Eco Business: Lighting the Dark Continent, by Achim Steiner, Adnan Amin, and Kandeh K. Yumkella
Washington Post (US): U.S. will lead new effort to cut global warming from methane, soot
Reuters: EU climate chief would see merit in airline CO2 talks at U.N.
Global Journal: UNEP Highlights Soil Depletion and Nuclear Facilities As Emerging Priorities
Turkish Weekly (Turkey): Blue Economy Can Protect Mediterranean Sea
PR Inside (Austria): New study highlights potential for huge energy savings and pollution reduction at brick kilns
The Nation (Thailand): Natural disasters spark need to focus on green growth: ADB expert
AME info: Sri Lanka protects dugongs under Convention on Migratory Species
The Guardian (Nigeria): UN raises concern over health hazards from electronic waste
This Day Live (Nigeria): Report Warns of Dangers of Increasing E-waste in West Africa
Information Nigeria (Nigeria): UN raises concern over health hazards from electronic waste
Other Environment News
AFP: ‘Glue poison’ kills illegal factory workers
Reuters: EU aviation carbon tax fuels concerns, may go to U.N
New York Times (US): Airbus Worried About Fallout of E.U. Plan to Charge for Airline Emissions
Guardian (UK): Monsanto found guilty of chemical poisoning in France
BBC News (UK): Madagascar- Cyclone Giovanna death toll rising
Xinhua (China): Climate change may increase risk of water shortage in U.S. by 2050: study
AP (US):25 million tons of tsunami debris floating toward US shores
Dominican Today (Dominican Republic): The UN, Environment Ministry launch timber projects in poor areas
Slate (France): La centrale nucléaire de Fukushima reste sous la menace d'un fort séisme
Environmental News from the UNEP Regions
Environment News from the UN Daily News of 15 February 2012
Environment News from the S.G.’s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 15 February 2012(None)
General UN News
Featured Blog posts
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
Eco Business: Lighting the Dark Continent, by Achim Steiner, Adnan Amin, and Kandeh K. Yumkella By: Achim Steiner 16 February 2012
Nineteenth-century European explorers called Africa the “Dark Continent,” because to them it was vast and largely unknown. Today, Africa may still be dark, but for a very different reason: it is chronically short of electricity. Indeed, nocturnal satellite images show that, except for some parts of southern and northern Africa, it barely twinkles.
The United Nations has designated 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. Its official launch in Africa in mid-February will not “switch on” the continent in a flash – but it can help to jump-start global efforts towards that goal, thereby enhancing the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.
Attempts have been made before to electrify Africa, with mixed results. But this time can be different. Many countries are already testing the technologies and policies needed to bring energy to rural areas and growing cities. Innovative investment mechanisms and sharply falling manufacturing and installation costs of renewable energy technologies, including wind, advanced biomass, and solar power, are essential to unlocking the continent’s potential.
In Kenya, new drilling techniques are tapping the country’s geothermal energy resources, adding hundreds of megawatts of generating capacity in recent years. Kenya is also about to begin construction of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest wind farm.
In Egypt, investment in renewable energy rose by $800 million, to $1.3 billion, in 2010, owing to the solar thermal project in KomOmbo and a 220-megawatt onshore wind farm in the Gulf of Zayt.
In Morocco, the provision of solar photovoltaic kits to isolated villages has helped to raise access rates to electricity in rural areas from less than 15 per cent in 1990 to more than 97 per cent in 2009. The country has been chosen as the first location to develop a 500 MW concentrated solar plant as part of the Desertec Industrial Initiative.
Instead of waiting for a grid to come to a town or village, renewable energies can be swiftly deployed in remote areas. Distributed generation using renewables can also help to reduce the risk of massive power outages and resulting reliance on expensive diesel power, which currently can cost up to 5 per cent of a country’s annual GDP – a problem that affects 30 of the 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Innovative schemes are underway: in parts of Africa, for example, mobile phone companies have begun piloting ways to provide customers access to solar energy. Electricity is supplied on a pay-as-you-go basis and tied to phone bills, unlocking market opportunities for isolated farmers.
