Best of our wild blogs: 14 Apr 14

Night Walk At Venus Drive (11 Apr 2014)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

White-breasted Waterhen @ Mandai
from Monday Morgue

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Urbanisation to figure strongly in Sino-Singapore cooperation

Esther Teo The Straits Times AsiaOne 14 Apr 14;

Urbanisation is likely to feature strongly in the next stage of Sino-Singapore cooperation as both grapple with the challenge of building a high-quality environment for its citizens, said Singapore's deputy chief of mission to China Eric Teo.

As both states mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year, they will review "how far we have come and how far we are going forward as partners pursuing mutually beneficial cooperation", said Mr Teo.

"Singapore stands ready to share with our Chinese friends the experiences we have accumulated through our urbanisation efforts since our independence in 1965," he said to about 60 participants at the first Singapore Management University (SMU)-Tsinghua University Global Forum in Beijing yesterday, which was also attended by SMU president Arnoud De Meyer.

This is the second half of the launch of SMU's first international dialogue series. A similar forum took place at Fudan University in Shanghai on Tuesday.

Given that both national and local conditions in China may not be the same as Singapore's, some adaptation is necessary, Mr Teo noted.

Already, joint projects like the Guangzhou Knowledge City in southern Guangdong province and the Sichuan Hi-Tech Innovation Park in south-western Chengdu city have allowed Singapore to share its experiences in areas like master planning, water and waste management and logistics, he said.

Dr Liu Thai Ker, chair of the Centre for Liveable Cities in Singapore, also weighed in at the one-day forum yesterday, citing the similarities and differences between both countries and how this might affect urban planning.

Both societies, for instance, have strong government involvement, with land mostly owned by the state. But Singapore, unlike China, is essentially urban, with a single-tier government.

"It is important for the professionals and politicians to have good dialogue to understand each other," he said. "Infrastructure design is also vital at every stage of urban planning."

Tsinghua's social sciences school dean Li Qiang told The Straits Times that China's larger cities like Beijing can also take a leaf out of Singapore's books.

The role of the private sector is stronger in Singapore and that could be why it has developed differently and with more order compared with China, despite the governments of both countries having large influence, he added. This is because letting the market play a decisive role in allocating resources - which Beijing recently committed to - raises efficiency.

"We jointly organised this forum on urbanisation due to similarities in the way our government is run. Singapore is an interesting model and we hope to learn from it in areas like housing as well," Professor Li said.

His counterpart at SMU, Professor James Tang, said that the forum is also part of a larger goal of raising SMU's profile in China as a research university in the broad field of social sciences.

"We want to contribute to the Singapore-China collaboration in business, government and civic society by nurturing China-ready and bicultural graduates who are able to function effectively in the business and financial environment in China," said Prof Tang.

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Fort Canning tour launches series of maritime trails

David Ee The Straits Times AsiaOne 14 Apr 14;

It was a literal blast from the past at Fort Canning Park last night as its lighthouse lit up for the first time in more than half a century.

In turn, it gave a warm glow to the launch of Singapore's first maritime trails, developed by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).

The lighthouse is a replica of the 36m-tall beacon that guided vessels in and out of Singapore waters in the early 20th century. The original was closed in 1958, when new buildings blocked it from ships' view. It was later torn down.

The new lighthouse will remain lit every night and is the starting point of a series of free guided tours, starting today.

MPA's chief executive Andrew Tan hopes the tours will "revive interest in Singapore's rich maritime heritage" and excite the young to seek a career in the sector.

"There are many good career opportunities in this industry," said MPA chairman Lucien Wong, adding that efforts to attract local talent will be intensified.

The maritime sector contributes about 7 per cent to the nation's GDP. Of its 170,000 workers, Singaporeans make up fewer than half, or 76,000.

The first guided tour focuses on history and takes people on foot and by coach from Fort Canning to the Singapore River before skirting by today's modern terminal port at Tanjong Pagar.

It is a reminder that Singapore's sea-faring history began centuries ago when it was already a thriving trading harbour in the 14th century, not a sleepy fishing village, according to some myths.

And did you know that when the Old Supreme Court was being built in the 1930s, architects ensured it did not obstruct ships' view of the Fort Canning Lighthouse?

Today, the nation's port is one of the busiest in the world, with about 130,000 ships calling every year.

Other tours in the series may include the modern terminal port.

Tours are held every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday till the end of the month. After that, they will run every first Saturday of the month till December.

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Johor MPs back new Malaysia-Singapore bridge plan

BEN TAN AND RIZALMAN HAMMIM New Straits Times 14 Apr 14;

BREAK WITH THE PAST: It can herald new era of warmer ties between Malaysia and Singapore, they say

JOHOR BARU: THE proposed Friendship Bridge between Malaysia and Singapore will hopefully put an end to past ill-feelings.

