Best of our wild blogs: 14 Nov 13

Green Future Solutions is Looking for Intern Writers
from Green Future Solutions

2 1/2 weeks on ...
from Life's Indulgences

Two birds die from crashing into windows at NUS Science today from Otterman speaks...

More Observations On Red Junglefowl Behaviour (Continued) from Bird Ecology Study Group

Butterflies Galore! : Metallic Caerulean
from Butterflies of Singapore

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2013 is seventh hottest year, rising seas worsen typhoon

Alister Doyle PlanetArk 14 Nov 13;

This year is the seventh warmest since records began in 1850 and rising sea levels caused by climate change are aggravating the impact of storms such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday.

More greenhouse gases in the atmosphere meant a warmer future, and more extreme weather, was inevitable, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement during November 11-22 climate talks among almost 200 nations in Warsaw.

The WMO said the first nine months of the year tied with the same period of 2003 as seventh warmest, with average global land and ocean surface temperatures 0.48°C (0.86°F) above the 1961-1990 average.

"This year once again continues the underlying, long-term trend," towards higher temperatures caused by global warming that are causing more heatwaves and downpours, Jarraud said.

The WMO said it was likely to end among the top 10 warmest years since records began in 1850.

Extreme events include super typhoon Haiyan, one of the most intense in history that smashed into the Philippines last Friday, it said. [ID:nL4N0IX5SO] The WMO said, however, that it was impossible to blame climate change for individual storms.

"The jury is still out on whether tropical cyclones will become more frequent in the future," Jeremiah Lengoasa, deputy WMO Secretary-General, told a news conference.

He pointed to wide uncertainties about how they form.


But sea level rise, caused by melting ice and an expansion of water as it warms, is worsening storm surges and had been especially rapid in the western Pacific Ocean, driven by local changes in winds and sea currents.

One tidal gauge at Legaspi in the Philippines showed a rise of 35 cms (14 inches) in average sea levels from 1950-2010, against a global average of 10 cms, WMO data showed.

President Benigno Aquino said the death toll from the recent typhoon and flooding was closer to 2,000 or 2,500 than the previously reported figure of 10,000.

Other extremes this year have included record heatwaves in Australia and floods from Sudan to Europe, the WMO said. Japan had its warmest summer on record.

Apparently bucking a warming trend, sea ice around Antarctica expanded to a record extent. But the WMO said: "Wind patterns and ocean currents tend to isolate Antarctica from global weather patterns, keeping it cold."

The WMO said 2010 was the warmest year on record, ahead of 2005 and 1998.

In September, The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) raised the probability that manmade greenhouse gas emissions, largely from burning fossil fuels, were the main cause of warming since 1950 to at least 95 percent from 90 in a previous assessment in 2007.

The IPCC said the pace of temperature rises at the Earth's surface has slowed slightly in recent years in what the panel called a "hiatus" that may be linked to big natural variations and factors such as the ocean absorbing more heat.

The Warsaw talks are working on a long-term deal to confront global warming, which is due to be agreed in 2015 in Paris. Many developed nations are reluctant to step up action at a time when their economies are under strain.

Separately, Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, rejected calls by environmentalists for her to drop plans to speak at a "world coal summit" in Warsaw on November 18-19 to promote cleaner uses of the fossil fuel.

She said she shared their concern about pollution. "That is precisely why I will be going to speak directly to an industry that must change quickly," she wrote in a letter. Poland generates about 90 percent of its electricity from coal.

(Reporting By Alister Doyle; editing by Ralph Boulton)

Monster typhoon exposes an ill-prepared Philippines
Andrew R.C. Marshall PlanetArk 14 Nov 13;

Dead bodies clog the basement of the Tacloban City Convention Centre. The dazed evacuees in its sports hall are mostly women and children. The men are missing.

That so few men made it to this refuge shows how dimly aware they were of the threat posed by Typhoon Haiyan, which crashed into the central Philippines on Friday with some of the strongest winds ever recorded.

Many men stayed at their homes to guard against looters. Poorly enforced evacuations compounded the problem. And the bodies illustrate another, more troubling truth: the evacuation center itself became a death trap, as many of those huddling in the basement perished in a tsunami-like swirl of water.

