AFP: 1,000 protest over China chemical plant pollution: residents
AFP: Cyprus to build wind park
Reuters: Clunker scheme a tiny boost for U.S. fuel efficiency
Environmental News from the UNEP Regions
Other UN News
Environment News from the UN Daily News of July 31st 2009 (None)
Environment News from the S.G.’s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of July 31st 2009 (None)
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
NY Times (US): A Plan to Cut Carbon Emissions From Deforestation
July 29, 2009, 7:49 am
As policymakers prepare for the Copenhagen conference on climate change in December, the proposed program for reducing emissions from deforestation is considered among the more promising ways to reduce atmospheric carbon. The program would allow heavily polluting nations to offset their emissions by paying developing tropical countries to store carbon in forests, providing economic incentive to stop deforestation and regenerate damaged landscapes.
The arrangement would provide an economic incentive for developing nations to promote practices beneficial to the climate over those that release carbon into the atmosphere.
The program is well-defined in principle, but the actual numbers remain uncertain. “To the extent that you can manage something, you have to be able to measure it,” said Achim Steiner, the executive director of the United Nations Environmental Program, in a recent interview in Nairobi, Kenya. “Our challenge right now is to determine how a different land use would have either a net benefit or a net cost in terms of carbon storage capacity.”
The United Nations group hopes to solve this problem by measuring carbon-storage capacities through a recently introduced program known as the Carbon Benefits Project.
One test region is the northern Lake Victoria basin, which includes parts of Uganda and western Kenya. The rolling hills of the region are divided between old-growth forests, subsistence farms, tea fields and human settlements — each of which stores a different amount of carbon. Knowing exactly how much carbon each type of land use sequesters is crucial for the envisioned international program.
According to Eleanor Milne, a Colorado State University scientist who is coordinating the first stage of the project, the Carbon Benefits Project will use the Lake Victoria basin to “create a standardized way to measure carbon storage in the same ways.” After on-the-ground measurements and satellite images are taken into account, a model of carbon storage will be made available so that other land-management projects, like the broad initiative to combat deforestation, can use the system too.
Mr. Steiner believes that the effort to reduce emissions stemming from deforestation would generate an important new source of income for the Lake Victoria region. “Fifteen years ago, we never talked about carbon, and today it could become a major driver,” he said.
Researchers at ClimateWorks, a group based in San Francisco that focuses on reducing emissions, estimate that preserving tropical forests and regenerating landscapes could account for about a fifth of the emissions that must be avoided by 2030, in order to keep global greenhouse gas concentrations at the arguably manageable level of 450 parts per million.
Politicians using delaying tactics to stall the restoration of the forest till 2012, says Heritage minister.
A Cabinet minister has called for the immediate eviction of those living within the Mau Forest complex without compensation.
National Heritage minister William ole Ntimama said on Tuesday more than 90 per cent of those currently living in the forest are from adjoining districts and have ‘crossed boundaries, valleys and rivers’ to settle there illegally.
He said more people have been encroaching onto the forest recently, hoping to get the compensation the government has promised for those who are settled there.
He also accused party and Cabinet colleagues who have lately been talking about the issue of employing delay tactics in a bid to stall the restoration of the forest till 2012.
“These people are not ready to vacate the Mau and all you see are delaying tactics to frustrate government efforts to protect Mau. It doesn’t take a person a year, a month or even weeks to pack their bags and go,” said Mr Ntimama.
Speaking at a press conference at his office, Mr Ntimama said pledges to compensate the settlers and restore the forest cover risk failure because of the lack of funding.
A deal struck between Prime Minister Raila Odinga and a section of MPs from the Rift Valley last week had set Sh38 billion as the amount of money needed for the compensation of settlers and rehabilitation of the forest.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga was pegging his hopes mainly on donors who include the World Bank in an initiative led by the United Nations Environmental Programme and the relocation was scheduled to take two years.
The government has not set aside the money in its current budget while the Unep, which was expected to be a key donor, maintains the issue is largely a Kenyan affair.
“We have already made our contribution in terms of providing the technical, scientific and economic data necessary for evidence-based policy and implementation decisions,” said Unep spokesperson Nick Nuttall at the weekend, alluding that the Kenyan government must make available the necessary resources and political goodwill for the project.
Mr Ntimama said even if the money was to become available, using it to compensate the Mau Forest settlers would be ‘setting a bad precedent by rewarding land grabbers and criminals.’
Mau Forest is Kenya’s largest water towers and 12 rivers, among them those that run through the Maasai Mara Game Reserve and others that drain into Lake Nakuru, are at risk of drying up.
The removal of settlers from the water tower has also become a hot political matter, with ODM practically divided down the middle in the debate, which began last year.
While the Central Rift and mostly Kalenjin MPs have opposed the eviction of settlers, those from the lower Rift have said they should take place immediately and without compensation.
On Monday, Mr Odinga said he is ready to sacrifice votes from the community, whose leaders have been railing against him, in support of efforts to restore the forest. Mr Ntimama supported the PM’s stand, saying the debate from the Rift Valley MPs has led to the failure of his efforts and pushed him to the precipice over the issue.
Mr Ntimama said those delaying the removal of the settlers are committing mass murder by living in the water catchment area and therefore depriving those downstream of the water.