"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and the freedom to communicate opinions and expressions in a manner that is not contrary to any tenet of Islam" - Article 27 - Constitution of the Republic of Maldives … [THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS BLOG ARE MY OWN] … 'Kratos Demos' ...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Heroes of the Environment 2009, TIMES MAGAZINE

Mohamed Nasheed


The fishermen of the Maldives once referred to their Indian Ocean archipelago as the "land of emergence and submergence." The tidal currents that swirl within the country's atolls regularly shift whole beaches of sand from one side of a cove to another, swallowing and spitting out coral and rock. But by the end of this century, according to various scientific projections, the low-lying Maldives may slip below the waters entirely.

The man hoping to turn the tide is Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed. Since coming to power last year in an election that ended a three-decade-long dictatorship, Nasheed, 42, has championed the fight against climate change. His tiny nation of fewer than 400,000 souls has become a symbol both of what's at stake, and what we can do to change it. Rising sea levels, the consequence of more than a century of industrial growth, may not be the Maldives' fault, but it is the Maldives' problem. What happens to these islands in the coming years, experts suggest, could indicate what will happen to coastal regions across the globe. "We are on the world's front line," Nasheed tells TIME. "And, in a sense, we are its only hope."

In March, his government announced that the Maldives would, within 10 years, become the world's first ever fully carbon-neutral nation with an array of eco-energy projects. Tourists will have to fork out a daily green tax. Environmentalists are hailing Nasheed as a climate-change standard bearer ahead of crucial talks in Copenhagen in December. "We want to shift the global debate from apathy to action," trumpeted the Maldivian President during a speech he delivered to the British House of Commons on July 6.

Time is fast running out. At huge public cost, the previous regime of octogenarian Maumoon Abdul Gayoom erected a system of ugly concrete bulwarks and seawalls around some of the country's major population centers. That project, imposed against the wishes of local islanders, has failed, and in some areas it has accelerated land erosion and killed stretches of once pristine coral reef.

Nasheed says his government will focus on how the archipelago's complex web of natural defenses — in particular, those coral reefs — may themselves adapt and mitigate the effects of rising waters and changes in ocean temperatures. Reefs helped save the country from the devastating 2005 tsunami by absorbing the brunt of the powerful earthquake-triggered wave. With the backing of the University of Milan, the government will set up a marine-research center. Says Nasheed: "We can show the world how protecting reefs is the first step to protecting man, the trees and the land."

Still, Nasheed knows that the day could come when no trees or land remain. Soon after taking office, he announced a plan for a sovereign wealth fund to finance the purchase of land, perhaps in a larger country such as Australia or India, that might serve as a new home for the entire Maldivian population. Nasheed is clearheaded about the stark reality facing small island nations in the coming century. Buying land is the Maldives' insurance policy. "We don't want to leave," he says. "But we don't want to see our children and grandchildren in tents as refugees either."

'I walk to work every day, rather than take the presidential limousine. It's better for the environment and I can stop and chat to people on the way.'— Mohamed Nasheed

TAKEN FROM:http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1924149_1924152_1924195,00.html

Friday, September 25, 2009

President Mohamed Nasheed's address to the UN GENARAL ASSEMBLY!!!

President Mohamed Nasheed's address to the UN GENARAL ASSEMBLY!!!

Mr. President, Mr Secretary-General, Excellencies, and Distinguished Delegates:

UNpre400speakMay I begin by extending to you, Mr President, my delegation’s warmest congratulations on your election to preside over the Sixty-fourth Session of the General Assembly. I assure you of the full support and cooperation of my delegation.

May I also take this opportunity, to offer our most profound appreciation to your predecessor, His Excellency Mr Miguel Brockmann, for the exemplary manner in which he guided the work of the Sixty-third Session.

Allow me also to offer my delegation’s heartfelt gratitude to Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, for his inspiring leadership and dedication in promoting the noble principles and ideals of this Organisation.

Mr President,

This is the first statement to the General Assembly of a democratically-elected President of the Maldives.

