Best of our wild blogs: 11 May 12

International Coastal Cleanup Singapore 2012 – Public registration for Organisations now open! from News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

U@live | Featuring Louis Ng (ACRES), 23 May 2012: 7.30pm @ Shaw Foundation Alumni House
from Otterman speaks

NParks Chek Jawa intertidal tours cancelled: 1 Jul to 31 Dec 2012
from wild shores of singapore

Changi very much alive!
from wild shores of singapore with Cunning Clam Escape and Singapore Nature

tree fa// @ changi coastal park - 06may2012
from sgbeachbum and crimson-rumped waxbill @ lorong halus

The Flower Mantis of Singapore
from Macro Photography in Singapore

Juvenile Asian Koel Takes an Afternoon Nap
from Bird Ecology Study Group

黄鹂成长记 Black-naped Oriole
from PurpleMangrove

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Businesses not doing enough to help society, says Singaporeans

Kristie Neo / Rachel Kelly Channel NewsAsia 10 May 12;

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans think businesses are not doing enough to help society.

A recent study by Edelman, the world's largest independent public relations firm, shows that nine out of 10 Singaporeans believe it is important for companies to address societal issues, yet only three in 10 think they are doing enough in this area.

The top three social causes that Singaporeans are most concerned about are: the environment, healthcare and education.

Since 2001, corporate donations to charities in Singapore has doubled to S$507 million in 2010. This accounts for two-thirds of the S$776 million in donations made in the same year.

Singapore however, still lags behind developed countries like the United States, where corporate giving comprises 0.38 per cent of GDP, as opposed to 0.17 per cent in Singapore.

According to the study, 84 per cent of Singaporeans said that they are more inclined to buy the products and services of a company that actively supports a cause.

Bob Grove, Managing Director of Edelman Southeast Asia, said: "If consumers are telling you that they want to purchase things which are aligned to causes, perhaps businesses should give it to them because that's going to become a long-term business plan."

The study added that "societal attributes now play an important role in helping businesses and brands build future trust and success, and that it is no longer just about operational factors."

Experts said that motivation needs to come from the top to have a long-term commitment to social causes, adding that 50 per cent of Singaporeans say CEOs should be making that commitment, and visibly.

Mr Grove said: "The trick here is, don't treat it as part of a discrete CSR programme, treat it as part of your business. Let me give you an example, General Electric came up with a with a concept seven years ago called 'GE ecomagination'. That business is now 25 per cent of its global revenue and is growing twice as fast in terms of revenue than any other part of GE's business.

"That is a return on investment and that is measureable by very traditional forms, revenue, margins, etc, because they've really integrated it in to their business. So they have aligned profit with purpose, and that is the part that people need to get."

So why aren't Singapore companies doing more to make their customers happy and cut costs?

Audrey Chia from the Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy at NUS, said: "I think we need to understand what some of the paybacks are. I think perhaps that is not being made clear to them. A few years ago, there was a book that came out called 'Green to Gold' that argued that by being environmental, companies can actually save costs because being environmental companies can cut down on waste and making better use of resources, thus increasing efficiency."


Singaporeans think firms not doing enough for social causes: study
rachel au-yong Business Times 11 May 12;

SINGAPOREANS say businesses aren't doing enough to support social causes, a newly released study found.

Conducted by public relations firm Edelman, the study is the first of its kind to measure consumer attitudes around social purpose in Singapore.

Although nine in 10 Singaporeans believe companies ought to address social issues, only 30 per cent think businesses are living up to this expectation.

Those surveyed were most concerned with protecting the environment, improving the quality of healthcare, and having equal access to education.

"It is clear that societal attributes now play an important role in helping businesses build future trust and success," said Bob Grove, managing director for Edelman Southeast Asia. "It is no longer just about operational factors."

Addressing societal issues may provide companies with financial incentive too. Some 84 per cent of Singaporeans said they would buy the products and services of a company that actively supports a good cause.

