TUESDAY 4 DECEMBER
The abnormal is the new normal—If anyone missed a number of reports that came out in recent weeks warning that the world is way off course to keep global warming to within tolerable levels, it was at the center of opening remarks by officials at the ministerial part of the conference that started today.
“Let us be under no illusion,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “This is a crisis. It is a threat to us all. Our economies. Our security. And the well-being of our children and those who will come after.” Mentioning that both New York and Beijing were under water this year, he added, “the abnormal is the new normal.” For the UN General Assembly President Vuk Jeremić, the situation could not be more graphic. “I personally believe that we’re dealing here with a threat to the future of our planet that is rivaled in its cataclysmic effects only by thermonuclear conflict.”
UN Agencies come together on climate—The heads of UN agencies, for the last several climate conferences, have held an event highlighting the UN’s work on climate change. This year the event was held with Qatar and the theme was finding solutions to the threats to food and water security due to climate change. In fact, almost two billion people live in the world’s drylands and more than a billion of them are among the world’s poorest. The problem is being compounded by accelerated desertification involving the loss of productive topsoil caused, in part, from the impacts of climate change. The Secretary-General was joined by the leaders of UNEP, WMO, UNDP, the World Water Council and the World Bank, as well as ministers from South Africa, Brazil and Nauru.
Generating momentum for change—The Climate Change Convention unveiled an initiative last year in Durban to highlight efforts that are making a difference in people’s lives and on climate change. The initiative came to Durban this year to highlight projects that help the urban poor. Convention head Christiana Figueres, before announcing nine winners, said the projects “help take us out of the Conference, out of the negotiations, to reality.” The winning projects covered a number of activities, such as improving busways in China, electric vehicles in Sri Lanka, better brick-making in Peru, and solar electricity in Uganda.
Garbage and climate change—Proper waste management creates jobs, reduces the size of landfills, reduces pollution and cuts greenhouse gas emissions, according to the International Solid Waste Association. A $430 billion industry, it employs 40 million people, half in the formal sector, half informally. But 70 per cent of all waste goes to landfills or open dumps and the result is the production of greenhouse gases. On the present course, the amount of emissions will triple by 2030.
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