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OPINION: After Paris – “About money and determination”, a view from Mihir Bhatt, India

India emerged at the COP at Paris as a strong voice, demanding that rich countries show the way in cutting emissions and deliver more funds to poor countries, especially for adaptation purposes and “loss and damage” compensation. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of this country of 1.2 billion people, the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, announced huge investments in solar energy, but at the same time reasoned that India’s growth should continue to be powered by coal and fossil fuels for many years. Three months after the deal was struck,Mihir Bhatt, CDKN´s country leader for India who leads All India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI), talks to CDKN’s Miren Gutierrez about the next steps that will be needed for implementing India´s commitment.

The Paris Agreement created an ambitious mandate for the global community. Does it change the national conversation in India about action on climate change? And on disaster risk management? If so, how?

The national conversation on sustainable development has evolved since the COP21 Paris Agreement. Shri Prakash Javdekar, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has said that he would ensure that the country’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) becomes not only a national commitment, but also a commitment by the people of India. In one indication of the government’s eagerness to move, Shri Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Surface Transport, has urged Indian businesses to move to adopt the stringent Euro 6automobile emission standards before the deadline in 2020[1]. Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), in fact, moved the conversation, even before the Paris conference, from negotiation, theory, data and scientific proof to what individual citizens are already doing and can do to both adapt to and mitigate climate change. The book Rising to the Call: Good Practices for Climate Change Adaptation”, published by CSE, was distributed to over a hundred key individuals shaping implementation of INDCs in India by the All India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI) and met a warm welcome from Minister Javdekar.

Similarly, on the Disaster Risk Reduction front, the conversation has moved from disasters and climate risk separately to addressing disaster risk in an integrated fashion, which may incude climate related risks. This is a big shift in a short time. However, what is needed is far more action on the ground. For example, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) needs to move boldly to take up climate change issues, such as mitigating the effects of heat waves, as part of its ongoing activities in India´s cities. Kamal Kishore, Member, NDMA, is striving towards this integration. The District Disaster Management Plans (DDMP) and the District Climate Change Plans (DCCP) across India must integrate with the District Development Plans. The Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG) is trying this integration in Uttar Pradesh, and the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA), in Odisha. Both efforts are supported by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN). In short, conversation and actions, both are focusing more on what can be done to integrate development with climate adaptation and mitigation measures, and how.

India submitted an ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’ (INDC) – what will it take to get from ‘intended’ to ‘implemented’? What are the big opportunities and challenges?

It will take both determination and money to make the the INDC work on the ground. Road maps are being made by the government as well as by various civil society organisations at several levels. Key think tanks are busy working out ways to move ahead in implementing and verifying the implementation of India’s INDC. The government has set up the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to use more solar energy at home and abroad – India has contributed US$250 million as well as land and buildings for IAS, while the government of France has invested €300 million to lend to solar energy parks and related industries in India and in other developing countries. What is needed is a series of project development facilities (PDF) that pull together skills, vision, knowledge and initial finance to set the ball rolling.

I must also mention that Indians will approach the implementation of the INDC from many directions. There is the government’s “growth” approach, which dominates public expenditure. Civil society groups are also exploring the use of what is now called “bioeconomics” with focus on ecosystems. Meanwhile, leading economists are talking about the “Economy of Tomorrow”, with focus on much broader economics not driven by “growth” but shared prosperity for all including social and ecological gains. Artists are talking about “We in Climate Change” with focus on inclusion. Several concerned voices have been raised to put biodiversity, ecology, inclusion and jobs at the centre of INDC implementations. The way of Anubandh, or mutually beneficial, communities that reduce the distance between producer and consumer as a way of thinking more holistically about economic decisions is being promoted by women’s groups and Gandhian thinkers. There is definitely diversity and richness in the way India aspires to move ahead with the INDC.

India has committed to lower the emissions intensity of GDP[2] by 33% to 35% by 2030 below 2005 levels, to increase the share of non-fossil based power generation capacity to 40% of installed electric power capacity by 2030, and to create an additional carbon sink through additional forest and tree cover by 2030. India’s commitment has been rated by the Climate Action Tracker as ‘medium’, can more be done?

More can always be done! But first, all that can be done must be done. And that India is doing. Turning INDCs in to an operational plan is not easy for a country of India’s size and diversity.The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) is holding a consultation and discussion on the Paris Agreement and India’s INDCs, called “Enhancing Preparedness for Implementation and Tracking of Mitigation Actions, Plans and Policies”, on March 14, 2016 in New Delhi to determine possible ways of implementation. The discussions leading up to the March 14 event are exciting. There are calls for the involvement of youth and groups are demanding that the 100 Smart Cities initiative be made INDC compliant. Large business houses are looking to support rural livelihood creation in India’s craft sector as a low carbon activity. International financial institutions are trying to find ways to “Make a Business Case for the INDC”. The list is growing each week. CDKN in India has drawn up an innovative plan to use lessons learned not as an output but as an input to education, business, and governance that leads to climate compatible development

If you check most INDCs from developing countries their emission reduction targets are subject to technology development, international climate finance and capacity building. What would happen if the means of implementation does not flow?

