Egypt Independent: Environment-Main news http://www.egyptindependent.com//enhome_channel/Environment/rss.xml en Is climate change fuelling war? http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2444089 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2014/10/21/484151/02climate-master675.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>For years, scientists and security analysts have warned that global warming looms as a potential source of war and unrest.</p><p>Storms, droughts, floods, and spells of extreme heat or exceptional cold: all can destroy wealth, ravage harvests, force people off land, exacerbate ancient rivalries and unleash a fight for resources, they say.</p><p>These factors are predicted to become more severe as carbon emissions interfere with Earth&#39;s climate system.</p><p>Yet some argue there is evidence that man-made warming is already a driver in some conflicts.</p><p>&quot;In a number of African countries the increase in violent conflict is the most striking feature of the cumulative effects of climate change,&quot; South Africa&#39;s Institute for Security Studies (ISS) warned in 2012.</p><p>&quot;In the Sahel region, desertification is causing clashes between herders and farmers because the availability of cultivated land is being reduced.</p><p>&quot;Climate-related effects of this nature are already resulting in violent conflicts in northern Nigeria, Sudan and Kenya,&quot; it added.</p><p>The idea leapt to prominence in 2007, when UN chief Ban Ki-moon said violence in Sudan&#39;s Darfur region was sparked in part by a two-decade-long decline in rainfall that devastated cattle herds.</p><p>Arab nomads were pitched against settled farmers in a rivalry for grazing and water.</p><p>The tensions bloomed into full confrontation between rival militias -- an escalation due &quot;to some degree, from man-made global warming,&quot; Ban argued.</p><p>Others have drawn a link between the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings and climate change-induced heatwaves in cereal-exporting countries.</p><p>Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan took their grain off the global market -- and within four months, global food prices hit their second record peak in three years.</p><p>This may have lit the fuse in powder-keg Arab countries burdened by poverty, youth unemployment and authoritarian rule, according to this view.</p><p>Former US vice president Al Gore, now a Nobel-honoured climate campaigner, believes climate change was a factor, among others, in the Syrian conflict.</p><p>&quot;From 2006 to 2010, there was a climate-related historic drought that destroyed 60 percent of the farms in Syria, 80 percent of the livestock and drove a million refugees into the cities, where they collided with another million refugees from the Iraq war,&quot; Gore said in Davos last month.</p><p><strong>- Caution -</strong></p><p>Climate scientists are cautious about drawing a causal link between global warming and current conflicts -- as opposed to future ones.</p><p>&quot;The example of Darfur is often put forward to illustrate the effect of climate on conflict between groups,&quot; French climatologist Jean Jouzel writes in a new book.</p><p>&quot;But the reality is more complex, and most researchers acknowledge that the political and economic context was the prime factor.&quot;</p><p>Mark Cane, a professor of Earth and climate sciences at Columbia University in New York, said there was &quot;a strong case&quot; to link discontent in Syria to the drought which in 2007-2010 was the worst ever recorded there.</p><p>But he pointed to a problem: ascribing a role for climate change, usually discernible over decades, to a single weather event.</p><p>Furthermore, &quot;it is impossible to look at any single conflict and argue conclusively that it wouldn&#39;t have happened but for a drought or some other climate anomaly,&quot; Cane told AFP by email.</p><p>Governance and other factors also weigh in, he noted. What magnified the impact of Syria&#39;s drought, for instance, was gross waste of water and a surge in population, other experts have said.</p><p><strong>- Risk factor -</strong></p><p>Scientists are cautious about declaring a link between conflict and climate change until the evidence is overwhelming.</p><p>In the military, though, it&#39;s different. Armed forces have to respond swiftly and cannot wait until the proof is all there, which is why climate is now a risk factor in their planning.</p><p>In many countries, military analysts already include climate change in risk management, Neil Morisetti, a former British admiral and climate advisor to the British government, now director of strategy at University College London, told AFP.</p><p>&quot;Some will say it (the risk) is here already,&quot; he said.</p><p>&quot;If you look at where climate change is going to have its greatest effect, and is already having an effect, it&#39;s that belt north and south of the equator... this is where a lot of raw materials are, where the world&#39;s supply chains and trade routes run, and where ultimately a lot of the number of the markets and emerging powers are.&quot;</p><p>And a volatile world, said Morisetti, &quot;poses a risk to political geo-stability.&quot;</p><p>Whether or not they agree that the effects are evident, the experts are united in their heralding of worse to come.