had been priced appropriately, global carbon emissions would be reduced by 28 per cent and governments revenues would increase 3.8 per cent of GDP. Developed economies and nations such as those in the United States and European Union should be leading by example on this issue.

Meanwhile, in major emerging economies like Argentina, Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey and Russia fossil fuel subsidies have historically kept the cost of energy artificially low.

As a result, there has never really been a major concern for industries to makes changes. When industries don’t fully understand the potential of energy efficiency, and energy costs are bearable, it’s a lot easier for them to become complacent.

One just has to look to Morocco for inspiration. In 2014 the North African nation ended subsidies of gasoline and fuel oil and begun to cut diesel subsidies as part of its drive to repair public finances.

Fast forward to today and Morocco is considered one of the most progressive countries when it comes to its national energy commitments and efforts to prioritise industrial energy efficiency.

2. Breaking down barriers to finance. In developing economies in particular, investors’ lack of awareness of the commercial benefits of best practices in energy efficiency is preventing much needed investment. In countries like Brazil, ‘high-risk’ perceptions surrounding energy efficiency projects mean that interest rates are often impossibly high for companies eager to invest in industrial energy efficiency advancements.

The public sector must pinpoint the best ways to design and implement energy efficiency policies to effectively mobilise finance and investment. Co-funded blended finance schemes, tax breaks, financial sector training and project bundling are just some of the many ways governments can help to simultaneously incentivise and de-risk investments into industrial energy efficiency.

Improving the competitiveness of Brazil’s industrial sector, which contributes to 20 per cent of the country’s GDP, requires significant investment into energy efficiency. UNIDO’s Industrial Energy Accelerator undertook three energy efficiency workshops aiming to change perceptions among investors. Credit: UNIDO

3. Supporting SMEs. Often in emerging economies, small-to-medium sized enterprises make up the majority of the industrial sector. However, many of these small businesses lack the formal qualifications and the collateral needed to access finance and adhere to newly introduced industrial energy efficiency regulations.

In Mexico for example, where small-to-medium sized enterprises form the backbone of the national economy, the government is working to introduce a labour competencies standard for internal energy auditors that responds specifically to the needs of SMEs.

4. Making the invisible, visible. Despite offering so many win-win benefits, industrial energy efficiency is often referred to as an invisible solution. Energy efficiency interventions require changing behaviours and they are often technical.

Retrofitting the insulation level of pipes or replacing an old inefficient boiler is not as appealing as investing into multimillion-dollar renewable energy projects panels or as noticeable as saving forests.

However, government leaders can help change this by working with industry to advocate and discuss the potential of implementing industrial energy efficiency measures to consumers and other stakeholders. To facilitate and amplify this conversation, UNIDO recently launched a dedicated Industrial Energy Accelerator website and Linkedin community.

5. Joining forces. We cannot solve this challenge country-by-country, we must work together under a coordinated and ambitious multilateral framework. At the end of the day we are calling on competitive multinational companies to overhaul their production processes, incentivize their global supply chains and invest in long-term sustainability measures.

In order to enable this, countries must create a level playing field for businesses to operate within by aligning national incentives and energy pricing systems.

Government is absolutely critical to the energy efficiency transition. Even with the willpower of the private sector, without coordinated government incentives, – such as support for SMEs, advocacy and effective policy- industrial energy efficiency will be impossible to achieve on a large scale.

As we conclude another COP and move into a new decade with unprecedented environmental, social and economic challenges, on behalf of UNIDO and the Industrial Energy Accelerator, I urge all governments worldwide to put industrial energy efficiency back on the agenda. We have the knowhow, we have the technology, now is the time for leadership and effective policy to help us implement the solutions.

UNIDO’s Industrial Energy Accelerator works on the ground to rally government, business and finance around solutions for industrial energy efficiency. Next year the programme will enter phase two of project implementation in the Accelerator’s first five partner countries, and we will begin work in new countries including: Palestine, Sri Lanka, India, Ukraine and Ghana.

© Inter Press Service (2019) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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Climate Change One of the Factors — Global Issues


Roughly 82 percent of Afghan girls drop out of school before the sixth grade, partly due to early child marriages. Credit: Najibullah Musafer/Killid
  • by Nayema Nusrat (united nations)
  • Monday, December 09, 2019
  • Inter Press Service

Although her father, Antonio (50) felt that she was still too young to marry, it was very difficult for him to pass up what was offered in exchange for his daughter: 2000 Mozambican Metical (31.2 USD) and a promise to let Filomena continue her education after marriage.

