วิทยาศาตร์ : Science

Taking stock of Post-Copenhagen: where are we heading

The high level climate talk that just ended in Koenigswinter, West Germany yesterday was hailed as an ice-breaking event. I wonder what was the carbon footprints this event generated to just "break the ice", supposed to pave a way to Cancun talk in November.

This, however, is a necessary step to ensure that UN climate talk remains on track, and continued to be supported. To recapture the failures in Copenhagen, again, among the complexity of emerging item agendas and "the building block approach" devised in Copenhagen, I see at least four major stumbling blocks that would have to be overcome for a successful negotiation:

On climate change, Thailand is not cutting it

Here we go again. Thursday it was India that joined the ranks of developing economies to announce significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in advance of the United Nations climate change discussions that begin in Copenhagen today.

So where is Thailand? When are we going to demonstrate any seriousness about our role in reducing emissions? After all, scientists warn that we're poised to receive a disproportionate share of the impact of global climate change. Our shores and coastal communities will be significantly impacted if the world as a whole does not start embarking on a major CO2 diet. Bangkok in particular will face major problems from flooding and sea level rise but, so far, hardly a word from our nation's leaders who reside here.

The Story of Cap and Trade

A new film, The Story of Cap and Trade, released last week on the internet illustrates the profit motives and flawed logic that are behind carbon trading schemes. In ten minutes viewers are given a simple tour of the flawed insight behind this approach, and why we must all work to oppose it.

It's amazing that as we struggle to get our hands around the current financial crisis, the recipes and schemes that precipitated the global economic downturn are being championed in Copenhagen this week as a core strategy to tackle climate change.

Climategate won't cool the Earth

On the eve of the most important climate change negotiations to take place to date, it's unfortunate that the upcoming proceedings in Copenhagen will be overshadowed by yet another attack on the science that has overwhelming shown that the Earth is warming, and it's our fault.

In case you've not heard, Climategate has taken hold of the blogosphere over the past two weeks. Someone apparently hacked the UK-based Climate Research Unit's email servers and found that a number of the world's more prominent climate scientists have been less t hen forthright in sharing data that might be contrary to the abundance of evidence that we're making the world hotter.

New Report on CDM in Thailand

Thailand might be mistaken for a committed climate change combatant if the only metric is its aggressive promotion of carbon credits' generation from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Since the country's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in 2002, CDM development represents Thailand's only tangible response to climate change: nearly one hundred CDM projects entering the project pipeline since 2005. However, a DRAFT report circulated today by Thaiclmate's Nantiya Tangwisutijit reveals that a survey of some of the more widely publicized CDM projects in Thailand reveal that they neither comply with the intentions of CDM as prescribed in the Kyoto Protocol, and may actually causing public health problems and disruption of communities. 

Factbox: Key issues on the table at Bangkok climate talks

Delegates at U.N. climate talks in Bangkok are trying to whittle down a complex negotiating text that will form the basis of a broader global pact to curb the pace of climate change.

The two-week talks are crucial because negotiators have very little time to trim the options and alternative wording proposals in the 180-page text with just over two months to go before a Dec. 7-18 climate meeting in Copenhagen.

Following are some of the main issues being discussed in Bangkok.

Grassroots power play

They don't use jargon such as 'climate change' or 'green revolution', but what like-minded villagers in remote areas of southern Thailand are doing is actually working to slow down global warming and promote energy self-reliance. MANIPULATING GRAVITY (left): Locals use simple designs to convert water flowing down a mountainside into energy. The water pushes the blades of a turbine runner connected to a generator; when the runner spins, electricity is produced. Karoon Khunthon, top right, standing next to an old model turbine of his. Supak Hatti, below right, is happy with his newly developed model.

Bangkokians emit CO2 as much as New Yorkers

Bangkok residents produced as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as New Yorkers and surpassed Londoners in their emissions. Both Bangkok and New York emitted 7.1 tons per capita in 2007. Bangkok's emissions were higher than that of London's residents, at 5.9 tons per capita, according to the Bangkok Assessment Report on Climate Change 2009, released today.

In 2005, Bangkok's total emissions of 43m tons almost equaled London and surpassed Toronto (44m tons and 24m tons, respectively). As rising greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), such as carbon dioxide (CO2), are primary contributors of warming temperatures, the likely consequences on the city, already prone to flooding and land subsistence, will be severe. Bangkok and its suburbs are already experiencing more severe and frequent flooding and more days with temperatures beyond 35 ํC.

Forest conservation not make it to the table

POZNAN, POLAND: Climate change negotiators failed to conclude a  new mechanism to cut greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation in  developing countries as the 14th conference of the parties to the UN  climate change pact ended here yesterday.  

Aree Watana Tummakerd, a key member of the Thai delegation from  the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and  Planning (Onep), said the REDD was a promising scheme to combat  climate change. The scheme would be good for Thailand, where community forests were intact and ready to serve the scheme.  However, she warned the principle of REDD could be distorted if it  is overly based on market mechanisms.

Learn from community for adaptation

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) proposed community based adaptation, which has so far accumulated experience from over 100 communities worldwide to be shared among the community network. Saleemul Huq, group head for Climate Change Department of the IIED, stressed on the need to learn from communities first before any adaptation measures are implemented in communities.

"We need to learn from what they do. And by understanding in what they do, we then can advise, "said Dr Huq.