In a recent study done by Frances Moore and Delavane Diaz of Stanford University which focuses on climate ‘damage functions’ point to stronger impacts on the world’s poor that will be caused by climate change, than predicted before. In a world divided as rich and poor, the study provides that while rich economies will grow well in a warmer world, the economies of the poorer countries would be significantly impacted.
Economic Impacts of Climate Change
The study “ Temperature Impacts on Economic Growth Warrant Stringent Mitigation Policy” states that “damage from climate change that directly affect growth rates have the potential to markedly increase the social cost of carbon because each temperature shock has a persistent that permanently lowers GDP.”
It adds that, “Continued warming therefore has a compounding effect over time, so that even very small growth effects result in much larger impacts than the traditional damage formulation.”
The study also provides that in a world impacted by climate change, “The average annual growth rate in poor regions is cut from 3.2% to 2.6%, which means that by 2100 per-capita GDP is 40% below reference.”
The poorer countries already sensitive to climate impacts due to their vulnerability will have more impact on their economies as the temperature increases. This is reinforced due to the impacts it would have on agriculture.
“Higher temperatures may be more damaging in poor countries because their economies are reliant on climate-exposed sectors such as agriculture and natural resource extraction, or because risk management options such as insurance or air conditioning are not as widely available. In this case we would expect the sensitivity of poor regions to warming to decrease as per-capita GDP increases,” explains the study.
Limiting Global Temperature Increase to Less than 2°C.
While climate negotiations focus around achieving the global level of temperature increase to below 2° C , the Small Island States and the least developed countries call for a target of 1.5 °C. And the call for the lower level is justified through the study which points out that there is a need to aim for lesser than 2°C. Predictions for the economically optimal pathway points to an increase in a global surface warming around 3–3.5°C which would risk the survival of many vulnerable states, and its communities.
Moore and Diaz’s study finds that if climate change does affect GDP growththen the best path to be adopted is to limit temperatures to between 1.6 and 2.8°C warming in 2100, with a best estimate of around 1.7°C warming.
Impacts on South Asian Economies
The South Asian region is the home of communities that are most vulnerable to climate change impacts. Countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal while being among the least developed countries on the economic scale are also among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change with frequent floods and glacier melts. As a small island state, Maldives is also among the most vulnerable communities in the world which are at the threat of losing their homes due to sea level rise caused by climate change. While the economies of Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India will also be impacted due to impacts on agriculture, on which the country’s food security depends.
World Bank data provides that South Asia remains the home to the most number of people living in poverty. According to the World Bank’s most recent poverty estimates “about 571 million people in the region survive on less than $1.25 a day, and they make up more than 44% of the developing world’s poor.”
While South Asia has an important role to play in the global economic development, with the world’s largest working-age population, a quarter of the world’s middle-class consumers, the largest number of poor and undernourished in the world will have a key impact on its capacity. Further, as the impacts of climate change are predicted to create impacts stronger than predicted previously, there is a need to take into account such impacts and move towards a low carbon economic path if the region is to move towards economic growth prioritising on inclusive growth for the region.
Following a successful visit to China in November that resulted in the US-China joint statement on climate change, President Obama is India. On Sunday, he achieved further success through bilateral cooperation between India and the US countries that focused on addressing climate change and energy issues. Both countries concluded negotiations on a five-year MoU on energy security, clean energy and climate change and an agreement to this effect expected as early as possible at a mutually agreed date.
India Not Pressurised by the US-China Agreement
Prime Minister of India negated the assumption that US- China statement on climate change pressurised India to collaborate with the US. While refuting the assumption he also added that his country’s decision to collaborate with US as a rightful duty to the future generations, bringing the focus back to the famous and India’s (probably) favourite element of climate negotiations for India – equity. In this case inter-generational equity.
He also pointed that the need for a global deal on climate change as the reason to move onto a collaboration with US. The PM of India at a news conference on Sunday said, “When we think about the future generations and what kind of a world we are going to give them, then there is pressure”. “Global warming is a huge pressure,” he added.