Those with the foresight to evacuate flimsy homes along the coast gathered in concrete structures not strong enough to withstand the six-meter (20-ft) storm surges that swept through Tacloban, capital of the worst-hit Leyte province.

The aid, when it came, was slow. Foreign aid agencies said relief resources were stretched thin after a big earthquake in central Bohol province last month and displacement caused by fighting with rebels in the country's south, complicating efforts to get supplies in place before the storm struck.

The Philippines, no stranger to natural disasters, was unprepared for Haiyan's fury.

"We're all waiting for our husbands," said Melody Mendoza, 27, camped out with her two young sons at the convention center, which towers over the devastated coastal landscape.

Local officials say 10,000 people were killed in Tacloban alone. President Benigno Aquino told CNN the death toll from the typhoon was 2,000 to 2,500, saying "emotional drama" was behind the higher estimate.

Aquino defended the government's preparations, saying the toll might have been higher had it not been for the evacuation of people and the readying of relief supplies.

"But, of course, nobody imagined the magnitude that this super typhoon brought on us," he said.


Two days before the storm hit, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies predicted a "dangerous" typhoon with winds of 240 kph (150 mph) heading straight for Leyte and Samar - the two most devastated provinces.

Warnings were broadcast regularly on television and over social media. More than 750,000 people across the central Philippines were evacuated.

"As bad as the loss of life was, it could have in fact been much, much worse," said Clare Nullis, spokeswoman for the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization, praising the government's work in issuing warnings.

"Certainly on Thursday and Friday, PAGASA, which is the Philippines' meteorological service, they were sending out regular warnings of a seven-meter (22 ft) storm surge. That was going out on an hourly basis."

But as the storm approached Tacloban and authorities crisscrossed the city, their warnings often fell on deaf ears.

"Some people didn't believe us because it was so sunny," said Jerry Yaokasin, vice mayor of Tacloban. "Some people were even laughing."

Getting relief supplies to survivors has also been chaotic.

Foreign aid workers said they had struggled to get equipment and personnel on to Philippine military cargo planes, with the government prioritizing the deployment of soldiers due to widespread looting at the weekend.

Mark Fernando, 33, a volunteer for the Philippine National Red Cross, arrived in Tacloban on Tuesday afternoon after a two-day wait at nearby Cebu city for a military plane.

"They said, 'Our priority is to bring in soldiers and policemen,'" said Fernando, whose 10-strong team plans to clear debris and set up a water filtration system.

One survivor at the Tacloban convention center said he would have evacuated if he had been told a tsunami-like wall of water might hit.

"On Thursday night we could see the stars in the sky," said Moises Rosillo, 41, a pedicab driver sheltering beneath the centre's distinctive domed roof with his family. "We thought it would just be wind and rain."

Rosillo evacuated his wife and son, but stayed behind with his father and thousands of other men in a neighborhood near the airport. The authorities warned of a storm surge - a term Rosilla said he didn't understand - but didn't try to forcibly evacuate them.

Winds of 314 kph (195 mph) were followed by a surge of water, which rose to the height of a coconut tree within five minutes, he said. Rosillo was swept into a bay, which he likened to a giant whirlpool, and clung for hours to a piece of wood before struggling ashore. His father died in the water.

Medical workers are treating evacuees at the convention center for lacerations and other wounds.

But many, like Mendoza, complained of a lack of food and poor hygiene. "People won't come here because they are scared their children will get sick."


With so little help arriving, people are still streaming towards Tacloban's airport, where hundreds of people are waiting for a chance to board a flight to Cebu or Manila.

"It appears local government units failed to mobilize officials for forced evacuations to higher and safer ground, out of the way of strong winds, storm surges and widespread flooding," said Doracie Zoleta-Nantes, an expert on disasters at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Typhoons are a frequent phenomenon in the Philippines and the flimsy nature of rural housing means fatalities are hard to avoid. Haiyan was the second category 5 typhoon to hit this year after Typhoon Usagi in September. An average of 20 typhoons strike every year, and Haiyan was the 24th this year.

