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2008June19.doc - -- United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP ...

  1. 1. THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS Thursday, 19 June 2008 UNEP and the Executive Director in the News • Reuters: Property must cut carbon footprint faster: U.N. • Nigerian Tribune: Man as crucial factor in climate change reduction • The Korea Herald: Regulator urges socially responsible management • Gulf Times: Qatar leads mercury control drive in Gulf • AfricaNews (Netherlands): Children unite to conserve environment • Money Morning.com: Corn Prices Linger at Record Highs but Wheat and Rice Wear Thin • Die Welt (Germany): Wie sich Afrika in den letzten Jahrzehnten verändert hat • Le Monde : Atlas de l’Afrique: un bijou d’information Other Environment News • BBC: Arctic sea ice melt 'even faster' • AFP: Oceans warm more quickly than suspected: study • AFP: US should take on lead role in climate change battle: envoy • Reuters: Beijing hires foreign experts for pollution watch • AFP: German cabinet agrees a raft of energy-saving laws • AFP: Green car bonus to push French budget into red: report • Reuters: Biotech crops seen helping to feed hungry world Environmental News from the UNEP Regions • ROA • ROAP • RONA • ROLAC 1
  2. 2. Other UN News • Environment News from the UN Daily News of 18 June 2008 (none) • Environment News from the S.G.’s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 18 June 2008 (none) 2
  3. 3. UNEP and the Executive Director in the News Reuters: Property must cut carbon footprint faster: U.N. Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:34am EDT LONDON (Reuters) - The global property industry could pay a high price for moving too slowly to shrink its colossal carbon footprint, a report to a United Nations conference on the environment said on Wednesday. The "Building Responsible Property Portfolios" report urged investors to comply with the U.N.-backed Principles for Responsible Investment or risk seeing their returns on environmentally unfriendly property assets slide sharply. The report, which was written by Gary Pivo of the University of Arizona and supervised by the Property Working Group of the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative (UN EPFI), said buildings were responsible for around half of global carbon dioxide emissions, both from operations and the energy consumed by people traveling to and from them. It said investors could exert crucial influence on property fund managers to invest in sustainable property, and reap significant financial benefits from savings on operating costs and higher rents from tenants. "We operate in an industry where investors, occupiers, constructors, and developers each blame the other for the lack of positive action in improving the environmental footprint of new and existing buildings," said Paul McNamara, co-Chair of the UN EPFI Property Working Group. "Our report highlights the wide range of opportunities that exist for institutional investors who want to take positive action and apply the Principles for Responsible Investment to their property assets," he said. European members of the UN EPFI Property Working Group include AXA Investment Managers, F&C Asset Management, Hermes Real Estate, Morley Fund Management, PRUPIM and WestLB AG. (Reporting by Sinead Cruise; Editing by Paul Bolding) (See www.reutersrealestate.com for the global service for real estate professionals from Reuters) Back to Menu ________________________________________________________________________ 3
  4. 4. Nigerian Tribune: Man as crucial factor in climate change reduction By Sulaimon Adesina - updated: Thursday 19-06-2008 When Emeritus professor David Okali, started his keynote speech at the event to mark the 2008 World Environment Day at the Faculty of Law Auditorium in the University of Ibadan, with a particular reference to the works of the late revered writer, Chinua Achebe in his Things Fall Apart, the audience was actually made to realise the bottomline of his message. Okali had analysed the untold suffering of man occasioned by climate change, as put up by Achebe, a situation made more worrisome as man had no positive clue to either the causes or the remedies to his dilemma. Achebe published the famous book in 1958. Without doubt, climate change and its inherent calamities have become front burner issues globally in recent times with nations becoming more alert to the need to carry out proactive measures. Okali’s contention, however, is for human beings to practically take control of the situation. As a field expert with decades of experience, the professor, who is the Chairman of the Nigerian Environmental study/Action (NEST), said the future generation would be ashamed of the 21st century generation which had all the wherewithal to put a meaningful check to preventable catastrophe but failed to act. The most crucial weaponry required to fight the menace, Okali said, was information which man, he stressed, now has in abundance. For instance, he traced the immediate causes of the phenomenon as radiative force, which is the alteration in balance between incoming and outgoing radiation in the earth’s atmosphere; and change in the balance of greenhouse gases (carbondioxide, methane and nitrite oxide) and halocarbons. Out of these, carbondioxide, he said “has the highest effects and most of these are due to the human effect.” To drive his point home, Okali, who is also the President of the Nigeria Academy of science said, “Carbondioxide in the air since mid 19th century has risen by 31 percent.” And the emission of the gas has been traced mainly directly to the action or inaction of man. Okali’s contention, then is, why and how will man continue to be the architect of his misfortune? Corroborating Okali’s stance, the National Chairman, Institute of Environmental Engineers, Akin Kumolu, said “Climate charge is happening and it has been established that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere are the causes. On the specific activities of man which add to the volume of the atmospheric carbon dioxide, Kumolu listed gas flaring, deforestation (especially the burning of fire wood), burning of fossil fuel (with burning of kerosere and cooking gas having the largest share), industrial emissions (the discharge of gaseous emissions indiscriminately into the atmosphere) and automobile release of carbondioxide into the atmosphere as those factors which require urgent attention. 4
  5. 5. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), recognising climate change as the defining issue of our era, chose the slogan, “Kick the Co2 (carbondioxide) Habit: Towards a Low Carbon Economy,” to mark the 2008 World Environment Day across the globe. No doubt, the over concentration on the use of non-renewable energy sources had ignited the significant portion of the global warming as experienced today. Kumolu stated,” Coal and oil paved the way for the world’s industrial progress and the developing countries are following the same route. But, while the highly industrialised societies that have accounted for over 97 per cent of global emissions are striving meaningfully to adopt alternative energy sources to power their economy, Nigeria, nay other developing nations still have their power generation tied to wood, charcoal, kerosere, petrol and the likes, thereby fueling the dangers ahead. The present and potential risks of climate change are repeatedly drummed into our ears and the stories are not palatable. Okali is more concerned of the dangers posed to Nigeria. “There is proneness to desertification and drought, there is threat to water resources, there is threat to food security and livelihoods, there is threat to health security, there is threat to energy, industrial, transport and financial sectors and there is high vulnerability to the economy of our nation,” he said. On the global front, the United Nations Office for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said flood has affected between 250,000 and 300,000 people in Cuba alone as at March 2008. Out of the figure, about 100,000 are in need of immediate assistance including food, shelter, health, water and sanitation, while some 13,465 persons are in 225 temporary shelters. In the United states of America, as at June 16, 2008, nine rivers are at record levels of upsurge, dozens of bridges have been destroyed, up to 80 bridges have been closed due to flooding, Cedar River flood crest has exceeded the historic 1929 record, 400 city blocks are under water with 438 streets submerged, 25000 people have been evacuated and damage costs in cedar rapids have been estimated at $737 million. In China, over a hundred thousand people were directly affected from earthquake with many thousands submerged. Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations Secretary General in his message to the 2008 mark of the World Environment Day said, “The environmental, economic and political implications of global warming (caused mainly from over concentration of carbondioxide in the atmosphere) are profound. “Ecosystems—from mountain to ocean, from poles to the tropics are undergoing rapid charge. Low lying cities face inundation, fertile lands are turning to deserts and weather patterns are becoming ever more unpredictable.” 5
  6. 6. Kumolu said the government, the industry and the general public have specific roles to play for man to overcome the most daunting challenge of this century. According to him, “the government must set up regulatory agencies to make and enforce laws and also review them as we learn more of dynamics of climate charge and as technological solutions begin to manifest themselves.” Though the Federal Government is said to be finalising arrangements on the establishment of a commission on climate, the nation will benefit from the whole exercise if such commission was composed of seasoned field experts, who could utilise their wealth of experience to bring a local solution to the issue at hand. It is also important that the Federal Government hasten the birth of the said commission if something meaningful would be achieved. The industry, Kumolu said “also must innovate, manufacture and operate under a new paradigm where clean and sustainable environment will drive many decisions.” The government is also the key player here as it has enormous influence on the operation of the industries. Nigerian companies will become more of agents of positive change if their registration, operation mode and regulation are tailored towards maintaining clean environment. Back to Menu ________________________________________________________________________ The Korea Herald: Regulator urges socially responsible management June 18, 2008 Wednesday Financial Supervisory Service Governor Kim Jong-chang yesterday urged financial institutions to use responsible management that will control various social, economic, and financial risks. "Socially responsible management will prevail in the Korean corporate arena," the nation's top financial regulator said yesterday in a speech to the U.N. Environmental Program Finance Initiative conference held in Seoul. Kim noted that many advanced financial companies have increased socially responsible investing, or SRI, and taken into account "business sustainability" in their credit assessment policy. SRI is an investment strategy combining the intent to maximize both financial return and social good. The Kookmin, Woori, Daegu and Ex-Im banks are considered to have exemplified the new business practice in Korea's financial industry by considering a company's "environmental risk" in their credit decision-making process. Other financial companies also appear to have followed suit by paying close attention to the ethical aspects of a company - such as their activities in charities, scholarship funds and community services. 6