For a Global Deal on Climate Change
A key element of collaboration between the two countries is bilateral climate change cooperation. This includes not only US and India working together, but also working with other countries on climate change. This in turn would give hope that the expectation is to cooperate closely this year to achieve a successful and ambitious agreement in Paris.
Speaking on the Paris climate talks, the President of the US highlighted the need for India’s voice to be raised in a positive manner if a global deal is to be achieved in 2015. During the Conference to be held in Paris 196 countries will meet and negotiate on a course to address climate change. If urgent and ambitious actions are not made the global average temperature will be on track to levels that will be threatening for human survival on the planet. Given these reasons, the negotiations in Paris will play a decisive moment for all, especially for the most vulnerable states and communities of the world.
Collaborating on Climate and Clean Energy Goals
India and USA also pledged to enhance cooperation on the energy sector. While welcoming India’s intention to increase the share of renewable energy in electricity generation consistent with its intended goal to increase India’s solar capacity to 100 GW by 2022, USA intends to support India’s goal by enhancing cooperation in clean energy and climate change. The two countries already has a U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) umbrella program, and highlighted its willingness to expand policy dialogues and technical work on clean energy and low greenhouse gas emissions technologies. US-India deal also provides for the expansion of Partnership to Advance Clean Energy Research (PACE-R) a $125 million program jointly funded by the U.S. and Indian governments and private sector. The renewal includes extending funding for three existing research tracks of solar energy, building energy efficiency, and advanced biofuels for five years and launching a new track on smart grid and grid storage technology. Further, this includes accelerating Clean Energy Finance.
The US will also work on demonstrating clean energy initiatives on the ground including additional pilot programs and other collaborative projects, as well as developing an innovative renewable energy storage project and hosting a smart grid workshop. However this collaboration is not restricted to energy, but also includes fields of science, technology, innovation and agriculture.
Developing India, Polluting India
A developing country, India is also world’s 3rd largest emitter of green house gases. Although the need for cutting down emissions remains vital, the need for economic growth and reduction or poverty also plays a key role in India’s economy. In order to address the issues of development, while putting the country on a low carbon emitting trajectory, India needs to move for a rapid expansion of renewable energy. In this venture, the country needs investment and technology, and improving energy efficiency. It is to fill this gap that further US will provide financial support for India’s solar program.
“We very much support India’s ambitious goal for solar energy and stand ready to speed this advancement with additional financing,” said President Obama at a news conference in Hyderabad.
For developing countries, a fact that remains important in the shift to a low carbon trajectory is the price of renewable energy. This would be the reason as to why one of the requests from the Indian PM to Obama has been to ensure that renewable energy more accessible and affordable.
PM Modi has shown interest in the expansion of renewable energy as a way to mitigate country’s large-scale emissions. This shift could be seen as a sign that India is becoming positive towards achieving a global climate deal in Paris, end of 2015.The Prime Minister is reported stating that his nation along with all others has an obligation to act on reducing the fossil-fuel emissions blamed for damaging the climate.
US-India Nuclear Deal
The two countries also succeeded in forming a pact on nuclear energy allowing American companies to supply India with civilian nuclear technology. The nuclear deal which was held up for six years amid concerns over the liability for any nuclear accident has been finalised by setting up a large insurance pool allowing the deal to move forward without further need for legislation.
In the words of PM Modi, this marks a “new journey” of co-operation, with stronger defence and trade ties between US and India. The question is whether shifting to clean energy could be interpreted as a shift to nuclear energy, which is without carbon emissions yet equally dangerous as an energy source due to threats that it poses. If the assumption that cutting down emissions and shifting to renewable energy equals introducing nuclear energy as the solution, and other countries take heed and adopt the trend, it will not be a solution to the threats posed by climate change but another situation that needs to be dealt with caution.
One day you fall in love and that’s it. You just don’t know what hit you, but you strangely like it. That bi-polar disorder style feelings, the irrational up-downs of emotions, you live through it all.
The weirdest is setting up the alarm clock three hours into your sleep to make sure that the other would not miss his flight, and then actually not needing the alarm to ring to wake up before the expected time. You would be awake, waiting till it’s that time he wanted to get up and head out. Sometimes you surprise yourself by being unexpectedly considerate by letting him have those extra ten minutes of sleep.
