New IPCC Chair Elected

7 October 2015: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has elected Hoesung Lee, Republic of Korea, as its new Chair. Lee was elected by 78 votes to 56 in a run-off with Jean-Pascal van Ypersele of Belgium.

Hoesung Lee

Speaking after the vote, Lee said he was “honored and grateful” to have been elected. He underscored the need for more information regarding existing options for preventing and adapting to climate change.

Lee further noted that the next phase of the IPCC's work will see an increased understanding of regional impacts, especially in developing countries, and an improvement in the manner in which the IPCC's findings are communicated to the public.

Various UN officials congratulated Lee on his election, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

The election took place in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on 6 October, where the IPCC is holding its 42nd session (IPCC 42). Six candidates had been nominated for the position: Ogunlade Davidson, Sierra Leone; Chris Field, US; Hoesung Lee, Republic of Korea; Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Austria and Montenegro; Thomas Stocker, Switzerland; and Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Belgium.

Elections for other IPCC Bureau positions also took place during the course of IPCC 42. On 7 October, Thelma Krug, Brazil, Ko Barrett, US, and Youba Sokona, Mali, were elected IPCC Vice-Chairs.

Lee is a professor of the economics of climate change, energy and sustainable development at Korea University's Graduate School of Energy and Environment in the Republic of Korea, and is currently one of the IPCC's three vice-chairs. The election of the new IPCC Bureau, which will have 34 members including the Chair, paves the way for work to begin on the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report, expected to be completed in 5-7 years.

The IPCC was established by the WMO and UNEP in 1988 to provide a clear scientific assessment of the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts, and to identify possible responses. [IPCC Press Release] [UNEP Press Release] [WMO Press Release] [UN Press Release] [Statement of the UN Secretary-General] [UNFCCC Press Release][IISD RS coverage of IPCC 42]

 

Excluding complacency in Small Island Developing States

MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga’s six lessons on leadership

Ajay Banga

What I want to focus on is leadership. How do you take the leadership potential all of you have and cultivate it. Here are some perspectives around leadership that I can offer.

1. A sense of urgency: Today’s world of rapidly-advancing technology and ever-shortening innovation cycles have no space for procrastination. It’s that urgency that makes me say to colleagues in my company that “if you have good news for me, take the stairs. If you have bad news, take the elevator.” I need that information fast, so I can do something about it.

2. A sense of balance: A lot of people think that urgency and patience are contradictory. And they could not be more wrong. You need to be patient enough to listen to everybody, but yet, you must have a sense of urgency to take a decision and to execute.

3. Courage to take thoughtful risks: Rarely are you going to have perfect information. The willingness to take a decision at that time will depend on your ability to take a thoughtful risk. The thoughtful part depends also on your humility and realising that you don’t have all the answers—that you can learn something from everybody. You get a good dose of humility as soon as you arrive here. You come from a school where you were the top gun. You get here and everybody’s a top gun. Humility is practically a rite of passage.

4. Be competitively paranoid: I don’t mean be fearful. What I mean is constantly ask yourself if you’re missing something. Is there more to the problem? If you don’t question everything, if you’re not competitively paranoid, you will not have the sense of self-introspection that you need to be a real leader.

5. Develop a global view: Leadership attributes are tremendously facilitated if you surround yourself with people who don’t look like you, don’t walk like you, don’t talk like you, and don’t have the same experiences as you. Admittedly, when I’m in the US, I’m suddenly diverse. In India, I’m obviously not. But it’s not where you come from or what you look like that matters. What matters is what you do and how you do it. That’s the true essence of diversity.

What makes diversity so important? Diversity is essential because a group of similar people tends to think in similar ways, reach similar conclusions, and have similar blind spots. To guard against that, you need to harness the collective uniqueness of those around you to widen your field of vision—to see things differently, to fail harder, to innovate, and to question everything. Widening that field of vision means widening your worldview

Increase your connectivity to the world around you. For example, once you get acclimated to your new jobs, consider getting involved in organisations outside of your work but that connect back to it as well. Explore avenues like the World Economic Forum. The key is to go beyond looking at the world through the lens of your company or your organisation or even your country.

