Best of our wild blogs: 21 Feb 11

Blog Log: 20 March 2011
from Pulau Hantu

Otters and Disturbing sights at Punggol Beach
from Urban Forest

110220 Lazarus and Seringat Kias
from Singapore Nature

Marine life on man-made Seringat-Kias
from wild shores of singapore and reefs and coastal forest of Lazarus Island

The smallest woodpecker in Singapore
from Life's Indulgences

Grey Heron washing fish before eating it
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Mating Striated Tylorida Big Jaws!
from Macro Photography in Singapore

Been to Cyrene: "A safari-load of animals!"
from Cyrene Reef Exposed!

Species Identification
from Singapore Nature

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End of road for CNG cars?

Tax break to end this year; duty to be levied on gas from next year
Christopher Tan Straits Times 22 Feb 11;

WITH compressed natural gas (CNG) cars being ineligible for the green vehicle rebate (GVR) and a duty being levied on gas from next year, two reactions have surfaced.

In one camp are the detractors, who say the developments will sound the death knell for the sputtering CNG industry.

In the other are proponents who believe that gas will still be cheaper than other fuels, even with the levy.

The GVR - given out in the last decade to buyers of CNG, petrol- electric hybrid and full-electric cars - reduces the main car registration tax by 40 per cent.

The rebate was supposed to have expired by the end of this year, but it was announced at last week's Budget that it would be extended until Dec 31 next year.

But not for CNG cars.

The Government had announced in 2009 that GVR for these cars would cease by the end of this year, citing that they were not 'significantly cleaner' than petrol cars.

It had also added then that a 20-cent- a-kg duty would be levied on gas sold at the pumps from Jan1 next year.

Nevertheless, some in the industry were still surprised.

For example, Mr Gilbert von der Aue, who heads C. Melchers' oil and gas department, said he had assumed that the minister's latest announcement extending the GVR had superseded the 2009 one.

'No one informed us of this, and certainly no one has engaged the industry on this,' he said.

He added: 'In any case, I think what we've been doing for green vehicles has always been too little, too late. Instead of one-, two-year extensions, we should have permanent incentives based on what's in a vehicle's exhaust.'

Mr Johnny Harjantho, Smart Cab's managing director, said that with the duty, the savings CNG users have been enjoying will no longer be substantial.

Others said CNG cabbies, numbering about 2,700 and growing, will be the hardest hit.

But Trans-Cab, with its 2,000 CNG cabs, is optimistic.

Its managing director, Mr Teo Kiang Ang, said CNG will still be cheaper than petrol or diesel after the duty: 'Our drivers spend $30-plus a day on CNG, compared with around $45 on diesel.'

Prime Taxis, which has about 40 petrol-electric hybrid taxis on the road, is cheering the extended validity of the GVR and plans to expand its fleet of such cabs to 200 by year's end.

Its general manager, Mr Tan Soon Chye, said: 'It's why our company is focusing on hybrid taxis.'

Land Transport Authority figures indicate 2,709 gas-run passenger cars as at the end of last month, up 1.2 per cent from that at the end of 2009. In that period, the number of CNG cabs jumped 43.3 per cent to 2,659 units.

Reacting to news of the duty, retiree Yap Wee Meng, 62, who owns a CNG-petrol bi-fuel Chevrolet, said: 'That's not very encouraging. I won't be too eager to use CNG then.'

He has been toggling between petrol and gas for his car, spending about $17 every two days on gas. He estimates that the duty will push his bill to $20.

Mr Albert Pang, managing director of Chevrolet dealer Alpine Motors, said demand for CNG models peaked when petrol prices soared in 2008.

He said: 'CNG cars are still not as refined. There are still some hiccups, like power loss and occasional stalling.'

Of the five gas refuelling stations here, one has since closed.


# Green vehicle rebate

This reduces main car registration tax for buyers of CNG, petrol-electric hybrid and full-electric cars. For CNG cars, it will last till Dec 31 this year.

# Levy on gas

A 20 cents/kg duty will be levied on gas sold at pumps from Jan 1, 2012.

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Singapore is 4th most liveable city in Asia: EIU poll

Business Times 22 Feb 11;

SINGAPORE is the fourth most liveable city in Asia, after Osaka, Tokyo and Hong Kong, according to a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

With a rating of 88.7 points, Singapore also tied for 51st place worldwide with San Francisco.

A rating of 80-100 points means that 'there are few, if any, challenges to living standards', while a rating of 50 points or less is a reflection that 'most aspects of living are severely restricted'.

Besides the four Asian countries mentioned above, only two others - Seoul and Taipei - received ratings of 80 points and above. The world average is 76 points.

The inaugural survey places North American, European and Australian cities as the biggest winners in the liveability stakes.

Vancouver, Melbourne and Vienna were the top three cities, with ratings of above 97 points.

