The environment in the news wenesday, 19 March 2008



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THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS

Wenesday, 19 March 2008


UNEP and the Executive Director in the News


  • Int'l conference to promote recycling begins in Tokyo (Kyodo News Agency)

  • International Recycling Conference Opens in Japan Capital (BBC)

  • Accord to develop ozone-friendly inhalers in Asia Pacific countries (Daily Star)

  • World's Glaciers Are Melting at Record Rate, UN Report Says (Bloomberg)

  • These Shrinking Glaciers Are Making Us Thirsty (Campus Progress)

  • Record Glacier Melt Spurs New Calls for Action (One World Net)

  • Himalayan Glaciers May Disappear within Decades: UN (Economic Times, India)

  • Global warming (The Post, Pakistan)

  • Plus d’un milliard d’hommes privés d’accès à l’eau (L'Orient-Le Jour)

  • Voyager vert est à la portée de tous grâce au passeport vert des Nations Unies (Commentcamarche.net)

  • Loja prioriza la política de conservación (Elcomercio.com)

  • Gletscher mit Rekordverlusten (Glocalist.com)


Other Environment News


  • Salt could shake up world energy supply (Reuters)

  • Environment - is MDG Target Possible? (All Africa)

  • Park manager arrested over gorilla deaths: govt (AFP)

  • Making Protected Areas Pay Biodiversity Dividends (Science Daily)

  • Spain heading for very dry spring, government says (International Herald Tribune)

  • Japan to hold climate, Africa summits at G8: minister (AFP)

  • G20 climate-change meeting concludes without concrete agreement (Xinhua)

  • EU says targets needed to fight climate change (Reuters)

  • Poor are sidelined on climate change solutions (International Herlad Tribune)

  • Australians preparing to cope with pollution (The Age)

  • OECD report slams Australia's environment efforts (ABC.net)

  • Asthmatic Athletes Fear Choking in Beijing as Smog Taints Lungs (Bloomberg)

  • IOC finds no reason to hide pollution risks (Times)

  • Pollution Visible From East Asia To North America In New Satellite Image (Science Daily)

  • World heritage site under pollution threat (Independent, SA)


Environmental News from the UNEP Regions


  • ROA

  • ROAP

  • RONA

  • ROLAC

  • ROWA

Other UN News


  • Environment News from the UN Daily News of 18 March 2008 (none)

  • Environment News from the S.G.’s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 18 March 2008 (none)


UNEP and the Executive Director in the News

Kyodo News Agency: Int'l conference to promote recycling begins in Tokyo
(Also appears in MCOT English News)
TOKYO, March 19 (Kyodo) - Representatives from some 20 Asian countries, Group of Eight major powers and international organizations kicked off a two-day meeting Tuesday in Tokyo to discuss how to cooperate to reduce waste and recycle resources in fast-growing Asia.
The Japanese government, which organized the Asia 3R Conference, plans to reflect outcomes from the meeting in discussions at the G-8 environment ministers' meeting to be held in Kobe from May 24 to 26, Japanese Environment Ministry officials said.
The term 3R refers to the ''reduce, reuse and recycle'' mantra central to strategies to minimize waste.
Environmental issues are also regarded as one of key topics to be taken up at this year's G-8 summit to be held at the Lake Toya hot-spring resort in Hokkaido, northern Japan, from July 7 to 9. Japan's Vice Environment Minister Yoshio Tamura, delivering an opening speech at the conference, said Japan has continued to advocate the implementation of the 3R initiative in Asia, which is generating more waste as its economy grows.
Tamura asked the participants to deepen discussions on how to promote the initiative in the run-up to the May environment ministers' meeting.
Delegates from China, South Korea, India and the U. N. Environmental Program were among the participants.
During the first-day session, China took up unlawful imports and exports of used electric appliances and called for coordinated action among countries to take effective preventive measures.
Cambodia complained of a lack of information about risks to human bodies and the environment from waste-disposal operations, asking other participants to supply it with technologies and equipment for waste disposal and recycling.
On the second day, participants will sum up their discussions on how to promote the efficient use of resources. (Kyodo)

