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Arctic Portal News Portlet

12 January 2010

carsten_egevang_1994Recently, a new international study on The Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea) was released revealing an impressive migratory pattern of the small seabird. An international research group with researchers from Greenland, Denmark, the US, UK and Iceland successfully mapped the impressive migratory pattern of 71,000 km from Greenland to the Weddell sea on the shores of Antarctica and back. What is interesting is that the Arctic tern flyes two different patters depending whether it is going north or south and spends almost a month on an island in the North-Atlantic before heading south. In addition, the birds separate on the coast of northwest Africa on their way south, half of the birds continuing down the coast of Africa the other half crossing through the Atlantic Ocean flying down south along the east coast of South America.

The migration of the Arctic tern is the longest animal migration known today, which is very impressive considering that the bird is just over 100 grams.

For more information, please visit the Arctic tern Migration Project homepage

(image: Carsten Egevang)

16 December 2009

connieCOP15 president Connie Hedegaard resigned this morning. Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen will replace her as head of the Conference. Hedegaard has maintained herself that nothing dramatic is behind her resignation and that she will continue her work as a negotiator in the COP15 as a special representative of Mr. Lokke Rasmussen. Over 100 heads of States will arrive to Copenhagen for the last three days of negotiations and it is only natural that the Danish Prime Minister takes over the presidency of the Conference at this point, she said.

As the stakes are getting higher only three days being left of the Conference, the political pressure is increasing. Developing countries are not satisfied with the draft layed down by the inductrialized countries and it seems increasingly difficult to get industrialized countries to agree upon Kyoto-like procedure, where developed countries bear the main responsibility of the emission reduction.

15 December 2009

WWF logo

WWF International Arctic Programme’s quarterly publication The Circle has been issued and is now available online on the WWF homepage. The issue is dedicated to changing living conditions of Arctic species and includes articles on sea ice, Caribou, marine mammals and Arctic birds.

14 December 2009

pollution from industry

China, India and other developing nations boycotted Climate talks today, as a protest and to demand that rich countries discuss a far more extensive cut in their emissions. This is believed to include 135 nations, which will refuse to participate in any formal working groups until the issue was resolved.

This has to bee seen as a setback for the talks, and illustrates the long-term dispute between rich and poor nations over emissions cuts and financing cuts to deal with climate change. This has however not been interperated as the talks are falling apart al together but rather as a ploy intended to move the agenda to the responsibilities of the industrial countries before the arrival of over 100 world leaders are scheduled to arrive in Copenhagen.

14 December 2009

Police securing area from protesters

More than 200 Protesters were arrested in Copenhagen on Sunday. Approximately 1000 protesters from across Europe were present, the crowd started targeting the Danish shipping giant Moller-Maersk which is when the Police decided to intervene. When some of the activists refused to cooperate an intire group of 200 people were arrested including a times reporter. The protesters were moved to a warehouse in Valby which has been set up with contemporary holding cells. A police spokeswoman confirmed around 200 arrest and pointed out that it was an illegal demonstrations and that some of the activists brought gas masks and things to throw.

Yesterday 968 protesters where arrested during a mass march on the summit venue yesterday afternoon, out of these 968 all but 13 have been released.

10 December 2009

So far the major issues around the Copenhagen COP15 have concentrated on the participation of world leaders to one of the biggest gathering in the field of environmental law and politics. The aim is to reach an agreement on post-Kyoto CO2 emission reduction. Many leading scientists maintain that the world's CO2 rate has reached dangerous levels and that if nothing is done to reduce the emissions the world will face unprecedented consequences. Legally binding agreement for the world's leading polluters is inevitably necessary, but it is debatable whether the political will of states is enough to create any change.

In addition to the politicians, Copenhagen has attracted a vast amount of representatives from different fields of civil society. In recent years, many global movements have been created around the action against climate change and many of them have now gathered to Copenhagen.  On wednesday a small group of activists from 350 movement demonstrated outside the conference hall demanding fair and legally binding climate deal. Further, members from other global movements, such as Tck and many others are gathering to People's Climate Summit, an NGO Summit, to draft what they call "A People's Declaration".

Despite the huge pressure to seal the deal in Copenhagen, some doubts have been expressed on whether the solutions that are on the table are the best ones and whether they actually solve any of the problems. Just last week one of the leading climate change scientists James Hansen from Nasa’s Goddard Insitute, expressed his doubts on the existing emission trade system comparing it to selling indulgences. He claimed that under the Kyoto mechanisms rich countries buy cheap emission credits from developing countries contributing that way to the existing economic unbalance in the world and some of the worst poverty scenarios. Further, it has been maintained that the Kyoto mechanisms do not actually address the real problem, the CO2 emission, but are one more scam for large corporations to gain money.

Here below you can watch Annie Leonard's provocative and eye-opening short film on cap and trade, the main mechanism in use  to combat CO2 pollution.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pA6FSy6EKrM]

9 December 2009

larslokkeGuardian / cop15.dk - There seems to be a great change coming in the climate change negotiations, after the "Danish" draft of an agreement was leaked to media yesterday. The developing countires accuse the draft of being a legalisation of the developing / industrialised division in the world and contributing to the already existing problems in the developing countries. The UNFCCC head Yvo de Boer on the other hand said that only an informal paper is in question and that formal proposals will be only provided by the Chairs of the Conference.

It will be though interesting to see if the text of the "draft" gives any hint of what can be expexted on behalf of the industrialised countires and whether the so much talked about political will is actually only a wishful thinking.  What is sure is that the negotiations are of crucial importance for the global community and a just and equal agreement should be reached for the benefit of us all.