6. Do well and do good: It’s the highest form of leadership. It’s the idea that you can pursue what is in your best interest as well as what is in the interest of others. It’s the recognition that your success is tied to the success of others. You know the saying, it’s lonely at the top? It’s only lonely at the top when you don’t bring other people along with you.

This principle of doing well and doing good holds true for any one person or organisation, but it’s an especially powerful principle for business and the private sector today. In a business sense, it’s the idea that the private sector can be a force for growth and a force for good. That business can make money and make a difference.

Both the private and the public sector have a role to play in the following: Bring more people into the financial mainstream—at a time when half the world’s adults don’t have a bank account, guard against a future where we have the Internet of Everything, but not the Inclusion of Everyone, give women same opportunities as men.

Of course, this very school was founded, not just on the idea of public-private partnerships but literally by public-private partnerships. It was the government of Gujarat, the government of India, local businessmen, Harvard Business School, and the Ford Foundation—all coming together, not only to help build industry in India but to help build India herself.

 

 

 

WHAT’S POSSIBLE: The U.N. Climate Summit Film

WHAT'S POSSIBLE: The U.N. Climate Summit Film

Published on Sep 23, 2014 • Presented to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York, this short inspirational film shows that climate change is solvable. We have the technology to harness nature sustainably for a clean, prosperous energy future, but only if we act now. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, it calls on the people of the world to insist leaders get on the path of a livable climate and future for humankind.

Learn more about climate change and take action at takepart.com/climate.

WHAT'S POSSIBLE was created by director Louie Schwartzberg, writer Scott Z. Burns, Moving Art Studio, and Lyn

Davis Lear and the Lear Family Foundation.

SEQUEL ALERT! Sign up at MovingArt.com to be the first to hear about the launch of the sequel to WHAT'S

POSSIBLE: movingart.com/un/

Directed by Louie Schwartzberg

Written by Scott Z. Burns

Produced by Lyn Davis Lear

Narrated by Morgan Freeman

Music by Hans Zimmer

 

 

The Pale Blue Dot

 

THE SAGAN SERIES – The Pale Blue Dot

Published on Oct 21, 2013 • Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/thesaganseries

Twitter – http://twitter.com/reidgower

G+ – http://bit.lyA/pHzQh


The Sagan Series is an educational project working in the hopes of promoting scientific literacy in the general population. Created by ©ReidGower http://twitter.com/reidgower

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 1 07 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. All copyrighted materials contained herein belong to their respective copyright holders, I do not claim ownership over any of these materials. I realize no profit, monetary or otherwise, from the exhibition of these videos.

 

Leaders sign historic sustainable energy & climate resilient treaty

September 2: Over 150 delegates and members of the international development community from more than 45 countries were stunned to see leader after leader approach the podium to sign a historic sustainable energy and climate resilient treaty that will significantly change the lives and destiny of over 20 million small islanders, for the better.

Led by the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo, multiple leaders from the Pacific, Caribbean and African, Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea (AIMS) regions, forcefully raised their voices in unison and accepted responsibility for fulfilling the commitment to the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Sustainable Energy mechanism – SIDS DOCK. The opening for signature of this historic SIDS DOCK Treaty – a SIDS-SIDS Initiative – was a major highlight of the first day of the United Nations (UN) Third International Conference on SIDS, taking place in Apia, Samoa, from 1-4 September.

The unprecedented and unexpected number of Heads of State and Government present, sent a strong signal to the standing room only audience, the SIDS population and the international community, demonstrating how deeply committed SIDS leaders are and that they all firmly believe that SIDS must, have and will take responsibility for charting the future of their countries towards a path that would see a total transformation of the SIDS economy away from fossil fuels, to that of one driven by low carbon technologies. The event was considered so important to the Republic of Cabo Verde, that the Prime Minister, Hon. José Maria Neves, excused himself and his entire delegation from the Plenary Hall, to ensure that Cabo Verde, a SIDS DOCK Founding Member was well-represented at the signing – the Cabo Verde Government has one of the most ambitious plans in SIDS, that aims to achieve 100 penetration of renewable energies in Cabo Verde, by 2020.

