Best of our wild blogs: 2 Dec 15

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On Paris and haze: Singapore's new Environment Minister speaks up

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Govt agencies, industries to work on achieving Singapore’s emission targets

LAURA PHILOMIN Today Online 1 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE – If an agreement is reached at the ongoing climate summit in Paris, agencies here will start the ball rolling by working with industries in various sectors to implement measures towards achieving Singapore’s carbon emission reduction targets, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli today (Dec 1).

Mr Masagos who, along with Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, will be leading the Singapore delegation to 21st annual Conference of Parties (COP) summit, added that he was hopeful that the participating nations could reach a universal agreement. However, he acknowledged there would still be some “tough negotiations” in the days ahead.

“All of us have put out some commitments – what we call the INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) – to help limit global temperatures rise by two degrees. This is not enough. They are looking at two and a half and better. I think two degrees is still much better than not doing anything at all,” said Mr Masagos, who spoke ahead of a visit to Singapore’s first metal recovery facility, which is located near Tuas Marine Transfer Station today (Dec 1).

“For Singapore, we will be looking at reducing our Emissions Intensity by 36 per cent by 2030, based on our 2005 levels. This is a very huge commitment … (and) it requires the whole of government as well as the economy to realign, to look at ways to bring down our business-as-usual emissions.”

For industries, Mr Masagos noted that the challenge would be in balancing an economy that can still support people’s livelihood while reducing carbon emissions.

“Most of (the companies) come from international organisations all over the world, so they already have good energy conservation practices in their processes. So what we want to do is ensure what they’re practising overseas start to come to Singapore.”

Beyond regulating industries, Mr Masagos said achieving Singapore’s target would require Singaporeans to play their part by relooking their energy consumption habits like driving cars and at the same time, recycle more.

When asked by TODAY if Singapore will still commit to the 36 per cent target if there is no climate deal in Paris for the post-2020 period, the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) said the INDCs would technically not be translated into obligations without such an agreement, and Singapore would review its options at that point.

Pointing out that this year’s protracted haze episode had released about one gigatonne of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Mr Masagos said the amount is equivalent to almost 20 per cent of the global emission reduction targets nations are trying to commit to in 2030.

“So, if the world is trying to reduce the emission but we do not do something about this burning of our forest, which also emits a huge amount of carbon dioxide, it is almost counter-productive,” he said.

When asked about updates on Singapore’s Transboundary Haze Pollution Act, Mr Masagos said the companies linked to the haze have been put on notice, but the “biggest impediment” in pursuing the issue is the lack of any official concession maps.

The Act allows Singapore to impose steep fines on local or foreign companies found to contribute to smoke pollution in the Republic.

Mr Masagos said he had requested a meeting with Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar “in France or anywhere else, even in Indonesia” to discuss further how the two countries can work together, particularly to bring errant companies to task.

At the same time, the Singapore Government is looking at how it can move forward in its cooperation with the Jambi province in Indonesia, he added.

In response to TODAY’s query, the MEWR said Indonesia indicated “its readiness to restart discussions regarding the Jambi MOU (memorandum of understanding) renewal” this month.

The previous MOU, signed in 2007, focused on training for fire-prevention and suppression capabilities as well as capacity-building for alternative livelihoods.

The latest MOU is looking to broaden the scope of cooperation to include more activities that would lead to more effective prevention, detection and mitigation of land and forest fires, added the ministry.

S'pore's 2030 goal aggressive and ambitious: Masagos
Andrea Soh, Business Times AsiaOne 2 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE'S commitment for the climate change talks - to reduce carbon emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 - are "very aggressive, very ambitious", said Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli.

The good news is that most of Singapore's emissions are produced by a small number of players, he said, adding that the government will step up regulation to ensure that their emissions are in line with Singapore's 2030 commitment.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the inauguration of Singapore's first metal-recovery facility on Tuesday, he said: "For Singapore, it is a commitment from the whole of government as well as our industries to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere."

This will be done by adopting mitigating processes as well as by introducing new technologies.

"The good news is that most amount of these emissions is produced by a small number of these players.

"For the industry, we will have to regulate them even more to make sure that the emissions they are producing will add up to our national goals leading to 2030."

Industries contributed 54 per cent of Singapore's carbon emissions in 2005, and are projected to contribute 60.3 per cent in 2020 in a business-as-usual scenario.

Singapore's goal is to hit an emissions peak by 2030. "This is a huge challenge because we still need to have an economy that will support our people's livelihood and at the same time, not produce even more emissions for that purpose," he said.

Being more energy-efficient would not be new for these energy-intensive companies; many are international firms that already have more efficient practices elsewhere.

"We want to ensure that what they're already practising overseas comes to Singapore," said the minister.

Asked what regulations the government might have in mind, he replied that it was "still early days".

There are many laws and regulations that the government will have to look into as it works towards bringing the entire country on board, he said; he added that various agencies led by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean - who chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change - have been working on this for many years, and will start to implement their plans for the various sectors once the Paris accord has been reached.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) will then monitor and execute the policy, said Mr Masagos.

The Energy Conservation Act, which came into effect in April 2013, makes it mandatory for Singapore's most energy-intensive industrial companies - those in manufacturing, utilities, sewage and waste management - to implement basic energy management practices.

About 170 of such firms, which consume more than 54 terajoules (TJ) of energy a year, are required to appoint an energy manager, report energy use and greenhouse gas emissions and submit energy-efficiency improvement plans to the NEA.

In 2013, they accounted for about 83 per cent of Singapore's consumption of primary energy, that is, energy contained within energy sources like raw fuels, and 63 per cent of the consumption of final energy, or energy supplied to consumers.

On Tuesday, Mr Masagos attended the opening of a facility that reduces the weight of incineration bottom ash - what is left after rubbish is incinerated - by 10 per cent by recovering its metal content. This recovery process prolongs the lifespan of the Semakau landfill.

The facility is operated by Remex Minerals Singapore, a subsidiary of German firm Remex Mineralstoff GmbH, which runs similar metal-recovery facilities in the Netherlands and Germany.

The Remex Metal Recovery Facility is a "critical component" of Singapore's long-term plan to becoming a zero-waste nation, a key theme of the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015, said Mr Masagos.

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Northeast Monsoon conditions expected in first half of December

Short-duration thunderstorms are expected mostly in the afternoon and early evening on six to eight days in the first half of December. Temperatures are expected to range between 22°C and 33°C.
Channel NewsAsia 1 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE: Northeast Monsoon conditions are expected for the first two weeks of December, with low-levels wind blowing predominantly from the northeast or northwest, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) in an advisory on Tuesday (Dec 1).

Short-duration thunderstorms are expected mostly in the afternoon and early evening on six to eight days for the next two weeks. Meanwhile, stronger monsoon winds in the latter half of the fortnight could bring periods of moderate to heavy rain on one to two days, with occasionally windy conditions and cooler temperatures.

Temperatures for the first half of December are expected range between 22°C and 33°C.

Based on long-term statistics, December is the wettest month in the year.


For the month of November, Singapore experienced thunderstorms in the afternoon and early evening on most days. Thunderstorms were heaviest on Nov 17, with the highest total daily rainfall recorded at 68.4 milimetres around the Queenstown area.

There were also a few warm days, with the highest daily maximum temperature recorded ranging from 34.5°C to 34.9°C. On a few rainy days, the lowest daily minimum temperature recorded was between 22.7°C and 23.1°C.

About half of Singapore received above average rainfall, with the highest rainfall recorded in the central and northern parts of Singapore around Toa Payoh and Woodlands. The eastern part of the island around Tanah Merah received the lowest rainfall.

- CNA/ek

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Singapore's first metal recovery facility to help reduce waste

Since operations began in July 2015, the REMEX Metal Recovery Facility has reduced incineration bottom ash (IBA) by 10 per cent. Singapore's only landfill is expected to run out of space by 2035, but at this rate, its lifespan can now be prolonged.
Ewan Mah Channel NewsAsia 1 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE: The Republic's first-ever metal recovery facility was inaugurated on Tuesday (Dec 1), as part of the National Environment Agency's long-term strategy to become a Zero Waste Nation.

Since operations began in July 2015, the REMEX Metal Recovery Facility in Tuas has reduced incineration bottom ash (IBA) - the ash that is produced from burning waste in an incinerator - by 10 per cent, leading to 10 per cent less waste sent to Semakau Landfill for disposal.

Singapore's only landfill was originally expected to run out of space by 2035, but with the facility, its lifespan can now be prolonged.

About 1,800 tonnes of IBA is processed at the facility each day, and from pieces as small as 2 millimetres, 14,000 tonnes of metal has been recovered so far.

In contrast, magnets installed in Singapore's four incinerators can only pick up pieces 20 centimetres and up, for recycling.

On hand for its inauguration was Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, who also took a tour of the facility.

"The REMEX Metal Recovery Facility is a critical component of our long-term plan to work towards a Zero Waste Nation, a key theme under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015, which outlines our plans for a more liveable and sustainable Singapore. The opening of this facility marks a significant milestone in our efforts towards a Zero Waste Nation," he said.