Antonio had been in the fishing business since 1985; profit from his business started to decline dramatically as climate changes started to become more apparent.

In a report published by The Guardian he said ” We see that it’s too hot. We talk about that and we all agree that it’s difficult to catch enough fish because of these high temperatures.” “In the areas where we used to go, the sea level is rising, and the waves are much stronger”.

Besides Filomena, Antonio has five other kids to take care of and she firmly believes that her father would not agree on her early marriage if his fishing business was running well.

Child marriage is a global phenomenon happening for many socioeconomic reasons, but in this particular case it is evident that the already existing global trend of child marriage is further exacerbated because of climate change.

Climate change leads to rising temperature, shifting precipitation patterns and increasing extreme events; people whose livelihoods are intrinsically connected specially to natural resources, livestock, fisheries and agriculture suffer without attention to adaptation.

In Zimbabwe for example, extreme drought is one of the most common phenomena inflicted by climate change; “drought left Emmanuel struggling to feed his family. He agreed to a dowry of a few goats for his 15-year-old daughter.

It meant one less mouth to feed, and food and livestock for the family” – stated in a report by UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) , which explored different ways that climate change endangers the lives and futures of our children and how we must integrate climate risks into various policies and services.

Similarly, in Kenya, a dramatic rise in child marriage is seen due to severe droughts, diminishing the number of cattle at an alarming rate and child marriage is enforced in exchange of goats.

Roughly 82 percent of Afghan girls drop out of school before the sixth grade, partly due to early child marriages. Credit: Najibullah Musafer/Killid

Workers from AMREF Health Africa (African Medical and Research Foundation), the largest Africa based healthcare non-profit organization aim to convince parents to stop child marriages and send them to secondary school -“when she is done with schooling, she will get a job and she will be able to buy you more than four goats”.

Meanwhile in poverty-stricken South Sudan, the majority of parents are marrying their daughters off in exchange for livestock using the bidding process, “Whoever bids with the highest number of cows will take the girl” said Dorcas Acen, a gender protection expert at CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere).

In South Asian countries, families who face financial difficulties from the likelihood of natural disasters like floods, droughts, river erosion, and storms resort to marry off their daughters.

Heather Barr of Human Rights Watch (HRW) told IPS that climate change is one of the reasons that is pushing girls in South Asian countries into getting married before the age of 18.

Barr shares her view about climate change and unpredictable natural disasters seen in Bangladesh and their linkage to early marriage, “Drawing a link between natural disasters and climate change is complex, of course, but we know that Bangladesh—and other countries in South Asia—are among those most affected by climate change. This is qualitative research, not quantitative, but the links were striking”.

HRW interviewed families who had been affected by three types of disasters— flooding, cyclones, and river erosion. Many of the families they interviewed had been barely surviving dealing with inadequate nutrition even before the disaster strikes; and one coping mechanism is that when a disaster pushed them from barely surviving to at risk of not surviving, they reduced their family size by arranging marriages for young daughters.

Barr says, “We saw this link most clearly in the families dealing with river erosion, and it seemed to be the combination of river erosion being both predictable and cataclysmic that created that link” adding, “Flooding was predictable and devastating but not cataclysmic”.

The families HRW interviewed were very accustomed to having to replant their crops. “Cyclones were cataclysmic but not predictable”—so families had to respond afterwards but had very little ability to plan beforehand.

“With river erosion, however, families would see the fields and homes of their neighbors closer to the river be washed away and those families permanently displaced, and they would know that within two or three or five years the river was coming for them. One of the ways they coped with the fact that they knew they would be displaced was by trying to find a marriage for their daughter that they hoped would ensure her safety and that would reduce their family size”.

Recent UNICEF data shows that 59% of girls in Bangladesh are married by 18 and 22% are married by 15. This is one of the highest rates in the world, and the highest in Asia. Globally a girl is married almost every 2 seconds, among which 21% of girls marry before 18 and 5% before 15.

