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Antara News: Pontianak, Bekasi Official invited to discussion on global warming in London

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Antara News: Pontianak, Bekasi Official invited to discussion on global warming in London

Pontianak (ANTARA News) - Pontianak Mayor Buchary Abdurrachman said he and a representative of the Bekasi (town in West Java) administration have been invited by the British government to a discussion on global warming caused by methane (CH4) gas emission from organic and non-organic garbage on June 5 in London.

He said he had been invited because the Pontianak city administration had succeeded in solving the CH4 gas emission problem at its Batu Layang garbage dump through a methane gas burning system installed in cooperation with a Japanese investor, PT Gikoko Kogyo.

The system was working so well that it was considered worthy of being certified for gas emission reduction under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the International Standard Organization (ISO), he said here Wednesday.

The Pontianak city administration had been cooperating with the Japanese investor in processing garbage in a clean way since early 2007 with an investment of about Rp10 billion.

He said garbage that was left to rot would eventually produce methane gas which was a factor in the greenhouse effect that damaged the environment and the ozone layer.

To prevent methane gas from the Batu Layang garbage dump from escaping into the atmosphere, a system was installed in which the garbage was first encased and then pipes thrust into its layers to channel the methane gas to a point where the gas was burned.

The heat from the burning gas could be used for productive purposes, for instance, to generate electricity, he said.

The price of one ton of CH4 was equal to the price of 21 tons of CO2 (carbon dioxide or six to seven US dollars. "So apart from preventing the methane gas from doing harm to the environment, the system enables the gas to be used in economically beneficial ways," he said.

Meanwhile, Sugeng Hardjo Subandi, head of Pontianak city`s cleanliness and park maintenance service, said the Batu Layang garbage dump was about 19.5 hectares wide. Some 6.6 hectares of the land were now covered by mountains of garbage and it was estimated that the entire lot would be full of garbage by 2010.

Pontianak city was generating an average of 120 tons of garbage per day of which 83 percent was organic and 17 perent non-organic material.(*)


Inter Press Service: U.N. Braces for New Breed of Refugees

Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, May 23 (IPS) - As the international community continues to express fears over the potentially devastating impact of global warming worldwide, there is also growing concern over the steady increase in a new category of displaced persons: environmental refugees.

"I believe it is high time that the United Nations take the lead in addressing this matter that threatens to affect the lives of so many, particularly those living in the coastal areas in the least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS)," U.N. Under-Secretary-General Anwarul Karim Chowdhury told IPS.

"We need to prepare ahead of time to know what kind of support they would need, and what could be offered," said Chowdhury, U.N. High Representative for LDCs, Landlocked Developing Countries and SIDS.

The Tokyo-based U.N. University -- which sponsored a panel discussion on "Environmental Refugees: the Forgotten Migrants" in New York last week -- says that victims of political upheavals or violence have access to financial grants, food, tools, shelter, schools and clinics, but environmental refugees receive no such aid because they are not yet recognised in international conventions.

The seminar was co-sponsored by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organisation for Migration and the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP).

Addressing the seminar, Maryam Niamir-Fuller, principal technical adviser at the UNDP's Environment and Energy Group, said that some are beginning to talk about "climate refugees", especially in the context of sea-level rise, "which is the most dramatic and visible form of change."

"The poor have the least access to support systems, both as a result of their vulnerability and marginalisation, as well as their lack of empowerment, representation and knowledge," she added.

Niamir-Fuller said there is a need to raise awareness not just among policy makers but also the potential refugees themselves.

"The state has an obligation to plan and manage the change. There is a need for orderly 'exit strategies' to help the poor -- and one of these could be environmentally motivated, and beneficial migration," she said.

Niamir-Fuller said the label "environmental refugees" has a negative connotation because it implies that "we need to return these people back to their homes".

"Our goal should be to eliminate environmental refugees, reduce environmentally forced migrants, and promote more flexible environmentally motivated mobility," she added.

Chowdhury told IPS that the U.N. definition of a refugee, according to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, excludes "environmental refugees".

He pointed out that about a third of the world's 50 LDCs are threatened by global warming and sea-level rise, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kiribati, Maldives, Comoros, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

And seven out of 10 countries are SIDS, which have large proportions of their population (about 40 percent) in low elevation coastal areas. But as they have small populations, their total number is small.

According to Andrew Simms, policy director of the New Economics Foundation in Britain and author of a book titled "Environmental Refugees: The Case for Recognition", scholars are predicting that about 50 million people worldwide will be displaced by 2010 because of rising sea levels, desertification, dried up aquifers, weather-induced flooding and other serious environmental changes.

By one rough estimate, as many as 100 million people worldwide live in areas below sea-level.

Brian Gorlick, senior policy advisor at the New York Office at the U.N. refugee agency, told the seminar there is no agreed definition of environmental refugees -- in international law, at the United Nations or among environmental experts.

He said one of the proposed definitions of environmentally displaced persons reads: "People who are displaced from or who feel obliged to leave their usual place of residence, because their lives, livelihoods and welfare have been placed at serious risk as a result of adverse environmental, ecological or climatic processes and events."

These "processes" include climate change, global warming, desertification and land degradation, rising sea-levels, deforestation, soil erosion and crop deletion. And "events" include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, floods, droughts and famines.

Gorlick also pointed out the different estimates of recent statistics on environmental refugees: 50 million more by the end of this decade (United Nations University); 150 million by 2050 (Oxford University); 50 million by 2060 in Africa alone (the U.N. Environment Programme in Nairobi) and; one billion displaced globally by 2050 (Christian Aid).