Separately, Mr Masagos also spoke about Singapore's pledge to cut carbon emissions, as world leaders gather in Paris these two weeks to reach a global deal to fight climate change.

He said a problem that has to be tackled is the haze from forest fires in Indonesia, which this year released one gigatonne of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - the highest amount ever.

"This is frightening because if you look at that amount of emissions, it is almost 20 per cent of the reduction we are trying to commit in 2030 globally. I've requested to meet my counterpart from Indonesia to discuss going forward, how we can work together, particularly to bring the errant companies to task," he said.

- CNA/dl/ms

Metal recovery facility helps to prolong Semakau Landfill’s lifespan

SINGAPORE – Since it began operations in July this year, Singapore’s first metal recovery facility has been helping to prolong the lifespan of the Semakau Landfill by recovering metals in ash from incineration plants and reducing its weight by about 10 per cent.

The 1.4-hectare facility near Tuas Marine Transfer Station, operated by REMEX Minerals Singapore (REMEX), is part of the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) long-term strategy to manage solid waste in Singapore more efficiently.

The NEA had awarded the tender to parent company REMEX Mineralstoff last year.

Currently, ferrous metals, such as steel and iron between 10mm and 300mm in size, are being recovered from the incineration bottom ash (IBA) using magnetic separators at the incineration plants, and the remaining ash would usually be disposed off at Semakau Landfill.

At the new facility, IBA is further processed where magnetic and eddy current separators recover ferrous metal as small as 2mm, as well as non-ferrous metal like copper and aluminium. It processes up to 1,800 tonnes of IBA a day, and has recovered nearly 14,000 tonnes of metal since it began operations until the end of October.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the facility on Tuesday, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli noted the Semakau Landfill, Singapore’s only landfill, is expected to run out of space in 2035 at the current rate of waste generation and incineration.

“Hence, it’s important for us to look for ways to reduce the space used by waste disposed by any method, because this is a strategic concern for Singapore. The REMEX Metal Recovery Facility is a critical component of our long-term plan to work towards becoming a Zero Waste Nation and this is a key theme under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015,” said Mr Masagos.

Speaking to reporters, REMEX Minerals Singapore Managing Director Venkat Patnaik said recovered non-ferrous metals are sold to smelters in other countries such as China and Germany, while ferrous metals are sent to steel mills to be recycled.

The processed ash, which is now almost metal-free, can be used further as materials for roads and construction, he added.

Singapore’s first metal recovery factory has recovered 14,000 tonnes of metal since July

SINGAPORE — Since it began operations in July this year, Singapore’s first metal recovery facility has been helping to prolong the lifespan of the Semakau Landfill by recovering metals in ash from incineration plants and reducing its weight by about 10 per cent.

The 1.4-hectare facility in Tuas Marine Transfer Station, operated by REMEX Minerals Singapore (REMEX), is part of the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) long-term strategy to manage solid waste in Singapore more efficiently. The National Environment Agency (NEA) awarded the tender to the parent company REMEX Mineralstoff last year.

Currently, ferrous metals like steel and iron between 10mm and 300mm in size are being recovered from the incineration bottom ash (IBA) using magnetic separators at the incineration plants and the remaining ash would usually be disposed off at Semakau Landfill.

At the new facility, IBA is further processed where magnetic and eddy current separators recover ferrous metal as small as 2mm, as well as non-ferrous metal like copper and aluminium. It processes up to 1,800 tonnes of IBA a day, and has recovered nearly 14,000 tonnes of metal since it began operations, as of end-October.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the facility today (Dec 1), Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zukilifi noted the Semakau Landfill, Singapore’s only landfill, is expected to run out of space in 2035 at the current rate of waste generation and incineration.

“Hence it’s important for us to look for ways to reduce the space used by waste disposed by any method, because this is a strategic concern for Singapore. The REMEX Metal Recovery Facility is a critical component of our long-term plan to work towards becoming a Zero Waste Nation and this is a key theme under the Singapore Sustinable Blueprint 2015,” said Mr Masagos.

Speaking to reporters, REMEX Minerals Singapore Managing Director Venkat Patnaik said recovered non-ferrous metals are sold to smelters in other countries like China and Germany, while ferrous metals are sent to steel mills to be recycled. The processed ash, which is now almost metal-free, can be further used as materials for roads and construction, he added.

Tuas plant extracts metal from burnt trash
Audrey Tan, Straits Times AsiaOne 3 Dec 15;

Singapore's first metal recovery facility - that extracts metals from incinerated rubbish - was opened officially by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli yesterday.

It is operated by waste-management company Remex Minerals Singapore, which won the tender to build the 1.4ha facility last June.

The facility processes up to 1,800 tonnes of incineration bottom ash (ash from burnt rubbish) daily.

Metals in the ash can make it unsuitable for paving roads or reclaiming land as the metal content is unstable and can break down or react with oxygen and weaken, said Mr Venkat Patnaik, managing director of Remex Minerals Singapore.

The Tuas facility, which began operations in July this year, has salvaged almost 14,000 tonnes of metals such as copper, aluminium and iron as of end October.

The extracted metal can be recycled, and the remaining ash can be further treated for uses such as land reclamation, brick-making, laying road bases or as a substitute for sand and gravel.

This is what is being done in Japan and the Netherlands, said Mr Masagos said in his speech.

Earlier this year, The Straits Times reported that the National Environment Agency (NEA) had embarked on a project to study if incineration bottom ash can be used as land reclamation material.

As part of the study, which began in 2013, the agency is looking at how the ash can affect the marine ecosystem. The NEA has engaged researchers from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to do a risk-assessment study.

This will include the development of guidelines on how to use such ash for land reclamation. NTU is working with the Tropical Marine Science Institute as part of the project, which is expected to end next year.

Extracting metals from such ash will also prolong the lifespan of Semakau Landfill, Singapore's only one. The Tuas facility has reduced the weight of incineration ash by 10 per cent.

Both incineration ash and non-incinerable waste are disposed of at the landfill. With Singapore producing more waste, it could be filled up by as early as 2035, a decade earlier than projected in 1993.

"The recovery of precious resources from our waste is in line with plans under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint's goal of Singapore being a zero-waste nation," said NEA chief executive Ronnie Tay in a statement.

"While we explore innovative solutions to manage our waste more efficiently, we must all strive to make the practice of the 3Rs - recycle, reduce and reuse - as a way of life."

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Indonesia sees decline in tourists from Singapore, Malaysia in October amid haze

Ayomi Amindoni, 1 Dec 15;

The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) has reported that the country welcomed 825,800 tourists in October, a decrease of 4.99 percent from the previous month as haze shrouded several parts of the country.

BPS deputy head of distribution and statistics Sasmito Hadi Wibowo said that the haze crisis affecting Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Sumatra and Papua had impacted tourist arrivals from Malaysia and Singapore, two countries that contribute the largest number of tourists to Indonesia.

“Tourist numbers from Singapore and Malaysia declined in October, impacted by the haze crisis. So, the haze not only affected our people but also tourism,” said Sasmito in a press conference in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The number of tourist arrivals from Malaysia declined to 96,326 in October 2015 from 111,540 in the same month last year.

Despite the decline, BPS data said that Singaporeans continued to dominate foreign tourist arrivals in October this year, reaching 122,122, 14.79 percent, of total foreign tourist arrivals in the month.

Meanwhile, the number of tourist arrivals from Australia rose to 102,033 in October 2015 from 100,294 tourists in the same month last year. The number of Chinese tourists also increased, from 95,166 tourists in October 2014 to 101,586 in the same month this year.

Meanwhile, tourist arrivals from Japan decreased slightly to 43,588 in October 2015 from 44,517 in the same period of last year.

Cumulatively, in the period of January to October, the number of foreign tourist arrivals reached 8.02 million, up 3.38 percent from 7.76 million in the same period last year.

"Monthly foreign tourist arrivals this year are higher than in 2014. Despite the haze crisis, the number of foreign tourist arrivals this year is still higher than in 2014. We don’t expect the impacts of the haze crisis to affect foreign tourist arrivals in November," Sasmito said. (ebf)(+)

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Indonesia: Pulp and paper giant APRIL Group to step up forest conservation 1 Dec 15;

Pulp and paper giant APRIL Group announced on Tuesday that it would double its peatland restoration activities in Indonesia and invest $100 million for the next ten years in conservation and restoration activities.

Tony Wenas, managing director of APRIL Group Indonesia Operations, said that the firm would increase peatland restoration activities to 150,000 hectares within the next decade, adding that the commitment was included in the Riau Ecosystem Restoration (RER) program.

The firm is also to increase its restoration of peatland areas by 150,000 hectares, reaching a total 400,000, nearly six times the size of Singapore.

The investment follows the company's Sustainable Forest Management Policy announced earlier this year, in which it pledged to cleanse its supply chain of any link to deforestation.

"This commitment illustrates how private-sector organizations can support climate goals not just in terms of pledges but by going beyond them and actually putting resources on the table," Tony said in a press statement on Tuesday.