I am extremely pleased to be here.

I have spent many of the past General Assembly sessions locked in a hot, humid, damp cell with my hands shackled and my feet bound; imprisoned for my conviction that the 300,000 people of the Maldives should be free from fear, free from want and free to live their lives in liberty and in dignity.

Mr President:

I would like to thank the international community for their invaluable support in helping secure our democratic transition. Reformers in the Maldives and our friends in the United Nations should feel justifiably proud that our island home was able to mark last year’s first International Day of Democracy in the best possible way – by throwing-off a thirty year-old autocracy and securing a smooth, peaceful and democratic transfer of power.

Just as the international community, played a key role in securing the Maldives’ democratic transition, so, I hope, it will play a role in the even more difficult task of making sure our democracy becomes a permanent feature rather than a passing illusion. All of us who care about the Maldives and believe in democracy bear an enormous responsibility to ensure that the beliefs we fought for are set in stone rather than written in sand.

Mr President,

There are three areas in which the Maldives seeks the help of the international community.

The first is continued collaboration in democracy-building. We must work together to strengthen the various pillars of a democratic society, namely human rights protection, good governance, independent oversight bodies, the free press, and civil society.

The Maldives has made enormous progress across these pillars, but much remains to be done. My sense is that the necessary foundations are now in place.

Separation of powers has been established by constitutional reform. A range of independent agencies and commissions have now been set-up. We have a thriving independent media. Nevertheless, several crucial challenges still remain and we look forward to the support of the international community as we move to meet these challenges.

Mr President,

The second way in which the international community can help consolidate democracy and rule of law in the Maldives is by promoting a conducive economic environment. As a small and open market economy heavily dependent on tourism and fishery exports, the Maldives has suffered badly from the current global recession. Moreover, since assuming office, it has become clear to us that in the run-up to last year’s election, the former Government engaged in highly irresponsible economic policies in the hope of buying their way to victory. Add to this picture our continued efforts to recovery from the 2004 Tsunami, our impending graduation from the Least Developed Country category, and the high oil and food prices of recent years, and the scale of the economic challenge facing the new Government becomes apparent.

The new Government is determined to confront this challenge with honesty and with vigour. In consultation with the IMF and the World Bank, we have embarked on a programme of major economic reform designed to reduce the bloated public sector, privatise public utilities and promote private enterprise and trade. Yet the scale of the problems we face mean we cannot succeed on our own. We therefore look to you, our friends in the international community, to help us get back onto our feet. We are very grateful for the support extended to us by the IMF and the Indian Government to name but two. However, more is needed if democracy and human rights are to coexist with economic stability and prosperity.

Mr President,

The third way in which the international community can and must help the Maldives consolidate democracy and establish a secure, prosperous and equitable society, is by taking urgent and effective action to tackle global climate change.

The threats posed to the Maldives from climate change are well-known. Every beach lost to rising seas, every house lost to storm surges, every reef lost to the increasingly warm waters, every job lost as fish stocks dwindle, and every life lost to more frequent extreme weather events will make it harder and harder to govern the country until a point is reached when we must consider abandoning our homeland

I therefore call on you, the leaders of the world, to protect the future of front-line countries like the Maldives by reaching an ambitious and effective agreement at December’s UNFCCC conference in Copenhagen which seeks to limit average global temperature increases to less than 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels.

To do otherwise would be to sign the death warrant for the 300,000 Maldivians.

But, the Maldives is determined to do what we can to survive. We are going to be the first country to go carbon-neutral in 10 years time. In order to do that, we are determined to formulate a survival-kit, a carbon-neutral manual that would enable others to replicate in order that all of us together might just about save ourselves from climate catastrophe.

As part of our efforts to achieve a unified voice, I will be inviting some of the most vulnerable states affected by climate change to the Maldives. We hope that this November summit will reinforce our determination to leave no stone unturned to ensure our survival.

Mr President,

I would like to now touch on a number of other important issues which are of enormous concern to us.