  7. 7. "In Korea, some financial companies have incorporated SRI into their credit assessment process and published books on topics related to SRI and the environment," he said. The role of financial institutions in sustainable economic development was high on the agenda for the conference, co-hosted by UNEP and two other international agencies under the U.N. umbrella. In an attempt to give additional momentum to the trend, the financial regulator said he will take measures to encourage companies to disclose information about socially responsible management. With surging oil prices and a growing need for environment- friendly energy, he urged financial companies to increase their portfolios and alternative energy development projects while extending their loans to companies involved in them. By Kim Jung-min (jungmin@heraldm.com) Back to Menu ________________________________________________________________________ Gulf Times: Qatar leads mercury control drive in Gulf Published: Thursday, 19 June, 2008, 01:25 AM Doha Time By Noimot Olayiwola AN information system developed by Qatar for regulating the use of mercury has been recommended as a model for mercury inventory development worldwide at the end of a regional meeting in Doha yesterday. The three-day event was a preparatory meeting for the upcoming second Open Ended Working Group on mercury in October in Nairobi, Kenya. The system called the ‘Qatar mercury management information system (QMMIS)’ was developed by the information technology department of the Supreme Council for the Environment and Natural Reserves (SCENR). SCENR’s head of Chemical Management section Eng. Mohamed al-Ebrahim told Gulf Times that through QMMIS, the council has taken several steps on mercury control in the country. “The council has been able to create an inventory on mercury within different sectors such as health, agriculture, education and the municipalities and we are glad that this is being considered as part of the recommendations to the working group meeting coming up in October,” he said. The consultation meeting, comprising delegates from the GCC countries such as Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia as well as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Oman, Yemen and representatives of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) regional office for West Africa, UNEP-Chemicals and Programme for the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, held discussions on control of mercury, its challenges and way forward at national, regional and global levels. They agreed that there were three essential areas to consider in moving forward, which included actions to be taken at national level, regional level and finally the requirements for international action. 7
  8. 8. “At the national level, all concerned authorities, including the private sector and non- governmental organisations, should be involved to provide support because national partnerships are seen as an important element for the control of mercury,” they said. Regional co-operation and co-ordination on all activities, but in particular monitoring activities and measures to control the movement of mercury via customs controls were seen as key by the delegates. They stressed the importance of involving regional offices such as United Nations Environment Protection, ROWA and other regional organisations such as PERSGA and ROMPE in the work in the region. The importance of partnerships at a global level, in particular to assist with information and resources from countries with more developed programmes to manage mercury was equally emphasised. According to a draft communique, the delegates agreed that a legally binding instrument, which would ensure the provision of information and assistance, that may not necessarily be delivered under a voluntary agreement, should be developed; financial and technical support, including technology transfer and the provision of information relating to the management of mercury, should be readily available; there should be support for capacity building on mercury management; enabling activities, including but not limited to, the development of inventories and action plans should be developed; monitoring activities, to include not only levels of emissions, but also levels present in environmental media (air, water, soil, biota). There were also recommendations on the management of waste containing mercury, including the provision of assistance to manage contaminated sites and creation of information sources, such as database with lists of products containing mercury and a list of alternatives to mercury if they exist. The meeting agreed that their recommendations are essential for a legally binding instrument to succeed and meet the needs of the region. UNEP-ROWA regional network co-ordinator Abdulelah al-Wadaee and Mercury and other Metals programme co-ordinator Sheila Logan praised the efforts of the Qatari government in leading the campaign on mercury control in the region. “Qatar has done so well by being the only country in the region to put in place a programme on creating inventory on mercury in different sectors of the country as well as reaching out to different stakeholders who will help facilitate strong partnership on the issue,” al-Wadaee said. He expressed hope that the recommendations put forward by Qatar delegates would be considered in Nairobi. Back to Menu ________________________________________________________________________ 8
  9. 9. AfricaNews (Netherlands): Children unite to conserve environment Mugira Fredrick, Africanews reporter in Uganda, Photo: Elles van Gelder A 13-year-old Cameroonian running clean-up campaigns and tree plantings is among 700 children from around the world attending a UN environment conference in Stavanger, Norway for children who are engaged in environment conservation in their communities. Other remarkable children taking part in this conference include a 13-year-old Australian who is making a documentary called ‘A Kid’s Guide to Climate Change’, for which he interviewed a local indigenous leader, visited a wind farm and a wave generator, and built a model solar car, a 14-year-old Indian who is campaigning against water waste in his community and a 13-year-old American who has helped organize a recycling drive and collect 100,000 pounds of e-waste. The biannual Tunza International Children's Conference that runs from today till 21st June under the theme ‘Creating Change’ is one of the largest international children’s conferences in the world organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) This year, in partnership with the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, UNEP will show the inspiring initiatives of dozens of children from around the world through ‘My Story’, a series of short video clips. In a news release, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director says that, “the 700 children attending the Tunza conference are a powerful sign of the creativity, energy and dynamism that children are capable of to protect our planet. We can all learn from them, and we should all take heart in the fact that increasing numbers of children are becoming a force for positive change as we move towards greener lifestyles.” The Conference is organized by UNEP in partnership with the Norwegian NGO Young Agenda 21 with Bayer AG as one of the main sponsors, brings together children aged between 10 and 14 from more than 100 countries who are engaged in environmental issues. The aim is to increase their environmental awareness and equip them with skills to promote environmental projects in their communities. Back to Menu ________________________________________________________________________ 9
  10. 10. Money Morning.com: Corn Prices Linger at Record Highs but Wheat and Rice Wear Thin By Jason Simpkins Associate Editor Flooding in the Midwest has devastated much of the region’s corn crop, and caused prices to skyrocket. However, major rice and wheat producers are expected to have bumper crops this year, offering some hope that food prices could soon recede. The price of corn for July delivery jumped Monday to an all-time high of $7.60 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. It was the eighth straight day of trading in which the price hit a record high. The price has already shot up 71% this year, boosting food prices worldwide and fueling what is fast becoming a global inflation epidemic. Fortunately, there are signs that the price of rice and wheat could recede sharply in coming months and relieve some of the inflationary pressure. In fact, the price of wheat is already on the way down having fallen roughly 50% since February. And increased plantings will yield a wheat crop 8.7% larger than that of 2007, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported. “This improvement in supply should, in principle, help,” Hafez Ghanem, the FAO’s assistant director-general, told a news conference. “But we don’t expect to see prices going down to what they were before.” The United States will produce 16% more wheat than last year, making this year’s harvest the biggest since 1998, the FAO said. The European Union, on the other hand, will add 13% to its wheat crop. Global cereal output is expected to climb 3.8%. Rice could be next in line for a price drop, as yields from Thailand, the world’s largest rice exporter, could rise 29% this year. Rough rice production will rise to 8.9 million metric tons for the May-June harvest, Bloomberg News reported. Farmers increased the amount of land devoted to the rice crop by 27% to 5 million acres to take advantage of high prices this year. Rice futures on the Chicago Board of Trade hit a record high $25.07 per 100 pounds on April 24, and are climbed 79% in the past year, according to Bloomberg. The benchmark Thai export price for 100% grade-B white rice hit a record $1,080 per metric ton on April 24, but has since fallen to $795 per metric ton. “The market was very quiet. Most buyers are waiting for lower prices in July when Vietnam is expected to lift its ban on rice exports,” one trader told Reuters. Vietnam is also positioned for a bumper harvest, this year. Vietnam has lifted its ban on the signing of rice-export deals, but will only allow contracts for a limited quantity as it has capped exports of the grain at 3.5 million tons for the first nine months of this year. 10
  11. 11. The Philippines is already set to import 600,000 metric tons rice from Vietnam through a government-to-government agreement, Xinhua reported yesterday (Wednesday). The Philippines is the world’s top rice importer but has vowed to achieve 98% self- sufficiency by 2010. India has also curbed rice exports but the nation expects to produce a record 95.5 million tons of the grain this year, an increase of 2.5% from 2007. “The pressure would considerably ease if India, which is about harvest a bumper 2007 secondary crop, would relax its current export curbs,” said the FAO’s Food Outlook report, released last month. Only 7% of global rice production is traded internationally, which means any government intervention in the export or import markets could have a dramatic impact on rice supply and prices. Also, speculation among investors and consumers has run rampant in recent months, adding to political and economic pressures. As the run-up in commodities price steepened in the early part of the year, driving the price of corn and wheat to all-time highs, traders on the Chicago Board of Trade dove head first into already volatile markets. “We have enough food on this planet today to feed everyone,” Adam Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Program told the Associated Press, adding that the way that access to that food is being distorted by perceptions of future markets is distorting access to that food. “Real people and real lives are being affected by a dimension that is essentially speculative.” Back to Menu ________________________________________________________________________ Die Welt (Germany): Wie sich Afrika in den letzten Jahrzehnten verändert hat Ein neues Programm der UN dokumentiert, wie sich Afrika in den letzten 35 Jahren verändert hat. Danach werden die Gletscher am Kilimandscharo, dem höchsten Berg Afrikas, bis 2020 weggeschmolzen sein. Ursachen sind Erderwärmung, verstärkte Waldrodung und das starke Wachstum der Millionenstädte. Die Gletscher am Kilimandscharo, dem höchsten Berg Afrikas, verschwinden angesichts der Erderwärmung allmählich – ebenso wie der Tschadsee. Diese und andere fundamentale Veränderungen der Umwelt in Afrika dokumentiert ein Atlas, den das UN- Entwicklungsprogramm (Unep) in Johannesburg vorstellte. Auf mehr als 300 Fotos ist darin zu sehen, wie sich Landschaften auf dem afrikanischen Kontinent in den letzten 35 Jahren verändert haben. Dabei geht es auch um die Waldrodung auf Madagaskar und das enorme Wachstum der Millionenstädte. 11