But more is needed. Africa is endowed with vast untapped renewable energy resources that can provide electricity for all at an affordable cost. The potential of wind power alone is more than 1,000 gigawatts, or more than five times the continent’s current total installed generating capacity. The potential output of solar energy is ten times higher, in excess of 10,000 GW, while only 5 per cent of the region’s estimated hydropower resources has so far been exploited. In parts of Africa, sustainably developed biomass could provide fuels to assist in meeting growing demand for transportation fuels.
With Africa having yet to build nearly two-thirds of the additional capacity that it will need in 2030, the continent faces a unique opportunity to benefit from recent advances and cost reductions in renewable power-generation technologies, thereby leapfrogging the energy path taken by industrialized countries.
The story is not limited to electrification. In Ghana, an African Rural Energy Enterprise Development project, supported by the UN Foundation, has helped small entrepreneurs to scale up and supply 50,000 homes with cleaner, more efficient cooking stoves, while generating manufacturing and service jobs and cutting health-damaging emissions in houses. There are similar stories across Africa – and, again, significant need for further progress.
The International Year of Sustainable Energy for All coincides with the year of the Rio+20 Summit, when, marking 20 years since the Earth Summit of 1992 paved the way towards sustainable development, world leaders will meet again to achieve that goal. One cooperative decision that world leaders can take when they meet again in Rio de Janeiro is to reduce or phase out the more than $500 billion of global fossil-fuel subsidies, the benefits of which reach less than one-tenth of the poorest 20 per cent of the world’s population.
It will be a challenge, but a gradual, well-designed, and properly communicated set of policies could accelerate the quest for more sustainable sources of energy. A good place to start is the public sector: procurement by governments and local authorities can play an important role in shifting economies towards cleaner forms of energy. Building the banking sector’s capacity and managing exchange-rate risk in some African countries would also help to realize Africa’s potential for sustainable energy production.
Many barriers remain, but today they are no longer insurmountable. Governments, the private sector, and civil-society groups in Africa and beyond should support the UN Secretary-General’s initiative, by nurturing the new generation of entrepreneurs and innovators who will bring light to 600 million African citizens whose lives and livelihoods remain benighted.
Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________ Washington Post (US): U.S. will lead new effort to cut global warming from methane, soot 16 February 2012
With global efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions stalled, the United States and five other countries are starting a new program to cut other pollutants — including methane, soot and hydrofluorocarbons — that contribute to global warming.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is set to announce the five-year initiative Thursday morning. Canada, Sweden, Mexico, Ghana and Bangladesh are also participating. The plan will be administered by the United Nations Environment Program, with a $12 million contribution from the United States for the first two years. Canada will add $3 million; contributions from the other countries are not known.
Carbon dioxide — from burning fossil fuels — plays the largest role in pushing up global temperatures, climate scientists say. But methane, soot and hydrofluorocarbons also contribute to global warming. Combined, those three pollutants are believed to account for 30 to 40 percent of the nearly one degree Celsius rise in global temperatures since the beginning of the 20th century.
If adopted globally, measures to reduce soot and methane emissions could slow global warming by about a half a degree Celsius by 2030, according to research published in January.
They can have a quick effect on global warming because these gases do not last in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide does.
“The science is quite clear that the only way to slow warming in the near term . . . is to reduce emissions of these so-called short-lived climate forcers,” said Erika Rosenthal of the advocacy group Earthjustice.
The new program, called the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, will not set targets for reductions in pollutants. Rather, it will fund education projects and joint public-private efforts to reduce emissions, said three people briefed on the announcement. They said the new program is likely to encourage nations to reduce diesel exhaust, stem the burning of agricultural waste, and capture methane from landfills, coal mines and natural gas wells, among other policies.
While most of these policies are expected to pay for themselves in the long run, each requires some upfront investment, said Johan Kuylenstierna, scientific coordinator of two U.N. reports on the benefits of reducing methane and soot.
Getting governments and industry to pay those costs is “the big challenge,” he said.
A growing body of scientific work shows that reducing emissions of soot comes with a big side benefit: Millions of lives can be saved by reducing the incidence of lung disease.
Lena Ek, Sweden’s minister of the environment, said she has “very high hopes” that the program will reduce global warming and improve global health, especially for women and children in developing nations who rely on wood-burning stoves for cooking.
Ek said several additional countries are poised to join the coalition, which will hold its first meeting April 23 in Stockholm.