If quality and price were the same, 54 per cent said that social purpose would be the most important factor in their purchasing decision - more than design, innovation or attractive pricing.

In fact, if costs were not a factor, Singaporeans would rather purchase more "societally-friendly" items. Seventy-nine per cent said they would drive a hybrid car over a luxury one.

Other findings include Singaporeans' demands for the government to play the lead role in addressing these issues.

The results were released at the first-year anniversary event of the Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy, National University of Singapore Business School.

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Why the Recent Sumatra Quake Was So Strange

Charles Q. Choi Yahoo News 11 May 12;

The unexpectedly large earthquake that hit Sumatra last month is forcing scientists to rethink common assumptions about earthquake physics, researchers say.

The magnitude 8.6 earthquake that struck in the Indian Oceanoff the western coast of Sumatra on April 11was one of the 10 largest earthquakesever recorded, and was felt as far away as Bangladesh and India. However, no quake-related fatalities were reported.

Seismologists have done preliminary studies on the earthquake and found that it had some unusual aspects, ones that could help them better understand earthquakes that happen away from the boundaries between tectonic plates and better appreciate how powerful those quakes could potentially be.

Odd earthquake

Unusually, this quake apparently occurred in the middle of an oceanic plate. All the other top 10 quakes happened at subduction zones, where one of the tectonic plates making up the Earth's surface is diving beneath another. [13 Crazy Earthquake Facts]

Also oddly, the Sumatra temblor was a strike-slip earthquake, where two parts of Earth's crust slide past each other. Strike-slip quakes are not typically so powerful — the Sumatra event was "far and away the largest strike-slip earthquake ever recorded," said researcher Gregory Beroza, a seismologist at Stanford University. Its magnitude 8.2 aftershock was also among the largest recorded strike-slip earthquakes.

The reason why this quake was surprisingly powerful might lie in how deep the faults that triggered it ran, scientists now suggest.

Seismology readings suggest the Sumatra quake and its aftershock originated at depths between 25 to 33 miles (40 to 54 kilometers). At those depths, rock is blazingly hot, about 1,110 to 1,470 degrees Fahrenheit (600 to 800 degrees Celsius). At such temperatures, rock can become viscous at certain points, and in extreme cases, fault zones may even melt, enabling large amounts of energy to be released as parts of the Earth slide past each other.

Mid-plate quakes

Although the Sumatra quake is the only time a temblor in the middle of an oceanic plate was powerful enough to make the top 10 largest known earthquakes, major earthquakes do regularly occur in the middle of oceanic plates.

"Oceanic plates cover the majority of the earth, and a lot of magnitude 8 earthquakes have occurred within the interiors of oceanic plates in the last few years," said researcher Jeffrey McGuire, a seismologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "So while the probabilities are extremely low in any one spot, essentially the majority of the Earth's surface can experience a magnitude 8 earthquake."

Still, large earthquakes in the middle of ocean plates likely do not pose much hazard to life or property, since they are well away from populated areas. They also usually only generate small tsunamis, although "there is always a chance that they might set off a submarine landslide — such landslides have the potential to generate large tsunamis," Beroza said.

However, these mid-ocean quakes could shed light on the potential power that quakes in the middle of continental platescan achieve.

"The very largest earthquakes that a fault system or plate boundary is capable of might be larger than was previously appreciated," Beroza told OurAmazingPlanet. "That's not to say this is necessarily normal behavior, but it has to be considered as possible."

Understanding earthquakes that occur within the interior of oceanic plates is challenging "because we do not have long-term monitoring networks on the seafloor," McGuiretold OurAmazingPlanet. "I think one future direction that will be very interesting is that the National Science Foundation's Cascadia Initiative is in the midst of a multiyear monitoring effort of the Juan de Fuca and Gorda plates, which have significant internal strain. This initiative has the chance to capture a moderate intra-plate earthquake with nearby instruments which might really help us understand the processes that lead to the magnitude 8s that have occurred in more remote locations."