  12. 12. Unep-Chef Achim Steiner hob bei der Vorstellung der Dokumentation hervor, die Weltgemeinschaft müsse nicht nur dringend Abkommen zum Klimaschutz schließen, sondern auch für einen schnellen Mittelfluss zur Umsetzung von Klimaschutzvorhaben sorgen. Die Gletscher am Kilimandscharo dürften bis zum Jahr 2020 weggeschmolzen sein, auch der Gletscher am Rwenzori-Berg in Uganda verlor zwischen 1987 und 2003 die Hälfte seines Umfangs. Im Westen Sudans leidet in den Dschebel-Marra-Bergen die Vegetation durch Bevölkerungsbewegungen. Schlagworte Johannesburg Kilimandscharo Gletscher Klimaschutz Erderwärmung Laut Unep-Atlas ist in mehr als 30 afrikanischen Ländern ein Verlust des Artenreichtums und eine allmähliche Entwaldung zu beobachten. Zudem nehmen demnach die Waldflächen des Kontinents jährlich insgesamt um vier Millionen Hektar ab. Back to Menu ________________________________________________________________________ Le Monde : Atlas de l’Afrique: un bijou d’information 19 juin 2008 Avec un titre pareil, voilà encore un billet qui ne va intéresser personne… et pourtant je trouve que cet outil est formidable de par le travail qu’il représente et la manière dont il permet de se rendre compte de l’évolution de l’environnement… Comme l’explique cet article du Courrier International paru il y a une semaine, suite à la Conférence ministérielle africaine sur l’environnement, “à partir de la comparaison de plus de 300 images des mêmes régions prises à une vingtaine d’années d’écart, par satellite, dans tous les pays d’Afrique, dans plus de 100 endroits, le nouvel atlas de l’Afrique publié par le Programme des Nations unies pour l’environnement (PNUE) montre clairement la façon dont les choix de développement, la croissance démographique, le changement climatique et, dans certains cas, les conflits affectent les ressources naturelles du continent.” Ainsi, “l’atlas rend compte non seulement des changements connus, comme la fonte des glaces du mont Kilimandjaro, l’assèchement du lac Tchad et la baisse du niveau de l’eau du lac Victoria, mais il donne également une idée précise de l’ampleur des dégâts environnementaux dans des régions moins médiatiques”. Concrètement, en arrivant sur le site internet mis au point par le PNUE, vous pouvez choisir un pays, puis un site donné (par exemple, l’Ethiopie, puis Addis Ababa). S’ouvre alors une page sur laquelle vous trouvez deux photos satellite prises avec 30 ans d’écart, puis une description des changements qui ont eu lieu depuis la première photo. Addis Ababa PNUE 12
  13. 13. Sous ce premier onglet se trouvent d’autres onglets vous permettant de télécharger ces photos, mais vous donnant aussi des photos du lieu (donc on a des photos d’Addis Ababa), l’accès aux sources utilisées pour établir cette fiche, un onglet pour retrouver ce lieu sur Google Earth, puis un onglet prévoyant à terme l’existence d’un blog! Bref, cet outil est un vrai bijou pour s’informer en détail sur l’environnement en Afrique, fruit du travail du “North American Node of UNEP GRID” situé au “USGS EROS Data Center”, dont le travail consiste justement à appliquer les technologies de l’information pour traiter des relations entre l’environnement et la population humaine. L’information ainsi créée permet de se renseigner et d’agir en utilisant des sources scientifiques plus que fiables! Enfin, comme le rappelle l’article de CI, “le PNUE ’souligne la nécessité urgente pour la communauté internationale d’élaborer un nouvel accord sur le climat d’ici la réunion de la Convention sur les changements climatiques à Copenhague, en 2009 – un accord qui non seulement impose d’importantes réductions des émissions de gaz à effet de serre, mais prévoie également des aides financières substantielles pour l’adaptation et la protection des économies contre le climat’. En outre, le PNUE note que ‘bien que l’Afrique ne soit responsable que de 4 % du total mondial des émissions de dioxyde de carbone, ses habitants souffrent des conséquences du changement climatique de manière disproportionnée‘”… Back to Menu ________________________________________________________________________ =============================================================== 13
  14. 14. Other Environment News BBC: Arctic sea ice melt 'even faster' By Richard Black Environment correspondent, BBC News website Arctic sea ice is melting even faster than last year, despite a cold winter. Data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) shows that the year began with ice covering a larger area than at the beginning of 2007. But now it is down to levels seen last June, at the beginning of a summer that broke records for sea ice loss. Scientists on the project say that much of the ice is so thin that it melts easily, and the Arctic may be ice-free in summer within five to 10 years. "We had a bit more ice in the winter, although we were still way below the long-term average," said Julienne Stroeve from NSIDC in Boulder, Colorado. "So we had a partial recovery; but the real issue is that most of the pack ice has become really thin, and if we have a regular summer now, it can just melt away," she told BBC News. In March, Nasa reported that the area covered by sea ice was slightly larger than in 2007, but much of it consisted of thin floes that had formed during the previous winter. These are much less robust than thicker, less saline floes that have already survived for several years. After a colder winter, ice has been melting even faster than last year A few years ago, scientists were predicting ice-free Arctic summers by about 2080. Then computer models started projecting earlier dates, around 2030 to 2050. Then came the 2007 summer that saw Arctic sea ice shrink to the smallest extent ever recorded, down to 4.2 million sq km from 7.8 million sq km in 1980. By the end of last year, one research group was forecasting ice-free summers by 2013. "I think we're going to beat last year's record melt, though I'd love to be wrong," said Dr Stroeve. "If we do, then I don't think 2013 is far off anymore. If what we think is going to happen does happen, then it'll be within a decade anyway." 14
  15. 15. Rising tide Countries surrounding the Arctic are eyeing the economic opportunities that melting ice might bring. Canada and Russia are exploring soverignity claims over tracts of Arctic seafloor, while just this week President Bush has urged more oil exploration in US waters - which could point the way to exploitation of reserves off the Alaskan coast. But from a climate point of view, the melt could bring global impacts accelerating the rate of warming and of sea level rise. "This is a positive feedback process," commented Dr Ian Willis, from the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. "Sea ice has a higher albedo (reflectivity) than ocean water; so as the ice melts, the water absorbs more of the Sun's energy and warms up more, and that in turn warms the atmosphere more - including the atmosphere over the Greenland ice sheet." Greenland is already losing ice to the oceans, contributing to the gradual rise in sea levels. The ice cap holds enough water to lift sea levels globally by about 7m (22ft) if it all melted. Natural climatic cycles such as the Arctic Oscillation play a role in year-to-year variations in ice cover. But Julienne Stroeve believes the sea ice is now so thin that there is little chance of the melting trend turning round. "If the ice were as thin as it was in the 1970s, last year's conditions would have brought a dip in cover, but nothing exceptional. "But now it's so thin that you would have to have an exceptional sequence of cold winters and cold summers in order for it to rebuild." Richard.Black-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk Back to Menu ________________________________________________________________________ AFP: Oceans warm more quickly than suspected: study by Marlowe Hood Wed Jun 18, 1:17 PM ET PARIS (AFP) - The world's oceans have warmed 50 percent faster over the last 40 years than previously thought due to climate change, Australian and US climate researchers reported Wednesday. 15
  16. 16. Higher ocean temperatures expand the volume of water, contributing to a rise in sea levels that is submerging small island nations and threatening to wreak havoc in low- lying, densely-populated delta regions around the globe. The study, published in the British journal Nature, adds to a growing scientific chorus of warnings about the pace and consequences rising oceans. It also serves as a corrective to a massive report issued last year by the Nobel-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), according to the authors. Rising sea levels are driven by two things: the thermal expansion of sea water, and additional water from melting sources of ice. Both processes are caused by global warming. The ice sheet that sits atop Greenland, for example, contains enough water to raise world ocean levels by seven metres (23 feet), which would bury sea-level cities from Dhaka to Shanghai. Trying to figure out how much each of these factors contributes to rising sea levels is critically important to understanding climate change, and forecasting future temperature rises, scientists say. But up to now, there has been a perplexing gap between the projections of computer- based climate models, and the observations of scientists gathering data from the oceans. "The numbers didn't add up," said Peter Geckler, a co-author of the study and a researcher at the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California. "When previous investigators tried to add up all the estimated contributions to sea level rise" -- thermal expansion, melting glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets, along with changes in terrestrial storage -- "they did not match with the independently estimated total sea level rise," he told AFP. The new study, led by Catia Domingues of the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, is the first to reconcile the models with observed data. Using new techniques to assess ocean temperatures to a depth of 700 metres (2,300 feet) from 1961 to 2003, it shows that thermal warming contributed to a 0.53 millimetre-per- year rise in sea levels rather than the 0.32 mm rise reported by the IPCC. "Our results are important for the climate modelling community because they boost confidence in the climate models used for projections of global sea-level rise resulting for the accumulation of heat in the oceans," Domingues said in a statement. 16