Mr President

The Maldives abhors terrorism in all its forms and is determined to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all countries in facing down this menace. Events over the past year in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, our neighbours and partners in South Asia, show us that victory in this fight will not be easily achieved. They also show us that to effectively tackle terrorism, we must reaffirm not dilute our commitment to human rights, democracy, rule of law and good governance.

Mr President,

While we applaud recent efforts to reform and revitalise the United Nations, we believe that such reforms cannot be successful or complete without the much-anticipated and much-need reform of the Security Council. We firmly believe that the third round of intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform must produce tangible results. I call upon the Assembly to complete this task during the 64th session, and agree on the increase of both permanent and non-permanent membership of the Council. In terms of composition, we believe that the geopolitical realities of the contemporary world must be duly reflected in the membership of Council. As such, we support the inclusion of India and Japan as Permanent Members of the Security Council.

Mr President,

The new Government of the Maldives is determined to pursue friendly, and mutually respectful relations with every country represented in this room.

However, any friendship must include a willingness to be frank with one another and to object to behaviour not befitting of a sovereign State. We believe dialogue and constructive engagement serve the cause of peace better than ostracism and isolation.

The new government in the Maldives will look to renew relations with Israel and to use the relationship to reiterate our support for an independent and sovereign Palestinian homeland, in conformity with the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.

Mr President,

The Maldives is seeking election to the United Nations Human Rights Council during the current session of the General Assembly. We are doing so because we firmly believe in the universality of human rights and its critical importance to achieving the noble goals of the UN Charter.

Standing at this podium, I must admit how, as a prisoner, I was inspired by the courage and vision of Aung Sang Suu Kyi of Burma. Today, I would like to echo the call of the Secretary-General for her immediate and unconditional release along with all other political prisoners.

I also reiterate my strident support for the work assigned to Mr Ibrahim Gambari, the UN Special Envoy to Burma, and say a prayer to political prisoners everywhere.

Mr President,

In conclusion, I must say that the most critical test so far of the resoluteness of the international community to save itself will come during your watch as President of this assembly: the Copenhagen meeting in December. We must prime ourselves to succeed at that conference. Between now and then, Mr. President, we must all use every opportunity, every debate, every encounter to achieve that goal. It is imperative that we succeed.

If we want to save the world, saving the Maldives I suggest is a very good starting point.

I, thank you, Mr President.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

UN talks fail to set climate target


Some had hoped China's Hu, centre, would point the way forward for action on climate change [AFP]

China has pledged to put a "notable" brake on its rapidly rising carbon emissions, but disappointed those hoping for a firm numerical commitment.

Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that Beijing would pledge to cut "carbon intensity", or the amount of carbon dioxide produced for each dollar of economic output, over the decade to 2020.

His promise is a landmark because China has previously rejected rich nations' demands for measurable curbs on its emissions, arguing that economic development must come first while millions of its citizens still live in poverty.

But the leader of the world's biggest emitter dashed hopes that he would unveil a hard target to kickstart stalled climate talks due to be reconvened in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December aimed at negotiating a broader climate pact to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Room to manoeuvre

Hu said only that carbon intensity would come down "by a notable margin by 2020 from the 2005 levels", which still leaves Beijing and other major emitters room to manoeuvre before the talks.

Rich nations are likely to come under further pressure at the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh later this week to commit to dramatic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

In depth

Incidences of heat waves and droughts are on the increase and there has been an acceleration in the melting of glaciers and the recession of the Greenland ice sheet, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said earlier this week.

Tim Flannery, the chairman of the Copenhagen Climate Council and professor at Sydney's Macquarie University, told Al Jazeera that there are "a large number of people who are disappointed" with the lack of substantive progress at Tuesday's climate summit.

"This day really should have been a day of triumph for climate diplomacy ... we would have hoped for great progress, but on the surface at least, I think, it appears that progress has been quite limited," he said from New York.

Commenting on China's pledge, he said "it is a positive step but a 'notable margin' is not something you can measure".