Cities in South Asia and Africa - such as Dhaka, Lagos and Harare - scored below 40 points and make up the bottom of the table.

Violence - whether through crime, civil insurgency, terrorism or war - is responsible for many of the poorest performing scores, said the EIU.

The survey of 140 cities defined liveability across five broad categories of stability, health care, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.

Liveability was rated using quantitative indicators from external data sources such as the World Bank and qualitative indicators based on the judgement of in-house country analysts and field correspondents.

'Hubs such as Hong Kong and Singapore perform well, reflecting locations where economic strength and political stability feed into strong infrastructure and broad cultural availability,' said the EIU.

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Singapore digs deep to boost oil storage facilities

Business Times 22 Feb 11;

(SINGAPORE) Beneath the seabed west of Singapore, hundreds of labourers are working round the clock to carve out a network of tunnels and caverns that will eventually provide an enormous, secure storage space for oil.

So far, they have built 2.1 kilometres of tunnels at a depth of about 120 metres below the Banyan Basin off Jurong Island, a mostly artificial land-reclamation zone that is home to much of the petrochemical industry of Singapore.

They are starting on the first of five caverns planned for the first phase of the project, which is scheduled for completion in 2014.

As one of the world's largest bunkering ports and oil trading centres, on one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, Singapore has benefited from steadily rising demand for oil storage facilities, thanks to booming trade and economic growth in Asia.

But it is reaching its physical limits, leading it to create new spaces, like the Jurong caves, to continue to expand its storage business.

Manohar Khiatani, the chief executive of JTC, the company charged with the project, said underground storage was more secure and more space-efficient than surface tanks.

Building an equivalent storage volume above ground would require about 60 hectares of land which is scarce in Singapore.

'We are a small city- state and we have to look at creative ways to optimise our land resource,' Mr Khiatani said during an interview.

Singapore's oil storage capacity is now about 20 million cubic metres, of which about eight million cubic metres is held by independent oil terminal operators and the rest owned by refiners, said Kelvin Wong, a programme director at the Economic Development Board.

The Jurong Rock Caverns project was conceived in 2001 and construction started in 2007.

At a cost of $950 million, the first phase will offer storage for 1.47 million cubic metres, or about nine million barrels, of liquid crude oil, condensate, and products like naphtha.

A possible second phase, with six additional caverns, could add an additional 1.32 million cubic metres at an as-yet unspecified cost.

Mr Khiatani said potential users had already signed letters of intent to lease 30 per cent of the first-stage capacity, but he declined to identify the companies.

In addition to the rock caverns, JTC has also recently concluded a technical feasibility study to build a 'very large floating structure' for oil, based on similar fuel-storage platforms in Japan.

'We're now talking to one or two players to see whether they would be interested, because we're not building this for ourselves but for the industry,' said Heah Soon Poh, JTC's director responsible for chemical industry operations.

The floating storage barge, with a capacity of 300,000 cubic metres, would probably be anchored near one of the smaller islands off Singapore, like Pulau Sebarok, which is now being used by Singapore Petroleum.

Mr Heah said a decision on building it would be made sometime this year; if it went ahead, construction would start next year and would probably take two years.

Malaysia, meanwhile, has also recently announced plans to expand its capacity.

Last month, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced oil and natural gas projects worth RM20 billion ringgit (S$8.3 billion).

The plans included a RM5 billion, independent, deepwater crude oil and product terminal in Pengerang, in southeast Johor state, near Singapore, with a storage capacity of five million cubic metres, one of the largest in Asia, to be completed in 2017.

'There will be incremental demand for storage in this region for both petroleum products as well as crude for the next decade,' Emir Mavani, a senior Malaysian economic planning official, said in an e-mail.

'Asia's appetite for crude oil is continuing to grow,' he said, with average daily demand projected to rise year-on-year by 420,000 barrels, for years to come. -- NYT

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Platinum Green Mark Award for Ocean Financial Centre

Sabrina Chua Channel NewsAsia 21 Feb 11;

SINGAPORE : Singapore's green drive is reaching new heights. It now boasts of having the highest solar panels in Southeast Asia at the Ocean Financial Centre.

The 43-storey building is the first office development in Singapore to be awarded the Platinum Green Mark Award.

Nestled in the heart of Singapore's financial district, the Ocean Financial Centre stands out with its sloping roof.

But it is what is on its roof that is getting the green thumb of approval.

At 245 metres above ground, the panels make up the highest solar installation in Southeast Asia.

The height makes the generation of clean energy more effective.

That is because there are fewer shadows that prevent power generation. And the strong winds help clean up the surface of the solar panels.

The efficiency of the solar panels drops when the temperatures go up. But the makers of the HIT solar panels said they have found a way to make the most of Singapore's hot climate."