Loving someone can be a strange thing, and loving doing that is even weirder I think. We all go through it: complains of never again, and the “I have no time to waste on this,” and the “pack and walk out” syndrome.
But when you know that every silly argument, tantrum (mostly due to your initiation) will end up with a smile or a hug, and know you can’t stop smiling when you see that other person, or he can’t stop smiling in your presence for no good reason (if he is not hysteric of course) you know you have found that person. The one you would not let go of, even if your sanity says you should, and all rationality might too.
At times you give into your heart, and you just enjoy that feeling. Just being in love.
Protests were held in Jaffna last week against alleged crude oil leakage by Chunnakam power plant. The protests which included students of schools, as well as hunger strikers demanded that action be taken to resolve the issue of leakage of crude oil by the Thermal power plant, which is alleged to be the cause of water contamination in wells in Jaffna. The protesters say that almost 400,000 litres of crude oil has been leaking from the Chunnakam thermal power station and seeping into local water supplies. They also demand the power station be closed based on these allegations; an immediate visit by the Minister of Energy and Power in order to resolve the situation; and a permanent solution to prevent contamination of water.
In a statement to media, Nothern Power Company (Pvt) Ltd denied allegations made against them and claimed that the allegations were made based on vested interest of other parties. It further explained that th ecrude oil which is discharged as waste from the power plant was stored in tanks and not released as they were sold to buyers.
The company’s statements to media also highlight that a large oil lake which existed within the previous State-run power plant premises before the thermal plant run by the company commenced its operations could be a potential cause for water pollution. It has also called for an independent committee comprising of specialists in the fields of environment, water resources, geologists and waste management be appointed to carry out an in-depth analysis of the problem using modern scientific techniques and ascertain the root cause of the contamination.
Environmental Impacts Assessments for Projects
Prior to setting up a power plant one would need an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The purpose of an EIA is to ensure that development plans or projects under consideration are environmentally sound and sustainable, and that environmental consequences are recognized and taken into account early in project design. Provisions of the National Environmental Act on EIAs provide that EIA /IEE process is mandatory only for “Prescribed” projects, 23 State Agencies have been designated as Project Approving Agencies (PAA) and provide for public inspection and comments on EIA reports. However the public hearing is at the discretion of the PAA.
Prescribed projects published in Government Gazette (Gazette Extra Ordinary No 772/22 of 24th June and No 1104 of 5th November 1999) are based according to two categories. This is by type and magnitude and by location. For example, thermal power projects over 25 MW, hotels over 99 rooms, highways over 10 km are required to undergo the EIA process under the magnitude category. However the Chunnakam power plant’s capacity is published as 24MW, which puts it below the capacity of projects qualifying as prescribed projects. Under the category of location, any project that is located in an environmental sensitive area such as river reservations, forest reserves, should undergo an IEE/EIA irrespective of the magnitude. Further, the EIAs are of two levels. One being the IEE (Initial Environmental Examination) and the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment). The Project Approving Agency decides whether an IEE or EIA is required and the criteria for selection will be based on the significance of impacts.
Chunnakam Power Plant and Environmental Licences
According to the information available on the Central Electricity Board website for development projects for which the CEB has received approval, a 132kV Transmission Line Project Killinochchi – Chunnakam for the power generated has been approved an IEE in 2010. However it does not provide information on the approval granted for the setting up of the power plant.
The capacity of the plant is at 24MW which escapes the mandatory prescribed projects category. The protesters allege that a proper EIA, and an assessment of impacts were not conducted prior to setting up the plant. The question that remains here is whether the capacity being kept to 24MW was a tactful move to avoid the mandatory EIA process for the plant, and fast-tracking the gaining of approval by the Public Approving Agency. This would also avoid the report on environmental impacts and assessment being not requiring mandatory publication to the public. However in statements the company says that it possesses the necessary environmental licenses and approvals and that quarterly checks are carried out based out on the conditions required by the licensing authorities. A call for them to be released to the public?