  17. 17. "The projections will in turn assist in planning to minimize impacts, and in developing adaptation strategies," she added. The IPCC report was criticised for including only the impact of thermal expansion in its projections of sea level rises over the next century, despite recent studies showing that melting ice is a significant -- and growing -- factor. The planet's oceans store more than 90 percent of the heat in the Earth's climate system and act as a temporary buffer against the effects of climate change. Back to Menu ________________________________________________________________________ AFP: US should take on lead role in climate change battle: envoy Wed Jun 18, 2:43 PM ET LONDON (AFP) - The United States must take on a leading role in combating global warming, the head of the country's delegation to climate change talks said in an interview published Wednesday. "The US should take on a greater role (in cutting greenhouse gas emissions) that is commensurate with our economic standing," Paula Dobriansky told the Financial Times. The American under-secretary of state for democracy and global affairs said that while the United States would agree to cut its emissions, the amount by which it would do so had yet "to be sorted through". She acknowledged that "as a developed economy, we should be taking on a greater role here." Dobriansky added, however, that rapidly-growing developing countries would have to agree to legally-binding emissions cuts, and warned that the poorest countries also had a role to play. "You have to look at national characteristics and circumstances, to look at where these countries are in terms of their economies, where they are in terms of their overall capacity," she told the business daily. "We have been strong proponents at looking at varied national characteristics and taking this into account in determining what role and responsibility countries would be taking. "Even those that have limited capacity (have) something to contribute." 17
  18. 18. Back to Menu ________________________________________________________________________ Reuters: Beijing hires foreign experts for pollution watch Thu Jun 19, 2008 1:56am EDT By Nick Mulvenney BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing has hired a panel of foreign environmental experts to lend credibility to its pollution monitoring and forecasts during the August 8-24 Olympics, state media reported on Thursday. Fifty days before the opening ceremony, Beijing was again shrouded in smog on Thursday in a graphic reminder of how much remains to be done to clear the city's skies for the Olympics and September's Paralympics. This is the first time foreigners have joined the Chinese capital's fight to improve air quality, the poor state of which was in part behind Australia's decision earlier this week to tell its track and field athletes to skip the opening ceremony. "This panel will ensure the air quality monitoring and forecasts are publicized and authoritative because we have both domestic and foreign experts," Du Shaozhong, vice director of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, told Xinhua news agency. Environmental experts have in the past cast doubts on the Beijing's claims of improvement in air quality, particularly the much-vaunted "blue sky days" tally by which the authorities measure the improvement. The 12-person panel, including scientists from Hong Kong, the United States and Italy, will monitor and forecast air quality in Beijing during the Olympics and will also evaluate actions already taken to improve air quality, Xinhua reported. The panel will be headed by Tang Xiaoyan of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and he promised they would be producing forecasts up to a week ahead. "If the forecast show a bad situation, we will take strict actions to control pollution like limiting vehicles on the road and limiting vehicles from outside coming into Beijing," he said. Beijing has spent 140 billion yuan ($20.34 billion) on environmental improvements over the last decade, shutting down heavy polluting factories, switching tens of thousands of homes from oil to gas heating and imposing higher emission standards on vehicles. 18
  19. 19. The problem persists, however, particularly when there is no wind as was the case on Thursday. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it might reschedule endurance events such as the marathon to prevent health risks to athletes competing for more than an hour. Beijing will also close more factories and force 19 heavy polluters to reduce emissions by 30 percent for two months from July 20. Six surrounding provinces also have contingency plans. Other Games-time measures in Beijing include a ban on construction and cars being barred from the roads on alternate days according to whether their license plates end in odd or even numbers. "I will stay in Beijing for the whole of August to monitor the air quality," Ivo Allegrini, research director at Italy's Institute for Atmospheric Pollution, told Xinhua. "My work group from Italy will help them to use our equipment to survey the air quality and report to environmental department of Beijing." (Editing by Alex Richardson) (For more stories visit our multimedia website "Road to Beijing" here ; and see our blog at blogs.reuters.com/china ) © Thomson Reuters 2008 All rights reserved Back to Menu ________________________________________________________________________ AFP: German cabinet agrees a raft of energy-saving laws Wed Jun 18, 2:51 PM ET BERLIN (AFP) - The German cabinet on Wednesday adopted new measures aimed at cutting the country's carbon dioxide emissions by more than a third by 2020, the environment ministry said. The package includes laws aimed at lowering electricity consumption, in particular in private homes, and proposes calculating tolls for vehicles according to their emission levels, the ministry said in a statement. 19
  20. 20. It stipulates that from 2009, all new and renovated buildings will have to comply with stricter energy efficiency standards and provides for the introduction of easy-to-use private electricity meters. The package also includes a new law that links the way heating costs are calculated more closely to individual household consumption, rather than the average figure for a particular apartment block. "Our goal is to move away from oil and gas to embrace renewable energy and energy efficiency," Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said. The cabinet also approved a law that provides for the extension of electricity networks to make use of energy from offshore windfarms -- of which Germany's first is expected to go into operation in the Baltic Sea next year. The German lower house of parliament on June 6 adopted a first chapter of climate protection laws that aims to increase the amount of power generated by renewable energy sources like wind or solar power to 30 percent from the current 14 percent by 2020. It also seeks to double the amount of electricity generated by combined heat and power (CHP) or cogeneration, which uses excess heat from power stations, to 25 percent in the next 12 years. The government's overall goal with the new laws is to reduce Germany's carbon dioxide emission levels by 40 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels -- double the minimum percentage cut agreed by the 27 European Union member states last year. Gabriel said the two sets of climate protection laws will bring about a carbon emissions reduction of "about 35 percent". "The remaining five percent we will be achieved through other means," he said. Meanwhile, a council of government experts on the environment said in a report released Wednesday that Chancellor Angela Merkel's left-right coalition has not done enough to promote climate protection in agriculture. And they expressed reservations about plans to build about 20 new coal-fired power plants to prepare for the planned closure of the country's nuclear power plants by 2020. Back to Menu ________________________________________________________________________ AFP: Green car bonus to push French budget into red: report 2 hours, 52 minutes ago 20
  21. 21. PARIS (AFP) - An initiative which rewards buyers of environmentally friendly cars and penalises those who buy high pollution vehicles could cost the French government 200 million euros, the business daily Les Echos reported Thursday. France introduced the bonus-malus (bonus-penalty) system this year, giving a tax break for the purchase of new vehicles which emit less than 130 grammes of carbon dioxide per/kilometre, and imposing an additional tax on vehicles that emit more than 160 grammes. The scheme was supposed to be revenue neutral, with the penalties financing the bonuses, but the daily said the French finance ministry now estimates the scheme could end up costing the state 200 million euros (310 million dollars). "The car bonus-malus is a victim of its own success," wrote Les Echos. "The additional cost to the state complicates the extension of the scheme to other products," it warned. Ecology Minister Jean-Luis Borloo told the newspaper earlier in the month he wanted to expand the scheme next year to a couple dozen other types of products in order to encourage consumers to favour environmentally-friendly goods. Back to Menu ________________________________________________________________________ Reuters: Biotech crops seen helping to feed hungry world Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:26am EDT By Carey Gillam SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Biotechnology in agricultural will be key to feeding a growing world population and overcoming climate challenges like crop-killing droughts, according to a group of leading industry players. "It is critical we keep moving forward," said Thomas West, a director of biotechnology affairs at DuPont, interviewed on the sidelines of a biotechnology conference in San Diego. "We have to yield and produce our way out of this." DuPont believes it can increase corn and soybean yields by 40 percent over the next decade. Corn seeds that now average about 150 bushels per acre could be at well over 200 bushels an acre, for example, DuPont officials said. 21
  22. 22. Crop shortages this year have sparked riots in some countries and steep price hikes in markets around the globe, and questions about how to address those issues were the subject of several meetings at the BIO International Convention being held this week. Despite persistent reluctance in many nations and from some consumer and environmental groups, genetically modified crops, -- and the fortunes of the companies that make them -- have been on the rise. Growing food and biofuel demands have been helping push growth. By using conventional and biotech genetic modification, crops can be made to yield more in optimum as well as harsh weather conditions, can be made healthier, and can be developed in ways that create more energy for use in ethanol production, according to the biotech proponents. "You can bring a number to tools to bear with biotechnology to solve problems," said Syngenta seeds executive industry relations head director Jack Bernens. "As food prices increase ... it certainly brings a more practical perspective to the debate." Syngenta is focusing on drought-resistant corn that it hopes to bring to market as early as 2014, as well as other traits to increase yields and protect plants from insect damage. Disease-resistant biotech wheat is also being developed. Syngenta and other industry players are also developing biotech crops that need less fertilizer, and corn that more efficiently can be turned into ethanol. Bayer CropScience, a unit of Germany's Bayer AG, has ongoing field trials with biotech canola that performs well even in drought conditions, said Bayer crop productivity group leader Michael Metzlaff. Water scarcity is a problem seen doubling in severity over the next three decades even as the world population explodes, and will only be exacerbated by global warming climate change, he said. With some 9 billion people expected to populate the planet by 2040 and 85 percent of the population seen in lesser developed countries, decreased land for agriculture and multiple demands on water use will come hand in hand with an expected doubling in food demand, said David Dennis CEO of Kingston, Ontario-based Performance Plants. Performance Plants is working with the Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International to develop and field test drought-tolerant white maize. "The biggest problem we have in crops is environmental stresses and the biggest stress is drought," said Dennis. Biotech crop opponents rebuke the idea that biotechnology is the answer, and say industry leaders continue to focus much of their efforts on plants that tolerate more 22
