Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Final day of UN confernece looked like an Indian fish market

Warsaw, November 24: It resembled a typical Indian fish market. The last leg of the UN climate change summit turned out to be a marathon session of almost 40 hours of hard bargaining in high decibels by the environment ministers from across the globe, who mostly pushed their national agendas rather than the health of Mother Earth.

It was a mix of joy and pain for the global media—there were hundreds of journalists covering the summit—to watch and report on the proceedings that took unexpected turns every other minute. As the talks that should have been over on Friday spilled over to the whole of Saturday, many delegates appeared agonised. Some African delegates already left the COP19 stadium to catch flights back home.

Fiji and Philippines won their match against the super rich nations that ultimately agreed to provide funds for the loss and damage in poor countries hit by natural calamities. With India and China pecking at the polemical issue-- timeline for the climate finance--the US, UK, Australia, Singapore and Canada gave up dodging and agreed to put some
money in the loss and damage fund basket.

Earlier, the UN Chair- Poland minister Marcin Korolec and executive secretary of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) Christiana Figueres found it difficult to knit up the climate fabric as the countries kept demanding for redraft of the agreements on finance and emission targets.

After some three to five hours of hard bargain, the developing nations agreed to announce the emission targets in early 2015. That was a celebrating moment for the UN Chair because there is no text in the UNFCCC that has a word “all parties (countries)”. For all these years, only the rich nations had been asked to come up with targets. This was
the first time that all the countries, both the developing and developed nations, are on the same page.

Then came the finance drama. The rich nations were reluctant to give away money for the countries that suffer extreme weather events because of climate change. The rich nations, which have their pockets full of historical responsibilities, were obliged to give as they had polluted the earth since the 18th century with the industrialisation. The UN Chair announced a 15-minute huddle to arrive at a final conclusion on finance. The clock ticked on to over 50 minutes when the rich finally gave in and agreed to pay for the disasters.

The UN Chair immediately announced that loss and damage funds could be distributed from the current year itself. Philippines, which lost 5,000 lives in Typhoon Haiyaan just a fortnight back, took the opportunity and announced its application would be put up immediately. Source said Philippines climate change commissioner Yeb Sano, who
fasted for the last 13 days to observe solidarity with the people back home starving for food, broke the fast; and danced.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Philippines and India on the same platform : Yeb Sano, climate commissioner, filipino

YEB SANO, Philippines climate change commissioner

Warsaw, November 22: India and Philippines stand on the same platform in terms of cyclone damage, says, Philippine climate change commissioner Yeb Sano. Mr Yeb Sano has been fasting for the last 12
days to observe solidarity with the people in his country, who are struggling for food after the recent typhoon Haiyan. He stole the attention at the UN summit on the first day two weeks ago as the
cyclone killed more than 10,000 people.

Speaking to me about the final day of the climate change summit, Mr Yeb Sano said, “I came from my country after seeing huge devastation. Even now, several of my relatives and neighbours are yet to be traced.We were shattered and reached this summit with lots of hopes. As the talks have not reached any conclusion  till late evening of the final day, I am afraid for the outcome.”

He added that there was a glimmer of hope on funds for the loss and damage due to natural calamities in his country. “I am worried but still have a little bit of hope on this last day. In that case, I see India and my country standing on the same platform. Though the loss of lives might differ, both of us are on the same page,” he said.

Stating that developed nations should support poor countries, he said,“There are heated discussions but the talks are dragging. The loss and damage mechanism was accepted in the last Doha 2012 climate talks. I
think many rich countries favour delay."

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Rich countries dodging; Poor countries demanding

Warsaw, November 19: The developing countries including India have asked the developed nations to come out with timeline to provide the green climate fund (GCF)without any delay. There are expectations that they would urge the rich countries to provide at least a small percentage of the allotment before winding up the UN climate change summit in Warsaw. Negotiators said they do not want the Warsaw summit to end like yet another talk game. They said they would push the developed nations to finalise the road map for issuance of the GCF.

Speaking to me one of the negotiators of India said, “The whole game of providing US $100 as GCF by developed countries to developing nations before 2020 should not go on and on. We want them to arrive at road map of giving away the money. We will urge them to talk clearly about the allotment during this week.”

When asked about the proceedings in the last one week, negotiators said that the talks were not concrete. “We spent almost three to four hours everyday in seminars. But there was no light. As ministers from all countries would arrive in a day or two, we expect things to fall in place,” they said.

Key negotiator of India Ravid Shankar Prasad, joint secretary of union environment ministry said, “Developed countries want to delay the flow of funds for the loss and damage due to environmental calamities in developing countries. They want a separate window for the loss and damage funds. But the developing nations are very particular that there is no need for a new window. The funds could be given along with the GCF.” He added that opening a new window is time consuming process and there is need for that.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Vetiver to arrest flash floods in Bangladesh

Warsaw, November 17: For all these years Bangladeshi farmers only depended on concrete walls to protect them flash floods. But from now on, ‘Vetiver’ would arrest the floods and bring smiles on their faces. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will introduce our Vetiver in Bangladesh to tackle soil erosion in hilly areas.