However, the UNICEF report also shows that the custom of child marriage has decreased globally in the past decade. The most progress has been observed in South Asia where a girl’s risk of marrying in childhood has dropped from approximately 50% to 30%. The practice is more common among girls than boys, 4% of boys in Bangladesh marry before age 18.

Child marriage is still widespread across the globe where the total number of girls married in their childhood accounts for 12 million per year. One of the targets set in United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 5.3) is to end child marriage by 2030, but without increasing the rate of progress “more than 150 million additional girls will marry before their 18th birthday by 2030”.

Barr told IPS that child marriage issue in regards to climate change and natural disaster should be addressed by governments by ensuring the agencies responsible for addressing climate change and natural disasters participate in developing and implementing the national action plan to end child marriage by 2030.

And the plan plays specific attention to how climate change and natural disasters (and other disasters such as conflict, displacement) can increase the risk of child marriage and includes steps to mitigate that risk; she also asks for the governments to “Integrate child marriage prevention into all government planning in relation to disaster risk reduction and climate change mitigation”.

“Taking baby steps like boosting the sense of awareness among the individuals and community to exercise the common best practices to preserve the environment might dramatically increase the progress of the bigger change we want to see at the global level.”

An inspiring story from UNICEF is about a Bangladeshi young woman Smriti (19) from Barisal district, who is working with YouthNet for Climate Justice, a UNICEF-supported network, spreading awareness about global warming to her community discusses about climate change and its connection to the increased rates of child marriage.

Smriti says “It is hard to gather people to talk about this, but so often, I’ll stop in a tea shop, or stop a group of people, and engage them that way”.

While talking to IPS about child bride issue from a broad perspective regardless of the effect of climate change, Barr stressed that in terms of every other country where child marriage continues, one of the most fundamental driver of child marriage is gender inequality and valuing girls less than boys.

Research shows, secondary education for girls must continue to be encouraged; it opens up doors for their future careers with vocational advancement, making them highly likely to achieve economic empowerment; and as a result they are able to pull themselves and their family out of poverty, as well as act as an encouragement for their next generation to continue to narrow the gender inequality gap which in turn will create fewer child brides.

© Inter Press Service (2019) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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The Changing Distribution of World Population — Global Issues


  • by Joseph Chamie (new york)
  • Friday, December 06, 2019
  • Inter Press Service

The proportion of world population living in more developed regions is half its 1950 level, 16 versus 32 percent, and is expected to decline further to 13 percent by 2050. This transition is the result of substantial differences in the rates of population growth among the major regions of the world.

The relative demographic standing of Europe’s population has changed substantially during the recent past, falling from 22 percent of world population in 1950 to 10 percent today and projected to decline further to 7 percent by midcentury. In the opposite direction, Africa’s population has nearly doubled its share of world population during this period, increasing from 9 percent in 1950 to 17 percent in 2020.

As the sizable differences in the demographic growth rates of those two continents are expected to persist well into the future, Africa’s population is expected to be more than triple the size of Europe’s population by midcentury. And by the close of the 21st century, Africa’s population is projected to be nearly seven times as large as Europe’s population, 4.3 billion versus 0.63 billion, respectively.

Differing rates of demographic growth have also resulted in significant changes in the ranking of countries by population size. Among the top ten largest populations, for example, the number of more developed countries has decreased from six in 1950 to two today and is expected to decline to one country, the United States, by 2050 (Table 1).

 

In addition to its unprecedented rapid rate of demographic growth during the past 75 years, world population's distribution across the planet has changed significantly over the past seven decades. The momentous global changes in humanity's geographic distribution pose serious social, economic, political and environmental challenges and disquieting implications for the future. Source: United Nations.

 

Again, African countries, which were not among the top ten largest populations in 1950, have experienced the most relative gains in demographic ranking during the recent past. Consequently, by 2050 three African countries, Nigeria, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are expected to be among the world’s top ten largest populations.

Another momentous change in the distribution of the world’s population is its rural/urban composition. During the past seven decades a literal revolution in urban living has occurred worldwide. The proportion of world population residing in urban areas has increased from a minority of 30 percent in 1950 to a majority of 56 percent today and is expected to increase further to nearly 70 percent by 2050 (Figure 1).

