Best of our wild blogs: 1 Jul 15

Plant-Bird Relationship: 1. Introduction
Bird Ecology Study Group

Macro Photography Outings – May 2015
Bugs & Insects of Singapore

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Otters blamed for 'gory' scene on Sentosa

Lim Xuan Zhen MyPaper AsiaOne 1 Jul 15;

THEY are a crowd favourite in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Pasir Ris Park, but not so on the island of Sentosa.

Wild otters have apparently expanded their hunting grounds to ornamental koi ponds on Sentosa and are now targeting multi-million-dollar bungalows and even the garden pond of a hotel. Their hunting spree is believed to have started around late April and lasted about three weeks.

An employee of the hotel, who declined to be named, told My Paper that about 80 of the 200 koi housed in the hotel's pond were preyed on by a pair of otters, resulting in losses of about $20,000. About 55 of the remaining 120 were badly injured and had to be disposed of.

"They're very smart," the employee said of the otters' modus operandi.

"They come out to feed only in the wee hours, when there's nobody around, and go for the stomachs of the more valuable fish."

Based on eyewitness accounts from other staff and closed-circuit television footage, it is believed that the otters entered the hotel via the beach.

My Paper understands that the pair have eluded capture despite attempts to trap them. The hotel released the surviving 65 koi back into the pond on Friday and they have remained safe - so far.

Residents on the other side of Sentosa have similar woes. Sentosa Cove resident Maria Chandra, 51, lost $64,000 worth of koi overnight.

"I was so heartbroken," recalled the housewife in Mandarin. Her maid alerted her to the "gory scene" in her Ocean Drive home one morning in late April. The mutilated remnants of her pet fish floated belly-up in the bloody pool, with some bitten in half. Many were missing their tails, while a few struggled weakly in their death throes.

"I have lived on Sentosa for the past three years without incident, and this event coincided with the otter sightings on Singapore shores. Other koi owners in the area have also suffered from this problem," said Mrs Chandra.

She had received a letter from the Sentosa Cove management before the incident, alerting residents to wild otter sightings in the area. It reassured residents that these animals were not aggressive, but should be avoided nevertheless.

When contacted, the Sentosa Development Corporation confirmed that a letter was sent to Sentosa Cove residents, but declined to comment further.

Meanwhile, Charles Wee, 42, is no stranger to the Sentosa otter problem. The farm manager of Max Koi Farm was first alerted by a frantic call from the Chandras, who had bought their koi from the farm. According to Mr Wee, two other clients in the area have encountered similar problems, with their koi dying or disappearing overnight.

Founder and chief executive of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) Louis Ng, 37, confirmed that the descriptions fit those of smooth-coated otters, which are bigger than the small-clawed oriental otter also found in Singapore.

"The otters are probably preying on the koi as they are easy to catch in the pond," he told My Paper. He advised members of the public against approaching the animals upon sighting them.

Should members of the public see any injured otters, they can call the Acres Wildlife Rescue Hotline on 9783-7782.

Did otters eat koi worth $80,000?
Samantha Boh Straits Times AsiaOne 9 Jul 15;

Otters that are being spotted more often in local bodies of water in recent times may have won over many hearts here with their antics.

However, they may have treated themselves to some very expensive meals - courtesy of a resort and a home in Sentosa. They are suspected of having feasted on ornamental koi, reportedly costing more than $80,000, in April this year.

Mr Ben Bousnina, vice-president of resorts at Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, did not reveal the exact cost of the koi. He said they went missing at the Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa about the time otters were seen on the island.

The resort has relocated the koi from its pond temporarily.

"As the safety of our guests as well as colleagues is our highest priority, we are working closely with Sentosa Development Corporation to ensure that the otters will not be attracted to the resort," he said.


A report in My Paper last week said that the resort lost about $20,000 worth of koi.

It also reported that a Sentosa Cove resident lost about $64,000 worth of the ornamental fish overnight in April .

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) told The Straits Times it has received feedback on only four occasions from people about otters preying on ornamental fish since the start of last year.