Hiroyuki Kuriyama, division president for Energy Systems and Solutions Sales at SANYO Asia, said: "Sanyo's HIT technology is a unique combination of amorphous silicon type solar cell and crystalline silicon solar cell. The amorphous silicon solar cell has a less drop in high temperature, but could not get much conversion efficiency.

"On the other hand, crystalline silicon solar cell can generate much efficiency, but there is a big drop in high temperature. So Sanyo's HIT technology (combines) both advantages of the technology. Sanyo has developed solar cells which have the world's highest convergence efficiency, which is 23 per cent in R&D levels and 21.6 per cent at mass production levels."

The roof's unique design proved a bit of a challenge when it came to installation.

Albert Lim, managing director of SolarGy, said: "The sloping roof profile, which is about 19 degrees, requires special installation skills and extra safety precautions. Being that steep, I think the rate that we install per day is only about 4-5 panels. Compared to a flat roof, we could have done 20-30 pieces."

The 366 panels can generate 86 megawatt hours worth of energy in a year.

That makes up about half a percent of the building's estimated energy usage.

They can also reduce 45 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, saving 240 trees a year.

The solar panel system is just one of the eco-features of the Ocean Financial Centre which will be ready in the next few months.

It will also have an energy-efficient hybrid chilled water system and an innovative paper recycling system for all offices.

- CNA/ms

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Indonesia: Fires still raze forests and plantations in Riau

Antara 21 Feb 11;

Dumai, Riau Province (ANTARA News) - Fires still razed some parts of forests and plantations in two sub districts in Riau, according to data from the Dumai agricultural, plantation and forestry office, here Monday.

The fire-affected sub districts were Sungai Sembilan and Medang Kampai sub districts, Hadiono, the head of the Dumai agricultural, plantation and forestry office, said here Monday.

In Sungai Sembilan sub district, the fires gutted areas previously used as industrial tree forests (HTI) particularly at Lubung Gaung and Basilam Baru neighborhoods.

"We predict that the fires are still razing the areas as the rain intensity is very low," Hadiono said.

In Medang Kampai sub district, a plot of land measuring 25 hectares, which would be used to plan crops, got burned, he said, adding that the fires might expand to wider areas.

The local authorities have been trying to extinguish the fires, despite lack of necessary equipment.

"Hopefully, rains will fall in the coming days to help put out the fires," he said.

Due to the forest and plantation fires, Dumai City has been covered by haze especially in the morning and evening.

Editor: Jafar M Sidik

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Indonesian Government to Push Private Firms Into Using More Biodegradeable Plastics

Fidelis E. Satriastanti Jakarta Globe 21 Feb 11;

The government is planning to force private companies to reduce non-environmentally-friendly plastic packaging by three percent and local governments to reduce waste generation by up to seven percent, an official said on Saturday.

Sudirman, assistant deputy for waste management at the Ministry of Environment, said the 2008 waste management law required private firms to take steps to reduce waste under the extended producers responsibility scheme.

“We are still setting up the governmental regulation for this EPR. However, for private companies, especially those in upstream industries, three percent of their plastic packaging should be using environmentally-friendly elements,” Sudirman said on Saturday, two days before National Waste Care Day.

“[Three percent] is just an initial target to change plastic packaging to be more environmentally friendly,” he said. “It needs to be done immediately and there are a lot of technologies that they can use, or expand on the ‘3R’ concepts [reduce, reuse, and recycle],” he said.

Sudirman said there were plastics on the market that could degrade in three years, as opposed to the 300 years required for more conventional plastics.

Based on ministry data from 2007, at least six million tons of plastic waste were generated by 194 districts and towns across the country, accounting for 14 percent of the country’s 666,000 cubic meters of total waste.

The government is hoping the new regulation can begin to address the country’s waste management issues and help to prevent incidents like the 2005 landslide at the Leuwigajah dumping site in Bandung, West Java. The disaster, which claimed 147 lives and destroyed more than 60 homes, was the impetus behind the creation of National Waste Care Day.

Although Sudirman acknowledged that environmentally-friendly plastics were expensive, he urged all stakeholders to work together for a better solution to the refuse problem.

“The essential thing in EPR is that producers are to be responsible for what they have produced,” he said.

Sudirman added that six large corporations — Indofood, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Aqua and Tetra Pak — had already stated their commitment to abide by the new regulation. However, the details were still being worked out.

Sudirman also said that stricter regulations would be imposed on local governments, demanding they reduce their total waste generation by 7 percent.

He said the amount of garbage they produce could be decreased through the reduce, reuse and recycle scheme.

Berry Nahdian Furqon, executive director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), said the targets were too miniscule to have any realistic impact on production methods or waste disposal.

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Bangladesh tiger freed into wilderness near Sundarbans

Ethirajan Anbarasan BBC News 21 Feb 11;

A tiger which strayed into villages near the Sundarbans mangroves of Bangladesh has been successfully released into the wild, officials say.

Conservationists say it is the first time a tiger in Bangladesh has been freed after it was tranquilised.

