Best of our wild blogs: 10 Nov 16

All Good Things & A Great End: Kranji Marshes
Winging It

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Faster response time for cases involving multiple agencies: Grace Fu

TOH EE MING Today Online 9 Nov 16;

SINGAPORE — The setting up of the Municipal Services Office (MSO) has helped to cut down the response time for cases involving multiple agencies by nine days — from 21 days in October 2014 to 12 days in June this year, said Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu on Wednesday (Nov 9) in an update to Parliament on the MSO’s efforts.

The proportion of cases which required referrals to multiple agencies had also dropped from 13 per cent to 9 per cent during the same period, said Ms Fu, who oversees the MSO.

Set up in October 2014, the MSO is meant to help improve inter-agency coordination in municipal matters. Its services include the upkeep and improvement of the common living environment, such as the cleanliness and maintenance of the estates and upgrading or provision of facilities and infrastructure.

“This reflected an improvement in work processes and better understanding of the partners’ area of responsibility,” said Ms Fu.

These improvements were made possible due to the efforts by the MSO and its partner agencies, she added.

Such efforts included the introduction of the OneService app, which allows for feedback to be given without knowing the agency responsible for the problem; and the appointment of lead agencies to deal with groups of municipal issues.

For example, public greenery maintenance has been centralised under the National Parks Board (NParks) since June last year.

In June this year, said Ms Fu, the Land Transport Authority was appointed as first responder for feedback on the maintenance of connectivity-related infrastructure, such as cycling paths, ramps, staircases, overhead bridges, lifts and promenades.

For all animal-related issues — for example, if there is a python in a monsoon drain — members of the public can contact the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA). It will coordinate efforts with the relevant agencies, including external partners such as animal welfare groups, to resolve the problem, said Ms Fu.

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Plastic bag charge could have 'unintended consequences': Amy Khor

Lim Jia Qi Channel NewsAsia 9 Nov 16;

SINGAPORE: A plastic bag charge could have "unintended consequences", such as the substitution of these bags with paper bags or even wastage of reusable bags, Senior Minister of State for Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor told Parliament on Wednesday (Nov 9).

Sufficient educational and enforcement measures also need to be in place to complement a charge and reduce shoppers' demand for plastic bags, she said.

Ms Khor was responding to MP for Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng’s question on whether the Government would consider imposing a charge on plastic bags at supermarkets.

Earlier, Channel NewsAsia reported that local environmental group ZeroWasteSG had called for a plastic bag charge in Singapore. The group had conducted a survey which found that only about 15 per cent of shoppers were using reusable bags or trolleys without taking plastic bags.

Ms Khor commended the environmental group’s efforts in raising awareness on the need to curb the excessive use of plastic bags, and added that the ministry and the National Environment Agency (NEA) are looking into the survey results.

“Even though Singapore manages the disposal of plastic bags well, there is room for us to cut down on excessive usage,” she said, adding that the Government is engaging supermarket operators to explore ways to do so.

“I am heartened by recent media reports that major supermarket players in Singapore are open to considering measures to reduce plastic bag usage, such as a voluntary charge on plastic bags if imposed across the industry,” she added.

Singapore has a different way of handing plastic bag waste compared to other countries, said Ms Khor. In Singapore, plastic bag waste is incinerated before they are transported to the landfill, whereas in other countries, such waste is disposed of in landfills without incineration.

“In these countries, plastic bags, which are not biodegradable, may remain in landfills for a long time or find their way into the sea,” she said.

The NEA has published a tender to study the different types of single-use carriers and how they compare in terms of cost and impact on the environment, said Ms Khor, adding that the results will help in formulating any future policies on the use of different types of bags.

Ultimately, the excessive use of plastic bags could only be curbed with the support and participation of the community and retailers, Ms Khor said.

“Shoppers can play their part by taking just enough plastic bags for their needs and reusing them for bagging household refuse. They can also utilise reusable bags as much as possible,” she said.

- CNA/jq

Related link
Oral Reply by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, to Parliamenty Question on Imposing a Charge on Plastic Bags in Supermarkets, 9 Nov 2016 [Parliament Q&A]
on Zero Waste Singapore

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Malaysia: Rapid land reclamation could lead to hawksbill turtles shying from Malacca

KELLY KOH New Straits Times 9 Nov 16;

MALACCA: While other threats remain imminent, the critically-endangered hawksbill turtles that begin life along Malacca's coast could be driven to extinction by rapid land reclamation.

While the Malacca government, Tanjung Bidara assemblyman Datuk Md Rawi Mahmud announced on Monday, a plan to gazette an 800m stretch of beach along Padang Kamunting to Air Hitam Darat as a turtle sanctuary, much more may be needed to save the hawksbill turtles.

The hallmark of Malacca's future sprawling development stretching further into the Malacca Straits, massive land fills began to emerge in the 1970s and synonymous with the decline in numbers of turtle landings along the coast North of Klebang.

The World Wildlife Fund Malaysia (WWF) is proposing to conduct a study to quantify the impacts of climate change and coastal reclamation that they will have on turtles.

Malacca Turtle Conservation WWF-Malaysia Team Leader Lau Min Min said while acknowledging that beach activities, climate change, fishing and poaching as among the threats to sea turtles, a study on the effects of coastal reclamation would provide a concrete answer on the cause of decline.

"Right now, we believe that reclamation near Klebang along the Straits of Malacca causes the decline in turtle landings in Pulau Upeh, which is the largest hawksbill turtle nesting beach in Peninsular Malaysia.

"The number of turtle landings in Pulau Upeh dropped five times since 2011 from 111 landings to only 13 landings as of October this year,” she told the New Straits Times here, yesterday.

She said although there were no nesting beaches near Pulau Melaka, where the reclamation for mega-projects are, its cause-and-effect could possibly be felt only years later.