Meanwhile, wildlife rescue group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) said it was normal for otters to prey on ornamental fish.

"They can't differentiate wild fish from koi and will go for the easier option," said Acres wildlife manager Kalai Vanan Balakrishnan.

His advice for people with fish ponds in areas with otters about is to either fence the ponds or cover them with wire mesh. They should also not leave leftover food around or feed the otters.

Wild otters are a fairly common sight at the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Pasir Ris Park and the Punggol Waterway, but it was only late last year that they were spotted in Sentosa Cove.

Mr Koh Piak Huat, divisional director of operations at Sentosa Leisure Management, said that while otters are not aggressive, residents are advised to keep their distance.

The semi-aquatic mammals - which can survive in both fresh and sea water - may be expected in some coastal areas.

Hence the island's management is engaging experts to understand the mammals' behaviour.

"We welcome them as part of the island's wildlife," he said, adding that the management will work to ensure the safety of both the otters and guests.

An AVA spokesman said the public should not approach, disturb or feed any wild animals they see. Trapping them is also illegal. The public can contact AVA at 1800-476-1600 to give feedback on wildlife.

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Pulau Ubin residents concerned with firefighting measures following blaze

A fire broke out on Pulau Ubin last week, and some residents are concerned with firefighting capabilities on the island.
Leong Wai Kit Channel NewsAsia 1 Jul 15;

SINGAPORE: Pulau Ubin residents have voiced concerns, following a blaze on the island last week which took three hours to extinguish.

On Wednesday (Jun 24), a fire broke out at a bike trail at around 9.15pm, but firefighters got to the island near midnight. The fire affected an area as big as two football fields. No one was hurt in the incident.

There are more than 30 elderly residents living on the island. They said that on weekends, about 1,000 people visit Pulau Ubin, with some staying overnight at campsites.

“Of course I worry about fires,” said Mr Ong Kim Cheng, a resident. “We'll just try to put them out with water or extinguishers. But if they can't be put out, there's nothing we can do. We'll just have to be careful not to let anything catch fire."

Another resident said they are too old to handle such emergencies, and have to depend on the police, who are on standby 24 hours a day.

The island is also home to Outward Bound Singapore, which organises training camps and other programmes. It conducts fire drills during each of its programmes on top of yearly drills with the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

"I haven't seen any firefighting equipment around on the island before,” said one Pulau Ubin visitor, Mr Clarence Chng.

Mr Jonathan Yap, also a visitor, said: "I don't think anyone is prepared for a fire per se, but if there were really going to be a fire, I would probably just go to a beach."

Sometimes, workers living on Pulau Ubin come to the rescue. For instance, there are contractors that use a vehicle to water plants on the island. They would take water from the quarry to fill up about 5,000 litres in the vehicle’s tank. In times of emergencies - such as Wednesday - workers would bring water to fire sites.

"After dinner, I was in my room,” recount landscape maintenance worker, Mr Sivakumar. “Then I got a call asking for two people to go to the NPCC campsite and to bring our equipment to the fire."

Pulau Ubin residents added that there was another large bush fire last year.

According to the SCDF, for fires on Pulau Ubin, firefighters will be sent from Sengkang or Changi Fire Stations. For Sister's Island or St John's Island, they will be deployed from Marina Bay. If needed, vessels from Brani Marine can also be sent to the islands.

SCDF also said that under existing rules, buildings on Pulau Ubin must have fire alarms, fire extinguishers and hose reels. This also applies to Sisters’ Island and St John’s Island, where overnight stays are permitted. During an emergency, relevant agencies like the police and the National Parks Board will be roped in to help.

- CNA/hs

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Malaysia: Hazy air due to dry spell


KUALA LUMPUR: The hazy conditions experienced in some areas in the country are due to the ongoing dry spell and lack of strong winds, said the Meteorological Department.

Department National Weather Centre senior meteorologist Dr Hisham Mohd Anip said that Malaysians need not worry too much as conditions should improve by Sunday.