Today In Asia : Last Update : 08:40:20 19 March 2008 (GMT+7:00)



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BBC: International Recycling Conference Opens in Japan Capital

(Also appears in Red Orbit)

Posted on: Tuesday, 18 March 2008, 09:01 CDT


Text of report in English by Japan's largest news agency Kyodo
Tokyo, March 18 Kyodo - Representatives from some 20 Asian countries, Group of Eight major powers and international organizations kicked off a two-day meeting Tuesday in Tokyo to discuss how to cooperate to reduce waste and recycle resources in fast-growing Asia.
The Japanese government, which organized the Asia 3R Conference, plans to reflect outcomes from the meeting in discussions at the G- 8 environment ministers' meeting to be held in Kobe from May 24 to 26, Japanese Environment Ministry officials said.
The term 3R refers to the "reduce, reuse and recycle" mantra central to strategies to minimize waste.
Environmental issues are also regarded as one of key topics to be taken up at this year's G-8 summit to be held at the Lake Toya hot- spring resort in Hokkaido, northern Japan, from July 7 to 9.
Japan's Vice Environment Minister Yoshio Tamura, delivering an opening speech at the conference, said Japan has continued to advocate the implementation of the 3R initiative in Asia, which is generating more waste as its economy grows.
Tamura asked the participants to deepen discussions on how to promote the initiative in the run-up to the May environment ministers' meeting.
Delegates from China, South Korea, India and the UN Environmental Programme were among the participants.
During the first-day session, China took up unlawful imports and exports of used electric appliances and called for coordinated action among countries to take effective preventive measures.
Cambodia complained of a lack of information about risks to human bodies and the environment from waste-disposal operations, asking other participants to supply it with technologies and equipment for waste disposal and recycling.
On the second day, participants will sum up their discussions on how to promote the efficient use of resources.
Originally published by Kyodo News Service, Tokyo, in English 1208 18 Mar 08.
(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.
Source: BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific

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Daily Star: Accord to develop ozone-friendly inhalers in Asia Pacific countries
Bss, Dhaka
Health and environment officials, industry representatives and patient groups of Asia and Pacific region countries agreed to work together towards a smooth transition to ozone-friendly metered-dose inhalers (MDI) in Asia Pacific region.
They reached in the agreement at a meeting organised by United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) in Malaysian city Langkawi to assist countries in Asia and Pacific to develop their MDI transition strategy, UNEP sources said here yesterday.
Metered-dose inhalers, commonly used as treatment for millions of asthma and chronic respiratory patients in the region, contain chloro fluoro carbon (CFC).
Under the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer, developing countries will have to cease production and consumption of CFC and other ozone depleting chemicals by 2010. Asia Pacific region accounts for 60 percent of CFC used in MDI production.
The meeting adopted Langkawi Declaration recognising that there is very little time and will have to go a long way in ensuring that the phase-out occurs sooner rather than later, UNEP sources here said.
In less than 22 months, there will no longer be any CFC-based inhaler in the world and preparation should be taken by the health officials, doctors and nurses as well as patients for this inevitable change, the declaration said.
Atul Bagai, regional officer (networking), compliance assistance programme (CAP), Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) termed the commitment as a progress for adjustment of CFC and non-CFC eras with the least discomfort and inconvenience, particularly for the patients.
A number of MDI industries are already working towards converting their facilities to produce CFC-free alternatives. However, the introduction of these alternatives alone does not lead to a successful transition.
There are still major concerns like preference of patients, price, availability of alternatives and how doctors prescribe medications. It is important that each country develops a strategy to address these issues, said Bagai.
More than 80 participants from 24 countries, health, industry and patient groups participated in workshop on phasing-out CFC-based MDI for South Asia. Back to Menu

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Bloomberg: World's Glaciers Are Melting at Record Rate, UN Report Says

By Adam Satariano

March 18 (Bloomberg) -- Glaciers supplying water to millions of people worldwide are thawing at record rates, and some could disappear altogether in the coming decades, a United Nations-funded study found.