If the means of implementation do not flow from the international community, it will give a very negative signal to India and to most other developing countries. Trust built over years of negotiations will be corroded. Developed nations will show themselves in very poor light. The recent World Trade Organisation (WTO) decision on solar energy and technology transfer has not gone well with India or with many Asian and African developing countries[3]. Pressure must be built to make money and technology flow to where it matters the most, and that is to the developing countries.

India is determined to move ahead, so even if technology does not come to India’s businesses and households, the country will attempt to stand on its own feet. Should India need to invent its own green technology such as for “carbon fixing” or advanced solar energy, or super wind turbines India is capable of doing so on its own, as declared by Piyush Goyal, Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy, at the recent Raisina Dialogue[4]. As a participant at the recent “We in Climate Change” film festival organised by CDKN and tve South Asia in Delhi, Anshul Ojha warned that “peace, resilience and jobs will be undermined” in a world where INDCs are used, directly or indirectly, to perpetuate poverty and disparity across or within countries.

The Paris Agreement calls for limiting average global temperature rise well below 2C, as close to 1.5C as possible. India’s emissions are fast growing – how do you reconcile this need to cut greenhouse gas emissions, in the specific case of India?

India is committed to moving ahead with co-benefits: that is, to reduce emissions and poverty both with the same effort. More planning is needed in setting up co-benefits focus so that one benefit does not grow at the cost of another. Plans are being made by the government to generate jobs in forestry; new employment in solar and wind energy; more livelihoods in water harvesting and traditional irrigation; new skills in renewable energy and craft sector and so on. All these, and many more initiatives aim at both, lowering emissions and lowering poverty. Needless to say, far more work is needed to align ambition with results in India.

Have you any reflections on how the process India went through to come up with its INDC will affect what happens next?

The process was most consultative! The INDC formulation process was as inclusive, open and inviting as a government process can be. Prakash Javdekar took time to meet and listen to the potential of this process. The UN system, think tanks, European countries, federation of businesses, civil society, farmers, youth and women were consulted on the direction, pace and content of the INDC in India. This was in addition to the engagement of experts, such as Dr Dubash of Centre for Policy Research, Dr. Parikh who headed Low Carbon Economy Task Force of Government of India; and Pradipto Ghosh of The Energy and Resources Institutes (TERI). As a result, there is wider ownership of the INDC and consequently, its implementation will also be widely owned.

To build on this wide-spread involvement, it is necessary that citizens make their own plans to implement the INDC at the individual level. To me this is most important. Similarly, cities must make their own plans and industries must make their own plans to lower emissions and fix carbon. “Many efforts from many directions to achieve one result” is the only way to go for India according to Dileep Mavalankar, Director of Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar.

The SDGs have many climate-related components, as well as a dedicated climate goal. What are some of the ways that the SDGs will influence the planning and practice of development in India in the coming years?

The convergence of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the INDC has yet to take place in any formal and operative manner in India. Both may agree and overlap in many aspects, but both may still have elements that go in two different directions. And this is natural for any entity which is growing in many directions simultaneously.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is leading meetings with the civil society to converge Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), and COP21 Paris Agreement onto one platform for youth and children. The focus of these meetings is on the poor and vulnerable. Participants at a recent meeting in New Delhi hosted by UNICEF on Post-2015 Children in Changing Climate clearly indicated the need to converge and integrate various global frameworks such a SDGs, COP21 and SFDRR into a creative and concrete approach to human development.

Having said so, let us not forget that this is India, and we must remain prepared to have conflicting and contradicting elements coexist within each of these efforts. Far more efforts will be needed to harmonise these approaches than to standardise them. A focus on the basic human needs for water, food, shelter and connectivity is a good way forward for harmonising. Similarly, measures to enhance income and build assets of the poor are also vital steps in the direction towards the benefits of harmonising reaching the poor. We cannot leave out the importance of finance, access to finance, energy and markets either.

 

Are there any development initiatives in India that, for you, provide perfect examples of how the country can meet the high aspirations of the Paris Agreement and the SDGs?

There are several! Formal and informal, by the government and by civil society. Take the recent national planning meeting at the India Meteorological Department in Delhi, where a Heat Action Plan for 2016 was shaped by the government, with at least three state governments and officials of five cities. This upcoming summer should see over 10 million citizens of India get information and guidance on how to better protect themselves from the negative impacts of a heat wave. Furthermore, they will take part in efforts to reduce the possibility of heat waves in cities. First time in India, maybe in Asia, such a large number of citizens and cities are simultaneously addressing an adaptation and mitigation challenge as an urban development opportunity.

Measures such as boosting green plantation, water harvesting, constructing green buildings, covering roads, as well as measures to lower emissions, adapt to heat and protect the livelihoods and income of the poor citizens will be unrolled. Beginning with Ahmedabad in Gujarat, the heat action plan will move to Bhubaneswar in Odisha and Nagpur in Maharashtra. There is a great hunger to act, to do something, at the subnational level in India. To address this need, a strong effort is lead by Indian cities in collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) of USA, who is offering technical know how, and the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) UK, who is offering support.