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Asia Faces Threat To Crops If El Nino Unleashed Again

Naveen Thukral and Lewa Pardomuan PlanetArk 11 May 12;

A return of the El Nino weather pattern may threaten food output in Asia, the world's top producer of rice and palm oil, but drier conditions in some areas could also benefit crops such as coffee and cocoa and keep global prices in check.

With memories of the devastating El Nino in the late 1990s still fresh in their minds, farmers are braced for the return of the weather anomaly, which can bring drought in some places and heavy storms in others.

Although forecasters say it is too early to say whether a full-blown El Nino is on the way, several models in Australia and India show warming of the Pacific Ocean after two straight years of La Nina that resulted in excessive rainfall.

"We are relatively bullish on a number of markets in Q4 of this year because of seasonality and if we start seeing dry weather concerns affecting the market, it is going to amplify that bullishness," said Abah Ofon, commodities analyst at Standard Chartered in Singapore.

Ofon singled out soybeans, palm oil and sugar.

Malaysia and Indonesia account for almost 90 percent of the world's palm oil supplies, while most of the world's rice is exported from Asia. The region also accounts for nearly 40 percent of wheat production and the bulk of natural rubber output.

Thailand, the world's biggest rice exporter, is also the world's second-largest sugar exporter after Brazil.

La Nina, which has brought excessive rains in Australia, caused a severe drought earlier this year in Brazil and Argentina, the world's leading soybean suppliers, lifting U.S. soy futures to a near four-year peak last week.

This year El Nino could exactly do the opposite.

"If you have El Nino here there will be typically more rain in North America which is favorable for summer crop development," said one Melbourne-based commodity analyst.

El Nino, which means "little boy" in Spanish, is driven by an abnormal warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean. It can create havoc in weather patterns across the Asia-Pacific region.

The last severe El Nino in 1998 killed more than 2,000 people and caused billions of dollars in damage to crops, infrastructure and mines in Australia and other parts of Asia.

La Nina is less famous and less destructive than El Nino, which has the opposite effect of warming the waters of the Pacific.


"Early talk of El Nino weather could spook the market and trigger panic demand should this weather risk crystallize," said Ofon at Standard Chartered, referring to the sugar market which is at a 20-month low due to ample global supply.

But coffee and cocoa could thrive this year after being hit by heavy rains last year. Vietnam and Indonesia, the world's top robusta producers, account for nearly a fifth of the world's coffee crop. Indonesia accounts for 10 percent of global cocoa output.

In Brazil, the world's largest coffee producer, the crop faces a smaller risk of frost this year because of the likelihood of El Nino, which brings higher-than-normal rains and moisture to the coffee belt.


Australia's weather bureau said models indicate the tropical Pacific Ocean may continue to warm over the next six months.

"All the models are consistently warming up," said Andrew Watkins, manager of climate prediction at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. "Given what we see at the moment, going beyond July, there is probably equal likelihood of neutral or El Nino conditions at this stage."

Malaysia, the world's second-largest palm oil producer, could see lower production in 2013 if the El Nino results in poor rainfall.

"There is a 50-50 percent chance of El Nino developing, if that happens in the second half of 2012, we should see Malaysian production falling next year," said Ling Ah Hong, an agronomist with Ganling in Malaysia. "I would project at least a 10 percent decline in Malaysian palm oil production in 2013 in that case."

In Australia, farmers are already facing dry weather which is delaying wheat planting.

"Southeast Australia has been quite dry and it is a bit of a concern," said one analyst. "If we had El Nino it will certainly result in below average rainfall for the growing season for winter crops, predominantly wheat, barley and canola."

Chinese authorities are keeping their fingers crossed as farmers gear up to plant the world's second-largest corn crop. Adverse weather could boost U.S. corn futures, with China emerging as a key importer in recent years.

In India, where farmers are banking on another near-record rice crop to keep the momentum of exports, forecasters are predicting a normal monsoon season.