</p><p>&quot;Human security will be progressively threatened as the climate changes,&quot; the UN&#39;s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCCC) warned in its overview report.</p><p>The Pentagon agrees.</p><p>&quot;Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty and conflict,&quot; it said in a 2014 Global Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap.</p> Wed, 11 Feb 2015 09:45:00 +0000 AFP 2444089 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2014/10/21/484151/02climate-master675.jpg Oil price slump puts at risk clean energy push: experts http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2442819 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/01/17/499612/solar_energy.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Falling oil prices could have a negative impact on global efforts to develop renewable energy sources, experts warned Saturday at a conference in Abu Dhabi.</p><p>Oil prices have fallen by almost 60 percent since June, crashing on worries over global oversupply and weak demand in a faltering world economy.</p><p>Participants at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) conference that opened Saturday in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE) said the trend could spell doom for plans to shift to clean energy.</p><p>The fall in oil prices could be a &quot;game changer&quot;, Italy&#39;s Deputy Minister for Economic Development Claudio Vincenti told the two-day meeting.</p><p>Oil price rises in the past encouraged clean energy investments, said Vincenti, adding that a long-term fall in prices could shift the balance among various energy sources. He did not elaborate.</p><p>Salem al-Hajraf, representing oil-rich Kuwait at the conference, agreed that falling oil prices posed a &quot;major challenge&quot; this year as was the case two decades ago.</p><p>&quot;The fall of oil prices in the 80s was a main reason behind the collapse of many renewable energy projects,&quot; he told participants.</p><p>Renewable energy, which relies on solar, wind and other sources, is essential for meeting global CO2 emission targets.</p><p>Delegates from more than 150 countries attended the opening session of the IRENA conference, including Israel with has no diplomatic ties with the UAE.</p><p>Representatives from more than 110 international organisations are also taking part in the meeting.</p><p>&quot;The story of renewables is rapidly evolving and as the importance of renewable energy grows, so does the relevance of the agency&#39;s work,&quot; IRENA director general Adnan Amin told the conference.</p><p>He said that total world investments in renewable energies had reached $264 billion in 2014, $50 billion more than the previous year.</p><p>At the meeting, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, in partnership with IRENA, will announce a series of loans for five renewable energy projects in developing countries, organisers said.</p><p>Abu Dhabi-based IRENA, with 137 member states and the European Union, aims to promote the sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy.</p><p><strong>- Future energy and water summits -</strong></p><p>The conference coincides with a series of events organised under the banner of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, including Future Energy Summit and an International Water Summit, both on Monday.</p><p>Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to attend Future Energy Summit while French Energy and Environment Minister Segolene Royal will take part in the water summit.</p><p>Abu Dhabi is to display a solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse 2, that does not use any fuel and which will fly out from the Emirati capital in March on a five-month tour, according to energy company Masdar.</p><p>In March last year, Abu Dhabi opened the world&#39;s largest operating plant of concentrated solar power, which has the capacity to provide electricity to 20,000 homes.</p><p>The Gulf region is one of the world&#39;s richest areas in sunshine but lagging far behind several other countries in harnessing the energy.</p> Sat, 17 Jan 2015 17:37:00 +0000 AFP 2442819 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/01/17/499612/solar_energy.jpg Environment Minister: Announcement of coal use requirements postponed to February http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2442658 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2014/11/24/499612/coal_use.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div><span style="font-size: 14px;">Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy said the announcement of the coal use requirements that was scheduled for January has been postponed to February to incorporate power plants, cement factories and other industries.</span></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The minister added that the cement factories are able to apply the new requirements fast because they have already updated their equipment to serve that purpose.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;The bylaws of the cement factories were changed in August 2012,&rdquo; he said. &lsquo;We became more stringent regarding the dust that comes out of those factories.