‘Northern Cape solar resources among the best in the world’

Engineering News, 24 June 2011 

The 5 000 MW solar park, which government is planning to build near Upington in the sun-drenched Northern Cape, would have some of the best solar resources in the world, the Stellenbosch University said on Friday.

The long-term average direct normal irradiation (DNI) at the site was calculated to be 2 816 kWh/m2 a year and the average optimal tilt irradiation (OTI) 2 555 kWh/m2 a year.

DNI is used to predict the output of concentrated solar power (CSP) stations where the receivers or heliostats track the sun throughout the day, while the OTI value predicts the yield of stationary, or fixed tilt, photovoltaic panels.

The university said that the averaged values at the Upington site were very high, comparing it to Spain, which hosts a number of CSP plants, where typical DNI values were between 2 000 kWh/m2 and 2 200 kWh/m2 a year and North America where DNI was in the order of 2 700 kWh/m2 a year.

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‘Food security in Southern African cities: The place of urban agriculture’

Abstract: Several decades of research on ‘urban agriculture’ have led to markedly different conclusions about the actual and potential role of household food production in African cities. In the context of rapid urbanization, urban agriculture is, once again, being advocated as a means to mitigate the growing food insecurity of the urban poor. This article examines the contemporary importance of household food production in poor urban communities in 11 different Southern African Development Community (SADC) cities. It shows that urban food production is not particularly significant in most communities and that many more households rely on supermarkets and the informal sector to access food. Even fewer households derive income from the sale of produce. This picture varies considerably, however, from city to city, for reasons that require further research and explanation.

Full Citation: Crush, J., Hovorka, A., Tevera, D. (2011). Food security in Southern African cities: The place of urban agriculture, Progress in Development Studies, 11 (4): 285-305 (Available for download with full subscription at: http://pdj.sagepub.com/content/11/4/285.abstract).






‘Climate Governance in Africa – Adaptation Strategies and Institutions’

Published by  Heinrich Böll Stiftung

Developing countries are the most vulnerable to climate change due to their low adaptive capacity and growing dependence on resources sensitive to changes in climate. Climate change will undermine development efforts in Africa and the rest of the developing world, and will hit the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society hard. Its potential impacts threaten to reverse the gains of sustainable development and put additional pressure on already overstretched human and financial resources in developing countries. Key economic sectors such as agriculture, water, energy, health, wildlife and tourism and efforts towards poverty reduction are identified as the most vulnerable. The majority – 96% – of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population is dependent on rain-fed agriculture and in some countries crop yields are predicted to fall by 50% by 2050 while arable land will decline by 6%. Food security and access to food will therefore be severely compromised by climate change, and poor rural communities and poor countries with the least financial, institutional and technological capacity to adapt will face the worst impacts.

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‘SA urges developed nations to extend Kyoto Protocol’

Engineering News, 22 June 2011 

South Africa’s climate change negotiators urged developed countries to support developing countries by signing onto a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol.

Addressing media in Cape Town and Pretoria, Water and Environmental Affairs Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi said that at the recent climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, South Africa tried to encourage countries to extend the treaty.

Canada, Japan, and Russia, which were signatories to the Kyoto Protocol, have indicated that would not sign onto a second commitment period. Other developed nations have said that they would only sign on if the US agreed to become a signatory.

Mabudafhasi explained that the Kyoto Protocol was the only legal instrument binding developed countries to greenhouse-gas (GHG) emission reductions.

“It will set us back if we don’t have a second commitment period. We will be reversing all that we have been doing,” she reiterated.

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‘Hopes fading for climate agreement’

Engineering News, 20 June 2011

By: Reuters

“Ask for a camel when you expect to get a goat,” runs a Somali saying that sums up the fading of ambitions for United Nations talks on slowing climate change – aim high, but settle for far less.

Developing nations publicly insist the rich must agree far deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, but increasingly believe that only a weaker deal can actually be achieved to keep the existing Kyoto Protocol, or parts of it, alive beyond 2012.

“They have to ask for a camel … but will settle for a goat,” Mohamed Adow, of Christian Aid, said of poor nations’ strategy at a just-ended session of 180 nations in Bonn.

Hopes for a treaty have dimmed since US President Barack Obama and other world leaders failed to agree a binding pact at a summit in Copenhagen in 2009.

Rich economies are reluctant to make substantial cuts in their emissions beyond 2012 without commitments from big developing economies like China and India to also curb their fast-rising emissions.

At issue now is what can be salvaged from the talks.

“This process is dead in the water,” said Yvo de Boer, the former head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat who stepped down last year to work at KPMG, a consultancy and auditing firm.

“It’s not going anywhere,” he said during the June 6-17 talks in Bonn among negotiators trying to avert more heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

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‘UN climate talks make scant progress to save Kyoto’

Engineering News, 17 June 2011

By: Reuters

Negotiators made scant progress towards salvaging the United Nations’ Kyoto Protocol for fighting climate change beyond 2012 at two weeks of talks ending on Friday, delegates said.

“When you look at the progress …it is very uneven,” said Adrian Macey of New Zealand, chairing a session of talks among 180 nations in Bonn about the Kyoto Protocol, which risks dying beyond 2012 due to lack of support.