Johoreans and Singaporeans welcomed the plan to build a third bridge as it would strengthen ties between the two countries.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak proposed the Friendship Bridge at a press conference with his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong after the two-day annual Malaysia-Singapore Leaders' Retreat in Putrajaya last week.

Community leaders said the bridge would improve road connectivity and serve as a symbol of growing friendship between the two nations.

Veteran politician and Johor Baru member of parliament Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad said any project undertaken jointly by Malaysia and Singapore would be welcomed by Johor Baru residents.

"This joint commitment can herald a new era after the bitterness and suspicion caused by the debate over a new bridge to replace the Causeway nearly a decade ago."

Shahrir, who is also a member of the Iskandar Regional Development Authority board of advisers, said a unilateral Malaysian decision in the past to build that bridge could now be a joint project by both countries.

"I sincerely hope that the Friendship Bridge is really to replace the Causeway."

Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed shared Shahrir's sentiments, saying the proposed bridge would be a start to better things between the two countries.

"Johoreans must begin to look ahead. The past may have created some ill-feelings between the people of both countries but, now, there is an opportunity for both nations to forge ahead."

Nur Jazlan said Johoreans and Singaporeans had to look at the opportunities that south Johor's Iskandar Malaysia had in terms of economic growth for both sides.

He said the proposed third bridge, depending on its location, would boost the economies of the two countries.

There are two land links between Johor and Singapore, the Causeway here and the Second Link in Gelang Patah. It is not known if the proposed bridge will replace the Causeway or will be built in the state capital.

The Causeway and Second Link are heavily utilised because of the massive development in Iskandar Malaysia, where Singapore's Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd is also involved.

More than 200,000 cars from Singapore enter Johor Baru daily via the Causeway and Second Link.

The figure is higher on weekends and the two entry points find it difficult to cope with the increasing traffic volume.

Read more: Johor MPs back new bridge plan - General - New Straits Times

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Malaysia: Dugong carcass found off Sabah resort

The Star 14 Apr 14;

Sad end: The carcass of the dugong spotted in waters off Pulau Mantanani in Sabah.

KOTA KINABALU: The recent discovery of a decomposing carcass has raised questions about the fate of a rare marine mammal believed to be found only at an island off Sabah’s northern Kota Belud district.

The body of an adult 1.5m-long dugong was found by staff and guests of a resort at Pulau Mantanani at about 3pm last Friday.

Bembaran Beach Resort owner Zamzani Pandikar Amin said the dugong could be one of the 12 to 15 mammals that were found grazing on sea grass at the shallow reefs around the island.

“Sighting these animals is becoming rare compared to 10 years ago. This is a big loss of these unique creatures,” he said, adding that, as far as he knew, Mantanani was the only known grazing ground for dugongs in Malaysia.

“It’s sad that the island is the only sanctuary for these special animals.”

He said the dead dugong was rotting when it was found, indicating that it had died several days ago.

Zamzani said as there were no obvious external injuries on the carcass, it could have died from internal wounds.

He said among the possible causes was fish bombing which was still prevalent around the island.

“It could have been that someone had tossed in an explosive into the water and this creature happened to be nearby,” Zamzani added.

He said this was the first sighting of a whole dugong carcass at sea, adding that dismembered parts of such an animal had been found washed ashore several years ago.

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Malaysia: WWF to refloat Malacca turtle sanctuary plan

KELLY KOH The Star 14 Apr 14;

CONSERVATION: Proposal to gazette stretches of beach as hawksbill turtle nesting sites first mooted in 2012

MALACCA: WILL parts of the coast along the Straits of Malacca be gazetted as a turtle sanctuary?

The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), via the Malacca Fisheries Department, is planning to resend the proposal to the state government.

WWF team leader Lau Min Min said the idea to gazette certain stretches of beaches in the state, was first mooted in 2012. The idea is being revisited as efforts were being made to secure these beaches as nesting habitats for hawksbill sea turtles.

Pulau Upeh is the largest hawksbill turtle nesting ground in Peninsular Malaysia, and the second largest in the country after the Sabah Turtle Island.

Lau said half of the country's population of hawksbill turtles nested in Malacca, and there was a need to gazette certain beaches.

"Despite Pulau Upeh having the largest population of hawksbill turtles in Peninsular Malaysia and second largest in Malaysia after Sabah Turtle Island, none of the beaches (on the island) have been gazetted as a sanctuary.

"There is a conflict of interest in terms of beach use between tourists, anglers and conservationists.

"Human activities are carried out at night, which make it difficult for turtles, that prefer dark spaces to lay their eggs."

Lau said this could be solved with discussions on ways to strike a balance between human activity and conservation.

Besides Pulau Upeh, other locations identified as hawksbill landing spots are the beach between Tanjung Bidara and Kuala Linggi, Padang Kemunting, Kem Terendak, Parit Batu, Pasir Gembur, Tanjung Serai, Meriam Patah, and Tanjung Dahan.

