Thursday, May 14, 2009

Councils seek help in preparing for climate change

From: Cowra Community News

The State Government needs to provide more funding and guidance to councils to help them prepare for the impacts of climate change, says the Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW.

In their submission to the NSW Government's draft sea level rise policy, the Associations highlighted a number of issues, including the need for clear guidelines on responding to impacts of sea level rise and the importance of ongoing consultation with Local Government.

President of the Shires Association and Cowra Councillor, Cr Bruce Miller, says while he agreed with many points outlined in the draft policy, it lacked important technical guidance on how councils can best estimate the impacts of rising sea levels.

"We're pleased the State Government has taken a coordinated approach to addressing sea level rise and has given us a chance to comment on what we think works and what doesn't," said Cr Miller.

"One thing we felt was missing was a set of clear guidelines on how councils can estimate and plan for the effects of rising sea levels and associated natural hazards, such as severe storms and coastal recession.

"The guidelines need to help councils implement viable solutions and must be developed in close consultation with Local Government to ensure the best possible outcomes for both local communities and the environment.

"The guidelines will also need to explain liability issues such as the exemptions in section 733 of the Local Government Act - at this stage, it's not entirely clear what is covered by this section," said Cr Miller.

President of the Local Government Association, Cr Genia McCaffery, says councils are committed to understanding and addressing the impacts of climate change - in particular, rising sea levels - and are eagerly awaiting the release of the guidelines.

"Councils have devoted significant resources to preparing for climate change - from implementing innovative policies, to undertaking community education campaigns, so it's really important the State Government gets this policy right.

"Lack of funding is a huge obstacle for us at the moment, and we've highlighted this in our submission.
"Any funding available to councils must come with clear explanations on exactly how the funding will work, and who is eligible for it," she said.

"The State Government has made a great start in developing a sea level rise policy that provides guidance for the short, medium and long term, and by making the amendments outlined in our submission, can bring NSW councils and communities one step closer to informed planning and preparation for sea level rise," added Cr McCaffery.

To view the LGSA submission, please visit www.lgsa.org.au.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Scientists: Rising Seas Pose Serious Threat for Island Nations

From: Voice of America News

By Solenn Honorine
Manado, Indonesia
13 May 2009

A boat is seen against condominiums in the waters off the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, 13 May 2009

A boat is seen against condominiums in the waters off the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, 13 May 2009

Small island nations and coastal states are on the frontlines of global warming: as temperatures and sea levels rise, some countries could be lost entirely. Scientists and politicians have gathered in the Indonesian city of Manado for the World Ocean Conference to discuss ways to reduce the damage from climate change.
Life and death issue
For the inhabitants of small islands, climate change may be a matter of life or death. Rolph Payet, an advisor to the president of the Seychelles, says that in his country, rising sea levels will be catastrophic.
"In the Seychelles for example we have 90 percent of the people who live on the coastline. This is where all the infrastructure is, where the housing are, all the communication, shipping, the airport is there. So it's as if you have to start the whole community from scratch, and that's going to cost a lot of money. We're always the ones losing out, and it's always the same people winning," said Payet.
What role do seas play in global warming?
Scientists and government officials from around the world are meeting this week in Manado, Indonesia, at the World Ocean Conference. They hope to work together to better understand the role of the seas in global warming, and reducing its effects.
For small island nations, the problem is called the climate divide. Rich countries emit the most greenhouse gases, which are thought to contribute to global warming. But it is mostly poor, developing countries that will pay the heaviest cost of global warming.
Dessima Williams, president of an association that represents 44 small island nations, says that rich countries should not turn a blind eye to their fate.
"We are on the frontline, as small island states, we are going to get the brunt of it first .... But everybody is getting some of it. So we are not taking a high moral ground, we are simply taking a practical position that is: 'we are first [to suffer from global warming], but yours is coming. So you address ours, you reduce yours.' It's common sense," said Williams.

Environmental refugees could be huge concern

Rolph Payet says that the world should be wary of the creation of millions of potential "environmental refugees" - people who will have to flee as the seas rise above their homes.
"Climate change will have a huge impact on world security," said Payet. "I mean, you can just imagine: most of the world's cities and capital are built along the coast! So what we're dealing with today in Iran or Afghanistan may be peanuts compared with what will happen from a great mobilization and a great migration of thousands of people who live by the coast."
Small island nations are asking that stricter carbon emission caps be in the agreement that will replace the Kyoto protocol on climate change. But it is not clear that larger nations will agree to cut enough to slow global warming. They hope to find common ground in December in Copenhagen where the world will discuss the future policies on climate.