Developing nations accused rich nations of reneging on promises to extend Kyoto, which now binds almost 40 nations to cut emissions until 2012. Kyoto’s future has become the main focus after a UN summit in 2009 failed to agree a new treaty.

“Progress in Bonn has been hampered by parties with the biggest historical responsibility for emissions,” the Alliance of Small Island States said of rich nations that have burnt carbon-emitting fossil fuels since the 18th century Industrial Revolution.

The alliance says its members are on the front line of climate change, including more powerful storms, droughts, floods and rising sea levels. Developing nations say that the rich must take the lead and extend Kyoto to unlock action by the poor.

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‘Adapting to climate change through local municipal planning: barriers and challenges’

Abstract: Municipal planning represents a key avenue for local adaptation, but is subject to recognised constraints. To date, these constraints have focused on simplistic factors such as limited resources and lack of information. In this paper we argue that this focus has obscured a wider set of constraints which need to be acknowledged and addressed if adaptation is likely to advance through municipal planning. Although these recognised constraints are relevant, we argue that what underpins these issues are more fundamental challenges affecting local, placed-based planning by drawing on the related field of community-based environmental planning (CBEP). In considering a wider set of constraints to practical attempts towards adaptation, the paper considers planning based on a case study of three municipalities in Sydney, Australia in 2008. The results demonstrate that climate adaptation was widely accepted as an important issue for planning conducted by local governments. However, it was yet to be embedded in planning practice which retained a strong mitigation bias in relation to climate change. In considering the case study, we draw attention to factors thus far under-acknowledged in the climate adaptation literature. These include leadership, institutional context and competing planning agendas. These factors can serve as constraints or enabling mechanisms for achieving climate adaptation depending upon how they are exploited in any given situation. The paper concludes that, through addressing these issues, local, place-based planning can play a greater role in achieving climate adaptation.

Full Citation: Measham, T.G., Preston, B.L., Smith, T.F., Brooke, C., Goddard, R., Withycombe, G., Morrison, C. (2011). Adapting to climate change through local municipal planning: barriers and challenges, Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 1-21, DOI 10.1007/s11027-011-9301-2.

‘Governance for a Resilient Food System’

Author:  Alex Evans, Center on International Cooperation, New York University

Today, the world produces enough to feed all seven billion of its inhabitants – but nearly a billion people still go without. This paper is about why this global scandal continues, and what can be done to solve it. Its central argument is that access to food is as important as how much food is produced – and that in a world of food price volatility, climate change and other kinds of shocks and stresses, the challenge of building resilience in the food system takes on overwhelming importance.

Section One of the paper looks at what needs to happen within developing countries, focusing, in particular, on a massive scale-up in provision of social protection systems that target the poorest and most vulnerable people. This section of the paper also discusses the wider challenge of reducing vulnerability to hunger in developing countries and increasing resilience.

Section Two of the paper turns to action that needs to be taken internationally – above all to tackle the sharp increase in food price volatility of recent years. The section sets out a range of actions that are needed to reduce volatility and protect poor people as well as a discussion of the role of financial speculation in increasing volatility, and whether action is needed to tackle this.

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‘Climate change tops agenda on World Environment Day’

Engineering News, 17 June 2011

World Environment Day was celebrated on June 5, and Water and Environ-mental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa urged all South Africans to “save tomorrow today”, elaborating that every citizen had a responsibility to conserve the environment through actions as simple as saving electricity, saving water and planting a tree.

“Our celebration this year comes as we prepare to host and participate at the seventeenth Conference of Parties (COP 17) on climate change that seeks to address the challenge of climate change we face today, for us to leave a legacy our children will be proud of,” Molewa said.

She emphasised that climate change was a reality and its impacts were “the number one threat to South Africa’s long-term sustainable development, economic growth and quality of life”.

The Department of Environmental Affairs said that the commitment with which government viewed climate change was illustrated by the Climate Change Response Policy process, which was nearing completion.

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‘Neoliberalism, the production of vulnerability and the hobbled state: Systemic barriers to climate adaptation’

Abstract: The neoliberal transformation of the global political-economic system since the mid-1970s has led to profound and increasing inequality and has limited state capacities to tax, regulate and carry out socially supportive public policies. Neoliberalism, or the global institutionalization of laissez-faire economics, has helped to generalize individual and community vulnerability to climate-induced changes and decrease resilience by increasing poverty and thereby limiting options; the global majority face increasingly contingent employment and downward pressure on wages while global economic competition deprives smallholders of their assets. States compete to attract mobile capital by deregulating private activity such as logging and real estate development, increasing climate-related risks to individuals and communities. At the same time, neoliberal limits on the state have inhibited states’ ability to fund and coordinate a range of necessary climate adaptations. Finally, neoliberalism undermines social cohesion and thereby limits the potential of civil society to substitute for the diminished state. Reforms to the global neoliberal system are therefore necessary if climate-vulnerable populations are to be protected.

Full Citation: Fieldman, G. (2011). ‘Neoliberalism, the production of vulnerability and the hobbled state: Systemic barriers to climate adaptation’, Climate and Development, 3 (2): 159-174 (Available with subscription from http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a938526773).


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