Anderson Tanoto, a shareholder of APRIL Group and director at conglomerate Royal Golden Eagle, ARIL's parent company, said that the global community had an opportunity to make a difference for the future at the ongoing COP21 climate conference in Paris.

"This investment indicates our broader business case for restoration, which encompasses the value of ecosystem services and the need to have an inclusive approach with the community," he said in the statement.

The company cooperated with international environmental NGO Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and local NGO Bidara to establish the RER program in 2013. Its main purpose was to protect and restore peatland areas in Riau's Kampar peninsula, the largest peatland areas in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia’s peatland areas are among the most sensitive ecosystems in the world.

Kampar's tropical forests are also known for their biodiversity, and are home to endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger and the sun bear.

APRIL's RER restoration area was protected from burning during recent forest and peatland fires. (rin)

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Indonesia: Government to set up peatland restoration agency next week -- President

Antara 1 Dec 15;

Paris (ANTARA News) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has confirmed that the government will set up a peatland ecosystem restoration agency (BREG) next week to protect the peatland ecosystem and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

"Next week, it will be done for sure, so it will be formed," President Jokowi informed the press on the sidelines of the Paris Climate Change Conference, here, Monday.

Indonesia is committed to protecting its peatland areas, and therefore, it will revise old peatland concession licenses and not issue new licenses.

In his speech to several state leaders attending the conference, the president pointed out that the El Nino-induced drought in Indonesia had aggravated the condition of forest and peatland fires.

Indonesia managed to deal with the fires, although it was not easy, and the country has continued to implement legal enforcement measures against the perpetrators.

President Jokowi received a banner bearing the words "Dear Mr President, Save Forest and Peatland" from Greenpeace activists during a visit to the Indonesian pavilion in an exhibition held to coincide with the conference.

Greenpeace Indonesia campaigner Teguh Surya stated that some 253,800 hectares of Indonesias peatland areas were prone to conversion as they were located in industrial forest concession areas.

"Swift action is necessary to save the remaining peatland areas. We support Indonesias commitment," Surya emphasized.(*)

Widodo reinforces Indonesia's One Map policy in Paris climate change address
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the country will use its One Map policy to govern land and forest areas, during a speech to world leaders at the UN climate summit in Paris.
Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 1 Dec 15;

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the country will use its One Map policy to govern land and forest areas, during a speech to world leaders at the UN climate summit in Paris.

The one map initiative began under Indonesia's previous administration and was aimed at helping resolve disagreements resulting from the use of different data and maps, which often cause land disputes.

Speaking on Monday (Nov 30), Mr Widodo said he also intends to enforce the moratorium on forests, and review the issuance of peatland permits.

"As a country with one of the largest forest areas acting as the lung of the world, Indonesia is here today as part of the solution," he said.

"My government is developing Indonesia in a way that is giving due attention to the environment."

Indonesia has attracted strong criticism from activist groups and citizens about a failure to seriously address the annual choking haze, which affects large swathes of the country, caused largely by slash-and-burn land clearing.

The country at one point this year topped the world's list of greenhouse gas emitters, a result of the forest fires in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua.

Envrionmental groups have also argued that Indonesia's climate targets lack clear baselines or ways for the country to cut its pollution output, a sign that the government is not serious about its green efforts.

In his speech, Mr Widod added that the forest fires this year were worsened by the El Nino phenomenon and would not alter Indonesia's commitment to reduce emissions by 29 per cent from business as usual levels by 2030.

The president said he was committed to giving strong political support for the success of COP21, however, said the Paris agreement should be balanced and fair, and not impede growth of developing countries.

He urged all parties to contribute more to mitigate climate change, especially developed nations, by mobilising the US$100 billion fund until 2020, and assist in the transfer of technology and capacity building.

- CNA/jb

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Indonesia: President Urged to Cut Carbon Emissions by Amending National Development Policies

Basten Gokkon Jakarta Globe 1 Dec 15;

Jakarta. Indonesian environmentalists have called on President Joko Widodo to amend national development policies so that the country can achieve its carbon emission reduction target as promised in Paris.

Joko addressed leaders from 150 nations at the global climate conference in Paris on Monday night, briefly explaining his administration's efforts and pledge to reduce Indonesia's carbon footprint by 29 percent on the "business as usual" scheme until 2030, as described in the country's Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC).

"The government that I'm leading will develop an Indonesia that is concerned about the environment," Joko said in Paris.

While Joko has only reaffirmed Indonesia's contributions at the 21st Conference of Parties, activists from green groups are urging the president to quickly implement the country's climate measures at home by reviewing existing policies.

"The crucial question from the president's speech is how to bridge contradicting targets between the country's INDC and Mid-Term National Development Plan which lays out several policies that, in fact, produce carbon emission," Khalisah Khalid, head of research and development department at the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), told reporters in Jakarta via a conference call on Wednesday.

Joko's national development plan for the 2015 to 2019 period, includes, among others, generating 35 gigawatts of power across the archipelago. This will be mainly generated with highly polluting fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil.

Walhi estimates that if Indonesia continued with that plan, the country's carbon dioxide emissions would nearly double by 2024.

"It's imperative for the government to revise its development policies so that they will not damage the environment," Khalisah said.

She added that Joko could start by reviewing policies under his authority that pose a threat to Indonesia's ecosystem, such as a presidential decree which allows land reclamation.

Yuyun Indradi, forest campaigner from Greenpeace Indonesia, said the government must also revise its scheme of carbon reduction measures in the INDC so that the country could contribute more in keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, which scientists have predicted to be the tipping point for catastrophic climate change.

"We need to check again our current main sources of carbon emission and improve our natural resources management," Yuyun said.

The 12-day climate summit in Paris will combine INDCs from attending countries and should result in an international and legally-binding agreement of efforts to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

Indonesia shows commitment to sustainable forest management at COP21
Antara 2 Dec 15;

Paris (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said Indonesia has underscored its commitment to sustainable forest management and renewable energy by attending the climate change summit in Paris.

During the Conference of Parties 21, President Joko Widodo also attended "Mission Innovative" and "Leaders Event on Foreign and Climate Change," both events on the sidelines of COP21.

"Indonesia actively participated in the two events, showing its strong commitment to manage its forests sustainably and to policies related to renewable energy," she said.

The two events saw leaders statement on forest and climate change, explaining the role of forest in ensuring sustainable development.

Some one billion people indirectly depend their livelihood on forest and six billion others are directly tied to forest problems.

"The statement itself reflects the interests of the countries involved, including Indonesia that has remained very balanced in terms of mitigation, adaptation and implementation," she said.

The statement showed Indonesias leadership as well as strong commitment to manage its forests sustainably, she said.

In the context of renewable energy, Retno said Indonesia has already had a clear policy in this regard.

"Regarding the forest issue, there are 17 countries involved, namely, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Congo, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Liberia, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Britain and the US," she said.

She said the Indonesian government has decided to achieve 23 percent of renewable energy source use by 2025 and policies have also been formulated for rural electrification, likely to be achieved to the extent of 100 percent by 2019.(*)

Climate talks begin, Indonesia looks to make its mark

Ina Parlina and M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post 1 Dec 15;

The UN’s COP21 climate talks kicked off on Monday, with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo seeking political support for a drive to increase contributions to the reduction of carbon emissions from both developed and developing countries.

More than 140 world leaders were scheduled to meet during the leaders’ event on the first day of the climate talks at Le Bourget Exhibition Center in a northern Paris suburb. The talks are expected to produce the first global commitment to cutting emissions, replacing or extending the Kyoto Protocol.

Jokowi, along with fellow statespeople including Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, King Abdullah of Jordan and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, addressed the second session of the leaders’ event after a formal lunch.

In his speech, Jokowi said that the outcome from COP21 must reflect balance and fairness and be consistent with national priorities and abilities, calling for a binding and ambitious agreement that, while applicable in the long term, would not hinder the development of developing countries.

He called on all related parties, particularly developed countries, to contribute more in terms of mitigation and adaptation measures through mobilizing financial contributions, honoring commitments made in previous forums, transfer of technology and capacity-building.

“It is imperative a deal is reached in Paris. I hope we all become part of a solution [...] making the world a better place to live for the next generations and one that ensures their welfare,” he said.

Indonesia’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) has set a target of a 29 percent reduction in emissions by 2030.

Before delivering the speech, Jokowi also joined two major sideline events, namely a leaders’ meeting on forests as a key climate solution and a mission innovation launch.

At the forest event, Jokowi and his counterparts from, among others, Norway, Brazil and Columbia, committed to engage only in sustainable forestry practices.

Jokowi also held bilateral meetings with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Norway’s Solberg and Serbian President Tomislav Nicolic, among others.

On Tuesday, the President is expected to visit the Indonesian pavilion at the COP21, where “more than 30 events, including seminars and exhibitions, showcase our country’s efforts to tackle climate change”, according to Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar.

COP21 — also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference — will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate change, with the aim of keeping global warming less than 2 degrees Celsius higher than the pre-industrial average temperatures by the end of the century.

One NGO present at COP21 is the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), whose activists, upon arrival at the Indonesian Pavilion, raised bitter complaints about vital messages of environmental preservation being drowned out by “green-washing” campaigns from palm oil companies.

