Where Are We After Durban? Climate Tracker

From where I sit, Climate Action Tracker, a project of several organizations including Ecofys, PIK and Climate Analytics,  is a “must see” site for climate change instructors, providing a regular updated snapshot of the climatic implications of commitments made by the parties to the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol and potential successor instruments. The Tracker’s latest report assesses the implications of State GHG reduction pledge after the Durban (17th COP). Among the conclusions of the report:

  1. While the agreements reached at Durban include a work plan to enhance mitigation ambitions to close the “ambition gap” between current pledges by the Parties and what’s necessary to avoid passing the 2C threshold, there’s no assurances these ambitions will be raised; indeed, developed countries have not increased the ambition of their pledges despite such a call in the Cancun Agreement of 16COP;
  2. Current international reduction targets and national pledges put global emissions on track for a total of 66 GtCO2e/yr. in 2020, assuming confirmed unconditional pledges and lenient accounting rules. There is a substantial gap from the 44GtGtCO2e/yr. that would put us on track to keep temperature increases to below 2C vis-a-vis pre-industrial levels;
    • Should governments implement the most stringent reductions proposed to date, coupled with the most stringent accounting measures for developed States, the gap would drop, but only to 9 GtCO2e/yr.
  3. If we are to achieve emissions at a level consistent with the below 2C pathway, assuming we can achieve an emissions rate of  44GtGtCO2e/yr.  by 2020, emissions will have to decline by 2% annually to 2050. However, if 2020 emissions are in line with current pledges, then the reduction rate will have to be 3.8% per year, with huge implications in terms of societal costs and technological feasibility;
  4. Current pledges put us on track for warming of 3.5C, with a range of 2.9-4.4C, and an atmospheric concentration of 690 ppmv.

The report also provides a good analysis of the implications of temperature increases of 2C, 3C and 4C. Moreover, it outlines several options to close the “ambition gap,” including improved accounting procedures, moving to the top of their conditional pledges and reducing fossil fuel subsidies. This section could provide a good jumping off point to discuss  issues e.g. the political viability of such proposals and the assumptions that underlie them.

The State of Climate Adaptation Financing

The International Institute for Environment and Development produces some excellent brief reports suitable for student readings. If you’re looking for some readings for the Durban COP, there are a number of new reports, including one that caught my eye, on adaptation financing, Ciplet, et al.,, Adaptation Finance: How Can Durban Deliver on Past Promises?, Briefing (Nov. 2011).  Among the chief take-aways from the report:

  1. When developed countries agreed to provide $30 billion in “fast-start” financing by 2012, scaling up to $100 billion a year, part of the agreement was that it would be balanced between mitigation and adaptation initiatives; however to date, only 19-25% of fast-start finance ($4.8-6.3 billion) has been allocated to adaptation efforts, up slightly from 11-15% pledged a year ago;
  2. It is uncertain what proportion of adaptation funding will be in the form of pure grants, concessionary loans, or market-rate loans; vulnerable countries are ill-equipped to repay loans, nor should they be required to;
  3. Wealthy countries have failed to “scale up” their funding in anticipation of the post-212 era when fast-start financing ends, nor did the agreements in Copenhagen or Cancun provide a roadmap for doing so;
  4. There is a serious lack of transparency with fast-start financing, including a failure on most contributors to report their fast-start activities to the UNFCCC; moreover, the vast majority of fast-start funds have not flowed to UNFCCC-controlled funding mechanisms;
  5. The UNFCCC has failed to develop effective guidelines for identifying vulnerability, obviating efforts to target funding to those most vulnerable to climate impacts, as outlined in several recent agreements, including Cancun;
  6. Among the recommendations offered by the writers for Durban and beyond:
  • Develop other sources of funding beyond national revenue sources, e.g. a small level on international airline travel, bunker transport fuel or international financial transactions;
  • Develop defined targets for adaptation funding in the “hole” between when fast-start financing ceases in 2012 and the $100 billion annual pledge begins in 2020;
  • Develop a central account framework and registry to ensure transparency in financing, as well as provide guidelines for assessing whether pledges constitute “new and additional:” adaptation finance

This brief could generate some lively discussion on some core issues in climate policy making, including the following:

  • Should fast-start and long-term financing be equally balanced between mitigation and adaptation initiatives in developing countries?
  • Are developing countries entitled, as the authors argue, to outright grants for adaptation and mitigation financing initiatives?
  • Do developing countries have any recourse under international law should developed countries fail to meet their financing pledges?
  • Why is it important that financial flows primarily go through UNFCCC institutions?

