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THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS

Monday, 12 May 2008




UNEP and the Executive Director in the News


  • Xinhua: 7 Pacific countries race against time as deadline to claim extra ocean space draws near

  • Matangi Tonga Online: Seven Pacific countries race against time as deadline to claim extra ocean space draws near

  • Daily Times (Pakistan) Pakistan committed to Montreal Protocol: Afridi

  • New Zealand Herald: Charades, but without actions

  • New Zealand Herald: Clark's climate change agenda put into reverse

  • TriState Observer (USA): Hundreds of Carbon Reducing Ideas Displayed

  • The Daily Green: Migratory Birds Being Silenced: How to Help

  • Africa Science News Service: Food production should not compromise biological diversity

  • The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka): When various feathered ambassadors flock here

  • Jakarta Post: UN's environmental award -- May 07, p. 7

  • Greenwire: WILDLIFE: U.N. alarmed by decline in migratory birds

  • Tageszeitung (Germany): Klimaschutz: die Summe aller Fehler

  • ADNMundo (Argentina): Alemania es la sede de la Conferencia Mundial sobre la diversidad biológica

  • BolsonWeb (Argentina): GEO América Latina

  • El Diario de Yucatán (Mexico): El calentam iento global, ''terrible riesgo'' para las áreas naturales del continente

  • Terra Espana (Spain): El festival de cine de Bogotá hará un concurso de documentales sobre el medio ambiente
  • ANSA (Italy): Ambiente: Lipu, Domenica Giornata Momdiale Migratori




Other Environment News


  • The Wall Street Journal: McCain Woos Democrats on Environment

  • Associated Press: G-8 labor officials begin 3-day meeting in Japan

  • Reuters: Developing countries eye nuclear power: report

  • Reuters: China punishes 6 for protest against chemical plant

  • Reuters: Patagonia fears environmental damage from volcano

  • Reuters: Pesticide DDT shows up in Antarctic penguins

  • Xinhua: China phases out fumigant use in grain storage for environment protection

  • Sydney Morning Herald: Govts 'must provide healthy environment'

  • AFP: EU official says car pollution targets unworkable: report

  • AFP: Japan aims to cut emissions by 60-80 pct by 2050: reports

  • San Diego Tribune: GOING GREEN- Climate scientist out to change the world

  • AFP: Oil powered Norway gradually turns into the wind

  • AFP: EU official says car pollution targets unworkable: report

  • Reuters: Renault seen investing up to $1 bln in electric car

  • Investor’s Business Daily: The Art Of Making A Big Mac Go Green

  • Reuters: Japan scientists warn Arctic ice melting fast

  • Reuters: India's green revolutionary is back in spotlight

  • BBC: Cash cuts see green grants halved



Environmental News from the UNEP Regions


  • ROA

  • ROAP

  • RONA

  • ROLAC

  • ROWA



Other UN News

  • Environment News from the UN Daily News of 9 May 2008


  • Environment News from the S.G.’s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 9 May 2008 (none)




UNEP and the Executive Director in the News


Xinhua: 7 Pacific countries race against time as deadline to claim extra ocean space draws near

www.chinaview.cn 2008-05-12 13:55:53


WELLINGTON, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Fiji and six other Pacific island countries are beginning to feel pressure to complete their submissions to the United Nations to claim extra ocean space, with only one year remaining to the May 2009 deadline.


Fiji along with Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Palau, the Federate States of Micronesia, Tonga and Papua New Guinea have a credible claim to more than 1.5 million square kilometers of additional space beyond their current 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),the Suva-based PACNEWS regional news agency reported on Monday.


This is being made possible under Article 76 of the International Law of the Sea, the report said.


A week-long workshop on the preparation on Fiji's submission on Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) began Monday in Fiji and was coordinated by the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) and Geoscience Australia (GA) and the UN Environment Program (UNEP) Shelf Program.


