Nations close ranks to stop ‘big four’ oil producers watering down UN report

By Sara Stefanini and Karl Mathiesen in Katowice, Poland

In a moment of drama in Poland, countries have closed ranks against a push by oil producers to water down recognition of the UN’s report on the impacts of 1.5C warming.

Four big oil and gas producers blocked the UN climate talks from welcoming the most influential climate science report in years, as the meeting in Katowice descended into acrimony yesterday.

By failing to reach agreement after two and half hours of emotional negotiations, delegates in Katowice set the scene for a political fight next week over the importance of the UN’s landmark scientific report on the effects of a 1.5C rise in the global temperature.

READ MORE: 12 activists denied entry to Poland for UN climate summit

The battle, halfway through a fortnight of Cop24 negotiations, was over two words: “note” or “welcome”.

Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia said it was enough for the members of the UN climate convention (the UNFCCC) to “note” the findings.

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But poor and undeveloped countries, small island states, Pacific nations, Europeans and many others called to change the wording to “welcome” the study – noting that they had commissioned it when they reached the Paris climate agreement in 2015.

“This is not a choice between one word and another,” Rueanna Haynes, a delegate for St Kitts and Nevis, told the plenary.

‘This is us’
“This is us, as the UNFCCC, being in a position to welcome a report that we requested, that we invited [scientists] to prepare. So it seems to me that if there is anything ludicrous about the discussion that is taking place, it is that we in this body are not in a position to welcome the report.”

The four opposing countries argued the change was not necessary. Saudi Arabia threatened to block the entire discussion if others pushed to change the single word – and warned that it would disrupt the last stretch of negotiations between ministers next week.

The aim of the Cop24 climate summit is to agree a dense set of technical rules to underpin the Paris Agreement’s goals for limiting global warming to well below 2C, and ideally 1.5C, by the end of the century.

The scientific report was published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October. It found that limiting global warming to 1.5C, rather than below 2C, could help avoid some of the worst effects of climate change, and potentially save vulnerable regions such as low-lying Pacific islands and coastal villages in the Arctic.

But it also made clear that the world would have to slash greenhouse gases by about 45 percent by 2030.

Before the plenary on Saturday, the UN’s climate chief Patricia Espinosa said she hoped to see countries “really welcoming and highlighting the importance of this report… Even if the IPCC is very clear in saying how difficult it will be to achieve that goal, it still says it is possible”.

The US, which raised doubts about the science behind the report before it was finalised, said on Saturday that it would accept wording that noted the IPCC’s findings – while stressing that that “does not imply endorsement” of its contents.

Russia said “it is enough just to note it”, rather than welcoming the report, while Kuwait said it was happy with the wording as it stood.

Plenary push
The push in the plenary to change the wording to “welcome” began with the Maldives, which chairs the alliance of small island states. It was quickly backed by a wide range of countries and groups, including the EU, the bloc of 47 least developed countries, the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean, African countries, Norway (another large oil and gas producer), Argentina, Switzerland, Nepal, Bhutan, Marshall Islands, Belize and South Korea.

Negotiators huddled with the plenary meeting’s chair, Paul Watkinson, for nearly an hour to try and work out a compromise.

But Watkinson’s suggestion – welcoming the “efforts” of the IPCC experts and noting the “importance of the underlying research” – fell flat.

Delegates from Latin America, small islands, Europe, New Zealand, Canada, Africa and elsewhere argued it was not enough to highlight the work that went into the report, it needed to address the findings.

Watkinson said he was disappointed that they could not agree. But a negotiator said the talks would continue: “This is a prelude to a huge fight next week,” when ministers arrive in Poland. It will be up to the Polish hosts to find a place for the report’s findings in the final outcome of the talks.

Wording that welcomes, rather than notes, the 1.5C report should be the bare minimum, Belize negotiator Carlos Fuller told Climate Home News. However, “the oil producing countries recognise that if the international community takes it on board, it means a massive change in the use of fossil fuels”, he said. “From the US point of view, this is the Trump administration saying ‘we do not believe the climate science’.”

‘Won the fight’
Fuller added: “In my opinion we have won the fight, because the headline tomorrow will be: the UNFCCC cannot agree the IPCC report’, and people will say ‘Why, what’s in the report?’ and go and look.”

The 1.5C science wasn’t the only divisive issue after a week of Cop24 talks, with countries still mostly holding their ground on the Paris Agreement’s rulebook.

Contentious decisions related to the transparency of reporting emissions and the make up of national climate plans have all been refined, but ultimately kicked to the higher ministerial level. Several observers raised the concern that some unresolved issues may be too technical for ministers to debate with adequate expertise.

Financial aid is still contentious issue. The rules on how and what developed countries must report on their past and planned funding, and the extent to which emerging economies are urged to do the same, remains largely up for debate.

In a further moment of drama on Saturday afternoon, Africa stood firm as UN officials tried to finalise a draft of the rules that will govern the deal. Africa’s representative Mohamed Nasr said the continent could not accept the deal as it was presented, forcing the text to be redrafted on the plenary floor.

“You can’t bully Africa, it’s 54 countries,” said one negotiator, watching from the plenary floor.

The change will mean new proposals to be made to the text next week. That would allow African ministers to attempt to strengthen a major climate fund dedicated to helping countries adapt to climate change and push for less strict measures for developing countries.

‘Voicing our concerns’
“We have been voicing our concerns, maybe the co-chairs in their attempt to seek a balanced outcome they overlooked some of the stuff. So we are saying that we are not going to stop the process but we need to make sure that our views are included,” Nasr told CHN.

Mohamed Adow, a campaigner with Christian Aid, said the African intervention had “saved the process” by ensuring that dissatisfied countries could still have their issues heard.

“It’s actually much better than it’s ever been in this process at this stage,” he said. “Because this is the end of the first week and ministers have been provided with clear options. Of course nothing is closed but the options are actually narrower.”

This article is republished with permission from Climate Home News.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pioneering NZ Pacific research initiative to make ‘reset’ change

Keynote speakers Associate Professor Kabini Sanga from Victoria University and Dr Alisi Holani (right), deputy CEO of the Ministry of Commerce, Consumer, Trade, Innovation and Labour (MCCTIL) in Tonga. They spoke about a “rich gap” and other issues affecting Pacific media reportage. Image: Tom Blessen/PMC

By Sri Krishnamurthi

The NZ Institute for Pacific Research will cease to exist in its current form, Emeritus Professor Richard Bedford said in a bombshell announcement to the Oceans and Islands conference today.