  23. 23. chemicals even as they push up seed prices and make more farmers reliant on patented seed products that must be repurchased year after year. "I know they love to talk about drought tolerance but that is not what they are really focusing on," said Bill Freese, science policy analyst at the Washington-based Center for Food Safety. Freese said conventional breeding had the ability to address climate change and food needs, but funding cuts to public-sector crop breeders had reduced the ability of non- biotech groups to advance crop improvements. "The facts on the ground clearly show that biotech companies have developed mainly chemical-dependent GM crops that have increased pesticide use, reduced yields and have nothing to do with feeding the world," Freese said. "The world cannot wait for GM crops when so many existing solutions are being neglected." (Editing by Christian Wiessner) Back to Menu ________________________________________________________________________ =============================================================== 23
  24. 24. ROA MEDIA UPDATE THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS 19 June 2008 UN In The News Nigeria: 300 participants for geoparks conference PANA (Lagos): The third international conference on geoparks will be held in Osnabrück, Germany, 22-26 June 2008, according to a UNESCO statement obtained here Wednesday. More than 300 participants from 35 countries are expected at the meeting, which aims to highlight the planet's geological riches and the need to preserve them. Topics to be discussed during the conference include How to spark people's interest in geology, How to develop tourism in the geoparks and what links geoparks and climate change. The conference is being organised as part of the International Year of Planet Earth in the very heart of the Terra Vita site, a member of the Global Network of National Geoparks since 2004. Created under UNESCO's auspices, the Global Network of National Geoparks was founded in 2004. It currently includes 56 sites in 17 countries. To earn the geopark label, an area must possess a significant geological heritage, a coherent management structure and an economic development strategy, based notably on sustainable tourism. Each application is examined by a team of experts mandated by UNESCO, which visits the site to ensure criteria for inclusion are met. The network brings together such diverse places as the Island of Langkawi (Malaysia), with the country's oldest rock formation; the petrified forest of Lesvos Island (Greece); and Vulkaneifel (Germany), with its remarkable volcanic craters. Latest sites to join the network are Zigong and Longhushan in China and Adamello-Brenta in Italy. Nigeria: 300 participants à la Conférence sur les géoparcs PANA (Lagos): Plus de 300 participants de 35 pays sont attendus à la troisième conférence internationale sur les géoparcs prévue à Osnabrück, en Allemagne du 22 au 26 juin 2008, selon un communiqué de l'Organisation des Nations unies pour la science et la culture (UNESCO) parvenu mercredi à la PANA à Lagos. L'objectif de la Conférence est d'attirer l'attention sur les richesses géologiques de la planète et sur la nécessité de susciter l'intérêt du public pour la géologie et de développer le tourisme dans les géoparcs pour les préserver. Un des sujets examinés sera la relation entre les géoparcs et le changement climatique. Cette conférence est organisée dans le cadre de l'Année internationale de la Planète Terre sur le site de Terra Vita, un membre du Réseau mondial des géoparcs nationaux depuis 2004. Créé sous les auspices de l'UNESCO, le Réseau mondial des géoparcs nationaux a été fondé en 2004. Il compte actuellement 56 sites répartis dans 17 pays. Pour obtenir le label géoparc, un site doit posséder un patrimoine géologique conséquent, être doté d'une structure de gestion cohérente et d'une stratégie de développement économique, basées principalement sur un tourisme durable. Chaque demande est examinée par une équipe d'experts mandatée par l'UNESCO, qui visite le site pour s'assurer qu'il remplit les critères d'adhésion. Le réseau rassemble des sites aussi 24
  25. 25. divers que l'île de Langkawi (Malaisie), qui présente la plus vieille formation rocheuse du pays; la forêt pétrifiée de l'île de Lesvos (Grèce); et le site de Vulkaneifel (Allemagne) remarquable pour ses cratères volcaniques. Les derniers sites inscrits au réseau sont ceux de Zigong et de Longhushan en Chine et d'Adamello-Brenta en Italie. General Environment News Tunisie : La BAD lance un Fonds pour la protection du Bassin du Congo PANA (Tunis): Le Groupe de la Banque africaine de développement (BAD) a lancé, mardi à Londres en Grande Bretagne, un Fonds fiduciaire du Bassin du Congo (FFBC) de 100 millions de dollars fourni par le gouvernement britannique. Dix (10) Etats membres de la Commission des forêts d'Afrique centrale (COMIFAC) notamment le Burundi, le Cameroun, le Tchad, la République Centrafricaine, le Congo, la République Démocratique du Congo, la Guinée Equatoriale, le Gabon, Sao Tomé-et-Principe, le Rwanda ainsi que le Royaume-Uni sont partenaires du FFBC. Le Fonds abrité par la BAD comme un Fonds spécial multi-donateurs auquel d'autres donateurs potentiels pourraient contribuer, sera utilisé sur une période de dix ans, période couverte par la convention jusqu'en 2018, pour financer le plan d'action de la COMIFAC dans dix secteurs stratégiques visant à la conservation de la forêt tropicale du bassin du Congo. La forêt tropicale du bassin du Congo est la deuxième plus grande étendue de forêts au monde, ce qui représente 26 pour cent de la forêt tropicale humide mondiale. Elle couvre une superficie totale de 2,1 millions de kilomètres carrés, avec une population de plus de 50 millions de personnes, 10.000 espèces de plantes, 1000 espèces d'oiseaux et 400 espèces de mammifères. La forêt sert donc non seulement de ressource économique pour les onze pays, mais aussi comme écosystème vital pour le monde entier avec son rôle dans la régulation de l'oxygène atmosphérique et du carbone, ce qui amène certains écologistes à la décrire comme "le deuxième poumon" après le bassin de l'Amazonie. L'objectif global des forêts du Bassin du Congo est d'améliorer la sécurité alimentaire et la subsistance de la population, réduire la pauvreté et relever les défis liés au changement climatique en réduisant le taux de déforestation dans le Bassin du Congo. La forêt tropicale du Bassin du Congo est actuellement de plus en plus menacée en raison de l'exploitation illégale des forêts, l'agriculture itinérante, l'accroissement de la population, ainsi que les industries pétrolières et minières. Le conseil d'administration de la BAD a déjà examiné les documents relatifs à l'hébergement du fonds par le Groupe de la Banque et ceux-ci devraient être transmis au Conseil des gouverneurs pour approbation finale. Le Fonds sera situé dans le département de l'Agriculture et de l'Agro-industrie (Osan) et son directeur, dont le personnel technique sera basé dans les bureaux de la BAD au Cameroun et en République démocratique du Congo (RDC), supervisera les opérations du secrétariat du fonds. Au fil des années, le Groupe de la Banque a accumulé une vaste expérience dans la gestion des fonds tels que la Facilité africaine de l'eau (FAE), le mécanisme africain du financement des engrais, Le Fonds de préparation des projets d'infrastructures du Nouveau partenariat économique pour le développement de l'Afrique (NEPAD) ainsi que le Fonds pour l'environnement mondial (FEM). 25
  26. 26. Uganda: Famine Threat Looms New Vision (Kampala): Famine is likely to strike several parts of the country, following the outbreak of crop diseases in several staple foods. Participants at a seminar on the causes of the food and energy crisis heard that bananas, cassava, sweet potatoes, millet and other key staple foods have all been invaded by diseases. Dr.Yona Baguma, a senior research officer with the National Crop Resources Research Institute in Namulonge said: “Every banana you buy has survived an ambush of pests and parasites. From the roots, attacked by nematode worms, to the leaves, devastated by fungal diseases, banana plants are vulnerable to many diseases." http://allafrica.com/stories/200806180057.html Ghana: EPA Boss Calls for New Guidelines Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra): The Executive Director of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr. J.A Allotey has observed that the consumption of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) had been on the steady rise since its introduction into the country. The increase in demand, according to him, had attracted investments into the sector, resulting in the proliferation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Filling plants, particularly in the rural centres. He added, "this situation poses a serious threat to lives and properties due to the volatile nature of LPG and the potential to cause fire outbreaks. The case of the Kumasi explosion is still fresh in our minds." Speaking at a two-day workshop organized jointly by the EPA and the National Petroleum Authority, he advised that the situation called for the introduction of new guidelines and effective collaboration between operators and regulators to ensure safe and sound operations in the sector. He said that the EPA is mandated under Act 490, 1994 to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Regulations, 1999, LI 1652 and laid down EPA procedures. http://allafrica.com/stories/200806180732.html Nigeria: Country Worst Hit By Food Crisis - Yar'Adua Leadership (Abuja): President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua has stated that Nigeria is among the worst hit by the shortage of food occasioned by land degradation and climate change. The president made the remarks yesterday while declaring this year's National Desertification Summit in commemoration of the World Desertification Day held at the Multi-purpose Hall, Bauchi. He said the summit is quite appropriate at this moment given the current global food crisis, saying the administration will not fold its arms in the face of the rise in food prices being experienced in the country. "We have ensured increase in budgetary provisions in the 2008 fiscal year with the aim of improving not only the agricultural production but also other sectors of the seven-point agenda in the country. Let me say that climate change is the major contributing factor to desertification, therefore tree planting became the only solution and contributing factor to desertification not only in the country but the world over," he said. He called on every Nigerian to at least plant a tree to cool the earth, considering that the Federal Government has put measures, especially through the establishment of different agencies, to tackle specific environment problems. Yar'Adua, who was represented by the Minister of Environment, 26