New Article: Where Do We Go Now After the Kyoto Protocol?

Arizona State University’s Dan Bodansky recently published an excellent analysis of where we may be heading after 2012, Bodansky, [W]hither the Kyoto Protocol? Durban and Beyond!, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements (Aug. 2011).

Among the take-aways from the article are the following:

  • There are various factions in UN climate change negotiations, including: a. the European Union, which might embrace a new commitment period under Kyoto if part of a comprehenisve framework engaging all major economies, including the United States and China; b. Japan, Canada and Russia, which wish to replace Kyoto with a new comprehensive agreement with commitments by both developed and developing countries, and c. large developing countries, such as China and India, which desire for the Protocol to continue, with quantiative limits only on the emissions of developing countries; and d. The United States, which is willing to negotiate a legally-binding agreement if the mandate applies with equal legal force to all major emitters;
  • Bodansky sets forth 3 potential post 2012 scenarios:
    • Scenario 1: denominated as the “most likely scenario for Durban and beyond,” envisions that negotiations for a second commitment period come to naught by the end of 2012. As a consequence, the only limits to emissions would consist of the  political commitments made at Copenhagen and Cancun. Some parts of the Kyoto Protocol, such as “assigned amount units” would no longer be operational;  however, other provisions not tied to emissions limits would continue in force, such as the CDM, though it is unclear how much impetus there would be for projects, well as reporting requirements and major institutions, e.g. the Meeting of the Parties and the Secretariat. Bodansky also notes that failure to reach an agreement on a second commitment period might further discourage developing countries from engaging in the negotiation process;
    •  Scenario 2: Adoption of an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol establishing a second commitment period. Bodansky argues that the opposition of several Annex I States, including Russia, Canada and Japan, to a second commitment period, would likely result in only a rump of original Kyoto parties, with the EU playing a decisive role. It would be virtually impossible for a second commitment period amendment to be adopted in time to prevent a gap in legally binding commitments; however, an amendment could avoid this by providing for “provisional application” pending entry into force.
    • Scenario 3: Political agreement on a second commitment period. An intermediate outcome would be a transition regime that established a political second commitment period rather than legally binding commitments. It’s unclear what the effectiveness of such an agreement would be. Bodansky argues that some political agreements are strongly adhered to by States, while others are not. It’s also possible that States will view such an agreement as affording them greater flexibility, and thus will be more amenable to accept more ambitious commitments.  Such commitments could extend the Kyoto Protocol in an unchanged fashion, or a different approach might be taken, e.g. establishing economy-wide targets that would generate assigned amount units (AAUs) that could be traded, or a less ambitious approach could be taken, such as conditional targets or targets specified in a range.

Conference on Climate Change and Migration

FYI. Note: even if you can’t attend, a podcast will be available for this conference. The conference’s organizer, Jane McAdam, has done some very interesting work on the legal implications of actors being rendered stateless by climate change.


Climate Change and Migration in the Asia-Pacific: Legal and Policy Responses
NSW Parliament House, Sydney, 10-11 November 2011


This two-day conference will bring together leading international experts, policymakers, and government officials from affected countries to discuss:


  •  Conceptualizing climate change-related movement
  •  The nature of movement: what does the evidence tell us?
  •  International legal frameworks
  •  International governance
  •  Adaptation and ‘migration with dignity’
  •  Relocation and land tenure
  •  Climate change migration and (human) security
  •  Institutional responses: where to from here?


Places are limited, so register now!  A draft program is attached and also available on the website below.