More than half the members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) were present for the signing of the historic treaty, witnessed by the SIDS DOCK partners Denmark, Japan and Austria, whose kind and generous support facilitated SIDS DOCK start -up activities; also present were SIDS DOCK partners, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Clinton

Foundation. The treaty was signed by the governments of Barbados, Belize, Bahamas (Commonwealth of the), Dominica (Commonwealth of), Cabo Verde (Republic of), Cook Islands, Dominican Republic, Fiji (Republic of), Grenada, Guinea Bissau, Kiribati (Republic of), Niue, Palau (Republic of), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa (Independent State of), Seychelles (Republic of), and Tuvalu.

The Statute will remain open for signature in Apia, Samoa until September 5, and will reopen for signature in Belmopan, Belize, from September 6, 2014 until it enters into force. Belize is the host country for SIDS DOCK, with Samoa designated as the location for the Pacific regional office. More

 

 

 

Global campaign launched to improve weather & climate services for small island developing states (SIDS)

A global campaign to improve weather and climate services for all small island developing states was launched today with the support of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and Digicel Pacific.

The Small Islands, Weather Together campaign (www.weathertogether.org) aims to show how the small island developing states of the world can work together to improve their vital weather and climate services.

In the Pacific region alone, extreme weather already accounts for 76% of all disasters with 50% directly related to cyclones. The increase in extreme weather events is also hampering the sustainable development of many small island developing states. For example, when Cyclone Evan hit Samoa in December 2012 it resulted in the loss of one third of the country’s entire annual economic output.

WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud stresses that small island developing states need greater investment to further strengthen their vital weather and climate services and to ensure that efforts towards sustainable development are not wasted.

“If we don’t invest in stronger weather and climate services for small island developing states then extreme weather events could simply wipe out years of development effort if they are not well prepared. It is much more cost-effective to invest in early preparedness and prevention than to focus only on rehabilitation and post-disaster action,” he asserted.

Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of weather and climate events – cyclones, typhoons, drought, flash floods – in many small island developing states. But many of their Meteorological Services still lack the basic infrastructure, technology and expertise they need to protect vulnerable island communities and economies.

For Mr. Jarraud, there is an urgent need to enhance the quality of early warnings for extreme weather. He pointed out that the formulation and dissemination of these warnings also need to be improved so that they can be understood and used by the island communities and government agencies.

In the Pacific islands, SPREP and other partners are working to improve communication of this type of information in partnership with national meteorological services, the media, including broadcast stations and communities.

“SPREP recognises that weather forecasts and warnings such as those given during tropical cyclones do not have a shelf life, they must be disseminated rapidly to the public or else they are useless,” says SPREP Acting Director General Kosi Latu.

He further noted, “We can improve the quality of the forecasts and warnings so that countries and communities have more lead time to take action. But we can also improve the way climate information is used over longer time scales by farmers, fishermen and by decision-makers across government. For example, when planning new infrastructure, we can say ‘this place has a high risk of tsunami, flooding or storm surge, so don’t build things here’.”

Mr. Jarraud recalls that the small developing island states stand to suffer more and more if the global community fails to agree to a limit in greenhouse gas emissions, the main human cause of climate change and global warming.

“Greenhouse gas emissions are still on the rise. We need to reach a peak of emission over the next 15–20 years, then to decrease dramatically to zero equivalent emission in about 50–60 years from now.

“This is a huge challenge. We must act now. The more we wait, the more difficult it will be, and, therefore, the more expensive it will be for countries to adapt to climate change. If we do not act now, we are agreeing to leave the small island developing states in a situation which may no longer be manageable,” he warned.