"Turtles were sighted swimming in the ocean near Pulau Melaka, but they were not there to lay their eggs.

"But the effects of coastal development cannot be felt instantly. It may only be felt miles and kilometres away at other nesting beaches years later.

“By then, it will be too late as turtle landings would have been gone. Who will take the blame and reverse its effects?," she said.

She added that the actual cause of decline in the number of turtle landings can be identified after the study completes, and WWF could be more concrete with their answers supported by facts and figures by next year.

Adult female turtles would return to the beach where they hatch to lay their eggs.

With beaches continue facing threats, it would reduce the number of nesting beaches in the state, resulting in further decline to the critically endangered hawksbill turtle.

There are 18 nesting beaches in Malacca, with Padang Kemunting and northern Linggi area such as Tanjung Serai, Tanjung Dahan and Meriam Patah recording higher turtle landings.

Lau acknowledged the fact that hatching success also declined due to rising temperature, which not only lead to changes in sex ratios or potentially result in mortality, but also the death of hatchlings.

"Hatchlings are sensitive creatures and could not even withstand an increase in one or two Celsius as they are not incubated naturally, but with other hatchlings which are also emitting heat in our centre," she said.

She commended efforts by the Malacca government to gazette the stretch of beach along Padang Kemunting to Air Hitam Darat as a turtle sanctuary.

"At present, there are no beaches in Malacca being gazetted as turtle sanctuaries and this is a good beginning," she said.

Tanjung Bidara assemblyman Datuk Md Rawi Mahmud on Monday said the proposal would forbid night activities along the 800-metre stretch of beach, following concerns of a dwindling number of turtle landings in the state.

Rawi said that this was to prevent more places which were once turtle landing sites to perish like the one in Rantau Abang, Terengganu.

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Malaysia: No water rationing in Negri for now

The Star 10 Nov 16;

SEREMBAN: It’s good news for consumers in Negri Sembilan for now as the authorities have decided against imposing water rationing that was to start next week.

Although the dam and river levels were still low, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said heavy rains, induced by cloud-seeding activities since last Thursday, brought some relief.

“We have also stopped releasing 100 million litres of water daily from the Talang dam into Ulu Sungai Muar as heavy rains have replenished supply in the river,” he said.

Mohamad said water levels in several other rivers, such as Sungai Kenaboi and Sungai Teriang, had also gone up.

Prolonged dry weather in places such as in Jempol, Jelebu and Kuala Pilah led to a sharp decline in the water levels at major rivers and dams last month.

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Malaysia: Penang flash floods due to uncontrolled expansion in the state

The Star 10 Nov 16;

PUTRAJAYA: The recent flash floods in Penang are a result of uncontrollable development in the state, said Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

The Natural Resources and Envi­ronment Minister said that rapid development, especially along river banks, caused problems to the drainage system, which should have been looked into by the state government and local council.

He said mitigation plans would not be adequate to prevent floods if development projects, along the banks in particular, were not controlled.

“Instead of thinking about profit, the state government should have considered sustainable development.

“It could have also used the profit it got from developers to implement its own flood mitigation plan, rather than pointing fingers at the Federal Government,” Dr Wan Junaidi said at a press conference after the ministry’s monthly assembly yesterday.

The minister said a study found that the present size of the Sungai Pinang river could not sustain heavy flows of water when there was heavy rain.

The river should be upgraded by deepening, widening and stabilising its banks so that it can accommodate such water flows for at least 100 years, he said.

On Tuesday, Dr Wan Junaidi announced in the Dewan Rakyat that RM150mil would be allocated for flood mitigation in Penang although the state had asked for RM350mil.

Penang had seen a deluge of flash floods and landslides four times in recent days, the latest being on Monday when the main road connecting the city and Teluk Bahang had to be closed to traffic due to a landslide along Jalan Ujung Batu.

On the alleged pollution of Sungai Giling in Kampung Batu Laut, Sepang, from pig faeces, Dr Wan Junaidi said the ministry will wait for a full report from the Department of Environment before taking action.

Rapid, uncontrolled development led to Penang flash floods, says ministry
HASHINI KAVISHTRI KANNAN New Straits Times 9 Nov 16;

PUTRAJAYA: Rapid and uncontrollable development in Penang, which led to a cluttered drainage system, were among the reasons behind the recurring flash floods in the state.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said it was the local councils and the state government's negligence which led to them overlooking the capacity of the drainage system, which is not on par with the city's development.

He said if the development projects, especially along river banks in the state were not controlled, flood mitigation plans will not be fruitful.

"The state government should have considered sustainable development instead banking on profits from development projects.

"They could have also used the profits from the development to draw up and implement their own flood mitigation plan instead of pointing fingers at the government," he told reporters after the ministry's monthly assembly today.

Wan Junaidi said the state government should have studied the states's ability to accommodate the rapid development with the people's safety and welfare in mind. He also explained the current Sungai Pinang capacity will not be able able sustain the flow of water if efforts to deepen and widen the river is not done as soon as possible.

He said the government had approved RM150 million for the Sungai Pinang flood-mitigation project under the 11th Malaysia Plan.

Residents in flood-prone areas prepare for more misery
The Star 10 Nov 16;

BALIK PULAU: Two days after being hit by a deluge, a village in Batu Ferringhi was flooded again after a 30-minute downpour.

Batu Ferringhi Village Develop-ment and Security Committee chairman Ahmad Jassin said 25 houses in Kampung Batu Ferringhi were inundated yesterday.

“The water was ankle high at about noon.

“On Monday, the situation was really bad as the water reached waist level,” he said yesterday.

Meanwhile, residents living in other flood-prone areas are not taking any chances and have begun preparations for the worst.

Grandmother M. Govindoo, 80, said her family put up bags of sand in front of their rented house to prevent water from entering.