Commenting on the prominent display at the pavilion of the palm oil industry’s sustainability campaign, Walhi said in a statement: “We hope that the government will no longer give room for corporations to carry out their green-washing campaigns, especially firms that were involved in the burning [of peatland and forests] and are accused of having hot spots in their areas of operation.”

COP21 is expected to attract 50,000 participants, including 25,000 delegates from governments, intergovernmental organizations, UN agencies, NGOs and civil society.

The conference is taking place amid tight security in and around Paris, following deadly terror attacks there earlier this month.

To prevent any possible disruption to the conference, the French government has limited public demonstrations, beefed up security and placed two dozen environmental activists under house arrest.

Jokowi optimistic about developed nations` support to handle environmental issues
Antara 2 Dec 15;

Paris (ANTARA News) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) is convinced that developed nations will assist Indonesia in reducing global warming and carbon emissions following the 21st Conference of Parties (COP-21) in Paris.

"Judging by the results of our bilateral meetings, many countries will help us handle environmental problems through renewable energy, peatland restoration and forest conservation. I am optimistic (about the assistance)," the President said shortly before returning to Jakarta on Tuesday.

He said Indonesias participation in the COP-21 is to lend strong political support to the success of the UN climate change conference.

"The strong political support means that we want to implement our development programs by always complying with the concept of environmental conservation," he said.

Therefore, he added, the government will not pursue higher economic growth at the expense of the environment.

"Both of them must continue on an equal footing," he said.

The President said a plan to set up a peat ecosystem restoration body will be realized next week.

As an island state, Indonesia is among the countries most affected by the impact of climate change. To this end, Indonesia has prepared documents and plans to unveil a special mission during the climate change conference.

"We will continue to urge the developed nations to take the lead and assist developing countries in overcoming global warming, such as undertaking efforts to reduce carbon emissions through technology transfer," spokesman for the Foreign Ministry Arrmanatha Nasir remarked.

Indonesia is committed to reducing 29 percent of its emissions in 2030 through its own endeavors, and by 41 percent through international assistance. It has also reduced its emissions by adopting measures in the energy sector. It has shifted from using fuel oil in the manufacturing sector and has increased the use of renewable energy by 23 percent in 2015. (*)

Jokowi wants COP 21 to end with ambitious agreement
Antara 1 Dec 15;

Paris (ANTARA News) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said he hoped that the climate meeting in Paris would end with an ambitious agreement to make the earth a convenient place and to improve the peoples welfare.

"Reaching an agreement in Paris is a must. I hope we are all part of a solution to make the earth a more convenient place for our children and grand children," Jokowi told 147 heads of state and government in the Leaders Event here on Monday.

He said the Paris climate agreement should reflect balance, justice, in line with priorities and national capability, sustainable, but not causing a drag on development in developing countries.

"In order to reach a Paris agreement, all countries especially advanced nations should contribute to action of mitigation and adaptation," he added.

The contribution could be in the mobilization of US$100 billion financing until 2020 to be increased in the following years with transfer of environmentally friendly technology and capacity expansion.

As one of the countries having the largest forests that serve as lungs of the world, Indonesia chose to be part of a solution, the president said.

"I am here to give strong political support for the success of the COP 21," he added.

Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Christiana Figueres said all present countries should be able to unite and to show solidarity for the global climate security.

"The world eyes are on Paris, and millions of eyes are on the negotiators. You have the opportunity , even responsibility for reaching national target to cope with climate change, at the same time to support the world in overcoming all," Christiana Figueres said.

Around 150 heads of state and government were present to offer political support for an agreement to cope with global warming.

Jokowi is scheduled to return home on Tuesday.(*)

Negotiators grab head start on monumental climate challenge
Antara 30 Nov 15;

Paris (ANTARA News) - Senior negotiators from almost 200 nations on Sunday began thrashing out a new global deal to curb climate change as the president of China, the worlds biggest polluter, landed in Paris.

The United Nations conference begins at summit level on Monday, when more than 150 heads of state and government - including U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping - will attend talks at a sprawling complex north of the French capital. Xi arrived on Sunday.

To signal determination to resolve the most intractable issues, expert negotiators sat down on Sunday rather than after Mondays high-level speeches, as originally planned.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the aim was to give the world the means to cap global warming at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times or even 1.5 degrees.

That would avoid the most devastating consequences of global warming, such as rising sea-levels and desertification.

Referring to previous U.N. conferences that have dragged on days beyond the official close, Fabius said relying on "a last-night miracle" could risk failure. Progress must be made every day, Reuters reported.

"The process cannot be chaotic. We owe it to ourselves and to the world to conclude the process in an orderly and respectful manner," he said.

France, as well as hosting the Paris talks, formally takes on leadership of the U.N. process for a year from Monday.

Governments hope the Paris summit will end on Dec. 11 in a deal that will herald a shift from rising dependence on fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution to cleaner energies such as wind or solar power.

Hundreds of thousands of people on Sunday joined rallies across the globe, telling leaders gathering for the summit there is "No Planet B" in the fight against global warming.

There is a tough task ahead. Weeks of preparatory talks this year have struggled to whittle down a negotiating text, which is still more than 50 pages long.

The most difficult issues include working out how to share the burden of taking action between rich and poor nations, how to finance the cost of adapting to global warming and the legal format of any final text, as U.S. politicians are likely to block a legally binding treaty.

"Some countries have concerns about all of the targets being binding," Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna told reporters. "The idea is to have a binding agreement. There may be elements that are not binding."

Canada, home to reserves of oil sands, one of the most polluting forms of fossil fuel, withdrew from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which any new Paris deal will replace.

It is re-engaging with U.N. talks following the election of a Liberal government in October.

While big carbon burner China has been reluctant to submit to any outside oversight of its carbon pledges made at a climate summit in Copenhagen six years ago, it has promised to steer its coal-powered economy to a greener path.

The Paris summit is being held in tight security after attacks in Paris by Islamic State two weeks ago that killed 130 people.

Read more!

Indonesia: Almost every regency, city prone to disaster -- Agency

Agus Maryono, The Jakarta Post 1 Dec 15;

Almost everywhere in Central Java is categorized as prone to natural disasters, especially floods, windstorms and landslides, an official has warned.

The head of the provincial disaster mitigation agency (BPBD), Gembong Purwanto said on Monday that of 35 regencies and cities in Central Java, only Salatiga city was considered to be safe from natural disasters.

Gembong said that of the 34 remaining regencies and cities, four were prone to tsunamis, two were prone to volcanic eruptions and the rest were prone to floods, landslides, noxious gas and windstorms.

“Entering this rainy season, a number of regencies have reported natural disasters including the latest windstorms in Banyumas, Magelang, Temanggung, Sragen, Sukoharjo, Pemalang, Kudus, Purbalingga and Cilacap,” he said.

Landslides had also been reported in Banjarnegara, Pekalongan and Banyumas, he added.

The landslide in Banyumas left one person dead, in Pekalongan two people were injured and in Banyumas thousands had to flee their homes.

A landslide in Banjarnegara in December 2014, left 108 residents dead in Jemblung village, Karangkobar district. The bodies of five victims were never found.

In 2006, a landslide in Sijeruk village in the regency killed more than 200 residents.

Gembong said that natural disasters also prevailed in urban areas of high population growth, which in turn affected the environment as a result of the pressure caused by development and human activities.

Many urban people were forced to build houses on hillsides because of a lack of land. Many others chose to build on hillsides out of a desire to be closer to nature, whatever the reason this often led to natural disasters, Gembong said.

“To help reduce potential fatalities due to natural disasters we are establishing strong city and regency posts that will be prepared around-the-clock and know what to do in the event of a natural disasters,” he said.

In March this year, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) revealed that 40.9 million people, around 17.2 percent of the population, lived in landslide-prone areas.

BNPB data and information center head Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Monday that disaster mitigation efforts for landslides were still minimal but, during the rainy season, people living in susceptible areas faced a medium-to-high risk of landslides.

Meanwhile, windstorms in Banyumas brought down dozens of trees and electricity poles on Sunday night.

“The wind was very strong. The electricity pole in front of my house collapsed last night, causing a blackout for the whole night. Fortunately there were no fatalities,” Agus Nurhadi of Karanglewas subdistrict, Banyumas, said.

He said he had been forced to take his children to his office in Purwokerto to enable them to study for the term exams they had to sit the following morning in their respective schools.

The windstorm in Banyumas was also reported to have caused damage to several houses as a result of falling trees.

Beware imminent floods, landslides, warns BNPB 1 Dec 15;

People who live near rivers or in hilly areas should be on the alert for landslides and floods during the expected peak of the rainy season in December and January, an official warned on Tuesday.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said floods and landslides were likely to occur in December and January, when rainfall typically intensifies.

According to Sutopo, the regions most vulnerable to flooding include Sumatra’s east and Java’s north coast, the entire coastline of Kalimantan and river valleys and basins.