“This is not a full blown haze and has nothing to do with forest fires or hot spots from neighbouring countries.

“The reason why you notice that the air isn’t so clean is because we are currently experiencing a stable atmospheric condition,” he said

This essentially means that the air is dry and there are no strong winds to move pollutants in the air.

“Due to this, you have elements such as factory smoke, vehicle smoke, dust and other pollutants clogging up the air,” he said.

Dr Hisham however said that stronger winds are expected to build up by the coming weekend.

“There should be some sort of improvement in the air quality by then.

“In the meantime, it is best to stay indoors to avoid breathing in too much of the unhealthy air,” he said.

On the possibility of a full blown haze hitting the country soon, Dr Hisham said that it was highly unlikely at the moment.

“We may experience haze nearer the end of the year,” he said.

Checks by The Star on the Air Pollutant Index (API) by the Department of Environment (DOE) revealed that most areas in the country were experiencing moderate levels of air pollutants.

As of 3pm yesterday, unhealthy API readings were recorded at Cheras and Batu Muda in Kuala Lumpur. The readings were at 106 and 119 respectively.

When asked on the possibility of rain to clear the air and fill some of the dams which have recorded low water levels, Dr Hisham said that the rains were unlikely to make a significant difference this time.

“We expect some rain but not that much. The wet season will only begin in early September,” he said.

Syarikat Air Bekalan Selangor (Syabas) had previously warned that taps in the Klang Valley may run dry again due to the dry spell in July and August.

Its Corporate Communications and Public Affairs manager Priscilla Alfred said that while most dams in Selangor were above the 70% capacity, this would not guarantee that there will be no disruptions including during the Hari Raya period later this month.

The cause of the shortage was due to increased usage during the hot season and the dry spell itself.

Malaysian’s must brace for hot spell, haze
New Straits Times 1 Jul 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians must brace for hotter days ahead as the country is now experiencing the south west monsoon.

Malaysian Meteorological Department (MMD) director-general Datuk Che Gayah Ismail said the monsoon season will bring about hot and dry weather and the dry spell is forecast to last until September.

“There will be little rain, mostly only early in the morning at the coastal areas, as well as areas south of Selangor,” she told Bernama here, today adding that weather conditions can worsen and lead to haze if there was indiscriminate open burning.

A random observation here today saw weather conditions quite hazy but Che Gayah said it could be because there was no rain over the past few days.

She further said that the condition was not due to the volcanic activities of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra although volcanic ash was moving towards the central of Peninsular Malaysia and its altitude when passing the Peninsular was above 6,000 feet.

According to the latest satellite image on ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (AMSC), there no hotspots were detected in Peninsular Malaysia but two each in Sabah and Sarawak was detected.

A check with the Department of Environment showed that all 52 areas monitored nationwide for air quality today showed good to moderate Air Pollutant Index.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Ashok Philip said the current hot spell can cause dehydration if they sweat and do not drink enough water.

He said this can occur even if they stayed in the shade, but the condition will be severe when people are exposed to direct sunlight.

“As dehydration progresses, the affected person will start to feel weak, dizzy and disoriented or confused, as blood pressure starts to drop and body temperature rises.

“In order to stay cool and avoid heat related problems, drink enough water,” he told Bernama in an email reply today, adding that those who suffered from dehydration should move to a cool place and start sipping water.

“Please remember not to leave anyone unattended in a parked cars with the air-conditioner off and the windows up - temperatures can quickly rise to more than 50 degrees Celsius due to the greenhouse effect,” he said.

Dr Ashok also advised those who are fasting to drink regularly throughout the night and “top up” their fluid intake before starting the fast.

He said although such action may cause a little inconvenient, as it can lead to frequent visits to the toilet, that’s the price of staying cool and healthy. – BERNAMA

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Indonesia: Riau blanketed by haze from land, forest fires

Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post 30 Jun 15;

The light haze currently blanketing Dumai and several other cities in Riau, namely Bengkalis, Pelalawan, Pekanbaru and Rokan Hilir, was caused by land and forest fires both from areas within Riau and from other provinces, according to the head of the Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), Edwar Sanger.