There are many more examples of efforts by poor women to produce salt with solar pumps, and cooperative banks loans to enhance renewable energy and more. The reality of a vast and diverse nation like India is that we have such human resource, and great local innovation, that the country can tap to create its climate-resilient and low carbon future.

[1] This was at the recent Global Partnership Summit: Smart Cities: Smart India, organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) on February 10, 2016 in Delhi. “Most car manufacturers in India are making Euro 6 compliant engines in India and exporting them. They have the technology available and time till 2020,” said transport minister Nitin Gadkari. Bharat Stage-VI is equivalent to Euro 6 emission norms.

[2] Units of energy per unit of GDP. It is an expression of the energy intensity –which a measure of the energy efficiency of a nation´s economy.

[3] In February, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) found India´s solar initiative broke trade rules because it gives domestic manufacturers a 10% quota for the supply of panels. The government-funded programme includes a domestic content clause, which would require part of the solar cells to be produced nationally..

[4] Organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation in Delhi

 

 

Image: courtesy DFID

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FEATURE: Going smart in Nepalese farming

Generating knowledge that can be integrated in ‘climate-smart’ policy and practice could be one of the keys to Nepal’s future development. Miren Gutierrez of CDKN reports. 

Small, extremely diverse and landlocked, Nepal confronts special development challenges in the face of climate change. Its orography determines that only less than 20% of its land is cultivable, yet about 39% of its GDP and 75% of its exports depend on agriculture, which is also the main source of food, income and employment for the great majority according to a reports published by Cornell and USAid.

“Nepal’s geography is incredibly diverse and complex. Within a short distance, you can see a lot of variety… Climatic conditions range from sub-tropical to Arctic,” says Ram Chandra Khanal, CDKN’s country leader, in a telephone interview. The Climate and Development Knowledge Network supports decision-makers in designing and delivering climate compatible development.

nepal farmer aubergines ccafs

Recently, there has been new evidence of increasing impacts of climate change in the agriculture sector, which, by contagion, can affect the livelihoods of millions. On the other hand, Nepalese farmers have limited access to new technologies and market opportunities.

Climate shocks can derail economic projections easily.  For example, in 2009 growth was, at 4.7%, ‘a bit slower than in the previous year as a result of prolonged winter droughts and delayed monsoons’, says a report published by USAid.  The same report notes that Nepal’s economic performance is ‘heavily dependent on subsistence rain-fed agriculture’, so output is ‘perennially susceptible to exogenous climate shocks —drought, floods, and irregular rainfall.’ USAid ends up saying that this dependence makes growth performance ‘highly erratic’.

Last month, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) projected Nepal’s economy to grow between 4-5% this fiscal year, a lower than first expected and last year, based on the assumptions of two scenarios of agricultural, industrial and service sector growth. According to the ADB ’s Macro-Economic Update on Nepal the country’s economy will grow by 4% if farm production diminishes abruptly and 5% under another scenario where agricultural output deteriorates marginally. (The scenarios take into account different performances in the industrial and service sectors too).

“Delayed and abnormal monsoon rains affected last crops like paddy (semiaquatic rice) and maize leading their output to decline by 5.1% and 6% respectively. The government has projected that winter crops like wheat will be good, but due to a decline in the summer output which contributes heavily to the total agricultural output, the farm sector is expected to rise by just 1.8%,” says a report published by ekantipur.com.

Rice is not only a staple food here, it is also Nepal’s main crop, and both the economy and the food security depend on rice production, according to another report issued by Hydro Nepal.

“The recent Economic Impact Assessment of climate change study carried out with the support from CDKN also showed that the direct losses of climate change on agriculture are equivalent to around 0.8%/year of current GDP,” reveals Mr Khanal.

That is why climate-smart agriculture is at the centre of Nepal’s strategy to develop.

Climate-smart agriculture is defined as agriculture that integrates the three dimension of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental) by incorporating adaptation and mitigation elements and addressing food security and climate issues at the same time. It promotes production systems that sustainably increase productivity and resilience (adaptation), while reducing Green House Gas emissions (mitigation), and enhancing food security and development.

Climate-smart agriculture is so fashionable nowadays that the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation has set up a dedicated web site, not surprisingly called ‘Climate-smart agriculture’. According to FAO, global food production will have to increase by at least 70% to satisfy the demand of a growing population by 2050. But climate change will to reduce food productivity, or worsen its stability in some areas that already have high levels of food insecurity.

Although there is consensus on the need for climate-smart strategies, “there are still knowledge and gaps at the methodological, policy and financial levels”, says FAO. “These gaps hinder the ability of actors of development (farm smallholders, policy makers and development agencies) to successfully implement climate smart actions.”

That is where projects like CDKN’s come into play.

Explore CDKN’s Nepal country programme on www.cdkn.org/regions/nepal

Watch this space for the second part of this two-part series on climate-smart agriculture in Nepal by Miren Gutierrez.

Image: Nepali farmer, courtesy CCAFS.