Rumours of NZIPR’s demise were doing the rounds after a review of the organisation earlier this year by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

“I do want to finish with expressing the gratitude that the institute has for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the investment they have put in to the establishment of a NZ Institute for Pacific Research,” said the acting director in his conference closing address.

READ MORE: NZ think-tank launched to advance Pacific research

“We are in a rather ambiguous situation at the moment and quite a lot of speakers were informed of this in advance. I wrote to alert them to the fact we were in yet another ‘Pacific reset’ around the institute.

“Pacific reset are the words that the ministry has used for the rethinking of aspects of our policy in the Pacific,” said Professor Bedford.

He admitted that he had yet to see the review report which is said to be confidential to the institute’s board. They knew the recommendations that the decision to cease the current arrangement was based on.

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“Just for those of you who might be bewildered by this, it’s not about getting rid of the NZ Institute of Pacific Research,” he said.

Review of investment
“Basically, what the ministry has done is have a review of what its investment has achieved.
“I think they’ve been impressed with a number of things that have happened. They have been impressed with some of the research that has been done,” he said.

“But the model and the way it’s worked has not given them the return on investment with regard to research that informs policy.

“I can sympathise a little bit with MFAT here because academic research doesn’t always and should never always fit perfectly some policy objective or goal,” he said in attempting to cushion the blow.

“The drivers of academic research are different from policy orientated research,” he said highlighting the difference in what the ministry had expected from NZIPR.

“This applied especially to discovery-led research, and a great deal of research we’ve heard about in this conference is discovery-led research.

“It’s about understanding and learning ways of doing things, testing models, testing ideas. It’s not about necessarily just producing something to enable a solution. The research may contribute to a solution long-term but that isn’t what drives it initially.”

MFAT-owned brand
He made it clear that the brand name was owned by MFAT and not the three universities (Auckland, Otago and Auckland University of Technology) that have been involved in the initial conglomerate that formed the NZIPR.

It was envisioned initially that long-term the NZIPR would become something like Australia’s think tank Lowy Institute.

When NZIPR was formed, MFAT invested $5 million for a set number of years, but the arrangement was that the NZIPR would look to possible external sources of funding to top up MFAT’s investment but that never eventuated.

“The label NZ Institute for Pacific Research belongs to MFAT, it’s not a label that belongs to the consortium of universities that has worked with MFAT to deliver on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that led to the formation of the current NZ Institute for Pacific Research,” he clarified.

“The NZ Institute for Pacific will continue to exist, operating under a different but as yet unspecified model.

“Whatever actually happens, in my view they’d be mad if they got rid of the opportunity that we’ve had to have this kind of conference,” he said voicing his opinion.

He said the support from MFAT needed to be acknowledged and he aimed to work with the ministry constructively to try and ensure that all the many good things that have emanated from their investment continue in whatever form they chose to implement the institute in the future.

Transition period
“That’s just to clarify that it won’t be the same next year, the current arrangement finishes on March 14,” Professor Bedford said.

“Between now and March 14 Evelyn [Dr Evelyn Marsters – research programme manager] and I, along with others in the University of Auckland, AUT and the University of Otago which are partners in the consortium, will work with MFAT to ensure that the transition from the first generation, the Fresh Off the Boat version of NZIPR moves along to the next generation version under MFAT control.”

Day two of the conference, apart from this sensational announcement, featured keynote speakers Associate Professor Kabini Sanga from Victoria University (Wellington), who spoke about “Pacific research frontiering” and Dr Alisi Holani, Deputy CEO of the Ministry of Commerce, Consumer, Trade, Innovation and Labour (MCCTIL) in Tonga, who spoke about “Bridging the policy-research gap in the Pacific – Insights from labour mobility negotiations in PACER Plus”.

The third keynote speaker, Dr Tapugao Falefou Permanent Secretary Government of Tuvalu, could not attend the conference due to not having his visa processed in time, something which was lamented by Professor Bedford.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific’s brightest minds gather for Oceans and Islands research summit

By Blessen Tom

In a bold and innovative move for researchers, the two-day inaugural Oceans and Islands conference today brought together the brightest minds of the Pacific to demonstrate what they do.

Oceans and Islands – a showcase for the region hosted by the NZ Institute for Pacific Research (NZIPR) – was opened by the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Carmel Sepuloni, this morning.

“I really do have the privilege of being able to witness the great contribution that Pacific leaders, academics and communities make to Aotearoa and globally,” the minister said.

READ MORE: Pacific aid mapping tool aimed at improving transparency in region

Pacific Peoples Minister Carmel Sepuloni … “critical that Pacific people are meaningfully included in thought leadership and decision making”. Images: Blessen Tom/PMC

She acknowledged the excellence of Pacific research in New Zealand and welcomed the establishment of research agencies such as Moana Research and commended the leadership of Dr Teuila Percival, Jcinta Fa’alili-Fidow and Dudley Gentles.

The minister also shared some of the research initiatives that she is directly involved with such as the extended funding to the growing up in New Zealand study and Treasury’s Pasifika Economic Report.

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“It is critical that Pacific people are meaningfully included in thought leadership and decision making. We must be the authors of our own solutions, and conferences like this support us towards that end,” she added.

Toeolesulusulu Associate Professor Damon Salesa … struggles faced by Pacific researchers. Image: David Robie/PMC

Many struggles
Toeolesulusulu Associate Professor Damon Salesa, who was recently appointed pro vice-chancellor (Pacific) of the University of Auckland, said: “Pacific research and Pacific knowledge matters.”

“It’s not simply research about the Pacific, by the Pacific that makes it Pacific research. It’s much more than that…and it has faced many struggles,” he added.

He talked about the struggles that researchers faced, such as not being properly resourced, the lack of opportunities to succeed, and the lack of proper recognition.

“These are the struggles NZIPR embarked on,” he said in a tribute to the institute that he was the founding director of. The achievements of NZIPR were:

• Creating a formal research programme – “five research programmes will be signed off completed or published by the end of this year.”

• Disseminating research through both online and offline platforms, and establishing a research repository to make visible the different kinds of knowledge.

• Building research capability and the research recognition of a diverse range of researchers that includes 12 scholarships and sponsorship for individual researchers and research projects.

He also remarked that NZIPR had “achieved so much so quickly”.

Indigenous principles
Dr David Welchman Gegeo led the third keynote session when he gave full recognition to indigenous ethical principles that guide the social construction of knowledge in Pacific island communities.

“Why do we keep doing research on Pacific communities?” and “Are we alone?” asked David Gegeo.

“Pacific Island’s epistemic communities are not alone in the quest for the indigenisation or oceanisation of research and knowledge construction in the Pacific,” he said.