"As depicted in Indonesia’s flood-threat maps, around 315 regents and municipalities are vulnerable to floods, encompassing a total of 63.7 million inhabitants," he said as quoted by the Cabinet Secretariat website

According to the maps, meanwhile, areas susceptible to landslides include 274 regencies and municipalities in mountainous or hilly areas, with a total population of 40.9 million people.

The BNPB urged people to be vigilant for disasters .Natural landslide warning signs, Sutopo said, included muddy water in wells, cracked soil and land tremors.

He warned people to flee if rocks began to tumble from hillsides, if water burst in jets from ground fissures, if trees were seen floating in rivers or if waterways dried, even after rain.

To prevent secondary flood-related accidents, Sutopo also called on homeowners to ensure their houses were safe, explaining that if water began to enter, the power should be turned off, hazardous liquids should be stored safely to ensure they did not mix with the water and plans should be made for alternative shelter.

The BNPB has allocated Rp 150 billion in anticipation of floods and landslides over the next couple of months.

The agency’s data show that floods in Jakarta last year caused Rp 5 trillion worth of losses, while floods and landslides in 16 regents and municipalities in Central Java cost Rp 2.01 trillion and flash floods in North Sulawesi cost Rp 1.4 trillion. (rin)

Floods swamp houses, roads, schools, farmland in Sumatra
Apriadi Gunawan and Syofiardi Bachyul Jb, The Jakarta Post 1 Dec 15;

Thousands of homes and public facilities, including roads and schools, as well as farmland, were engulfed by floods triggered by torrential rain that fell from morning until noon on Monday in North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Riau and Aceh.

The entire city of Medan was virtually engulfed by floods, but the worst-hit areas were Labuhan, Marelan, Deli, Percut Sei Tuan, Tembung and Polonia districts, where floodwater reached 60 cm.

In Labuhan, hundreds of residents were forced to take shelter after their homes were swamped by floods.

Two elementary schools in Labuhan reportedly had to be closed after being flooded by up to 60 cm of water. Labuhan resident Jufri Ardiansyah said the two schools were often hit by flooding, adding that local people had asked the authorities to raise the ground at the schools, but to no avail.

“We keep reporting the problem but they never respond. So when the rains come, the schools are immediately flooded. We feel sorry for the children who cannot attend school,” Jufri said, blaming poor drainage for the flooding.

Kualanamu Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) staff member Nancy Tambunan said rain would continue to fall along the eastern coast of Sumatra and urban areas, especially in the evening and early hours of the morning. Nancy added that the intensity of the rain would be very high over the next couple of days.

“We urge residents to be aware of the rain from the evening until dawn, because rainfall will be higher then than in the morning,” she told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

The recent rain over the east coast of the island and Medan, Nancy explained, was due to low wind pressure in the Indian Ocean, or waters off West Aceh.

Meanwhile, torrential rain that drenched Solok regency, West Sumatra, on Sunday left 85 houses in three villages submerged and destroyed hectares of farming land on Monday.

The West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD)’s emergency division head Pagar Negara said the agency had distributed food, biomass stoves and blankets to 395 people affected by the floods.

In Riau, hundreds of homes in Kuantan Singingi regency were engulfed by floods resulting from overflowing rivers following high rainfall in the province.

“Many local people have sought shelter since the rivers overflowed,” Logas Tanah Darat district chief Novrion said in Teluk Kuantan on Monday.

He added that homes located near rivers, such as in Rambahan village, Logas district, had been swamped by floodwater up to 1.5 meters.

“If heavy rain continues, the flood levels will be very high,” Novrion said.

He added that as well as hill erosion, the river’s capacity had been affected by construction along the river banks by a plantation company that operates in the area.

In Aceh, overflowing rivers also flooded a number of areas in Pidie regency following heavy rain.

Pidie BPBD head Apriadi said in Sigli on Sunday evening that several areas had been hit, including Tangse, Keumala, Mutiara Timur, Mila and Pidie districts.

“The districts are located within the Krueng Baro Raya River basin area. The overflowing river engulfed the surrounding areas,” said Apriadi.

Floods also hit areas around regency capital Sigli and a number of villages, including Blang Asan, Blok Sawah, Kramat Luar and Kramat Dalam.

Read more!

Indonesia: Tens of thousands of dead fish wash up on Ancol Beach 1 Dec 15;

Following the finding of tens of thousands of dead fish, resulting in a pungent smell, along Ancol Beach in North Jakarta on Monday, environmental campaign group Greenpeace has cited three possible causes for the phenomenon.

The first possibility, Greenpeace campaigner Arifsyah Nasution said on Tuesday, related to the accumulation of water from contaminated rivers on the northern coast due to rain.

“For example, water from the Ciliwung River contains organic materials and [dangerous waste] B3. During rain, this water can accumulate in the estuary, which is Jakarta Bay," Arifsyah said as quoted by

He added that the situation could lead to a lack of oxygen for fish. "The fish would be unable to survive due to the change in environment happening too fast," said Arifsyah.

He also said that the increased growth of a certain algae species during the rainy season could have led to competition for oxygen between plants and fish.

The third possibility, he added, was due to the B3 that came from several industries nestled in the coastal area of North Jakarta.

"The waste thrown out by [these industries] and the circulation in the seawater could lead to the death of Jakarta Bay fish," said Arifsyah, adding that the group needed to conduct further research to make a conclusive confirmation.

Previously, Jakarta Police spokesperson Comr. Edi Guritno said that he had received reports from residents regarding seawater anomalies near Ancol Beach prior to the discovery of the dead fish.

"According to locals, the sea has two types of water: clear and brown-colored," said Edi on Monday, adding that samples of the dead fish and seawater would be examined at the city's fisheries laboratory.

According to a report by, the police and Ancol Beach management conducted a clean-up operation from 7 a.m. on Monday to transport the dead fish, which consisted of various species, to a nearby incinerator. (liz/kes)(+)

Thousands of fish found dead in Ancol
The Jakarta Post 1 Dec 15;

Thousands of dead fish of various species washed up along Ancol beach in North Jakarta on Monday, allegedly due to toxin contamination from nearby rivers.

“Ancol management reported that it had found many dead fish on its beach early on Monday morning. When we arrived at the scene, there was around a ton of fish washed up on it,” said law enforcement head of Jakarta Water Police division Comr. Edi Guritno.

He added that there were various types of fish, such as snapper, mullet, grouper and milkfish.

According to Edi, after the report, the water police immediately took measures to remove the dead fish from the coastline, as well as investigating the cause of their deaths.

He added that the police, in cooperation with Ancol management, had deployed a pickup truck and plastic bags to take the fish from the shore to the Ancol garbage dump, where they would be burned.

Edi said the police had sent samples of the fish and sea water to the Jakarta Maritime, Agriculture and Food Security Agency (KPKP) for scientific examination to confirm the cause of death.

Nonetheless, Edi said that the Ancol management and residents suspected that the fish had died of poisoning from pollutants carried by rivers that flowed into the sea in the Ancol area.

Separately, head of the KPKP’s fisheries division, Lilik Litasari, offered a similar interpretation.

Lilik told reporters that she had met with a number of Ancol management staff and residents and also examined the condition of the water.

Based on her preliminary investigation, she concluded that the waters had been contaminated with hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a colorless poison carried in the mud from the rivers. According to her, the H2S deprived the sea water of oxygen, causing the death of the fish.

According to her, the poisonous mud had possibly flowed to the sea during rain last Friday and Saturday.

“This is a phenomenon that usually occurs early in the rainy season after a long drought. A large volume of water flows from the land to the sea, carrying along sediment that has been deposited in the rivers,” Lilik said.

However, Lilik emphasized that the current theory was only based on the preliminary analysis and that the agency would make a final conclusion after receiving results from the laboratory.

She revealed that Monday’s incident was not the first for Ancol’s management, as it had experienced a similar phenomenon previously, although not with an amount of dead fish as large as this.

Ancol management said that a similar incident occurred three years ago.

According to Pembangunan Jaya Ancol corporate communications manager Rika Lestari, the management had predicted Monday’s incident for over a week before the dead fish were discovered.

“A week ago, our field officers predicted this would occur as they saw foam on the sea water,” Rika said.

She added that in the name of safety the management was currently asking beach visitors not to swim on the beach.

Responding to the issue, an environmental activist from Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), Mukri Friatna, urged the Jakarta administration to quickly examine the quality of its sea water considering that Monday’s incident was not the first of its kind.

He said that by examining the sea water the administration could identify what substances were in the water and thus discover if the water was polluted because of natural toxins or a result of bad waste management.

“In the end, they [the officials] can decide the best measures to reduce contamination in Jakarta’s seas,” Mukri said. (agn)

BPLHD: Industrial Waste May Be to Blame for Ancol Fish Deaths
Thousands of dead fish have flooded the waters of Ancol, North Jakarta. (Antara Photo/M Agung Rajasa)
Jakarta Globe 1 Dec 15;

Jakarta. The Jakarta Environmental Agency, or BPLHD, suspects the deaths of thousands of fish in the waters of Ancol, North Jakarta, were caused by industrial pollution, an official said on Tuesday.

“We have to check the water quality. It is possible that [the deaths] were caused by industrial waste since 13 rivers flow into Ancol,” BPLHD head Junaedi told CNN Indonesia on Tuesday.