“Land and forest fires have also occurred in Jambi and South Sumatra. Riau is receiving smoke from those two provinces, as winds are currently blowing from south to north,” said Edwar.

A land and forest fire post at Roesmin Nurjadin Airport in Pekanbaru, he said, had continued to extinguish fire spots through land operations and weather modification technology.

“While it is still in the medium category, the air quality in Riau has begun to worsen; therefore, our task force will strive to overcome fires in all areas, to avoid negative impacts on people’s health and activities,” said Edwar.

Based on Terra and Aqua satellite data collected by the Pekanbaru chapter of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), two hot spots were detected in Dumai on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, 15 hot spots were detected in Dumai’s neighboring regency, Bengkalis. Four hot spots were found in Siak while Rokan Hilir and Meranti Islands had three hot spots. One hot spot was found in Meranti Islands.

“In total, 45 hot spots have been detected in Riau, 17 of which are in Pelalawan regency. Three hot spots have been found in Indragiri Hulu,” said BMKG Pekanbaru’s data and information head, Slamet Riyadi.

“Meanwhile, 27 of the 45 hot spots have been indicated as fire spots with a reliability level of more than 70 percent. Pelalawan has 13 fire spots, followed by Bengkalis [11], Dumai [2] and Indragiri Hulu [1],” he said, adding that the high number of fires and hot spots in Riau was due to low rainfall and high temperatures in the province. (ebf)(+++)

Haze disrupts Pinang Kampai Airport’s activities
Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post 30 Jun 15;

Reduced visibility caused by smoke haze currently blanketing Dumai, Riau, has disrupted flight schedules at Pinang Kampai Airport over the last three days.

Airport head Catur Hargowo said the limited visibility, which reached only two kilometers on Tuesday, had forced a Transnusa aircraft departing from Halim Perdanakusumah Airport in Jakarta to delay its landing for up to 30 minutes from its initial schedule of 8:30 a.m.

“It was fortunate that the scheduled departure of the same aircraft at 9:30 a.m. was not disrupted by haze. Limited visibility occurred only in the morning and after 9 a.m., the visibility returned to normal, reaching four kilometers, as the wind dispersed and moved the smoke out of the area,” Catur told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

On Monday, the arrival and departure of a Transnusa flight serving a similar route was also delayed for half an hour due to thick haze. On Sunday, haze delayed departure and arrival schedules of three flights by around 20-30 minutes. They were Transnusa and Pelita Air flights serving the Halim–Dumai–Halim route and Transnusa serving the Dumai–Batam–Dumai route.

“Aircraft pilots will take off and land only if visibility at Pinang Kampai Airport reaches four kilometers. This is the standard operating procedure,” said Catur.

He said aircraft could land at airports in Pekanbaru and other big cities with limited visibility of only around 700 meters due to the airports’ adequate supporting equipment, such as radars and runway lighting.

“Pinang Kampai Airport does not yet have runway lighting which can direct pilots. They can only depend on runway markings and guidance from the control tower when they land or take off. That’s why pilots are more careful and don’t want to take any risks over limited visibility,” said Catur.

He said that so far, haze had not reduced the number of Riau residents traveling via air.

“The occupancy rate of Transnusa, which serves general passengers, is still around 80 percent. Meanwhile, the Pelita Air aircraft was chartered by [state-owned oil and gas company] Pertamina,” said Catur.

He hoped the government could immediately extinguish land fires both in Dumai and neighboring regencies to prevent haze that disrupted airport activities. (ebf) (++++)

Riau authorities extinguish 10 bushfires
Antara 30 Jun 15;

Pekanbaru (ANTARA News) - The fire brigade and disaster mitigation office of Pekanbaru, Riau Province, has extinguished bushfires in at least 10 locations during the period between January and June 2015.

During the six-month period, the office received reports of 78 fire incidents including bushfires, Head of the Pekanbaru fire brigade and disaster mitigation office Burhan Gurning stated here, Tuesday.