Register online: http://www.gtcentre.unsw.edu.au/events/climate-change-and-migration-asia-pacific-legal-and-policy-responses

Cost: $150 for both days (including lunch, morning tea & afternoon tea).  Single day registration is not possible.



A podcast of the proceedings will be made available online.



Professor Jane McAdam • Director of Research • School of Law • Faculty of Law • The University of New South Wales • UNSW Sydney NSW 2052, Australia • Phone: +61 (2) 9385 2210 • Fax: +61 (2) 9385 1175 • Website: http://www.law.unsw.edu.au/staff/McAdamJ/ Publications: http://ssrn.com/author=579709

Debating the rights and wrongs of civil disobedience

Something that can make for a good class is a debate. Here are two articles with different views on the sentencing of Tim DeChristopher (who bid on oil and gas leases as a form of protest):

This case, and the issues it raises, might make for a good starting point for discussion.


Climate Change and Current Evidence

EDITOR’S NOTE: We are being spammed by articles from a source called “E-zine,” including this piece. We’re trying to figure out how to stop it.

The people who are the most vocal about man-made global warming are the very same people who cannot elaborate on the scanty evidence produced so far. These Alarmists are not prepared to give their opinions on climate change events that have happened in the past. All they seem to be interested in is spreading mass hysteria.

It’s unanimously agreed by the scientific community that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old and during that time, it’s undergone at least 12, and possibly 14 major periods of climate change. In addition to this there has been numerous minor changes to the earth’s climate.

Past periods of climate change

Whilst most of this information has come from sophisticated scientific investigation involving many branches of science, some of the minor climatic changes have occurred within the life-time of man on earth and have been recorded during history.

The existence of these periods of climate change is not in doubt; what is open to conjecture are the causes.

On this, the Alarmists remain mute: they are sure that mans’ industrial activity is the cause of any climate change taking place at the moment, but would have to concede that power stations and motor cars could not have caused the start of a period of climate change 5,000 years ago.

In 1991 the body of a man was found in the European Alps in the border regions of Austria and Italy. He was determined to have died about 5,000 years ago whilst crossing the Alps. Now for a person to have attempted to cross the Alps would indicate that firstly crossing the mountain range was a possibility and known to man at that time, and secondly that the feat was made possible by the absence of snow and glaciers.

Now move forward 2800 years to about 200BCE and the first recorded history of an event involving crossing the Alps took place. That was Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps with an army, including elephants, to wage war on the Roman Empire. This event was clearly documented at the time and is acknowledged to have taken place.

At the time of Hannibal’s efforts, the snowline of the Alps was thought to be in the region of 1,800 meters to 2,000 meters. Until recently the Alpine snowline was approximately 1,500 meters. What this means is that in modern times the level above the sea at which snow falls and lies on the ground is about 300 to 500 meters lower than when Hannibal achieved his feat. The reason for this is clear – in Hannibal’s time and the centuries earlier going back to 3,000 BCE the air temperature was considerably warmer that it is today.

The world’s climate has changed over the past 5,000 years. What’s caused this change? Is it the result of Mother Nature or God?

Recent periods of climate change

Let’s now move to more recent times and look at the recorded history of events that took place in London.

Between 1660 and 1820 is was quite a common occurrence for the river Thames to freeze over. Not every year perhaps, but certainly enough for people at that time to make comments. Since then the Thames has rarely been frozen, certainly never in recent memory. So the question is: what caused the warming of the air from 1820 onwards?

At the same period of time from 1660, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia was subject to stress caused by a drought that lasted 20 years from 1660. Coral has characteristics not unlike that of trees. Rings in a piece of sliced coral tell the story of events long ago. A piece of coral collected off the coast of northern Australia has recently been examined and it shows the effects of drought in the region. Lack of fresh water, and therefore the absences of nutrients, coming from the nearby rivers would affect the growth of the coral and would be noticed in examining the rings.

In the years since then the reef has made a full recovery, although it may be suffering now.

The Alarmists point to the decline in coral reefs as an example of global warming, but ignore the fact that Mother Nature has the remarkable capacity to overcome its setbacks.