The average rate of melting and thinning of the ice almost tripled in 2006, to 1.4 meters (4.6 feet), from 0.5 meters in 2005, the UN-backed World Glacier Monitoring Service reported. The measurement that scientists use is the amount of water released by the melting glaciers.

The thickness of the world's glaciers has been declining for the past quarter-century, with record losses in three of the past six years, the report said. The losses imperil water supplies, agriculture and hydroelectric-power generation, said Achim Steiner, UN under-secretary general.

``There are many canaries emerging in the climate change coal mine,'' Steiner said in a statement. ``The glaciers are perhaps among those making the most noise and it is absolutely essential that everyone sits up and takes notice.''

Using data collected from 30 glaciers in nine mountain ranges, the University of Zurich-based research center determined that about 10.5 meters have been lost since 1980.

The Himalayan glaciers, the main water source for roughly 750 million people in Asia, are among the low-latitude glaciers that could be lost. In northern India, the Ganga, Indus, Brahmaputra and other rivers may soon become seasonal water flows, the report said.

U.S. Vulnerable

In the U.S., about 40 percent of the water supply to southern California is likely to be vulnerable within the next two decades as rising temperatures lead to reductions in snow pack in the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Colorado River basin.

The report comes as countries prepare for the next round of UN negotiations at the end of the month in Bangkok, where nations will try to make progress toward a new international climate change treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which runs out in 2012. The Kyoto accord requires industrialized countries to reduce emissions of heat-trapping pollutants including carbon dioxide gas.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Satariano in San Francisco at asatariano1@bloomberg.net



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Campus Progress: These Shrinking Glaciers Are Making Us Thirsty
March 18, 2008
Last month, we told you how “changes in the western U.S. water supply, such as a declining snowpack and rivers running dry in the summer, can mostly be attributed to human-caused climate change.” In other words: Parched throats and chapped lips may become the norm. [Mic Check]
We’ve got more bad news: We think we were right. According to a new, UN-sponsored report, “most of the world’s mountain glaciers, many of which feed major rivers and water supplies, are shrinking at an accelerating pace as the climate warms.” [New York Times]
“The latest figures are part of what appears to be an accelerating trend with no apparent end in sight,” said Wilfried Haeberli, the director of the glacier service.
The most disturbing part of the study: The long-term trend that was discovered was clearly toward a warming world with less mountain ice — and related water troubles, including both floods and shortages, from the Andes to the Himalayas.
The big danger ahead, several glacier experts said, is that the loss of glaciers would take away a summertime source of river water, drinking water and hydroelectric power in populous, relatively poor places like South Asia and the cities along the western slope of the Andes.
“Millions of people depend on the runoff from mountain snow and ice in the warm seasons,” said Peter Gleick, who has studied water and climate for two decades and is the president of the Pacific Institute, a private research group in Oakland, Calif. “Climate change is going to make that runoff disappear.”

Good thing we only drink beer.



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One World Net: Record Glacier Melt Spurs New Calls for Action
Haider Rizvi

OneWorld US

Tue., Mar. 18, 2008

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 18 (OneWorld) - Alarmed by new scientific data showing a continued increase in the melting of the world's glaciers due to global warming, top UN environmental officials are making fresh calls for a new international agreement to cap greenhouse gas emissions.


"Governments must agree on decisive emission reductions," said Achim Steiner, UN Environmental Agency (UNEP) executive director. "Otherwise, and like the glaciers, our room for maneuver and the opportunity to act may simply melt away."
The call for a new international climate regime comes in the wake of new research conducted by environmental scientists associated with the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), a center based at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, which receives some funding from UNEP.
Scientists at the University of Zurich say their latest findings indicate that in the past three years the average rate of melting and thinning of glaciers has more than doubled.
"The latest figures are part of what appears to be an accelerating trend with no apparent trend end in sight," said Dr. Wilfried Haeberli, director of WGMS, which has been tracking the fate of glaciers for more than a century.
According to Haeberli and his colleagues, the estimates for the year 2006 indicate that further shrinking took place, averaging around 1.4 meters of water equivalent compared to losses of half a meter in 2005.
"This continues the trend in accelerated ice loss during the past two and a half decades, and brings the total loss since 1980 to more than 10.5 meters of water equivalent," said Haeberli.
"There are many canaries emerging in the climate change coal mine. The glaciers are perhaps those making the most noise and it is absolutely essential that everyone sits up and takes notice."