“Our house is frequently hit by floods after downpours.

“In July, the water level was knee high,” said Govindoo when met at Kampung Teluk Awak near Lengkok Teluk Bahang 1.

Residents in Jalan P. Ramlee have moved their belongings to higher ground in anticipation of more floods.

Rahmattullah Abdul Majid, 43, said he did not want to be caught off guard again like the last time.

“The floodwaters started rising at 3am on Monday when I was asleep and I could not salvage anything.

“Within a few minutes, the water reached my chest,” he said.

Rahmattullah, who is unemployed, said he had to fork out more than RM600 to repair his fridge and washing machine which were soaked in floodwaters.

Hardware supplier Salim Abdullah, 40, said he would be taking his family over to their relative’s house the moment it starts to rain.

“Two of my cars have to be sent to the workshop because of the floods on Monday.

“Now I’ve moved some of my stock to higher ground,” he said.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department has forecast thunderstorms and rain from today until Monday.

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Malaysia: Elephants on rampage, trampling crops, scaring villagers

INTAN BAHA New Straits Times 9 Nov 16;

LENGGONG: Eight wild elephants have been making lives of the villagers at Kampung Chepor a nightmare for the past two weeks.

The villagers, mostly rubber tappers, have not had a good night’s sleep as they live in fear of the next attack.

The wild elephants are said to have trampled on precious crops and the residents fear for their safety.

In the most recent incident, last night a herd of elephants made their way into the village and destroyed crops as well as trampled on dozens of banana trees.

Tarmizi Ghazali, the village’s headman said the herd came after dusk destroying the crops and making loud noises, which sent residents scurrying away.

He added that the residents were only able to watch from afar and did not dare chase the herd away.

He claimed that the elephants have destroyed almost half of the crops on a piece of 12-hectare land.

The crops on the former paddy field are managed by the villagers under a land rehabilitation programme, which is an important side income for the villagers.

According to Tarmizi, various efforts have been done to scare the herd away.

The residents have even resorted to building bonfires and setting off fire crackers, all of which have failed.

He said the 600 farmers in the village are very worried about the situation as the elephants, believed to have come from the Sungai Siput forest, would come every night for the past two weeks.

The Gerik Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) Peninsular Malaysia have sent four personnel to monitor the situation after the department was contacted.

Checks show that a four kilometre electric fence built seven years ago around the village was not fully functional as fallen trees have damaged parts of the barrier.

Tarmizi said that so far, no repair works have been carried out.

The residents hope that the authorities will take appropriate action soon.

Enraged elephant attacks couple in Tawau
AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 10 Nov 16;

TAWAU: A couple sustained serious injuries when they were attacked by an elephant at the Brumas estate area here, on Wednesday.

In the 6.15am incident, Santoko Satria, 44, and his wife Susie Sudirman were on their way to work at a timber plantation when they came in contact with the elephant.

District police chief Assistant Commissioner Fadil Marsus said the animal suddenly went berserk and began chasing the couple.

"It attacked them with its trunk, tossing them in the air, causing them to land hard on the ground.

"The wild elephant then chased and trampled the woman before fleeing into the forest."

He said the woman sustained serious bodily and face injuries.

Both victims were brought to the district hospital for treatment.

Bull elephant injures couple having breakfast
MUGUNTAN VANAR The Star 11 Nov 16;

KOTA KINABALU: A couple was injured in an attack by a lone bull elephant at the Brumas timber plantation in Sabah’s east coast Tawau district.

Indonesian Susi Sudiman, 36, who was stomped on during the attack, remains in critical condition at the Tawau district hospital from serious spinal injury as well as rib fractures.

Her husband Santoko Santra, 40, was slightly injured in the chest after being hit by the elephant’s trunk during the incident that had taken place just as the couple were having breakfast at their work site with five other workers at 6.15am on Wednesday.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said yesterday they had yet to get full details of the incident and could not immediately ascertain if the workers were attacked without provocation.

“Witnesses told us that they were having breakfast when the elephant attacked,” he said.

Tuuga said rangers were now tracking down the bull elephant, which might be travelling with a herd.

“My men have spotted some elephant tracks. We believe we will close in on the bull elephant and its herd,” he said.

However, he said no decision had been made to translocate the elephants or shoo the animals into the Gunung Rara forest reserve.

Tuuga said the forest reserve was some distance away from the Brumas plantation area, and translocating the animals to other reserves might be an alternative.

It is still not clear if the elephant was in musk (when bulls become more aggressive due to higher testosterone levels during the mating period) when it attacked the couple or was startled by the sudden presence of the workers.

Endangered Borneo Pygmy elephants are usually seen in the plantation but this has not hindered workers from carrying out their work.

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Indonesia: Judge turns down lawsuit on forest fire case in Riau

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 9 Nov 16;

Citing legal technicalities, the Pekanbaru District Court turned down a lawsuit filed by a local resident demanding a pretrial hearing against a controversial warrant ( SP3 ) issued by Riau Police to terminate investigations into 15 companies suspected to have been involved in several forest fires and illegal land clearings in the province last year.

The court did not touch on the substance of the lawsuit, which included the contention that the police did not have a strong reason to drop the case. Instead, judge Sorta Ria Neva focused her ruling on procedural matters.

The judge concluded that Ferry Sapta, as plaintiff, did not meet the legal requirements to file a civil lawsuit (CLS) on behalf of other citizens.

Like all citizens, said the judge, Ferry had the right to file a CLS, but the plaintiff failed to send the required notifications to the defendants.

According to law, notification letters have to be sent to defendants 60 days before a lawsuit is filed with a court and copies of the letters have to be sent to the local district court. However, no such notification letters were found.

“That’s why the pretrial hearing proposed by the plaintiff has been denied,” said Sorta, adding that Ferry was also obliged to pay Rp 5,000 for court expenses.