Last year, Typhoon Bopha flattened three towns in southern Mindanao, killing 1,100 people and causing damage of more than $1 billion.

Zoleta Nantes, a Philippines native, said despite those disasters and efforts to strengthen disaster management since 2010, "the Philippine government continues a reactive approach to disasters".

Survivors complained of shortages of food and water, piling pressure on Aquino whose once soaring popularity has been eroded in recent weeks by a corruption scandal roiling his political allies.

Some officials said they could have done more.

"Now, looking back, the preparations were not enough, especially in Tacloban. What we did not prepare for was the breakdown in local functions," said Lucille Sering, secretary of the government's Climate Change Commission.

More than 30 countries have pledged aid, but distribution of relief goods has been hampered by impassable roads and rudderless towns that have lost leaders and emergency workers.

Hardest-hit Leyte province has only one working airstrip, which is overrun with relief supplies and crowds jostling to evacuate. It can handle only lighter aircraft.

Philippine Army Major Ruben Guinolbay said help from the United States, other countries and aid agencies was slowed by the lack of clear information. Tacloban's government was wiped out by the storm. Many officials are dead, missing or too overcome with grief to work.

"The usual contact people could not be reached because communications were cut and there was no way of getting information," he told Reuters. A U.S. Marine commander came to Tacloban to personally assess the situation, he added. After his trip, help started to flow.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the government's response this time was faster than previous disasters.

"We saw something that is really unprecedented," Abad said. "I don't think we could have prepared for this."

(Additional reporting by Rosemarie Francisco and Erik dela Cruz in Manila, Maggie Lu Yueyang in Sydney and Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay in Geneva. Editing by Jason Szep and Dean Yates)

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What India and China can take away from Singapore’s water story

Peter Brabeck-Letmathe and Asit K Biswas Today Online 14 Nov 13;

Water will be an important critical-resource issue for the social and economic development of the world in this century. Increasing demand for water and poor management practices over decades have already caused significant damage to the environment and the long-term development prospects of most countries.

Take India. The country’s pollution watchdog noted last month that water from half of the its 445 rivers is unfit for human consumption because nearly all major Indian cities discharge domestic wastewater, mostly without treatment.

In October last year, the Supreme Court of India expressed its dissatisfaction with the levels of pollution in the Yamuna River, saying it was “unfortunate that huge public funds were spent without showing any improvement in the water quality”. It noted that, “despite spending more than 1,062 rupees (about S$209 million), in addition to the amount being spent by local authorities in Delhi, Haryana and (Uttar Pradesh), the pollution of Yamuna has increased by the day”.

It is not only Yamuna that is suffering this indignity. The Ganga — the holiest of the Indian rivers and to which Indians are attached spiritually and emotionally — has encountered similar problems over the past four decades.

The Ganga Action Plan was initiated in 1986 to clean up the river. More than a quarter-century later and after expenditure of thousands of crores of rupees, it is more polluted than ever. A similar steady deterioration of water quality prevails in nearly all water bodies in or near centres of population.


The situation is no different for other developing Asian countries such as China. The rising demand for water, continuing poor management practices and erratic rainfall patterns are causing water crises all over China.

For example, the first official national river census estimated that the country had 22,909 rivers, each with a catchment area of at least 100 sq km, at the end of 2011. This is less than half of the more than 50,000 rivers estimated by the government only in the ’90s.

The primary causes of this trend are likely to be declining groundwater and river flow levels, due to continually increasing water withdrawals and widespread deforestation.

Like India, China’s water quality also has been deteriorating. In June, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said it is “not optimistic” about current water quality in China.

The stories of the Yamuna and Ganga and the disappearing rivers and deteriorating water quality in China are only symptoms of two important persistent diseases: Poor water management and near-total focus on short-term economic benefits.


To continue with the existing water management practices in India is not an option. The Third World Centre for Water Management has estimated that only around 10 to 12 per cent of wastewater generated in Asian developing countries is now adequately collected, properly treated and then discharged to water bodies.

The annual economic costs of neglect of water quality in countries like India or China are in billions of dollars. The World Bank has estimated that water and air pollution is costing China around 5.8 per cent of gross domestic product. Similar reliable estimates for India are not available, but are unlikely to be less than for China.