While describing the program as modest, advocates of slowing greenhouse gas emissions hailed the partnership as an important step.
“It shows there are multiple strategies for addressing different pieces of climate change,” said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development.
Brooks Yeager of the advocacy group Clean Air Cool Planet called it a “fast-action program.” He added, “It’s just a start. It needs to get bigger.”
Paul Bledsoe of the Bipartisan Policy Center noted that, in the United States, efforts to reduce methane and soot are far less politicized than efforts to reduce carbon dioxide. Even one of the most vehement congressional opponents of limiting carbon dioxide emissions, Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), supports cutting soot emissions.
Said Bledsoe: “This isn’t a panacea, but it represents an opportunity for bipartisan progress and near-term results on the climate front.”
Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________ Reuters: EU climate chief would see merit in airline CO2 talks at U.N. 16 February 2012
The European Union's climate chief said on Tuesday she hopes countries opposed to its rules that charge airlines for carbon emissions take their complaints to the U.N. aviation body, where talks could help to defuse tensions over the strict measures.
A group of 26 countries, including the United States, China, India and Russia, have sharply criticized the EU program and will meet next week in Moscow to set a strategy to block the EU plan.
Last September, those countries threatened to file a formal complaint at the U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) against the EU program that came into force on Jan. 1, but have yet to take formal action to challenge the measures at that body.
"It's one thing that they do not like what Europe is doing. What can they agree to in ICAO? It will be very interesting for us to see that next step," EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in an interview.
Earlier on Tuesday, the environment ministers of Brazil, South Africa, India and China issued a statement condemning the EU's airline emissions charges, and said the bloc was jeopardizing the global fight against climate change by acting on its own rather than building a multilateral agreement.
"That is of course not a valid argument," Hedegaard said. "Everybody knows that Europe has been fighting for a multilateral system. Everybody knows that other parties blocked that."
Europe has worked for a decade though ICAO to craft a solution to curb airline emissions, and launched its own Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) after it failed to win a global agreement.
Under the ETS, airlines would be required to pay for 15 percent of the carbon they emit, a cost Hedegaard said would add about 1.5 euros ($2) to the cost of a trip from London to New York or about 2 euros to a trip from Beijing to Frankfurt.
Airlines that fly to Europe and do not comply with the ETS face a fine of 100 euros for each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted and for which they have not paid allowances.
In the case of persistent offenders, the EU can ban airlines from its airports - a measure that has drawn protest from airlines around the world.
China has banned its carriers from taking part and the United States has urged the EU to reconsider the program, warning it would take unspecified action if it were enforced.
Airplane builder Airbus also voiced its opposition to the program on Monday. Its CEO said the company's global deals could suffer and Europe's debt crisis could be made worse.
Hedegaard reiterated comments by European Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas that the EU would not drop the airline program in the face of growing criticism, including warnings that the issue could spark a global trade war.
"I see absolutely no need that people should escalate the discussion here," she said.
"Nobody has an interest in a trade war and everybody knows that," she added. "It's not that you can threaten us to change the law."
Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________ Global Journal: UNEP Highlights Soil Depletion and Nuclear Facilities As Emerging Priorities
14 February 2012
Soil depletion and the decommissioning of nuclear plants are to be considered emerging climate challenges according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) 2012 Year Book.
The publication was launched yesterday (13th February) at the organization’s headquarters in Nairobi. UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, highlighted the importance of examining these pressing environmental issues by stating "Superficially they may seem separate and unconnected issues, but both go to the heart of several fundamental questions: how will the world feed and fuel itself while combating climate change and handling hazardous wastes?".
As reported by UNEP, 24 per cent of the world’s land area has suffered considerable decline in productivity and soil degradation over the last 15 years. If the current trend persists, 20 per cent of habitats, including forests and grasslands in developing countries, will be transformed into cropland by 2030. The Year Book recommends improving the management of soil carbon to meet the growing food demands of the world’s population and ensure sustainable agricultural practices. Soil carbon is a valuable solution to the problems of agricultural productivity and climate stabilization according to UNEP.
As 80 civil nuclear plants are to be shut down within the next ten years, the organization is also advocating for a "smarter" decommissioning process. This issue has attained even greater immediacy for the nuclear industry following the devastating accident in Fukushima last year.
Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________ Turkish Weekly (Turkey): Blue Economy Can Protect Mediterranean Sea 14 February 2012
Twenty-two Mediterranean countries and the European Union expect the forthcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil to adopt a strategic policy framework supporting a "blue" economy to safeguard and promote a clean and healthy environment.
The call came in a closing communique – the Paris Declaration – as the 17th Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP17) to the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean and its Protocols drew to an end after three days of talks in the French capital on February 10.
The Barcelona Convention entered into force in 1978, after Mediterranean countries and the European Community had, three years earlier, adopted the Mediterranean Action Plan, the first-ever Regional Seas Programme under the umbrella of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The convention was amended and renamed in 1995; and that version came into force in 2004.
The 22 Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention are: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, the European Union, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.
In his opening speech, France's Ambassador for the Environment, Jean-Pierre Thébault, who chaired the meeting, said: "In this very symbolic year for the environment, I express the wish that the Mediterranean Action Plan remains ambitious and leads by example, showing the way towards Rio+20."
The Paris Declaration reflects this ambition: The 22 countries want a "blue" economy, a version of the Green Economy that is applied to seas and oceans, and hope to see a strategic policy framework adopted at Rio+20 in Brazil in June.
The profound significance of the call for the "blue" economy is underlined by the fact that the world's marine ecosystems provide essential food and livelihoods to millions of people. UNEP's research shows how a switch to the more sustainable Green Economy model could unlock the vast potential of the marine-based economy and at the same time significantly reduce ocean degradation while alleviating poverty. UNEP defines the Green Economy as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.
"The time has come for us to rethink how we manage our oceans," said Achim Steiner, executive Director of UNEP and Under Secretary General of the UN. "They are a key pillar for many countries of their economic and social development, and are vital in the fight against poverty. But too many of these essential natural resources are being degraded by unsustainable use, putting the ecosystems services they provide, such as food security and climate regulations for instance, at risk."
Steiner added; "Management decisions and investments that put the well-being of the oceans are essential if we are to continue to profit from this rich natural resource. A 'blue' economy in the Mediterranean and elsewhere would be a big step on the right path."
UNEP is the voice for the environment in the UN system. Established in 1972, UNEP's mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.
UNEP hosts the Coordinating Unit for the Mediterranean Action Plan of the Barcelona Convention.
The Paris meeting welcomed the progress that had been made in 2011 in reinforcing the fight against deterioration of the Mediterranean sea with the entry into force of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) protocol and the Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution resulting from Exploration and Exploitation of the Continental Shelf and the Seabed and its Subsoil (the "Offshore" Protocol).
These two-world first protocols recognize the Mediterranean environment as a critical and shared resource, and promote and promote a co-operative and holistic approach to its management.
In the Paris Declaration, the Contracting Parties also:
- Reaffirmed their political commitment to the sustainable development of the Mediterranean Sea and its coastal zones through an ecosystem approach to the management of human activities.
- Agreed to develop a coherent, well-managed network of marine protected areas in the Mediterranean, aiming for a target of 10 per cent of marine protected areas by 2020.
- Decided to intensify their efforts to curb marine pollution from land-based sources, such as mercury, Persistent Organic Pollutants and marine litter, by adopting legally binding measures, and reduce pollution from offshore and marine-based activities though regional action plans.
- Adopted the action plan for the implementation of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Protocol, and encouraged all Contracting Parties to ratify it.
- Agreed to work to protect the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction through the implementation of existing instruments and through the development of a multilateral agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
- Supported the preparation by 2014 of a report on the state of the marine environment, including from a socioeconomic perspective.
Boosting marine sector
UNEP said in a report released on January 25, 2012: The economic productivity of the marine sector can be significantly boosted by shifting to a more sustainable approach that focuses on green activities such as renewable energy, eco-tourism and sustainable transport.
The UNEP report 'Green Economy in a Blue World' looks at six different economic areas in the marine sector and provides recommendations on how to boost their potential by implementing green measures.
"Oceans are a key pillar for many countries in their development and fight to tackle poverty, but the wide range of ecosystem services, including food security and climate regulation, provided by marine and coastal environments are today under unprecedented pressure," said UNEP Executive Director Steiner releasing the report.