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He also said that he had to give a grace period for the factories to readjust their equipment, as happened all over the world. &ldquo;I could not issue a decision to be implemented immediately,&rdquo; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 16:08:00 +0000 Egypt Independent 2442658 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2014/11/24/499612/coal_use.jpg Climate change: In 2015, the long march to Paris http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2442012 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2012/11/18/54605/march.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Agreements on climate change -- to paraphrase what the 19th-century German statesman Otto von Bismarck said about law-making -- are like sausages.</p><p>It&#39;s best not to know how they are made.</p><p>On December 11 2015, 195 states are scheduled to strike a deal in Paris to curb the fossil-fuel gases imperilling Earth&#39;s climate system.</p><p>The outcome will be determined in the coming months by Bismarck-style sausage-making -- a long, slow grind, and with many questionable ingredients.</p><p>What emerges will prompt future generations to either praise us for taming the carbon monster or curse us for short-sightedness and greed.</p><p>The stakes are &quot;nothing less than the shape of the climate regime for the next several decades,&quot; says Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a veteran US climate monitor.</p><p>&quot;2015 will set the stage for the living conditions of our grandchildren ? and their grandchildren, too,&quot; believes Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany.</p><p>Elliot Diringer of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), a US think-tank, predicts &quot;a tough year ahead&quot; in what is already a notoriously troubled UN process.</p><p>Half a dozen negotiation phases take place before Paris, the climax of a four-year bid to seal a global deal to take effect by 2020.</p><p>The first will be in Geneva next month, when countries must slim down a sprawling blueprint for the Paris pact, the legacy of a just-finished marathon in Lima.</p><p>After that, countries have a rough deadline for the first quarter of 2015 for putting voluntary emissions-curbing pledges on the table.</p><p>That&#39;s when the haggling starts in earnest, along with the toxic risk of finger-pointing and nit-picking.</p><p>Which countries are doing enough to fight climate change, and which countries are failing to pull their weight?</p><p>Developing countries say rich economies must do most.</p><p>After all, goes this argument, they bear historic responsibility for global warming, as they gorged on cheap and plentiful coal, oil and gas to power their prosperity.</p><p>Rich countries retort that the carbon division is out of date. It was based on the realities of 1992, when the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was born at the Rio Earth Summit.</p><p>Today, developing countries -- led by China, the world&#39;s number one carbon polluter -- account for around 60 percent of global emissions, thus making them the sources of tomorrow&#39;s warming.</p><p>The years-old &quot;differentiation&quot; row bedevilled Lima, but Diringer says there are hopes it may not be such a nightmare in 2015.</p><p>China has shown the way to other developing emitters by signing a bilateral deal with the United States, the number two polluter, while Europe is challenging other rich parties with its own 2030 pollution goals, he argues.</p><p>&quot;What&#39;s most important now is for other countries to declare their contributions to the Paris agreement,&quot; says Diringer.</p><p>&quot;As long as others follow the lead of the US, China and the European Union, we should have a decent shot at a meaningful global deal.&quot;</p><p><strong>- Political heat -</strong></p><p>After the summer break, the talks will be pressured by civil society and leaders such as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and, reportedly, Pope Francis. Mobilisation on this scale was last seen in the run-up to the ill-fated Copenhagen Summit in 2009.</p><p>By November 1, the UNFCCC will unveil a report that tots up the pledges to see how close they get to the coveted goal of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels.</p><p>If the tally falls badly short, that will set the scene for some frenzied work in Paris. What mechanisms can be added to ensure that the target is met?</p><p>Then there is money. For any kind of deal to emerge in Paris, poorer countries will demand that rich economies flesh out a vow to provide at least $100 billion annually in climate finance by 2020.</p><p>For the second time in six years, the nation-state system will be on trial to see if it can fix a global environment problem.</p><p>If it fails once more, interest will swing more and more to bilateral and regional action and carbon-cutting and adaptation measures by cities, businesses and individuals.</p><p>&quot;You have to remember that these international negotiations do not represent everything that&#39;s happening on climate,&quot; said Pascal Canfin of the World Resources Institute (WRI).</p> Tue, 30 Dec 2014 07:09:00 +0000 AFP 2442012 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2012/11/18/54605/march.jpg