Best of our wild blogs: 13 Nov 16

Mystery of the Pulsating Spider
Macro Photography

Butterfly of the Month - November 2016
Butterflies of Singapore

Recce Walk At Gardens By The Bay (11 Nov 2016)
Beetles@SG BLOG

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Malaysia: High tides expected in Johor next week

NABILA AHMAD The Star 12 Nov 16;

JOHOR BARU: Residents in Johor have been warned of possible high tides next week because of perigee, a phenomenon where the moon is closest to the Earth.

Johor Health and Environment committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said that the Super moon would occur on Nov 14 at around 7.24pm followed by the full moon phenomenon at 9.54pm on the same night.

He said the possible high tide is expected to happen at several areas of Johor Baru's coast on Nov 16 and 17, reaching up to 3.2m high.

“However, the water level is not expected to reach as high as 3.8m like the previous high tide phenomenon on Oct 16 to Oct 20,” he said in a statement on Saturday.

He added that the Civil Defence Department (APM) as well as other agencies had been urged to be on alert and to standby for any possible incidents that could occur.

“Members of the public are advised to not believe unverified news on social media regarding the high tides and the Super moon phenomenon,” he said.

Ayub said that according to National Space Agency (Angkasa), the Super moon phenomenon previously occurred in May 2012, June 2013, Aug 2014 and Sept 2015.

He said that this year however, the moon is expected to be the closest to the Earth in 68 years.

“It is also predicted that the moon will be the nearest to the Earth again 18 years from now,” he said.

High tide phenomenon to hit Selangor
The Star 12 Nov 16;

SHAH ALAM: The high tide phenomenon is expected to recur over coastal areas in Selangor for five days beginning Monday with sea water levels projected to reach up to 5.6m.

The Selangor State Disaster Management Unit said in a statement yesterday that the risk of floods could also increase in the areas in the event of heavy rain and strong winds during that period.

“People living in high-risk areas such as Klang, Kuala Langat, Sepang, Kuala Selangor and Sabak Bernam are urged to adhere to the instructions of the local authorities and be ready to be evacuated to the nearby relief centres which will be opened at 2pm tomorrow,” the statement said.

Last month, several states including Selangor and Perak were hit by floods due to the high tide phenomenon. — Bernama

Selangor tells coastal area residents to brace for 'super tide' phenomenon
HARIZ MOHD New Straits Times 11 Nov 16;

SHAH ALAM: The Selangor government has issued a warning for residents of coastal areas in five districts to brace for another wave of the ‘super tide’ phenomenon next week.

The unusual high tide is forecast to begin starting this Monday until next Friday, with sea water levels expected to reach up to 5.6 metres in height.

Districts expected to be affected by the phenomenon are Klang, Kuala Langat, Sepang, Kuala Selangor and Sabak Bernam.

In a statement today, the Selangor state secretariat said it has ordered the authorities and state government agencies to be prepared for possible floods, which can occur if the phenomenon coincides with heavy rain and strong wind.

"The state government advises residents at high-risk areas in Klang and Sabak Bernam to heed authorities’ orders and take precautionary measures.

"These include registering and evacuating to temporary shelters that will be opened starting 2pm on Nov 13," read the statement.

In a list attached with the statement, the state government listed four areas in Klang and Sabak Bernam as red zones (high risk), while six areas in Kuala Selangor, Sepang and Kuala Langat as yellow zones.

ed zones: Kampung Tok Muda and Batu 5 Kapar in Klang; Kampung Sungai Air Tawar and Tebuk Mendeling (Sabak Bernam).

Yellow zones: Kuala Selangor (Pasir Penambang, Bagan Pasir and Pantai Remis); Sepang (Bagan Lalang coastal area); and Kuala Langat (Kelanang Beach and Tanjung Sepat coastal area).

Govt agencies on watch for king tides amid lunar event
The Star 14 Nov 16;

IPOH: All relevant government agencies have been told to be vigilant as the next bout of king tides associated with the supermoon is expected from today.