"Stepping up green investments in marine and coastal resources and enhancing international cooperation in managing these transboundary ecosystems are essential if a transition to low-carbon, resource-efficient green economy is to be realized," he said.
The six economic areas examined by the report include fisheries and aquaculture, marine transport, ocean nutrient pollution, marine-based renewable energy, coastal tourism, and deep-sea minerals.
"This report provides concrete examples of how emerging ocean industries – including ocean energy and aquaculture industries – can become more profitable, more sustainable, and meet the needs of a growing population without sacrificing the health of our fragile ocean ecosystems,” said Linwood Pendleton, one of the contributors to the report and Director of Ocean and Coastal Policy at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.
The report also examines how small island developing States (SIDS), such as those in the Asia-Pacific and Caribbean regions, can take advantage of green economy opportunities to reduce their vulnerability to climate change and promote sustainable growth.
The report seeks to stimulate countries to take action as they prepare for Rio+20), according to a news release issued by UNEP.
"In the run-up to Rio+20, this report shows that a shift to a green economy can, if comprehensively implemented, unlock the potential of marine ecosystems to fuel economic growth – particularly in small island developing States but in ways that ensure that future generations derive an equitable share of marine resources and services," Steiner.
The report was produced by UNEP in collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the WorldFish Center and GRID-Arendal.
Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________ PR Inside (Austria): New study highlights potential for huge energy savings and pollution reduction at brick kilns 15 February 2012
Annual savings in coal to the order of 2.5 to 5 million tons (Rs 1,250 to 2,500 Crores) and an associated reduction in CO2 emissions to the order of 4.5 to 9 million tons, equivalent to taking up to 800,000 to 1.6 million cars off the road, can be effected through modernization of India’s brick industry.
Bangalore: Feb 15, 2012; Resultant fuel savings and improvements in brick quality will enhance the profitability of brick making enterprises, millions of workers employed in this industry will enjoy more humane working conditions, and many more Indians will benefit from reduced levels of exposure to air pollution, particularly fine particulates.
Fired clay brick is one of the main building materials used in India. The country has the world’s second largest brick manufacturing industry after China. There are an estimated 100,000 or more brick kilns, producing about 150-200 billion bricks annually, employing about 10 million workers and consuming about 25 million tons of coal annually.
In a first of its kind study, two Indian firms joined hands with collaborators abroad to quantify
the energy, environmental and economic footprint of various brick kiln technologies in order to recommend strategies for developing a cleaner, more resource efficient brick industry. Study findings suggest modernization of India’s vast, employment-generating brick industry as one of the most promising opportunities for India to achieve low-carbon inclusive growth during the 12th plan period. The report, entitled Brick Kilns Performance Assessment and a Roadmap for Cleaner Brick Production in India released by Greentech Knowledge Solutions Pvt. Ltd., based in New Delhi, and Enzen Global Solutions Pvt. Ltd., in Bangalore studied five highly diverse types of kilns.
These ranged from the most prevalent – the “Fixed Chimney Bull’s Trench Kiln” (FCBTK), one of the most energy inefficient and polluting, to the least polluting, the “Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln” (VSBK), which is one of the least widely distributed types of kilns, “Zig-Zag” kilns, down draft kiln and the Tunnel Kiln, which was measured in Vietnam. Nine kilns were examined over four months for financial viability, energy efficiency and environmental performance, including measurements of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, suspended particulate matter (SPM), PM2.5 and black carbon.
“Collecting the data for this study was extremely challenging for our research team” said Dr. Uma Rajarathnam of Enzen Global Solutions, “but our findings will be incredibly valuable for mapping the brick industry’s contribution to air and climate pollutants, as well as to identify how to best upgrade and modernize this traditional building materials industry.”
The study further presents a way forward to significantly reduce emissions by modernizing the industry, thereby improving efficiencies and encouraging development of newer, more financially viable forms of brick production.
Replacing traditional brick kilns with more efficient ones was recently highlighted in a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report as one among a handful of measures that can simultaneously deliver near-term climate protection, reduce air pollution deaths and boost food security. The UNEP report concluded that if these measures were fully implemented across the globe, it would save 2.5 million lives a year, avoid crop losses amounting to 32 million tons annually, and help keep a global temperature rise below 2 degrees C, at least until mid-century.