The history of the world has countless stories of events that happened long ago that could not happen now.

The original inhabitants of Australia came from SE Asia via a continuous land mass leading from the Malay peninsula, through Indonesia, New Guinea, and into northern Australia.

The original inhabitants of north America are thought to have entered the area about 10,000 years ago via the then ice-free Bering Straits. That feat couldn’t be achieved today. Likewise the original inhabitants of the UK are thought to have come from Europe via the land mass that is now covered by the English Channel.

So in relation to these events, it would seem that global warming took place and that the world-wide sea level rose covering these routes.

And the most likely causes of these major changes are the Almighty, or Mother Nature.

That being the case in ages gone by, how could today’s global warming (if indeed it’s taking place) be caused by man?

This is an attempt to put some balance into the ongoing international controversy that is the theory of man-made climate change.

Like most people, the author takes a keen interest in the world-wide controversy of climate change and global warming, and the alleged effect this will have on life on earth. He also takes an interest in more mundane issues such as hoodia diet pills and the increasing popularity of Dish Network satellite TV

Author: Gareth Black
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
Home care

Call for Papers: Journal of Renewable Energy Law & Policy

Call for Papers: Renewable Energy Promotion in non-OECD countries

The Journal of Renewable Energy Law & Policy is welcoming abstracts for its upcoming issue scheduled for publication in June 2011.

The issue will feature a special section on Renewable Energy Promotion in non-OECD countries – abstracts on legal and policy aspects on this topic are especially welcome. The issue will be edited by the new Editor, Dominic Marcellino.

The Journal of Renewable Energy Law and Policy provides a platform for review and discussion, both in Europe and internationally, of the legal and policy issues surrounding renewable energy. The journal reports on the dynamic and quickly changing developments taking place in Europe and around the world in the renewable energy sector, from bio-energy, solar and wind power to developing technologies like fuel cells and nuclear fusion.

Contributions should address regulatory and policy aspects relating to renewable energy, including, but not limited to:

1.     Promotion of renewables: e.g. financial, tax, and other incentives to encourage renewables; the evolving relationship of policies, programmes and projects;

2.     Challenges: e.g. technical, economic, policy, legal, and other (NIMBY, etc.) issues impeding the installation of renewable energy;

3.     Cross-cutting issues: e.g. the interplay of renewable and climate policies; development policy and renewables; energy security and renewables; and consumer issues, like electricity prices and renewables.

4.     Case Studies: role of national legal frameworks, international comparative studies, successful contractual arrangements, etc.

Abstracts should be sent to by 14 January 2011. Authors will be informed by 28 January 2011 on the outcome of the initial review process. Final manuscripts will be due by 4 March 2011.

In order to ensure quick turnaround and policy relevance, articles should be concise, ranging from 2.500-4.500 words in length. Commentaries on recent judicial decisions, new legislation, and other developments can range from 1.500 to 2.500 words.

The Journal of Renewable Energy Law & Policy is published on a quarterly basis under the guidance of a distinguished editorial board. The journal brings together representatives from the legal discipline and other stakeholders in one specialized journal, allowing them to engage in a dynamic debate on the policies and laws of climate change. For further details on the journal and an archive of past issues, please visit the website at: www.lexxion.eu/relp.

For further information on the editorial process, submissions on other topics or general questions relating to the journal, kindly contact the editor at . Please feel free to forward this call for papers to interested colleagues.

Apologies for cross-posting.

With sincere regards,

Dominic Marcellino
on behalf of the editorial board

Challenges of Climate Change and Bio-Energy

“Our generation has inherited an incredibly beautiful world from our parents and they from their parents. It is in our hands whether our children and their children inherit the same world” – Richard Branson.