 

 

In addition to its unprecedented rapid rate of demographic growth during the past 75 years, world population's distribution across the planet has changed significantly over the past seven decades. The momentous global changes in humanity's geographic distribution pose serious social, economic, political and environmental challenges and disquieting implications for the future. Source: United Nations.

 

While the growth of the urban population has occurred worldwide, it has been more substantial for less developed regions. The proportion of the populations residing in urban centers in less developed regions has nearly tripled, jumping from 18 percent in 1950 to 52 percent today.

The far-reaching urban transition continues to be well underway. By midcentury two-thirds of the population of less developed regions, some 5.8 billion inhabitants, is expected to be living in urban centers.

In addition to increased levels of urbanization, the population sizes of urban agglomerations have increased significantly over the past 70 years. In 1950 there was a single city megacity, New York, with a population of 10 million or more inhabitants. Today there are 33 megacities and that number is projected to increase to 43 by 2030.

Some of the most rapid population growth of megacities during the past few decades occurred in Africa and Asia. Since 1990, the populations of no less than ten megacities, including Delhi, Shanghai, Dhaka, Lahore and Lagos, have tripled in size (Figure 2).

 

Rapid population growth is expected to continue over the coming decade for many of the megacities in less developed regions. The population of Kinshasa, for example, which grew from 3.8 million in 1990 to 13.2 million in 2018, is projected to reach 22 million by 2030, making it the world's tenth largest megacity at that time. Source: United Nations.

 

Rapid population growth is expected to continue over the coming decade for many of the megacities in less developed regions. The population of Kinshasa, for example, which grew from 3.8 million in 1990 to 13.2 million in 2018, is projected to reach 22 million by 2030, making it the world’s tenth largest megacity at that time.

It is widely recognized that urbanization offers a large variety of social, economic and cultural benefits, opportunities and freedoms. In addition to employment and career development, urban residents have ready access to education, health care, social services, cultural institutions, recreation and government agencies.

It is also acknowledged, however, that urbanization places stresses on social services, infrastructure and the physical environment that can make urban living difficult, especially for low income groups. This is particularly evident in the cities of less developed regions.

The increasing proportions the world’s population residing in the rapidly growing urban centers of less developed countries pose serious developmental challenges for local and national governments. The basic needs of daily living for those growing urban populations, including food, water, housing, electricity, employment, education, health care, transportation, security, telecommunications, sanitation and waste management, are not meeting increased demands and desired goals.

Most recently, the populations of many large cities are facing the effects of climate change. In addition to having to deal with flooding, rising sea levels, droughts, fires and higher temperatures, many cities, especially those in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan, are now confronting air pollution. In addition to the increased risks of morbidity and mortality, ambient air pollution has enormous economic and social costs, with cities in low- and middle-income countries suffering the biggest burden from this environmental challenge.

The failure to adequately meet the fundamental needs and aspirations of urban populations is having serious consequences, particularly in the less developed countries. In addition to rising poverty levels, shortages of water, food and energy and worsening environmental conditions, those consequences include social unrest, political instability, civil violence and armed conflict.

Furthermore, those consequences will not remain confined within national borders, but will have international repercussions for neighboring countries as well as distant countries in more developed regions. Among the likely repercussions are calls for increased development assistance, requests for emergency/humanitarian relief services, rising numbers of internally displaced persons and asylum seekers, and substantially more men, women and children actively seeking to migrate to wealthier nations by both legal and illegal means.

The development and improvement of urban living is among the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030. Goal 11 of the SDGs aims to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, including emphasis on housing, health, energy, public transportation, environment, cultural heritage, employment and business opportunities.

While some developmental progress has been achieved in a number of cities in the recent past, governments are by and large falling behind in their efforts and commitments to the SDGs. The lack of progress is most evident among cities in less developed countries, which have experienced rapid demographic growth.

In brief, increasing proportions of a growing world population are located in less developed regions with rising concentrations living in their urban centers. By 2030 about 4 billion people, or about half of the world’s population, will be living in the cities of less developed regions.

Government authorities of those cities in cooperation with national leaders need to take urgent action now, including formulating appropriate polices, undertaking comprehensive planning and establishing effective programs. To do otherwise not only greatly handicaps the achievement of desired development goals, but it also undermines the provision of essential basic services and fundamental infrastructure required by the world’s growing urban populations in less developed regions.