The results from the present work generally support the UNEP recommendations for the brick industry, but this study provides important data that were not available to the UNEP authors. “In our study, measured performance data and good connections with the industry were vitally important for determining feasibility of kiln upgrades,” said Dr. Rajarathnam.
By measuring a broader range of kilns than were evaluated in the UNEP report, the study is able to suggest a broader set of recommendations, including specific suggestions on kiln conversions, an option the UNEP authors were not in a position to consider. One of the study’s biggest contributions is its demonstration of practical solutions for improving the energy efficiency of India’s existing stock of brick kilns in a manner that concurrently improves profitability of enterprises, with minimal upheaval in production.
The report lays out a game plan for cleaner brick production in India, offering recommendations such as replacing FCBTKs with cleaner Zig-Zag kilns and VSBKs by 2020. In the immediate future, Zig-Zag kilns appear to be the most attractive option because of low investment of Rs 5-10 lakh and an attractive pay-back period of less than one year to retrofit an existing FCBTK into Zig-Zag firing. The other technical recommendations are: preferential use of internal fuels by mechanizing the brick making process, exploring the use of renewable energy such as biomass, solar, diversifying product lines to include hollow and perforated bricks.
“The demand for bricks is increasing rapidly and is likely to touch 500 billion bricks per year by 2030. In this scenario, we call upon the Indian government and the Indian brick industry to fully examine the findings and the recommendations of our comprehensive report; several other developing countries such as Vietnam, China and Bangladesh have already initiated policy action to transform the brick industry and India should not lag behind,” said Dr. Sameer Maithel, Project Leader & Director of Greentech Knowledge Solutions. “The project team has started work on developing a technology package for retrofitting existing kilns and training modules to train brick makers, however, government regulations to phase out FCBTKs and a comprehensive national program to refocus the industry for maximum efficiency and technological innovation is needed for transforming the brick industry.”
Among the international collaborators, Entec AG, based in Hanoi, Vietnam arranged support for Vietnamese measurement activities, University of Illinois provided both measurement expertise and instruments, and Clean Air Task Force served as project coordinator.
About Enzen Global Solutions:
The Company headquartered in Bangalore, provides Consulting and Business Services in the life essential sectors of Energy and Environment. Core to its delivery is the elimination of wastages and leakages in the distribution chain; it sees itself as the liberator of efficiency. The company established in 2006 is playing a vital role in Environment, Power, Oil & Gas, Water & Renewable Energy sectors. The company's business portfolio includes the full range of consulting, strategy formulation and design, development and implementation services, process optimization with value addition, focused on enhancing productivity at optimized cost. The spectrum of offerings spreads across infrastructure development, loss reduction, revenue enhancement, IT solutions, system integration, audits, asset management, consultancy in policy and planning, project management, regulatory compliance, and environmental management. The company is recognized globally by organizations operating in this sector, having its strong presence in India, United Kingdom, Middle East, Asia and Europe.
Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________ The Nation (Thailand): Natural disasters spark need to focus on green growth: ADB expert 16 February 2012
Frequent disasters spark the need for emphasis on "green growth" among developing countries, including Thailand, as sustainable economic development could be achieved in the absence of environmental havoc, said an official from the Asian Development Bank.
"We believe that this is important. We have to see the same thing for climate change, as damage could be 100 times bigger than the cost to prevent it … This is an attractive paradigm for developing countries," said Daniele Ponzi, principal environment specialist at the ADB's Regional and Sustainable Development Department.
In a telephone interview from Manila, he said sustainable development approaches were more easily implemented in developing countries than in developed countries, where the lifestyle and consumption pattern has taken firm root.
Developing countries are growing and, for some time, increasing per-capita income would allow them to focus more on green initiatives to boost their economies, and not just on pure economic growth.
Moreover, he said, developing countries must avoid repeating industrial nations' missteps.
The specialist is in Bangkok today to launch the report "Green Growth, Resources and Resilience: Environmental Sustainability in Asia and the Pacific".
The report - commissioned by the ADB, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and the United Nations Environment Programme - provides new insights into trends in resource use in the Asia-Pacific.
As "business as usual" growth strategies are no longer appropriate, it also outlines key actions for bringing economic growth in closer alignment with sustainable development objectives. Last year, several Asian countries, including Thailand, suffered hugely from climate-change-induced flood disasters, which claimed more than 1,000 lives and cost damage in the billions of US dollars.