Perak Disaster Management Committee secretary Kol Mohd Noor Hassan Ashari Sulaiman said its district secretariat committees, Civil Defence Department, Fire and Rescue Department, Welfare Department, and others were told to prepare for emergency situations.

“We have instructed Civil Defence personnel, firemen and Rela teams to work with village development and security committees to conduct patrols every four hours at risk-prone areas.

“The Welfare Department should be prepared to open shelters,” he said, adding that the monsoon season was in effect.

The north-east monsoon typically starts in early November and ends in March.

The flood-risk areas that have been identified include Hulu Perak, Kerian, Larut Matang and Selama, Manjung, Perak Tengah, Hilir Perak and Bagan Datoh.

Mohd Noor Hassan said the king tide phenomenon was forecast to occur between today and Nov 21, when the tide could rise as high as 3.5m.

The last round of king tides happened in mid-October.

In Penang, the authorities around the coastal and low-lying areas were on high alert.

George Town OCPD Asst Comm Mior Faridalathrash Wahid said police teams were on standby in areas such as Jalan P. Ramlee, Jalan Air Itam and the inner city.

“We do not want to be caught off- guard because the tides will be higher than usual due to the supermoon,” he said.

He urged those living in low-lying areas to heed evacuation orders if these were given.

Penang has been hit by flash floods and landslides four times in recent weeks.

In Johor Baru, State Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the state government was keeping a close watch on the weather.

He said sea levels along the coastline could rise to 3.2m on Wed­nesday and Thursday due to the higher gravitational pull from the moon being nearer to the Earth.

“In the last couple of days, there have been downpours in the state and despite sea levels staying normal, the state government does not want to take any risk with floods.

“I have ordered the relevant agencies to be prepared,” he told reporters after launching the Sungai Skudai mini-carnival yesterday.

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Malaysia: Rescuers ready for flash floods in Cameron Highlands

The Star 12 Nov 16;

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: Three areas prone to floods have been identified and the authorities are ready to evacuate residents from there.

The areas are Bertam Valley, Terisu and Kampung Raja, said Cameron Highlands fire station chief Muhamad Haziq Hazmi (pic).

He said that based on previous experiences, the areas would see flash floods if there was heavy rain.

Also, Terisu was likely to suffer landslides, he said.

“It is now raining almost daily and we are monitoring the situation.

“If the water rises to an alarming level in Sungai Ringlet, we will evacuate villagers near the banks and hillslopes,” he told The Star.

Muhamad Haziq said that at present, the station has 29 firemen looking after the 73,000ha of highlands and that all leave had been frozen until next year.

He said that should the need arise, they would call for backup from stations in Simpang Pulai and Lipis, where rescue boats were already stationed.

“The Bertam Valley community hall is the main flood relief centre and police will open up more centres if there is a need to.

“Tenaga Nasional will also tell us about one to three hours earlier if water needs to be released from the Sultan Abu Bakar dam as a safety measure,” he said.

In October 2013, four people died in a massive mudslide and flood in Bertam Valley after water was released from the dam which was in danger of bursting.

The deluge also destroyed about 100 houses and damaged vehicles as well as other properties.

Muhamad Haziq said that all trekking activities at Gunung Irau, Gunung Brinchang, Gunung Jasar and Gunung Berembun had been suspended until further notice.

Regional Environmental Aware­ness Cameron Highlands president R. Ramakrishnan said residents were ill prepared for a massive flood like the one previously.

He urged the authorities to act fast and alert residents early of any situation, to avoid another catastrophe.

“Land clearing and hillside development are still happening at the expense of the environment,” he said.

He also questioned the need to build more houses in the area.

“With a population of around 36,000, there are already more than enough houses there,” he said.

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Malaysia: Scientists discover world's tallest tropical tree in Sabah's Danum Valley

AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 12 Nov 16;

KOTA KINABALU: International scientists believe they have found the world’s tallest tropical tree – right in the heart of Sabah.

The tree, the species of which has yet to be determined as it was discovered via air surveillance, stands at 94.1 metres, and has a crown diameter of 40 metres.