"Of the total incidents, 10 were bushfires," he noted.

In the current dry season, wild fires were easily triggered by fires used for trash burning and land clearing activities, according to Gurning.

He has sent reminders to the heads of 12 sub-districts in Pekanbaru regarding the prohibition on using fires to clear land and burn trash during the dry season.

Meanwhile, the Terra and Aqua satellites detected 207 hotspots indicating forest and plantation fires across Sumatra Island on Sunday (June 28).

"Of the 207 hotspots, 70 were detected in Riau Province," Pekanbaru Meteorological, Climatology, And Geophysics Station Head Sugarin stated.

Sugarin pointed out that in Riau, 24 hotspots were found in Pelalawan district, 18 in Rokan Hilir, nine in Bengkalis, six in Indragiri Hilir, five in Dumai, and three in Siak and Indragiri Hulu.

One hotspot each was found in Kuantansingigi, Meranti, and Kampar.

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CIFOR Scientists begin research on Indonesia’s mangrove capacity

Hans David Tampubolon, The Jakarta Post 30 Jun 15;

By having more than 2 million hectares of mangrove wetland area, Indonesia could play a major role in mitigating climate change.

The true potential of Indonesia’s massive mangrove area has never been properly measured and because of this, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), along with the Maritime and Fisheries Research and Development Center at the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, have launched research in several wetland areas within the archipelago.

One of the selected areas for the research is the Pulau Dua wildlife reserve, some 90 kilometers from Jakarta in Serang, the provincial capital of Banten. Located in the northwestern region of the Java coastline, Pulau Dua is also one of the country’s natural mangrove ecosystems that has been facing continuous threats from the growth of residential and industrial areas.

“We want to see two things from this research,” CIFOR principal scientist Daniel Murdiyarso told The Jakarta Post.

“First of all, we want to see the amount of carbon stocked within the Pulau Dua conservation area, which covers only around 250 hectares of wetlands. Secondly, we want to measure the acceleration of sedimentation. By looking at these two things, we can estimate the Pulau Dua conservation’s capacity in stocking carbon and on how it can protect its backyards from sea erosion.

“Eventually, the significance of this research is to estimate the total potential that Indonesia has with its millions of hectares of wetlands just by looking at the final results of the research conducted in this small conservation area.”

Daniel said that the research, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), would take five years to complete.

To begin the research, CIFOR scientists and staff from the ministry had installed a sedimentation and carbon stock measurement tool called the Rod Surface Elevation Table Marker Horizon (RSET-MH) in various places near the Pulau Dua coastline.

To install the tool, the scientists need to insert several 1-meter rods, which are connected together, straight down into the ground.

“You must be sure that the rods are straight because even the slightest deviation would give you the wrong data when you try to measure sedimentation and elevation change,” one of CIFOR’s staff members, Sigit, said when he instructed a number of ministry employees and local guards on how to properly install the tool.

“Accuracy is very important for this research,” he added.

The depth of the rods inserted varies from one area to another. In Papua, according to Daniel, the scientists needed to insert at least 10 meters of connected rods while in Pulau Dua, they only needed 6 meters of them.

“If you can still push the rods downward, then you still need to add more rods, connect them and insert them further down,” Daniel said.

Once the insertion is completed, the scientists then needed to secure a handle on top of the rod. The handle contains nine holes in which measurement sticks would be inserted and these would be used as the instrument to measure elevation changes.

Other than measuring sedimentation and elevation changes, scientists are also tasked to compile data regarding medium-sized and small deadwood debris surrounding the area so that they could also learn about vegetation colonization within the area.

The measurement and data compilation are regularly conducted every six months by a team consisting of between two and four researchers until the research is complete.

“Six months later, when we return to this area and collect our first measurement, we might find that elevation changes only by some millimeters,” Daniel said.

“It might not seem much and some people might think collecting the data is boring because of the minute changes, but it is an important element for us to better understand about carbon stock potential in mangroves,” he added.