EIAs and Public Participation
A key element of the EIA project is the element of public participation. The EIA report is open for public for 30 days while IEE reports are not required to open for public. Also Public Approving Authority (PAA) must publish notices in the Gazette and the National Newspapers inviting the public to make comments. A public hearing maybe held at the discretion of the PAA.
The new President’s election manifesto promises information on developmental projects to be opened to the public. Would the case of the Chunnakam power plant and its impacts assessment be one such document? Should this be one to be included in the 100 days plan? Northern politicians have stated to media that the issue has been already been brought to the attention of the President. What remains to be seen are the actions that he would take to address this situation.
Addressing Water Pollution
The locals claim that the water is contaminated due to crude oil. If the allegations are justified, this would be cause of health issues needing immediate action. Crude oil contains highly toxic chemicals to which children and elderly will be most vulnerable. Exposure to crude oil in the air could cause difficulty breathing, headaches, dizziness, nausea, and confusion.
Even brief exposure to crude oil could cause health problems for people with asthma, COPD, and other respiratory problems. Direct contact with contaminated water can cause skin damage while delayed effects of crude oil exposure can include liver, kidney, respiratory, reproductive. Given the magnitude of health impacts that are as risks of the current situation, it would be of urgent need to take action to mitigate the damages caused. While it’s required to find out who is responsible for crude oil being leaked, it is of equal, or urgent importance that the health situation of those affected be addressed with immediate effect.
Minister of Resettlement, Reconstruction and Hindu Religious Affairs D.M Swaminathan has informed media that the President and the Prime Minister have been informed of the situation. It is also reported that necessary steps are being taken to eradicate the situation with the Ministry of Environment is looking into the matter urgently.
Northern Provincial Council has also appointed a committee comprising university academics from the North and the South to study the problem. The committee is expected to commence its investigations on January 27.
Food security and energy security are two important indicators of a country’s development. With president Maitripala Sirisena, Sri Lanka is expected to move towards policy changes on these two issues of impoartnce. An indication of what may come in the coming few years could be seen though President’s election manifesto which highlights the need to focus on food security and energy in Sri Lanka. The two themes being taken as being priorities can be noticed by the two appointments made for food security and energy among the cabinet ministers appointed on 12th January.
Food Security & Agriculture
Food security is one of the key aspects highlighted in the manifesto. One of the key concerns in addressing development, and also impacted by the adverse effects of climate change which would impact the yield of harvest and water supply food security is also impacted by the economic level of a country. President’s manifesto address this issue by focusing on the development of agriculture, focusing on healthy practices in the development of agriculture, and the use of indigenous knowledge.
Food security and agriculture are important in addressing climate change as well, given that the impacts of climate will have impacts on the agricultural sector and it is vital to make use of climate adaptive seeds. Further the manifesto addresses market mechanisms that threaten food security with anomalies and impacts on agriculture and transport of products. According to World Food Program data (2013) out of a total population of 1.2 million in the north, nearly 44% are food insecure. The assessment further indicated that the food security situation is fragile in poor areas due to a lack of livelihood and employment opportunities and consecutive natural disasters. The situation has resulted in people using negative coping mechanisms to meet household food needs highlighting the greater need to address the issue on an urgent level.
Land use and water resources are also focused with plans to maximising the use of available water resources and prevention of land grabbing in the name of development.
Energy security and low carbon development
On energy, there is focus on the transport sector. On the immediate level the energy consumption gives way to addressing corruption which impacted bad oil acquisition from countries. The manifesto also presents a sense of development of Sri Lanka as a sovereign state without the dependency on developed and oil producing countries. Subsidies are to be provided to the public transportation sector which would cut the costs of public transport at an initial level. The emission cuts are introduced following this step through a shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy. The steps of energy security moves from getting rid of dependency on foreign fuel purchases that are corruption based and overly priced which oppress the poor as well as reducing the price of electricity which will cut the use of fossil fuels for energy creation, to a better environmentally healthy solution which is based on renewable energy. Upon achieving this infrastructure is to be put in place for a renewable energy based developed, a cut on fossil fuel subsidies and shift from fossil to renewable energy is envisioned.
