‘Brazil, SA, India and China want Kyoto Protocol extended’

Engineering News, 30 May 2011 

As Ministers of the Brazil, South Africa, India, China (Basic) grouping met to firm their position before further global climate change negotiating sessions, they reiterated that a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol was central to a comprehensive outcome at the 17th conference of the parties (COP17) in Durban in November.

They added that the legally binding Kyoto Protocol, which outlined greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for developed country signatories, was critical to the environmental integrity of the climate change regime.

The first commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012, and there is not yet any clarity on how the protocol will be taken forward, if at all.

The Basic Ministers met over the weekend in Durban after climate change experts and negotiators from these countries held meetings for the two days prior. Officials attending the meeting included Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, Chinese National Development and Reform vice-chairperson Liu Zhenmin, Indian Environment and Forests special secretary JM Mauskar, and Brazilian Environment Ministry deputy Minister Francisco Gaetani, and incoming COP17 president Maite Nkoane-Mashabane.

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‘Brazil, SA, India and China climate meeting under way in Durban’

Engineering News, 26 May 2011

Climate change experts and negotiators from Brazil, South Africa, India and China, the ‘Basic’ grouping, are meeting in Durban over the next two days, to discuss a common negotiating position for the 17th conference of the parties (COP17) in December.

The meeting would be followed by a Ministerial meeting on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29, which would be attended by Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, Chinese National Development and Reform vice-Minister Xie Zhenhua, Indian Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh, and Brazilian Environment Ministry executive secretary Francisco Gaetani.

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‘Some light, and heat, as SA debates fracking moratorium’

Engineering News, 25 May 2011 

South Africa is correct to exercise caution before formulating its policy relating to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and should be wary of moving ahead until thorough scientific study of the possible risks have been undertaken, a geological expert cautioned on Wednesday. But proponents of fracking believe South Africa has much to gain, particularly on the economic and energy fronts, by pressing ahead with exploration, arguing that the risks are limited and can be mitigated.

Addressing a debate on the appropriateness of South Africa’s current moratorium on the issuance of exploration licences for shale gas in the Karoo, Dr Chris Hartnady, a former University of Cape Town Geological Sciences associate professor and current technical director at groundwater consultancy Umvoto, said that there were serious questions still to be answered about what he termed a relatively recent technology innovation.

These included whether the full-cycle emissions, or fugitive emissions, were indeed lower than that of coal. Whether the economics, as measured on the basis of energy return on energy invested, made sense. Whether the well casings and cement sheaths used to extract the gas while maintaining the integrity of sub-surface water resources, were in fact fail-safe. And, whether “poking holes” in the Karoo region could affect the stability of a region already prone to earthquakes. Hartnady noted that the most recent earthquake in the region took place on May 14, 2011.

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‘Food system sustainability: Questions of environmental governance in the new world (dis)order’

Abstract: In a time of climate emergency, the question of environmental governance is not only critical, but also epistemic. How ‘environment’ is represented is as critical as how environmental crisis is managed. This essay addresses a debate of this kind by considering the complementary and contradictory relations between the concepts of ‘multi-functionality’ and ‘food sovereignty,’ as they define the global landscape. The juxtaposition of these concepts and their practical implications for political economy and ecology has its formative origins in a European-led debate over the role of agriculture, as a critical dimension of environmental governance. In this chapter I examine this debate as posing questions with broader, global significance.

Full Citation: McMichael, P. (2011). Food System Sustainability: Questions of Environmental Governance in the New World (dis)Order, Global Environmental Change, doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.03.016 (Available with Subscription from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378011000434#FCANote)



‘Global Food Losses and Food Waste’

The document, Global Food Losses and Food Waste, was commissioned by FAO from the Swedish Institute for  Food and Biotechnology (SIK) for Save Food!, an international congress that was held in Düsseldorf 16-17 May at the fair trade of the international packaging industry Interpack 2011.

The report distinguishes between food loss and food waste. Food losses — occurring at the production, harvest, post-harvest and processing phases — are most important in developing countries, due to poor infrastructure, low levels of technology and low investment in the food production systems.

Key finding of the report include:

  • Industrialised and developed countries dissipate roughly the same quantities of food – respective 670 and 630 million tonnes.
  • Every year, consumers in rich countires waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).
  • Fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any food.
  • The amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world’s annual cereals crop (2.3 billion tonnes in 2009/2010).

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NEW Report – ‘Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation’

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently published  the, ‘Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation’.

Summary:  The Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN), agreed and released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on May 9th in Abu Dhabi, assesses existing literature on the future potential of renewable energy for the mitigation of climate change. It covers the six most important renewable energy technologies, as well as their integration into present and future energy systems. It also takes into consideration the environmental and social consequences associated with these technologies, the cost and strategies to overcome technical as well as non-technical obstacles to their application and diffusion.

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NEW UNEP Report – ‘Decoupling Natural Resource Use and Environmental Impacts from Economic Growth’

On 12 May 2011, The United Nations Environment Programme launched a new report: Decoupling Natural Resource Use and Environmental Impacts from Economic Growth.

Brief Summary: The dilemma of expanding economic activities equitably while attempting to stabilise the rate of resource use and reducing the environmental impacts poses an unprecedented opportunity and challenge to society. In this report, the International Resource Panel has sought to apply the concept of decoupling economic growth and human wellbeing from negative environmental impacts and escalating resource use to address this challenge.

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