The Small Islands, Weather Together campaign was launched specifically to coincide with the lead up to the United Nations Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, which will be held in Apia, Samoa, from 1–4 September, 2014.

For more information visit: www.weathertogether.org

 

Facing Rising Ocean, Pacific Island Town Must Relocate

In an unprecedented move that illustrates the dramatic impacts of planetary global warming, one community in the South Pacific has decided it has no choice but to pick itself up entirely and flee for higher ground.

All too aware of their vulnerability to the effects of climate change — such as rising sea levels and extreme weather events — communities in the Pacific Islands have long acknowledged that their very existence isthreatened by global warming.

But now, authorities in a town on Taro Island, a coral atoll off Choiseul in the Solomon Islands that sits less than seven feet above sea level, have decided to relocate to the mainland in response to increasing coastal hazards including tsunamis, storm surges, and erosion. The exodus from Choiseul Bay Township, the provincial capital that's currently home to about 500 people, will take place over many years. It is the first such official migration — of people, services, and facilities — in the Pacific Islands.

According to Reuters, “the groups behind the Choiseul adaptation plan said it is being hailed by the Solomon Islands national government as a model for other provinces across the nation and more broadly across the Pacific.”

The plan comes out of Choiseul Bay Township's consultation with a team of engineers, scientists and planners, funded by the Australian government, on how best to adapt to the impact of climate change. Extensive community input was solicited, Choiseul Province premier Jackson Kiloe said in a statement Friday.

“Relocation is the only option available that will keep the community safe and will allow for future growth and prosperity of the capital and the province,” said Philip Haines, project manager at BMT, an engineering firm that worked on the plan.

Land to build a new, larger settlement that could accommodate up to 5,000 inhabitants has already been acquired, Haines told Reuters. The town will essentially have to be built up from scratch, with a hospital and school expected to be constructed within five years. In the meantime, the plan prescribes detailed actions to increase the community’s resilience to climate change, including the preparation of a tsunami response plan, and the handover of a hand-wound siren to alert the local communities of a tsunami warning.

The Solomon Islands government would be looking for climate change funding from international donors to finance the relocation, Reuters reports.

Some of that funding could come from the U.S., which has millions invested in Asia-Pacific climate change adaptation, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pointed out when he visited the Solomon Islands just last week.

In remarks delivered in Honolulu last week, Kerry said:

I just came from the Solomon Islands yesterday, a thousand islands, some of which could be wiped out if we don’t make the right choices. The Pacific Islands across the entire Pacific are vulnerable to climate change. And just yesterday, I saw with my own eyes what sea level rise would do to parts of it: It would be devastating — entire habitats destroyed, entire populations displaced from their homes, in some cases entire cultures wiped out. They just had flash flooding in Guadalcanal — unprecedented amounts of rainfall. And that’s what’s happened with climate change — unprecedented storms, unprecedented typhoons, unprecedented hurricanes, unprecedented droughts, unprecedented fires, major damage, billions and billions of dollars of damage being done that we’re paying for instead of investing those billions of dollars in avoiding this in the first place. More

 

2028: The End of the World As We Know It?

“There is nothing radical in what we’re discussing,” journalist and climate change activist Bill McKibben said before a crowd of nearly 1,000 at the University of California Los Angeles last night. “The radicals work for the oil companies.”

Bill McKibben

Taken on its own, a statement like that would likely sound hyperbolic to most Americans—fodder for a sound bite on Fox News. Anyone who saw McKibben’s lecture in full, however, would know he was not exaggerating.

McKibben was in Los Angeles as part of his nationwide “Do the Math” tour. Based on a recent article of his in Rolling Stone, (“The one with Justin Bieber on the cover,” McKibben joked) the event is essentially a lecture circuit based on a single premise: climate change is simple math—and the numbers do not look good. If immediate action isn’t taken by global leaders: “It’s game-over for the planet.”