“I think we have a better chance of answering some of our lingering questions in research when we work together as this team.”

He advocated the working together of university epistemic community, metro-centrist epistemic community and Pacific village epistemic community for research and construction of pacific knowledge.

Dr Gegeo holds a research position in the Office of Research and Postgraduate Studies at the Solomon Islands National University.

Professor Kapua’ala Sproat … proactive indigenous responses to “pernicious impacts of global warming”. Image: Blessen Tom/PMC

Dr Kapua’ala Sproat is a professor of law at the University of Hawai’i’s Richardson School of Law and the director of Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawai’ian Law.

Her keynote explored indigenous people’s proactive responses to the pernicious impacts of global warming.

‘Sense of culture’
“I’m incredibly grateful that I grew up with a strong sense of self and culture because I think that really has rooted both myself and but also my work,” she said.

Professor Sprout examined Native Hawai’ians’ potential deployment of local laws that embody restorative justice principles to fashion meaningful remedies for the environmental and cultural damage as a result of the global climate crisis.

“Our identity as indigenous people is inextricably tied to these islands and our natural and cultural resources” said Professor Sprout and “Global Warming threatens our island home and our identity as a people”.

The final keynote session of the day was addressed by Leina Tucker-Masters, Eliza Puna and by Dr Jamaima Tiataia- Seath.

Their presentation canvassed the journeys of three Pacific women researchers throughout their academic careers.

“Engaging in research as an undergraduate student helped me connect with my Pacific culture while at university,” said Leina Tucker-Masters, a medical student at the University of Auckland.

Research methodologies
Tucker-Masters talked about her experience with Pacific research methodologies and how they influenced literature.

“I learned about Pacific health initiatives that use Pacific ways of thinking to heal Pacific people”.

“Postgraduate research gives you an opportunity to carry out very ethnic specific research and it allows for in depth engagement and helps to bridge academia and our communities,” said Eliza Puna, a doctoral candidate in Pacific Studies at Auckland University.

Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath is currently co-head of school and head of Pacific studies, Te Wananga o Waipapa, School of Māori and Pacific Studies, University of Auckland.

She talked about her experience as one of six panelists on the government’s Mental Health and Addiction Enquiry.

The Oceans and Islands conference will conclude tomorrow evening.

Sri Krishnamurthi and Blessen Tom of the Pacific Media Centre are working as part of a PMC partnership with the NZ Institute for Pacific Research.

NZIPR research manager Dr Evelyn Marsters and one of the keynote speakers, Professor David Gegeo of the Solomon Islands, at the Oceans and Islands conference in Auckland today. Image: David Robie/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific aid mapping tool aimed at improving transparency in region

By Sri Krishnamurthi

A new Pacific aid mapping tool developed by the Lowy Institute think tank is set to immeasurably improve transparency in aid in the region.

In an Auckland first, the aid mapping tool was put on show last night by the NZ Institute for Pacific Research as a curtainraiser to the two-day inaugural Oceans and Islands conference which opened at Auckland University’s Fale Pasifika today.

The guest demonstrator and speaker at Auckland University’s Owen Glenn Business School last night was Jonathan Pryke, director of the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands Programme.

READ MORE: The Oceans and Islands conference

He was introduced by senior lecturer in Pacific Studies at Auckland University Dr Lisa Uperesa.

“This is a part of the seminar series that has been part of the mandate for the NZIPR which is about growing capacity and disseminating research,” Dr Uperesa said.

Jonathan Pryke, director of the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands Programme, introducing the Pacific Aid Map at Auckland University last night. Image: Sri Krishnamurthi/PMC

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Jonathan Pryke traced the beginnings of the mapping tool to Dr Penelope Brant and her PhD project which was charting every aid project that Papua New Guinea was engaged in, in the Pacific, subsequently the project turned into the Chinese aid in the Pacific map that the Lowy Institute released in 2015.

“This map made quite a splash, first because it was in interactive form that they haven’t seen before in the Pacific, Pryke said.

China’s spread
“It also made a splash because people hadn’t fully come to grips with just how far China had spread into the Asia-Pacific Island countries that support the one-China policy.”

“We had two major pieces of feedback from this tool. The first was from the Chinese government saying, ‘thanks guys, we had no idea how much we were doing’ and second piece of feedback was this is fantastic but why don’t we do this for every donor because it is very hard to find out what Australia, New Zealand, Japan and all these guys are doing?”

Transparency leads to good governance and that was needed around the world, he said.

“There is one good reason to enhance transparency around aid, not just in the Pacific but globally, there is global mandate to improve transparency which was agreed upon by all traditional donors in 2005 in the Paris accord,” said Pryke.

“It revolves around three main reasons why transparency in aid is important.

“In theory the first is, it should improve and make it easier for donors to co-ordinate with one another in the aid space,” he outlined.

“In the Pacific Island region there is more than 62 donors operating, that is countries or multinational agencies operating in the Pacific at any given time.

“So it’s really critical in all contexts that donors are able to co-ordinate with one another to prevent overlap, to reduce the drag on recipient governments and just to be more efficient,” he said.

‘Enhancing transparency’
“The second reason for enhancing transparency is to help align what donors are doing with receiving government priorities,” Pryke said.

Toeolesulusulu Associate Professor Damon Salesa speaking at the opening of the NZIPR Islands and Oceans conference at the Fale Pasifika at the University of Auckland today. Image: David Robie/PMC

“We spent a lot of time on this project talking to Pacific Island governments about how they go about keeping track what donors are doing in the Pacific and pretty much all of them told us they couldn’t help us because they didn’t have sophisticated data telling them what the donors were doing

“It is a very messy thing to get hold of, and so having a tool like this just helps them to see what is happening in their own countries.

“So, they can better steer what donors are doing with their own development priorities.

“Having more information, and easier access to it should help Pacific countries better align aid to the priorities,” Pryke said.

The third reason for enhanced transparency was that it improves accountability of aid in the region for the media, civil society for academics, he pointed out.

“There is a lot of money going into the Pacific every year with very little oversight on how it is done outside of those giving it and those receiving it and so it is pretty more out there in the public domain.

‘Improving accountability’
“It should improve accountability and put the pressure on both sides of the equation, sender and receiver to improve the way that aid is delivered,” he summed up the third reason.

“We really were keen to do this project and so we started conversations with the Australian government to fund it.

“How we did it, from 2011 until today we requested data on 13,000 aid projects from 62 donors. We have a data from most donors be it an NGO or private sector contractor so there is a huge wealth of information.

“We had to take this huge database and put into a user-friendly, publicly available, interactive, visually-appealing interface that anyone that anyone in the world can access and actually make sense of, and so we put together this tool,” he said.