Las pequeñas islas Estado están en proceso de desaparecer bajo el mar

Océanos-conferencia 

(hint: use google translate)

From: Terra Noticias

Las Maldivas, Seychelles, y otras paradisíacas islas Estado desaparecerán bajo el agua este siglo y sus ciudadanos se convertirán en apátridas, a menos que se consiga frenar pronto la subida del nivel del mar, denunció hoy el colectivo de naciones afectadas por este fenómeno propiciado por el cambio climático.

'Estamos ante una grave amenaza: hablamos de personas que van a convertirse en refugiados, de Estados que pueden desaparecer completamente', aseguró hoy a Efe Rolph Payet, presidente de la Fundación contra la Subida del Nivel de los Mares.

Payet expuso el serio problema que se cierne sobre estas pequeñas naciones, en el marco de la Conferencia Mundial de los Océanos, que se celebra desde el pasado lunes en la localidad de Manado, al norte de las isla Célebes, en el archipiélago de Indonesia

'Hay que empezar a actuar ya, cuando aún queda algo de esperanza para algunos de los países afectados. Pero se nos está acabando el tiempo', advirtió Payet, quien a su vez es consejero especial del presidente de la República de las Seychelles, un grupo de 155 islas ubicadas en el Océano Índico, al noreste de Madagascar, y con una superficie total de 455 kilómetros cuadrados.

El presidente de la Fundación señaló que algunas islas han alcanzado 'el punto de no retorno' y alertó de que 'desaparecerán completamente' en unas décadas, como ha ocurrido ya con varias de ellas pertenecientes a Papúa Nueva Guinea, Maldivas y Seychelles, que han tenido que ser evacuadas.

En Indonesia, el mayor archipiélago del mundo, han desaparecido durante la última década más de una veintena de islotes, y los científicos prevén que pierda alrededor de un centenar de sus más de 17.000 islas a finales de este siglo.

'El problema va a ser cuando algunos países desaparezcan completamente. Esos ciudadanos no van a ser simplemente desplazados internos, van a ser apátridas', explicó Fayet.

Entre las naciones especialmente amenazadas por la devastadora subida del nivel de los mares se encuentran algunas de las que forman parte de la Federación de Estados de Micronesia, además de Tuvalu, Fiji y Kiribati, y de las turísticas Maldivas y Seychelles.

'Nosotros ya hemos planteado este problema en distintos foros internacionales, pero hay muchos obstáculos legales y políticos. ¿Vamos a comprar tierras en otro país para asentar a nuestros refugiados? Es muy complejo', argumentó.

En este sentido, el presidente de las Maldivas, Mohamed Nasheed, hace varios meses que examina esa posibilidad de adquirir territorio, y al parecer, ha mantenido negociaciones con India.

Para exponer y denunciar la situación, Fayet se reúne con las delegaciones de algunas de las 64 naciones que participan en la conferencia, una iniciativa indonesia que persigue llamar la atención sobre los efectos medioambientales, sociales y económicos del cambio climático en los océanos.

Este foro hará pública mañana la Declaración de los Océanos de Manado (MOD) con la que se quiere incluir la protección de los océanos en la agenda medioambiental de Naciones Unidas e influir sobre la conferencia de Copenhague de diciembre, en la que se acordará un protocolo que sustituya al de Kioto, que expira en 2012.

Para las islas Estado el principal problema que se deriva del cambio climático es la elevación del nivel de los mares, que según Naciones Unidas será de al menos un metro en el año 2100, y que redibujará las costas de estos países y anegará para siempre decenas de miles de hogares.

Pero de ese fenómeno tampoco escaparán otras naciones mucho mayores y más pobladas.

'Decenas de millones de personas en Bangladesh, el delta del Mekong, las costas del Sudeste Asiático y algunas partes de África se quedarán sin hogar', apuntó el presidente de la Fundación.

Naciones Unidas estima que una subida de un metro en el nivel de los mares hará que hasta 145 millones personas se conviertan en 'refugiados medioambientales'

'Solventar el problema de los refugiados tendrá un impacto muchísimo mayor en la economía y la seguridad global que todas las guerras que ha sufrido este planeta', aseguró Payet, quien precisó que a pesar de que el problema es alarmante, aún éste no se ha abordado en Naciones Unidas.