“The ruling on the pretrial hearing is final. There are no further legal avenues available after that,” said the judge.

The police claimed they decided to discontinue investigations into the companies in January because of a lack of evidence. The decision sparked anger among local farmers and environmentalists.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry expressed deep disappointment because the police’s decision went against the government’s determination to punish those who were responsible for the severe forest fires caused by land clearings.

Last year’s forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan attracted global attention because they caused severe health problems for people in the provinces and neighboring countries and massive damage to forests.

The House of Representatives demanded National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian replace the provincial police chief. Newly appointed Riau Police chief Brig. Gen. Zulkarnain indicated that the force had made procedural mistakes in issuing the SP3.

“We have made an internal evaluation. It is true that there are a few things that should be corrected,” Zulkarnain said at the House last month.

Meanwhile, a lawyer with the Riau Police, Nirwan, said that the ruling was in accordance with the evidence presented during the hearing.

“There was no preliminary evidence found indicating that the corporations committed the crime of burning fields,” Nirwan said after the court ruled.

The spokesman of the plaintiff’s legal team, Mayandri Zuzarman, expressed disappointment against the ruling, saying that the fires and the smoky haze had severely harmed people.

“As he is one of the affected people, how come the plaintiff was declared to have no legal standing to file a lawsuit for a pretrial hearing?” Mayandri asked.

“This is not over yet. The lawsuit for a pretrial hearing is just an initial stage. We will show the government that the people will not remain silent against the SP3,” he said.

A group of non-government organizations have also planned to challenge the police decision.

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Indonesia: W. Kalimantan Indigenous Groups Accuse Sime Darby of Land Grabs

Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 9 Nov 16;

Jakarta. Malaysian palm oil giant Sime Darby has been called out by a representative of indigenous communities for land-grabbing in Indonesia's West Kalimantan province during the 14th annual Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil meeting, which is taking place in Bangkok this week.

"We demand that Sime Darby return our land and comply with RSPO criteria 2.2, regarding the rights of indigenous peoples," Bang Redatus Musa, who represents the Kerunang and Entapang communities, said in a statement on Tuesday (08/11).

The communities, indigenous to West Kalimantan's Sangau district, have complained that the Malaysian company has trespassed on their land and turned it into a plasma plantation.

Bang also said the RSPO's complaint mechanism has been inefficient, as the matter against Sime Darby was filed in 2012, and still has not been concluded. According to community rights group TuK Indonesia, Sime Darby, through its West Kalimantan subsidiary Mitral Austral Sejahtera (MAS), has been operating on indigenous lands since 1995, without free, prior and informed consent.

In 1995, MAS approached the Dayak Mayau, Ribun and Tingin communities and reached an agreement to lease their land until 2022, in exchange for a one-time payment of Rp 50,000 ($3.80) per hectare.

Despite having no formal contract with the communities, MAS obtained a right of cultivation permit, or HGU, and a contract valid until 2030.

The Kerunang and Entapang communities, whose land was also under the contract, were not aware of it, nor of the HGU issued for MAS.

Sime Darby came into the picture when it took over MAS in 2007, leaving the communities questioning its pact on sustainability and respect for local land rights.

The communities demand that the RSPO solve the issue within a year and Sime Darby publish the documents that prove its right to the lands it cultivates.

Sime Darby told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday that it is ready to engage with the communities, but that at the end of the day, it all boils down to the government's decision.

"We are unable to accede to their demands at this point, as it would be against the terms of the contract with the government of Indonesia," Sime Darby said in a statement.

The company said most conflicts with local communities have already been resolved.

"As of the end of July 2015, agreements were reached in 12 [of 14] claims filed by communities, except for the Kerunang and Entapang groups," Sime Darby added.

MAS is Sime Darby's last mill not certified by the RSPO and will remain a grey zone in terms of sustainability certification until all conflicts are resolved.

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Indonesia: Another flood hits Bandung, two more cars carried away

Arya Dipa Arya Dipa The Jakarta Post 10 Nov 16;

Flooding has again hit Bandung after heavy rain poured down on the capital city of West Java on Wednesday evening with two minivans getting swept away by water on Jl. Pagarsih.

“The cars parked in the area were carried away by the floodwater. One of the cars moved 25 meters and approached the nearby Citepus River, but it was recovered. The other car is still missing,” West Java Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Yusri Yunus said.

A minivan was previously carried away by floodwaters at the same location when many areas were inundated by the overflowing Citepus River at the end of October. The car was found and recovered after a five-hour search.

Besides the two cars, several cars and motorcycles were stalled in the Cibaduyut area because of the depth of the floodwaters.

Bandung Mayor Ridwam Kamil said his administration had asked a developer of an apartment in the Pagarsih area to build an artificial lake to accommodate flooding.

To anticipate floods in the Gedebage area, the eastern part of the city, Ridwan said the administration also planned to build an underground reservoir for Rp 23.6 billion. “Now it’s in the bidding process.” (jun)

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Rising CO2 threatens coral and people who use reefs

Shoreline societies will lose fish, storm protection
DUKE UNIVERSITY EurekAlert 9 Nov 16;

DURHAM, N.C. -- As atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels rise, very few coral reef ecosystems will be spared the impacts of ocean acidification or sea surface temperature rise, according to a new analysis. The damage will cause the most immediate and serious threats where human dependence on reefs is highest.

A new analysis in the journal Plos One, led by Duke University and the Université de Bretagne Occidentale, suggests that by 2050, Western Mexico, Micronesia, Indonesia, parts of Australia and Southeast Asia will bear the brunt of rising temperatures. Reef damage will result in lost fish habitats and shoreline protection, jeopardizing the lives and economic prosperity of people who depend on reefs for tourism and food.