*Joseph Chamie, a former director of the United Nations Population Division, is currently an independent consulting demographer. 

 

© Inter Press Service (2019) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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Travel Tourism Must Transform to Survive, Thrive — Global Issues


UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa (fourth right) at an event organized by the WTTC at COP25. Credit: UNFCCC
  • madrid
  • Wednesday, December 04, 2019
  • Inter Press Service

In 2018, the industry generated 10.4 per cent of the global Gross Domestic Product—or more than USD 8.8 trillion—but climate change puts those  numbers, and more, at risk.

Whilst the travel and tourism industry generated 10.4% of global Gross Domestic Product in 2018, it also accounts for around 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to climate change.

“Thanks to this sector, millions of people have been able to explore new destinations, reunite with family and friends, and fulfill dreams of exploring the world,” said Ms. Espinosa at an event organized by the industry group World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). “As well, it has created jobs, most significantly in developing countries, offering people financial freedom. It is truly a global economic powerhouse.”

“With this sort of success, why should you change what you have been doing? Frankly, because you have no choice. None of us does,” said Ms. Espinosa.

“The ravages of climate change will soon require all of us, government and corporations especially, to do things differently,” said Ms. Espinosa, citing a recent open letter from heads of leading financial institutions: “If some companies and industries fail to adjust to this new world, they will fail to exist.”

In opening remarks at the event, WTTC President and Chief Executive Officer Gloria Guevara said the message is already clear to her organization’s members, and climate and environment are “top priority.”

WTTC has set as an ambition for the sector to be climate neutral by 2050, in collaboration with UN Climate Change, and many companies are already showing leadership in reducing their climate impact: “In order for us to grow, the growth has to be good for everyone; it has to be sustainable,” said Ms. Guevara.

The organization last year signed up to the United Nations Climate Neutral Now initiative with a pledge to measure its greenhouse gas emissions, reduce what it can and offset the rest, while promoting the same climate-friendly regimen to its 150 members worldwide.

And in New York in September of this year, WTTC launched a Sustainability Action Plan, meant to help the industry deliver on its climate ambition.

“We need to find a way to have climate-friendly travel Saying simply ‘do not travel, it will help the environment’ would be very irresponsible” leading to increased poverty, increased unemployment and ultimately increased damage to the environment, said Ms. Guevara.

This story was originally published by UNFCCC

© Inter Press Service (2019) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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Under Pressure. Can COP25 Deliver? — Global Issues


Climate change effects, such as extreme weather events, drive up environmental remediation costs. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS
  • Opinion by Farhana Haque Rahman (rome)
  • Monday, December 02, 2019
  • Inter Press Service

But despite warnings that the planet is reaching critical tipping points, the two weeks of talks with nearly 30,000 participants and dozens of heads of government attending may still end in that familiar sense of disappointment and an opportunity missed.

The annual Conference of the Parties, this year being COP25, was to have been a highly arcane if crucial process of finding agreement on carbon markets, known in the jargon as Article 6 of the ‘rulebook’ to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement on stopping the planet from overheating.

Highly contentious, and in part pitting developing countries like Brazil, China and India against others, the Article 6 debate could not be resolved at last year’s summit – COP24 in Katowice, Poland – nor at meetings in Bonn in June and hence was left for COP25 to try and fix. The other big elephant in the room – setting more ambitious national targets to reduce carbon emissions – was conveniently going to be left to be settled at next year’s COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

But action is needed now, and senior officials representing nearly 200 countries have been put on notice that the climate emergency in all its forms is dominating the public sphere across the world. Just last week we saw student-led demonstrations and strikes in many places that appropriately fell on Black Friday, delivering a broadside against rampant consumerism as well as government inaction.

Farhana Haque Rahman”Striking is not a choice we relish; we do it because we see no other options,” youth leaders Greta Thunberg of Sweden, Luisa Neubauer of Germany and Angela Valenzuela of Chile declared in a joint statement.

“We have watched a string of United Nations climate conferences unfold. Countless negotiations have produced much-hyped but ultimately empty commitments from the world’s governments—the same governments that allow fossil fuel companies to drill for ever-more oil and gas, and burn away our futures for their profit.”

UN Secretary General António Guterres has told COP25 that “the point of no return is no longer over the horizon”.