- Achim Steiner, UNEP



WGMS calculates thickening and thinning of glaciers in terms of "water equivalent." According to scientists, on average, 1 meter water equivalent corresponds to 1.1 meters in ice thickness, indicating a further shrinking in 2006 of 1.5 actual meters and since 1980 an average total reduction in ice thickness of 11.5 meters -- or about 38 feet -- per glacier.
"Millions, if not billions of people depend directly or indirectly on these natural water storage facilities for drinking, agriculture, industry, and power generation during key parts of the year," said Steiner.
"There are many canaries emerging in the climate change coal mine," he added in a statement. "The glaciers are perhaps those making the most noise and it is absolutely essential that everyone sits up and takes notice."
Last year in December, at the world summit on climate change, delegates failed to set specific targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, but agreed to initiate a two-year process of negotiations on targets to replace those in the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
The negotiations will be be finalized by the 2009 UN climate conference, to be held in Denmark.
The so-called "Bali roadmap" contains text on emissions cuts, the transfer of clean technology to developing countries, halting deforestation, and helping poor countries protect their economies against the impacts of global warming.
UNEP's Steiner called the Copenhagen meeting a "litmus test" of the international community's will to address climate change.
While the United States and a few industrialized countries continue to show a lack of commitment to prioritizing climate change above domestic concerns, all the European nations seem ready to take concrete initiative to address the global problem.
Last week, at a two-day summit in Brussels, leaders from the 27-member European Union declared their intention to implement a 20-percent cut in greenhouse gases by 2020, compared with 1990 levels.
The WGMS research shows that some of the most dramatic glacier shrinkage has occurred in Europe with Norway's Breidalblikkbrea glacier thinning by close to 3.1 meters during 2006, compared with a thinning of 0.3 meters over the previous year.
Norway is a member of Arctic Council, which includes Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Russia, and the United States. It was created in 1995 as a high-level official body to deal with the sustainable development of the circumpolar world.
Indigenous people of the Arctic region have long warned about the devastating consequences of the melting of ice.
"No one has been able to address the issue as seriously as it needed to be addressed over the years," Sheila Watt-Cloutier, a prominent leader of the Inuit people who works with the Council members closely, told OneWorld in a recent interview.
"Our homes are going into the sea," she said. "Global warming is destroying our right to life, property, and means of subsistence."
Earth Policy Institute founder Lester Brown has warned that the impact of shrinking glaciers could soon be felt well beyond the Arctic regions, with food prices potentially soaring for consumers the world over.
Himalayan Glaciers and the rivers they impact.

Himalayan Glaciers and the rivers they impact. © WWF-Canon / Neyret & Benastar / WWF



The melting of mountain glaciers in the Himalayas and China could soon deprive the Ganges, Yellow, and Yangtze rivers of the ice melt needed to sustain their flow during the dry season, Brown said, adding that irrigation-based agriculture in China and India could suffer as a result.
"In a world where grain prices have already climbed to record highs, any disruption of the wheat and rice harvests due to water shortages in these two leading producers will greatly affect not only people living in these countries, but consumers everywhere," Brown's group explained in a statement emailed to journalists today.
The WGMS findings contain figures from around 100 glaciers, of which 30 form the core assessment. They are located in Antarctica, Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America, and the Pacific.
OneWorld TV: Climate Change Impacts in Alaska