It was the first time the pacific region to combine the efforts in its bid to extend the exclusive economic zones.


SOPAC, GA and UNEP would help these countries to complete the activities required to delineate the outer limits of their continental shelf.


These countries are currently faced with the costly and complex work of data identification, collection, analysis and submission preparation, the PACNEWS reported.

Due to limited technical and financial capacity, they may not be able to complete the submission process without considerable external support, both technical and financial.



Scientific studies have revealed the access to extended continental shelf could mean more access to mineral rich resources previously outside the EEZ.


SOPAC Director Cristelle Pratt said the countries were committed to working together to improve lives in the Pacific.


Pratt said that assessments have identified strong grounds for these Pacific countries to extend sovereignty over their continental shelves.


"These Pacific Island Countries recognize that determining the boundaries of their Exclusive Economic Zone beyond 200 nautical miles is critical to securing exclusive ocean development of potentially rich non-living resources, such as oil, gas, gold and silver, as well as living organisms that live on and beneath the seabed," Pratt was quoted as saying by the PACNEWS.


Submissions to claim an extended continental shelf must be based upon sound technical data and meet requirements prescribed within Article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS), to secure an extended Continental Shelf beyond the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.


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Matangi Tonga Online: Seven Pacific countries race against time as deadline to claim extra ocean space draws near

12 May 2008, 14:05

Suva, Fiji: WITH only one year remaining to the May 2009 deadline, Fiji and six other pacific island countries are beginning to feel the pressure to complete their submissions to the United Nations to claim extra ocean space.

Fiji along with Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga and Papua New Guinea have a credible claim to more than 1.5 million square kilometers of additional space beyond their current 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone.

This is being made possible under article 76 of the International Law of the Sea.


A week long workshop on the preparation on the country's submission on Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) starts today, May 12 until Friday at the Southern Cross Hotel, Suva.

The workshop is coordinated by the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) and Geoscience Australia (GA) and the UNEP Shelf Programme.

SOPAC, GA and UNEP will help these countries to complete the activities required to delineate the outer limits of their continental shelf.

These countries are currently faced with the costly and complex work of data identification, collection, analysis and submission preparation.

Due to limited technical and financial capacity they may not be able to complete the submission process without considerable external support, both technical and financial.

Scientific studies have revealed the access to extended continental shelf could mean more access to mineral rich resources previously outside our EEZ.

It’s the first time the pacific region is combining their efforts in its bid to extend their exclusive economic zones.

SOPAC Director Cristelle Pratt, said countries are committed to working together to improve lives in the Pacific.

"Securing greater maritime sovereignty can provide increased revenue for Pacific States and deliver significant economic and social benefits from access to ocean resources that occur on the seabed and within the subsoil." Pratt says that assessments have identified strong grounds for these Pacific countries to extend sovereignty over their continental shelves. "These Pacific Island Countries recognise that determining the boundaries of their Exclusive Economic Zone beyond 200 nautical miles is critical to securing exclusive ocean development of potentially rich non-living resources, such as oil, gas, gold and silver, as well as living organisms that live on and beneath the seabed."

Submissions to claim an extended continental shelf must be based upon sound technical data and meet requirements prescribed within Article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS), to secure an extended Continental Shelf beyond the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.


Representatives from Foreign Affairs from the seven countries completed another workshop last week on the use of Japanese Software "CMDeterminer" and "Ocean Acess" to help access and claim their Extended Continental Shelf.

They are also present until the end of this week to discuss the issue.

Both workshops are vital opportunities to continue to assist Pacific Nations with ECS potential to develop and submit their respective extension claims before the impending deadline of March 2009. SOPAC, 12/05/08.

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Daily Times (Pakistan) Pakistan committed to Montreal Protocol: Afridi

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: Environment Minister Hameedullah Jan Afridi on Friday said the government was committed to its international obligations to thwart the threats emanating from depletion of ozone layer.