This pathway seems to address both the corruption in the increase of prices in transport and many sectors that are based on fossil fuel for the energy production, while envisaging a phase out of fossil fuel to renewable energy which will focus on mitigation of emissions of fossil fuels. If implemented with efficiency the projected plan would have a positive impact on addressing climate change, and development on a low carbon based strategy.
The first steps are based on the 100 day plan of the President. It would be interesting to see the changes that will be made to implement concrete steps to address the needs mentioned, and the aspirations of what is expected to be achieved through the manifesto for a food and energy secure Sri Lanka.
Note : The article could be found on Daily Nation on http://dailynation.lk/food-secure-energy-secure-sri-lanka/
The Security Council of the UN held its 7631st meeting, and its first session for the year 2015 on 19th January 2015. Addressing the session, Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon highlighted the need for inclusive development and stressed on the importance of 2015, which is a key year for key global issues that relate to development and environment. He further added that the UN was built on the three pillars of peace and security, development, and human rights and the ignoring one would lead to the peril of the others.
“Our Organization is built around three pillars: peace and security, development and human rights. In dealing with the enormous and complex challenges of each, we sometimes pay little attention to their interdependence. But the founders of the United Nations well understood that if we ignore one pillar, we imperil the other two…That is why I very much welcome the Security Council’s focus today on inclusive development,” he said.
He explained the importance of year 2015 and said, “2015, is a year of action on sustainable development. We are striving to complete the work of the Millennium Development Goals, to launch a new post-2015 sustainable development agenda and reach agreement on climate change.”
Ban Ki Moon said that he was encouraged to note the Member States have paid considerable attention to peace and security and to human rights while, in the General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, Member States have stressed the importance of inclusive growth and decent work, in building a better future.
Among the key concerns of the Member States on development are: reducing inequality and ensuring universal access to basic services including health care and education, peace with social inclusion, access to justice for all, as well as inclusive, representative decision-making.
The Secretary General stated that he sees the negotiations of the UN commencing on 19th of January an opportunity to broaden the development agenda and highlight the fundamental importance of inclusive societies in building a more peaceful world.
“All countries and all societies can benefit from sustainable and inclusive development, whether they are rich or poor, developed or developing, in conflict or at peace. There is a growing consensus that the high levels of inequality we have seen in recent decades are socially, politically and environmentally damaging,” he said.
He further stressed the need for inclusivity in the development agenda when he said, “Development that excludes part of the population can be socially corrosive… And it can lead to the unregulated exploitation of natural resources, further degrading the environment.”
Speaking of development of post conflict societies, Ban Ki-moon highlighted the need to prioritise social, economic and political inclusion.
“Post-conflict societies in particular must prioritize social, economic and political inclusion if they are to have any hope of rebuilding trust between communities. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are a key condition if women are to contribute to reconciliation and reconstruction,” he said.
He added that inclusive development is not one that comes by accident, even in those countries where there is peace, and that it is a multi-stakeholder process which needs to be driven with all party involvement.
“Governments, the private sector and civil society must demonstrate their commitment to education, health, job creation and other key steps. The institutions of governance and political representation are some of the most crucial determinants of inclusive development.”
The Secretary General highlighted the readiness of the United Nations system to increase its support for countries in promoting inclusive development, through steps such as coordinating international support targeted at countries emerging from conflict and urged the Security Council members to play their part in making sure that the opportunity presented in 2015 for addressing the development agenda be heard.
“The post-2015 sustainable development agenda is an important opportunity to reinforce the interdependence of development, peace and security, and human rights. I urge all members of the Security Council to play their part in making sure this message is heard in the continuing negotiations, and in the final agreement,” he concluded.
I recently came across a LinkedIn profile of a psychologist who claimed that she was providing counselling for youth who have issues regarding their sexual orientation. This came a bit disturbing given the existence of all the religious groups who think they can pray away or preach away homosexuality as well. One more to the list I would say! The grounds on sexuality seems yet not understood, but it is quite obvious that forcing someone to believe that homosexuality as a bad thing would result in them converting to heterosexuality.