The report is aimed at setting a sustainable development framework for the Asia-Pacific ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil in June.
Ponzi commended Thailand's efforts after the flood disaster, with the authorities seeing the need for land-use review and reforestation, and "not to let the nature takes its course". Plus, Thailand is advancing in terms of green energy, with the Alternative Energy Development Plan, he said, adding that the clear strategy on green energy had encouraged the ADB jointly to finance solar power plants in the country.
Still, Thailand has a lot to do in terms of transportation, he added. Offering more means of public transport is a must, and this could include a vehicle-borrowing scheme like in Europe, to ease traffic congestion and energy consumption.
For long-term sustainability, Asia-Pacific countries also need to remove subsidies that encourage consumption and constitute pollution, he said. Ponzi also said "there is large room for demand-side management", given huge infrastructure investment in the region. Such investment would render long-term benefits if it could turn the region towards lower-carbon economies.
A positive factor is that some countries in the region realise the need for green growth. China, in particular, in 2010 overtook the United States in terms of green technology investment. The investment in the year accounted for US$54 billion (Bt1.66 trillion) or |1.4 per cent of gross domestic product, with the focus on wind and solar power.
The specialist said that not many developing countries could see this, though. For sustainability in the long term, they need to understand the consequences of environmental impacts. Deforestation in one village can affect the whole country, and not just villagers who rely on the forest for food, he added.
To influence the direction, the ADB is shaping its strategies coherently in order to ensure sustainability. The issue - one of three key objectives, the others being inclusive growth and regional integration - now commands half of the ADB's financing, Ponzi said.
Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________ AME info: Sri Lanka protects dugongs under Convention on Migratory Species 15 February 2012
Sri Lanka has pledged its support to the long-term survival of the dugongs and the protection of their critical seagrass habitats by becoming a signatory state to the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Dugongs and Their Habitats throughout their Range (Dugong MOU).
The Dugong MOU operates under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). The Secretariat to the Dugong MOU is funded and hosted by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) on behalf of the Government of the United Arab Emirates.
The dugong (Dugong dugon), often known as the 'sea cow', is a large, long-lived marine mammal that feeds almost exclusively on sea grass and plays a significant ecological role in the functioning of coastal ecosystems. Dugongs are found in warm coastal and island waters of over 40 countries in the Indo-Pacific. In Sri Lanka, the species is known to occur from Colombo to Jaffna, particularly in the coastal waters of Gulf of Mannar-Palk Bay region,which have sea grass beds and mangrove forests.
Although there is limited data, dugongs were reported to be both abundant and widely distributed along coastal waters of Sri Lankaup until the late in the 20th century. However over the past 30 years, dugong populations have declined dramatically and sightings are now rare in most areas of Sri Lanka. The dugong has been given high levels of legal protection in South Asia through national legislation in countries including Sri Lanka and India.
Dugongs are classified as 'Vulnerable to Extinction' under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, which indicates that they face a high risk of extinction in the medium-term future. They are exposed to a number of threats across their range, including incidental capture in fishing nets, loss of habitat, boat collision and unsustainable hunting practices.
In Sri Lanka, the UNEP/CMS Office - Abu Dhabi is currently working with the Department of Wildlife Conservation,IUCN Sri Lanka and Dilmah Conservation to conduct surveys which will improve knowledge of dugong distribution, abundance, and their "hotspots" of main threats particularly from incidental captures by net fisheries. More projects are planned with the aim of facilitating national and trans-boundary action on conservation of dugongs and their habitats, enhancing regional collaboration and finding incentives to change towards more dugong-friendly practices.
Due to the size of the dugong's range and their declining population, a coordinated international effort is crucial to the conservation of this threatened marine mammal. It is hoped that other countries in the South Asia sub-region, including Bangladesh, Maldives and Pakistan, will follow Sri Lanka's lead to formally join the Dugong MOU.
Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________ The Guardian (Nigeria): UN raises concern over health hazards from electronic waste 15 February 2012
A study conducted by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has revealed Nigeria as one of the major sources of electronic waste in Africa without the needed protection against its impact on human health and the environment in the country and the West African sub-region.