He said the existing definition of a refugee as spelled out in the Refugee Convention reads: "People outside of their own country because of a well-founded fear of persecution on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a social group or political opinion, and where there is a failure of state protection in the country of origin or habitual residence."

Dr. Ing Janos J.Bogardi, director of the United Nations University's Institute for Environment and Human Security, said the environment should be included as a dimension of the ongoing international debates on migration.

According to some of the conclusions of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in 2005, he said, 10 to 20 percent of drylands are already degraded and pressure is increasing on dryland ecosystems to provide services such as food and water for humans and livestock, as well as irrigation and sanitation.

Moreover, climate change is likely to increase water scarcity in regions that are already under water stress.

Additionally, droughts are becoming more frequent and their continuous re-occurrence can overcome the coping mechanisms of communities.

Lester R. Brown of the Earth Policy Institute says those who track the effects of global warming had assumed that the first flow of climate refugees would likely be with the abandonment of Tuvalu in the South Pacific or other low-lying islands.

"We were wrong. The first massive movement of climate refugees has been that of people away from the Gulf Coast of the United States," Brown said.

He points out that Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 "forced a million people from New Orleans and other small towns on the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts in the United States to move inland, either within states or neighbouring states, such as Texas and Arkansas." (END/2007)


24 May 2007

General Environment News
Kenya: Sh28 Million to Be Spent On Water Source
The Nation (Nairobi): Cherangany forest, a water catchment for rivers Nzoia and Kerio will be rehabilitated at a cost of Sh28 million. About 100 hectares of the forest, which has been depleted over the years, will be replanted to stop soil ending up in rivers. The forest lies between Trans Nzoia and Marakwet districts. The Community Development Trust Fund (CDTF) will contribute Sh22, 799,560 towards the programme while the locals will provide Sh5, 110,000 in form of labour. Speaking in Chebororwa in Cherangany yesterday at the launch of a three-year programme for the forest, the CDTF technical officer for environment, Mr Solomon Ngari, said they had established a tree nursery with about 5,000 seedlings to reclaim the forest.
Angola: Economic Development Must Include Environmental Matters - Minister
Angola Press Agency (Luanda): Angolan minister of Urbanisation and Environment, Sita José, Tuesday in Luanda warned all government officials on the need for the establishment of equilibrium between the economic development and the control of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. "At national level each of us must be interested to get upgraded in the sector we represent, in order to better help Angola to, effectively, stand as a nation engaged in the construction of the global response for the reduction of the concentration of greenhouse effect gases", said the minister. Sita Jose was addressing the opening of the seminar on mechanisms for clean development in terms of the Kyoto Protocol taking place in Luanda.
South Africa: Van Schalkwyk Calls for 'Environment Activism'
Business Day (Johannesburg): Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk yesterday called for "environmental activism" from individuals and businesses. He was speaking at the launch of the active phase of Indalo Yethu, SA's national environmental campaign. Indalo Yethu -- which was funded by the environmental affairs and tourism department, but is now housed in an independent trust -- is a legacy project of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. It is aimed at mobilising SA on environmental issues.
South Africa: Partnerships Vital to Face Environmental Challenges
BuaNews (Tshwane): Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk says partnerships between government and the private sector are necessary to effectively dealing with environmental challenges. Speaking at the opening of South Africa's national environmental campaign, Indalo Yethu, in Mogale City on Tuesday he said there was a need for a single national campaign of this nature. "I believe a powerful united response through a partnership between government, the private sector and communities is not only possible, but is the best path to follow," Minister van Schalkwyk said.
South Africa: A Window On Biodiversity And Heritage
Cape Argus (Cape Town): Blaauwberg Hill is the only place in the world where you can get superb elevated views of two proclaimed World Heritage Sites - Robben Island and Table Mountain - from a restored World War 2 radar station. And it's also very close to the site of the important Battle of Blaauwberg in 1806 that, in broad terms, changed the course of South Africa's history by entrenching British rule at the Cape, in turn leading to the Great Trek and the founding of the Boer republics. The hill also forms the heart of the 2 000ha Blaauwberg Conservation Area, internationally recognised as one of the world's "hottest hot spots of biodiversity", protecting several critically endangered vegetation types that contain an astounding 550-plus plant species, of which at least 42 are on the endangered Red Data List.
Namibia: Swapo MP Katoma Weighed Down By Jumbo Concerns
The Namibian (Windhoek): CROP destruction by wild animals should be addressed if Namibia wants to prosper in the arenas of livestock and crop farming, a Swapo MP said on Monday. Speaking in the National Council, Swapo's Levy Katoma, the Regional Councillor for Okahao constituency in the Omusati Region, charged that wild animals were "frustrating farmers to fight poverty at their level". He said livestock and crops were regularly being destroyed by elephants. "But despite the difficulties these farmers are going through, there is no compensation to meet them halfway," Katoma complained.
Liberia: EPA Conducts 10-Day Consultants Training
The Analyst (Monrovia): The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun a 10-day consultative workshop for investment consultants in the country. According to EPA acting Executive Director, Jerome Nyenka, the workshop is intended to enlighten investors how to carry out their investment activities in strict adherence to environment norms. Speaking at the official opening Monday at the Latter Day Saint Church in Monrovia, Mr. Nyenka said environmental protection is a global issue that has attracted the attention of everyone. "Meaning that we should give full might in order to have our surroundings protected," he said.


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