Lau said tourism could be spurred with the existence of wildlife sanctuaries if the authorities sat down with stakeholders.

"For instance, we could allow tourist activities to be carried out only until 6pm, and after that time, the beaches should be cleared for the comfort of turtles.

"Tourists can watch turtles in secluded areas.

"It could be a win-win scenario for both parties."

Lau said in the case of Padang Kemunting, there was no buffer area between the beach and coastal developments as chalets, restaurants and recreational parks were built close to turtles nesting sites.

In November 2012, WWF through the Malacca Fisheries Department had appealed to the state government to gazette the beaches as sanctuaries to help in the conservation of hawksbill turles.

However, the state government did not reply to the appeal.

"We are exploring new ways to reach out to the state government and we are also open to collaborating with them to help in the conservation of the hawksbill turtle," said Lau.

"It is of utmost importance as the population of hawksbill turtles in Malacca is half of the country's. We hope the state government can look into this and approve our proposal as soon as possible."

This year, the Fisheries Department has recorded 59 nests and collected 8,725 hawksbill eggs. The figure is expected to increase during the peak nesting season, between April and September.

Read more: WWF to refloat Malacca turtle sanctuary plan - General - New Straits Times

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Banned Japanese whalers expect Southern Ocean hunt to resume

The Institute of Cetacean Research has indicated that whaling could resume despite the International Court of Justice ruling
Australian Associated Press 12 Apr 14;

Japan expects that its whaling program in the Southern Ocean will resume next year, court documents indicate.

The International Court of Justice last month ruled the program invalid, finding that it was a commercial activity disguised as scientific research.

Japanese leaders have said the country plans to abide by the ruling, but the Institute of Cetacean Research has indicated that whaling could resume in a different format.

In a memorandum lodged in a US lawsuit against the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, the institute says whaling permits would not be issued for the 2014-15 season because of the ICJ decision, but they could be issued in the following summer.

"Plaintiffs expect that they will be conducting a Southern Ocean research program for subsequent seasons that would be in accord with the ICJ decision," the memorandum says.

Australian Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the federal government needed to take action to ensure the ICJ decision was enforced.

"The prime minister needs to immediately issue a public statement that he will not accept a return to Southern Ocean whaling and will pursue all legal avenues to prevent it happening," he said on Saturday.

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El Nino more than 50 percent likely by summer: U.S. weather forecaster

Josephine Mason PlanetArk 11 Apr 14;

The chances have increased over the past month that the much-feared El Nino phenomenon, which has the potential to wreak havoc on global crops, would strike by summer in the Northern Hemisphere, the federal U.S. weather forecaster said Thursday.

In its monthly report, the Climate Prediction Center, an agency of the National Weather Service, pegged the likelihood at more than 50 percent.

In March, it said there was about a 50 percent chance of the weather pattern that causes floods and droughts across the world during the summer or autumn.

On Tuesday, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology pegged the chances of El Nino in 2014 at more than 70 percent.

El Nino - a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific - affects wind patterns and can trigger both floods and drought in different parts of the globe, curbing food supply.

(Reporting by Josephine Mason; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Bernadette Baum)

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Cities bear the brunt of air pollution – they can also solve it

Making our cities cleaner is not a technical issue, it's a political one. And from Bristol to Bogota, there are examples of mayors making it happen
Leo Hollis 11 Apr 14;

Last week smog became the latest immigrant scare: particles from the Sahara and industrial pollution from mainland Europe became the predominant blight damaging life in the capital. So drastic was the level 9 air quality reading from the Met Office, that David Cameron forewent his morning run to do more work instead, claiming that this was a "naturally occurring weather phenomenon". Meanwhile, Nick Clegg was quick to add that "obviously, we can't blame the government".

While the areas worst hit by the smog appeared to be East Anglia and the Midlands, weather maps of central London showed that it was in the most congested urban areas that the worse affects could be measured. In response, agencies, health organisations and politicians warned people to be careful when going outside and to avoid strenuous activity. At the same time, foreboding statistics circulated stating that in the UK 300,000 deaths in the past decade were as a result of air pollution, as well as today's disconcerting news that in the London borough of Kensington, one in 12 deaths are caused by respiratory problems.

The lack of any adequate response is not just a government failing, but a general political one: the result of the inability from all major parties to get to grips with a comprehensive, sustainable urban policy. For while the city may be the location of the problem, it is also the only solution.

Despite the fug, cities are the greenest possible way to live together and perhaps the only way we can future-proof ourselves against the disasters of climate change. By living close together, sharing resources and reducing our energy usage we can minimise our footprint. In his book, Green Metropolis, David Owen shows that despite New York accounting for 2% of the total American population, it only emits 1% of the US greenhouse gases. A recent study by the British physicist Geoffrey West shows that, when a city doubles in size, it becomes more efficient, increasing its carbon footprint only by 85%.