In the past, experts say, local people would probably have shot or beaten the tiger to death.

Experts warn conflicts will only increase as humans and tigers compete for the same natural resources.

Indeed, it is so rare for a tiger to escape alive after straying into one of the villages bordering the Sundarbans mangrove forests in the south that conservationists have hailed this as a landmark battle to protect the endangered cats.

Village participation

The Royal Bengal tiger strayed into a village in the southern district of Satkhira on Saturday night.

The tiger was spotted by a village forest guard who immediately alerted wildlife officials. The tiger also attacked two people who tried to go near the animal.

After six hours, an expert team tracked the animal down and tranquilised it.

The tiger was then released into the wild about 40km (24 miles) away from the village on Sunday evening.

Conservationists say the villagers were aware of a new tiger initiative and co-operated with a local tiger response team. They insist that local participation is a key component in any tiger conservation effort.

"Human-animal conflicts occur very often in that region. So, we thought that if we don't involve the local people it will be difficult to conserve the tigers," Toufiqul Islam, assistant conservator of forests for the Sundarbans West Forest division, told the BBC.

Wildlife officials hoped that the latest incident will encourage more villagers to co-operate with the tiger response teams and the forest department.

The tiger response teams were given more training and equipment last year and many villages also have also set up local groups.

The training programmes were organized by the Zoological Society of London and the Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh.

Last refuge

The Sundarbans mangrove forests which stretch between Bangladesh and India are one of the last refuges of the critically endangered Royal Bengal tiger.

On the Indian side of the Sundarbans, tigers which stray into villages are routinely caught and released back into the wild.

"We were unable to do this all these years because of lack of resources and trained personnel. We are now going to implement a regional tiger conservation project with the help of the World Bank," Dr Tapan Kumar Dey, conservator of forests with the Bangladesh Forest Department, told the BBC.

He hopes the situation will improve once the project gets underway.

It is estimated that around 400 tigers live in the Sundarbans. When tigers suffer from loss of habitat or a decline in the species they feed on, they stray into nearby villages. As a result, human-animal conflicts occur.

Official figures show that in 2010, at least 44 people and three tigers were killed in human-animal conflict. On average, forest officials say three tigers are killed by people every year.

Tigers are an endangered species. There are only about 3,500 left in the wild worldwide - less than one third of them breeding females.

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Trade threat to primates

TRAFFIC 21 Feb 11;

21st February 2011 — The trade in live primates worldwide involves thousands of individuals per year, with a linear increase in export numbers over the last 15 years, while the trade in dead primates involves millions of animals a year according to a new study published in Endangered Species Research.

The study forms an overview to a special issue of the open-access journal on Primate Conservation: Measuring and mitigating trade in primates.

According to the overview study by Vincent Nijman of Oxford Brookes University and co-workers, the international trade in live primates peaked to supply demand from the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries in the late 1960s and 1970s—the major exporters then included India (around 50,000 animals per year) and Peru (around 30,000).

During the 1990s, numbers of wild-caught and captive-bred primates traded were roughly equal, but subsequently there was a massive increase in captive breeding. By 2005, around 71,000 live primates were traded internationally, 53,000 of them reported as captive-bred. However, there is some concern over whether all these are truly captive-bred rather than laundered wild-caught specimens.

Since 1995, China and Mauritius have between them supplied more than half of all primates traded internationally (31% and 18% respectively), with the largest importers of live primates the USA (26%), Japan (14%) and China (13%).

“The above figures are from an analysis of legal trade reported to CITES [the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora], but the true figures are likely to be higher, because of under-reporting and illegal trade,” says Nijman.

Examples of illicit trade quoted in the report include the supply of Long-tailed Macaques Macaca fascicularis from mainland Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Viet Nam) into China, to supply the booming biomedical trade, while a paper in the special issue by Maldonado and co-workers documents the illicit trade of over 4,000 night monkeys (Aotus spp.) each year from Peru and Brazil into Colombia to supply a biomedical research facility.

CITES figures also document the trade in dead primates and their parts, including almost 20,000 exported as hunting trophies over the past 30 years.

More than 100 primate species have also been recorded as used in traditional medicines, and the issue contains a paper by Starr and co-workers documenting the threat posed to two slow loris species in Cambodia from such trade.

However, the major trade in primates is in those traded domestically for food. A paper by Wright and Priston in the special issue examines what drives such trade in southwestern Cameroon and finds many more primates are sold there for wild meat than are captured for local consumption.

While the main threat to primate species is widely acknowledged to be habitat loss and hunting, trade is recognized as a leading threat to species like the Barbary Macaque Macaca sylvanus and slow lorises Nycticebus spp.

As Nijman et al. note, in 2006, trade was listed as a threat to only one of the world’s most threatened primates species, but four years later, trade for meat, medicines and pets is implicated in the decline of nine of these species.