Mangroves are considered as one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet despite their ability to protect the world’s coastlines from storm surges, sea level rise and even tsunamis.

According to a report released in 2014 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), mangroves are being destroyed at a rate that is between three and five times greater than the average rates of forest loss.

The report, entitled “The Importance of Mangroves: A Call to Action”, says that the continuous destruction of mangroves has cost billions in economic damages and has denied millions of people the ecosystem services they need to survive.

The report also describes how emissions resulting from mangrove losses make up nearly one-fifth of global emissions from deforestation, resulting in economic damages of between US$6 billion and $42 billion annually.

In addition, mangroves are also threatened by climate change, which could result in the loss of a further 10 to 15 percent of mangroves by 2100.

For Southeast Asia, the report predicts that by 2050 countries in this region will potentially have lost 35 percent of the mangrove cover they had in 2000.

Ecosystem service losses in Southeast Asia from the destruction of mangroves has been estimated to be worth more than $2 billion annually over the period between 2000 and 2050, with Indonesia predicted to suffer the highest losses at $1.7 billion per year.

Daniel said that he hoped the results of the research conducted by CIFOR and the ministry would indirectly prompt all related policymakers in Indonesia regarding the importance of conserving mangroves for the future.

“If mangrove areas are continuously converted, then we will lose all of their capability to protect us,” he said.

— photos by JP/Hans David Tampubolon

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China climate change plan unveiled

Helen Briggs BBC 30 Jun 15;

China - the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases - has announced details of its climate action plan.

The office of Prime Minister Li Kegiang said that emissions "will peak by around 2030" and China would work hard to achieve the target even earlier.

The statement echoes China's declaration last November following a US-China summit.

China's pledge comes ahead of talks late this year in Paris to seek a new global deal on climate change.

The statement, released following a meeting in Paris between Li and French President Francois Hollande, said China aimed to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65% by 2030, from 2005 levels.

The carbon intensity target builds on a previous plan to cut carbon intensity by 40-45% by 2020.

China also aimed to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in its primary energy consumption to about 20% by 2030, the statement added.

Beijing previously set a goal of getting around 15% of its energy from clean sources by 2020.

National plans

All countries involved in UN climate talks must submit national plans for cutting emissions ahead of the key Paris talks.

China joins several other countries, including the EU, US and Mexico, that have already committed their plans for tackling climate change, formally known by the UN as INDCs (intended nationally determined contribution).

With China's announcement, the world's biggest polluters - China, the US and the EU - have now all detailed their climate plans ahead of the global climate conference.

Commenting on the statement, Li Shuo, climate analyst for Greenpeace China, said for success in Paris, all players - including China and the EU - needed to up their game.

"Today's pledge must be seen as only the starting point for much more ambitious actions.

"It does not fully reflect the significant energy transition that is already taking place in China.

"Given the dramatic fall in coal consumption, robust renewable energy uptake, and the urgent need to address air pollution, we believe the country can go well beyond what it has proposed today."

Energy transition

China's new climate plan sends a strong message to other countries to do more on climate ahead of this year's negotiations for a new global climate deal, said WWF.

Samantha Smith, global climate leader at WWF, said China was the first major developing country emitter to set a total emissions peak target.

"In doing so, China has committed to both global climate security and to a transformational energy transition at home," she said.

"We emphasise the importance of the fact that China has made commitments beyond its responsibility as a developing country. But we hope that China will continue to find ways to reduce its emissions, which will in turn drive global markets for renewable energy and energy efficiency."

On Monday, at talks in Brussels with EU leaders, the Chinese Premier said the country was seeking a fair, global system to tackle climate change.

China will work with the international community to seek a "fair, reasonable, win-win" global climate governance system, Li said.

Analysis by the BBC's science editor, David Shukman

This is a significant moment in international climate negotiations. For years China argued that it was too poor and underdeveloped to even consider accepting any obligations to curb its greenhouse gases.