"Some scientists have held out hope that there would be reef areas that could escape the harm of climate change, but we find that most reefs will be affected by either warmer seas or more acidic oceans," said Linwood Pendleton, the study's lead author, a senior scholar at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and an International Chair of Excellence at the European Institute of Marine Studies. "2016 has been one of the worst years in memory for coral bleaching. This fact is demonstrated by this year's bleaching event that affected nearly all of the Great Barrier Reef."

The study builds on previous analyses to identify exactly how people and coral reefs are affected by a high-CO2 future and suggests pathways to help deal with changes. The authors mapped human dependence at the country level, scoring for two indicators: shoreline protection and coral reef fisheries. Simultaneously, the authors mapped the largely unavoidable impacts of increased sea surface temperature and ocean acidification.

Using data from the maps, the study predicts that the countries of Oceania will be among the first to face the greatest environmental stresses from climate change and ocean acidification, followed by the Coral Triangle countries of Southeast Asia and other parts of Australia -- all areas with high dependence on coral reefs.

Countries most likely to experience severe ocean acidification are generally different from those that will experience the earliest onset of coral bleaching. Acidification is projected to be worse for Baja California (Mexico), Japan, China, and southern Australia because they are at the upper and lower latitudinal bounds of coral reef distribution and thus generally in cooler waters that naturally carry more CO2.

"The response of non-governmental organizations, nonprofits, and labor and trade organizations will be critical in mounting a response to the threats posed by warming and acidification because these organizations represent the people that will be most severely impacted by the failure of coral reef fisheries," said Chris Langdon, a professor in the Department of Marine Biology and Fisheries at the University of Miami. "These groups must speak up for the individuals they represent so that their local, regional and national government agencies see that action is needed."

The authors say policy action to combat the threats of ocean acidification and surface temperature rise must be informed by data and science, but the research community is still doing a poor job of collecting this information where these threats are most substantial for people. Many of the countries most dependent upon coral reefs are also the countries for which we have the least robust data on ocean acidification, especially the South China Sea, an area of high human dependence and equally high political tensions.

"Because sea temperature and ocean acidification is largely beyond the control of the communities that depend on coral reefs, it is critical that we constantly monitor conditions there," said Adrien Comte, a Ph.D. candidate at the Université de Bretagne Occidentale. "Better environmental management can help delay the impacts on corals, and stepwise actions to improve monitoring and plan for adaptation should be funded."


View a summary of the findings and interactive maps The article will be available online at 2 p.m. ET, November 9:

This work was supported with grant funding from the National Social Environmental Synthesis Center, the Prince Albert II Foundation, the "Laboratoire d'Excellence" LabexMER (ANR-10-LABX-19), and the French government under the program "Investissements d'Avenir" and the Region of Brittany.

CITATION: L. Pendleton, A. Comte, C. Langdon, et. al. 2016. "Coral Reefs and People in a High CO2 World: Where Can Science Make a Difference to People?" PLOS ONE: DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0164699.

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Extreme weather warnings at UN climate meeting

Marlowe HOOD AFP Yahoo News 9 Nov 16;

Marrakesh (Morocco) (AFP) - Many of the deadly heatwaves and hurricanes, droughts and floods this decade have borne the imprint of man-made global warming, said a series of reports Tuesday that warned of worse to come.

With one eye on the American presidential contest between climate change denier Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, UN envoys gathered in Morocco for a second day of talks on putting the Paris Agreement into action.

Trump had vowed to "cancel" the climate rescue pact if he wins, but a series of new reports warned Tuesday of the importance of staying the course.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the last half-decade from 2011 to 2015 was the warmest five-year stretch on record, with 2014 and 2015 the hottest years of all.

In a report issued on the sidelines of the Marrakesh gathering, it warned of "the increasingly visible human footprint on extreme weather and climate events with dangerous and costly impacts."

Climate change "has increased the risks of extreme events such as heatwaves, drought, record rainfall and damaging floods," WMO secretary general Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

In a separate report, risk analysts Germanwatch said more than half-a-million people worldwide died as a result of almost 11,000 extreme weather events from 1996 to 2015.

These caused damage upwards of three trillion dollars (2.7 trillion euros).

Four of the 10 countries hardest hit by extreme weather events in 2015 were in Africa, said Germanwatch.

Poor countries, which contributed least to the planet-warming greenhouse gases now in Earth's atmosphere, were also least prepared to deal with the fallout -- superstorms, extreme drought, heatwaves and flooding, it added.

Mozambique topped the list of nations most affected on the agency's Global Climate Risk Index, followed by Dominica, Malawi and India.

Myanmar, Ghana and Madagascar were also among the top 10.

- 'Little time to adapt' -

The Paris Agreement, the world's first universal climate pact, vows to cap global warming to under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels, while aiming for 1.5 C.

This will be done through curbing emissions of manmade greenhouse gases, mainly from burning coal, oil and gas for heat and energy.

The UN talks in Marrakesh will negotiate rules for implementing the accord, which entered into force last week.

Climate scientists find it difficult -- when assessing an individual extreme weather event -- to determine the proportion of blame ascribed to global warming instead of natural climate variability.

But rapidly-accumulating climate data has recently made it easier to compare what is happening to the climate to past predictions about the impacts of manmade warming.

Looking over five-year time scales helps smooth out natural year-to-year variations and reveal the role of climate change a little more clearly.

"Of 79 studies published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society between 2011 and 2014, more than half found that human-induced climate change contributed to the extreme event in question," said the WMO report.

The correlation with climate change was strongest for high temperatures, according to the WMO, but less obvious for rain and snow.

Adding to the warnings, Britain's National Oceanography Centre said warming of 2 C by 2040 would see more than 90 percent of the world's coastal areas experience sea level rise of more than 20 centimetres (7.8 inches).