Other papers in the special issue include one by Chris Shepherd of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia on the Illegal primate trade in Indonesia and he also contributed as a co-author to an article on gibbons in zoos and rescue centres in Indonesia.

“The illegal primate trade in Asia is decimating populations of some of the region’s most charismatic species: tacking such trade should be regarded as an urgent priority for wildlife enforcement agencies in the region,” said Shepherd.

Other topics covered include effective implementation of CITES; the use of forensics in trade; problems, pitfalls, and successes of rehabilitating and reintroducing confiscated primates; and educational and livelihood strategies to mitigate trade.

To access and download the full contents of the issue, please visit

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50 million 'environmental refugees' by 2020, experts say

Karin Zeitvogel Yahoo News 21 Feb 11;

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Fifty million "environmental refugees" will flood into the global north by 2020, fleeing food shortages sparked by climate change, experts warned at a major science conference that ended here Monday.

"In 2020, the UN has projected that we will have 50 million environmental refugees," University of California, Los Angeles professor Cristina Tirado said at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

"When people are not living in sustainable conditions, they migrate," she continued, outlining with the other speakers how climate change is impacting both food security and food safety, or the amount of food available and the healthfulness of that food.

Southern Europe is already seeing a sharp increase in what has long been a slow but steady flow of migrants from Africa, many of whom risk their lives to cross the Strait of Gibraltar into Spain from Morocco or sail in makeshift vessels to Italy from Libya and Tunisia.

The flow recently grew to a flood after a month of protests in Tunisia, set off by food shortages and widespread unemployment and poverty, brought down the government of longtime ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, said Michigan State University professor Ewen Todd, who predicted there will be more of the same.

"What we saw in Tunisia -- a change in government and suddenly there are a whole lot of people going to Italy -- this is going to be the pattern," Todd told AFP.

"Already, Africans are going in small droves up to Spain, Germany and wherever from different countries in the Mediterranean region, but we're going to see many, many more trying to go north when food stress comes in. And it was food shortages that put the people of Tunisia and Egypt over the top.

"In many Middle Eastern and North African countries," he continued, "you have a cocktail of politics, religion and other things, but often it's just poor people saying 'I've got to survive, I've got to eat, I've got to feed my family' that ignites things."

Environmental refugees were described in 2001 by Norman Myers of Oxford University as "a new phenomenon" created by climate change.

"These are people who can no longer gain a secure livelihood in their homelands because of drought, soil erosion, desertification, deforestation and other environmental problems, together with the associated problems of population pressures and profound poverty," Myers wrote in a journal of Britain's Royal Society in 2001.

"In their desperation, these people feel they have no alternative but to seek sanctuary elsewhere, however hazardous the attempt."

Monday's panel cited ways in which climate change has impacted food security and safety.

Warmer winters allow pests that carry plant diseases to survive over the cold months and attack crops in the spring, soil physicist Ray Knighton of the US Department of Agriculture said.

Increased rainfall -- another result of climate change -- when coupled with more fungal pathogens can "dramatically impact crop yield and quality," said Knighton, adding that greenhouse gases and atmospheric pollutants have changed plant structures and reduced crops' defenses to pests and pathogens.

Tirado noted that floods caused by heavy precipitation can spread diseases carried in animal waste into the human food chain.

The World Health Organization has estimated that 2.2 million deaths in developing countries are caused each year by food and water-borne diseases, said Sandra Hoffmann of the US Department of Agriculture.

And yet, the global economic crisis has pushed climate change "down in priority" on governments' to-do lists, said Todd.

"If you're suffering economically, climate change is not going to be the first thing you fund.

"Any action you take will be costly, be it in terms of prestige, economics, less oil... I think it's going to take a real crisis to get world opinion to change," he added.

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Green economies for growth, urges UN

BBC News 21 Feb 11;

Investing $1.3 trillion (£800bn) each year in green sectors would deliver long-term stability in the global economy, a UN report has suggested.

Spending about 2% of global GDP in 10 key areas would kick-start a "low carbon, resource efficient green economy", the authors observed.

They also recommended following policies that decoupled economic growth from intensive consumption.

The findings have been published at a meeting attended by 100 ministers.

"Governments have a central role in changing laws and policies, and in investing public money in public wealth to make the transition possible," said Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UN Environment Programme's (Unep) Green Economy Initiative.

"Misallocation of capital is at the centre of the world's current dilemmas and there are fast actions that can be taken, starting literally today," he added.

"From phasing down and phasing out the $600bn global fossil fuel subsidies, to re-directing more than $20bn subsidies perversely rewarding those in unsustainable fisheries."

Unep defined a "green economy" as one that resulted in "improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities".