Scientific and technological advancements have revolutionized the entire human civilization in a truest sense. It has brought us to a point where we can assume that everything we imagine and conceive is practically achievable. Nowadays, when our lives are surrounded by so much of digitalization and hi-tech machinery, when the rapidness of development and research is so impressive, it is fairly easy to forget the inescapable fact that we are damaging our mother world at an unprecedented pace. So often in course to satisfy our hunger of attaining economic supremacy and industrial feasibility, we fail to realize that we are actually deteriorating our natural resources. We, along with all our advancements are disturbing the ecological and environmental balance at such a frantic pace that the entire human history has never witnessed before. And while doing this, we have provoked the nature’s need for revenge. We have made ourselves more vulnerable to stern temperatures, floods, hurricanes, typhoons, droughts, excessive rainfall, and now it is a critical time to understand that if we continue to exploit nature and affect climatic balance and do nothing to alleviate this issue, we are bound to face devastating consequences.

Climate changes pose clear, catastrophic threats. We may not agree on the extent, but we certainly can’t afford the risk of inaction. To better understand the issue, we must first study what are climate changes and which factors are responsible for them. The term climate change is often used interchangeably with the term global warming, but according to the National Academy of Sciences, “The phrase ‘climate change’ is growing in preferred use to ‘global warming’ because it helps convey that there are [other] changes in addition to rising temperatures.” Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). Global warming is an average increase in the temperature of the atmosphere near the Earth’s surface and in the troposphere, which can contribute to changes in global climate patterns.

Earth maintains its average temperature by a natural and self-automated warming system of gases which surround it. Carbon dioxide and other gases like methane, Nitrogen dioxide and Chloro Flouro Carbon (CFC) keep the earth warm by trapping solar heat in the atmosphere. This trapped heat is crucial in keeping earth’s temperature within a range where it is habitable. However, the uncontrollable increase in the emission of Carbon dioxide and other warming gases over the decades has thickened these atmospheric boundaries which are now retaining much more heat than the acceptable range. Further, the increase of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere has also enhanced the “Greenhouse Effect” in which more heat is generated. This excessive amount of heat has disarrayed earth’s natural thermo-equilibrium resulting in the form of global warming with all its associated climatic effects.

The history of the planet has been characterised by frequent changes in climate. Apparently, climate change is a natural phenomena occurring since several thousand years. Environmental scientists insist that earth’s temperature has always been on a gradual rise with no or very limited impact on the environment on whole. This gradual trend spanning over a period of 650,000 years shows a gradual rise which scientists initially thought of as a “slow motion catastrophe” a unexpected to show its earliest consequences generations later. Needless to say, time has proved this estimations erroneous since signs of the climatic changes due to increased earth temperature have accelerated alarmingly in last two centuries. The graphical relation between time and earth’s temperature proves a dramatic and unparalleled shift in the trend with temperatures increasing many times faster than ever in the recorded history. Based on data from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it is estimated that the mean global surface temperature has increased by about 0.3 to 0.6 degree Celsius since the late 19th century to the present, and an increase of 0.2 to 0.3 degree over the last 40 years. This increase is likely to have been the largest of any century during the past 1,000 years. The current rate of increase of greenhouse gases is unprecedented during at least the past 20,000 years. And with the help climatic models based on mathematical simulations, it is predicted that by the year 2050, global temperature would be rose around 5 degrees Celsius with some severe and unavoidable impacts.

There are a number of natural factors responsible for climate change. Some of the prominent ones are continental drift, volcanoes, ocean currents, the earth’s tilt, and comets and meteorites. But the Anthropogenic Factors are the real culprits which have induced such an uncontrollable emission of carbon dioxide and other gases and therefore elevated average temperatures. Anthropogenic factors are human activities that change the environment and influence climate. In some cases, however, the chain of causality is clear and unambiguous while in others it is less clear. Various assumptions for human-influenced climate change have been debated over the years but it is only now widely accepted without any doubt that the major cause of climate change are the human activities. Even those who up to a few years ago were not convinced that humans have an impact on the climate, now admit that scientific evidence exists that this is happening.