Although its height does not beat that of the Yayasan Sabah building (121.9 metres), it surpasses the Statue of Liberty, which stands at 92.9 metres.

The tree, discovered in the Danum Valley reserve, was one of among 49 super-tall tropical trees, with heights ranging from 70 to 90 metres, found in the area, as well as in Tabin and Maliau Basin.

The finding was announced by Prof Dr Gregory Asner, an ecologist at the Carnegie Institute of Science, during the Heart of Borneo conference held here recently. He is also the leader of the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO).

The determination of the tallest tropical tree was made based on high resolution 3-Dimensional mapping of the forest, which CAO carried out in collaboration with the Sabah Forestry Department.

In his presentation, Asner revealed the whereabouts of the top 50 tallest tropical trees, with 33 in the Danum Valley, 10 in Tabin, one in the Maliau Basin and others in the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) area in Sabah.

The Danum Valley, Tabin, and Maliau Basin forest reserves are under the custody of the Yayasan Sabah Foundation, which is the state government’s statutory body.

In 2007, American scientists announced the discovery of the world’s tallest tropical tree within the vicinity of Tawau Hills Park, which is under the care of Sabah Parks.

The Dipterocarpus spec tree, with the scientific name of Shorea faguetiana, was measured at 88.33 metres tall.

Lofty plans for world’s tallest tropical forest
RUBEN SARIO The Star 15 Nov 16;

KOTA KINABALU: A detailed study on the world’s tallest tropical forest is underway to determine its exact location and feasibility as an eco-tourism draw.

The forest is located within the 438sq km Danum Valley conservation area, about twice the size of Penang island.

Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said research teams would have to quantify the trees and identify their species and exact location.

“We will also have to look at the conditions of the soil and root system to determine whether it will be suitable to allow visitors there,” said Mannan.

“We don’t want to see the trees disturbed. If we feel it is safe to allow the public into the area, we can cut a track and build a station there. Our personnel will have to be in the area full time.”

He added that there was great interest in knowing more about these tallest tropical trees.

However, authorities are unsure if the species is yellow seraya or manggaris.

While American researchers had identified the tallest tree at 94.1m at the Danum Valley, Mannan said there were possibly hundreds of other trees that were at least 80m to 90m tall in the area.

He added that the tallest tropical tree was comparable to the famed Redwood forest in California, which is home to the world’s tallest tree standing between 110m and 115m.

Carnigie Airborne Observatory leader Prof Dr Gregory Asner said at the recent international conference on the Heart of Borneo here that they had identified 33 of the tallest tropical rainforest trees in Danum Valley.

World's Tallest Tropical Trees Discovered
Laser scanning in Borneo has revealed 50 trees that break previous records. The giants are about as tall as five sperm whales stacked end to end.
Kevin McLean National Geographic 10 Nov 16;

The tallest tropical tree in the world is right where we thought it was—in a protected forest reserve in the state of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. But it’s not the one we thought.

Greg Asner of the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) revealed the new record holder this week in his keynote speech at the 2016 International Heart of Borneo Conference.

Earlier this year a team of researchers led by David Coomes of Cambridge University made headlines with their announcement of the tallest tropical tree measuring 89.5 meters (293.6 feet) in Maliau Basin, a protected reserve managed by the Sabah Forestry Department. However, concurrent laser scanning in May 2016 across a broad swath of Sabah’s forests conducted by Asner shows that one behemoth tree on a hillside in Danum Valley, another protected reserve, measures 94.1 meters (308.7 feet), surpassing the Maliau specimen for the honor of the world’s tallest tropical tree.

The tallest known trees anywhere are California redwoods, which live in the temperate zone. They have been measured up to nearly 116 meters (380 feet).

The large-scale census in Borneo covered many of Sabah’s protected forests, and actually pinpointed 50 trees that broke the previous record scattered across the state—33 in Danum Valley, 10 in Tabin Wildlife Reserve, and 10 within the United Nations Development Program’s biodiversity conservation project area. He also found that the Maliau Basin tree was in fact just over 90 meters tall, adding that “either that tree grew half a meter or one of us is wrong”—a collegial nod to Coomes, who worked closely with Asner on his work in Sabah.