The Oceans and Islands conference was opened this morning by the Minister for Social Development and Disabilities Carmel Sepuloni and founding NZIPR director Associate-Professor Damon Salesa, who is now pro vice-chancellor (Pacific) of Auckland University.

Keynote speakers today were Dr David Welchman Gegeo of the Solomon Islands and  Professor Kapua Sproat of Hawai’i.

Emeritus Professor Richard Bedford, acting director of NZIPR, will close the conference tomorrow afternoon. About 120 people are taking part in the showcase of Pacific research.

Sri Krishnamurthi and Blessen Tom of the Pacific Media Centre are working as part of a PMC partnership with the NZ Institute for Pacific Research.

The Pacific Media Centre’s team at the NZ Institute for Pacific Research conference … Sri Krishnamurthi (left) and Blessen Tom. Image: David Robie/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Six activists detained for staging palm oil shipboard rally, says Greenpeace

Greenpeace activists unfurl a banner reading “Drop Dirty Palm Oil Now” at a Wilmar International palm oil refinery in Bitung, North Sulawesi, in September. Image: Jurnasyanto Sukarno/Greenpeace Indonesia

By Ivany Atina Arbi in Jakarta

Six Greenpeace activists have reportedly been detained by the captain of the tanker Stolt Tenacity for staging a rally against global forests destruction, particularly in Indonesia, the world’s largest producer of palm oil, and in Papua New Guinea.

The ship was transporting crude palm oil, owned by the world’s biggest palm oil trader Wilmar International, from a refinery in Dumai in Riau to Europe.

According to a statement released by Greenpeace Indonesia at the weekend, six Greenpeace activists from Indonesia, Germany, Britain, France, Canada and the United States staged the peaceful rally in the Cadiz Bay near Spain.

READ AND WATCH MORE: Greenpeace protesters detained after boarding palm oil tanker off Spain + video

They managed to unfurl banners that read “Save Our Rainforest” and “Drop Dirty Palm Oil” on board the tanker before being detained by its captain.

“We have informed the tanker’s captain through VHF marine radio channels about the peaceful and antiviolence action […] and asked him to free the activists and let them continue the peaceful rally,” said Greenpeace campaigner Hannah Martin.

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She added that Wilmar was the main supplier of palm oil to food giant Mondelez. Based on Greenpeace’s recent investigation, palm oil suppliers to Mondelez had allegedly destroyed roughly 70,000 hectares of forests across Southeast Asia in the past two years. Mondelez is the producer of Oreo cookies, among others.

Greenpeace, therefore, urged Mondelez to stop its trading with Wilmar until the later managed to produce palm oil without destroying forests.

Sustainability criteria
Mondelez has dismissed such allegations, saying the company had been prioritising suppliers that meet sustainability criteria that allow retailers and customers to trace their products back to the mill.

“We’re asking our direct suppliers to call on their upstream suppliers to map and monitor the plantations where oil palm is grown, so we can drive further traceability. We’re also excluding 12 companies from our supply chain as a result of breaches,” the company said in a statement last week, refusing to reveal the 12 companies.

Wilmar had earlier urged Greenpeace to take “collaborative action” with the company if it wanted to improve the palm oil industry.

In its statement concerning Greenpeace’s similar rally in September in Wilmar’s refinery in Bitung, North Sulawesi, Wilmar said the protest was a criminal act of trespassing and vandalism as well as a safety risk to the activists as well as Wilmar staff.

“No organisation is above the law and we urge Greenpeace to adopt a collaborative mindset and work with the palm oil industry to take genuine and positive action.”

Wilmar also disputed Greenpeace’s claims about the companies it sourced palm oil from.

“It must be clarified that, out of the 25 companies listed, Wilmar is buying from 13 supplier groups, not 18 as alleged in the report,” the company said, adding that 11 of the 13 companies have been put on Wilmar’s grievance list.

“Greenpeace’s allegation that Wilmar is failing at monitoring our supply chain is based on a willful lack of understanding of our work on the ground.”

Ivany Atina Arbi is a Jakarta Post journalist.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Low-cost solar batteries key to cheap electricity for Polynesian countries

A report on innovative solar energy technology for the Pacific. Video: NZIPR

By Sri Krishnamurthi with Peter Wilson in Auckland

Solar-powered batteries are the key to a future without electricity grids for Polynesian countries in the Pacific (Samoa, Cook Islands and Tonga), a study has found.

The study is funded by the New Zealand Institute for Pacific Research (NZIPR) to assess the feasibility of a low-cost, energy future – titled “Polynesian pathways to a future without electricity grids”.

The first phase of the research, conducted by Peter Wilson (principal economist and head of Auckland business for the NZ Institute of Economic Research) and his team of Professor Basil Sharp (Auckland University professor and chair in energy economics) and Gareth William (head of Solar City Energy Services), queries whether distributed solar electricity is a practical alternative to grid-based electricity.

“The project is investigating the impact of new technologies on electricity sectors in the Pacific, we are looking at whether solar panels and batteries could augment or eventually replace electricity grids and large diesel generators,” says principal investigator Wilson.

“First phase is showing that the costs of both solar panels and batteries is diminishing very quickly and it won’t be very long before they will be economic in the Pacific and so that you have the potential to start radically changing how energy is delivered to Pacific nations.”

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While he believes it is technologically feasible now, the prohibitive cost of the batteries at the moment – the leading provider of solar batteries being Elon Musk’s Tesla Powerwall – is something that has economically got to arrive yet, but the trend is towards costs being reduced significantly.

He says that within 10 years batteries and solar panels together could have a large impact on existing electricity sectors in the islands, and he sees that as a positive development because it will make it easier to extend electricity to people who don not currently have it at a cheap cost.

Decisions needed
However, he says, it does mean that the island governments must consider what they do with their existing generators and existing distribution assets if they are found to be non-competitive against the new technology.

“While it is not economically feasible yet, the trends are there and so it’s something that the Pacific governments should start thinking about,” says Wilson.

“At the moment they’re focusing very much on using solar panels to replace their electricity generation, they’re just connecting to their existing electricity grids and existing technologies.

“We think the batteries are going to change the equation and that is something that should be looked at, and the point is that this is not just something for the Pacific Islands, it’s happening around the world and a lot of countries and a lot of companies are trying to work out what to do, but they don’t really have a solution.”

He is expecting exciting new technological developments in batteries as a means of storing electricity into the future.

“The basic technology is not changing. What is changing is the cost of the batteries and their efficiency, how much power they can hold,” says Wilson.