  27. 27. Housing and Urban development, Arc. Halima Tayo Alao, applauded the members of the National Assembly for encouraging the establishment of various agencies in the country that could tackle issues relating to land degradation in the country. He then commended the Bauchi State government for hosting this year's submit. http://allafrica.com/stories/200806180377.html Botswana: Vilart Energy to Take Solar Power to the Cattlepost Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone): Botswana companies are taking calls by Government to find alternative sources of energy to supplement dwindling supplies seriously following downscaling by Eskom of South Africa. As the search intensifies, several energy companies are harnessing more sustainable and environment-friendly sources like the sun. Vilart Energy is one such Botswana company that has been successful in that regard. Vilart Energy has been hailed for embracing the philosophy of green energy in powering streetlights with solar energy. It is considering extending the technology to boreholes. Solar power is already in wide use in a number of countries around the world, among them Israel and Spain. The co-directors of Vilart Energy, Mesh Moeti and Modirwa Kekwaletswe, last week held a seminar for civic leaders and heads of parastatals, among them council chairmen, mayors, council secretaries and CEOs of public companies to enlighten them on solar technology at the National Museum and Art Gallery in Gaborone. http://allafrica.com/stories/200806181195.html Back to Menu _______________________________________________________________________ ROAP MEDIA UPDATE THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS Thursday, 19 June, 2008 General environment news • Bangladesh - Centre formulating action plan on climate change – Times of India • China rushes to repair dams; 9,000 square miles flooded – China Post • India - Floods leave 300,000 homeless in India's east – ABC News • Japan - Panel offers 300 measures for handling global warming – Daily Yomiuri • Lao - Nam theun dam reservoir set to be flooded – The Nation • Thailand - Artificial reefs 'would slow down erosion' – The Nation General environment news 27
  28. 28. Centre formulating action plan on climate change 18 Jun, 2008, 1934 hrs IST, PTI BANGALORE: The Centre is formulating a national action plan to find out measures to help adapt to consequence of climate change, Shyam Saran, special envoy of the Prime Minister said here on Wednesday. "The plan will look at science behind the phenomenon of climate change, risks it poses to the country and to achievement of its economic and social development objectives", Saran said at the Clean Air Summit being held here. The plan, expected to be released by the Prime Minister later this month, was formulated after deliberating with the academic institutions who are studying the subject closely. "There will also be a strategy to enable India to pursue, in a significantly enhanced manner, sustainable development, which means a development pattern that assumes a graduated shift from fossil fuels to non-fossil fuels, non-renewable to renewable sources of energy and conventional to non-conventional sources of energy", he said. "This would enable the country to stabilise its greenhouse gas emissions at a lower and more sustainable level and eventually reduce them significantly", he said, adding the national action plan will also contain mechanisms for implementation of various policy measures. "We envisage a key role for private sector and would welcome public-private partnerships to achieve the objectives of the plan", he said. There will also be an acknowledgement that in several areas reliance on market mechanisms may be more efficient in delivering results than administrative processes. "There will be a focus on improving fuel efficiency and emissions standards for vehicular traffic and for promotion of mass public transportation in general", he said. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/ET_Cetera/Centre_formulating_action_plan_on_cli mate_change/articleshow/3142632.cms .................................................................... China rushes to repair dams; 9,000 square miles flooded By John Ruwitch, Reuters FENGKOU, China -- China has posted hundreds of police and rescue officials to shore up dams threatening to burst under torrential rain that has already flooded thousands of square miles of crops and homes. The rain and floods, concentrated in the southern industrial hub of Guangdong, have killed at least 171 people and left 52 missing since the start of the annual flood season and forecasters have warned of more downpours in coming days. 28
  29. 29. More than 750 government officials and police had been sent to conduct rescue work for six reservoirs in "danger of bursting" in southern Guangxi region, Xinhua news agency said. Some 3,000 people had already been evacuated downstream from a reservoir with a capacity of 1.8 million cubic meters, the agency said. More than 1.66 million people have been evacuated across nine provinces and regions in southern China since major flooding started 11 days ago. Families were perched on the roofs of homes flooded up to the first floor ceiling, enduring the latest in a series of disasters in Beijing's Olympic year after record snowstorms in January and February and the devastating May 12 earthquake. Rain-triggered floods have toppled 134,000 houses, damaged or destroyed 2.32 million hectares (9,000 square miles) of crops and caused economic losses of 27.7 billion yuan (US$4 billion). China's meteorological bureau forecast storms in western Guangdong and southern Guangxi and warned authorities to halt outdoor work and guard against damaged electric cables. Water levels in the swollen Xijiang and Beijiang rivers in Guangdong were subsiding slowly, but rain forecast over the next three days would provide renewed risk of flooding, Xinhua said. Heavy rains forecast for neighboring Fujian province could also "cause geological disasters". Provincial water authorities earlier reported the Pearl River Delta, a major exporting base, had suffered its greatest flooding in 50 years. Sherman Chan, an Australia-based economist with Moodys.com, said the economic cost would be measured not only in the direct damage and lost output in the flooded areas, but also in worsening food price inflation across the country. http://www.chinapost.com.tw/china/national%20news/2008/06/19/161640/China- rushes.htm .................................................................... Floods leave 300,000 homeless in India's east Indian soldiers have evacuated thousands of stranded people from submerged villages as floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains swept across the country's east and north-east. 29
  30. 30. More than 300,000 people have lost their homes so far, and are scattered between camps, highways and makeshift shelters on higher ground, officials said. Rising river waters have broken through mud embankments and flooded vast areas. "Flood waters have submerged thousands of acres of land, disrupted electricity, roads and rail communication in many districts," S Barai, a senior state government official said in Bhubaneswar, capital of the eastern state of Orissa. Hundreds of people are camping on highways and authorities have asked them to move to higher ground, saying the weather could worsen in the next few days. Others are stranded. "We are not able to move out of our homes, because the roads are cut off since last night in our town," Mohhammed Rafiq Khan, a resident of the worst-hit Balasore district said. In the neighbouring state of West Bengal, soldiers used speedboats to help evacuate flood victims. Monsoon rains have also lashed India's remote north-east, killing at least 30 people in the region since the weekend. In tea-rich Assam state, thousands of people were still living in waist-deep water. Officials said teams of doctors and paramedics had been sent to flood-hit areas. "Although there are no reports of any outbreak of diseases, we are taking no chances," Assam's Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said. Assam accounts for about 55 per cent of India's tea production, but officials said they were still to get reports of rains affecting the tea trade. – Reuters http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/06/19/2279123.htm?section=world …………………………………………… Panel offers 300 measures for handling global warming The Yomiuri Shimbun A panel of experts advising the Environment Ministry announced Wednesday about 300 measures to deal with global warming such as building houses on pillars and desalinating seawater. The measures were divided into seven categories including food, water, disaster prevention and public health. It is the first time a government panel has announced measures based on the assumption that global warming will continue to intensify, according to sources. 30
  31. 31. The panel comprises scientists and global warming experts, and is chaired by Prof. Nobuo Mimura of Ibaraki University. It has been studying the effects of global warming and measures to limit those effects. The measures were devised on the premise that the average temperature in Japan will rise 1 or 2 degrees by about 2030. The panel recommended central and local governments adopt its recommendations in their disaster damage prevention plans and actively develop precautionary measures against global warming. Among its findings, the panel predicts the quality of rice will deteriorate because of the temperature rise, and suggests governments try to develop rice strains that thrive in higher temperatures. It also suggests farmers delay the timing of rice planting. (Jun. 19, 2008) http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20080619TDY02307.htm ................................................... Nam theun dam reservoir set to be flooded By Supalak G khundee, The Nation, Published on June 19, 2008 Conditions said to have worsened for moved villagers The operator of the Nam Theun II hydropower dam in Laos plans to shut the dam's watergates in a week or so to fill its reservoir, amid concerns it is behind in its livelihood programme and it lacks environment protection. The flooding of the 450 square kilometres is to reserve water for generating 1,070 megawatts of electricity, to be mostly sold to Thailand next year. The project directly affects 6,200 people living in the Nakai Plateau where the dam is located. They have been relocated from villages that will be submerged soon. Their living standards initially improved when they were moved, but as the dam is about to start operations their conditions have worsened. The 13th report by the International Environmental and Social Panel of Experts (POE) in February said overall living standards had fallen. Most villages appear affected and the conditions can be expected to stagnate or decline further during most of this year because of delays in implementing a "livelihood programme". The POE was employed as an adviser to the Laos government to monitor social and environmental impact at the dam. "A further decline is likely if the dam shuts because the settlers will be unable to cultivate draw-down areas for rice during the rainy season this year," it said. 31