 

FEATURE: Adapting to flood and fire in Quito, Ecuador

Quito faces great challenges in adapting to climate change. How is the highest capital city in the world faring? After about five years of implementation, the Quito Strategy for Climate Change is starting to pay some dividends, reports Miren Gutierrez of CDKN.

Cities everywhere are facing new weather patterns, making adaptation strategies at city-level ever more important. Adaption challenges in Quito are demanding: With a population of 2.24 million (expected to double by 2025) and located at 2,800 meters above sea-level, Quito’s streets are steep and disrupted by ravines. Regular floods, earthquakes and landslides produce widespread damage, mainly in informal settlements on hillsides.

Quito’s adaptive challenges include the integration of standardised criteria in development planning as well, says Nixon Narvaez, from the Secretariat of Environment. For example, Quito needs to implement consistent adaptation measures in potato farming, he adds in an email interview. Potato is a staple food in Ecuador, and ranks the first among tubers in people’s preferences in Quito, according to a report published by INIAP-CIP.

At a different level, “a bigger challenge is to share agendas with different actors: local governments, communities, city bureaux (such as CONQUITO –in charge of local development— or Quitoturismo), companies providing services (water, public works, mobility, transport), trade unions, and civil society, including activists, NGOs and academia, to generate more openness in the implementation of adaptation and mitigation measures, and to reinforce governance.

Experts agree that commitment to these strategies at all levels, from local to national and international, is key.

“When climate adaptation is advanced with a focus on learning, awareness, and capacity building, the process will likely lead to more sustained, legitimate, and comprehensive adaptation plans and policies that enhance the resilience of the most affected urban areas and residents,” says a paper about the variation in adaptation approaches in Quito and two other cities in India and South Africa, issued by the academic publishing house Elsevier.

The paper notes that “no national laws or policies, international frameworks, or national funding schemes initially existed to guide and support Quito’s efforts to prepare for the impacts of climate change”, until pressing concerns in the mid-1990s moved the City Council and the Metropolitan Sewage and Drinking Water Authority “to start making provisions to secure the city’s water supply”.

Its authors also say that an inter-institutional process to come up with a Quito Climate Strategy in 2007 revealed that it ‘would not be a straightforward task,’ that current climate adaptation measures were considered to be ‘patching’ specific problems, and that a long term vision was lacking.

Then the idea of ‘risk’ was incorporated in the process. And the Quito Strategy for Climate Change (EQCC) was approved in October 2009. It has since become an official environmental policy. By mid-2010, discussions about CDKN support were well underway. Following a joint analysis, CDKN and the Secretariat of Environment agreed on three areas for initial collaboration: an Action Plan, a vulnerability study and implementing the Action Plan.

CDKN provided technical assistance on methodology and workshops to prepare a five-year Action Plan, which contained a portfolio of about 50 projects, of which 21 ideas were granted priority. This required a vulnerability study to consolidate information that was scattered. A ‘Climate and Vulnerability’ workshop held in May 2011 provided a basis for discussions among academic, scientific, technical and political sectors to define guidelines to guide the work of an interdisciplinary team for a 9-month vulnerability study. The International Centre for Research on the El Niño Phenomenon (CIIFEN) prepared the terms in July 2011.

CDKN Alliance partners Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano began this work in June 2011. Recently, Quito hosted the National Summit of Local Authorities at which 80 other participating cities signed the Quito Climate Pact, a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the local level.

CDKN is currently helping Quito with the calculation of its water and carbon footprint, the vulnerability of the municipality’s (DMQ’s)  health sector: vector borne diseases, and a pilot adaptation measure. Other organisations that support the implementation of adaptation measures in Quito include the Inter-American Development Bank (AIDB), the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

There is room for improvement, though. “In spite of the big efforts to development integration mechanisms around adaptation, we haven’t been able to achieve optimum coordination at local or municipal level, because of the scale, scope, and environmental, economic, social, cultural and institutional diversity involved,” says Narvaez. He points out that some mitigation initiatives were easier to implement, including, for example, the “strengthening of public transport or the increase of energy efficiency with LED street lights.”

But some of these efforts are already paying dividends. According to Narvaez, the Secretariat, the City Council and the public companies providing municipal services have started forming a common agenda. “The Secretariat of Environment has generated a set of sustainability indicators that allowed us to evaluate sectors such as waste management, water provision, mobility, sanitation, energy, and air quality and pollution. EQCC’s performance has been assessed as ‘medium’ with a potential to improve in rural areas and to stabilise in urban areas.”

“Among the steps toward progress we include improvements in the management of wild fires (another important hazard) and floods, in which more than 20 institutions participate,” adds Narvaez. “The Secretariat of Environment has generated information and knowledge for decisions related to both prevention and response too, resulting in more efficiency in reducing vulnerability.”
Image: Quito panorama, courtesty Quito tourism office (flickr.com)

Ganadores y perdedores de los fondos para el clima

Ganadores y perdedores de los fondos para el clima

Por Miren Gutiérrez / Lima (Perú).-  México y Marruecos son los grandes ganadores de los fondos para el clima. Sin embargo, muchos países en desarrollo quedan atrás en la financiación internacional de los nueve fondos climáticos destinados a apoyar proyectos para ayudarles a adaptarse al cambio climático y reducir las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero.