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Economic Times, India: Himalayan Glaciers May Disappear within Decades: UN
(Also appears in IndiaEduNews.net, India, Kashmir Observer, Times of India, Sify, India, Thaindian.com, Thailand)
New York | March 18 Himalayan glaciers are melting fast and may disappear within decades, affecting as many as 750 million people downstream who depend on the glacial melt for their water, according to a new UN report.
Rivers in the region such as the Ganga, the Indus and the Brahmaputra, as well as others criss-crossing northern India may soon become seasonal rivers - a development that has ramifications for poverty and the economies in the region, warns the report released by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
On the Indian subcontinent, the report said, people in the Himalaya and Hindu Kush regions and those downstream who rely on glacial waters would be seriously affected.
The trend in the Himalayas is reflective of glaciers worldwide that are melting at more than double the rates existing until a few years ago, warns the report, based on data from 30 locations across nine mountain ranges.
The average glacier shrank 1.4 metres in 2006, compared to half a metre in 2005 and 0.3 metres in the eighties and the nineties.
Some of the most dramatic shrinking has taken place in Europe, with Norway's Breidalblikkbrea glacier thinning by close to 3.1 metres during 2006, compared with a thinning of 0.3 metres in 2005.
The report is based on findings of the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) - a centre based at the University of Zurich in Switzerland and supported by UNEP. It has been tracking the fate of glaciers for over a century.
"The latest figures are part of what appears to be an accelerating trend with no apparent end in sight," said Wilfried Haeberli, WGMS director.
Head of UNEP Achim Steiner said: "Millions if not billions of people depend directly or indirectly on these natural water storage facilities for drinking water, agriculture, industry and power generation during key parts of the year."
A two degree Celsius warming by the 2040s is likely to lead to sharply reduced summer flows in most rivers fed by glaciers, which will coincide with sharply rising demand for water.

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The Post, Pakistan: Global warming
According to the findings of the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), and supported by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the world’s glaciers continue to melt, which could lead to record losses. Data series of annual mass balance, expressed as thickness change, are available for 30 reference glaciers since 1980. The estimates for 2006 indicate that further shrinking took place equal to around 1.4 metres of water equivalent compared to losses of half a metre in 2005. During 1980-1999, average loss rates had been 0.3 metres per year. Since the turn of the millennium, this rate has increased to about half a metre per year. The record loss during these two decades – 0.7 metres in 1998 – has now been exceeded by three out of the past six years: 2003, 2004 and 2006. The WGMS findings also contain figures from around 100 glaciers, of which 30 form the core assessment, found in Antarctica, Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America and the Pacific. There are serious implications of not taking the threat of global warming as a challenge. India will be one of the worst hit areas of global warming in South Asia with its eastern islands sinking. The situation in Bangladesh is not very different where coral islands are getting smaller.
According to glaciologists, glaciers serve as frozen reservoirs of water. When they recede, they affect not just drinking water supply but also irrigation and hydropower, etc, ultimately resulting in climate refugees. It is estimated that there are millions of climate refugees today affected by global warming. Experts say there will be some 200 million by the end of this century. Still, governments around the world remain unwilling to address this threat. In the absence of a serious effort at the international level to tackle the issue, green house gas emissions remain unchecked. No country is ready to curb its greenhouse gas emissions unilaterally, without similar commitments by other governments. The US, one of the biggest polluters of the world, has rejected the Kyoto protocol which obliges the developed countries to cut their emissions by an average of five percent. The US has argued that combating global warming is too expensive. This has resulted in other countries following suit by refusing to take on reduction targets. In view of the climatic changes happening around the world, one can argue that the economic cost of not signing the Kyoto protocol will be much higher than signing it later.
As far Pakistan is concerned, air pollution in major cities is among the highest in the world. Dust and smoke particles are generally twice the world average and five times higher than the developed world. The pollution crisis is also compounded by severe water scarcity. An increase in the demand for energy and an unprecedented growth in the number of vehicles are key reasons behind growing levels of air pollution in our country. The number of vehicles on the roads has increased five times in the past 20 years. The government has been encouraging the use of vehicles powered by the less polluting compressed natural gas (CNG). CNG vehicles in Pakistan are estimated at just under one million, making Pakistan’s CNG fleet the third largest in the world after Argentina and Brazil. Similar pollution issues surround the water sector. The annual per capita water availability dropped to 1,105 cubic metres – just above the 1,000 cubic metre threshold level. The best solution to the global warming in the context of Pakistan is to activate the government departments to create more awareness among the general public to meet the minimum level of pollution.


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