The Atlantic coast of North America and Norway would see as much as 40 cm.

"Coastal cities and vulnerable tropical coastal ecosystems will have very little time to adapt to the fast sea level rise these predictions show," said the paper's lead author Svetlana Jevrejeva.

In a worst-case-scenario 5 C-warmer world, 80 percent of coastlines would have sea levels rise over 1.8 metres (5.9 feet) by the end of the century.

Oceans rise partly due to water expanding as it warms, but also from the melting ice sheets of Greenland and West Antarctica.

2015 set a number of frightening climate records, the WMO noted.

Among others, it was the first year in which the average global surface temperature -- across land and sea -- was a full 1 C over the pre-industrial benchmark.

Africa hit worst by extreme weather in 2015
AFP Yahoo News 8 Nov 16;

Marrakesh (Morocco) (AFP) - Four of the 10 countries hammered hardest in 2015 by climate-boosted extreme weather are in Africa, according to a report released Tuesday at UN climate talks in Marrakesh.

"Africa is especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change," said Sonke Kreft, lead author of the Global Climate Risk Index 2017 report, issued annually by risk analysts Germanwatch.

Poor countries in general are more exposed to the ravages of superstorms, drought, heatwaves and flooding, all of which have become more intense and frequent due to human-induced global warming.

"The distribution of climatic events is not fair," Kreft said, noting that the world's least developed countries have emitted only a small fraction of the greenhouse gases heating up the planet.

Mozambique tops the list of nations most affected on the 2015 climate risk index, followed by Dominica, Malawi and India. Myanmar, Ghana and Madagascar are also among the top 10.

The index measures level of exposure and vulnerability to extreme events.

Climate models predicting that global warming enhances both the intensity and frequence of such events have been borne out by a crescendo of deadly weather, especially over the last decade.

More than half-a-million people worldwide died as a direct result of almost 11,000 extreme weather events from 1996 to 2015, according to the report, which has been tracking risk, country-by-country, for more than a decade.

Storms, heatwaves, floods and other climate-related natural disasters caused upwards of three trillion dollars (2.7 trillion euros) damage over the same period.

During those two decades, the countries worst hit were Honduras, Myanmar and Haiti.

The Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Vietnam and Thailand were also among the worst affected, taking into account both lives lost and the cost of damage.

The report does not factor out what percentage of the damage done can be attributed directly to global warming.

The UN talks, tasked with implementing the landmark Paris Agreement inked last December, run through November 18.

UN Report: Human Footprint 'Increasingly Visible' in Climate

MARRAKECH, Morocco: Hot and wild and with an "increasingly visible human footprint" — that's how the U.N. weather agency sums up the global climate in the past five years.

In a report released Tuesday at international climate talks in Morocco, the World Meteorological Organization said 2011-2015 was the hottest five-year period on record.

That comes as no surprise as WMO's annual reports have showed record average temperatures in 2014 and 2015. But the agency said the five-year report provides a better overview of warming trends and extreme events such as prolonged droughts and recurrent heatwaves.

"We just had the hottest five-year period on record, with 2015 claiming the title of hottest individual year. Even that record is likely to be beaten in 2016," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

The WMO's preliminary climate assessment for 2016 is set to be released next week.

While it's complicated to draw links between single weather events and climate change, the report found that many extreme events during the period were made more likely as a result of man-made climate change. In the case of some extreme high temperatures, the probability increased by a factor of 10 or more, the report said.

"Examples include the record high seasonal and annual temperatures in the United States in 2012 and in Australia in 2013, hot summers in eastern Asia and western Europe in 2013, heatwaves in spring and autumn 2014 in Australia, record annual warmth in Europe in 2014, and a heatwave in Argentina in December 2013," WMO said.

The report found no strong climate change link for extreme rainfall events.

Other highlights:

— Arctic summer sea ice coverage was 28 percent below the 1981-2010 average, reaching a record low in 2012. By contrast the Antarctic sea ice was above average, especially the winter maximum.

— Surface melting of the Greenland ice sheet — a contributor to rising seas — continued at above-average levels, exceeding the 1981-2010 average in all five years from 2011 to 2015. Mountain glaciers also continued their decline.

— Snow cover in the northern hemisphere was "well below average" in all five years, continuing a strong downward trend.

Climate scientists who were not involved with the report said it underscored the need for governments to boost efforts to fight climate change beyond their pledges for last year's landmark Paris Agreement.

"The evidence is overwhelming," said Chris Field, director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. "The new report from WMO is a clarion call for embracing and going beyond the goals of the Paris Agreement."

The Paris deal calls for keeping global temperature rises below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with preindustrial times. The average temperature in 2015, partly influenced by a powerful El Nino event, was already halfway there.

"Halting global warming at a manageable level, as the world's nations decided in the Paris Agreement, is now a race against time," said Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute in Germany.

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Climate change: Nations will push ahead with plans despite Trump

Matt McGrath BBC 10 Nov 16;

At UN climate talks in Morocco, countries say they are prepared to move ahead without the US.

President-elect Trump has said that he will "cancel" the Paris Climate Agreement within 100 days of taking office.

Negotiators in Marrakech say that such a move would seriously damage the credibility of the US.

But fossil fuel supporters say Mr Trump's plans prioritise the needs of American families.

Cancelling the deal

The election of a candidate viewed with horror by many environmental campaigners, has cast a significant shadow over COP22 - the annual meeting of climate delegates from almost 200 countries.

They have come to Marrakech to work on the nuts and bolts of the Paris Climate Agreement.

However the election of Mr Trump now poses something of a threat to the deal signed less than a year ago in the French capital.

The treaty commits governments to take action to keep global temperatures from rising by 2C above pre-industrial levels and to do their best to keep that rise to less than 1.5 degrees.