For reference, Asner noted in his talk that the height of the Danum Valley tree was about equal to five sperm whales stacked snout-to-fluke, an image enjoyed by the audience of scientists, government officials, and public and private stakeholders working in the Heart of Borneo—an area in the interior of the island of Borneo that includes parts of Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei.

Since the tree was measured remotely, scientists aren't sure which species it is, although it is likely in the genus Shorea, they say. That group includes nearly 200 species of mostly rainforest trees native to Southeast Asia. The trees can live for hundreds of years but many are endangered. Borneo has more than 130 of the species, including 91 found nowhere else. A number of the species are prized for their lumber.

The tree was measured with laser scanning, using technology called Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), which is essentially the laser version of RADAR. But instead of radio waves, light pulses are emitted from an airplane, bounce off the forest below, and the rate of these bounces allows for three-dimensional mapping of forests across entire landscapes in incredible detail.

LiDAR is rapidly becoming one of the most useful tools in forest research, management, and conservation. Recent applications of the technology have allowed researchers and policymakers to assess carbon stocks, track deforestation, and even uncover archeological sites.

Asner summarized the utility of the technology: “Our ability to measure forests at large scales, yet with actionable detail, is key to managing and conserving them.”

Despite the exciting discovery, Asner stressed that his analysis of the data is far from over. He showed preliminary figures of the carbon storage provided by the various forest types and land use histories across Sabah, all of which will be publicly available, a move that he hopes will help policymakers create informed conservation plans in the future.

Asner himself admits that he had at one time been skeptical of the conservation potential in Sabah. Imagery from the Landsat program, the longest-running satellite imagery operation, seemed to indicate that Sabah’s forests had all but vanished. Cynthia Ong, executive director of Forever Sabah, a local organization committed to supporting the state’s “transition to a diversified, equitable, green economy,” convinced Asner to think otherwise. After an initial scouting trip to visit some of Sabah’s protected forests, Asner and Ong sought support from the Sabah Forestry Department and other local and international organizations to fly the scanning technology over Sabah.

The research was funded by James Cameron's Avatar Alliance Foundation, the UN Development Programme, Rainforest Alliance, and WWF-Malaysia.

“Tallest tree aside, this work really highlights the value of protecting primary forests,” said Glen Reynolds, referring to forests that have had little or no human impact with intact ecological processes. Reynolds was also involved with the project as program manager for the Royal Society’s South East Asia Rainforest Research Program (SEARRP) and senior scientist at Danum Valley Field Centre, where the giant tree was located.

He added, “These ancient trees are really only found in primary forests, many of which are not properly protected. A detailed map like this will be useful for establishing conservation priorities.”

Battle of the Giant Trees

The International Heart of Borneo Conference is held annually in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, bringing together environmental leaders to present and discuss findings and needs in the region. This year the discussions were focused on conservation finance, the science-policy interface, and community engagement. The day’s presentation was met with enthusiastic applause from the audience, who will undoubtedly be awaiting further results at next year’s conference or sooner.

Kevin McLean is an ecologist and a Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow, who is using camera traps to study the rainforest canopy in Borneo and the Amazon. Follow his work here.

Full disclosure: McLean has published unrelated work with Greg Asner and has received assistance on his project from Glen Reynolds and Cynthia Ong, unrelated to the tree study.

Minecraft tree 'probably' the tallest tree in the Tropics
Discovery of an 89.5m tall Yellow Meranti in the Maliau Basin Conservation Area of Malaysia.
University of Cambridge Science Daily 8 Jun 16;

A tree the height of 20 London double-decker buses has been discovered in Malaysia by conservation scientists monitoring the impact of human activity on the biodiversity of a pristine rainforest. The tree, a Yellow Meranti, is one of the species that can be grown in the computer game Minecraft.