A BPLHD team will collect water samples from the Jakarta Bay and rivers around Ancol for further investigation. The Jakarta Police's forensic laboratory (Puslabfor) and the city's Fisheries and Marine Agency will also join the case.

“The Fisheries and Marine Agency will take samples and the police will help analyze the case,” Junaedi said.

A similar incident last year was caused by garbage choking the city's rivers after a shift in seasons, he said.

“[In 2014], the wet season brought pouring rain, which washed away garbage and waste into the rivers, leading to a lack of oxygen in the water and killing the fish,” he explained.

“But in the current case, we are still in the process of discovering what exactly has caused the phenomenon [fish deaths] — whether it is industrial waste or a change in seasons,” he added.

If industrial waste is proven to be the culprit, Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama announced on Monday he will force the closure of the companies and factories responsible.

"But for now, just let the BPLHD do its job," he said.

Minister to collect data on contaminated water areas
Antara 2 Dec 15;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said her ministry would take stock of polluted water areas in an effort to create healthy conditions in the countrys waters.

"We will ask for data on the polluted areas in Indonesian waters that contain hazardous waste material," the minister said here on Tuesday.

She said her ministry would seek assistance from a number of countries which own satellites, such as Norway, to collect data on the areas contaminated by hazardous material.

The minister said although the country did not have a satellite, yet Indonesia has remained committed to deploying task forces to check illegal fishing to cruise through and examine the countrys water areas. "Although we do not have a satellite, we must carry out what we are committed to. We have our task forces which we will deploy," she said.

It was reported on Monday that thousands of fish had stranded ashore and died at the Ancol Dream Land beach in North Jakarta. The worsening water quality and climate change phenomenon were believed to be the cause.

The Jakarta Environmental Agency (BPLHD), according to the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday, suspected that the deaths of thousands of fish in the waters of Ancol were caused by industrial pollution.

"We have to check the water quality. It is possible that these [deaths] were caused by industrial waste since 13 rivers flow into Ancol," BPLHD head Junaedi was quoted by the Jakarta Globe as telling CNN Indonesia on Tuesday.

A BPLHD team will collect water samples from the Jakarta Bay and rivers around Ancol for further investigation. The Jakarta Polices forensic laboratory (Puslabfor) and the citys Fisheries and Marine Agency will also join in the investigations.

"The Fisheries and Marine Agency will take samples and the police will help investigate the case," Junaedi said.(*)

Phytoplankton population explosion caused death of fish in Ancol: LIPI
Antara 2 Dec 15;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The mass death of fish, found washed ashore North Jakartas Ancol Dream Land beach, was due to a population boom of the Coscinodiscus spp. species of phytoplankton, noted the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

In a press statement here on Wednesday, the Oceanic Research Center of LIPI said the phytoplankton population had significantly reduced the oxygen content in the water.

According to LIPI, based on tests conducted on the water samples taken from three locations on Ancol beach on Tuesday, the oxygen content in the water was found to be very low at only 0.765 milliliters per liter (ml/L), while the normal oxygen level is about four to five ml/L.

The low content of dissolved oxygen is the cause of the mass death of fish at Ancol beach. Based on the observation, the density of phytoplankton was recorded at one to two million cells per liter of water.

Coscinodiscus spp. is one of the species that is actually not dangerous, but since it has a large number of cells, it absorbs a significant amount of oxygen, thereby resulting in a drop in the levels of dissolved oxygen in the water.

Thousands of dead fish were found washed up along the Ancol beach early on Monday.

The fish species found dead, included milk fish (bandeng), mullet fish, snapper fish, and the so-called kentang-kentang fish.(*)

Read more!

Hundreds of whales found dead in Chile

AFP Yahoo News 2 Dec 15;

Santiago (AFP) - More than 300 whales have been found washed up in a remote inlet in Patagonia in southern Chile in one of the largest die-offs on record, researchers said Tuesday.

"It was an apocalyptic sight. I'd never seen anything like it," said one of the scientists who made the discovery, Vreni Haussermann of the Huinay Scientific Center.

Scientists launched an expedition to count the animals after 20 sei whales were reported dead in April, beached in an extremely remote region some 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) south of the capital Santiago.

When the researchers flew over the region in June, they found the scale of the die-off was much larger: at least 337 dead whales, "including bodies and skeletons," said Haussermann.

"There are still a lot of areas we haven't managed to reach, so it's likely there are more dead whales," she told AFP.

The die-off, the biggest single event of its kind known to science, will be investigated in an upcoming issue of National Geographic magazine, which funded the expedition.

Scientists initially said the whales did not bear any wounds, suggesting they may have died of a virus or a harmful algal bloom known as "red tide."

The gruesome find comes as countries get down to tough negotiations at crunch talks in Paris, which are seeking a pact to curb climate change.

Marine biologists say the warming of the world's oceans is putting dangerous pressure on whale populations by killing off their food supply and changing their age-old migratory routes.

Read more!

El Niño warming causes significant coral damage in central Pacific

Georgia Institute of Technology Science Daily 1 Dec 15;

Current El Niño conditions in the Pacific Ocean have created high water temperatures that are seriously damaging coral reefs, including those on Christmas Island, which may be the epicenter for what could become a global coral bleaching event, report scientists.

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology recently returned from the Island and are reporting that 50 to 90 percent of corals they saw were bleached and as many as 30 percent were already dead at some sites. The situation could worsen as water temperatures remain well above normal into the early months of 2016.

"This El Niño event is driving one of the three largest global scale bleaching events on record," said Kim Cobb, a professor in Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences who has studied long-term El Niño conditions. "Ocean temperatures exceeded the threshold for healthy corals back in the summer, and are continuing to warm. Bleaching occurs when temperatures exceed a threshold that is function of the amount of warming, as well as the length of time at that temperature."

Bleaching is an outward sign of stress on the corals, which release the symbiotic algae that normally help provide them with energy to sustain their metabolism during prolonged episodes of warm ocean temperatures. The loss of these alga turns the coral colonies white, and opens them to disease and death. Bleached corals can recover if water temperatures return to normal, but continued stress could lead to widespread coral death, Cobb said.

Cobb has studied reef systems on Christmas Island for 18 years, and recently returned from a two-week visit to the area. She and other researchers measured water temperatures of 31 degrees Celsius, (88 degrees Fahrenheit), well above normal water temperatures of 27 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit).

"There's an astounding amount of warming at this particular site," said Cobb. "These reefs are under dramatic stress which is leading to severe coral loss. It will take years for these reefs to recover."

Some coral species are more sensitive to thermal stress than others, and the researchers saw responses that varied from mild bleaching in some species to coral death in others. If the high temperatures continue as projected, species that have been only mildly affected so far may be pushed toward 100 percent bleaching, while species already bleached may be killed.

The last time water temperatures reached such levels was during the 1997-98 El Niño event, which was the largest ever recorded -- until now. Until the current record-breaking El Niño event, the Christmas Island reefs had been thriving and healthy.

Georgia Tech researchers are planning to return to Christmas Island in March to assess the full impact of the damage. Cobb says the disaster will provide a unique opportunity to study the long-term ecological impacts of major bleaching events, which could become more frequent as Earth warms.

"We are determined to turn this environmental catastrophe into a scientific gold mine by being out there before, during, and after this event to document what is going on at this reef," she explained. "There is incredible interest in understanding how reefs recover from an event of this scale. If you fast-forward 50 years, this may be what a majority of the coral reefs around the world will be experiencing."

Information gathered may help project how reefs will stand up to rising sea temperatures and increasing acidification, both caused by rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. In the March trip, Cobb's group plans to work with a research team led by marine ecologist Julia Baum from the University of Victoria.

The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a cycle of warm and cold temperatures that occurs naturally in the central Pacific approximately two to seven years. By studying fossil coral records from Christmas Island, Cobb and her research team have seen evidence of these cycles back at least 7,000 years. However, there is increasing evidence that El Niño events have changed in the past few decades.

"It's clear from the data that El Niños have been strengthening in the recent past," said Cobb. "Even without considering the current event, we have already documented that the recent spate of large El Niño events in the late 20th century stands out against a background of natural oscillations embedded in the coral records."

While her work alone cannot demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship between strengthening El Niño events and global warming, Cobb says that the combination of many different studies suggests that the rise in carbon dioxide levels is a major factor.

Though associated with the Pacific, El Niño events have worldwide impacts. In the United States, for instance, the strong El Niño is expected to help make this winter's weather cooler and wetter than normal in the South, and warmer than normal in the North.

Coral reefs are important to the people who live in the Pacific area because they provide a nursery for fish and other aquatic life that provide a food source. The reefs also protect low-lying islands from storms and high waves. But their impact is global.

"From an ecological perspective, they are the nurseries of the global oceans," Cobb said. "The loss of this habitat will have vast implications for ocean ecosystems and ocean services that we depend on, not just for the Christmas Island area, but on a global scale."