With accelerating industrial and commercial activities and rapid urbanisation, proper wastewater management is steadily becoming a serious health and economic issue in India. As the nearby surface water and groundwater sources for urban areas are increasingly contaminated with domestic and industrial waste, these polluted sources will require higher levels of treatment before they can be used safely as potable water.

This means that treatment processes needed to decontaminate polluted water are likely to become more and more sophisticated and expensive, which may not be economically feasible in the future. This can already be witnessed in many urban and rural areas. A decade ago, Indian households generally boiled water or used simple systems like carbon filters to make water drinkable. In many urban and rural areas, residents are currently using membranes and reverse osmosis to produce clean water — the same process used for sea water desalination.


Yet, it does not have to be so. A good example is what Singapore has managed to do since 1965 when it became independent and was considered to be a developing country.

Its urban water and wastewater management practices were very similar then to those that were prevailing in India. The Singapore River was then more polluted than the Ganges.

By considering water as a national strategic resource, Singapore managed to develop an urban water and wastewater management system that, within two decades, became the envy of the world.

The Government invested the necessary funds to make the river clean. The people living in slums on both sides of the river were resettled. Economically, for every dollar the Government invested in cleaning up the river, it has received at least S$10 to S$12 of benefits.

The Singapore experience shows that, not only it is possible for a Third World country (as it was back in 1965) to achieve a better-than-First-World water management system within 15 to 20 years, but that this conversion is also economically attractive.

There is absolutely no reason India cannot do the same.


Peter Brabeck-Letmathe is the Chairman of the Board of Nestle and Chairman of 2030 Water Resources Group. Asit K Biswas is the Distinguished Visiting Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bhubaneswar. He is the co-founder of the Third World Centre for Water Management, Mexico.

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Marina Coastal Expressway to open on Dec 29

Dylan Loh Channel NewsAsia 13 Nov 13;

SINGAPORE: Singapore's 10th and costliest highway, on a per kilometre basis, will open on Sunday, December 29 at 9am.

The S$4.3 billion Marina Coastal Expressway will be connected to the Central Business District by interim roads, as authorities finalise traffic flow in the vicinity.

By next year's third quarter, the area's final road network will be up and running.

From the east, the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) and East Coast Parkway (ECP) connects to the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE), which hugs Singapore's southern shoreline.

From the west, the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) leads into the five-kilometre-long MCE, forming a continuous stretch linking the major highways.

Prime land for future developments in Marina Bay will be freed up, since the ECP is being channelled into the new expressway.

It also allows roads in the Marina South vicinity to be straightened and widened, promising motorists faster and easier access into downtown Singapore.

A stretch of 3.6 kilometres of the MCE is built as a tunnel, including a 420-metre section underneath the sea bed.

The expressway will have five lanes in both directions and will link motorists directly to the downtown at Marina South through the new connections with Central Boulevard, Marina Boulevard and Maxwell Road.

The Land Transport Authority is finalising the MCE's speed limit, which will likely be 80 kilometres an hour.

With traffic currently using the ECP now channelled to the MCE, the stretch of the ECP west of Benjamin Sheares Bridge will be converted to a major arterial road, while the stretch of the existing ECP after Central Boulevard will be expunged, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

Mr Chua Chong Kheng, Deputy Chief Executive, Infrastructure and Development, Land Transport Authority, said: "For the motorists, we will make sure that there are maps and the details are available on our website, so that the motorists can actually learn from them.

"Secondly, (for) the stakeholders living in the vicinity who are more or less affected more permanently, we will enter into engagement sessions with them individually."

Coastal highway will help fulfil vision of creating a better city: LTA
Woo Sian Boon Today Online 14 Nov 13;

SINGAPORE — Apart from being an architectural feat and notching some firsts, the opening of the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE) at 9am on Dec 29 will mark a significant step towards the Republic’s plans to transform downtown Marina by improving accessibility to the area and making it more suitable for large-scale development.