"An absence of El Nino in the first half of the monsoon season helps planting of summer crops and also aids initial growth stages," said S. Raghuraman, a New Delhi-based analyst. "Initial forecast of India's weather office rules out the possibility of a drought year as the monsoon rains are expected to be average."

Thailand has entered the rainy season, but a change in the weather pattern could harm the crop after some rice fields were damaged in the dry season. The Thai Meteorological Department sees a short dry spell in June.

"There were some rice planning areas outside the irrigated areas that were destroyed during the dry season that ended in April," said Somchai Baimuang deputy director of the nation's meteorological department. "But there were minimal damage."

(Additional reporting by Colin Colin Packham in SYDNEY, Apornrath Phoonphongphiphat in BANGKOK, Ho Binh Minh in HANOI, Niu Shuping in BEIJING, Niluksi Koswanage in KUALA LUMPUR, Yee Kiat in SINGAPORE and Ratnajyoti Dutta in NEW DELHI)

Why Do El Nino And La Nina trigger Weather Chaos?
David Fogarty PlanetArk 11 May 12;

Why Do El Nino And La Nina trigger Weather Chaos? Photo: REUTERS
A farmer works on a drought-hit paddy field in the outskirts of Chongqing municipality in this March 24, 2009 file photo. La Nina-driven weather from South America to Australia and southern Asia will extend into early 2011

From record floods to crippling droughts and wildfires, a natural swing in Pacific Ocean temperatures can trigger climate chaos around the globe.

The El Nino ocean-weather pattern is linked to droughts in Australia and floods in parts of South America, while its sibling La Nina causes the opposite, with the two phenomena occurring at irregular intervals.

A powerful La Nina triggered record floods in eastern Australia in 2011 and has been blamed for the withering drought in Texas and severe dry spells in South America, hitting corn and soy crops.

Forecasters say an El Nino might develop later in the year.

Following are some questions and answers on El Nino and La Nina and their billion-dollar impacts on economies.


El Nino, also called "Little Boy" or "Christ Child", is a warming of ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific.

Peruvian fishermen noticed the arrival of the warm waters occurred usually around Christmas. The phenomena, which occurs every three to seven years, led to more rains in that part of South America and a drop in the fish catch.

Strong El Ninos can lead to a dramatic weakening of the trade winds that blow west across the Pacific, triggering drought in Southeast Asia and Australia and parts of Africa.

Some El Ninos can also affect the Indian monsoon by reducing rainfall, threatening crops and livelihoods.


Globally, El Nino can trigger above average rains in northern Peru and Bolivia, drought in Southeast Asia, Australia, India and northeast Brazil, cyclones in the central Pacific and stormy weather in southern and western United States.

El Ninos also tend to cut the number of Atlantic hurricanes but boost the number of storms in the eastern Pacific.

In Australia, strong El Ninos can slash wheat crop output, threaten water supplies by cutting river flows, shrink city reservoirs and dry out forests, triggering bush fires.

Major El Ninos occurred in 1982-82 and 1997-98 but the weak El Nino of 2002-2003 also led to severe drought in Australia.


La Nina, or "Little Girl", is an abnormal cooling of ocean temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific.

This triggers stronger trade winds across the Pacific that pile up very warm warmers in the western Pacific and around northern Australia, triggering above average rains.

Typically, it also boosts the number of cyclones during the November-April Australian cyclone season.


Just like El Nino, the weather impact can be global. In Indonesia and parts of Australia, La Nina can bring flooding rains, affecting wheat, sugar, palm oil and rubber crops as well as coal and iron ore mining.

In Argentina and the U.S. Plains, La Nina can trigger drought, hurting the Argentine corn and soy crops and the main U.S. hard red winter wheat crop.

La Nina tends to lead to wind patterns that favor the formation of more hurricanes in the Atlantic and fewer in the eastern Pacific, potentially meaning a greater threat to U.S. Gulf oil and gas assets and cities in Florida, the Gulf Coast and eastern seaboard.

Major recent La Nina events occurred in 1973-76, 1988-89 and 2010-12.