Even more troubling is the fact is that going to a psychologist, be it for any reason seems to be a horrendous thing in this land. Something to keep hidden from the world, to avoid being judged upon, and what not that comes with it. Among the questions asked “Why do you need to go to a psychologist? Can’t you just decide to be happy and be it?” or, “You are just making things up in your head. You will only get worse if you go to these people!”
I recently put a status update on FB having seen the LinkedIn profile to check what people’s reaction to the assumption that change of sexual orientation/ the belief could be done through counselling. What I got instead was a thread of messages from people who told me not to put up statuses which indicate that I am going to a therapist.
Unfortunately for those who seemed excited about my prospect of seeing a psychologist, I will have to state that I am not YET seeing one, but if and when I do, I probably would write a blog post on it, and say why it might have helped me in achieving whatever it is I would have been seeking to achieve.
I will not write of you
Cz you asked me not to
I will keep the lines intact
For a novel of fact
Under a fictious tag
Of an amazing nag
(of me ofcourse)
I will write of men
Of women and their men
With nothing of exception
But just mere exemptions
In my life of desertion
Of those I ditch
I move on
I will not write to you
No words of harshness
Or gentle perversions
I will just not write
No words of randomness
One day you will look back
In all randomness
And think of all those
And the words
I might have written
If I just
Might have written.
Pope Francis has successfully grabbed the attention of many irrespective of religion. From speaking on gay rights, and being cited by President Barack Obama as a key player in improving the international relations between Cuba and the USA, the Pope seems to have made the impossible possible. His next step? A call of mobilise for climate change.
At a meeting recently held the Pope said, “Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness,”
Time is running out
His holiness’ interest in climate change was noted when the pontiff urged on the need to take action to Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s minister of the environment who was the host of the 20th Conference of Parties of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“The time to find global solutions is running out. We can find adequate solutions only if we act together and unanimously,” he said.
The Pope also has also expressed that climate change will affect all humanity with an added burden on the poorest and the future generations. He has described addressing climate change as a representation of serious ethical and moral responsibility.
Encyclical on climate change
Pope Francis’s next major step on climate action is a rare encyclical on climate and human ecology which is expected to be realised following his visit to Philippines in March. An encyclical is among the highest levels of teaching of pope’s authority. The document is expected to contain 50 to 60 pages, and is aimed at calling for action based on moral and scientific grounds.
Experts see the encyclical as a link between science and faith and a way faith could help science to see the deeper human implications. It is also a way to bridge the gap between the people of faith and people of science, and a means to encourage the two groups to work towards achieving a common goal.
Pope Benedict XVI’s request
Pope Francis is not the only Pope to speak on climate change. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI strongly supported international climate change action. Addressing the delegates of the COP17 of the UNFCCC held in Durban, Pope Benedict XVI said “ I hope that all members of the international community can agree on a responsible, credible and supportive response to this worrisome and complex phenomenon, keeping in mind the needs of the poorest populations and of future generations.”
However Pope Francis’ expected encyclical remains the first papal letter to be issued on environment.
Meeting of faith leaders and the UNGA
Following the release of the encyclical, the Pope is also expected to convene a meeting of faith leaders on the two key summits of 2015 : the United Nations General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals, and the Conference of Parties on climate change in Paris in December, he is also expected to speak at the UNGA in September.
The actions of the Pope are indicative of the intention to influence Parties to take action at the conference on climate change in Paris to take action. Over 20 years the countries have negotiated with not much success and year 2015 is crucial to create change in the world and to take immediate actions to address climate change.
Influencing the course of negotiations
Pope Francis has 60% approval rate among the global population’s according to a 2014 poll by the Pew Research Center, and he is extremely popular in the Catholic countries. His popularity is at 84% in Europe; 78 % in the U.S., and 72% in Latin America. Given these numbers it would be hard to imagine that his holiness’ call for action will go unnoticed, and without impact in changing the course of negotiations on climate change, as well as SDGs in 2015. At least one remains hopeful.