‘SA to strengthen environmental, climate change policies’

Engineering News, 25 October 2011 

South Africa, which is hosting the next round of global climate change negotiations in Durban later this year, would work to strengthen environmental and climate change policies over the next three years and would aim to secure global and private sector funding for green interventions.

In the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), the National Treasury also stated that it was considering environmental monitoring linked to appropriate fiscal instruments and capacity support interventions.

The R25-billion competitiveness support package over the next six years to boost industrial development, would also build on several broader programmes, including the country’s transition to a green economy.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said the alignment of trade, investment and energy policies would support the transition, including private sector participation in the country’s renewable energy programme.

“Improving environmental management and addressing climate change resilience are key policy objectives,” the MTBPS stated.

The country increased its spend on environmental protection at an average yearly rate of 11% from R38.5-billion in 2008/9 to R52.4-billion in 2011/12.

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‘Four Years after the World Food Price Crisis: The Governance of World Food Security’

By Nora McKeon, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

Food is the most basic of all human needs and collective food security governance has been with us since the dawn of human society. Failure to perform it effectively has inevitably engendered social unrest. The riots in capital cities around the world in late 2007 are reminiscent of the hungry crowds that threatened the life of Roman Emperor Claudius in AD 51 and the bread riots that helped to spark off the French Revolution in 1789. History and common sense tell us that a functioning food system is an indispensable pillar of a stable economy and a society capable of reproducing itself.

Food governance is an increasingly difficult task in a globalised world. On the one hand, it involves multiple layers of decision-making. The capacity of single households to ensure an adequate supply of food for its members is affected by developments from local to global. Increasingly, even nation states are losing control over the factors that determine the food security of their populations. The range of imponderables has widened from acts of God, like the droughts or locusts that appear in the earliest narratives of the human race, or coups by political or military powers, to the impalpable workings of globalised economic forces.

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‘Climate policy and financial institutions’

Abstract: This article examines how financial institutions, such as pension funds and insurance companies, have interpreted and used UN-issued climate change management policies. A critical discourse approach is used to analyse material issued by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the World Bank Group and some business and investment consultancies, with interview data supplementing the document analysis. It is argued that although policymakers and business consultants have been eager to appropriate the discourses of financial services, they have not produced guidance on how the outputs of climate science might best be used to allocate managed capital. In terms of outcomes, financial services remain on the periphery of policy implementation, attention has been deflected from the emitters of greenhouse gases, and policy objectives have been frustrated. By unspoken fiat, the market is here the new truth that cannot be contradicted.

Full Citation: Haigh, M. (2011). Climate Policy and Financial Institutions, Climate Policy, 11: 1-19 (Article available with full subscription at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14693062.2011.579265).

‘Climate policy to map out transition to low-carbon economy’

Engineering News, 14 October 2011 

South Africa’s National Climate Change Response Policy, which was approved by Cabinet this week, would help the country map out a socioeconomic transition to a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy and society, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa said on Friday.

The policy would seek to balance the objectives of job creation, economic growth, environmental sustainability and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

“Many criticise that our key policies are being dominated by other underlying objectives, such as employment for example. It would be a grave mistake to approach any new policy only in terms of reducing the country’s carbon footprint. Hence a balanced and mainstream approach is needed for the benefit of all South Africans,” Molewa toldEngineering News Online on the sidelines of the DBSA’s Greening Infrastructure Programmes in South Africa conference in Midrand.

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“World Energy Outlook 2011 Special Excerpt on Energy for All: Financing Access for the Poor’

It is an alarming fact that today – in the 21st century – billions of people lack access to the most basic energy services: 1.3 billion people are denied access to electricity around the world and 2.7 billion people rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking. Lack of access to modern energy services is a serious hindrance to economic and social development and must be overcome if the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to be achieved.

The World Energy Outlook has devoted attention to the topic of energy and development for many years, developing databases and analyses. In order to inform the debate about how to overcome energy poverty, the WEO has provided energy-poverty data, quantitative analysis and projections for energy use in developing countries. The WEO evaluates energy poverty in the global energy context to inform OECD governments, industry, the private sector and financial institutions.