The math, McKibben explained, works like this. Global leaders recently came to an international agreement based on the scientific understanding that a global temperature raise of 2°C would have “catastrophic” consequences for the future of humanity. In order to raise global temperatures to this catastrophic threshold, the world would have to release 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Here’s the problem: Fossil fuel companies currently have 2,795 gigatons of carbon dioxide in their fuel reserves—and their business model depends on that fuel being sold and burned. At current rates of consumption, the world will have blown through its 565-gigaton threshold in 16 years.

To prevent the end of the world as we know it, it will require no less than the death of the most profitable industry in the history of humankind.

“As of tonight,” McKibben said, “we’re going after the fossil fuel industry.”

Obviously no easy task. The oil industry commands annual profits of $137 billion and the political power to match. As McKibben noted, “Oil companies follow the laws because they get to write them.”

However, there are some numbers on McKibben’s side. Recent polling data shows 74 percent of Americans now believe in climate change, and 68 percent view it as dangerous. The problem environmental activists are facing is in converting those favorable polling numbers into grassroots action.

Enter “Do the Math.”

Using McKibben’s popularity as an author, organizers are turning what would otherwise be a lecture circuit into a political machine. Before rolling into town, Do the Math smartly organizes with local environmental groups. Prior to McKibben’s lecture, these groups are allowed to take the stage and talk about local initiatives that need fighting. Contact information is gathered to keep the audience updated on those efforts. Instead of simply listening to McKibben, as they perhaps intended, the audience has suddenly become part of their local environmental movement.

It’s a smart strategy, and an essential one—because the problem of climate change is almost exclusively a political in nature. Between renewable energy and more efficient engineering, the technology already exists to stave off catastrophic global warming. Though its application is lagging in the United States, it is being employed on a mass scale in other countries. In socially-stratified China, with its billion-plus population and tremendous wealth inequalities, 25 percent of the country still manages to use solar arrays to heat its water. Germany—Europe’s economic powerhouse—in less than a decade, has managed to get upwards of half of its energy from sustainable sources.

The same can happen here in America—provided we have the will to make it happen. McKibben says the key to realizing that goal is to battle the lifeblood of the fossil fuel industry—its bottom line.

To start, he’s calling for an immediate global divestment from fossil fuel companies. “We’re asking that people who believe in the problem of climate change to stop profiting from it. Just like with divestment movement in South Africa over apartheid, we need to eliminate the oil companies veneer of respectability.”

In conjunction with the divestment regimen, continued protests against unsustainable energy projects will also be crucial. McKibben will be in Washington, D.C. on November 18 to lead a mass rally against climate change and the Keystone Pipeline. “We can no longer just assume that President Obama is going to do everything he promised during his campaign. We need to push him.”

“I don’t know if we’re going to win. But I do know we’re going to fight.” More

 

For the Caribbean, a United Front Is Key to Weathering Climate Change

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten, Jul 2 2014 (IPS) – As the costs of climate change continue to mount, officials with the Commonwealth grouping say it is vital that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) stick together on issues such as per capita income classification.

Seawall in Dominica

Deputy Commonwealth Secretary General (Economic and Social Development) Deodat Maharaj told IPS the classification affects the ability of countries like Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and others to access financing from the international financial institutions.

“To my mind, the international system has to take special consideration of countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and others,” he said.

“The example I like to use is the example of Grenada. You would recall Hurricane Ivan about 10 years ago. It damaged about 70 percent of the housing stock in Grenada. It cost a billion U.S. dollars in damages, equivalent to two years GDP.

“So the countries in the Caribbean can move from high income or middle income to almost zero income with an economic shock or natural disaster,” Maharaj added.

Maharaj, whose appointment took effect earlier this year, said the Commonwealth is preparing “an analytical framework based on research, a case, so that countries such as Grenada when there is a natural disaster their international debt obligation for a particular period of time will be suspended so that they don’t have to continue to pay their debt when it is that they have suffered a natural disaster.”

On the issue of collaboration, one of only three female prime ministers in the Caribbean has reaffirmed her country’s commitment to dealing with climate change and all the issues associated with the global phenomena.