“We’ve all seen how cell phones have become smaller and smaller over the few last years, and a large amount of that is because the batteries getting smaller and better, electric vehicles are doing the same thing. It is the same technology just using it for a different purpose.”

Hawai’ian benchmark
Hawai’i is an example they studied because it is like the South Pacific countries.

“Hawai’i which has a similar geography to the South Pacific, it’s North Pacific and tropical country with small islands and they too have moved to replace the diesel-fired generators with solar panels,” says Wilson.

“That’s a good benchmark to look at on the technological side but the economics are slightly different because it’s bigger Island, but what we particularly looked is that is an example of what could happen.”

The next phase is due to begin as soon as the NZIPR give it the greenlight.

Peter Wilson explains the way forward. “Hopefully it starts sometime this year and that involves going out to the islands and doing on-the-spot investigations, talking to people, at the moment phase one was desk research based in New Zealand.”

“So far the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has been very supportive of the project They’ve been funding quite large numbers of solar panels into the Pacific and they are quite keen to look at this next development which is adding batteries to that investment.”

He says the electricity generation industries are facing a major change in the evolution of the technology with what they do in their business.

‘Technological revolution’
“These industries are facing a technological revolution. They have choices, how do they respond? do they try to get ahead the curve, do they bury head in sand, do they try and make it someone else’s problem.

“We are seeing around the world this issue is being addressed, in some countries, some companies are very supportive and wanting to get to get on the bandwagon.”

Ultimately the goal is renewable energy to expand access to affordable, reliable and clean energy in the Pacific. Renewable energy targets feature prominently in all their Nationally Determined Contributions submitted under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Already a change is underway in Australia and New Zealand with a slow but sure transformation to renewable energy.

“It’s starting to change now. You are seeing in Auckland the lines company Vector is starting to invest in large batteries (Tesla Powerwall batteries) rather than just look at extensions to the grid.

This is a project that can change the economies of scale of Pacific countries and Peter Wilson is banking on it to transform lives in Samoa, Cook Islands and Tonga.

The Pacific Media Centre shares content with the NZ Institute for Pacific Research as part of a collaboration agreement. The video was edited by Blessen Tom as part of the partnership.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Royals talk empowerment, gender and climate advocacy with USP students

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex outside the University of the South Pacific’s Japan-Pacific ICT Centre on Laucala campus in Suva. Image: Wansolwara

By Mereoni Mili in Suva

Meeting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in person was a humbling experience this week for specially selected students from the University of the South Pacific, including two first-year student journalists Apenisa Vatuniveivuke and Dhruvkaran Nand.

Vatuniveivuke, who is an undergraduate student majoring in journalism and law, said he was pleased to be one of 10 students from the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education chosen to speak with the royal couple about their involvement in empowerment projects, women’s development and climate change advocacy.

“I was in the second group on youth leadership to meet the Duchess of Sussex. We were introduced to the Duchess by her escort,” he says.

“But we had a chance to speak to her. I introduced myself, my area of study and the work I was engaged in with civil society organisations and political parties especially working to get young people’s voices in national discussions,.”

“And she said, ‘Oh, that’s so wonderful. I think more young people should get involved’.

“We had a small display about a marginal man – half-Pacific Islander and half-modernist. Our message through that was to show when we come to USP, we come to get educated but at the same time we try not to forget our culture.

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“We were advocating on those types of platforms to ensure that when young people are educated they won’t forget where they’re from. The Duchess of Sussex’s reaction to our theme was wonderful.

‘Broke a bit of protocol’
“She was very receptive. We broke a bit of protocol by having a group photo taken. We were briefed not to do that but she actually agreed to have a group photo.”

Other student journalists were in the audience to witness the inaugural speeches while other journalism alumni were part of the accredited media team covering the royal tour in Fiji.

Solomon Islands student Cynthia Hou, 22, was another youth leader who was given an opportunity to meet the Duchess.

Solomon Islands student Cynthia Hou (middle) is flanked by friends at USP’s Laucala campus. Image: Mereoni Mili/Wansolwara

“It was an overwhelming experience because I’ve only seen her in magazines and on television. She encouraged me to continue the work I’m doing and to look into issues facing the Pacific.

“It was like a dream that went by so fast but the feeling is indescribable,” she said.

Another student, Sheenal Chand, 20, dubbed her encounter with the royals as an “amazing experience”.

Youth empowerment
“It was one I never thought would be so good. I spoke to her about the youth empowerment work I’m involved in and how our voices as young people can make a difference especially when highlighting issues such as climate change,” Chand said.

Inside the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre, the couple witnessed a cultural performance on the effects of climate change in the Pacific by Oceania Dance group.

They were hosted by the Queen’s Young Leader Elisha Azeemah Bano and the Commonwealth Youth Award recipient Elvis Kumar, two outstanding USP students.

The event was live streamed to several USP campuses in the region.

Mereoni Mili is a final-year journalism student at the University of the South Pacific’s Laucala campus reporting for Wansolwara. She was one of 250 students chosen to be part of the audience inside the USP Japan ICT Lecture Theatre. Wansolwara and the Pacific Media Centre have a content sharing partnership.

USP Journalism student Apenisa Vatuniveivuke was one of 10 students from USP’s Faculty of Arts, Law and Education chosen to meet the royal couple at Laucala campus. Image: Wansolwara

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Vanuatu student journalist launches first poetry collection and aims higher

Telstar Jimmy with her poetry book Journey of Truth at USP’s Laucala campus in Suva … now keen to help others publish. Image: Harrison Selmen/Vanuatu Daily Post

By Harrison Selmen in Suva, Fiji

Vanuatu student journalist Telstar Jimmy launched her first poetry book in Fiji last week and vows bigger plans ahead to to help boost publishing in her country.

Although it took her several years to achieve her passion, Jimmy was proud that everyone around her is enjoying the moment.

“I feel relieved that I was finally able to publish, and overjoyed that I can now be able to share my poems with others – not just in Vanuatu but in the Pacific, because friends from Solomon Islands, Fiji and Nauru have already started buying the book and giving me a lot of positive feedback on it,” she says.

Jimmy’s plan now is to find other poets in Vanuatu and promote their work in anthology collection that can give them recognition.

“I know many have the potential but they lacked the opportunity to shine and share their stories,” she says.

While on the verge of completing her Bachelor degree at the University of the South Pacific majoring in journalism and language and literature at the end of this year, the launch of her book marks a double highlight in her academic journey.

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The title of the book is Journey of Truth with four chapters and 76 pages.

Oceanic views
The poems cover global issues, oceanic views of the Pacific, family values and love stories.