Todd Stern, the US special envoy on climate change and one of the most vocal critics of China's emissions policy, said he "didn't hear new initiatives so much" in Hu's speech.

"It depends on what the number is and he didn't indicate the extent to which those reductions would be made," he said.

New target pledged

But Xie Zhenhua, China's most senior environment official, later said China would soon unveil a target, based on projections that by 2020 it will double its use of renewable energy and dramatically cut energy use per dollar of GDP.

"After further study and discussion, we should be able to announce a target soon," he said in New York.

Flannery said Hu and Barack Obama, the US president, both "offered rhetoric, they offered promise, but not substantial, documented, commitment and that's what we need at this stage".

While stressing that "we have a long way to go yet", Flannery said the UN climate summit "has been significant".

"One of the great things that's happened at this meeting I think, is the creation of a peer group of world leaders who have experienced that dialogue between each other in a frank and direct way and that, we hope, will pay off in Copenhagen."

Al Gore, the Nobel peace laureate and climate campaigner, praised China for "impressive leadership" and said Hu's goals pointed to more action.

"They are very important and we've had ... indications that in the event there is dramatic progress in this negotiation, that China will be prepared to do even more," he said.

However, Hu made clear that China had high expectations from the rest of the world, repeating a long-standing call for more support in moving away from dirty growth.

Backed by India and other developing nations, China argues that rich nations emit more per person and enjoyed an emissions-intensive industrialisation, so they have no right to demand others do differently - unless they are willing to pay for it.

"Developed countries should take up their responsibility and provide new, additional, adequate and predictable financial support to developing countries," Hu said.

Obama, in his address, urged the world to address climate change now or suffer an "irreversible catastrophe".

"Our generation's response to this challenge will be judged by history, for if we fail to meet it - boldly, swiftly, and together - we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe... The time we have to reverse this tide is running out," he said in his first speech at the UN.

'Morally inexcusable'

Echoing Obama's words, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, said failure to reach a new treaty this year on fighting global warming would be "morally inexcusable".

He called on presidents, prime ministers and other leaders "to accelerate the pace of negotiations and to strengthen the ambition of what is on offer" for a deal at Copenhagen in December.

"Failure to reach broad agreement in Copenhagen would be morally inexcusable, economically short-sighted and politically unwise," Ban said.

"The science demands it. The world economy needs it."

Smaller island nations again warned that their livelihoods would vanish if the world's major polluters could not reach a deal that stopped global temperatures from rising.

Mohamed Nasheed, president of the small Indian Ocean country of Maldives that fears being submerged by rising sea levels, said: "Once the rhetoric has settled and the delegates have drifted away, the sympathy fades, the indignation cools and the world carries on as before.

"A few months later, we come back and repeat the charade."


22 September 2009
Meetings Coverage

Mohamed Nasheed , the President of Maldives spoke after the speech given by Barrack Obama, The President of the United states of America.

MOHAMED NASHEED, President of the Republic of the Maldives, said that, as a small island nation, the Maldives desperately wanted to believe that one day its repeated warnings over the past 20 years concerning the threat of climate change would have an effect. The country would continue to shout about the dangers of climate change, even though, deep down, it knew that the international community was not really listening. Today, the Maldives would play its allotted role as the world’s conscience on global warming, but it would allay that role with an equally determined effort to explain why it was in the interest of all nations to move forward.

The solution to the current political deadlock on climate change was very simple, he continued. Developed nations had to acknowledge their historic responsibility for global warming and accept binding emission reduction targets. The developing world had to be ready to accept binding emission reduction targets under the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, as long as the rich nations provided the tools, the technology and finance, to reform the developing world’s economic base and pursue carbon-neutral development, he said.