When the new expressway is in operation — the Republic’s 10th and costliest to date — a stretch of the East Coast Parkway (ECP), west of Benjamin Sheares Bridge, will be converted into a major arterial road named Sheares Avenue. A 1km stretch of the ECP after Central Boulevard, which currently cuts through a plot of land in Marina South, will be removed and roads will be realigned in the area in the months ahead. By the third quarter of next year, the final road network will be complete.

The MCE spans 5km, with almost three-quarters of it underground, including a 420m-long tunnel under the sea bed — the first in Singapore — that runs parallel to the Marina Barrage. The S$4.3 billion expressway, which took four years to build, connects the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) and ECP in the east to the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) in the west. It is made up of five lanes running in both directions and will link motorists directly to Marina South through new connections at Central Boulevard, Marina Boulevard and Maxwell Road.

At a media briefing yesterday, Mr Chua Chong Kheng, the Land Transport Authority (LTA)’s Deputy Chief Executive of Infrastructure and Development, said the MCE’s capacity — it will carry 10,000 vehicles per hour each way — was built in anticipation of the future development of the Marina Bay area, and will help to enhance it as a “quality live-work-play precinct”.

Said Mr Chua: “Besides improving road connectivity and accessibility into the downtown, more importantly, the MCE will allow us to fulfil the vision of creating a better city.”

The MCE’s alignment will free up for development a piece of land — measuring an estimated 71ha — behind One Raffles Quay and Gardens by the Bay, and stretching south towards the Marina Bay Cruise Centre.

Property analysts TODAY spoke to said the authorities will continue to build up a “critical mass of financial institutions” in Marina Bay as part of plans to turn it into a financial hub.

Mr Colin Tan, Head of Consultancy and Research at Suntec Real Estate Consultants, said: “We are only beginning to shape the new downtown ... Depending on what they have on the drawing board, there can be hotels or some residential buildings.”

Chesterton Singapore Managing Director Donald Han added that residential or hotel developments will be important in the district. “Part of the plan for the area is to incorporate residential or hotel use to create a 24-hour buzz ... I would not rule out retail space on the lower floors of buildings,” he said.

The MCE’s tunnels are installed with fire protection boards. Should vehicles catch fire, a deluge system — consisting of sprinklers and pipes — can also be quickly activated to contain the situation before the Singapore Civil Defence Force arrives.

On whether the MCE will result in time savings for motorists, Mr Chua pointed out its capacity. He added: “It’s quite a strategic expressway in terms of connecting three major expressways — the KPE, ECP and AYE.”

The LTA is reviewing the speed limits for the MCE and KPE, which will be announced before the former is opened. The MCE is designed for a top speed of 80kmh, while the KPE has a speed limit of 70kmh. On whether the latter’s speed limit will be increased, Mr Chua said it may not be changed for the entire expressway. “There are stretches or bends that we think will affect motorists’ visibility, and therefore we want to make sure they don’t pose a safety hazard to other motorists,” he said.

There will be four Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantries on the MCE. However, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew had earlier assured that motorists entering the Central Business District from the MCE “will not be crossing more ERP gantries” than previously. There will also be no changes in ERP charges or operating hours of gantries in the vicinity.

Nevertheless, Mr Chua said the LTA will monitor whether ERP rates on the MCE need to be adjusted in the future, given its high capacity. “It depends on the driving patterns of motorists,” he said.

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No more excuses: WWF scorecard shows that palm oil buyers must do more to stimulate sustainable production

WWF 12 Nov 13;

Medan, Indonesia: Palm oil buyers are doing more than before but not nearly enough to encourage responsible growers to reduce the adverse impacts of producing the world’s most popular vegetable oil in some of the most vulnerable tropical habitats around the world.

The 2013 edition of WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard, released on the opening day of the annual conference of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), identified Belgian processor Ecover, confectionary company Ferrero Trading, homegoods giant IKEA, German retailer REWE, leading global palm oil user Unilever and the UK’s United Biscuits as the global leaders in uptake of sustainable palm oil and efforts to minimise greenhouse gas emissions.

“For the first time, we include US companies alongside major European, Australian and Asian companies and now have a global scorecard of how much palm oil buyers are doing to support sustainability,” said WWF Palm Oil lead Adam Harrison. “However, while we can report gratifying progress by many companies it is still true that demand for certified sustainable palm oil is lagging significantly behind supplies – and from our scorecard we can see which companies are not taking the action they should to change that.