“In the crucial 12 months ahead, it is essential that we secure more ambitious national commitments – particularly from the main emitters – to immediately start reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a pace consistent to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. We simply have to stop digging and drilling and take advantage of the vast possibilities offered by renewable energy and nature-based solutions,” Guterres said.

Just last month the UN Environment Programme’s annual Emissions Gap Report warned that the Paris Agreement ambition of keeping average temperatures within 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times was “on the brink of becoming impossible”.

Global greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 would have to be under 25 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent to reach that target but, at current rates of growth, emissions are projected to reach more than double that level. Clearly drastic action is needed.

Reinforcing the sense of emergency, the World Meteorological Organization reported that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases reached new record highs in 2018. China is the world’s largest emitter.

Spain stepped in to offer Madrid as a venue for COP25 after Chile withdrew as host because of mass anti-government unrest. However Chile is still leading the conference and together with Spain will be pushing countries to act quickly to raise the ambition of their carbon emission reduction targets. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says the goal is for “the largest number of countries” to commit to net zero emissions by 2050.

From 2020 to 2030, emissions must be cut 7.6% a year to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal, the UNEP says.

However the main negotiation process in Madrid is expected to focus on the unfinished business of the market-based mechanisms to create and manage new carbon markets under the Paris Agreement. This would allow countries and industries to earn credits for above-target emission reductions that can then be traded. Big developing countries have already accumulated huge amounts of carbon credits under the previous but now largely discredited carbon credit scheme. It is a highly complex tangle of interests.

Carbon Brief, a UK-based climate website, says the Article 6 debate has the potential to “make or break” implementation of the Paris Agreement which comes into force next year.

“To its proponents, Article 6 offers a path to significantly raising climate ambition or lowering costs, while engaging the private sector and spreading finance, technology and expertise into new areas. To its critics, it risks fatally undermining the ambition of the Paris Agreement at a time when there is clear evidence of the need to go further and faster to avoid the worst effects of climate change,” Carbon Brief explains.

While Article 6 is a highly technical area, the underlying issues are political, with some countries forming unofficial alliances to defend their own interests rather than the common good of the planet. But politicians have been put on notice that this time the world’s public is watching closely. Horse-trading cannot be allowed to put our futures at risk.

© Inter Press Service (2019) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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Cabo Verde’s Morna for UNESCO list, Belgium’s Carnival of Aalst to Go? — Global Issues


  • by A. D. McKenzie (paris)
  • Friday, November 29, 2019
  • Inter Press Service

Made popular by singers such as the renowned Cesária Évora, who died in 2011, morna incorporates voice, music, poetry and dance, and it has fans far beyond the Portuguese-speaking island state where it originated.

Being added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (to give the list its full name) would promote recognition of morna’s value, according to the artistic agencies behind the submission.

Inscription would also raise awareness of the “fundamental” mark that morna has made in “contemporary history and Cabo Verdean cultural identity”, they add.

 Morna, the haunting, traditional music of Cabo Verde, is slated to join UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage List when a committee meets in Bogotá, Colombia, Dec. 9 to 14, to consider submissions from around the world. One of Cesaria Evora’s most famous albums (Lusafrica).

The musical practice is one of 41 elements up for consideration at the annual meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Composed of representatives of 24 states, the committee will vote on submissions including: date-palm knowledge, skills, traditions and practices in several Middle Eastern and North African countries; Byzantine chant of Cyprus, Greece; Ethiopian epiphany; Irish harping; and Kwagh-Hir theatrical performance of Nigeria – a cultural expression that “integrates puppetry, masquerading, poetry, music, dance” and other genres.

Apart from voting on these elements, the committee is expected to take unprecedented action in removing Belgium’s Carnival of Aalst from the Intangible Cultural Heritage List, as the event has been criticised for racist depictions.

During the March 2019 staging of the carnival, racist and anti-Semitic caricatures were displayed on some floats, according to human rights groups. Previously, as far back as 2013, UNESCO received complaints about the offensive nature of some aspects of the carnival, which was inscribed on the List in 2010.

“Since its inscription, the Aalst carnival has on several occasions displayed messages, images and representations that can be considered within and outside of the community as encouraging stereotypes, mocking certain groups and insulting the memories of painful historical experiences including genocide, slavery and racial segregation,” the committee states in documents on the subject.

