Monday, 4 August 2014

The World's Minority and Indigenous Peoples Today

This blog is transiting from its traditional environmental discourse to the global discourse on the rights of Indigenous and Minority People. The world over, Indigenous and Minority Peoples face all sorts of discrimination. Below is a brief overview by Minority Rights Group International.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Marine Destrez: Climate Change and Human Rights

In the video below, my former course mate and friend Marine Destrez joins other analyst to discuss the relationship between climate change and human rights. The video is produced by FRONTLINECLUB and was created a couple of years ago..

Monday, 1 April 2013

The BRICS and Equity under International Climate Change Law

Formed in 2011 (actually the original ‘BRIC’ began negotiations in 2006 before South Africa joined the band wagon), BRICS is an acronym which has become the title for a conglomeration of countries with fast-rising economies comprising of: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Besides Russia, all BRICS members are developing or newly industrialised countries,
Leaders of BRICS
  they are characterised by their large, fast-growing economies and their significant influence on regional and international issues. Primarily, the BRICS aims to be an independent international organisation encouraging commercial, political and cultural cooperation among members. However, their emergence has had tremendous implications for international climate change negotiations, law and policy.

International climate change law and policy has always sought to be equitable in the distribution of adaptation and mitigation commitments among parties. Thus, through applying the rather controversial principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) the international climate change regime aims to take account of the varying circumstances and capabilities of each party.  Hence, both under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, the main responsibilities for addressing climate change are imposed on developed countries. Indeed, the Kyoto Protocol imposes legally binding emission reduction commitments exclusively on developed countries. Perhaps, the main reason the United States refused to sign and ratify the Kyoto Protocol was the exclusion of the BRICS countries (except Russia) from making legally binding emission reduction commitments.

Traditionally, negotiation blocs during international climate change conferences have been mainly between developed and developing countries. However, with the effusion of time more splits have emerged within the two main blocs. There have been splits between developed countries. On one hand we have developed countries like the EU, Australia, and until now Canada and Japan committed to their international climate change obligations. On the other we have the US refusing to make any commitments as a result of the domestic politics in that country and the desire to protect its economic interest. For developing countries, we have on one end Small Island Developing States, Least Developed States and other poor countries whose very survival is at stake. At the other end, we have developing countries whose economies are heavily dependent on the production and consumption of fossil-fuel and of course the BRICS, these ones are suspicious that developed countries are using climate change and the efforts to combat it as a strategy to slow down their economic development.

As the BRICS continue to flex their economic muscles, the time has come for them to also realise that it is high time they began to get serious with their international climate change obligations. While their economies are fast-growing so have their emissions of greenhouse gases risen to an astronomical level! Since the BRICS have been able to devise a means  of enhancing economic, political and cultural cooperation, including recently announcing a deal to establish their own development bank, I challenge them to come up with a common plan to reduce the impact their rising economies have got on the environment. They should kindly ensure they make legally binding commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and any Post-Kyoto instrument to reduce their emissions of GHGs. With growth in economic, political and technological influence comes a great amount of responsibility.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

NASA's recent Images of the Earth at Night: who are the Culprits of Climate Change?

Recent images coming from NASA reveals how the earth looks at night. The image below is quiet revealing.

Earth at Night- NASA, 2012

Whilst the picture above looks easy on the eye, it is perhaps one of the most revealing visuals about the extent of our energy consumption and their concomitant impact on our climate. According to NASA, those shining spots are city lights, gas flares, auroras, wild fires and reflected moonlight. Pause for a moment and consider the degree of carbon being emitted by these city lights and gas flares. Study the map again and imagine what proportion is being contributed by whom? Tells you something about the culprits for our changing climate doesn't it? Keep an eye on the US, Western Europe, North and South Korea, China, Brasil, India, Nigeria and South Africa. Note also the Middle East- I mean countries like: Saudi Arabia Kuwait and Iran.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Five Greenest Countries in the World - 2012 Ranking

The Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy (YCELP) in conjunction with the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University have designed the world Environmental Performance Index (EPI), a metric that focuses on a set of environmental parameters for which governments can be held accountable. These University research centres do release the EPI every year during the World Economic Forum

The mark scored by each country reveals how close such country may be to accomplishing its environmental goals. Below are the top five green countries in the world from the recent (2012 ranking list of 132 countries) which are officially the greenest in the world. Keep an eye on what score is assigned to your country.

1. Switzerland - score (76.69)
Switzerland topped the charts because it 'leads the world in addressing pollution control and natural resource management challenges.' The Swiss are working hard for creating a greener society. The government has imposed a fee for disposing thrash in the country, but the people are pretty interested in ecology as well. For example, there are cities, in which using a car is completely prohibited. That’s how Switzerland has made the top of the list this year.

2. Latvia - score (70.4)
Latvia coming second is as a result of benefits arising from its environmental policies that have improved its air quality, thereby benefiting people and ecosystems. Located on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, Latvia shares borders with the Russian Federation and Belarus to the east, Lithuania to the south and Estonia to the north.  With a coastline of over 500 km, the country’s history and present development are closely linked to the regional Baltic context.
3. Norway - score (69.92)

Norway already feels the consequences of global warming, as its north parts are close to the melting Arctic, so they’re taking a lot of measure to prevent any possible catastrophic scenario. The Norwegian government and the people as well, are making efforts to become carbon neutral  by 2030, although it is an oil export oriented country. They plan to make diesel fuel more expensive than eco fuels and stimulate people to use the second ones.

4. Luxembourg - score (69.02)
Luxembourg is performing well, despite its small size, a very interesting geological and landscape diversity as well as species richness. Nature protection and biodiversity conservation are therefore a crucial issue in Luxembourg that is being addressed by various integrated Action Plans put in place by the government.

5. Costa Rica - (69.03)
The Costa Rican government is strongly committed to the use of renewable energy sources. They have set a goal to become carbon neutral by 2021! That country has suffered deforestation for years in order to make space for agriculture, but now one of the main goals is reforestation of the country, planting over five million trees over the last six years.

These results would seem to suggest that it is possible for some middle-income countries, such as Latvia (per capita GDP $12,938) and Costa Rica (per capita GDP $10,238) to achieve impressive environmental outcomes. This also supports the idea that income alone is not a sole determinant of environmental performance – policy choices and good governance are also very important variables. Other countries that ranked within the first ten include: France, Australia, Italy, United Kingdom and Sweden both ranked ninth (with each scoring 68.82). To view the full list please click here. Please also find the full report available here.