Heat from the tropics drives the global climate by fuelling ocean and atmospheric patterns that shift the warmth around the globe. Warm tropical waters fuel evaporation and add moisture to the atmosphere needed for clouds to form.

The rising air also drives atmospheric circulation patterns that help shift the moisture and warmth around to other parts of the globe. So disrupting this pattern can alter the climate elsewhere.

Scientists say climate change might also be adding an extra kick to La Nina and El Nino because warmer oceans add more fuel to storms and weather patterns.

(Sources: NOAA, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, National Centre for Atmospheric Research, Reuters)

(Editing by Ed Davies)

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Peru says 5,000 birds, nearly 900 dolphins dead

AFP Yahoo News 10 May 12;

The Peruvian government said Wednesday that 5,000 birds, mostly pelicans, and nearly 900 dolphins have died off the country's northern coast, possibly due to rising temperatures in Pacific waters.

The country's northern beaches were earlier this week declared off-limits as scientists scrambled to pin down what was causing such a massive toll, with non-government organizations blaming oil exploration work.

But Peru's deputy environment minister Gabriel Quijandria, disputed this and said warming waters, which disturbs species' food supplies, was a possible cause.

He said that although tests conducted on 877 dolphins found dead on the coast had not been completed, contamination from heavy metals or the presence of bacterial infections was not responsible.

It is probable that the phenomenon "will extend to other coastal areas," Quijandria said, noting that there could be a resulting increase in the numbers of birds and other sea life killed.

The South American nation's health ministry declared an alert at the weekend, urging the public to stay away from the beaches around Lima and on the northern coast until the cause of death of marine life is known.

One non-government conservation organization, known as ORCA, has blamed the dolphin deaths on oil exploration activities in the area, which it claims produces noises which are having an acoustic impact on the mammals.

A representative from the group, Carlos Yaipen, said Wednesday it had tested 30 dead specimens and found broken ears and damaged organs consistent with the victims suffering "the bends," also known as decompression sickness.

Weather expert Abraham Levy told AFP on Tuesday that the warming of the Pacific waters due to El Nino could be to blame.

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Asia-Pacific needs greening, UNDP finds

United Press International 10 May 12;

JAKARTA, May 10 (UPI) -- With Asian economies producing close to half of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, they need to find the right balance for prosperity, a U.N. report finds.

A report from the U.N. Development Program, "Asia-Pacific Human Development Report 2012 -- One Planet to Share: Sustaining Human Progress in a Changing Climate," states the region needs to find the right balance between prosperity and environmental sustainability.

"The world's common future will be hugely affected by the choices that are made in Asia and the Pacific on a low carbon growth path," Ajay Chhibber, UNDP regional director for Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement. "The goal is clear: reduce poverty, increase prosperity but leave a smaller carbon footprint."

The 269-page report says Asian and Pacific economies need to change the way they practice agriculture, manufacture goods and produce energy.

This will mean "moving to greener, more resilient, lower-emission options that not only sustain the environment but also offer opportunities to the poor for employment and income," the report states.

The UNDP estimates economies in the region generate 37 percent of global emissions through agricultural production, land-use changes and deforestation.

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Scientists Urge Action On World's Biggest Problems

Chris Wickham PlanetArk 11 May 12;

Scientists from 15 countries are calling for a better political response to the provision of water and energy to meet the challenge of feeding a world of 9 billion people within 30 years.

The joint statement by some of the world's leading science academies was issued on Thursday ahead of the G8 summit in the United States. It is part of the annual lobbying effort aimed at focusing the attention of world leaders on issues the scientific community regards as crucial.

For the first time, the scientists argue that looming shortages in water and energy supplies should be treated as a single issue.

"Major stresses on availability of energy and water are already being felt in many countries and regions and more are foreseeable," the joint statement said.

Fossil fuel, nuclear and hydropower are still providing the bulk of the world's energy and they all rely heavily on the supply of water for cooling, running steam turbines or direct power generation. Conversely, large amounts of energy are used in pumping, purifying and desalinating water around the globe.