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Georgia Institute of Technology. The original item was written by John Toon. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Coral Reefs Provide Crystal Ball for Future Change
Pacific reefs devastated by El Nino offer a glimpse of the future under global warming
Brian Kahn, Climate Central Scientific American 4 Dec 15;

Christmas Island sits about as close to the middle of the Pacific as you can get. The main island of Kiribati, a small island nation, is 3,300 miles from San Francisco, 3,800 miles from Brisbane and just 140 miles north of the equator. Its closest neighbor of note is Hawaii, which is still 1,250 miles away.

Some might say it’s as close to the middle of nowhere as you can get. But it’s at the center of one of the biggest climate events in decades. A super El Niño has raised water temperatures to unprecedented levels and it’s causing a massive coral die off.

Researchers are racing to track the impacts the warming is having on coral as well as what happens to the reefs when the waters cool. The work has implications well beyond an island in the middle of nowhere. How coral respond to this year’s El Niño offers a preview of what the rest of the world’s coral will face as the world continues to warm.

From the water’s surface, the coral reefs surrounding Christmas Island looked healthy. But as soon as Kim Cobb plunged below the azure waters that surround the world’s largest atoll, a new picture began to emerge on a November dive.

Once-vibrant reefs had lost their color. Ghostly white skeletons covered in a growing layer of green-brown algae created a desolate underwater landscape.

“Everything was structurally intact, the reef looked almost normal,” Cobb, a paleoclimate scientist at Georgia Tech, said. “But all the colors were different. The coral isn’t alive, it’s already dead. It’s an eerie, eerie thing to be in the midst of such a rapid transformation.”

Cobb has worked on the reef for 18 years. The rapid change she saw this year is being driven by El Niño, which has ratcheted up ocean temperatures to record levels in the eastern central Pacific.

A slow and steady creep starting in 2014 turned into a rapid rise in the latter half of 2015. By November, water temperatures around the island reached as high as 88°F.

That’s great for a swim but terrible for coral.

When waters warm for an extended period, they essentially cook the algae that help coral grow. If water temperatures remain that high, coral can’t recover and die off.

The world’s oceans are currently in the midst of the third major die off — termed bleaching by scientists — ever recorded and the hot waters around Christmas Island have been dealing with the heat for months.

“Christmas (Island) has been on highest bleaching alert for many months now, since at least July, and it will stay on the highest level through next March,” Julia Baum, a coral ecologist at the University of Victoria who is also doing work at Christmas Island, said. “That is almost unprecedented, if not totally unprecedented. We normally look at temperature anomalies in degree heat weeks. We’ve been saying we might have to change the scale to degree heat months because this is going on and on and on.”

Months upon months of exposure to extreme heat have cooked corals to a crisp. Cobb estimated that 30 percent of the corals she’s been monitoring are dead.

“Given that what we saw in November was a much larger level of destruction than anticipated, we’re truly braced for the worst,” she said, noting that some areas could see 100 percent die off by the time El Niño is expected to wind down in March.

A ‘Crystal Ball’ For the Rest of the World

But there’s hope that some coral could survive and both Cobb and Baum are looking out for them in hopes of unlocking what their secret to survival is. Christmas Island’s location makes it a model location to study the role of warming on reefs, but it also has a diverse array of reefs — from ones impacted by human fishing to ones that are in pristine condition — that make it ideal to see how different influences play out.

Monitoring reefs’ reaction to warm waters and how they recover (or don’t) when El Niño finally ebbs could also provide clues about how to manage reefs in other parts of the world.

Global warming has made oceans the warmest they’ve ever been and temperatures are expected to keep rising for decades to come. That could push some reefs out of their comfort zone and cause coral die offs. Add in the stress of ocean acidification and protecting coral reefs becomes even more important (and challenging).

Reefs provide protection against storm surge and when managed properly, can be an important source of subsistence for millions around the world. Researchers estimate that reefs could provide as much as $172 billion in services a year, from tourism to fishing to flood protection. In part, that’s why their survival is so important.

“It’s like holding a crystal ball. We can figure out the effect, we can figure out why, we can figure out which corals are super performers. If we understand that, we can make targeted conservation solutions, we can learn lessons and transfer them to other reefs,” Baum said. “Climate change is coming to all of those reefs. If we sit and do nothing right now, it will too late.”

This article is reproduced with permission from Climate Central. The article was first published on December 4, 2015.

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Warm countries launch sun-energy alliance

The alliance issued a declaration vowing to mobilise more than US$1 trillion (€940 million) in investment by 2030 for the "massive deployment" of affordable solar power.
Channel NewsAsia 1 Dec 15;

LE BOURGET, France: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched in Paris an alliance of 121 sun-drenched countries, rich and poor, to dramatically boost the use of solar power.

The alliance issued a declaration vowing to mobilise more than US$1 trillion (€940 million) in investment by 2030 for the "massive deployment" of affordable solar power.

Modi, speaking on the sidelines of a 195-nation United Nations climate summit in Paris, said the sun could help move the world to a safer path.

"The vast majority of humanity is blessed with generous sunlight round the year. Yet many are also without any source of power," Modi, father of the International Solar Alliance, told world leaders Monday.

"We want to bring solar energy into our lives and homes by making it cheaper, more reliable and easier to connect to grid," Modi added. "Today, when the energy sources of our industrial age have put our planet in peril, the world must turn to the sun to power our future."

Modi has nevertheless argued that rich nations have no right to stop the poor from using fossil fuels such as coal and oil, which are blamed for warming the planet, to power their economic development.

"We still need conventional energy - we need to make it clean, not impose an end to its use," the Indian leader told the summit.


But sharing a stage with French President Francois Hollande at the solar alliance launch, the Indian leader said the sun's energy was a way not only to bring electricity to more people in poor areas, but also to enable "growth with a lighter carbon footprint."

France and India are members of the new group, which includes African, Asian, Middle eastern, American, European and island countries which lie between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

Hollande said the alliance would enable a transfer of funds and technology from rich members to poorer ones "to reduce inequalities and ensure development".

"We can no longer accept this paradox ... that countries with the biggest solar energy potential represent only a small part of global solar electricity production. These countries house the majority of the global population, and it is in these same countries that there is limited access to electricity."

Analysts said the scheme was a sign of India's determination to harness the sun's power.

"This partnership is another example of Prime Minister Modi continuing to show his strong commitment to expand renewable energy in India and will undoubtedly complement India's efforts to build 100 gigawatts of solar energy by 2022, said Rhys Gerholdt, climate spokesman at the World Resources Institute.

India will host the alliance secretariat and fund its operations for five years until 2021, said Modi.

- AFP/ec

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The right price for preserving our climate

CHRISTINE LAGARDE Today Online 2 Dec 15;

As world leaders convene in Paris this week for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, their task will be to reach a global agreement on curbing greenhouse-gas emissions. A successful outcome, demonstrating that countries can work together for the good of the planet, would send a powerful message of hope to the world — and to the people of Paris, who remain unbowed after the recent terrorist attacks.

Climate pledges will be made on the basis of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), or commitments to the reduction of emissions worldwide. I believe that the price of emissions should be at the centre of these pledges.

Achieving a decline in greenhouse-gas emissions at the lowest possible cost requires a revolution in energy use and production. Gradual, predictable and reliable increases in energy prices would provide strong incentives for consumers to reduce their energy bills. At the same time, the right carbon price would enable a smooth transition away from fossil fuels by encouraging investments in technological innovation.

That is why International Monetary Fund staff have recommended a three-part strategy on carbon fuel: “Price it right, tax it smart, and do it now.” Each component is essential.


First, setting the right price for fossil fuels means taking into account their true environmental costs. Prices should pass on to end-users the full cost not only of production and acquisition, but also of the damage — including air pollution and climate change — caused by an intensive reliance on fossil fuels. A fairer carbon price will drive energy savings and boost demand for cleaner fuels and “greener” investments.

Second, the necessary change in prices would be achieved by taxing energy, using tools that are both practical and efficient. The best option is to build a carbon charge into existing fuel taxes and apply similar charges to coal, natural gas and other petroleum products.

The revenue implications would be significant. If large emitting countries were to impose carbon prices of US$30 (S$42) per tonne of CO2, they could generate fiscal revenues amounting to about 1 per cent of their GDP. These revenues could be used to manage the overall fiscal burden of climate action, as well as to finance cuts in taxes on labour and capital that distort economic activity and harm growth, or to reduce deficits where needed.

In short, carbon pricing is about “smart” taxes, not higher taxes. Smart taxes should be phased in gradually to allow households and firms time to adjust, and for new technologies to come on stream. A gradual and tailored adjustment is particularly important for developing economies, many of which make little contribution to global emissions.

Time may be necessary, in many cases, to ensure social safety nets are in place to protect low-income households and to provide retraining programmes for workers in energy-intensive industries. This approach would allow for climate investments to be financed through private capital flows.

Third, there is no time to lose: Policymakers need to act immediately. Given the slump in energy prices, there has never been a better time to undertake the transition to smart, credible, and effective carbon pricing. Nor should countries wait for others to move first.

Work at the IMF has shown that a fair amount of carbon pricing is in many countries’ national interest — even ignoring adverse climate effects on other countries — because it would help to resolve major domestic environmental problems.