When it came to investing 2% of GDP in greening the global economy, the authors recommended a number of investments, including:

* $108bn greening agriculture, such as encouraging and supporting smallholder farms
* $134bn on the building sector, including improving energy efficiency
* $110bn improving fisheries, including reducing the capacity of the world's fishing fleet
* $15bn on forestry, with "important knock-on benefits for combating climate change"
* Almost of $110bn on both water and waste, including sanitation and recycling

The report, produced by experts from developed and developing nations, suggests that the green economy model would deliver higher annual growth rates within 5-10 years than a business-as-usual scenario.

In order to unlock the level of investment required, it added that it was necessary to reform existing national and international policies.

"The green economy - as documented and illustrated in the report - offers a focused and pragmatic assessment of how countries, communities and corporations have begun to make a transition towards a more sustainable pattern of consumption and production," said Unep executive director Achim Steiner.

"With 2.5bn people living on less than $2-a-day and with more than two billion people being added to the global population by 2050, it is clear that we must continue to develop and grow our economies.

"But this development cannot come at the expense of the very life support systems on land, in the oceans or in the atmosphere that sustain our economies, and thus, the lives of each and everyone of us."

The findings are being published at the 26th session of Unep's Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environmental Forum, which is being held in Nairobi, Kenya, until 24 February.

Investing In Greener Economy Could Spur Growth: U.N.
Helen Nyambura-Mwaura PlanetArk 22 Feb 11;

Channeling 2 percent, or $1.3 trillion, of global gross domestic product into greening sectors such as construction, energy and fishing could start a move toward a low-carbon world, a report launched on Monday said.

The investment would expand the global economy at the same rate, if not higher, as under present economic policies, said the report by the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP).

"Investing 2 per cent of global GDP into 10 key sectors can kick-start a transition toward a low-carbon world," the Nairobi-based agency said in a statement.

"The sum, currently amounting to an average of around $1.3 trillion a year and backed by forward-looking national and international policies, would grow the global economy at around the same rate if not higher than those forecast, under current economic models."

UNEP's Executive Director Achim Steiner said in the statement: "With 2.5 billion people living on less than two dollars a day and with more than two billion people being added to the global population by 2050, it is clear that we must continue to develop and grow our economies.

"But this development cannot come at the expense of the very life support systems on land, in the oceans or in our atmosphere."

Agriculture, buildings, energy supply, fisheries, forestry, industry, tourism, transport, waste management and water are sectors that could do with more greening, the report said.

Buildings are the single largest emitter of greenhouse gases because of inefficient heating in offices and homes, according to the study entitled "Toward a Green Economy."


The sector's footprint could nearly double by 2030, or 30 percent of total energy-related carbon dioxide.

The report suggests investing $108 million in the waste sector annually could increase recycling threefold by 2050 and reduce landfill contents by more than 85 percent.

In Brazil, recycling already makes $2 billion a year while avoiding 10 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, UNEP said.

Greener policies would still grow economies while reducing the ecological footprint by nearly 50 percent in the next 40 years, but some jobs would be lost as a result in sectors such as fisheries, the report said.

Investment in more sustainable productive activities would, however, offsets those job losses by developing sectors such as renewable energy.

Government subsidies in the fishing industry amount to about $27 billion a year and have created excess capacity and depleted fish stocks globally.

Greening agricultural with practices such as efficient use of water or organic nutrients would offer a means of feeding a global population of about 9 billion by 2050 without damaging nature.

Farming practices currently use more than 70 percent of freshwater resources and contribute more than 13 percent of greenhouse gases.

"Governments have a central role in changing laws and policies, and in investing public money in public wealth to make the transition possible. By doing so, they can also unleash the trillions of dollars of private capital in favor of a green economy," said Pavan Sukhdev, head of UNEP's Green Economy Initiative.

Evidence mounts that green growth is better, safer growth
WWF 21 Feb 11;

Gland, Switzerland: More and more evidence is accumulating that a clean and green economy is most likely to deliver a more secure, prosperous and less tumultuous future for humanity, WWF said yesterday.

WWF International Director General Jim Leape was commenting on today’s release of the major United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report Towards a Green Economy which shows that appropriate policies and relatively modest redirections of global investment flows could grow the global economy at equivalent or greater levels than current forecasts.

The more and more sustainable economy that would result would also be less affected by scarcities and disruption than the existing, resource-depleting, high carbon “brown” economy, the report said.

“UNEP’s report demonstrates that a clean and green development path can produce growth and employment while cutting costs and reducing the risks associated with business as usual,” Mr Leape said.

“Conventional economic thinking, GDP measures of growth and conventional corporate accounting will take us crashing headlong into the Earth’s limits.

“We need to move now to recognize the fundamental importance of the natural capital upon which the entire economy depends, and ensure that conservation of that capital is brought into the heart of public and corporate decisionmaking.”

“The way of the future is now being shown by the countries and companies that are now moving strongly to invest in renewable energy sources and better stewardship of forests, fisheries, and other resources.”