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New Report – ‘The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011′

Published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations  (FAO)

The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011 highlights the differential impacts that the world food crisis of 2006-08 had on different countries, with the poorest being most affected. While some large countries were able to deal with the worst of the crisis, people in many small import-dependent countries experienced large price increases that, even when only temporary, can have permanent effects on their future earnings capacity and ability to escape poverty.

This year’s report focuses on the costs of food price volatility, as well as the dangers and opportunities presented by high food prices. Climate change and an increased frequency of weather shocks, increased linkages between energy and agricultural markets due to growing demand for biofuels, and increased financialization of food and agricultural commodities all suggest that price volatility is here to stay. The report describes the effects of price volatility on food security and presents policy options to reduce volatility in a cost-effective manner and to manage it when it cannot be avoided.

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‘Climate change negotiators see no major Durban deal’

Reuters Africa, 8 October 2011 

Global climate change negotiators on Friday concluded their last round of discussions before next month’s U.N. convention in Durban, South Africa with faint hope of extending the Kyoto Protocol beyond next year.

But while negotiators see no chance for a sweeping deal to control greenhouse gas emissions, they say that the talks could yet lay the groundwork for a binding climate deal that could include the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, China and the United States.

“Governments are really committed to starting a process toward that (new pact) and that includes the United States and China,” Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, told Reuters on Friday.

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‘Carbon capture and storage a climate mitigation option’

Engineering News, 7 October 2011 

South Africa emits 450-million tons to 500-million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, ranking it among the 15 highest emitting countries. This is partly due to multiple local coal-fired power plants, but is also a result of the petrochemicals and industrial sectors.

Coal is the least climate-change-friendly fossil fuel, but burning coal remains the most cost-effective way to generate power and will remain the backbone of the power generation mix for the foreseeable future. As the Medupi and Kusile coal-fired power stations come on line by 2017, CO2 emissions are set to rise.

Against this backdrop, during the 2009 Copenhagen climate change negotiations, South Africa voluntarily announced that it would act to reduce domestic green- house-gas (GHG) emissions by 34% by 2020 and by 42% by 2025 from ‘business as usual’ levels, subject to the availability of adequate financial and technological support.

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‘Global warming holds risks and opportunities for hydropower prospects’

Engineering News, 7 October 2011 

Climate change may provide more water for future hydropower projects, as a higher temperatures will result in a higher evaporation rates, says Unesco-IHE Institute for Water Education department of water engineering storage and hydropower associate professor Miroslav Marence.

Global temperature is expected to increase between 1.4 °C and 5 °C, while precipitation should increase between 5% and 20% because of climate change, he explains.

However, while there may be more water available, variability brings about uncertainty and risks of flooding, and drought can impact on hydropower stations. Extreme events can also increase soil erosion and sedimentation, which can impact negatively on hydropower technology.

Marence has conducted a study on hydropower potential and development possibilities in Uganda’s Kagera basin, which takes the effects of climate change into account. The study was conducted in collaboration with Michael KizzaMax Kigobe and Helen Nagawa, of Makerere University, in Kampala, Uganda.

Three possible hydropower sites, namely Giteranyi, Rusumo and Kikugate, have been identified in the Karega basin. The total area of the basin is 60 000 km2, with 17 404 km2 covered by lakes and swamps, while it is shared by Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda.

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New Article – ‘Towards democratic governance of uncertainty? Contesting notions of participation, control and accountability’

Abstract: Managing risk in international society has posed a new challenge not only to states and international organisations, but also to experts, scientists and citizens. It has generated a demand for new sets of laws, regulations, instruments and governing bodies to tackle various risks such as natural disasters, economic and financial crises, and unintended consequences of policy reforms. Accordingly, new modes of interactions between states, experts and citizens seem to be emerging across countries and in different high-risk sectors. Little research has been done to illuminate interactive and dynamic aspects of emerging governance and regulatory arrangements and their impact on participation, control and accountability in liberal democracies. This special issue has assembled research papers and commentaries from practitioners and academics which critically examine these themes and explore what future research on the ‘world risk society’ could offer to political science and beyond.

Full Citation: Cantelli, F., Kodate, N., Krieger, K. (2011). Towards democratic governance of uncertainty? Contesting notions of participation, control and accountability, Journal of Risk Research, 14 (8): 919-932 (Available with full subscription at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13669877.2011.587885#tabModule


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