She says the title of the book reflects the many stories in the book depicting real life events and journeys of life.

When asked who inspired her develop her poetry and why she decided to write a book, Jimmy answers, “Grace Molisa [an acclaimed ni-Vanuatu politician, poet and campaigner for women’s equality in politics] was my big inspiration … but then she passed away so soon”.

She said one of the main reasons to publish the book is to create a resource for Vanuatu generations with the Oceania and Pacific context.

As a mother of three children and mentor for many young Vanuatu students at Laucala during her three years of study, Telstar Jimmy describes the poems as a voice for all the silenced women – especially in a male-dominated country like Vanuatu.

Many student journalists at USP have posted messages on social media to congratulate the Vanuatu journalist for her poetic talents.

“Writing was fun and easy but publishing was quiet hard,” she says, thanking her family for funding her publication in Fiji.

Never give up
Jimmy’s message to her peers is never give up in life, even if it takes many years to achieve their dream.

“Don’t neglect the potential that you have.”

She thanked her families, especially her parents, siblings, children and husband for their support.

“Not forgetting Tony Alvero and Jerome Robert for the artistic designs, my English teachers at Malapoa and literature lecturers at USP, colleagues and friends and most importantly the almighty God for the wisdom and blessings,” she says.

  • Telstar Jimmy featured in a Pacific Media Centre climate change video last year by AUT student journalists Julie Cleaver and Kendall Hutt. Asia Pacific Report has a content sharing arrangement with Vanuatu Daily Post.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

To conserve West Papua, start with land rights and forget past mistakes

ANALYSIS:  By Bernadinus Steni and Daniel Nepstad

Large landscapes of intact tropical forests will figure prominently in global strategies to avert catastrophic climate change and conserve biodiversity.

In this context, the extensive forests of Papua and West Papua provinces in Indonesia are now becoming the focus of international conservation efforts. There are many inherent perils to this new boom in conservation in the provinces, which could repeat past mistakes that have deprived and dispossessed indigenous Papuans from their lands.

Here we briefly outline the challenges of conservation, development and the recognition of indigenous land rights in West Papua province*, based on our ongoing collaborative applied research projects in the province that began in 2013.

READ MORE: The denial of traditional land rights in West Papua

West Papua Province, located in the Bird’s Head region of Papua (New Guinea) with a total area of 9.7 million hectares, retains more than 90 percent of its forest cover (Figure 1).

West Papua Province was created in 2003 by splitting the province previously known as Papua into two provinces. As one of the youngest provinces in Indonesia, West Papua is under pressure to accelerate socio-economic development.

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The poverty rate in West Papua is high, although declining. In 2016, one fourth of West Papuans (225,800 people) lived under the regional poverty line, defined as 475 thousand Indonesian rupiah (about US$31) per month (Badan Pusat Statistik, 2017).

The rural areas of West Papua, which are mostly populated by indigenous Papuans, are poorer than urban areas.

Extensive forests
Although lagging behind in its socio-economic development, West Papua is one of few provinces with extensive native forests.

The total forest cover in West Papua is approximately 90 percent of the total area, for a total of 8.9 million hectares. This figure includes all forest cover within both state forests and non-forest areas.

Figure 1: Land cover in West Papua province in 2016, based on data from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Map: Mongabay

Due to the biological diversity of the province as well its high proportion of forest cover, civil society organisations and international conservation organisations have advocated for the government to declare the province a conservation province.

The provincial government declared in 2015 that it would become a Conservation Province, and the supporting provincial regulation for the conservation province, now retitled as a “Sustainable Development Province”, has been drafted (Note 1).

There are many inherent dangers to the designation of West Papua as a conservation province. The province is rich in its natural environment but also has one of Indonesia’s highest rates of poverty.

Indonesian planning processes have historically not formally acknowledged customary ownership of land or zoned as forest areas.

By zoning areas as part of the forest estate, they fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, with conservation areas managed by the central government. There are several types of conservation areas under Indonesian law, including national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and hunting parks.

People displaced
Within the core areas of national parks and also the entire area of wildlife sanctuaries, no land uses are permitted. The establishment of conservation areas in Indonesia has historically led to the significant displacement of indigenous peoples from the core areas, restricting their access to both land and livelihoods.

The provincial government of West Papua, with the support of the Papuan People’s Council (Majelis Rakyat Papua) and civil society organisations (Note 2), have developed a draft provincial regulation on the recognition of customary land rights.

The regulation builds on the momentum of the Indonesian constitutional court decision in 2012, 35/PUU-X/2012, which recognised the rights of indigenous groups to lands within the Indonesian forest estate.

At present, there is uncertainty about how the sustainable development and customary land rights draft regulations would affect one other, once implemented.

Finally, in parallel to these initiatives, the administration of President Joko Widodo, which came into office in 2015, has been focusing on reducing poverty in regional areas of Indonesia, with a particular focus on the Indonesian portion of the island of New Guinea.

The main element of his policy has been to increase spending on infrastructure development as well as driving agricultural development. Previously remote and inaccessible areas of Papua are now finally getting access to roads and electricity, increasing their access to markets and other opportunities.

Can these three policy initiatives — for conservation, development and the recognition of indigenous land rights — be balanced in a way that benefits both indigenous Papuans and the environment?

Balanced solution
From our research in West Papua, undertaken through various initiatives since 2013, we highlight several challenges to finding a balanced solution:

  • A systematic lack of spatial and socio-economic data on West Papuans, in particular their land ownership systems;
  • Limited markets and low prices for commodities or crops produced by Papuans coupled with missing downstream industries that could add value to these products; and
  • Spatial planning and land allocation processes that do not fully consider the rights and distribution of benefits to indigenous communities.

These challenges are all evident in the district of Fakfak, located in the central-western part of the province (Figure 1).

Fakfak District faces the Maluku Islands and historically, has long been integrated into the spice trade, especially for its local variety of nutmeg. Nutmeg and mace have been historically used worldwide for culinary purposes and can be processed further to produce essential oil and oleoresin.

Although Indonesia has been the center of nutmeg production for over a thousand years, the full potential of the nutmeg market remains untapped. One of the main undervalued nutmeg varieties is Papuan nutmeg (Myristica argentea Warb) or locally known as Pala Tomandin.

Papuan nutmeg is commercially grown in Fakfak and Kaimana districts in West Papua, with most of the production concentrated in Fakfak district. Nutmeg is cultivated in wild and semi-wild forests by indigenous farmers, in lands owned and managed under customary laws.