En la foto Miren Gutiérrez, Directora de Comunicación del Programa para el Clima y el Medioambiente de ODI.; Smita Nakhooda, autora principal del informe y experta en fondos para el clima de ODI, y Tom Mitchell, director del Programa para el Clima y el Medioambiente de ODI.
Crédito: Alfonso Daniels

Un nuevo índice mundial publicado por el Overseas Development Institute (ODI) –el mayor think tank en temas de desarrollo del Reino Unido — revela también que la mitad de los $ 7.340 millones aprobados hasta la fecha se concentra en sólo diez países.

A pesar de ello, estos nueve fondos multilaterales –creados a través del mecanismo de Naciones Unidas para canalizar recursos hacia los países en desarrollo— son considerados por ODI ‘fundamentales’ en la lucha contra el cambio climático.

El informe –que revisa diez años de historia de los fondos— revela que Reino Unido y Estados Unidos son los mayores donantes, mientras que los principales receptores son Marruecos, México y Brasil, países donde las emisiones están creciendo rápidamente. Según el informe, los Fondos para el Clima están ayudando a desarrollar el sector de la energía solar en Marruecos, a ampliar la escala de la utilización de la energía eólica en México, y a reducir la deforestación en Brasil.

‘La cuestión es si estamos optimizando el poco dinero disponible. Nuestro informe dice que hay muchos ejemplos de buenas prácticas, pero los fondos tienen que ser mas innovativos, deben tener formas más estandarizadas para medir sus impactos y deben incorporar también las dinámicas de la política local’, dijo Smita Nakhooda, autora principal del informe, en un encuentro con periodistas durante la Cumbre del Clima en Lima, Perú.

Entre las recomendaciones, Nakhooda mencionó que hace falta, entre otras cosas:

  1. Más valentía para financiar proyectos por los que no apuesta el sector privado debido a que se perciben como arriesgados. Esto implicaría, por ejemplo, entrar en países con un riesgo soberano alto u otorgar créditos en monedas locales, con más riesgo asociado.
  2. Un enfoque más innovador, más apoyo a la investigación y a la innovación tecnológica, y más capital semilla a las ‘buenas ideas’.
  3. Usar el tipo adecuado de financiación en cada caso a fin de incentivar la inversión al costo más bajo. Se necesita más financiación ‘inteligente’, que maximice los impactos.
  4. Más apoyo a las entidades locales y naciones, a la regulación adecuada y la capacidad institucional. Y generar incentivos adecuados en economías emergentes.

‘Una de las lecciones que hemos aprendido de países como México,  Marruecos o Brasil –dijo Nakhooda—es que el liderazgo adecuado y el hacer de la respuesta al cambio climático una prioridad nacional son factores esenciales en el acceso a estos fondos. Si hay un compromiso nacional, el dinero llega’.

Continúa…

Subsidios a los combustibles fósiles: Generosidad con las empresas a costa de lo demás

CAMBIO CLIMÁTICO

  • El informe El rescate de los combustibles fósiles: Los subsidios del G20 a la exploración de petróleo, gas y carbón indica que los costos de las renovables son cada vez más bajos
Subsidios a los combustibles fósiles: Generosidad con las empresas a costa de lo demás Archivo EFEverde

Miren Gutierrez*.- Especial para EFEverde.- Los gobiernos de los países del G-20 se gastan $88 mil millones al año en subsidiar la exploración de combustibles fósiles. Esto es una pesima política encomica y, además, podría tener consecuencias desastrosas para el clima.

Un nuevo informe del Overseas Development Institute (ODI) y Oil Change International documenta, por primera vez, la desmesurada escala de los subsidios a la exploración de combustibles fósiles en los países del G-20. Los datos señalan que dinero público en estos países se emplea para ‘rescatar’ a empresas intensas en carbono y apoyar inversiones no rentables, en vez de dedicarse a limitar el aumento de la temperatura global a no más de 2 °C. Ello ademas contraviene un compromiso de eliminar estos subsidios ´ineficientes´ contraído por estos países en 2009.

Una exploración de nuevas reservas de petróleo, gas y carbón cada vez más difícil  –con un aumento de los costes—, junto a la caída de los precios de los combustibles, solo tienen sentido económico para las empresas si estas son generosamente subvencionadas por fondos públicos. Sin embargo, para el resto de la sociedad resulta poco rentable. Esto es especialmente asi si se tiene en cuenta que la mayoría de las reservas existentes deben quedarse donde están si el mundo ha de evitar un cambio climático peligroso, según señalan los datos científicos.

Entretanto, el informe (titulado ´El rescate de los combustibles fósiles: Los subsidios del G20 a la exploración de petróleo, gas y carbón) indica que los costos de las renovables son cada vez más bajos y las inversiones en renovables, más rentables. Cada dólar publico invertido en subsidiar energías renovables atrae 2,5 dólares en otras inversiones, mientras que cada dólar canalizado hacia en combustibles fósiles solo genera 1,3 dólares.