4 December 2009

climateNow when almost all the major players have announced their emission reduction targets, the talk has turned to money and the ways the battle against climate change can be financed. The US has proposed that a new climate fund should be established under the World Bank, which would direct funding to climate projects in developing countries. Further, the Asian Development Bank intends to direct 700 million dollars to two new investment funds that will primarily concentrate on financing climate change projects in developing countries. In short term, it has been estimated, that some 10 billion dollars are needed to cover the costs of the most current developments. In long term, some 100 billion dollars a year might be needed to cover the costs of climate change adaptation.

4 December 2009

caseimage_toppenArctic Council - During the COP15, December 7- December 18, an Arctic Venue will be held at The North Atlantic Quay in Copenhagen. In the Venue, Arctic cooperation and the latest Arctic research will be introduced as well as the Arctic reality as it appears today to the Arctic residents presented in various exhibitions, booths, posters, lectures and debates. The Quay itself will be wrapped up as an iceberg, an installation designed by Greenlandic artist Inuk Silis Høegh.

The Venue is open daily during the COP15 between 12.00-18.00.

(image: Arctic Council)

4 December 2009

main-windmillen.cop15.dk - As important as it is that the world leaders join together to find solutions to world's most severe problems, it is also important that the generations that will carry out most of the work in future that contains in the decisions made today get to have a say and share experiences globally. Children's Climate Forum, a collaboration between UNICEF, the City of Copenhagen and 22 Danish school classes, brings 165 children from 44 countires to Copenhagen to share their experiences on climate change and the problems their countries are facing due to the global warming. During the Climate Forum the children debate climate solutions, concluding the experience in a resolution that will be handed to Connie Hedegaard, the COP15 President.

4 December 2009

cop15Already 65 world leaders have confirmed their attendance to the COP15 in Copenhagen in two weeks. What is, however, still unclear is whether the heads of states of the world's top three carbon polluters - USA, China and India - will attend. The Arctic countries are well represented in the climate change conference, since in addition of being hosted by Denmark, the conference will attract JIm Prentice, the Minister of the Environment and Michael Martin, Chief Negotiator and Ambassador for Cliamte Change from Canada and Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Prime Minister and Svandís Svavarsdóttir, the Miniter of the Environment from Iceland. In addittion, Finland will send both the Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen and the President Tarja Halonen in association with Paula Lehtomaki, the Minister of the Environment and Jan Vapaavuori, the Minister for Housing and Nordic Cooperation.

Sweden and Norway are yet to announce their delegation, but they are as well expected to send a high-profle delegation.

4 December 2009

Background

global-warming-and-kyoto-protocol_2One of the major international environmental and political challenges of our time is the climate change. It has been known for some time now, but for economic reasons it has been very difficult to find shared stand on what to do and how to do it. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which entered into force in 2005, is the first legally binding climate change solution that the international community has been able to agree upon.

The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol are the targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European Community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to the limits, the Kyoto Protocol introduces three mechanisms how the targets are to be met. Primarily, the countries were to reduce the emissions through national measures, meaning that they were to take action to actually diminish their greenhouse gas pollution. But since the economies of most countries are highly dependent on industries that are high polluters, three other mechanisms were introduced to ease the reduction scheme.

The industrialised countires were given opportunity to trade emission units they themselves did not use, earn emission credits by implementing an emission-reduction project in developing countries or earn emission reduction units from a joint investment on emission-reduction or emission removal project in another industrialised country.

Major Post-Kyoto Challenges

All has come to nothing the fact being that almost all the industrialised countries that have ratified the Kyoto protocol are far from their targets for 2012. Another, and perhaps even more severe, drawback is that the biggest polluters in the world, the USA, China and India, either did not ratify the Protocol or were not categorised as industrialised countries under the Protocol thus not being under any emission reduction scheme.

cop13_15_6_400The Bali Road Map, adopted in the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) in 2007 in Bali, Indonesia includes the Bali Action Plan, which charted the course for a new negotiation process designed to create a climate change solution package for post-Kyoto era. The Bali Action Plan indentified the COP 15, the upcoming Copenhagen UN Climate change Conference as the major event, where a new legally binding post-Kyoto agreement is to be enacted.

One of the major challenges for the Copenhagen Conference has been the engagement of the world's biggest leaders. Despite the very good ratification situation, the Kyoto Protocol fails to address some of the major problems of today, namely the emergence of new industrialised powers. China has already announced that it aims at cutting its carbon emissions by up to 45 percent as measured against its economic output – a target aimed at keeping its surging growth while still reining in pollution, while India has not clearly expressed its will to cut emissions, but only to accept "deviation from business as usual". The US, which never ratified the Kyoto Protocol has as well already announced that it is going to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 17%.

Now at the eve of the Conference many significant countries have announced their willingness to sign a binding treaty on emission reduction. The Commonwealth, a 53-member state union, has stated that a deal should be adopted no later than next year and 10 billion US dollars should be made available to help developing countries to reach their emission goals.

The COP15 negotiations start on Monday, December 7 and will be carried out throughout the two week period closing session being on Friday, December 18. In addition to the actual COP15, 5th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 5) will also be held in Copenhagen at the same dates. Further, 31st Session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 31), 31st Session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 31), 10th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 10) and 8th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA 8) will takeplace in Copenhagenbetwenn teh December 7 and December 18.

For more information, please visit the COP15 homepage

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3x4OnMPeCs]