He was speaking at a seminar on “Montreal Protocol and Pakistan’s Commitment”. He said ozone layer depletion was caused by years of rapid industrial growth and massive urbanisation in a careless manner.

Afridi said environmental problems were not only confined to the countries that might have caused them. Underdeveloped countries, whose contribution to environment degradation was relatively less, suffered the most due to lack of resources, he said.

The minister said NGOs and general public should play their part to deal with environmental issues. He said it was heartening that the parties to the Montreal Protocol have collectively phased out 95 percent production of ozone depleting substance (ODS) the world over and the remaining five percent would be ended by January 2010.

Afridi said 191 countries had signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and were committed to phase out the use of ODS to ensure sustained life on earth.


He said Pakistan signed the protocol in 1992 and had significantly contributed in the international efforts to make the world ozone-friendly. He said major cause of ozone depletion was harmful gasses and deforestation.

Shadia Yousif Bakhait, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) country representative, said Pakistan had made remarkable achievements and progress by phasing out the use and consumption of ozone depleting substances.

She said the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) had awarded Montreal Protocol certificate of recognition to the government and National Ozone Office of Pakistan for their contribution towards global efforts to protect the ozone layer.

Studies showed that over-exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet-B radiation, which is funnelled by the ozone layer, caused skin cancer. This radiation is also harmful for eye.


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New Zealand Herald: Charades, but without actions

5:00AM Saturday May 10, 2008
By John Armstrong

When the latest United Nations-nominated "Champions of the Earth" were honoured at a gala dinner in Singapore three weeks ago, there was one notable absentee.

Despite winning the special prize for making carbon neutrality New Zealand's goal, Helen Clark was not present to rub shoulders with Prince Albert of Monaco and other fellow award winners, including a former Minister of the Environment from Barbados and a climate change scientist from Sudan.

"Diary constraints" was the official reason for Clark's no-show. Just as well, perhaps. The award's organisers praised New Zealand's Prime Minister for "blazing new trails" in the fight against climate change and singled out Labour's emissions trading scheme for special mention.


Clark would subsequently have faced awkward questions about having gone to Singapore to pick up the award at the very time her Government was contemplating delaying the introduction of petrol and diesel into its landmark emissions trading scheme for two years.

As it is, Clark's confirmation this week of that delay raises questions aplenty about Labour's rhetoric surrounding carbon neutrality - which requires as much carbon be extracted from the atmosphere as is being pumped into it - and the Government's actual record.

The rhetoric had New Zealand becoming the first country which functions on a truly sustainable basis - "not by sacrificing our living standards, but by being smart and determined".

Such language offers the illusion that meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved relatively painlessly without changing lifestyles. It is a nonsense, of course. But it is politically appetising nonsense, nonetheless.

In his book Heat, the Guardian's ardent climate change columnist George Monbiot explains how political parties have worked out that while their citizens may be demanding action on climate change, they actually hope their governments don't take action because that will mean discomfort for them.

The result is a charade in which governments assuage voters' guilt about climate change by pretending to set tough-to-meet targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions which they have no intention of meeting because the same voters don't really want them to do so.

The voters may grumble at the failure to reach such targets, but they don't really care. As Monbiot concludes, no one ever rioted in favour of austerity.

Political parties happily play along with this charade because it enables them to look like they care about the planet and have bold plans for tackling climate change. They also play along because governments have no real incentive to take tough action in the short-term when the political payoff for curbing emissions is so far down the track.


If they back-track on their targets - as Labour did here this week - no one is too surprised or upset. Apart from the Greens, that is. No one votes in favour of a petrol price rise - although the Greens seem to find some perverse enjoyment in watching Brent crude reach yet another high.

The Labour Party would argue it is as genuine in its attachment to carbon neutrality as it is to its anti-nuclear policy. But there is no doubt it was equally motivated by the potential electoral spinoff.