But Mr Trump has promised that within 100 days of taking office he would "cancel" the agreement and "stop all payments of US tax dollars to UN global warming programmes".

Aware of Mr Trump's intentions, countries speedily ratified the Paris deal and it became a binding part of international law on 4 November.

If the new president wants to take the US out of the agreement, the process will require four years before he is free of it.

But while that might frustrate Mr Trump, he has also promised within his first 100 days, to rescind the executive actions that President Obama has taken to limit US emissions of carbon.

The key element of the Obama scheme was the Clean Power Plan, that aimed to severely restrict CO2 from energy production.

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump repeatedly denounced the costs of the plan and said he would reverse it.

"It also means scrapping the EPA's so-called Clean Power Plan, which the government itself estimates will cost $7.2bn a year. This Obama-Clinton directive will shut down most, if not all, coal-power electricity plants," he told an audience in New York in September.

The President-elect's plans to renege on the Paris Agreement and push forward with coal have been condemned by green groups globally.

"Trump's election is a disaster, but it cannot be the end of the international climate process," said May Boeve from

"We're not giving up the fight and neither should the international community. Trump will try and slam the brakes on climate action, which means we need to throw all of our weight on the accelerator."

In Marrakech, where up to 20,000 participants from all over the world are trying to advance the Paris Climate Agreement, there was a strong sense that the President-elect's promises wouldn't sabotage the deal.

"I'm sure that the rest of the world will continue to work on it," Moroccan chief negotiator Aziz Mekouar told wire agencies.

Others felt that the practicalities of office my change Mr Trump's tone.

"Now that the election campaign has passed and the realities of leadership settle in, I expect he will realise that climate change is a threat to his people and to whole countries which share seas with the US, including my own,'' said Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine at the meeting.

However, Mr Trump's promise to rapidly get out of the Paris agreement and to push forward with a coal friendly policy have been welcomed by groups representing the fossil fuel industry.

According to the American Energy Alliance (AEA), which has attracted funding from companies and individuals opposed to green energy, the election presented the opportunity to reset the "harmful" policies of the last generation.

"We were among the first organisations to endorse President-elect Trump," the AEA said in a statement.

"We're excited to work with his administration to put forth energy policies that will deliver affordable energy to American families, invigorate the economy, and create more opportunities for future generations."

For delegates in Marrakech, Mr Trump's promises to pull out of Paris and his general climate scepticism are an unwelcome distraction but not as yet a derailment.

Many believe that over time, the realities of a changing climate would bring even the wealthy businessman into line.

"It's clear Donald Trump is about to be one of the most powerful people in the world," said Alden Meyer, from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"But even he does not have the power to amend and change the laws of physics, to stop the impacts of climate change, to stop the rising sea levels."

Paris climate deal thrown into uncertainty by US election result
Many fear Donald Trump will reverse the ambitious course set by Barack Obama, withdraw the US from the accord and increase fossil-fuel spending
John Vidal and Oliver Milman The Guardian 9 Nov 16;

Just days after the historic Paris agreement officially came into force, climate denier Donald Trump’s victory has thrown the global deal into uncertainty and raised fears that the US will reverse the ambitious environmental course charted under Barack Obama.

International environmental groups meeting at the UN climate talks in Morocco said it would be a catastrophe if Trump acted on his pledge to withdraw the US from the deal, which took 20 years to negotiate, and to open up public land for coal, oil and gas extraction.

Trump has called climate change a “hoax”, placing him virtually alone among world leaders on the validity of the science. The real estate magnate has promised to embark upon a four-year process of withdrawing the US from the Paris deal and has targeted the “billions and billion and billions” given to UN climate programmes and clean energy development.

Domestically, Trump has promised to reboot America’s ailing coal industry, as well as expand gas and oil drilling, despite the fact that the growth of natural gas use has caused the downturn in coal.

He also plans to scrap Obama’s signature Clean Power plan, which is the main policy designed to lower US emissions.

Recent analysis by Lux Research estimated that a Trump presidency would raise US greenhouse gas output by 16% by the end of his second term, should he get one, compared to a Hillary Clinton administration. Such a shift could prove key in not only pushing the world towards dangerous climate change but also dissuading other nations from making the required cuts in emissions.

Green groups have urged the president-elect, as the leader of the second greatest greenhouse gas emitter, to act in the interests of all the world.

“The new president must protect the people he serves from climate chaos. No personal belief or political affiliation can change the stark truth that every new oil well and pipeline pushes us all closer to catastrophe. The administration has moral and legal obligations to meet international commitments,” said May Boeve, head of climate campaign group

Christian Aid warned that any attempts by Trump to ditch the Paris deal would be an act of “economic self-sabotage”.

“The global transition to a zero-carbon economy will not be held up by one man. The rest of the world will not risk a global climate catastrophe because of one man’s opposition,” said Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid’s international climate lead spokesman.

In the US, shellshocked environmentalists pledged to step up their opposition to Trump. “Greenpeace and millions of people around the world have all the power we need to combat climate change and create a just world for everyone,” said Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace US. “Let’s use this moment to reenergize the fight for the climate and the fight for human rights around the world.”

Ségolène Royale, the French environment minister who helped negotiate the Paris accord, told journalists in Marrakech that the US could not withdraw from the treaty easily. “The Paris agreement prohibits any exit for a period of three years, plus a year-long notice period, so there will be four stable years,” she said.

“We must be extremely attentive and responsive to each time there is an attempt made to weaken this agreement,” she said on French radio.

“There is no possible turning back in the negotiation on what was agreed in Paris ... we can only advance,” said Salaheddine Mezouar, foreign minister of Morocco, which is hosting the latest round of climate talks.

Major countries meeting in Marrakech were slow to respond to Trump’s win but small island states threatened with annihilation if temperatures are not held to 2C urged him to take responsibility for the whole world.