The Yellow Meranti stands 89.5m tall in an area of forest known as 'Sabah's Lost World' -- the Maliau Basin Conservation Area, one of Malaysia's last few untouched wildernesses. Its height places it ahead of the previous record-holder, an 88.3m Yellow Meranti in the Tawau Hills National Park.

The giant tree was discovered during reconnaissance flights by conservation scientists from the University of Cambridge working with the Sabah Forestry Department to help protect the area's biodiversity. It comes at a crucial time, as the Sabah government takes measures to protect and restore heavily logged areas in the region.

Measuring a tree's exact height is tricky when the tree is quite possibly the tallest tree in the Tropics. The only way is to climb it, and to take a tape measure with you. This is precisely what Unding Jami, an expert tree-climber from Sabah, did recently. When he reached the top, he confirmed the tree's height and texted "I don't have time to take photos using a good camera because there's an eagle around that keeps trying to attack me and also lots of bees flying around."

The tree actually stands on a slope: downhill it's 91m tall, and uphill it's around 88m tall. "We'd put it at 89.5m on average," explains lead researcher Dr David Coomes, from Cambridge's Department of Plant Sciences. "It's a smidgen taller than the record, which makes it quite probably the tallest tree recorded in the Tropics!"

At this height, the tree is roughly equivalent to the height of 65 people standing on each other's shoulders, or 20 double-decker London buses. It's just a few metres short of London's Big Ben.

"Trees in temperate regions, like the giant redwoods, can grow up to 30m taller; yet around 90m seems to be the limit in the Tropics. No-one knows why this should be the case," adds Coomes.

The tree was spotted using a LiDAR scanner -- a machine that's capable of producing exquisitely detailed three-dimensional images of rainforest canopies over hundreds of square kilometres. Its laser range finder hangs from the undercarriage of the research plane, peppering the forest with 200,000 laser pulses every second, and calculating distances in 3D from each reflected pulse. The researchers then 'stitch' the images together, enabling them to map the forest tree by tree.

Threatened by habitat loss, the Yellow Meranti (Shorea faguetiana) is classified as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature 'Red list', the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species.

"Interestingly, there may be more of this tree in cyberspace than in the world. It's one of the trees that players can grow in the computer game Minecraft," adds Coomes.

"Conserving these giants is really important. Some, like the California redwoods, are among the largest and longest-living organisms on earth. Huge trees are crucial for maintaining the health of the forest and its ecology. But they are difficult to find, and monitor regularly, which is where planes carrying LiDAR can help."

Globally, around one billion hectares of degraded forest might be restorable, enabling then to continue to contribute to the planet's biodiversity and its carbon and water cycles. However, a major problem faced by conservation managers is how to survey extensive areas in which conditions can vary in just a few hundred square metres and are continually changing through natural regeneration. "LiDAR scanning together with digital photography and hyperspectral scanners now provide us with unprecedented information on the state of the forest," explains Coomes.

With funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Cambridge scientists worked with the Sabah Forestry Department, the South-East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership and the NERC Airborne Remote Sensing Facility.

"The Sabah government is extremely proud of this discovery, which lays credence to the fact that our biodiversity is of global importance," says Sam Mannan, Director of the Sabah Forestry Department. "Our international collaboration, as in this case, has brought great scientific dividends to the state and we shall continue to pursue such endeavours."

Adds Coomes: "The discovery of this particular tree comes at a critical moment because, set against a backdrop of decades of forest loss, the Sabah government has decided to protect and restore a huge tract of heavily logged forest just to the east of the Maliau Basin. It's exciting to know that these iconic giants of the forest are alive and well so close to this major restoration project."

Sabah’s rainforest standing tall
RUBEN SARIO The Star 17 Mar 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Besides the world recognised Danum Valley conservation area, Sabah is also standing tall for having tropical rainforest trees with record heights in many other areas.

Other areas with these tall majestic trees are at Tawau Hills Park, Tabin wildlife reserve and Maliau Basin conservation area, said Sabah Forest Department Chief Conser­vator Datuk Sam Mannan.