How we build and move around has a huge impact on the quality of life. Housing and transport currently account for 40% of all carbon emissions in the city: much news has been made by cities such as Masdar, designed by Norman Foster on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi and which promises to be carbon-neutral. Similar schemes, such as Tianjin Eco city in China, are so confident in their design, the latest green architecture and infrastructure, that "the residents will not be expected to make any particular effort to be green".

It is more difficult to retrofit our existing cities to the same standards. Technological innovation is not enough to make that change. For example, Bristol's air quality issues are the result of the postwar road-planning schemes that run through the centre of the city. Mayor George Ferguson has campaigned hard to get the city named as the 2015 European Green Capital, promising a varied programme of improvements that are more than just upgrades to the metropolitan fabric. It is as much a question of changing the life between buildings as it is the buildings themselves.

We have to change our behaviour in order to become more sustainable. Initiatives from city hall as well as from the community need to actively engage with each other to make a real difference. The emergency demands action with, rather than to or for, the city. This is a different type of politics that many in city hall see as an obstacle.

The most obvious challenge here is getting people out of their cars. Last month the authorities in Paris responded to high pollution levels by banning cars with even numbered number plates. At the same time, public transport was made free of charge for three days. Although the results were obviously disputed by opposition politicians and the car lobby, the ban had an instant effect on air quality. But how do we get people to voluntarily leave their cars at home in the long term?

In 1998, Enrique Peñalosa was elected mayor of Bogota in Colombia and started a series of polices that addressed both public transit and social inequality. That year, private cars occupied 64% of all road space but were used by only 19% of the population. As a result, Peñalosa pedestrianised large sections of the city, banned parking on pavements, raised the tax on petrol, and forced commuters to leave their cars at home at least two days a week. One Thursday every year was declared a car-free day. He also revolutionised the bus system so that people would want to leave their cars at home rather that sit in traffic. As he noted: "Urban transport is a political and not a technical issue. The technical aspects are very simple. The difficult decisions relate to who is going to benefit."

Politicians might blame the weather, but they must surely stand accused of ignoring the rising frustration that results from their complacency.

The real question, therefore, is: who has the will to change the city, rather than just the means? It requires a political will, and a concerted effort to engage with citizens to show that changing our behaviour is not just good for the environment but for all of us. Rather than Boris Johnson's unconvincing platitudes that one day London's air would be "as sweet as the Alps", we should listen more to the straight-thinking Ferguson, who notes "this mustn't be just about the centre of the city or the white middle class. In a city that is extremely diverse, it has to engage with all communities."

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At-risk cities hold solutions to climate change: UN report

Smart choices by cities such as Miami in planning and investment could hold key to cutting emissions, IPCC draft says
Suzanne Goldenberg 11 Apr 14;

It is already taking shape as the 21st century urban nightmare: a big storm hits a city like Shanghai, Mumbai, Miami or New York, knocking out power supply and waste treatment plants, washing out entire neighbourhoods and marooning the survivors in a toxic and foul-smelling swamp.

Now the world's leading scientists are suggesting that those same cities in harm's way could help drive solutions to climate change.

A draft report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), obtained by the Guardian, says smart choices in urban planning and investment in public transport could help significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions, especially in developing countries.

The draft is due for release in Berlin on Sunday, the third and final instalment of the IPCC's authoritative report on climate change.

"The next two decades present a window of opportunity for urban mitigation as most of the world's urban areas and their infrastructure have yet to be constructed," the draft said.

Around 1 billion people live in cities and coastal areas at risk of sea-level rise and coastal flooding – and those figures are expected to rise in the coming decades.

Most of the high-risk areas are in Asia, but the US east coast, where the rate of sea level rise is three or four times faster than the global average, is also a "hotspot", with cities, beaches and wetlands exposed to flooding.

But those at-risk cities also produce a large and growing share of emissions that cause climate change – which makes them central to its solution.

"They are at the frontlines of this issue," said Seth Schultz, research director for the C40 group of mega-cities taking action on climate change. "And on the whole cities have extraordinarily strong power to deliver on these things."

Even in America, where Republican governors and members of Congress deny the existence or have rolled back action on climate change, cities are moving ahead.

South-east Florida faces a triple threat – flat, built on porous rock, and in line for high sea-level rise. Planners in four south-eastern counties are preparing for 24 inches of sea-level rise by 2060 – which could put a large area around Miami underwater.

Beaches and barrier islands are already starting to disappear. Miami and other towns flood during heavy rain storms and full-moon high tides, and saltwater is already seeping into the network of canals in the Everglades.

"Sometimes it is tempting to think those impacts just occur in small coastal areas, but they are more extensive than that," said Jennifer Jurado, director of natural resources for Broward county.

Her nightmare scenario in a future of rising sea level would be flooding from both directions – the coast and inland – with saltwater contaminating groundwater reserves, and saturating farmland.