The Industrial Revolution, starting at the end of the 19th Century, has had a huge effect on climate. The invention of the motor engine and the increased burning of fossil fuels in form of coal, oil and natural gas have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Since then, the human consumption of fossil fuels has elevated CO2 levels from a concentration of ~280 ppm to ~387 ppm today. These increasing concentrations are projected to reach a range of 535 to 983 ppm by the end of the 21st century. It is now known that carbon dioxide levels are substantially higher now than at any time in the last 750,000 years. With the prevailing concept of global economy and the accelerated industrialization of developing countries like India and China, 70 million tons of CO2 is dumped into atmosphere everyday. In addition of CO2, Methane is another important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. About ¼ of all methane emissions are said to come from domesticated animals such as dairy cows, goats, pigs, buffaloes, camels, horses, and sheep. These animals produce methane during the cud-chewing process. Methane is also released from rice or paddy fields that are flooded during the sowing and maturing periods. When soil is covered with water it becomes anaerobic or lacking in oxygen. Under such conditions, methane-producing bacteria and other organisms decompose organic matter in the soil to form methane. Nearly 90% of the paddy-growing area in the world is found in Asia, as rice is the staple food there. China and India, between them, have 80-90% of the world’s rice-growing areas. Methane is also emitted from landfills and other waste dumps. If the waste is put into an incineratorchanges triggered by such gases are anticipated to cause an increase of 1.4-5.6 °C between 1990 and 2100. The cement manufacturing industry in particular, contributes CO2 when calcium carbonate is heated, producing lime and carbon dioxide, and also as a result of burning fossil fuels. The cement industry produces 5% of global man-made CO2 emissions, of which 50% is from the chemical process, and 40% from burning fuel. The amount of CO2 emitted by the cement industry is nearly 900 kg of CO2 for every 1000 kg of cement produced. [out] or burnt in the open, carbon dioxide is emitted. Methane is also emitted during the process of oil drilling, coal mining and also from leaking gas pipelines (due to accidents and poor maintenance of sites). A large amount of nitrous oxide emission has been attributed to fertilizer application. Another gas, nitrous oxide, emitted in a very large from fertilizers can cause serious damages. These climate

One of the other major factors of climate change is Increased Land Use. Agriculture practices, irrigation and deforestation are fundamentally changing the environment. Due to increased urbanization and industrial growth, forests are being cut down which act as

“Carbon sinks”. As a result,that the extra carbon dioxide produced cannot be changed into oxygen. A 2007 Jet Propulsion Laboratory study found that the average temperature of California has risen about 2 degrees over the past 50 years, with a much higher increase in urban areas. The change was attributed mostly to extensive human development of the landscape.

Accepting the factors that are causing it, an overwhelming majority of scientists today agree that climate change is real and poses very serious global threats. These climate changes have already shown some shocking and horrific signs around the world. They are by now affecting lives of millions of people throughout the world and are expected to get far more ruthless in future. In particular, many developing countries though they have contributed to the least in the process of climate change will be the ones at the greatest risks to face the consequences. As it was mentioned at the annual meeting of the Interagency Support Group on Indigenous Issues (IASG) in Montreal in September 2007, “that indigenous people are often among the world’s most marginalized and impoverished peoples and will bear the brunt of the catastrophe of climate change and as such provide a human face to the climate change crises”.

In Asia, temperatures are expected to rise 2-8 degrees Celsius in next 8-10 years affecting the lives of the inhabitants with climatic variations like decreased rainfall, crop failures and more floods. Tropical forests, which are haven for biodiversity, as well as native people’s cultural diversity, are under serious danger of forest fires. People in low-lying areas of Bangladesh and India like Calcutta, could be displaced by a one-meter rise in sea levels. Such a rise could also threaten the coastal zones of Japan and China. This could mean massive dislocation of not just hundreds and thousands but more than one hundred million people from Asia alone. The recent examples of heavy rains in parts on India particularly Mumbai is inherently connected with rapid climate change. In the Himalayans, there are glacial melts which affect hundreds of millions of rural dwellers who depend on the seasonal flow of water. Increased temperature will melt ice faster following more water in the short term, but less in the long run as glaciers and snow cover shrink. The warming of the high altitude regions are likely to mean that population growth, settlement expansion and encroachment are likely to become a major management challenge and these external influences are likely to have an impact on indigenous peoples and their lands. In Southern Africa, climate change will affect hundreds of kilometers of land which is covered with vegetation and is used for grazing. Since high temperatures will increase wind speed multiple times, these high speed winds will result in region losing most of its vegetation cover and hence, becoming less feasible for indigenous peoples living in the region. Moreover, droughts will be more common with food security as a major issue for indigenous peoples residing in the deserts like Kalahari and Sahara. In Europe and parts of Russia, indigenous peoples have noticed the arrival of new species of plants which were never seen in the region previously. The hotter summers have provided the conditions for the new plants to thrive in rivers and lakes. This had disturbed the natural habitat of fishes; hence, people’s fishing opportunities have declined due to closure of lakes because of the new plant growth. Also, new bird species have arrived and birds now stay longer in the villages than previously.