In the study conducted on Nigeria, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Liberia, and based on the findings of national e-waste assessments carried out in the five countries from 2009 to 2011, it was discovered that those five nations generate “between 650,000 and 1,000,000 tonnes of domestic e-waste” annually.
In fact the report, released at last weekend, added that “domestic consumption makes up the majority (up to 85 per cent) of electronic and electrical equipment waste produced in the region”, according to the study titled Where are WEEE in Africa?
It is known that electrical and electronic equipment can contain hazardous substances (e.g. heavy metals such as mercury and lead, and endocrine disrupting substances such as brominated flame retardants).
The UN report added that “hazardous substances are released during various dismantling and disposal operations and are particularly severe during the burning of cables to liberate copper and of plastics to reduce waste volumes. Open burning of cables is a major source of dioxin emissions, a persistent organic pollutant that travels over long-distances that bio-accumulates in organisms up through the global food chain.”
Additionally, the e-waste problem in Nigeria and the other West African nations “is further exacerbated by an ongoing stream of used equipment from industrialised countries, significant volumes of which prove unsuitable for re-use and contribute further to the amount of e-waste generated locally,” the report observed.
UNEP’s Where are WEEE in Africa? report sheds light on current recycling practices and on socio-economic characteristics of the e-waste sector in West Africa and also provides the quantitative data on the use, import and disposal of electronic and electrical equipment in the region.
According to Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of UNEP, “effective management of the growing amount of e-waste generated in Africa and other parts of the world is an important part of the transition towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy.
“We can grow Africa’s economies, generate decent employment and safeguard the environment by supporting sustainable e-waste management and recovering the valuable metals and other resources locked inside products that end up as e-waste.”
Highlighting the Rio+20 conference later in June, the report shows how measures such as “improved collection strategies and establishing more formal recycling structures, can limit environmental damage and provide economic opportunities.”
Detailing the Nigerian situation, the report disclosed that “an analysis of 176 containers of two categories of used electrical and electronic equipment imported into Nigeria, conducted from March to July 2010, revealed that more than 75 per cent of all containers came from Europe, approximately 15 per cent from Asia, five per cent from African ports (mainly Morocco) and five per cent from North America.”
Besides, the UK is the dominant exporting country to Africa for both new and used electrical and electronic wastes, followed with large gaps by France and Germany. In fact Nigeria is deemed “the most dominant African importing country for new and used EEE, followed by Ghana.”
Back to Menu
_________________________________________________________________ This Day Live (Nigeria): Report Warns of Dangers of Increasing E-waste in West Africa 16 February 2012
A newly-released United Nations report has revealed that West Africa is facing a significant increase in waste generated by electronic equipment which poses mounting health and environmental risks.
About 85 per cent of the waste produced in the region comes from domestic consumption, the report revealed. However, the problem is further exacerbated by industrialised countries importing used equipment which often proves to be unsuitable for re-use and end up being discarded, it added.
“Effective management of the growing amount of e-waste generated in Africa and other parts of the world is an important part of the transition towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy”, said Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner.
The report assessed the situation over two years in five countries – Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria – and found that they produce between 650,000 and 1,000,000 tonnes of domestic e-waste each year, which can have a negative impact in the environment and increase the risk of health issues.
As for waste coming from other countries, the report notes that the United Kingdom is the dominant exporting country to Africa for both new and used electrical and electronic equipment, followed by France and Germany.
According to UNEP, although the use of electrical and electronic equipment is still low in Africa compared to other regions, it is growing at a staggering pace as more people start using mobile phones and personal computers.
The report, which was prepared by the Secretariat of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal and partners, also documents the economic and environmental potential of building a resource recovery and waste management system for electronic waste, along with the risks of continuing on the present course.
“We can grow Africa’s economies, generate decent employment and safeguard the environment by supporting sustainable e-waste management and recovering the valuable metals and other resources locked inside products that end up as e-waste,” Steiner said, adding that the report provides various strategies to limit damages and provide economic opportunities, something that is crucial for long-term sustainability.
“E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream world-wide and a key waste stream under the Basel Convention,” said Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention. The convention’s secretariat is administered by UNEP.
“Dealing with electronic and electrical equipment properly presents a serious environmental and health challenge for many countries, yet also offers a potentially significant opportunity to create green businesses and green jobs,” he added.
Back to Menu