Jurado and officials in three other south-eastern counties of Florida have teamed up on a plan to cut emissions and protect populations from future sea-level rise.

Officials started with computer modelling to draw up details plans of what Florida would look like under future sea-level rise.

Broward county is now restricting development in areas at risk of two feet of sea-level rise. Water districts in Sweetwater and other towns south of Miami are installing pumps at $70m each to divert storm run off water and pump it back into the ocean.

And while Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, has put climate change efforts on hold, Broward county last month committed to getting 20% of electricity for county from renewable sources and increasing energy efficiency by 20%. Homeowners are being offered rebates on their property taxes to install solar panels.

The county has also pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.

Across the country in another Republican-controlled state, Salt Lake City in Utah has also been dealing with climate change.

Salt Lake City, which is at risk of running out of water because of climate change, set ambitious targets to cut emissions, and was the first city in America to commit to offsetting emissions from official travel.

Meanwhile, Utah's state legislature this month passed bills offering new financial incentives for solar panels and plug-in vehicles. The bills also require Utah to convert 50% of state transport vehicles to alternative fuels or plug-ins by 2018.

Such initiatives are becoming more common across America as city officials take future climate change into account for planning, zoning and land use, said Christina DeConcini, director of government affairs for the World Resources Institute.

"I think there is a growing focus on climate change," she said. "A lot of cities have sustainability departments and people focusing on it, and more and more of the work they are doing is focused on climate and climate impacts."

The reason, she said, was transparent. "Cities that are more at risk are definitely paying more attention."

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IPCC climate change report: averting catastrophe is eminently affordable

Landmark UN analysis concludes global roll-out of clean energy would shave only a tiny fraction off economic growth
Damian Carrington The Guardian 13 Apr 14;

Catastrophic climate change can be averted without sacrificing living standards according to a UN report, which concludes that the transformation required to a world of clean energy is eminently affordable.
“It doesn’t cost the world to save the planet,” said economist Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, who led the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) team.

The cheapest and least risky route to dealing with global warming is to abandon all dirty fossil fuels in coming decades, the report found. Gas – including that from the global fracking boom – could be important during the transition, Edenhofer said, but only if it replaced coal burning.

The authoritative report, produced by 1,250 international experts and approved by 194 governments, dismisses fears that slashing carbon emissions would wreck the world economy. It is the final part of a trilogy that has already shown that climate change is “unequivocally” caused by humans and that, unchecked, it poses a grave threat to people and could lead to wars and mass migration.

Diverting hundred of billions of dollars from fossil fuels into renewable energy and cutting energy waste would shave just 0.06% off expected annual economic growth rates of 1.3%-3%, the IPCC report concluded.

“The report is clear: the more you wait, the more it will cost [and] the more difficult it will become,” said EU commissioner Connie Hedegaard. The US secretary of state, John Kerry, said: “This report is a wake-up call about global economic opportunity we can seize today as we lead on climate change.”

The UK’s energy and climate secretary, Ed Davey, said: “The [report shows] the tools we need to tackle climate change are available, but international efforts need to significantly increase.”

The IPCC economic analysis did not include the benefits of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which could outweigh the costs. The benefits include reducing air pollution, which plagues China and recently hit the UK, and improved energy security, which is currently at risk in eastern Europe due to the actions of Russia – a large producer of gas – in Ukraine.

The new IPCC report warns that carbon emissions have soared in the last decade and are now growing at almost double the previous rate. But its comprehensive ­analysis found rapid action can still limit global warming to 2C, the internationally agreed safe limit, if low-carbon energy triples or quadruples by 2050.

“It is actually affordable to do it and people are not going to have to sacrifice their aspirations about improved standards of living,” said Professor Jim Skea, an energy expert at Imperial College London and co-chair of the IPCC report team. “It is not a hair shirt change of lifestyle at all that is being envisaged and there is space for poorer countries to develop too,” Skea told the Guardian.

Nonetheless, to avoid the worst impacts of climate change at the lowest cost, the report envisages an energy revolution ending centuries of dominance by fossil fuels – which will require significant political and commercial change. On Thursday, Archbishop Desmond Tutu called for an anti-apartheid style campaign against ­fossil fuel companies, which he blames for the “injustice” of climate change.

Friends of the Earth’s executive director, Andy Atkins, said: “Rich nations must take the lead by rapidly weaning themselves off coal, gas and oil and funding low-carbon growth in poorer countries.”

Along with measures that cut energy waste, renewable energy – such as wind, hydropower and solar – is viewed most favourably by the report as a result of its falling costs and large-scale deployment in recent years.

The report includes nuclear power as a mature low-carbon option, but cautions that it has declined globally since 1993 and faces safety, financial and waste-management concerns. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) – trapping the CO2 from coal or gas burning and then burying it – is also included, but the report notes it is an untested technology on a large scale and may be expensive.