Una de las autoras del informe, Shelagh Whitley –del ODI—asegura que, ´frente a la percepción de que las renovables son costosas, nuestra investigación prueba la búsqueda de combustibles fósiles está costando 88 mil millones de dólares a los países del G-20. Eliminar esos subsidios podría permitir a las renovables competir realmente con los combustibles fósiles´.

 Algunos de los hallazgos del informe incluyen:

  • Las 20 mayores compañías privadas de gas y petróleo invirtieron globalmente solo 37 mil millones de dólares en exploración de combustibles en 2013, menos de la mitad de lo que están gastando los gobiernos del G-20 en subvencionar esa misma actividad al año. Esto sugiere que la exploración petrolífera depende grandemente de las subvenciones.
  • Estados Unidos puso unos 5,1 mil millones de dólares anualmente en subsidios nacionales para la exploración petrolífera en 2013, casi el doble que en 2009.
  • Rusia proporciona 3,4 mil millones de dólares al año en forma de subsidios nacionales a la exploración de combustibles fósiles, incluyendo el campo de exploración Prirazlomnoe en el Ártico, que ha sido catalogado como de dudoso valor comercial.
  • Gran Bretaña ha introducido subsidios a la exploración valorados en 1,2 mil millones de dólares al año. Estos incluyen generosas exenciones fiscales a las exploraciones en el Mar del Norte a Total (HQ Francia), por valor de 838 millones de dólares; a Statoil (Noruega), por valor de 407 millones; a Centrica (GB), por valor de 229 millones; y a Chevron (EEUU), por valor de 72 millones, entre 2009 y 2014.

Para colmo, otros 521 millones de dólares son también canalizados desde los países del G-20 hacia la exploración de combustibles fosiles a través de bancos de desarrollo multilaterales, dos tercios de los cuales son responsabilidad del Banco Mundial.

En definitiva, este tipo de subsidios debe terminar definitivamente, porque no solo van en contra de las políticas del Banco Mundial, sino que no tienen ninguna razón económica.

 

*Miren Gutiérrez es Directora de Comunicación del Programa para el Clima y el Medioambiente del Overseas Development Institute en Londres, Gran Bretaña.

Buenas noticias, con ‘peros’

Europa acuerda un recorte del 40% en las emisiones de CO2 (dióxido de carbono) respecto a los niveles de 1990 para 2030, y una cuota de renovables del 27% y un objetivo del 27% de eficiencia energética, así un impulso de las interconexiones.

Es una buena noticia y ya era hora. Esperemos que tenga un efecto domino en otros países, especialmente en China, que es actualmente el mayor emisor de CO2 en términos absolutos, y en Estados Unidos, el mayor emisor si se mide per cápita. La maquinaria diplomática europea debe ponerse en marcha rápidamente en vísperas de la cumbre de Lima, del 1 al 12 de diciembre del 2014, y de la cumbre clave el año próximo en Paris, donde se acordara el sucesor del Protocolo de Kioto.

El Grupo Intergubernamental de Expertos sobre el Cambio Climático (conocido por sus siglas en inglés, IPCC) lleva diciendo mucho tiempo que hemos agotado el tiempo. Pero también que el implacable incremento de las emisiones  se puede frenar usando una variedad de cambios de comportamiento y medidas tecnológicas. Pasar de ahí tendría consecuencias terribles. Según el último informe del IPCC, si se quiere limitar el aumento de temperatura global a 2 grados centígrados para final de siglo, habría que reducir las emisiones globales de gases de efecto invernadero entre un 40% y un 70% para 2100 con respecto a las emisiones del año 2010.

Pero este no será un objetivo sencillo. Los Estados mantienen la soberanía sobre la política energética, con muchos intereses en juego alrededor del sector de los combustibles fósiles. Y esta decisión tiene aspectos que no quedan claros o se dejan a la implementación voluntaria, como por ejemplo el objetivo de eficiencia. De hecho, algunas empresas dedicadas a la eficiencia energética ya están diciendo que este objetivo nada tiene de ambicioso. Además existe una cláusula que podría abrir el acuerdo a una revisión y a fijar nuevos objetivos (supongo, menos ambiciosos) si es que la decisión europea no se ve secundada e igualada en Paris por otros países.

Este asunto es crucial. Informes que hemos publicado en el Overseas Development Institute demuestran que, si no se combate el cambio climático, el mundo puede despedirse de terminar con la pobreza, porque será un impedimento para millones de personas, especialmente en África, salgan de la pobreza y muchas volverán a ella a consecuencia del cambio climático.

Existe un amplio consenso en la comunidad científica sobre lo que hay que hacer. El acuerdo europeo está al borde de lo mínimo necesario indicado por el IPCC –recortar las emisiones entre el 40% y el 70% para 2100. Es un buen comienzo, pero queda mucho por delante.

Disaster management needs to include safeguarding livelihoods as well

Being prepared is much more than saving lives, says a report by the Overseas Development Institute, which calls for access to social safety nets, resilient infrastructure and a focus on the poorest to cushion the long term impacts of catastrophes

Read an article published  by Tehelka.com

There is consensus that this time round local authorities and national agencies were better prepared for the impact of . But being prepared is much more than saving lives, as confirmed by a new Overseas Development Institute (ODI) report, which calls for access to social safety nets, resilient infrastructure and a focus on the poorest to cushion the long term impacts of catastrophes.