“If it is so simple, then why are we not doing it?” he asked. The absence of action was caused by three principal reasons. First, Governments still believed that climate change had to incur an economic cost, or a relative disadvantage. Yet, the reverse was true, as oil ran out and became more expensive and clean technologies and renewable energy became more efficient. The second reason was the lack of trust between the countries, especially between developed and developing countries. But, the threat posed by climate change was so acute and the science so clear that horse-trading and brinkmanship had to be left in the past. The third reason for the absence of action was that the Kyoto Protocol was primarily about what countries cannot do, rather than what they could do. A positive agenda focusing on the actions nations could take might provide a better alternative, he said. That was why the Maldives recently announced its intention to become carbon neutral by 2020, and was creating a national strategy to put the political commitment into practice.

The Maldives was determined to break old habits and would no longer be content to shout about the perils of climate change. Instead, its acute vulnerability provided a clarity of vision to understand how the problem could be solved and the courage to lead by example. He asked the assembled world leaders to discard the habits that had led to 20 years of complacency and broken promises on climate change, and seize the historic opportunity waiting in Copenhagen.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Collective action must be at heart of climate change response – Ban Ki-moon

Collective action must be at heart of climate change response – Ban Ki-moon

21 September 2009 – On the eve of the largest-ever gathering of world leaders on the issue of climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today underscored the urgent need for collective action to save the planet.

Kicking off the first-ever “Climate Week NY°C,” Mr. Ban called on civil society, faith groups, businesses and governments to join forces to combat climate change.

“Your collective efforts are vital for generating greater public awareness on climate change,” he said at the event also attended by former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Tomorrow's summit , which is expected to be attended by some 100 heads of State and government, seeks to mobilize political momentum to “accelerate the pace of negotiations and help strengthen the ambition of what is on offer,” said the Secretary-General.

United States President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao are among the world leaders who will address the opening session of the gathering tomorrow.

It will also feature a UN Leadership Forum Luncheon – to be addressed by former US Vice-President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore – which will mark the first time that global political leaders, as well as top business and civil society officials, will meet on such a large scale at the UN.

While not a negotiating session, the summit will allow world leaders to engage in direct discussions in small roundtable discussions, each co-chaired by a leader from a developing and developed country.

The Secretary-General today also reiterated his call for governments to 'seal the deal' on an ambitious new agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions this December in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The deal reached in the Danish capital later this year would go into effect when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012.

“A climate agreement will not just safeguard the environment,” Mr. Ban, who visited the Arctic ice rim where he saw first-hand the devastating effects of climate change on the glaciers, emphasized. “It can help to fundamentally shift our world toward a greener economy.”

But any new agreement, he said in remarks to the Alliance of Small Island Developing States, must” include a comprehensive, robust adaptation package. This is critical.”

Although these nations are renowned for their beauty, many are unaware of their vulnerability to natural hazards, the Secretary-General noted.

“You are among those States most exposed to inevitable climate impacts such as rising sea levels, more severe storms, floods and extreme weather,” he said. “Your vulnerability is acute.”

In some cases, he pointed out, these nations' very existence is at risk, voicing his support for their plea for urgent global action.

“A deal for the climate must also be a deal for development,” Mr. Ban underscored, calling for greater attention to be paid to reducing disaster risks and boost the resilience of ecosystems.

Also essential are effective action on both the adaptation and mitigation front to raise millions of people out of poverty's clutches, he said.

“Now more than ever,” the Secretary-General said, “we need head of State leadership if the world is to cross the finish line in Copenhagen” and reach an “equitable, effective and comprehensive global solution.”

Monday, September 21, 2009



The UN-led Seal the Deal Campaign aims to galvanize political will and public support for reaching a comprehensive global climate agreement in Copenhagen in December.

Climate change affects us all. Nine out of every ten disasters recorded are now climate related. Rising temperatures and more frequent floods, droughts and storms affect millions of people’s lives. This is set against a backdrop of financial and food insecurity.

On December 7, governments will gather in Copenhagen, Denmark to respond to one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. The main question will be how protect the planet and create a green economy that will lead to long-term prosperity

Reaching a deal by the time the meeting ends on December 18 will depend not only on complex political negotiations, but also on public pressure from around the globe.

The United Nations has launched “Seal the Deal” campaign that encourages users to sign an online, global petition which will be presented by civil society to governments of the world.