Biofuels, used in cars or power stations, could play a “critical role” in cutting emissions, the IPCC found, but it said the negative effects of some biofuels on food prices and wildlife remained unresolved.

The report found that current emission-cutting pledges by the world’s nations make it more likely than not that the 2C limit will be broken and it warns that delaying action any further will increase the costs.

Delay could also force extreme measures to be taken including sucking CO2 out of the air.

This might be done by generating energy by burning plants and trees, which had absorbed carbon from the atmosphere, and then using CCS to bury the emissions. But the IPCC warned such warned such carbon removal technologies may never be developed and could bring new risks.

“This is a very responsible report,” said Professor Andrew Watson, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Exeter who was not part of the IPCC team. He said there were economic and social risks in transforming the energy system to cut carbon. “However, there are even bigger risks if we do nothing and rely exclusively on being able to ride out climate change and adapt to it.”

Environmental campaign groups, which have previously criticised the IPCC for being too conservative, welcomed the new report. WWF’s Samantha Smith said: “The IPCC report makes clear that acting on emissions now is affordable, but delaying further increases the costs. It is a super strong signal to [fossil fuel] investors: they can no longer say they did not know the risks.”

Kaisa Kosonen, at Greenpeace International, said: “Renewable energy is unstoppable. It’s becoming bigger, better and cheaper every day. Dirty energy industries are sure to put up a fight but it’s only a question of time before public pressure and economics dictate that they either change or go out of business.”

World must end 'dirty' fuel use - UN
Matt McGrath BBC News 13 Apr 14;

A long-awaited UN report on how to curb climate change says the world must rapidly move away from carbon-intensive fuels.

There must be a "massive shift" to renewable energy, says the study released in Berlin.

It has been finalised after a week of negotiations between scientists and government officials.

Natural gas is seen as a key bridge to move energy production away from oil and coal.

But there have been battles between participants over who will pay for this energy transition.

The report is the work of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was set up to provide a clear scientific view on climate change and its impacts.

The Summary for Policymakers on mitigation paints a picture of a world with carbon emissions rising rapidly.

"The high speed mitigation train needs to leave the station very soon, and all of global society will have to get on board," the IPCC's chair Rajendra Pachauri told journalists in Berlin at the launch of the report.

Dr Youba Sokono, a co-chair of the IPCC's working group 3, which drew up the report, said science has spoken.

He added that policy makers were "the navigators, they have to make decisions, scientists are the map makers".

The UK's Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said global warming needed to be tackled using "all technologies". He told BBC News: "We can do this, we have to because it's so challenging and threatening to our economies and societies, our health, our food security. The report today shows we can do it if we have the political will."

He added that the UK government was a leader on the use of renewable energy sources, saying: "We've, for example, doubled the amount of renewable electricity in the last few years. We're likely to do better than our targets in increasing renewable electricity. But we've got to do more."

About half of all the carbon that humans have pumped into the atmosphere since 1750 has been emitted in the last 40 years.

Rates have been rising fast since 2000, despite the global economic crash.
Continue reading the main story
Adam Fleming BBC News Political Correspondent

The Energy Secretary Ed Davey reckons the government doesn't get the credit it deserves for delivering an ambitious green agenda: Investing in renewables, co-operating internationally to cut carbon and building lots of wind farms.

The problem is that there are a few things that a sizeable chunk of Tory backbenchers simply cannot stomach, namely: Subsidies, Europe and - err - building lots of wind farms.

Maybe that's why the Chancellor has come up with a formula which he hopes will satisfy both sides - that Britain can go green but it has to be done as cheaply as possible.

And what about David Cameron? The PM is famously alleged to have said he wanted to "cut the green crap" but that has always been strenuously denied by Downing Street, and he made a passionate plea to tackle climate change during a session of Prime Minister's Questions earlier this year.

The report points to an increased use of coal in the decade from the turn of the millennium , "reversing the longstanding trend of decarbonisation of the world's energy supply".

Driven by a global increase in population and economic activity, global surface temperature increases will be between 3.7C and 4.8C in 2100 if no new action is taken.

This is way above the 2 degree level, regarded as the point beyond which dangerous impacts of climate change will be felt.

However, the scientists involved in the report say this situation can be turned around.

"It needs a big change in the energy sector, that is undoubtedly true," said Prof Jim Skea, vice-chair of working group 3.

"One of the biggest areas that's important is getting the carbon out of electricity, so renewable energy, nuclear, fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage, that's all part of the menu if we are going to make the transition to stay under the 2 degree target."

It is not a simple task. To be sure of staying below 2 degrees, the amount of carbon in the air needs to be around 450 parts per million by 2100. To get there, emissions in 2050 need to be 40-70% lower than they were in 2010.

The IPCC says that renewables are a critical part of that pathway.

Since the last report in 2007, the scientists say that renewable energy has come on in leaps and bounds.

In 2012, renewables accounted for just over half of the new electricity generation added around the world.