Now we're witnessing the world's largest emitter playing by the UN's rules and promising even deeper cuts that those suggested some months back. For diplomats and ministers hoping to see a meaningful deal at the climate summit in Paris at the end of the year, this will be a welcome step.

The size of cuts, and the timescale, will of course be judged by many as too little and too late. But for anyone who endured the collapse of talks at the Copenhagen summit six years ago, China is playing a very different and far more constructive game. Will it actually make any difference to global warming?

Scientists always say it does not matter to the atmosphere where the emissions come from and China's will continue to rise for the next 15 years or so, and on their already gargantuan scale.

And today's announcement does not mean that Chinese use of fossil fuels is coming to an end any time soon. On the same day that China has announced this climate plan it also began construction of a massive pipeline that will bring it a lot of gas from Russia.

China to cap rising emissions by 2030 in boost to Paris U.N. deal
* China will seek to peak emissions earlier than 2030
* Top greenhouse gas emitter outlines plans for Paris accord
* Beijing to cut carbon intensity of economy by 60-65 pct (Updates with reactions, Brazil plan, details)

Julien Ponthus Reuters 30 Jun 15;

PARIS, June 30 (Reuters) - China formally committed to halting the rise in its greenhouse gas emissions within the next 15 years on Tuesday, in a much anticipated strategy to help build a U.N. climate deal in 2015.

The world's top greenhouse gas emitter said it would invest more in clean energy and plant more carbon-absorbing forests as part of the plan.

The Chinese plan chimes with targets announced in November, when Beijing reached a key climate change deal with Washington to cap its emissions by 2030.

"China's carbon dioxide emission will peak by around 2030 and China will work hard to achieve the target at an even earlier date," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in a statement after meeting French President Francois Hollande in Paris.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called China's plan an "excellent sign" for the United Nations summit in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, which intends to agree a global deal to combat climate change after past failures.

China did not, however, say at what level its emissions would peak. The cap is the first set by Beijing, which had argued that it needed to burn more fossil fuels to end poverty and that developed nations must lead in climate action.

In a new element beyond the U.S.-China deal, Beijing said it would cut its CO2 emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 60-65 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. That would deepen a 40-45 percent cut already set by Beijing for 2020.

The world's second-largest economy also aims to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in its primary energy consumption to about 20 percent by 2030, the statement said, as part of a strategy to limit more heatwaves, floods and rising sea levels.


Benchmark EU carbon prices rose after the news and were last 1.4 percent higher at 7.47 euros a tonne.

China accounts for a quarter of world greenhouse gases and its plan, submitted to the United Nations on Tuesday, means governments accounting for more than half the global total have now outlined goals for climate action beyond 2020.

About 40 countries emitting just over 30 percent of world emissions have previously submitted their plans, including the United States and the European Union. National plans will be the building blocks of a Paris accord.

Separately, the United States and Brazil pledged to increase their share of renewable energy in electricity generation.

South Korea said it would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 37 percent below business-as-usual levels, deeper than its earlier intention.

"The United States and China can no longer use inaction by the other as an excuse for ignoring the risks we all face from climate change. Both countries are acting," said Bob Perciasepe, president of the U.S. Center for Climate and Energy Solutions think-tank.

Many experts outside China reckon it can peak its emissions before 2030, given signs such as a fall in coal consumption in 2014. Beijing is under strong pressure to shift to renewable energies, partly to curb air pollution.

""In our estimates the peak would be around 2025 or even earlier," Hanna Fekete of the independent New Climate Institute think tank in Germany, which tracks pledges, told Reuters.

She said she did not think Beijing's plan would affect the group's estimates last year that global temperatures are set to rise by 3.1 degrees Celsius (5.6 Fahrenheit) by 2100, far above a U.N. ceiling of 2 degrees (3.6F). (Additional reporting by Leigh Thomas and Nina Chestney in London, Jeff Mason and Valerie Volcovici in Washington, Alister Doyle in Oslo, Meeyoung Cho in Seoul.; Writing by Michel Rose and Alister Doyle; Editing by Keith Weir and William Hardy)

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