Mr Leape noted that the UNEP report identified greening energy supplies as the area needing the largest level of investment. That mirrors findings of WWF’s recent Energy Report which found that it was both possible and imperative to switch to a 100 per cent renewably powered world by 2050.

For further information:

Phil Dickie, Head of News, WWF International, +41 79 703 1952
UNEP, Towards a Green Economy Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication - A Synthesis for Policy Makers is available at
WWF/Ecofys, The Energy Report at

How Two Per Cent of Global GDP can Trigger Greener, Smarter Growth While Fighting Poverty
New UNEP Report Underlines Sustainable Public Policy and Investment Path on the Road to Rio+20
UNEP 21 Feb 11;

Nairobi/World, 21 February 2011 - Investing two per cent of global GDP into ten key sectors can kick-start a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy a new report launched today says.

The sum, currently amounting to an average of around $1.3 trillion a year and backed by forward-looking national and international policies, would grow the global economy at around the same rate if not higher than those forecast, under current economic models.

But without rising risks, shocks, scarcities and crises increasingly inherent in the existing, resource-depleting, high carbon 'brown' economy, says the study.

As such, it comprehensively challenges the myth of a trade off between environmental investments and economic growth and instead points to a current "gross misallocation of capital".

The report sees a Green Economy as not only relevant to more developed economies but as a key catalyst for growth and poverty eradication in developing ones too, where in some cases close to 90 per cent of the GDP of the poor is linked to nature or natural capital such as forests and freshwaters.

It cites India, where over 80 per cent of the $8 billion National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which underwrites at least 100 days of paid work for rural households, invests in water conservation, irrigation and land development.

* This has generated three billion working days-worth of employment benefiting close to 60 million households.

Two per cent of the combined GDP of Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam is currently lost as a result of water-borne diseases due to inadequate sanitation.

* Policies that re-direct over a tenth of a per cent of global GDP per year can assist in not only addressing the sanitation challenge but conserve freshwater by reducing water demand by a fifth by 2050 compared to projected trends.

The report has modeled the outcomes of policies that redirect around $1.3 trillion a year into green investments and across ten key sectors - roughly equivalent to two per cent of global GDP. To place this amount in perspective, it is less than one-tenth of the total annual investment in physical capital.

Currently, the world spends between one and two per cent of global GDP on a range of subsidies that often perpetuate unsustainable resources use in areas such as fossil fuels, agriculture, including pesticide subsidies, water and fisheries.

Many of these are contributing to environmental damage and inefficiencies in the global economy, and phasing them down or phasing them out would generate multiple benefits while freeing up resources to finance a Green Economy transition.

Incomes and Employment

In addition to higher growth, an overall transition to a Green Economy would realize per capita incomes higher than under current economic models, while reducing the ecological footprint by nearly 50 per cent in 2050, as compared to business as usual.

The Green Economy report acknowledges that in the short-term, job losses in some sectors - fisheries for example - are inevitable if they are to transition towards sustainability.

Investment, in some cases funded from cuts in harmful subsidies, will be required to re-skill and re-train some sections of the global workforce to ensure a fair and socially acceptable transition.

The report makes the case that over time the number of "new and decent jobs created" in sectors - ranging from renewable energies to more sustainable agriculture - will however offset those lost from the former "brown economy".

For example, investing about one and a quarter per cent of global GDP each year in energy efficiency and renewable energies could cut global primary energy demand by nine per cent in 2020 and close to 40 per cent by 2050, it says.

* Employment levels in the energy sector would be one-fifth higher than under a business as usual scenario as renewable energies take close to 30 per cent of the share of primary global energy demand by mid century.

* Savings on capital and fuel costs in power generation would under a Green Economy scenario, be on average $760 billion a year between 2010 and 2050.

The report, Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication, also highlights enormous opportunities for decoupling waste generation from GDP growth, including in recovery and recycling.

* The Republic of Korea has, through a policy of Extended Producer Responsibility, enforced regulations on products such as batteries and tyres to packaging like glass and paper, triggering a 14 per cent increase in recycling rates and an economic benefit of $1.6 billion

* Brazil's recycling already generates returns of $2 billion a year, while avoiding 10 million tones of greenhouse gas emissions; a fully recycling economy there would be worth 0.3 per cent of GDP.

The report, compiled by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), in collaboration with economists and experts worldwide, takes meeting and sustaining the UN's Millennium Development Goals - ranging from halving the proportion of people in hunger to halving the proportion without access to safe drinking water - as one aim.

Bringing down emissions of greenhouse gases to the much safer levels of 450 parts per million by 2050 is another overarching target.

The findings were presented today to environment ministers from over 100 countries at the opening of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum.

The report, part of a bigger macro-economic study published online, is aimed at accelerating sustainable development and forms part of UNEP's contribution to the preparation of the Rio+20 conference scheduled in Brazil next year.