  32. 32. "Buffaloes are dying of disease and there are cases of starvation at many villages and a drop in employment opportunities associated with the construction of the project," the report said. General concerns for filling the reservoir are biomass clearance and water quality. Decomposing biomass in flooded areas could spoil water quality. Degraded water quality was observed as levels of dissolved oxygen dropped. The dam's developer has cleared 1,500 hectares of biomass but shortly before filling the reservoir, an additional 1,500 hectares also required clearance but that has not been done, said conservationist Shannon Lawrence, director of the International Rivers' Lao Programme. Decomposing matter is not the only problem associated with dams. In many cases, hydropower dams can emit greenhouse gas, contributing to global warming, she said. Previous studies suggested that the world's largest dams emit 104 million tonnes of methane annually from reservoir surfaces, turbines, spills and water downstream. This implied the dams are responsible for at least 4 per cent of the total warming. However, a report from the Nam Theun II developer argued that the dam would offset the use of gas-fired plants, which translates into a saving of over 520 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over a century. There are many problems in downstream areas raised by the panel of experts and they had not yet been addressed by the developers, Lawrence countered. Due to its design, the hyropower plant would not release water from its turbine to the same river but to another basin at Xe Bang Fai where some 25,000 to 120,000 people could be affected. High water levels caused by the dam could result in flood, which takes place every two or three years in the basin. The dam developer allocated US$ 16 million (Bt534 million) in total resources to help relieve the impact but it may not be adequate. The real cost should be $80 million to$100 million, said Lawrence . The panel of experts urged the Asian Development Bank, one of the major financiers, to commit more resources with emphasis on flood management and dry season irrigation. 32
  33. 33. Another group from 300 to 400 households who lost more than 10 per cent of their productive land to the construction have not yet obtained land compensation since the dam developer could not find new plots to replace old ones. The second option, which takes time, is to find a new site and develop an irrigation system. Lawrence alleged that ascheme allowing the developer to take people's land before replacing it is against the World Bank's regulations. The bank is heavily involved in the project since it provided its risk guarantee. There remains a group of affected people in some 40 villages living downstream who are off the radar screen of the project and do not qualify for compensation, Lawrence said. The immediate impact could be serious as the flow of water in the Nam Theun River will quickly drop when the dam shuts the flow. The impact on aquatic species, animal and vegetation, which villagers depend on, will be substantial, he said, as there is no clear plan to help them. http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2008/06/19/politics/politics_30075906.php ........................................................ Artificial reefs 'would slow down erosion' By The Nation, Published on June 19, 2008 Artificial reefs will have to be used to slow down shoreline erosion, which is now a big threat to the country's coastal areas, an engineering lecturer says. Worawuth Wisuthimethangkul, of Prince of Songkhla University's (PSU) Faculty of Engineering, said students were studying ways to use artificial reefs to reduce the impact of waves. The project, supported by the Department of Mineral Resources, not only aims to solve the problem of erosion, which is occurring at an alarming rate, but also to increase nursery areas for marine life, he said. Worawuth did not say what kind of material would be used to make the artificial reefs. But he said it must not have an adverse impact on the marine eco-system and should not create visual pollution. He said the coastline at Samilah Beach, Songkhla, was selected for a pilot project. However, before putting the artificial reefs into the sea, public opinion about the project would be gathered. 33
  34. 34. Payom Rattanamanee, also from PSU's Faculty of Engineering, who heads the project, said about 2km of shoreline of Samilah Beach had been damaged. The rate of erosion of the beach was 1.3 metres a year. Shorelines along both the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea were under serious threat from coastal erosion. Worawuth said more than 1,650km of coastal line in 23 provinces from Trad to Narathiwat and Ranong to Satun had been damaged by waves. The erosion rate in some areas was as high as 20 metres a year, Worawuth said. The possibility of artificial reefs being used to control coastal erosion is just the latest idea to be studied by academics. A few years ago, Thanawat Jarupongsakul, of Chulalongkorn University's Department of Geology, invented a breakwater comprised of boomerang-shaped concrete columns to lessen the power of the waves. The breakwater had been installed, as part of an experiment, at the small coastal village of Khun Samutchine in Samut Prakan province, which had been suffering from coastal erosion for years. According to Thanawat, the breakwater worked very well in stabilising and rehabilitating the shoreline at the village. He will soon present the results of the World Bank-supported experiment to the public. But Thanawat said the breakwater would only work with a muddy seashore, not sand. http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2008/06/19/politics/politics_30075904.php Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________________ RONA MEDIA UPDATE THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS Wednesday June 18, 2008 UNEP or UN in the News Reuters: Property must cut carbon footprint faster: U.N. Time: Gulf’s Growing ‘Dead Zone’ General Environment News  Reuters: Bush urges Congress to end offshore oil drill ban  MSNBC: Feeling thrifty, the thirsty reach for tap water  MSNBC: Levee could breach 47 square miles  MSNBC: McCain striving for superhero status  New York Times: McCain showcases his environmental side  Globe and Mail: Friends of the Earth take Ottawa to court over Kyoto  Los Angeles Times: Offshore oil drilling opponents are rethinking  Los Angeles Times: Dig into Debate  Yahoo: Scientists fighting disease with climate forecasts 34
  35. 35. UNEP or UN in the News Property must cut carbon footprint faster: U.N. June 18, 2008 LONDON (Reuters) - The global property industry could pay a high price for moving too slowly to shrink its colossal carbon footprint, a report to a United Nations conference on the environment said on Wednesday. The "Building Responsible Property Portfolios" report urged investors to comply with the U.N.-backed Principles for Responsible Investment or risk seeing their returns on environmentally unfriendly property assets slide sharply. The report, which was written by Gary Pivo of the University of Arizona and supervised by the Property Working Group of the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative (UN EPFI), said buildings were responsible for around half of global carbon dioxide emissions, both from operations and the energy consumed by people traveling to and from them. It said investors could exert crucial influence on property fund managers to invest in sustainable property, and reap significant financial benefits from savings on operating costs and higher rents from tenants. "We operate in an industry where investors, occupiers, constructors, and developers each blame the other for the lack of positive action in improving the environmental footprint of new and existing buildings," said Paul McNamara, co-Chair of the UN EPFI Property Working Group. "Our report highlights the wide range of opportunities that exist for institutional investors who want to take positive action and apply the Principles for Responsible Investment to their property assets," he said. 35
  36. 36. European members of the UN EPFI Property Working Group include AXA Investment Managers, F&C Asset Management, Hermes Real Estate, Morley Fund Management, PRUPIM and WestLB AG. (Reporting by Sinead Cruise; Editing by Paul Bolding) (See www.reutersrealestate.com for the global service for real estate professionals from Reuters) http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSL1868886420080618 Time Gulf’s Growing ‘Dead Zone’ Bryan Walsh June 18,2008 The American Midwest is essentially the granary of the world, supplying corn, wheat and other crops to markets from Chile to China. But all that food doesn't grow by itself. In 2006 U.S. farmers used more than 21 million tons of nitrogen, phosphorus and other fertilizers to boost their crops, and all those chemicals have consequences far beyond the immediate area. When the spring rains come, fertilizer from Midwestern farms drains into the Mississippi river system and down to Louisiana, where the agricultural sewage pours into the Gulf of Mexico. Just as fertilizer speeds the growth of plants on land, the chemicals enhance the rapid development of algae in the water. When the algae die and decompose, the process sucks all the oxygen out of the surrounding waters, leading to a hypoxic event — better known as a "dead zone." The water becomes as barren as the surface of the moon. What sea life that can flee the zone does so; what can't, dies. Since 1990 the dead zone, which begins in summer and lasts until early fall, has averaged about 6,046 sq. mi. But the threat is growing. A study released last week by scientists from Louisiana State University (LSU) and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium estimated that this year's dead zone would be more than 10,000 sq. mi., roughly the size of Massachusetts. But that prediction was made before massive floods hit the Midwest: with the flow of the Mississippi at dangerous levels, and with rains sweeping fertilizer off drowned farms, the dead zone could grow even bigger. The Louisiana fishing industry, the second largest in the nation, is already hurting, with shrimp catches falling in the dead zone's wake. The U.S. is not alone in grappling with this aquatic byproduct. As modern, chemically intensive agricultural practices spread 36
  37. 37. around the globe, so does hypoxia; a 2004 U.N. report documents nearly 150 dead zones globally. But none compare to the black hole in the Gulf of Mexico. "This year would be the largest since we've started keeping records," says R. Eugene Turner, a zoologist with LSU who led the modeling effort. "It's definitely getting worse." In response to the growing problem, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — along with several other federal groups and the governments of states that feed into the Mississippi — released a plan of attack on Monday to reduce the Gulf's dead zone. The plan, an update of an effort launched in the waning days of the Clinton Administration in 2001, looks to harness state and federal action to reduce the flow of fertilizer into the Mississippi, much of which comes from agricultural sources that aren't covered by the regulations of the Clean Water Act. The ultimate goal is to shrink the size of the dead zone, averaged over five years, to 1,930 sq. mi. or less by 2015 — considerably smaller than the 7,900 sq. mi. the zone reached last year. "This plan has greater accountability and specificity [than 2001]," says Benjamin Grumbles, the EPA's assistant administrator for water. "This is urgent." But not so urgent that the government seems ready to spend what it would take to truly revive the dead zone. Although Grumbles points out that an action plan isn't the same thing as a budget allocation, there's little evidence that anyone is prepared to bear the financial burden of drastically reducing fertilizer runoff in the Midwest. (It doesn't help that 31 states feed into the Mississippi River basin, or that multiple federal agencies are involved with the dead-zone task force.) A 2007 report by the National Research Council called for more aggressive leadership by the EPA to coordinate and oversee state activities along the Mississippi, but the agency doesn't seem ready or able to seize that role. The plan itself reports that "resources are insufficient to gain the goals" of the task force. "We seem to be going in the opposite direction," says Donald Scavia, a professor of natural resources and the environment at the University of Michigan. "We don't seem committed to fixing the problem." Not that it's an easy one to fix. Most of the nutrient pollution that ends up in the Gulf comes from the hundreds of thousands of farms in the Midwest. The only sure way to shrink the dead zone is to reduce the amount of fertilizer running off those farms. But thanks in part to the push for corn-based ethanol and the skyrocketing price of food crops, U.S. farmers are planting more acres for corn than they have since World War II — including 15 million more acres last year than in 2006. Although there are measures 37