“These representations are racist,” said UNESCO official Tim Curtis, following a press briefing in Paris Nov. 27. Curtis, the secretary of the Convention on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage, told SWAN that the carnival’s organizers have shown little interest in addressing the issue.

In fact, the event’s organizing committee is reported to have “prepared a set of ribbons as collectors’ items, which depict once again several stereotypical representations … The accompanying text makes fun of UNESCO and reaffirms that the Aalst carnival should continue in the same spirit of satire and mockery”, according to UNESCO documents.

While the carnival may be delisted, another of Belgium’s customs is up for selection – the Ommegang procession in Brussels. This follows the addition of the country’s beer-drinking culture to the List in 2016, one of 429 elements inscribed globally up to now.

Such elements include oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, and the knowledge and skills necessary for traditional crafts.

The aim is to promote the preservation of cultural practices or living expressions inherited from generation to generation, UNESCO says.

The delisting of the carnival may garner attention, but news about Cabo Verde’s morna should also be greeted with celebration, as with the inscription of reggae music of Jamaica in 2018.

Article used by permission of Southern World Arts News

© Inter Press Service (2019) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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270 Million People are Migrants, Who Send Home a Staggering $689 Billion — Global Issues


Pakistani migrant workers build a skyscraper in Dubai. Credit: S. Irfan Ahmed/IPS
  • united nations
  • Wednesday, November 27, 2019
  • Inter Press Service

In its latest global report, IOM noted that the overall figure represents just a tiny fraction of the world’s population, although it is a 0.1 per cent increase on the level indicated in its last report, published two years ago.

“This figure remains a very small percentage of the world’s population (at 3.5 per cent), meaning that the vast majority of people globally (96.5 per cent) are estimated to be residing in the country in which they were born,” IOM’s Global Migration Report 2020 said.

According to the UN agency, more than half of all international migrants (141 million) live in Europe and North America.

An estimated 52 per cent are male, and nearly two-thirds of all migrants are looking for work; that’s around 164 million people.

 

Most hail from India, Mexico and China

India continues to be the largest country of origin of international migrants, with 17.5 million living abroad, followed by Mexico (11.8 million) and China (10.7 million).

Other findings indicate that the number of migrant workers declined slightly in high income countries – from 112.3 million to 111.2 million – but increased elsewhere.
Upper middle-income countries saw the biggest increase, from 17.5 million to 30.5 million.

 

Money sent home reaches $689 billion

Linked to this, international remittances also increased to $689 billion in 2018, IOM said, the top beneficiaries being India ($78.6 billion), China ($67.4 billion), Mexico ($35.7 billion) and the Philippines ($34 billion).

The United States remained the top remittance-issuer, at $68 billion, followed by the United Arab Emirates ($44.4 billion) and Saudi Arabia ($36.1 billion).

 

African migrants tend not to leave continent

Although most migrants travelled to the US, the report confirmed other important migration corridors from poorer countries to richer nations such as those to France, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

“This pattern is likely to remain the same for many years into the future, especially as populations in some developing subregions and countries are projected to increase in coming decades, placing migration pressure on future generations”, IOM said.

In Africa, Asia and Europe, most international migrants stay within their regions of birth, but the majority of migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean and North America do not.

In Oceania, finally, migration levels remained about the same in 2019.

Focusing on the Middle East, data showed that Gulf countries have some of the largest numbers of temporary labour migrants in the world, including the United Arab Emirates, where they make up almost 90 per cent of the population.

 

Conflict linked to record displacement

Highlighting how ongoing conflicts and violence in Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen have led to massive internal displacement in the last two years, IOM’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre said that a total of 41.3 million people were forced to flee their homes at the end of 2018 – a record since monitoring began in 1998.

Syria has the highest internally population of displaced people, at 6.1 million, followed by Colombia (5.8 million) and the DRC (3.1 million).

After nearly nine years of conflict, Syria is also the top refugee-originating country, at well over six million – dwarfing Afghanistan (at around 2.5 million) – out of a total of nearly 26 million.

Finally, turning to the impact of climate and weather disasters, the report notes that Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines contributed to the fact that 3.8 million people were newly displaced there at the end of 2018, the largest number globally.

This story was originally published by UN News

© Inter Press Service (2019) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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