In North America, heat waves will increase evaporation and deplete the underground water resources. There may be impacts on health, plant cover, wildlife populations, tribal water rights and individual agricultural operations, and a reduction of tribal services due to decrease in income from land leases. Further, natural disasters like hurricanes, floods in likes of Katrina which caused lives of around 1,836 people and cost damages of $89.6 billion, will be more common.

The Polar Regions that is the Artic and Greenland is experiencing some the most rapid and severe climate changes on earth. With rise in the temperature, the Artic ice is becoming less stable, unusual weather patterns are occurring, vegetation cover is changing and particular animals like polar bears and seals are on a verge of extinction. Local landscapes, seascapes and icescapes are becoming unfamiliar, making peoples feel like strangers in their own land. In addition to this, weather in the Artic will become unpredictable and extreme with timing, length and character of the seasons including rain in autumn and winter and more heat in summer. In several indigenous villages in Alaska, entire communities will have to be relocated because of erosion due to the thawing of permafrost and large waves slamming against the west and northern shores.

Coastal indigenous communities will be severely threatened by storm related erosion because of melting sea ice. Scientists have predicted that if only the half of ice in Artic and Greenland melt, the ocean level around the world will rise up to 40 feet surging over huge land a portion that is the home of billions of human beings and other living creatures.

No matter how discouraging the future seems right now, all is not gloom and doom. Al Gore, the Nobel Prize winner for his efforts for the cause of climate change, said in his speech at National Sierra Club Convention, on Sept. 9, 2005 “The good news is we know what to do. The good news is we have everything we need now to respond to the challenge of global warming. We have all the technologies we need, more are being developed, and as they become available and become more affordable when produced in scale, they will make it easier to respond. But we should not wait, we cannot wait, we must not wait.”

Since the appearance of first few challenges of the climate change, countries all around the world have decided to initiate programs as one global community to combat this fast approaching menace. The First World Climate Conference recognized climate change as a serious problem in 1979. Since then, a number of conferences and conventions have been held throughout the world with formation of several international bodies and treaties. In 1988, a body of more than 2,500 of the world’s leading climate scientists, economists, and risk analysis experts from 80 countries was formed as The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This Panel was given a mandate to assess the state of existing knowledge about the climate system and climate change; the environmental, economic, and social impacts of climate change; and the possible response strategies. The reports which this body released had a powerful impact on both policy-makers and the general public and provided the basis for negotiations on the Climate Change Convention. In 1992, The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) was signed at Rio de Janeiro by 154 states, including the US. This summit became the largest-ever gathering of Heads of State.

In December 1997, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted a code of behavior by consensus which contains new emissions targets for developed countries for the post-2000 period. This international treaty is called as “The Kyoto Protocol” or “The Kyoto Treaty”. Since developed countries of the world are responsible for 83.7% of the total emissions, the protocol asked the developed countries to commit themselves in reducing their collective emissions of six key greenhouse gases by at least 5%. Though an important milestone, the Kyoto agreement has not really been such effective since it aims to cut down the future carbon emissions but does not propose any solutions to nullify the affects of the carbon that has already been emitted into the atmosphere. Other global initiatives like UNESCO’s Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB), Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), WHO Program for Climate and many others are working to tackle the issue of climate change.