The petition will serve as a reminder that our leaders must negotiate a fair, balanced and effective agreement in Copenhagen, and that they must seal a deal to power green growth, protect our planet and build a more sustainable, prosperous global economy that will benefit all nations and people



Saturday, September 12, 2009

President Maumoon...


"We believe that climate change must be viewed not only as a danger to natural systems, but also as a direct threat to human survival and well-being. We are convinced that this negotiation process must not be viewed as a traditional series of governmental trade-offs, but as an urgent international effort to safeguard human lives, homes, rights and livelihoods."

Maldives' 10-year carbon neutral plan

TUESDAY, JULY 07, 2009

Climate Change: World's Top Security Challenge - President Nasheed


President Nasheed called on Commonwealth countries to unite to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, warning that climate change is the "greatest security and human rights challenge of the 21st Century."

Addressing 250 Commonwealth parliamentarians gathered at the British parliament in London on Monday morning, President Nasheed urged Commonwealth nations to take the lead in cutting carbon dioxide emissions, responsible for global warming and associated sea level rise.

"In every battle you have a frontline. And in the climate change battle, the Maldives is a frontline state. Maldivians have lived in these islands for 2,000 years and we don't want to trade paradise for an environmental refugee camp. But climate change not only threatens the Maldives it threatens us all. What happens to the Maldives today happens to other countries tomorrow."

President Nasheed said world leaders must reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to avoid a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius:
"The science is no longer in doubt. Carbon pollution, left unchecked, will wreak global climate catastrophe. We must slash greenhouse gas emissions and control the climate before we reach the two degree tipping point. If warming rises over two degrees, the battle may well have been lost. The stakes are as high as they come. If we lose this battle, we lose most of life on Earth. We must act; and act decisively," the President said in a stirring address.

President Nasheed said he felt large, developing nations can be part of the "climate solution" as long as Western governments are prepared to help pay for clean development, based on renewable electricity generation.

The President also called for reforms to the international political architecture, to help place large developing nations at the centre of a climate change solution. The President specifically called on the United Nations Security Council to accept India and Brazil as permanent members.

The President reiterated his belief that climate change is also "fundamentally a human rights issue because it threatens fundamental human rights."

"Already climate change is killing some 300,000 people a year, according to Kofi Annan's think tank the Global Humanitarian Forum," the President added.

President Nasheed said the Maldives' 10-year carbon neutral plan made good economic sense, as Maldivian schools and hospitals are spending large proportions of their budgets on diesel power generation.

The President also said he hoped other countries would emulate the Maldives' plan and adopt carbon neutral targets of their own.

OBAMA... and Environment!!

Q: What would you do for the environment?

OBAMA: It is critical that we understand this is not just a challenge, it’s an opportunity, because if we create a new energy economy, we can create five million new jobs, easily. It can be an engine that drives us into the future the same way the computer was the engine for economic growth over the last couple of decades. We can do it, but we’re going to have to make an investment. The same way the computer was originally invented by a bunch of government scientists who were trying to figure out, for defense purposes, how to communicate, we’ve got to understand that this is a national security issue, as well.

McCAIN: We can move forward, and clean up our climate, and develop green technologies, and alternative energies for battery-powered cars, so that we can clean up our environment and at the same time get our economy going by creating millions of jobs.

Source: 2008 second presidential debate against John McCain Oct 7, 2008

"All across the world, in every kind of environment and region known to man, increasingly dangerous weather patterns and devastating storms are abruptly putting an end to the long-running debate over whether or not climate change is real. Not only is it real, it's here, and its effects are giving rise to a frighteningly new global phenomenon: the man-made natural disaster."

"Today we're seeing that climate change is about more than a few unseasonably mild winters or hot summers. It's about the chain of natural catastrophes and devastating weather patterns that global warming is beginning to set off around the world.. the frequency and intensity of which are breaking records thousands of years old."