New Zealanders are suckers for achieving "world firsts" and Clark consequently included carbon neutrality as part of the Government's promotion of national identity.

Unfortunately for Labour, this week's postponement of the 6c to 8c petrol price rise which would have followed the transport sector's inclusion in the emissions trading scheme has taken much of the shine off carbon neutrality as an election plank.

Labour cannot expect such a visionary policy to be taken seriously when it has capitulated at the first sign of the policy cutting living standards.

Clark can argue the soaring price of oil is doing the job of cutting emissions that the emissions trading system would have done. If the price keeps rising, it may do that job even better. But Labour has simply postponed the day when fuel taxes will have to be introduced. That is now scheduled for the start of 2011 - another election year - when it will not be any easier to do than now politically.

Any further postponement will undermine the integrity of the emissions trading system as transport would effectively be exempt, something that would provoke howls of protest from other sectors of the economy.

The transport sector's emissions have jumped by 64 per cent on 1990 levels - the levels to which New Zealand is obliged to reduce its overall average net emissions under the Kyoto Protocol or otherwise face substantial financial penalties. The jump in fuel prices means fuel use is expected to remain at current levels. But that does not mean a reduction in emissions.


Meeting New Zealand's Kyoto obligations is daunting enough. Carbon neutrality is another quantum leap. Talk of attaining such a goal now seems hollow when the emissions trading scheme may be watered down to get it through Parliament.

After Tuesday's announcement and trenchant lobby groups pressure for the scheme to be weakened, Helen Clark this week was in desperate search of a parliamentary consensus to save the enabling legislation.

That consensus should have been established before the legislation was brought before Parliament, not least because the scheme is going to have to be robust enough to survive countless changes of government over coming decades.

Labour is now paying the price for hogging all the political kudos on offer from being seen to act on climate change. As it did with the national superannuation fund, Labour unilaterally sought to impose consensus. The difference is the setting up of the state pension followed by years of failure to get a political consensus on retirement policy in advance of the baby-boom generation leaving the workforce.

In that case, Labour was justified in forging ahead alone. With climate change, Labour did not even bother to seek a consensus through multi-party talks. Not surprisingly, other parties are now reluctant to help it out, although the charade whereby voters expect parties to play along with climate change policy means National cannot be aloof.

It is notable that in Norway - which, with Iceland and Costa Rica, also has a target of carbon neutrality - a broad political consensus has been secured on climate change policies. That is one reason why Norway has advanced its target date for carbon neutrality from 2050 to 2030.

Among a number of measures, it already imposes heavy taxes on fuel consumption and gas-guzzling SUVs.

With Iceland, which has huge geothermal power resources, it is sprinting towards the target of carbon neutrality. New Zealand is barely out of the starting blocks. Clark no longer says much about carbon neutrality.


What was going to be a major plank of Labour's re-election campaign is now gathering dust - just like the "Champions of the Earth" award now sitting on some shelf in the Prime Minister's office.

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New Zealand Herald: Clark's climate change agenda put into reverse

5:00AM Saturday May 10, 2008
By Fran O'Sullivan

Helen Clark's finely honed political instincts are again to the fore as she courageously throws her pet climate-change agenda into reverse to avert mounting economic pressures.

In any normal situation Clark would face allegations that delaying the introduction of key features of the emissions trading regime is simply hypocritical.

The Prime Minister has after all been named a "Champion of the Earth" for her goal to make New Zealand use 90 per cent renewable energy by 2025.

She has declared an ambition for New Zealand to be the world's first "carbon-neutral country" and made "sustainability" a catchphrase for her Government in election year.

But the times are not normal. The New Zealand economy, like that of many Western nations, is feeling the strain as the international credit crunch helps keep interest rates high and household budgets feel the pinch from rising oil and food prices.

Exerting more inflationary pressures by bringing the transport sector into the proposed emissions trading scheme next January would have been pure madness.