In fact, a series of factors – both fortuitous and deliberate – conspired to produce a relatively low death toll in following . After the catastrophic super-cyclone of 1999 which killed more than 10,000 people in the same state, shelters had been built, an effective early warning system had been put in place that allowed for the mass evacuation of almost 1 million people, and the storm surge was several meters lower than in 1999.

However, disaster risk preparedness and management seems to be key when disasters strike. The ODI report highlights how, for example in 2008, Cyclone Nargis killed 138,000 people in Myanmar, while in the Caribbean and US a storm of similar strength, Hurricane Gustav, killed 153. The difference was disaster risk preparedness and management.

So for , does it mean they can relax now? The answer is an obvious “no”.  The same report points at the need to direct efforts towards both saving lives as well as livelihoods. There is the immediate need to protect lives, but in the long term, it is also about people’s futures.

Indeed for dwellers, this crisis is far from over: much has been lost and there are no guarantees about the future. According to Business Insurance, “crop losses arising from Cyclone Phailin… have been estimated at 23 billion Indian rupees ($376.7 million).” The same source points to a cyclone-related “loss to power infrastructure” estimated at “around INR 10 billion ($163.8 million).” Hundreds are reported to have lost their livelihoods and their homes. The BBC reported damages to power and communication lines, road and rail links, and “an estimated 5,000 sq km of mostly paddy crops” destroyed.

The geography of poverty, disasters and climate extremes in 2030 examines the relationship between disasters and poverty. Combining climate and poverty projections, it looks at the overlaps for 2030 and concludes that, “without concerted action, up to 325 million extremely poor people could be living in the 49 countries most exposed to the full range of natural hazards and climate extremes in 2030.”

India represents a special case in ODI’s report. “It has the highest number of people who are still likely to be living in poverty in 2030 and experiencing some of the highest exposure to hazards, yet does have the central capacity to manage disaster risk… Given its size, India needs to be treated as a cluster of separate sub-national entities, with some states causing considerable concern, including Assam, Madhya Pradesh, , Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.”

The study concludes that disaster risk management efforts are being directed in many cases to just protecting high-value assets and to saving lives, rather than also protecting livelihoods, and that needs to change if we want long term results in poverty reduction.

So let’s be prepared for the next storm, but make sure that being prepared includes investing in people’s ability to make a living, be resilient and avoid having to rebuild at all.

The author is Climate and Environment Programme Communications Manager, Overseas Development Institute

Rio+20 IX: Covering the summit

Read Katie Taft, from IFAD,. #RioPlus20 – Journalists compete with ousted prime ministers and revolutions to cover Rio conference, about how it was to cover Rio+20 for some of our journalists participating in the TRF/IPS seminar at Rio+20.

When you are faced with revolutions on your doorstep, it is difficult to write a story on sustainable development that will interest readers, IPS trainer Miren Gutiérrez told me during a pause in the journalists’ workshop in Rio. Couple that with the fact that they were competing with those 3,000 other journalists for interviews at the Rio+20 conference, and an already tough job just got tougher.

By Katie Taft

Among a sea of more than 3,000 journalists clacking away at keyboards in the media centre at the Rio+20 conference, Zofeen Ebrahim desperately searched for an adapter for her computer. Having arrived in Rio de Janeiro just 12 hours earlier, Ebrahim bubbled with nervous energy, or perhaps jetlag.

“I need to get something to eat and then I want to find a woman leader who was here 20 years ago,” she said as she struggled to plug in the adapter loaned to her by a fellow journalist.

A mother of two from Pakistan, Ebrahim was in Rio last week to cover the conference along with 16 other journalists from developing countries around the world. Their trip was part of an IFAD-supported training programme presented by the Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF) and IPS International News Agency.

“When I left Pakistan to come here, my country had a prime minister,” Ebrahim said between mouthfuls of pizza in the canteen of the conference venue. “When I landed in Rio, my country no longer had a prime minister.” Just the day before, Pakistan’s Supreme Court had removed Yousuf Raza Gilani, the country’s longest-serving prime minister, from office.

I asked Ebrahim if she felt that she was missing the year’s best news story in her own country by coming to Rio. She immediately shook her head and said she did not. The Rio summit on sustainable development “is important for Pakistan,” she added. “It is a story that needs attention, too.”

Best practices for journalists
Ebrahim and other journalists from developing countries face multiple challenges that go well beyond the annoyance of overcoming jetlag or finding a local adapter. One of the biggest is a lack of access to experts when covering highly technical topics. This is where TRF and IPS step in, with training that focuses on best practices to help the journalists increase the quality of their stories on issues related to climate change.

No one knows the struggles of reporting on climate change more than Bassem Abo Alabass, a 24-year-old journalist from Egypt. In his brief career, Abo Alabass has already seen the inside of a prison cell for two days after taking to the streets in Cairo, not as a journalist but as “one of the people.”