The full report is available online from today and countries are encouraged to submit further Green Economy examples. Over the coming months UNEP's Green Economy team plans to present the report in capitals around the world.

Here they also want to learn firsthand how best to assist countries and communities commence a transition to a Green Economy within their national circumstances.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "The world is again on the Road to Rio, but in a world very different to the one of the Rio Earth Summit of 1992."

"Rio 2012 comes against a backdrop of rapidly diminishing natural resources and accelerating environmental change - from the loss of coral reefs and forests to the rising scarcity of productive land; from the urgent need to feed and fuel economies and the likely impacts of unchecked climate change," he added.

"The Green Economy as documented and illustrated in UNEP's report offers a focused and pragmatic assessment of how countries, communities and corporations have begun to make a transition towards a more sustainable pattern of consumption and production. It is rooted in the sustainability principles agreed at Rio in 1992, while recognizing that the fundamental signals driving our economies must evolve in terms of public policy and market responses," he said.

"We must move beyond the polarities of the past, such as development versus environment, state versus market, and North versus South," said Mr. Steiner.

"With 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day and with more than two billion people being added to the global population by 2050, it is clear that we must continue to develop and grow our economies. But this development cannot come at the expense of the very life support systems on land, in the oceans or in our atmosphere that sustain our economies, and thus, the lives of each and everyone of us," he added.

"The Green Economy provides a vital part of the answer of how to keep humanity's ecological footprint within planetary boundaries. It aims to link the environmental imperatives for changing course to economic and social outcomes - in particular economic development, jobs and equity," said Mr. Steiner.

Pavan Sukhdev, on secondment from Deutsche Bank and head of UNEP's Green Economy Initiative, said: "Governments have a central role in changing laws and policies, and in investing public money in public wealth to make the transition possible. By doing so, they can also unleash the trillions of dollars of private capital in favour of a Green Economy."

"Misallocation of capital is at the centre of the world's current dilemmas and there are fast actions that can be taken starting literally today - from phasing down and phasing out the over $600 billion in global fossil fuel subsidizes to re-directing the more than $20 billion subsidies perversely rewarding those involved in unsustainable fisheries," he said.

"A Green Economy is not about stifling growth and prosperity, it is about reconnecting with what is real wealth; re-investing in rather than just mining natural capital; and, favouring the many over the few. It is also about a global economy that recognizes the intergenerational responsibility of nations to hand over a healthy, functioning and productive planet to the young people of today and those yet to be born," added Mr. Sukhdev.

Download Green Economy Report: Full (pdf)

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Tougher EU Climate Goal Could Boost GDP: Study

Alister Doyle PlanetArk 22 Feb 11;

A tougher European Union goal for cutting greenhouse gas emissions could create jobs and boost economic growth by 2020, rather than slow it down as many EU governments fear, a study said on Monday.

A shift to emissions cuts of 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, from the EU's existing 20 percent target, would help spur innovation and investment in a low-carbon economy after the financial crisis, it said.

"Post-crisis Europe can revitalize its economy by tackling the climate challenge," according to the study, led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and commissioned by the German Environment Ministry.

It said a 30 percent cut could boost EU gross domestic product (GDP) growth by 0.6 percent a year, create up to 6 million extra jobs in Europe by 2020 and increase European investments from 18 percent of GDP to up to 22 percent.

By 2020, that would increase European GDP by 620 billion euros ($847.4 billion), or by 6 percent above business as usual trends, it said.

The study said many countries had recovered from a global crisis in 1929 with a surge of investments, especially in the military. Now, investment in cleaner growth could drive recovery after the financial crisis of 2007-08, it said.

Britain, like Germany on target to make deep cuts in emissions by 2020 unlike many EU countries which have been struggling to clean up fossil fuel use, hailed the report.

"Until now, studies have worked on the basis that new resources to tackle carbon emissions would have to come from competing uses, and would therefore cost a small amount," British Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said.


"This study is arguably more realistic in showing how green growth can create work for the unemployed and generate new income and prosperity," he said in a statement.

The 31-page report assumed there would be no legally binding climate treaty beyond what it called "modest pledges" made at a summit in Copenhagen in 2009 to avert more floods, droughts, heat waves and rising sea levels.

EU governments have agreed to deepen cuts to 30 percent if there is a strong global deal. Many EU countries oppose a unilateral shift to 30 percent, believing it would hit growth and jobs, especially in industries dependent on fossil fuels.

In the United States, President Barack Obama has failed to persuade the Senate to legislate a cut of between 3 percent and 4 percent in U.S. emissions by 2020, from 1990 levels. Many Republicans fear curbs would give an advantage to emerging countries led by China.

Separately in Nairobi, a report by the U.N. Environment Program said channeling 2 percent, or $1.3 trillion, of global GDP into greening sectors such as construction, energy and fishing could start a move toward a low-carbon world.

The investment would expand the global economy at the same rate, if not higher, as under present economic policies, it said.

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