"Without considering water and energy together, inefficiencies will occur, increasing shortages of both," the statement warns. Politicians should pursue policies that integrate the two and emphasize the need for conservation, efficiency and cooperation across national borders.


The world also needs to increase its resilience against disasters like those which result from tsunamis, earthquakes and levees that fail in the face of rising sea levels.

"Disasters are absolutely certain to happen," Michael Clegg of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences told Reuters, adding growth in the global population, from 7 billion now, was focused on coastal areas that are more vulnerable, making it "more important that we design for resilience."

The scientists said global annual losses from natural disasters exceeded $200 billion in 2005, 2008 and 2011 but loss of life was generally much lower in developed countries.

Governments should focus efforts on improving public health systems, strengthening building standards and better information technology that enables faster warnings and response.

Signatories of the statement are from the leading science academies in the United States, Russia, China, Britain, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco and South Africa.

They also call for better measurement of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions and more solid data country by country on natural resources like forests, which absorb some of the most damaging carbon emissions.

"More accurate and standardized methods for estimating human and natural sources and sinks of greenhouse gases are needed as a prerequisite for an international climate treaty and to determine the effectiveness of national emission-reduction programs," they said.

Clegg said that despite the widespread acceptance of the need to reduce greenhouse gases, there is still a lot of uncertainty about, and a lack of standardization in, the methods for measuring those emissions.

"There is a great need to develop more accurate approaches," he said, adding that it was a fundamental building block for the world's response to climate change but "getting a correct measurement ... is challenging."

The statement urges politicians to "give greater consideration to the vital role science and technology could play in addressing some of the planet's most pressing challenges".

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Island nations lay out green agenda

UPI 10 May 12;

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 10 (UPI) -- A consortium of island nations announced the signing of a declaration in Barbados calling for a move toward renewable energy and environmental stewardship.

Twenty small island developing states, dubbed SIDS, signed a declaration in Barbados that outlines ways to combat poverty through economic growth by way of an affordable renewable energy strategy.

The so-called Barbados Declaration states SIDS could develop renewable energy programs such as wind, solar, geothermal and marine energy where commercially feasible.

Host country Barbados committed to getting 29 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2029. Seychelles aims to get 15 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2030, while Maldives said it expects to become carbon neutral by 2020.

Rising sea levels and global climate change threaten to submerge the Maldives within decades.

"(T)hese technologies must be made accessible, affordable and adaptable to the needs and particular circumstances of SIDS communities," the declaration read. "In this regard, we strongly urge the international community, particularly developed countries, to ensure the provision of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building to SIDS."

The declaration was adopted one month ahead of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro.

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Political shift will make or break Rio+20 summit

Valerie Volcovici and Nina Chestney Reuters 10 May 12;

WASHINGTON/LONDON | Thu May 10, 2012 1:01pm EDT

(Reuters) - The shifting sands of geopolitics, marked by rapid growth of big, emerging economies such as Brazil and China while traditionally rich countries fall behind, could undermine progress to define sustainable development goals at a United Nations conference next month.

New divisions between old allies are adding to familiar disputes over finance and responsibility as preparatory talks in New York last week failed to find consensus, causing the United Nations to add an extra round of talks later this month.

The Rio+20 summit in Brazil from June 20-22 is expected to attract more than 50,000 participants from governments, companies and environmental and lobby groups.

It will try to hammer out aspirational, rather than mandatory sustainable development goals across seven core themes - including food security, water and energy - but will not seek to repeat the outcome of the Rio Earth Summit 20 years ago, which led to the Kyoto Protocol on capping greenhouse gas emissions and a treaty on biodiversity.

One reason for the change in goals is the shift in global geopolitics that has come with the rising strength of countries like Brazil, South Africa, India and China - which are still classed as "developing" countries despite their rapid growth, while the traditional "developed" nations like those of Europe, the United States and Japan struggle with slower growth.