“While some of these palm oil buyers come up with excuses the reality is that there are no good reasons for so many buyers to be so significantly behind schedule in achieving their own targets of 100 per cent sustainable palm oil supplies by 2015.”

Palm oil plantations, largely in low lying tropical areas in south east Asia but increasingly in Africa and Latin America, produce 65 percent of the world’s traded vegetable oil. Palm oil is a key ingredient in many foods, cosmetics, soaps and detergents and is emerging as a significant biofuel stock. Overall palm oil demand is expected to double by 2020, increasing the pressure on tropical forests and biodiversity, risking dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions from tropical peats and increased community conflict. But that does not have to be the way the industry grows. The RSPO shows that palm oil can expand sustainably – and the role of retailers and manufacturers is to support that by buying RSPO certified sustainable palm oil.

The scorecard ranks 78 manufacturers of products containing palm oil and 52 retailers on RSPO membership and compliance with reporting requirements, targets and action on using 100 percent sustainable palm oil use and policies and plans for limiting the greenhouse gas emissions from the palm oil they source.

Only 9 of the 130 companies – Ecover, Ferrero Trading, Henkel, REWE Group, Hershey, IKEA, Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever and United Biscuits - reported having policies that addressed GHG emissions of palm oil supplies. However, a further 49 companies are moving to require suppliers to comply with RSPO emission disclosure requirements.

More than two thirds of scored manufacturers and a slightly larger proportion of scored retailers have committed to 100 percent certified sustainable palm oil use by 2015.

Forty-five of the 130 companies scored were already using 100% CSPO – in total more than 2 million tonnes a year between them. But all together the 130 companies are using almost 7 million tonnes of palm oil a year – showing just how far they still have to go.

“The RSPO is at a critical stage,” said Adam Harrison. “Progressive buyers of palm oil are starting to demand that growers go further than the basic RSPO standards on issues like not buying palm oil fruit from unknown sources, minimising hazardous chemical use and reducing GHGs. These growers will need to be rewarded for doing so – but it is clear that most buyers are not yet even buying RSPO certified palm oil.

“WWF wants all companies to use the data available from the RSPO to start buying from the leaders in the RSPO rather than the laggards. But first of all they should be buying all of the CSPO currently available.”

As a first step, WWF believes book & claim certificates are a way to send market signals in support of sustainable production so that economies of scale can be achieved that will help the entire industry move towards segregated supply chains.

However, WWF would like to see faster progress from companies toward physically segregated certified sustainable palm oil. Companies leading the demand for segregated certified palm oil (by using more than 50%) include food giants Heinz and United Biscuits, chemical company Iwata, Nutella manufacturer Ferrero Trading, and UK retailer Waitrose.

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Indonesia to launch voluntary carbon market

Reuters 12 Nov 13;

Nov 12 (Reuters) - Indonesia, one of the world's biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, is planning to launch a voluntary carbon trading scheme that could link to other countries if successful, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

The South East Asian nation is lining up carbon trading as one of several policies to cut its fast-growing greenhouse gas emissions, according to Dicky Edwin Hindarto, head of the carbon trade department at Indonesia's National Council on Climate Change.

"We will utilise all possibilities (to cut emissions), including markets, but we want to test it first," he told Reuters on the sidelines of the United Nations climate conference in the Polish capital.

While there is no set timetable for the voluntary market, Hindarto said Indonesia is developing voluntary emission reduction certificates that domestic carbon emitters can use to offset their emissions.

If the scheme proves successful, Indonesia could expand domestic coverage and seek to link the market with similar schemes in other countries, he said.

Indonesia has estimated it would emit 2.95 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020 without new policies.

The government has pledged to bring 2020 emissions to 26 percent below the business as usual levels, and as much as 41 percent under if it receives international funding.

The main reasons for the high emissions - only China and the United States emit more according to a World Bank and UK government report - are rapid deforestation and burning of peat lands.