Diversified livelihoods
Despite being registered as a geographical indication in 2014 as Pala Tomandin, the demand and price for Papuan nutmeg remains low. Consequently, nutmeg farmers often have diversified livelihoods such as fishing and seaweed cultivation or farming other crops.

Deforestation has remained relatively limited in Fakfak District, although the period of 2010 to 2016 saw a spike in clearing related to forestry concessions and the allocation of an oil palm concession, according to data from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Landcover change in Fakfak District from 1990 to 2016, showing the large area of secondary forest in forest concessions, created by logging operations. Map: Mongabay

Concessions, where logging companies not owned by local communities extract timber, remain the main driver of deforestation, which is a trend that has been increasing. Forest degradation, which is the conversion of primary forests to secondary forest, has primarily been driven by forestry concessions and spiked dramatically during the period of 2000 to 2010.

The rate of forest degradation declined significantly after this period, with the majority of degradation now occurring outside of forestry concessions. Currently, indigenous land owners receive compensation payments for timber harvested by the concessionaires, although the amount and distribution of benefits may vary.

From our case studies in Fakfak District, local people have described localised processes of demographic expansion and increasing financial pressures, such as the costs of paying for secondary and tertiary education for their children, as the causes of this expansion into primary forest areas.

The case of Fakfak district reveals the complexity of solving the intertwined challenges of poverty, indigenous land rights and conservation. Recognising indigenous land rights should be prioritized, to achieve both social justice and environmental conservation.

In the Amazon region, for example, formal recognition of indigenous territories inhibits deforestation just as much as conservation areas do. The recognition of land rights requires maps that delineate the boundaries of indigenous territories.

Social taboos
There are social taboos, however, in delineating these boundaries as historically boundaries between different tribes and clans were established through wars and conflict. Without proper and legitimate mediation processes in place, mapping customary boundaries has the potential to reignite these conflicts.

In the absence of conflict mediation mechanisms and institutions, there are other methods available for delineating indigenous land ownership. INOBU, together with AKAPE, a Fakfak based NGO, has trialed mapping lands based on land use instead of ownership rights, particularly focused on nutmeg forest gardens in Fakfak district.

Thus far, we have mapped 263 farmers with a total area of 792 hectares in 20 villages. These maps provide indicative maps of customary use of forest areas, which will later serve as the basis for discussion on ownership rights between clans and tribes, and with the government.

Recognising the land rights will not be sufficient to solve the problem of deforestation and forest degradation, although it will help. Improving the value and markets for locally important forest commodities is crucial.

In Fakfak, we have been working on improving the markets and value of Papuan nutmeg while strengthening alternative livelihoods in order to alleviate the economic pressures on indigenous Papuan households.

We have been engaging with nutmeg exporters to ensure that the product meets the standards required by international markets. We have also been working with an Indonesian cosmetics company to help develop local industries for processed nutmeg products.

All these interventions, in turn, should be counterbalanced by strengthening customary institutions for sustainably managing forest resources. Finally, a district level, multi-stakeholder platform will guide the sustainable production of nutmeg in Fakfak district.

Broader application
The lessons from Fakfak district can be applied more broadly to the province of West Papua. We propose that the recognition of the land and resource rights of indigenous Papuans should be the immediate priority of the provincial government, donors and conservation and development organisations.

Conservation should be viewed through the prism of strengthening customary systems and institutions, including village (kampung) administrations, for managing the environment rather than the expansion of protected areas.

The recognition of indigenous land and resource rights should not, however, extinguish their rights to develop in accordance with their own aspirations. Rather, indigenous groups should be supported through interventions that help them to develop profitable and sustainable industries, as well as support for accessing health and education.

An essential part of this should be developing economic alternatives for indigenous people that increase the value of standing, well-managed forests. Strict conservation, where necessary, should be supported through adequate financial and other incentives, with the benefits distributed equitably.

Prior to establishing or expanding conservation areas, governments should also assess the potential effects on indigenous peoples, including how it will contribute to, or impede, poverty reduction targets and the likelihood of future conflicts.

The Jokowi administration’s proposed investments in roads and electrification could help improve the economic viability of new community-based enterprises in West Papua if designed and implemented with the participation of local stakeholders, especially indigenous communities.

Participatory planning
Without effective participatory planning, investments like these can lead to a natural resource-grabbing free-for-all.

The goals of both social justice and conservation are best served by recognition of land rights plus the development of economic alternatives for forest communities that enhance their livelihoods by increasing the value of their forests.

First and foremost, West Papuan’s indigenous peoples need to have a prominent seat at the table as the future of the province is planned.

*West Papua generally refers to all of the western half of Papua New Guinea island administered by Indonesia. West Papua, as referred to in this article, also applies to the smaller western province of the island as opposed to the larger Papua province.  This article article is republished from Mongabay – “News and inspiration from nature’s frontline”. Bernadinus Steni is secretary of the Institut Inovasi Bumi and Daniel Nepstad is the executive director of Earth Innovation Institute.

Notes:
1. As part of the draft regulation for a Sustainable Development Province (Ranperdasus Provinsi Pembangunan Berkelanjutan), the government has established the following targets: 1. Local governments and stakeholders ensure that the use of clean, renewable energy reaches 50 percent with the period of 20 years from the enactment of this local regulation; 2. Local governments commit to reduce the rate of deforestation by 80 percent of the average rate of deforestation and degradation in 2009; 3. With a minimum period of 20 years from the enactment of this special autonomy regulation, as much as 50 percent of forests will be managed sustainably; 4. Local governments are obliged to protect a minimum of 80 percent of important habitats and 50 percent of every type of ecosystem; and for coastal and marine areas: Local governments are obliged to preserve a minimum of 30 percent of coastal areas and waters as Water Conservation Areas that include a minimum of 20 percent of the area as No Take Zones within a specific period considering ecological attributes.

2. Inovasi Bumi (INOBU) and Earth Innovation Institute, supported by the Norad-financed Forest, Farms and Finance Initiative, supported the drafting and initial consultations for the draft special autonomy regulation on the recognition of indigenous peoples (Ranperdasus Pengakuan Masyarakat Hukum Adat Papua di Provinsi Papua Barat). The regulation is the first step towards recognizing the land rights of indigenous peoples, as the existence of customary groups must be acknowledged first.

Acknowledgement:
John Watts (INOBU, EII), Silvia Irawan (INOBU, EII) and Triyoga Widiastomo (INOBU) contributed to this Commentary; funding was provided by NORAD and the David and Lucille Packard Foundation.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

‘Most important years in history’ – last chance over climate, says UN report

Warming beyond 1.5C will unleash a frightening set of consequences and scientists say only a global transformation, beginning now, can avoid it. Climate Home News reviews the warnings in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change research report released yesterday.