Además, destacó que las medidas de 'adaptación y mitigación' que se están planteando en la conferencia de Manado llegan 'demasiado tarde' para muchas islas y que la única solución es estabilizar en una primera fase, las emisiones de dióxido de carbono (CO2) para a continuación proceder a recortarlas.

Comprometidas con la lucha contra el cambio climático y el cumplimiento del Protocolo de Kioto, el colectivo de islas Estado apuesta por reducir en un 85 por ciento para 2050 las emisiones de CO2 y otros gases que provocan el

Where is that island?

image

Indonesia urges world to act now on climate change issues

www.chinaview.cn 2009-05-11 11:16:49

    MANADO, Indonesia, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Indonesia on Monday urged the world to take action on ecosystem management and climate change that threatened oceans.

    "These actions need to be extended from the global community of nations right down to each and every human being," said the Minister of Marine and Fisheries Freddy Numberi in the opening speech of the World Ocean Conference here.

    Numberi stressed that the WOC should focus on oceans and climate change because the coupling issues really needed to be accorded a high priority, recognizing a significant proportion of economic development, food security and livelihoods were reliant on healthy oceans and marine system.

    The WOC was considered to mainstreaming the climate change policies in oceans governance and to exploring opportunities to enhance adaptation capacity.

    The minister encouraged that the world should work individually or collectively and international organization to enhance scientific activities on the marine environment and marine biodiversity to develop ways and means of adaption to climate change.

    "We must work together to promote and advocate for better understanding of the linkage between oceans and climate change and the adverse impact of climate change on ecosystems, marine biodiversity, and coastal communities in Small Island Developing States which are under high risk of being submerged with sea level rise," said the minister.

    He also demanded the world to strengthen partnership and networks for capacity building and information exchange on climate change related issues and concerns, including planning, implementation and monitoring of adaption and mitigation strategies.

    The conference is held between May 11-15, 2009 and would discuss the global concern for its future amidst all uncertainties brought by global warming, polar ice melt, high sea level rise, changing weather patterns, sinking islands, acidification of the sea, coral reef destruction and other impacts of uncontrolled emission of green house gases.

Editor: Zhang Xiang

Monday, May 11, 2009

Nations gather for oceans talks in Indonesia

Nations gather for oceans talks in Indonesia

From: AFP.

MANADO, Indonesia (AFP) — Ministers and officials from 70 nations will gather in Indonesia on Monday for talks on protecting the world's oceans and to help set the stage for climate change talks in December.

The five-day World Ocean Conference in Manado city is being touted as a first-of-a-kind meeting on the oceans' role in mitigating climate change and on the consequences of higher temperatures such as rising seas, extinctions and food shortages.

Environment, fisheries and resources ministers are expected to agree a declaration aimed at influencing the direction of the Copenhagen talks scheduled for year end, where nations will gather to hammer out the successor to the expiring Kyoto protocol.

Organisers say they hope to expand the scope of any future climate change agreement to encompass marine environments, on which hundreds of millions of people rely for their livelihoods.

"The conference will be non-binding but it is the highest political level ocean conference done so far," said Indroyono Soesilo, the Indonesian official in charge of organising the event on Sulawesi island.

"If we are able to put oceans into world climate change policies it will be a success for us because it has never happened before.

"Because of global warming we will have sea level rises that will make some island nations disappear, so let's do something about that."

The sidelines of the conference will also see the launch of an international plan to save the Coral Triangle, an underwater ecosystem in Southeast Asia that is half the size of the United States and has been compared to the Amazon rainforest in its biodiversity.

Leaders from the six Coral Triangle Initiative nations -- Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands -- will sign a joint plan to protect the region, home to more than half the world's coral reefs.

But while organisers express optimism over the meeting, scientists say knowledge about the oceans is so limited that not much is known about how they will behave under the influence of climate change or the role they can play in absorbing carbon.

The boosting of ocean research and agreements on international sharing of data are expected to be a part of any conference declaration.

"If you talk about marine carbon issues it's still a long way to go," The Nature Conservancy's Coral Triangle Centre head Abdul Halim said.

"Unless you have at least basic scientific evidence to support your argument it's really difficult for people to argue about."

The conference comes amid a slew of gloomy studies on the possible effects of global warming.

A report in the science journal Nature last month found catastrophic sea level rises of up to three metres are a "distinct possibility" within the next century.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted in 2007 that sea levels could rise by up to 59 centimetres (23 inches) by 2100, drowning low-lying island nations.

Studies predict conference host Indonesia, an archipelago of roughly 17,000 islands, is set to lose many outlying islands, threatening its sea borders with neighbouring countries.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.