Indonesia is the latest of a growing number of Asian countries to use markets to slow down rapidly growing emissions amid high economic growth.

China has launched the first of seven planned regional pilot markets ahead of a national trading scheme later in the decade.

South Korea will have a mandatory emissions market from 2015, while Thailand plans a voluntary market from the same year. Vietnam said last year it is considering a market for CO2 trading in 2018. (Reporting by Stian Reklev; editing by Alister Doyle and William Hardy)

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Rising sea levels could inundate islands, with loss of biodiversity

UPI 13 Nov 13;

PARIS, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Island habitats, home to about 20 percent of the world's biodiversity, are under threat of total submersion with climate change, French researchers warn.
Researchers at the University of Paris Sud have modeled future scenarios to bring attention to the risks that lie ahead for some of the richest biodiversity hot spots worldwide, reporting their results in the journal Nature Conservation.

No global assessment of the consequences of sea level rises is available for island ecosystems, yet those are amongst the regions most vulnerable to potential increases and direct reductions of habitat, they said.

Several recent studies strongly suggest sea levels will rise substantially until the end of the century, with a worst-case scenario of ice sheet melting creating sea-level rises of a worrying 12 feet to 20 feet.

Such increases could lead to the total immersion of very large proportions of many islands with low elevation, wiping out completely self-contained ecosystems and their inhabitants, the researchers said.

Even an increase in sea levels of just three feet would see around roughly 10,800 islands entirely lost, they said.

"Losses of insular [island] habitats will thus be relatively important in the future, probably leading to a major impoverishment of insular biodiversity," lead study author Celine Bellard said. "Given the implications of these results, decision makers are required to define island conservation priorities that accounts for sea level rise following climate change."

Island Biodiversity in Danger of Total Submersion With Climate Change
Science Daily 13 Nov 13;

Sea level rise caused by global warming can prove extremely destructive to island habitats, which hold about 20% of the world's biodiversity. Research by C. Bellard, C. Leclerc and F. Courchamp of the University of Paris Sud look at 3 possible scenarios, from optimistic to very pessimistic, to bring attention to the dangers in store for some of the richest biodiversity hotspots worldwide. The study was published in the open access journal Nature Conservation.

Despite climate change having received considerable attention in recent years, no global assessment of the consequences of sea rising is available for island ecosystems. Yet those are amongst the regions most vulnerable to potential sea level rise, which in their case would cause a direct reduction of habitat.

Several recent studies strongly suggest that sea levels will rise substantially until the end of the century, with estimates ranging from 0.5 m to 2.3 m increase. Worst case scenarios of ice sheet melting and sliding lead to estimates of sea-level rise of the worrying 4 to 6 m. Such increases could lead to the immersion of very large proportions of many islands with low elevation. In many cases, sea level rise may lead to their total submersion, wiping out completely self-contained ecosystems and their inhabitants.

The study uses the 1,269 islands from different areas that France harbored, out of which, New Caledonia and French Polynesia are found to be the most vulnerable to sea level rise. The French maritime domain is ranked as the second most important in the world, these islands in total holding a large proportion of the world's biodiversity. Research shows that 5% of the number of islands could be permanently inundated under an increase of sea level by 1 meter. This figure dramatically rises to 8% and 11%, in the more pessimistic scenarios, respectively, for 2 and 3 meters of sea level rise. Assuming that French islands are representative of worldwide islands, roughly 10,800 islands could be entirely lost in the 1 meter scenario, the most optimistic one.

For the New Caledonia hotspot, under the worst scenario, up to 6.8 % of the islands could be half submerged. Speaking in terms of biodiversity loss, this indicates endemic plant species that are already at risk of extinction will be the most vulnerable to sea level rise.

"Losses of insular habitats will thus be relatively important in the future, probably leading to a major impoverishment of insular biodiversity. Given the implications of these results, decision makers are required to define island conservation priorities that accounts for sea level rise following climate change."comments the lead author Dr. C. Bellard.

Journal Reference:
Celine Bellard, Camille Leclerc, Franck Courchamp. Potential impact of sea level rise on French islands worldwide. Nature Conservation, 2013; 5: 75 DOI: 10.3897/natureconservation.5.5533

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