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High fuel prices have already caused ordinary motorists to cut back at the petrol pump with the inevitable effect of slowing the growth of greenhouse emissions from the transport sector.

Now that Clark has signalled the Government will ask the parliamentary select committee studying the emissions trading legislation to take note of its intention to delay the entry of the transport sector to the scheme by two years, the Reserve Bank, which has cited climate-change policies as an inflationary worry, has no excuse to delay the interest-cutting cycle to next year.

The Reserve Bank has always had the ability to "see through" the one-off nature of the price rises associated with a major policy shift like emissions trading.

But the central bank's position is complicated by the Government's refusal so far to insist on a price safety valve being built into the emissions trading scheme, so that New Zealand does not become hostage to a volatile international carbon price.

If Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard signals next month that the bank is getting close to embarking on interest rates cuts, householders will be more inclined to praise Clark for her reality check rather than holding religiously to a green programme that had the potential to kneecap the economy.

Clark is not doing God's work entirely on her own here.

Behind the scenes, Finance Minister Michael Cullen, who is in receipt of economic forecasts from Treasury and other players on the real deterioration that has happened in the past few months, has been positioning for a rescheduling of the emissions trading scheme.

Cabinet papers released under the Official Information Act suggest that some major policies such as the 10-year moratorium on more base-load thermal generating plants have not been sufficiently investigated.

The moratorium may also be shortened in the hard bargaining that lies ahead as the Government tries to get a majority to pass legislation on its climate-change suite of policies through Parliament.


It's instructive that Cullen's own department - the Treasury - has now reworked the figures on New Zealand liability for the first phase of the Kyoto agreement, managing to halve the liability the New Zealand taxpayer faces from just over $1 billion to just under $500 million.

There's an element of "fudge, smudge and nudge" applied here despite the Government's claim that lower transport emissions, lower agriculture emissions as a result of the drought and lower deforestation have enabled the rethink.

Clark cited the reduced liability as one of the reasons which has enabled the Government to defer the entry of the transport sector.

But its not such plain sailing as far as the trade-exposed sectors are concerned.

Clark did say the polluting industries would not start feeling major effects from the emissions trading scheme until 2018 when their allocation of free carbon units would start to phase out.

She did not spell out that agriculture would also be given a reprieve. That became obvious only after digging by journalists and her political opponents.

But by delaying the transport sector's entry to 2011, Clark basically creates a problem for the next Government to address.

If the international economy is still sour there will be no political incentive to deal with the real problem, which is how to get New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions down to a sustainable basis.

The odds are that the next Government will face similar consumer fears

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TriState Observer (USA): Hundreds of Carbon Reducing Ideas Displayed


Friday, May 09, 2008 - 07:00 AM

- Part of World Environment Day Festivities June 5th and Save the Plants, Save the Planet Week

GLENCOE, IL - Homeowners interested in lowering electricity bills and gardeners interested in growing organic fruit and vegetables will find the Chicago Botanic Garden filled with these and hundreds of other carbon-reducing ideas at the Garden's "Knowledge and Action" marketplace, June 5th. The activities are all part of the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) World Environment Day celebration, where visitors will find dozens of activities and displays underscoring the day-long event theme of "CO2, Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy."


Over thirty non-profit, academic, cultural and environmental organizations will participate in the Knowledge and Action marketplace, held from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. o­n the Esplanade at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Visitors will find helpful displays and knowledgeable representatives discussing products to help green homes, local carpools, volunteer and community conservation programs, classes o­n green gardening, the use of CFL light bulbs, vehicles that run o­n used vegetable oil and even appliances that pop popcorn using solar energy.

Organizations participating in the event include The Center for Neighborhood Technology, offering car-sharing information; CNT Energy, working with ComEd to provide information about Watt Spot, a program to assist homeowners who want to pay market price for electricity; Northern Illinois Energy Project, providing free CFL lights; Chicago Wilderness and Openlands, with information about local conservation and restoration programs; and Horrigan Urban Forest Products, highlighting the best uses for reclaimed wood from urban trees.