Only the remaking of the human world in a generation can now prevent serious, far reaching and once-avoidable climate change impacts, according to the global scientific community.

In a major report released yesterday, the UN’s climate science body found limiting warming to 1.5C, compared to 2C, would spare a vast sweep of people and life on earth from devastating impacts.

To hold warming to this limit, the scientists said unequivocally that carbon pollution must fall to “net zero” in around three decades: a huge and immediate transformation, for which governments have shown little inclination so far.

READ MORE: Global warming of 1.5C summary for policymakers

GLOBAL WARMING OF 1.5C -THE REPORTGLOBAL WARMING OF 1.5C -THE REPORT

“The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” said Debra Roberts, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) research into the impacts of warming.

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The report from the IPCC is a compilation of existing scientific knowledge, distilled into a 33-page summary presented to governments. If and how policymakers respond to it will decide the future of vulnerable communities around the world.

“I have no doubt that historians will look back at these findings as one of the defining moments in the course of human affairs,” the lead climate negotiator for small island states Amjad Abdulla said. “I urge all civilised nations to take responsibility for it by dramatically increasing our efforts to cut the emissions responsible for the crisis.”

What happens in the next few months will impact ON the future of the Paris Agreement and the global climate

Abdulla is from the Maldives. It is estimated that half a billion people in countries like his rely on coral ecosystems for food and tourism. The difference between 1.5C and 2C is the difference between losing 70-90 percent of coral by 2100 and reefs disappearing completely, the report found.

Small island states
Small island states were part of a coalition that forced the Paris Agreement to consider both a 1.5C and 2C target. Monday’s report is a response to that dual goal. Science had not clearly defined what would happen at each mark, nor what measures would be necessary to stay at 1.5C.

As the report was finalised, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative on sustainable energy Rachel Kyte praised those governments. “They had the sense of urgency and moral clarity,” she said, adding that they knew “the lives that would hang in the balance between 2[C] and 1.5[C]”.

37 things you need to know about 1.5C global warming

At 2C, stresses on water supplies and agricultural land, as well as increased exposure to extreme heat and floods, will increase, risking poverty for hundreds of millions, the authors said.

Thousands of plant and animal species would see their liveable habitat cut by more than half. Tropical storms will dump more rain from the Philippines to the Caribbean.

“Everybody heard of what happened to Dominica last year,” Ruenna Hayes, a delegate to the IPCC from St Kitts and Nevis, told Climate Home News. “I cannot describe the level of absolute alarm that this caused not only me personally, but everybody I know.”

Around 65 people died when Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island in September 2017, destroying much of it.

In laying out what needs to be done, the report described a transformed world that will have to be built before babies born today are middle aged. In that world 70-85 percent of electricity will be produced by renewables.

More nuclear power
There will be more nuclear power than today. Gas, burned with carbon capture technology, will still decline steeply to supply just supply 8 percent of power. Coal plants will be no more. Electric cars will dominate and 35-65 percent of all transport will be low or no-emissions.

To pay for this transformation, the world will have invested almost a trillion dollars a year, every year to 2050.

Our relationship to land will be transformed. To stabilise the climate, governments will have deployed vast programmes for sucking carbon from the air. That will include protecting forests and planting new ones.

It may also include growing fuel to be burned, captured and buried beneath the earth. Farms will be the new oil fields. Food production will be squeezed. Profoundly difficult choices will be made between feeding the world and fuelling it.

The report is clear that this world avoids risks compared to one that warms to 2C, but swerves judgement on the likelihood of bringing it into being. That will be for governments, citizens and businesses, not scientists, to decide.

During the next 12 months, two meetings will be held at which governments will be asked to confront the challenge in this report: this year’s UN climate talks in Poland and at a special summit held by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres in September 2019.

The report’s authors were non-committal about the prospects. Jim Skea, a co-chair at the IPCC, said: “Limiting warming to 1.5C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes.”

Graphic from the IPCC’s special report on 1.5C.

‘Monumental goal’
Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a former lead author of the IPCC, said: “If this report doesn’t convince each and every nation that their prosperity and security requires making transformational scientific, technological, political, social and economic changes to reach this monumental goal of staving off some of the worst climate change impacts, then I don’t know what will.”

The scientist have offered a clear prescription: the only way to avoid breaching the 1.5C limit is for humanity to cut its CO2 emissions by 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net-zero” by around 2050.

But global emissions are currently increasing, not falling.

The EU, one of the most climate progressive of all major economies, aims for a cut of around 30 percent by 2030 compared to its own 2010 pollution and 77-94 percent by 2050. It is currently reviewing both targets and says this report will inform the decisions.

If the EU sets a carbon neutral goal for 2050 it will join a growing group of governments seemingly in line with a mid-century end to carbon – including California (2045), Sweden (2045), UK (2050 target under consideration) and New Zealand (2050).

But a fundamental tenet of climate politics is that expectations on nations are defined by their development. If the richest, most progressive economies on earth set the bar at 2045-2050, where will China, India and Latin America end up? If the EU aims for 2050, the report concludes that Africa will need to have the same goal.

Some of the tools needed are available, they just need scaling up. Renewable deployment would need to be six times faster than it is today, said Adnan Z Amin, the director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency. That was “technically feasible and economically attractive”, he added.

Innovation, social change
Other aspects of the challenge require innovation and social change.

But just when the world needs to go faster, the political headwinds in some nations are growing. Brazil, home to the world’s largest rainforest, looks increasingly likely to elect the climate sceptic Jair Bolsonaro as president.

The world’s second-largest emitter – the US – immediately distanced itself from the report, issuing a statement that said its approval of the summary “should not be understood as US endorsement of all of the findings and key messages”.

It said it still it intended to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

The summary was adopted by all governments at a closed-door meeting between officials and scientists in Incheon, South Korea that finished on Saturday. The US sought and was granted various changes to the text. Sources said the interventions mostly helped to refine the report. But they also tracked key US interests – for example, a mention of nuclear energy was included.

Sources told CHN that Saudi Arabia fought hard to amend a passage that said investment in fossil fuel extraction would need to fall by 60 percent between 2015 and 2050. The clause does not appear in the final summary.

But still, according to three sources, the country has lodged a disclaimer with the report, which will not be made public for months. One delegate said it rejected “a very long list of paragraphs in the underlying report and the [summary]”.

Republished under a Creative Commons licence.

A Nasa satellite photo showing the retreating extent of sea ice in the Arctic. The latest IPCC climate change report says unprecedented action is needed to keep global temperature rises to 1.5C. Image: IPCC

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media