Egypt Independent: Science-Main news en CNN: COP21 climate change summit - Clock's ticking for a global agreement <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="302" src="" width="536"></iframe></p><div>The introductions and formalities are over. Now, it&#39;s crunch time to get a deal on a global climate change agreement.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Leaders of 150 nations are in the second day of the COP21 conference Tuesday. COP stands for Conference of Parties, an annual forum to try to tackle climate change on a global political level.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Many officials will convene in working groups before coming together and potentially hashing out an agreement.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>World leaders opened talks Monday in Paris saying the stakes are too high to end the conference without achieving a binding agreement to help slow the pace of global climate change.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Their main goal: agree on legally binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions meant to hold global average temperatures short of a 2 degrees Celsius increase over preindustrial global temperatures.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Even the pope weighed in on the magnitude of the conference.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We are on the brink. We are on the brink of a suicide, to use a strong word, and I am sure that most of those at the COP have this conscience, and want to do something,&quot; Pope Francis said said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div>On Monday, the leaders of the main players necessary to achieve the ambitious goal -- China and the United States -- sat down together at the COP21. They are the largest producers of greenhouse gases.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>President Barack Obama told the conference that the United States recognizes its role in creating climate change and its role in solving the issue.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I&#39;ve come here personally, as the leader of the world&#39;s largest economy and the second-largest emitter, to say that the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it,&quot; Obama said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Over the last seven years, we&#39;ve made ambitious investments in clean energy and ambitious reductions in our carbon emissions. We&#39;ve multiplied wind power threefold, and solar power more than twentyfold, helping create parts of America where these clean power sources are finally cheaper than dirtier, conventional power.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Chinese President Xi Jinping said that the conference &quot;is not a finish line, but a new starting point&quot; and that any agreement must take into account the differences among nations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Countries should be allowed to seek their own solutions, according to their national interest,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Russian President Vladimir Putin called climate change &quot;one of the greatest threats humanity is facing.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Russia not only prevented the increase of greenhouse emissions, it has reduced them,&quot; he said, promising a 70 percent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by 2030.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a &quot;comprehensive, equitable and durable agreement that leads us to restore balance between humanity and nature.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And German Chancellor Angela Merkel reminded the leaders of the &quot;billions of people pinning their hopes on what we do in Paris.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There is a broad consensus among scientists that global warming is driven by human activity, foremost the burning of fossil fuels.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Previous failures</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A look at previous global climate change negotiations illustrates the challenge in achieving this year&#39;s goals, especially when it comes to the biggest greenhouse gas emitters.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Probably the best-known milestone to come out of a previous conference was the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, a nonbinding agreement by 192 parties to lower greenhouse gas emissions to 5 percent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The United States did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol and dropped out of it completely in 2001. Canada dumped it, too, and China, India and other developing countries were exempt from it.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It has taken 20 years of UN negotiations to reach this attempt at a legally binding global emissions agreement, according to conference organizers.</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 12:52:00 +0000 CNN 2462536 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/12/01/501010/glacier.jpg Electricity Ministry to build 24 solar power stations <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>The Electricity Ministry has signed cost-sharing agreements with investors to build 24&nbsp;1,800 MW-solar power stations, in addition to three contracts for a 650 MW-steam power plant south of Helwan.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The agreements include the purchase of electric power, connectivity with the main grid and the usufruct of land. They also oblige the government to build four transformer stations using 220/66/22 KV.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Investors had initially complained when the ministry insisted in its tender that they take on the full cost of connecting the new stations to the main grid.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The agreements come within the framework of a program announced in October 2014 to build solar and wind power plants with a capacity of 4,300 MW between 2015 and 2017, including 2,000 MW of wind stations and 2,000 MW of solar energy stations. The remaining 300 MW will be used for solar projects of less than 500 kilowatts each.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The first station is scheduled to start operation in the first half of 2017 at a cost of LE15 billion. It is financed by a US$500 million loan from the World Bank, US$450 million from the Islamic Development Bank, 55 million Kuwaiti dinars from the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, 60 million Kuwaiti dinars from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, US$70 million from the OPEC Fund for Development and LE2 billion from the National Bank, in addition to the self-financing sources of the Upper Egypt Electricity Company.