Learning to Grow Organically

Visitors will also find representatives from Chicago Botanic Garden programs that include The Green Youth Farm, demonstrating raised garden beds and offering sustainable gardening tips; The Joseph Regenstein, Jr., School of the Botanic Garden, providing information o­n green classes; and the Children's Teaching and Learning Center, recruiting participants for Project Budburst, a five-year, national citizen science program that is gathering information about the impact of climate change o­n plants.

Garden staff will also discuss the secrets to great composting, including the creation of a small compost bin and the use of worms to compost kitchen scraps easily at home. Visitors can leave with an easy-to-grow, carbon-absorbing Melrose pepper. These demonstrations and plant give-away will continue June 6 and 7, at the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden.


International Climate Change Forum

Visitors can also watch a videotape broadcast featuring local, national and international experts at the Garden's International Climate Change Forum, including Dr. Ashok Khosla, former Chairman of the UNEP; Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund; Mary Gade, Regional Administrator for EPA region 5, Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Commissioner of the Department of the Environment for the City of Chicago, John Rowe, Chief Executive Officer of the Exelon Corporation, Arthur J. Gibson, Vice President of Environment, Health & Safety for Baxter International and Arthur Armishaw, Chief Technology and Services Officer for HSBC- North America.

Entries from UNEP's International Children's Painting Competition, sponsored by Bayer Corporation, will be o­n exhibit throughout June at the greenhouse galleries, located in the Regenstein Center at the Chicago Botanic Garden. More than 700 entries were received from which the first and second place North American winners were selected. Chicago-area and North American winners will be featured.

The International Children's Painting Competition, the Knowledge and Action Marketplace, the International Climate Change Forum, a Farmer's Market of organically grown produce and more are all part of the Save the Plants/Save the Planet Week at the Garden, June 1 through 8th.

World Environment Day was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 to mark the June 5 opening of the Stockholm Conference o­n the Human environment. Another resolution, adopted by the General Assembly the same day, led to the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme.

World Environment Day is sponsored by PriceWaterhouseCoopersLLP, Baxter International, HSBC-North America and Exelon Corproation.

The Chicago Botanic Garden, o­ne of the green treasures of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, is a 385-acre living plant museum featuring 23 distinct display gardens surrounded by lakes, as well as a prairie and woodlands. With events, programs and activities for all ages, the Garden is open every day of the year, except Dec. 25. Admission is free; select event fees apply. Parking is $15; free for members. o­n Tuesdays, senior citizens age 62 and older pay just $7 for parking. The Garden is located at 1000 Lake Cook Road in Glencoe, Ill. Visit http://www.chicagobotanic.org/, or call (847) 835-5440 for seasonal hours, images of the Garden and commuter transportation information.


The Chicago Botanic Garden is managed by the Chicago Horticultural Society. It opened to the public in 1972 and is home to the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School of the Chicago Botanic Garden, offering a broad array of adult classes in plant science, landscape design and gardening arts. Through the Division of Plant Science and Conservation, Garden scientists work o­n plant conservation, research and environmental initiatives that have global impact. The Center for Teaching and Learning brings the wonder of nature and plants to children, teens and teachers. The Garden's Horticultural Therapy and Community Gardening programs provide nationally recognized community outreach and service programs. The Garden is also breaking new ground in urban horticulture and jobs training through a 15-acre project in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago called Windy City Harvest. The Chicago Botanic Garden is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is a member of the American Public Gardens Association (APGA). In 2006, the Chicago Botanic Garden received the Award for Garden Excellence, given yearly by the APGA and Horticulture magazine to a public garden that exemplifies the highest standards of horticultural practices and has shown a commitment to supporting and demonstrating best gardening practices.

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The Daily Green: Migratory Birds Being Silenced: How to Help



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