The IFAD would invest US $ 15,000,000 under the livelihood protection project that also includes planting of vetiver in a big way in areas affected by flash floods. The project would be initiated as a means of protecting roads that traverse hillsides which are vulnerable and shatters the lives of thousands of people there.

In the report ‘The Economic benefits of preparing small-scale farmers for climate change’ IFAD experts said, “This deep-rooted grass variety has been found to be very effective slope protection option.” They said vetiver vegetation would be used to protect 20 earthern platforms which are instrumental for temporary paddy storage above flood waters in the villages.

IFAD targets 28 sub districts in Bangladesh which were selected on the basis of their exposure to climate risks and the prevalence of rural poverty. More than two lakh people are estimated to be benefitted by this project. They strongly believe that vetiver would be the right tool for soil sequestration and slope stabilization.

Speaking to DC over the phone from Rome, Roshan Cooke, Regional Climate and Environment Specialist for the Asia and Pacific Region said, “For several years concrete barriers were laid to protect villages from tides that sometimes raise even upto six meters. In case of Vetiver, its roots are deeper go upto 20 meters and would hold the soil intact. This grass is sturdy and would mitigate the tide action. We will plant vetiver around trees so as to break the initial impact of waves hitting the lands.”

He said that instead of spending for concrete, poor farmers could produce vetiver seedlings and use them as a cost effective measure to protect their neighbourhoods. “The government engineering department has also agreed to modify the norms to introduce vetiver to battle erosion instead of conventional cement barriers,” he said.

It can be remembered that after the recent landslide in Nilgiris in 2009, the Tamil Nadu state council for science and technology initiated a project to plant to vetiver to arrest soil erosion in the hill station. And vetiver saplings were planted on the Ooty-Kotagiri highway and the Oooty-Mettupalayam highway to bind the soil and
prevent further landslides.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Many more storms to visit India

Warsaw, November 13: India may suffer fewer storms than other peninsular nations but then, the Indian storms will be more devastating. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) on Wednesday in its ‘Provisional statement on status of climate in 2013’ said India could suffer more violent cyclones in the coming years, with severe flood disasters. “Although India has fewer cyclones than other ocean basins and the number is not expected to increase, when they do arrive, they will be far more devastating,” said the WMO scientists.

The report, released at the UN climate change conference here on Wednesday, confirmed that the sea level globally has reached a new high, thanks to indiscriminate attack on environment by greenhouse gas emissions. “Sea levels will continue to rise because of melting ice caps and glaciers. More than 90 per cent of the extra heat we are generating from greenhouse gas is absorbed by the oceans, which will consequently continue to warm and expand for hundreds of years”, it said.

Speaking to me on the sidelines of the report’s release, Dr Rupa Kumar Kolli, chief of the Climate Prediction and Adaptation Branch at the WMO said, “Just as Phailin evolved into the strongest storm in the North Indian basin since 1999, India may suffer fewer cyclones but then, all of them would be very intense.” He said in 2013 alone, a total of 86 storms were recorded across the globe till November whereas only 89 were seen during the previous three decades. “At the same time, the North Indian Ocean had a below-average season with only two tropical cyclones compared with the 1981-2010 average of four. But those storms were intense,” Dr Kolli said.

Deputy secretary Jerry Lengoasa of the WMO said, “What the science tells us is not that there will be more storms, but that the storms we get will be more violent.  ‘Perfect storms’ if we can call them that, like hurricane Sandy last year and typhoon Haiyan this year, will become normal occurrence”, he told me.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

India lost $591m to disasters

Pramila Krishnan 


A US Marine carries an injured woman who survived the Super Typhoon Haiyan in the central coastal city of Tacloban, as they disembark from a military cargo plane on Tuesday. The UN launched an appeal for a third of a billion dollars on November 12 as US and UK warships steamed towards the typhoon-ravaged Philippines where well over 10,000 people are feared dead. — AFP

Warsaw: India stands 46th among the 195 countries which were assessed for global climate change risk. The rankings were released on Tuesday at the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) in Warsaw.
According to this global report, India has suffered losses to the tune of $591.28 millions in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2012 alone due to climate change problems.
The report highlights that all the top 10 worst affected countries were the least developed countries. The top three were island nation Haiti, the Philippines and  Pakistan.
The index was calculated based on the impacts of weather-related loss events from 1993 to 2012 in all countries. For example, losses in tragedies like the tsunami and cylone Thane that affected Puducherry and the recent Uttarakhand flash floods have been computed using the adjusted value.
PPP is a mathematical formula, which economists use to create parity between two currencies to make them compared. In simple terms, purchasing power parity could be called as adjusted value.
Releasing the report, Sonke Kreft and David Eckstein said, “This index is an analysis based on one of the most reliable data sets available on the impacts of extreme weather events and associated socio economic data. More than 5,30,000 people have died as a direct result of almost 15,000 extreme weather events.”
They mentioned that many developing countries are already taking measures in preparation for climate related disasters, promoting as well as implementing adaptation.