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 11:21:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2462519 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/04/09/499612/solar_power.jpg WWII-era device used to warn Alexandrians against raids discovered <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>A device used to warn Alexandrian residents of raids during wartime was discovered on the rooftop of a building in the coastal city, the Alexandria Antiquities Department announced.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A woman reported to the police that she discovered a strange, old device on the rooftop of her building in the eastern part of Alexandria. The Antiquities Department dispatched a committee to inspect the device, which turned out to be a warning device against raids.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A committee is inspecting how old the device is in order to determine whether it is an archaeological artifact, said Mohamed Abdellatif, head of the Islamic, Coptic and Jewish Antiquities Sector in the Antiquities Ministry. The device will be displayed in a museum after it goes through a process of restoration.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The device was most probably used to warn Alexandria residents against raids during World War II and the Tripartite Aggression, said the director of the Islamic, Coptic and Jewish Antiquities Sector in Alexandria and the North Coast, Mohamed Metwally.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The device resembles a compressor and has English inscriptions. It is connected to other smaller devices and counters, Metwally added.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm&nbsp;</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 11:20:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2462518 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/12/01/16030/image_1.jpeg Central America tests drought-resistant 'miracle' beans <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>&quot;These beans are miraculous because they beat droughts,&quot; crowed Manuel Ceren, a farmer in El Salvador trying out a hybrid, climate change-defying crop produced by Salvadoran, Colombian and Honduran experts.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In Quezaltepeque, a village 30 km north of San Salvador, Ceren and 13 other co-farmers feel fortunate to be the first testing the bean.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>They proudly showed off an abundant harvest of around 0.7 of a hectare (1.7 acres) of the bean grown on the farm where they work, to the awed gaze of visitors.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We were very careful with this initial experiment with these beans, which were hit with a 15-day drought and two storms,&quot; the 45-year-old manager of the farm, Baltazar Garcia, told AFP.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Other people called us crazy. But today a lot of them are admiring the harvest.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The type of light red bean they are using, which is also resistant to an infection known as bean golden yellow mosaic virus, was painstakingly developed with the help of El Salvador&#39;s National Center for Agricultural and Forestry Technology (CENTA).</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dubbed CENTA-EAC, the bean is not a biotech crop designed by genetic engineers slicing up chromosomes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Rather it is the product of hybridization: the combining of naturally formed plants to form a cross-breed.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;You could say it&#39;s the simple cross-fertilization of red bean and black bean plants in a process that in this case took five years of selecting and discarding plants until the desired variety was created,&quot; a CENTA researcher, Aldemaro Clara, explained.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>A search for better crops</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Salvadoran experiment came as a prolonged drought settled on Central America this year, causing heavy crop losses across a broad swathe of land stretching from Costa Rica to Guatemala.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Because of the lack of water, 2.3 million small Central American farmers will need food aid, the UN&#39;s World Food Program has warned.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The CENTA-EAC bean is part of a decade-old effort by laboratories in the region to come up with hybrids able to survive and even prosper during the recurring droughts. With the help of farmers, it was noted that it was possible to come up with crops adapted to extreme weather conditions.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Our mission to produce seeds resistant to climate change, which in this region means against high temperatures, long droughts and extremely heavy rainy seasons,&quot; Rolando Ventura, another CENTA researcher, said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The whole region is working along the same lines. In Guatemala, scientists are working on the ICTA-Chorti, which will not only resist droughts but also be rich in iron.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In Nicaragua, another institute has made a variety of red bean, the INTA-Tomabu, also able to survive when water is scarce.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Corn, tomatoes and cacao</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Candida Lazon, who is trying out that bean on her farm, said: &quot;Here, it almost never rains. We have managed to grow the INTA-Tomabu bean by watering it just once every 12 days. I&#39;m thrilled about this seed because it adapts to the very dry local climate.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It&#39;s not beans that are being made to &quot;adapt&quot; to climate change.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In Panama, one of the first countries in the region to work with types of corn resistant to changing weather, has come up with a new seed.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;In the case of corn, these seeds are compatible with higher temperatures, 35 to 36 degrees (95 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit), and drought-tolerant,&quot; said Jose Alberto Yau, deputy director for seeds at the country&#39;s IDIAP Agriculture and Fishing Research Institute.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In El Salvador, farmers already have the option of using a type of corn called CENTA-Pasaquina, but it has fallen from favor because of its perceived low yield.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Nicaragua meanwhile has a type of virus-resistant tomato seed christened INTA-Jinotega that copes with temperatures over 25 degrees centigrade.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In Costa Rica, it&#39;s cocoa -- a crop essential to the economy -- that is being looked at in the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center with hopes of coming up with a more resistant variety.</div> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 10:16:00 +0000 AFP 2462515 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/12/01/501010/beans.jpg