He is not surprised when I tell him that he is the only registered journalist from Egypt attending the Rio+20 conference.

Abo Alabass recently wrote a piece, for the news website Ahram Online, about a scientific report on the decreasing water level of the Nile. Because it was online, he was able to track how many readers followed the story. “Very few people read it,” he said. “People in Egypt have only one thing on their minds. Making climate change a story that they can connect to right now is hard.”

Two days after we spoke in Rio, Abo Alabass returned to Egypt and came home to a new president-elect, Mohammed Mursi. Eighteen months after street protests forced Hosni Mubarak to quit, Mursi had become the country’s first democratically elected civilian president.

Tough job, important story
When you are faced with revolutions on your doorstep, it is difficult to write a story on sustainable development that will interest readers, IPS trainer Miren Gutiérrez told me during a pause in the journalists’ workshop in Rio. Couple that with the fact that they were competing with those 3,000 other journalists for interviews at the Rio+20 conference, and an already tough job just got tougher.

But for Zofeen Ebrahim, it was worth the trouble. “I am glad I came here,” she said, running to do an interview on the last day of the conference. “This is just too important, not just for people in Pakistan, but for everyone.”

Read one of Ebrahim’s stories filed from Rio here and another here.

Media Crisis in Spain: Center for International Media Ethics

Read my last article on CIME newslatter…
Financial Crisis in Spain? Call It a Media Crisis, Too

As journalism sector shrinks, so does balanced reporting

BY MIREN GUTIERREZ

Photo by Antonio Zugaldia via Flickr.

Lots of bad things are happening to media in Spain under the long shadows of the current financial crisis. And they are not exactly being noted by the general public.

Público – maybe the only real progressive mainstream paper left in the market – died a few months ago. After registering financial losses for several years, and facing a €9 million deficit, Público folded its print edition in February 2012. Its parent company, Mediapubli, has continued publishing the website publico.es.

Público was founded in 2007 to cater to a younger and harder-left audience than the circulation leader, El País. The same audience that is experiencing unemployment rates of almost 50 percent (doubling Europe’s average rates, according to the International Labour Organisation).

Público’s disappearance from newsstands has certainly resulted in a loss of diversity, information and analysis.

Another behind-the-scenes drama is a disagreement between the two main parties, the governing People’s Party and the opposition Partido Socialista Obrero Español, or PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party), over the election of the Radiotelevisión Española (RTVE) president. RTVE is a wholly state-owned public limited company, and, so far, has been a space for independent – or at the very least balanced – journalism.

RTVE is supposed to be independent of direct control by the government and the central state administration. But this independence could soon be over.

Taking advantage of the lack of consensus, the government made the decision to change the law so the governing PP doesn’t have to negotiate the RTVE presidency with any other political party.

A committee representing RTVE’s journalists issued a statement calling this reform “very worrying.” Instead of guaranteeing a more efficient operation, as Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría argued it would, the reform “could harm the public channel independence, and by extension, the informative services,” the committee warned.

There is already talk of dismissing many prominent journalists, such as the award-winning anchorwoman Ana Pastor, “because of her lack of partiality,” according to an RTVE source who didn’t want to be named.

In another apparently unconnected event, El Intermedio – one of the few surviving spaces for critique and humour – accused TeleMadrid – the first autonomous public television station in Madrid – of forbidding its journalists to utter the word “bailout” (rescate in Spanish) when referring to Europe’s plan to lend money to Spain to heal its banking sector.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey’s government wants to portray an image of normalcy, even if the world is coming apart around him. Many oblige.

Other spaces of much-needed criticism and in-depth journalism have already died some time ago.

Channel Cuatro’s “REC Reporteros” – a TV news magazine that was known for using investigative journalism – no longer exists as it was originally conceived, after it was sold to media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset by the PRISA group in 2010.

All these cases have something in common. They are symptoms of a great deterioration in Spanish journalism that goes beyond the economic front to include professional ethics.

It is no surprise that on May 3, thousands of journalists – unemployed but still working – gathered in Madrid to demand “decency in today’s journalism,” and to denounce the general crisis that the sector is experiencing, affected by massive dismissals, downsizings, job insecurity and the proliferation of “press conferences” without questions.

In the midst of a gigantic crisis, the government wants journalists who report exactly what its representatives are saying. No questions asked. And because of the incredible shrinking media sector, they are pulling it off.

Miren Gutiérrez began her journalistic career as an EFE News Agency Asia-Pacific correspondent, based in Hong Kong, where she covered Southeast Asia, the Korean peninsula and the Pacific region. In 1996, she moved to Panama, where she worked as a business editor for La Prensa. In 2001, she moved to New York, where she freelanced for media organisations including The Wall Street Journal Americas, UPI, The Nation and El País. From 2003 through 2009, she was the editor-in-chief of Inter Press Service in Rome. Since then, Gutiérrez has worked for MarViva Foundation, a marine conservation organization, and Greenpeace Spain. Currently, she works as a media consultant, training journalists and communications students from all over the world on how to cover developmental and environmental issues.