“I expect [Trump] will realise that climate change is a threat to his people and to whole countries which share seas with the US including my own ... I look forward to watching Mr Trump live up to his responsibility to protect his people, and others around the world,” said Hilda Heine, president of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

“One of the many challenges Trump’s administration will now confront is climate change. Last month, for the first time, renewables like wind and solar surpassed fossil fuels in [new] electricity generation globally and that number is expected to climb. America has led this technological transformation and can continue to create jobs and opportunity in this area,” said Thoriq Ibrahim, energy minister for the Maldives and chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis).

Alden Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientists was reported to have told a press conference at Marrakech that: “If the US pulls out of this, and is seen as going as a rogue nation on climate change, that will have implications for everything else on President Trump’s agenda when he wants to deal with foreign leaders. And I think he will soon come to understand that.”

“The election of President Trump is clearly a major threat to our climate and future wellbeing of generations to come. But thankfully the clean energy revolution is now unstoppable. If Mr Trump chooses to disengage then he will hand the next industrial revolution lock, stock and barrel to the Chinese,” said Friends of the Earth’s chief executive officer, Craig Bennett.

US human rights and environment groups urged other countries to hold Trump to account. “The Paris agreement was signed and ratified not by a president, but by the United States itself. As a matter of international law, and as a matter of human survival, the nations of the world can, must, and will hold the United States to its climate commitments,” said Maya Golden-Krasner, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Nathaniel Keohane, vice-president at the Environmental Defense Fund, said: “The world won’t wait for the US and neither will the climate. This year the impacts of climate change cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars and put 40 million people in southern Africa alone at risk of hunger.

“The next president needs to work with Congress to go further faster to cut emissions and protect the rights of men and women on the front lines of the climate crisis.”

Businesses also expressed concerns that a Trump presidency would set back climate change action. “We expect Trump’s policies to put at risk the decarbonisation and clean energy uptake seen during President Obama’s time in office, with potential to slow both the US energy system transition and domestic measures to mitigate climate change,” said analysts at HSBC’s Global Research unit.

China earlier this month took the unusual step of criticising Trump’s plans to pull out of Paris.

But Zou Ji, deputy director general at China’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, said: “China’s climate strategy and policy is in accordance with China’s national interest, and is not dependent on the US presidency.

“The fundamental incentive is China’s need to drive growth by escalating the economic transition, improving air quality, boosting growth rate by efficiency improvement, and strengthening energy security. After all, it is a matter of innovation of development path.”

UN climate talks to Trump: don't get left behind
Marlowe Hood AFP Yahoo News 10 Oct 16;

Marrakesh (Morocco) (AFP) - Stunned but defiant participants at UN climate talks in Marrakesh said Wednesday that climate change denier Donald Trump can't derail the global shift to clean energy, and that the United States would get left behind if he tried.

The US president-elect "cannot prevent the implementation" of the landmark Paris pact, inked in the French capital last December, said Segolene Royal, France's environment minister and outgoing head of the UN climate forum.

"As I speak, 103 countries representing 70 percent of (greenhouse gas) emissions have ratified it, and he cannot -- contrary to his assertions -- undo the Paris Agreement," she told French radio station RTL.

Trump has described global warming as a "hoax" perpetrated by the Chinese government, and has said at different times that he would "renegotiate" or "cancel" the 196-nation deal.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon congratulated Trump on his victory and said people everywhere looked to the United States to work for the common good.

"Today's global challenges demand concerted global action and joint solutions," he told journalists at the UN headquarters in New York.

Leaders and diplomats invested in decarbonising the global economy predicted the gathering momentum of that transition -- and the rising danger of global warming -- would carry the United States with it, regardless of Trump's views.

"The election campaign has passed," said Hilda Heine, president of the Marshall Islands, whose nation is slowly disappearing under the waves.

"I expect [President-elect Donald Trump] will realise that climate change is a threat to his people and to whole countries which share seas with the US, including my own," she said in a statement.

Business leaders advanced a similar argument.

"He wants to make America great again," said We Mean Business, a coalition of several thousand companies and investors.

"Climate action provides the basis for new jobs and enhanced competitiveness in the industries of tomorrow," it said in a statement, noting that the sector employs 2.5 million in the US.

Trump has vowed to "bring back coal" and peel back greenhouse gas reduction emissions measures put in place by Barack Obama, saying they choke business growth.

France's top climate negotiator Laurence Tubiana said this "would be a disaster for the US economy."

"If the US wants to go back to coal production, to 19th century industry, fine, but I don’t see the future for US industry in this."

"Ask Google, Microsoft, Apple, Walmart – even General Motors. I don’t think they agree."

America is the world's second-largest greenhouse gas polluter after China, representing some 13 percent of emissions.

Trump's threats, if carried out, would recast the United States as a climate villain, which is how it was widely perceived after George W. Bush refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in 2001.

The Obama administration has been an ardent champion of the Paris Agreement, a role Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, had vowed to continue.

Veteran climate analysts said a Trump White House would pay a heavy price if they simply abandoned the UN talks, today tasked with implementing last year's historic pact.

"If the US pulls out and is seen as going as a rogue nation on climate change, that will have implications for everything else on President Trump's agenda when he want to deal with foreign leaders," said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Washington-based thinktank.

The election, he added, was certain to put US negotiators in Marrakesh in an awkward position as they defend US policy positions.

"They won't have the ability to ensure their negotiating partners that these will be the positions of the US in three months."

Climate scientists who inform political decisions also expressed alarm, with one noting that Trump's campaign rhetoric on global warming had "strolled into a fact-free zone."

"It is now to be seen how the disinformation and climate change denialism will pan out in actual decisions, actions and appointments," said Joeri Rogelj, a scientist and modeller at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, in Laxenburg, Austria.

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