"The world in 1992 is not the same as in 2012. Each country will now have to bear responsibility for ensuring sustainability," European Commissioner for Environment Janez Potocnik told Reuters.

"The negotiations ... are worrying at this stage. The pace is relatively slow and there is some lack of focus."

The shift has strengthened some developing countries and changed how countries approach certain issues, said Samantha Smith, leader of global climate and energy initiative for environmental group WWF.

It has created new alliances between countries and opened new divisions, which is undermining progress on many issues, particularly financing development goals.

"What is happening in the negotiations reflects what is happening in geopolitics in general," Smith said.

In a sign of the challenge facing government officials, the U.N. added an extra five days of talks in New York from May 29 to June 2 to salvage a negotiating text that has multiplied in size but has been diluted, after failing to make enough progress at last week's round of talks.


While traditional rifts between rich and poorer nations linger on issues like finance, established groups of allies are branching out or splitting up in a reflection of their emerging economic status.

The so-called G77 and China coalition of developing countries has started to split into individual nations and groups, and a group comprising Brazil, South Africa, India and China (BASIC) is gaining strength and prepared a parallel negotiating text to put forward next month, sources said.

The issue of raising finance is a major stumbling block, echoing long-standing disagreements in separate U.N. talks for a global emissions-cutting pact.

In that arena, industrialized countries have long been accused of not raising finance quickly enough to help more vulnerable countries adapt to climate change, and a fund designed to help channel up to $100 billion a year in aid is still an empty shell.

Traditionally richer nations like those in the European Union, the United States and Japan have been facing tougher economic times, with many countries imposing austerity measures on their citizens and cutting spending dramatically.

Some developing countries are concerned that the tough economic backdrop will provide an excuse for richer nations to back out of old financial commitments and avoid new ones.

"We hope that the financial crisis, which has hit both the developed and developing world does not lead us being short-sighted with respect to the Rio outcome," said Marlene Moses, chair of the Alliance of Small Island States negotiating bloc.

"We've seen a lack of ambition from some of our partners with respect to the outcome document, but we're optimistic that we can bring them on board," she added.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, which is sending representatives from its climate, environment and development divisions to Rio, as well as Commission President Jose Barroso, is still hopeful of a concrete outcome to the conference at final talks in June.

"Even if the EU is in the worst economic crisis ever, it will still deliver on its aid commitments and recognizes additional efforts are needed," said Potocnik.

"A range of resources need to be mobilized, including international, public and private sources. ... Enabling conditions, such as phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies (on fossil fuels), is being talked about and really makes sense."


The original U.N. Earth Summit 20 years ago agreed that around $125 billion in grants or concessions was needed from the international community in development aid by 2000, or around 0.7 percent of gross domestic product.

Some developing countries are accusing donor countries such as Europe, the United States and Japan of failing to deliver the aid and want confirmation in the Rio+20 text that they will strive to commit to that original 0.7 percent goal, which some donor countries oppose.

"There has been a bit of a blame game where they (developing countries) are trying to frame this as a lack of progress," said Antonio Hill, policy adviser at aid group Oxfam.

He said the Rio summit is unlikely to consider financing ideas favored by some rich countries, such as a financial transaction tax or levies on bunker fuels and the aviation sector.

"It's one of the things that is part of the back and forth tension between industrialized and developing countries. It is going to be very difficult to see much progress on financing that is unilateral," Hill added.


The idea of a "green economy" is another contentious issue.

The United Nations Environment Programme defines a "green economy" as one that improves human well-being and social equity while reducing environmental risks and scarcities.

The United Nations last week said some developed countries have "embraced" the green economy concept as a common road map for sustainable development.

But many developing countries are concerned that the concept might not go far enough to promote social justice and suspect it could bring about trade disputes and reduce competitiveness.

"I have the feeling that the logic and importance of a green economy is not yet being taken as something which is really needed for future sustainability," Potocnik said.

"We absolutely need new energy in the negotiating process to move to the stage where we get a concrete outcome in Rio."

(Editing by Leslie Adler)

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