The Carnegie Institute of Science at Stanford University – which declared a Shorea faguetiana (or seraya kuning siput) in Danum Valley as the world’s tallest tropical tree – has affirmed that Tawau Hills Park contained trees of almost similar height, said Mannan.

“We also know of other areas such as Tabin and Maliau that have trees of such height but this needs further study,” he added.

Mannan said there were at least a thousand trees at heights of about 90m in Sabah.

Last week, Mannan said plans were under way to allow the public to experience the world’s tallest tropical tree in Danum Valley.

The 94.1m seraya kuning siput tree is as tall as the Penang Menara Umno building.

A recent five-day expedition by department personnel found the exact location of the tree within the 438sq km Danum Valley, which is about twice the size of Penang island.

The expedition found the tree about 150m from the Ulu Purut Research Station, which itself is about 7km east of the Danum Valley Field Centre.

Mannan said the expedition also made other interesting finds, including two scenic waterfalls.

The researchers also carried out studies on soil and forest structure.

The seraya kuning siput tree became the focus of international attention after ecologist Prof Gregory Asner of the Carnegie Institute of Science at Stanford University announced its claim to fame at the Heart of Borneo conference last November.

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Indonesia Needs More Regulations to Mitigate Climate Change: Expert

Devina Halim Jakarta Globe 12 Nov 16;

Jakarta. Insufficient infrastructure and a lack of provincial and national regulations on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are hampering Indonesia's efforts to address climate change, an urban development expert said.

University of Indonesia lecturer Andy Simarmata explained that the country is not the only one facing problems with high emissions from transportation and energy, as these sectors tend to contribute the most to climate change.

"Transportation has become a 'hot' sector to help in the reduction of flue-gas emission," Andy said.

Encouraging citizens to use public transport is one of the government's programs to mitigate climate change.

Andy gave Bogor, West Java, as an example where public minivans, locally known as angkot, are part of these efforts.

The regional government's project to reduce carbon emissions is not through the usual green spaces, but by revitalizing public minivans and assisting the drivers to become the city's primary mode of public transportation.

Compressed natural gas, an alternative to gasoline and diesel fuel, for use by angkot is not available in many cities due to cost. Energy becomes a problem when the technology to develop it is expensive.

"Budgeting for green projects is a big problem in the government's fight to combat climate change," he added.

According to Andy, the state budget is not enough to finance climate-resilient projects.

Andy believes Indonesia needs to reform its urban planning. He also suggested that the government needs to integrate its program with citizens, as they cannot do it on their own.

"It's not only about a sustainable program for the city, but we have to prepare and educate citizens too," Andy said.

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Thailand cancels, adjusts flights ahead of lantern festival

Channel NewsAsia 11 Nov 16;

BANGKOK: Dozens of flights to northern Thailand will be cancelled or rescheduled when the country celebrates its annual Floating Lantern festival next week, airport officials said on Friday.

Chiang Mai International Airport, the main airport in northern Thailand - a destination popular with foreign tourists - said some flights would be cancelled between Nov. 12 and Nov. 16. as floating lanterns released during the festival could affect safety.

The Floating Lantern festival is celebrated at the end of the so-called "rainy season" when paper lanterns are launched into the air to coincide with a full moon.

In recent years, authorities have asked revellers to refrain from launching the lanterns because they pose a fire risk. In 2015, a Bangkok Airways flight was cancelled after a lantern was sucked into the plane's engine.

The government has asked that activities held during the festival be scaled back this year as a sign of respect for revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died on Oct. 13.

Thailand is officially in a one-year period of mourning for the late monarch.

National carrier Thai Airways International said in a note on Thursday that it would cancel some roundtrip flights from the Thai capital Bangkok to Chiang Mai, adding that it would adjust its flight schedule and increase flights to compensate.

(Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Michael Perry)

- Reuters

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Trump win opens way for China to take climate leadership role

Valerie Volcovici and Sue-Lin Wong Reuters 11 Nov 16;

The election of climate change skeptic Donald Trump as president is likely to end the U.S. leadership role in the international fight against global warming and may lead to the emergence of a new and unlikely champion: China.