"The issue of climate change is one that we ignore at our own peril. There may still be disputes about exactly how much we're contributing to the warming of the earth's atmosphere and how much is naturally occurring, but what we can be scientifically certain of is that our continued use of fossil fuels is pushing us to a point of no return. And unless we free ourselves from a dependence on these fossil fuels and chart a new course on energy in this country, we are condemning future generations to global catastrophe."


27 January 2009

Obama Makes Climate Change a National Priority

U.S. technical agencies prepare to help regions understand local effects

Stern at podium, Clinton nearby applauding (State Dept.)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton names Todd Stern as the new special envoy for climate change January 26.

This is the first article in a series about steps to address the effects of climate change at regional and local levels.

Washington — Climate change is a planetary process, but its effects — sea level rise, shrinking glaciers, changes in plant and animal distribution, early-blooming trees, permafrost thaws — are regional and local.

Some of the effects are already occurring, and the newly installed Obama administration, in power for just more than a week, is moving fast to put the United States in a leadership position to work with nations of the world and meet the challenges of climate change and energy security.

On January 26, President Obama signed two related presidential memorandums. In what he called “a down payment on a broader and sustained effort to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Obama directed the Department of Transportation to establish higher fuel efficiency standards for carmakers’ 2011 model year.

The second memo directed the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider a petition by California to set more stringent limits for greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles than those set by the federal government. (See “Obama Sets Bold New Principles for U.S. Energy, Climate Policies.”)


On the same day, at the U.S. State Department, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduced Todd Stern as the nation’s new special envoy for climate change.

“With the appointment today of a special envoy,” Clinton said, “we are sending an unequivocal message that the United States will be energetic, focused, strategic and serious about addressing global climate change and the corollary issue of clean energy.”

Stern will serve as a principal adviser on international climate policy and strategy and as the administration’s chief climate negotiator. He will lead U.S. efforts in U.N. negotiations and will be a lead participant in developing climate and clean energy policy.

“Containing climate change will require nothing less than transforming the global economy from a high-carbon [dioxide] to a low-carbon energy base,” said Stern, who in the 1990s coordinated the Clinton administration’s climate change efforts and was senior White House representative at U.N. climate negotiations in Kyoto, Japan, and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“President Obama and Secretary Clinton have left no doubt,” he said, “that a new day is dawning in the U.S. approach to climate change and clean energy.”


Man walking on dry lake bed (AP Images)
This dry reservoir bed of the Hondo de Elche reserve near Alicante, Spain, is normally filled with water.

Climate change often is described as an event that will bring catastrophe to Earth’s inhabitants in the distant future.

But every nation’s farmers, coastal dwellers, emergency planners and government officials already have experienced the bleeding edge of changing climate — rising air and sea-surface temperatures, shrinking arctic ice, lower crop yields, dwindling forests, intense hurricanes and unrelenting droughts.

There is no shortage of evidence that the planet faces a climate crisis, but there is a severe shortage of one thing that will help villages, towns, cities and regions protect themselves and their ecosystems against the long-term effects of a climate in flux: information.

“Our understanding [of climate change] has primarily been at the global level,” William Brennan, former administrator of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told America.gov. “That’s where we can see the signal.”

Much more work needs to be done, he said, “to scale that down to the regional and ultimately to the local level. That’s where we need the facilities of something like a National Climate Service, not only to provide information, but to receive data and turn it into information.”


Weather is the day-to-day state of the atmosphere and its short-term (minutes to weeks) variation, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. Climate is statistical weather information that describes weather variation at a given place averaged over a longer period, usually 30 years.

NOAA’s National Weather Service provides weather, hydrologic and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories and ocean areas. Weather Service data and products form a national information database and infrastructure that is available to other governmental agencies, the private sector, the public and the global community.

NOAA also has an operational mandate to monitor and predict climate, Chet Koblinsky, director of NOAA’s Climate Program Office, told America.gov.

With NOAA in the lead, a proposed climate service partnership would include federal agencies like NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Forest Service and many others.

NOAA also would collaborate with academic and private organizations.