The goal of all these organizations and conventions is to cut down or at least minimize all those factors responsible for climate change. Resolute, urgent and collective efforts are needed on state, communal and individual levels to deal with the issue. One of the most effective ways to do so is to Increase the Awareness and Usage of the Bio-Energy. Bio-Energy is the energy made available from materials derived from the biological sources. It is actually the energy produced from the bio-mass. Biomass is the material derived from living organisms, which includes plants, animals and their byproducts such as wood. Manure, garden waste and crop residues are all sources of biomass. It is a renewable energy source based on the carbon cycle, unlike other natural resources such as petroleum, coal, and nuclear fuels. As Henry Ford said in early 20th century “The fuel of the future is going to come from fruit … weeds, sawdust-almost anything…”

Burning biomass efficiently results in little or no net emission of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, since the bio-energy crop plants actually took up an equal amount of carbon dioxide from the air when they grew. However, burning conventional fossil fuels such as gasoline, oil, coal or natural gas results in an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the major gas which is thought to be responsible for global climate change. Some nitrogen oxides inevitably result from biomass burning (as with all combustion processes) but these are comparable to emissions from natural wildfires, and generally lower than those from burning fossil fuels. Other gas emissions are associated with the use of fossil fuels by farm equipment, and with the application of inorganic fertilizers to the bio-energy crop. However, these may be offset by the increase in carbon storage in soil organic matter compared with conventional crops. Utilization of biomass residues which would have otherwise been dumped in landfills (e.g. urban and industrial residues) greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions by preventing the formation of methane.

In addition, bio-energy can effectively be used in almost every industrial, manufacturing and home application throughout the globe. Wood, construction waste, landfill gas, and liquid bio-fuels like bio-diesel and bio-oil can be used to produce energy that can be converted into electricity and heat. Liquid bio-fuels like ethanol, bio-diesel, and bio-oil can be used to power cars and other transportation. Being the fourth largest resource of energy after coal, oil and natural gas, the energy produced from the bio-mass can fulfill up to 14% of the world’s total primary energy demands and recent statistics show that only 10-15% of the total potential bio-energy sources have been used so far by the human population worldwide.

Along with its remarkable and efficient outcomes in decreasing the world’s carbon emission and fulfilling a considerable portion of the global demand for energy, Bio-Energy from the bio-mass also has several major socio-economical benefits. These benefits include increased rural income and reduced levels of poverty in developing countries, restoration of unproductive and degraded lands and promotion of economic development, diversifications of agricultural outputs, reduction of energy dependence and diversification of domestic energy supply, increased investments in land rehabilitation and effective usage of waste products. A recent economic survey found out that bio-energy creates more permanent jobs than any other energy sources with decrease in unemployment and increase in per capita income which contributes to a much healthy life style. It can also be instrumental in reducing food prices and ensuring food security throughout the world.

In keeping an eye over the huge opportunities the usage of bio-energy can offer, every possible step should be taken by the United Nations and the state governments all over the world to replace fossil fuels with bio-fuels. Since it is practically unrealistic to completely replace fossil fuels, intense attempt should be made to utilize as much of the natural energy resources as it is possible. On individual level too, we should adapt to these climatic changes and change our live styles in order to bring the total carbon emission under control. Driving less, driving a fuel-efficient car, preferring gas over oil, saving electricity, using lesser papers and planting more trees can be some of the small choices each human can makes to save the earth from rapid destructions of the climate change. It is not only an environmental issue. It is inherently linked with our lives on political, social, economical, ethical and more than anything else, on moral grounds. We do not lack in resources and capabilities but it is a high time that we confront the challenges of the climate change with utmost determination and a collective strategy.

As According to this year’s UNDP Report on Human Development “There is a window of opportunity of avoiding the most damaging climate change impacts, but that window is closing: the world has less than a decade to change course. Actions taken or not taken in the years ahead will have a profound bearing on the future course of human development. The world lacks neither the financial resources nor the technological capabilities to act. What is missing is a sense of urgency, collective interest and above all human solidarity”.

Noor Ali Noorani

Author: Noor Ali Noorani
Article Source: EzineArticles.com