The scientists stress that renewables are becoming economically competitive with fossil fuels and also offer a range of other benefits, including clean air and energy security.

"It certainly is the end for carbon intensive fuels that's for sure," said Jennifer Morgan from the World Resources Institute, who was a review editor on one of the chapters of the IPCC report.

"There needs to be a massive shift away from fossil fuels and investment needs to shift to going 100% clean as fast as possible."

Prof Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of working group 3, said: "Mitigation does not mean the world has to sacrifice economic growth."

He explained that the report added "modest hope", but added: "Climate policy is not a free lunch."

One of the surprising endorsements in the report is natural gas.

"Emissions from energy supply can be reduced significantly by replacing current world average coal-fired power plants with modern, highly efficient natural gas combined-cycle power plants," says the summary.

The report describes natural gas as a "bridge" technology with deployment increasing before peaking and falling below current levels by 2050.

However many of the scenarios examined by the panel would still involve an "overshoot" of the target range.

To cope with this the world may need to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Combining carbon capture and storage with bioenergy is seen as one potential solution, but the report is lukewarm on these ideas, saying the "methods are uncertain" and are "associated with risks".

Timing is everything, say the scientists.

"Delaying mitigation efforts beyond those in place today through 2030 is estimated to substantially increase the difficulty of the transition to low longer-term emissions," says the summary.

"If we delay we are faced with hard choices," said Prof Skea.

"Do we give up on the 2 degrees target or do we employ these techniques that suck CO2 out of the atmosphere - if we proceed promptly and we get a deal in Paris next year, then we need to rely less on these ideas."

The report points out that there needs to be huge shifts in investment if the worst impacts of rising temperatures are to be avoided. Investment in renewables and other low carbon sources needs to at least treble by the middle of the century, while money flowing into fossil fuels has to diminish.

But differences have emerged over who should make the cuts in emissions and who should pay for the switch to low carbon energy sources. Developed and developing countries have clashed here in Berlin, echoing divisions found in the UN negotiations.

"It is true that some of the dynamics that we see in the UNFCCC negotiations were visible here as well," said Kaisa Kosenen from Greenpeace.

"It is an indication that the key question of equity - who should do what and who should pay for the damages already caused."

Other participants believed that this new report could actually help push the UN process forward.

"I hope that this information from the IPCC can kind of do a bit of a tectonic shift into a co-operating mode rather than a finger pointing mode between countries," said Jennifer Morgan.

"There's too much at stake."

IPCC report: world must urgently switch to clean sources of energy
UN panel's third report explains how global dependence on fossil fuels must end in order to avoid catastrophic climate change
Damian Carrington The Guardian 12 Apr 14;

Clean energy will have to at least treble in output and dominate world energy supplies by 2050 in order to avoid catastrophic climate change, a UN report is set to conclude on Sunday.

The report produced by hundreds of experts and backed by almost 200 world governments, will detail the dramatic transformation required of the entire globe's power system, including ending centuries of coal, oil and gas supremacy.

Currently fossil fuels provide more than 80% of all energy but the urgent need to cut planet-warming carbon emissions means this must fall to as little as a third of present levels in coming decades, according to a leaked draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report seen by the Guardian.

There is heavy emphasis on renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, and cutting energy waste, which together need hundreds of billions of dollars of investment a year.

But despite the scale of the challenge, the draft report is upbeat: "Since [2007], many renewable energy technologies have substantially advanced in terms of performance and cost and a growing number have achieved technical and economic maturity, making renewable energy a fast growing category in energy supply," the report says.

It also highlights that the benefits of clean energy, particularly in reducing deadly air pollution and providing secure energy supplies, "outweigh the adverse side effects". The IPCC report is the last part of a trilogy compiled by thousands of the world's most eminent scientists which gives the most definitive account of climate change to date.

The first report, released in September, showed climate change was "unequivocally" caused by human activity and prompted Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, to say: "The heat is on. Now we must act."

The second, published in March, warned that the impact of global warming, from extreme weather to reduced food production, posed a grave threat to humanity and could lead to wars and mass migration. The International Energy Agency said the IPCC's work showed "the urgent need of enabling a global transition to clean energy systems".

The report will address how to avert the worst dangers by cutting carbon emissions, which have been rising despite the global recession of 2007-08.

Nuclear power is cited among the low-carbon energy sources needed, but the draft report warns it "has been declining since 1993" and faces concerns about "safety, nuclear weapon proliferation risks, waste management security as well as financial and regulatory risks".

Another way to produce low-carbon energy is to burn fossil fuels but capture and bury the carbon emissions.

The IPCC experts note that, unlike renewable energy, this technology "has not yet been applied at a large, commercial scale".

The draft report concludes that increasing carbon emissions are due to rising coal use, along with increasing demand for energy from the world's growing population. But it notes that policies implemented to cut carbon emissions will also cut the value of fossil fuel reserves, particularly for coal. It also says increased use of gas could cut emissions in the "short term", if it replaces coal.