China worked closely with the administration of outgoing President Barack Obama to build momentum ahead of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. The partnership of the two biggest greenhouse gas emitters helped get nearly 200 countries to support the pact at the historic meet in France's capital.

By contrast, Trump has called global warming a hoax created by China to give it an economic advantage and said he plans to remove the United States from the historic climate agreement, as well as reverse many of Obama's measures to combat climate change.

He has appointed noted climate change skeptic Myron Ebell to help lead transition planning for the Environmental Protection Agency, which has crafted the administration’s major environmental regulations such as the Clean Power Plan and efficiency standards for cars and trucks.

Beijing is poised to cash in on the goodwill it could earn by taking on leadership in dealing with what for many other governments is one of the most urgent issues on their agenda.

"Proactively taking action against climate change will improve China's international image and allow it to occupy the moral high ground," Zou Ji, deputy director of the National Centre for Climate Change Strategy and a senior Chinese climate talks negotiator, told Reuters.

Zou said that if Trump abandons efforts to implement the Paris agreement, "China's influence and voice are likely to increase in global climate governance, which will then spill over into other areas of global governance and increase China's global standing, power and leadership."

Chen Zhihua, a representative of the Chinese delegation and official in the climate change division of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's economic planning agency, said Chinese and other countries' efforts will not change if the United States withdraws from the agreement.

“Action by the international community will not stop because of the new government of the United States. We still have confidence the international community will join hands and continue our efforts on climate change,” he told reporters at the 200-nation U.N. meeting being held in Marrakesh to start fleshing out the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement seeks to phase out net greenhouse gas emissions by the second half of the century and limit global warming to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. Each country has put forward national plans to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Some have raised concerns that without involvement and financial support from the United States, emerging economies like India may feel inclined to back out.

One of the key advisors to Obama's team on climate change said he hoped China would take on the mantle and keep the global climate deal alive.

Beijing should "continue to work in the spirit that we worked together in and before Paris," said Andrew Light, former senior adviser to previous U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change Todd Stern.


It is an ironic twist for the government of the world's second-largest economy. For years, Beijing fought attempts by foreign governments to limit carbon emissions, claiming it should be allowed the same space to develop and pollute that industrialized nations had.

But with its capital often choked by smog and its people angry about the environmental devastation that rapid development has wrought across the country, Beijing has become a proponent of efforts to halt global warming rather than a hindrance.

"China is acting on climate for the benefit of its own people," said Erik Solheim, executive director of the UN Environment Programme.

"I am confident China will take a lead role."

China has powerful domestic and global imperatives to play a high-profile role in continued global climate change talks, meant to avert more heat waves, droughts, floods and rising sea levels that could cause trillions of dollars of damage by 2100.

China sees a perceived role as global climate leader as way to bolster its aspiration to become a "clean energy superpower" by leading in renewable energy technology such as wind and solar power and asserting itself as a key geopolitical power.

Dealing with the pressures of continued urbanization in some of the world's largest cities has already put China ahead, said Andrew Steer, the president of environmental think tank the World Resources Institute.

Beijing is innovating to build low-carbon cities, he said.

"It sees carbon as an indicator of economic inefficiency," Steer said.

Trump's victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton darkened the mood of delegates attending the current round of climate talks in Marrakesh.

Some delegates at the talks say that China is already setting an example.

"China is surprising us daily. Whatever they've promised they're delivering," said Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, of Democratic Republic of Congo, who heads the 48-nation group of least developed countries at the talks.

(Additional reporting by Alister Doyle in Marrakesh, Laurie Goering of the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Timothy Gardner in Washington; Editing by Simon Webb, Stuart Grudgings and Meredith Mazzilli)

Trump victory may embolden other nations to obstruct Paris climate deal

EU concerns are growing that some oil-rich nations that have not yet ratified the deal could now try and slow action on reducing emissions
Arthur Neslen and Adam Vaughan The Guardian 11 Nov 16;

Concerns are mounting that Donald Trump’s victory could embolden some fossil fuel-rich countries to try unpicking the historic Paris climate agreement, which came into force last week.