  38. 38. farmers can take to limit fertilizer runoff, those changes are expensive, and there's little federal funding to support such conservation. The just-released action plan relies mostly on voluntary activities. "We need Congress to act as if this is going to get done," says Doug Daigle, a member of the task force. "The state governments will contribute, but this has to be initiated by the Federal Government." Unfortunately, the dead zone isn't simply an environmental failure, but also a consequence of our national agricultural policy, which subsidizes farmers to grow vast, heavily fertilized quantities of corn and other grains. The pork-laden farm bill, which recently passed Congress over President George W. Bush's veto, will only worsen the problem. And even if we can begin to reduce the future flow of fertilizer, repeated dead zones are having a cumulative effect, with smaller amounts of nitrates and other chemicals in the Gulf having a larger hypoxic impact than in the past. "We have to decide how much we're willing to spend to save the Gulf fisheries," says Daigle. "Right now, we don't seem to be willing to invest much." Put simply, the Gulf is running out of air — and we're running out of time to fix it. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1815305,00.html General Environmental News Bush urges Congress to end offshore oil drill ban June 18, 2008 By Tabassum Zakaria and Chris Baltimore WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Wednesday urged Congress to end a ban on offshore oil drilling, seeking to address rising consumer angst over record- high gasoline prices with a plan sure to anger environmentalists. "Every American who drives to work, purchases food or ships a product has felt the effect, and families across the country are looking to Washington for a response," Bush said. As average U.S. pump prices pierced the $4-a-gallon level for the first time this month, energy policy has become a key issue in the presidential race ahead of November elections. 38
  39. 39. Bush said opening federal lands off the U.S. east and west coasts -- where oil drilling has been banned by both an executive order and a congressional moratorium since the early 1990s -- could yield about 18 billion barrels of oil. That's enough to meet current U.S. consumption for about 2 1/2 years, but it likely would take a decade or more to find the oil and produce it. Bush's latest drilling plan comes as lawmakers on Capitol Hill wage a war of words over who is to blame for record-high gasoline prices. Republicans and Bush have repeatedly blamed Democrats for blocking legislation that opens offshore lands and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to drilling. "Democrats on Capitol Hill have rejected virtually every proposal, and now Americans are paying the price at the pump for this obstruction," Bush said. About 60 percent of Americans support government moves to encourage more oil drilling and refinery construction as a way to combat soaring energy prices -- but the same number also profess to be in favor of conservation, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday. Republicans, including presidential candidate John McCain who announced his position this week after opposing it in the past, increasingly support lifting the ban on offshore oil drilling. Barack Obama who is running for president, and fellow Democrats, oppose it over environmental concerns and say such action would have little immediate impact on fuel prices. Bush's statement was the latest in a long-running blame game between Democrats and Republicans over who shoulders the blame for high fuel prices. "I know the Democratic leaders have opposed some of these policies in the past. Now that their opposition has helped drive gas prices to record levels, I ask them to reconsider their positions," Bush said. Environmental groups have long opposed expanded offshore oil drilling, raising concerns about the dangers to fragile ecosystems as well potential for oilspills that could mar the U.S. coastline. "The Bush-McCain plan is a gift to the oil companies that endangers the economic and environmental health of the Jersey Shore and our entire state," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat. Bush also proposed an end to the ban on oil shale drilling, and said the United States needs to expand its refining capacity and proposed measures to speed up federal approval of refinery building permits. 39
  40. 40. (Additional reporting by David Alexander; Editing by David Wiessler) http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSWAT00968520080618?sp=true Feeling thrifty, the thirsty reach for tap water June 18, 2008 Associated Press Tap water is making a comeback. With a day's worth of bottled water — the recommended 64 ounces — costing hundreds to thousands of dollars a year depending on the brand, more people are opting to slurp water that comes straight from the sink. The lousy economy may be accomplishing what environmentalists have been trying to do for years — wean people off the disposable plastic bottles of water that were sold as stylish, portable, healthier and safer than water from the tap. Heather Kennedy, 33, an office administrator from Austin, Texas, said she used to drink a lot of bottled water but now tries to drink exclusively tap water. "I feel that (bottled water) is a rip-off," she said in an e-mail. "It is not a better or healthier product than the water that comes out of my tap. It is absurd to pay so much extra for it." Measured in 700-milliliter bottles of Poland Spring, a daily intake of water would cost $4.41, based on prices at a CVS drugstore in New York. Or $6.36 in 20-ounce bottles of Dasani. By half-liters of Evian, that'll be $6.76, please. Which adds up to thousands a year. Even a 24-pack of half-liter bottles at Costco Wholesale Corp., a bargain at $6.97, would be consumed by one person in six days. That's more than $400 a year. 40
  41. 41. But water from the tap? A little more than 0.14 cent for a day's worth of water, based on averages from an American Water Works Association survey — just about 51 cents a year. U.S. consumers spent $16.8 billion on bottled water in 2007, according to the trade publication Beverage Digest. That's up 12 percent from the year before — but it's the slowest growth rate since the early 1990s, said editor John Sicher. Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., the biggest bottler of Coca-Cola Co.'s Dasani, recently cut its outlook for the quarter, saying the weak North American economy is hurting sales of bottled water and soda — especially the 20-ounce single serving sizes consumers had been buying at gas stations. "They're not walking in and spending a dollar plus for a 20-ounce bottle of water," said beverage analyst William Pecoriello at Morgan Stanley. Flavored and "enhanced" waters like vitamin drinks are also eating into plain bottled water's market share. Pecoriello said Americans' concern about the environment was also a factor, driven by campaigns against the use of oil in making and transporting the bottles, the waste they create and the notion of paying for what is essentially free. The Tappening Project, which promotes tap water in the U.S. as clean, safe and more eco-friendly than bottled water, launched a new ad campaign in May. The company has also sold more than 200,000 reusable hard plastic and stainless steel bottles since last November. Linda Schiffman, 56, a recent retiree from Lexington, Mass., bought two metal bottles at $14.50 each for herself and her daughter from Corporate Accountability, a consumer advocate group, after she swore off buying cases of bottled water from Costco. "I've been doing a lot of cost-cutting since I retired," said Schiffman, a former middle- school guidance counselor. "Additionally, I started feeling like this was a big waste environmentally." Aware of those concerns, some bottled water makers are trying to address the issue. 41
  42. 42. Nestle says all its half-liter bottles now come in an "eco-shape" that contains 30 percent less plastic than the average bottle, and it has pared back other packaging. PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have also cut down on the amount of plastic used in their bottles. While it is difficult to track rates of tap water use, sales of faucet accessories are booming. Brita tap water purification products made by Clorox Co. reported double-digit volume and sales growth in May and have seen three straight quarters of strong growth. Robin Jaeger of Needham, Mass., fills her kids' reusable bottles with water from the house's faucet. But she doesn't use water straight from the tap. "My kids have come to the conclusion that any water that's not filtered doesn't taste good," she said. Her reverse-osmosis filter system costs about $200 every 18 months for maintenance — still cheaper than buying by the bottle. Kennedy, the tap convert from Texas, has a filter built into her refrigerator. She also recently bought a reusable aluminum bottle made by Sigg, a Swiss company which has stopped selling its $19.99 metal bottles from its Web site, saying demand has swamped its supply. While Brita is the dominant player in water filtration, according to Deutsche Bank analyst Bill Schmitz, sales of P&G's Pur water filtration systems are also growing. Sales from the Pur line have increased almost every month since mid-2007, said Bruce Lux, its brand manager. He declined to give sales figures but said "the water filtration category is expanding very rapidly." "There's a backlash against the plastic water bottle," Schmitz said. Cities and businesses, big to small, have also gotten in on the action. 42
  43. 43. Marriott International Inc. distributed free refillable water bottles and coffee mugs to the 3,500 employees at its corporate offices in Bethesda, Md., and installed multiple water filters on every floor. The Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., got rid of bottled still water in the summer of 2006 and started sparkling its own water in early 2007. "Does it make sense to bottle water in Italy, trek it to a port, ship it all the way over here, then trek it to our restaurant?" said Chez Panisse general manager Mike Kossa-Rienzi. "We were going through 25,000 bottles a year. ... Someone has to end up recycling them." Many cities, including New York, have enacted pro-tap campaigns, and some have stopped providing disposable water bottles for government employees. Chicago started a 5-cent tax on plastic water bottles in January. San Francisco has done away with deliveries of water jugs for office use, instead installing filters and bottle-less dispensers, and banned the purchase of single-serving bottles by city employees with municipal funds. The city has already cut its government water budget in half, to $250,000 a year, said Tony Winnicker, spokesman for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. "It's becoming chic to say, 'Oh no, I don't drink bottled water, I'll have tap water,' " he said. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25211545/ Levee breach could swamp 47 square miles June 18, 2008 MSNBC News Services MEYER, Ill. - Floodwaters with the potential to swamp 47 square miles breached a levee in western Illinois on Wednesday, adding to the 18 other levees breached or overtopped along the Mississippi River. 43