China's vast coal burning represents a huge challenge but a new analysis from Greenpeace, published on Friday, suggests it may have reached a turning point. "The range of coal caps and anti-smog measures put in place by the Chinese authorities could see the country cut its carbon emissions by more than twice the UK's annual footprint by 2020, making it possible for global carbon levels to peak before climate change spirals out of control," said Li Shuo, Greenpeace East Asia's climate and energy campaigner.

On Thursday, Nobel peace prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu called in the Guardian for an anti-apartheid-style campaign against fossil fuel companies. "It is clear that [the companies] are not simply going to give up; they stand to make too much money," he wrote.

Over half a trillion dollars a year are spent subsidising fossil fuels – six times more than spent supporting renewable energy – and US president Barack Obama and other leaders have pledged to phase these out. The draft IPCC report states this could be done without harming the poor: "Many countries have reformed their tax and budget systems to reduce fuel subsidies, that actually accrue to the relatively wealthy, and used other mechanisms that are more targeted to the poor."

The draft report runs counter to some of the UK's key energy policies. It states that decarbonising electricity is key to cost-effective cuts in emissions, but the coalition government voted down a plan to do this by 2030. The report also warns that building high-carbon energy infrastructure developments will lock societies into high emissions and may be "difficult or very costly to change", but UK ministers are strongly pushing shale gas exploration. The UK's carbon plan includes significant burning of biofuels and biomass (usually wood), which is supposed to be carbon neutral. But the IPCC report says scientific debate about whether biofuels cut emissions "remains unresolved" and that without policy safeguards "large scale bioenergy deployment could increase emissions".

Friends of the Earth's executive director, Andy Atkins, said: "We can only avoid catastrophic climate change if we reduce our dependency on fossil fuels – we're already on track for four degrees warming, which will be impossible for human society to adapt to. We have the technology to prevent dangerous climate change. What we lack is the political will of our leaders to strongly champion renewable power and energy efficiency."

Li said: "We stand at a fork in road. One way leads to more dependence on dwindling fossil fuels that are wrecking our climate and damaging our health; the other to a world powered by a booming clean energy sector that is already driving growth and creating jobs. The sooner we act, the cheaper it will be."

Shift to green energy will be tiny brake on growth: U.N.
Alister Doyle PlanetArk 14 Apr 14;

Many governments had complained that an earlier draft was not clear in its estimate of the costs of low-carbon energy, which include solar or wind, nuclear and fossil fuels whose greenhouse gas emissions are captured and buried underground.

The new draft, which is being edited by government officials and scientists in Berlin before publication on Sunday, indicates that world economic losses would be small compared to projected costs of heatwaves, floods, storms and rising sea levels.

The study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a main guide for governments working on a U.N. pact due to be agreed in Paris at the end of 2015 to slow global warming, which the IPCC says is extremely likely to be man-made.

The new text, obtained by Reuters, says that tough action to cut rising greenhouse gas emissions would slow rising world consumption of goods and services by 0.06 percentage point per year in this century, in a range of 0.04 to 0.14.

Economists say the changes in consumption measured by the IPCC are almost identical to changes in the more common yardstick of gross domestic product (GDP). Consumption excludes investments included in GDP.

The earlier draft said consumption losses could be up to 12 percent by 2100 but omitted to clarify that the number is the cumulative result of a small brake every year over a century, rather than a hint of economic slump in 2100.

The new draft also adds context that losses are tiny compared to soaring wealth - consumption is set to rise by anywhere from 300 to 900 percent this century, it says.

Several nations said the losses of 12 percent by 2100 cited in the earlier draft sounded alarming and wanted further clarification.

Britain had said the number "could easily be taken out of context by those opposed to climate action", referring to those who are not convinced that climate change is a man-made problem requiring an urgent fix.

The IPCC draft says trillion-dollar shifts in investments are needed to make low-carbon energies the dominant source of energy by 2050, up from 17 percent now, in a shift from conventional fossil fuels.


The WWF conservation group set up a mock casino outside the Berlin hotel where the IPCC is meeting, urging governments to stop subsidizing fossil fuels and to shift to renewables.

"We can't continue to gamble with the future of the world we depend on," Stefan Singer of the WWF said.

Environmental group Greenpeace said China's rush to develop dirty coal seemed to be coming to an end in a shift that would avert annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of Australia and Poland combined by 2020.

"Over half of world carbon dioxide emission growth in the past decade has been from China's coal," said Li Shuo of Greenpeace. "China's concern about air pollution may have broken that trend."

Greenpeace projected that curbs adopted by 12 provinces would reduce coal burn by about 350 million metric tons (385. 81 million tons) by 2017 and 655 million tons by 2020, below projected levels.

The IPCC draft does not attempt a formal cost-benefit analysis of action to keep temperatures to any given level.

(Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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