“I would like to reaffirm my strong belief in collaboration with other nations,” Sarah Wescot-Williams, the prime minister of St. Maarten, told IPS.

“Economic issues have forced us to look at ways and means of getting together and we are working collaboratively with other Caribbean nations to mitigate the effects of climate change as well as social issues of unemployment, crime and health.”

Prime Minister of St. Maarten Sarah Wescot-Williams (left)

St. Maarten recently developed and approved its National Energy Policy “and as such we have very specific goals and objectives to reach by 2020 in terms of reduction and promoting alternative, new green ideas, new green products,” Wescot-Williams explained.

She reiterated a point made while addressing regional leaders recently. “I told them we should not only look out for the bigger impacts of climate change or look at those developments as something that is far from us, far from our homes, but look at small things like beach erosion, something that St. Maarten is seeing.

“A report has been issued not very long ago indicating that unless specific measures are taken, a great part of what is now land will no longer be as far as the smaller islands, including St. Maarten, are concerned.”

How they are ranked by financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank is a major issue for Caribbean countries.

Camillo Gonsalves, a former ambassador to the United Nations, says it affects these countries’ ability to secure the required funding to effectively deal with climate change.

He noted that most Caribbean countries are ranked as middle-income countries, and using that metric alone makes his country, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with its one-billion-dollar Gross Domestic Product (GDP), “richer than China”.

“If that is the metric by which we determine economic health and access to concessionary financing, and our ability to borrow ourselves out of a crisis or to spend ourselves out of a crisis, it is clearly a flawed measure,” he said.

He noted that within three hours last Christmas Eve, a trough system left damage and loss in St. Vincent equal to 17 percent of GDP, while the country also suffered natural disasters in 2010, and 2011 – the loss and damage from each of which was in double digits.

This, however, is the measure by which the World Bank, the IMF determine the economic strength of Caribbean countries, Gonsalves said, adding that these international institutions do not consider the region’s vulnerabilities.

“The Caribbean small island developing states are among the most heavily indebted states in the world,” Gonsalves said, noting that the debt-to-GDP ratio in the region ranges from 20 percent in Haiti – which received significant debt forgiveness after the 2010 earthquake – to 139 percent in Jamaica, with St. Kitts and Nevis and Grenada at 105 and 115 per cent, respectively, even as the European Union has set itself a debt-to-GDP ratio of 65 per cent.

“If your debt-to-GDP ratio is 139 percent and you are struck by a natural disaster… how do you borrow yourself out of that crisis? Where do you find money immediately to build your roads, your houses, your bridges, your hospitals that have been damaged? How can you set money aside in preparation for the next climate event if you have a debt to GDP ratio of over 100 per cent or approaching 100 per cent, and your debt servicing charges are that high?” Gonsalves said.

Agreeing with Wescot-Williams and Maharaj that there is strength in unity, Gonsalves, who serves as foreign affairs minister for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said the upcoming Third United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Samoa is an ideal opportunity for regional countries to do more than just talk about collaboration.

“The issue of how we are ranked and classified has to be rectified – not addressed, not flagged, not considered. It has to be rectified in Samoa. That has to be one of our prime objectives going into this conference,” he said.

The Samoa conference will be held from Sep. 1-4 under the theme “The Sustainable Development of Small Island States Through Genuine and Durable Partnerships”.

It will seek to assess progress and remaining gaps; renew political commitment by focusing on practical and pragmatic actions for further implementation; identify new and emerging challenges and opportunities for the sustainable development of SIDS and means of addressing them; and identify priorities for the sustainable development of SIDS to be considered in the elaboration of the post-2015 U.N. development agenda.

Maharaj said “one big challenge” for his organisation is the advancement of the interest of small states.

“When I think about the Caribbean and I think about development…we need to think about development not only in terms of five years, 10 years or 15 years,” he said.

“I would like to think about and imagine what will the Caribbean be in the year 2050 at the time when our grand- and great-grandchildren will be around and many of us won’t be here,” Maharaj added. More