“We don’t have all the capability,” Koblinsky said. “The best climate service will be one that draws on the full capabilities of the nation.”

NOAA and its partners are discussing the potential capabilities and products of such a new service.

Read more: http://www.america.gov/st/energy-english/2009/January/20090127161856lcnirellep9.743899e-02.html#ixzz0Qq2k5iHP
Democratic Nominee Obama Vows to Defeat Climate Change
DENVER, Colorado, August 29, 2008 (ENS) - Climate change has made Senator Barack Obama's list of "threats of the 21st century" alongside terrorism and nuclear proliferation, poverty, genocide, and disease.

Accepting the Democratic nomination for president Thursday night before 75,000 supporters at Denver's Invesco Field, Obama said he would "build new partnerships" to defeat these threats.

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois is the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.(Photo courtesy DNCC)
"And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president - in 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East," he declared.

"Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last 30 years, and John McCain has been there for 26 of them," said the senator from Illinois of his Republican opponent.

"In that time, he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office."

"Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close," said Obama.

"As president," he promised, "I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power.

"I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America," he said. "I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars."

Obama accepts the nomination with a smile.(Photo by Pat Kight)

"And I'll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy - wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced."

Obama has won the support of many environmentalists for his climate and energy plans.

In a scorecard comparing Obama's energy policies with those of his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Sierra Club last week came out clearly in favor of Obama.

"Both candidates are talking about energy, high prices and global warming, so it's important to look past the rhetoric and see what is at the heart of their plans," said Cathy Duvall, Sierra Club political director.

"As this scorecard illustrates, the contrast in this election could not be starker," she said. "Barack Obama wants to give tax relief and $1,000 energy rebates to working families, while John McCain wants billions more in tax breaks for oil companies making more than $1,000 a second in profits."

Some 75,000 Democrats packed Invesco Field for the nomination ceremony.
The League of Conservation Voters said Wednesday that Obama has a "proven record as an environmental champion" and found 10 reasons to support his candidacy.

Speaking tonight in support of the newly selected Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Al Gore described the choice facing American voters as one that will determine the fate of the planet.

He spoke from experience, having run for the presidency in 2000 and won the popular vote only to watch as the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the vote counting in Florida, in effect handing the White House to his opponent, George W. Bush.

"That's why I came here tonight: to tell you why I feel so strongly that we must seize this opportunity to elect Barack Obama president of the United States of America," said Gore.

"Take it from me, if it had ended differently," Gore told the crowd, "we would not be denying the climate crisis; we'd be solving it."

But today, Gore said, "We are facing a planetary emergency, which, if not solved, would exceed anything we've ever experienced in the history of humankind."

"We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the future of human civilization," said Gore. "Every bit of that has to change."

Gore, who shares the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for doing his utmost to warn the world about global warming, delivered a searing picture of potential climate disaster tonight.

Former Vice President Al Gore addresses fellow Democrats in Denver. August 28, 2008

"Many scientists predict - shockingly - that the entire North Polar ice cap may be completely gone during summer months during the first term of the next president," he said.

"Sea levels are rising; fires are raging; storms are stronger. Military experts warn us our national security is threatened by massive waves of climate refugees destabilizing countries around the world, and scientists tell us the very web of life is endangered by unprecedented extinctions," Gore warned.

The former vice president, who served in the Senate with McCain as president pro tem during the Clinton administration and before that as a senator from Tennessee, told the crowd tonight, "In spite of John McCain's past record of open-mindedness and leadership on the climate crisis, he has now apparently allowed his party to browbeat him into abandoning his support of mandatory caps on global warming pollution."

Gore said Obama will be a president who inspires America to believe we can use the sun, the wind, geothermal power, conservation and efficiency to solve the climate crisis.

By contrast, he said "the carbon fuels industry - big oil and coal - have a 50-year lease on the Republican Party, and they are drilling it for everything it's worth."

At the White House today, presidential spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters that President Bush believes the Obama nomination shows "that America is the best country on Earth and a place where everybody, if they work hard, can achieve great things."

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...