According to the World Health Organization, outdoor air pollution causes more than three million premature deaths a year. And early action is essential to avoid the need for much more drastic — and costly — efforts later.

Ahead of the Paris summit, more than 160 countries submitted emissions mitigation pledges. By implementing these commitments, countries will substantially reduce projected future global warming.

The challenge now is to deliver on these pledges. This is why we need a concerted push for carbon pricing.

In Paris, a select group of leaders who are true champions of carbon pricing will issue a call for action. The Carbon Pricing Panel, led by the IMF and the World Bank, will further increase the policy momentum at the national, regional, and municipal levels.

In addition to public-sector efforts, we also need the robust engagement of financial institutions and markets. Hedging instruments such as so-called catastrophe bonds can help insure against the increasing risk posed by natural disasters. Other financial instruments, such as “green” stock indices and “green” bonds, can help reallocate investment to sectors that support environmentally sustainable growth.

Here, too, carbon prices that are predictable and sufficiently high will be essential to guide investment choices.

There is a lot at stake this week in the City of Light. Paris recently experienced humanity at its worst. The climate summit will be an opportunity to show it at its best. PROJECT SYNDICATE


Christine Lagarde is Managing Director of the IMF.

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Paris climate talks: World leaders urge action as developing nations seek space to grow

As world leaders wrapped up the first day of talks at the Paris Climate Conference, many acknowledged that developing countries would need to be given more achievable goals and financial help from developed nations.
Natalie Powell, UK Correspondent, Channel NewsAsia 1 Dec 15;

PARIS: Around 150 world Leaders attended the first day of a major climate change summit in Paris, known as COP21. It was the biggest gathering of heads of state outside of the UN and has helped to drawn attention to the issue.

It is hoped that an agreement will be reached by the end of the summit to limit future temperature rises.

The message from the French President at COP21 in Paris was clear - the future of the planet is in the hands of global governments. “Never has a conference welcomed so many authorities coming from so many countries but never, and I mean never, have the stakes been so high at an international meeting because we're talking about the future of the planet, the future of the life,” said French President Francois Hollande.

Throughout the Leaders Event on Monday, heads of government pledged to address climate change and reduce emissions. But many acknowledged that developing countries would need to be given more achievable goals and financial help from developed nations.

"Countries need to increase dialogue, exchange best practices and achieve common development through mutual learning,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping. “At the same time, countries should be allowed to pursue their own solutions that best suit their respective national conditions."

Ahead of the summit, more than 180 nations had already submitted climate action plans to. “Indonesia through the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions has a commitment to reduce emissions quicker than before, so during the year of 2020 to 2030 the government of Indonesia has a commitment to reduce 29 per cent - that’s greater than before,” said Dr Agus Justianto, senior adviser to Indonesia’s minister of environment and forestry.

However it is estimated that even with the commitments already on the table, temperatures would still rise above the level of 2°C, which according to scientists would have catastrophic consequences.

World leaders agree that something needs to be done now to ensure the future of the planet. But whether or not this summit will be a turning point on climate change, will depend on what agreements can be secured by the time the conference comes to an end.

- CNA/rw

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Climate talks: 4C rise will have dire effect on world hunger, UN warns

The UN’s World Food Programme says climate change is stretching resources, and warming could cause a ‘semi-permanent food disaster’ in parts of the world
John Vidal The Guardian 1 Dec 15;

El Niños, climate change and increasing conflict linked to prolonged droughts and extreme weather are leaving the world unable to cope with the food needs of millions of people, the World Food Programme (WFP) has warned.

The UN agency, which last year appealed for $8.5bn from governments to provide food aid to people in 80 or more countries but only received $5.5bn, said donors had never been more generous but that the challenges were now outpacing available funds.

“The humanitarian system is increasingly stretched financially and operationally. Weather disasters require responses in more places and for longer periods,” said the WFP executive director, Ertharin Cousin, in Paris for the climate talks.

“The global climate negotiations are critical for a world without hunger. Among the most significant impact of climate change is its potential to increase hunger and malnutrition. The current El Niño and complex droughts, storms and floods the world is experiencing today provide a window into what our future could look like if a meaningful climate agreement is not reached.”

To streamline responses to food emergencies, the agency is trying to work ahead of weather-related disasters. Using three- to six-month regional climate forecasts the WFP can now predict pretty accurately where a food emergency will strike, nine months to a year ahead. But working with the UK Met Office and the Hadley Centre for climate change, it has now mapped for the first time the potential effects on world hunger of increasing temperatures.

The map shows that, at present, Africa and Asia have hotspots of predictable vulnerability. But once data from the IPCC’s fifth assessment report on climate change is factored in, the map turns darker and it is possible to see which countries will be most affected by temperature increases and extreme weather over the longer term.

If temperatures rise by only 2C, then millions more people would be affected across Central America, Africa and Asia. If temperatures were to rise between 4C and 5C, the map becomes covered in hotspots – suggesting a semi-pemanent food disaster in many parts of the world.

Cousin will not predict the cost of providing humanitarian food aid on a much larger scale, but accepts it is likely to be many tens of billions of dollars a year. “Climate change has the potential to reverse the whole development path,” she says.

The situation could potentially be even worse, as the maps do not factor in increasing conflict, which she says is linked to climate. “Most of WFP’s resources now go into conflict areas. It used to be to areas like the Sahel and East Africa which were most in need in need because of droughts. Now 50% of our entire operation is addressing a combination of climate and conflict.”

Cousin echoes the World Bank, which has linked conflict with climate. “The data suggests a definite link between food insecurity and conflict. Climate is an added stress factor,” she says

With this year’s El Niño expected to peak in the next few months, WFP says that Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi and parts of Central America will be in great need of food aid.

Better forecasting allows it to prepare communities ahead of failed harvests, but also gives governments more time to prepare food stocks and relief. “When the shock occurs we can trigger predictable funding and also funding to help people to recover afterwards.

“We need new approaches. It’s the only way to help lift vulnerable people out of a cycle of chronic hunger and poverty, for good,” Cousin said.

She predicts that climate finance intended to help vulnerable countries adapt to climate change will need to be used to feed people.

FAO urges "hand-in-hand" approach to hunger and climate change
Focus on agriculture, forestry and healthy soils can help push back "tipping point" for many poor people
FAO 1 Dec 15;

1 December 2015, Paris - Providing support to developing countries and their agricultural sectors is essential for the global goals of eradicating hunger and tackling the challenges of climate change, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said in Paris today.

As world leaders gather to discuss commitments necessary to prevent average temperatures from rising by more than two degrees, "we are already crossing tipping points for families and communities," he said at the UN Climate Summit COP21.

Poor family farmers are being driven off their land by prolonged drought, coastal fishing communities are losing their homes due to rising sea levels, and pastoralists are being forced to migrate in search of grazing lands, Graziano da Silva said. "These are not distant scenarios. All this is happening now," he added.

That the poor and most vulnerable peoples are already suffering from the brunt of climate changes they did the least to cause is "clearly an injustice," he said.

Graziano da Silva spoke at a special event on agriculture co-organized by France and FAO and held under the aegis of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda that showcased existing solutions to the challenges of climate change, including FAO's Blue Growth Initiative and its Save Food Initiative.

At a related event focusing on forestry, FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo noted the importance of forests in responding to climate change and reducing hunger and poverty and responding to climate change. It is important to make sure that high quality research and analyses is actually used, she said.

A hand-in-hand approach

FAO argues that hunger and climate change must be tackled "hand-in-hand," at the same time, an approach that requires building more sustainable, productive and resilient agricultural sectors, Graziano da Silva said. Actions geared to that end can transform human lives and also "cut across the usual distinction between adaptation and mitigation," he added.

While the inhabitants of the 50 poorest countries are responsible for less than one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), many developing nations have prominently focused on their agricultural sectors as part of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) that all countries are required to formulate.

Wealthier nations must now support their less developed peers to "bring their INDCs to life," Graziano da Silva said, saying the international community can help them move to the next stage by identifying "specific adaptation strategies, finance opportunities, technology transfer and robust data collection and monitoring."

FAO is ready to support its members in implementing their plans and help them "seize the transformative potential" of resilient agricultural sectors, he added.

Noting how many problems - climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, women's empowerment along with food security - are intertwined, Graziano da Silva quoted UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon: "Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all."

"At FAO we firmly believe that sustainable agriculture is certainly one of these solutions," he said.

It is now time to act after more than two decades of talking about climate change, he said. "This Conference (COP21) must be the beginning of a new era on how to tackle climate change. We have a long way ahead" he said.

Healthy soils

"Sustainable soil management will benefit all and contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Agenda by 2030," Graziano da Silva said at another event launching the "4 pour mille initiative," a French-led voluntary action plan seeking to raise soil carbon stocks by 0.4 percent a year in order to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide while also boosting soil fertility.

The initiative, which endorses the application of agrocecology and related agricultural practices, calls on states, local authorities, companies, farmers' organizations, non-governmental organizations and research institutes to commit to farming methods that maintain or enhance soil carbon stock wherever possible, and to preserve carbon-rich soils.

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