Saudi Arabia has tried to obstruct informal meetings at the UN climate summit in Marrakech this week, and worries are rife that states which have not yet ratified the agreement could seek to slow action on carbon emissions. Trump has called global warming a hoax and promised to withdraw the US from the Paris accord.

An EU source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “Of course this is a factor if not a fear – that where climate policies are concerned, Trump’s victory will probably make some parties feel empowered to start trying to reopen what has been agreed. If the US withdraws or starts demanding renegotiations, it is a possibility that some of the other parties will wake up and say ‘We have some pieces that we want to renegotiate as well’.”

Officials in Brussels and Washington stress that the Paris agreement’s entry into force in 2016 – four years earlier than required under the treaty – shows a rapid and ongoing momentum.

The vast majority of the 105 states that have ratified the Paris accord remain firmly committed to the legal framework and certainty it gives clean energy investors.

But Trump’s win spurred the EU president Jean-Claude Juncker to call for an urgent clarification by the president elect of the new US climate position.

“We must know what climate policies he intends to pursue,” Juncker said in a speech in Berlin on Thursday. “This must be cleared up in the next few months.”

Some NGOs said that the potential ending of the US-China alliance that pushed through a deal in Paris has already spurred Saudi Arabia to step up disruptive efforts in talks.

Safa al-Jayoussi, Climate Action Network’s Arab world co-coordinator, said that officials from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other states had expressed relief at Trump’s victory because of his support for fossil fuels in his 100 days plan.

“Those countries trying to put obstacles in the way of Paris can now take advantage of the political instability caused by Trump’s election,” she said. “I think that some states which signed the Paris agreement because of all the international pressure will now use the US election as an excuse to put obstacles in the way of a transparent agreement. They are doing that in informal meetings.”

In one working group on the Paris agreement the day that Trump was elected, Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, tried to block plans for a review towards mid-century of climate goals.

The Saudi delegation also reportedly objected to language about the gender dimension of climate change and the integration of the UN’s human rights convention into the Paris text. Saudi Arabia is one of the 100-plus countries that has ratified the agreement.

“They are using all the tools at their disposal just to try to seed a bit of discontent everywhere, which is frankly a bit pathetic,” said Liz Gallagher, a senior associate at the environmental thinktank E3G. “They can use procedures as much as they like, but the parties will still talk about it, just not with the Saudis.”

While Russia is also a part of the “awkward squad” on climate issues – frequently raising unpredictable last-minute demands – these were usually more manageable within the UN talks process, Gallagher added.

Signals from Beijing suggest no lessening of resolve from a country wildly accused by Trump of inventing the climate change concept to make US manufacturing industry uncompetitive.

“There will be a distinction between campaign policies and real policies,” Chinese negotiator Gu Zihua told the Associated Press. “We should still wait and see what kind of measures the US will take on climate change.”

Energy experts in the UK said Trump’s win would likely be damaging for international efforts to reduce carbon emissions from energy, unless he changed direction.

Sir Edward Davey, who was the UK’s energy and climate secretary from 2012-15, told the Guardian: “The signal of Trump for climate and energy policy internationally is about as bad as it could get. But we will need to wait to see what the reality is. The fact the Paris agreement has come into force does constrain what Trump can actually do.

“Markets and technologies are also going far faster than governments and international agreements, and the states across the US will be able to take advantage of the cheap clean energy. So the size of the disaster is at least contained but there’s no getting away from it, it’s pretty awful.”

Davey, who is now chairman of green power firm Mongoose Energy, called on Theresa May to urge Trump to consult with allies before the US pulls out of any UN agreements.

Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK which represents the UK’s Big Six energy companies, said: “The Marrakech climate talks are going on right now. A Trump administration can fly in the face of the whole world or they can sit down and work with us. It makes good plain logic sense to decarbonise.”

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