Collaboration by various stakeholders including governments, NGOs and research bodies is needed now to rapidly scale-up the African agricultural sector to improve food security and resilience to climate change,” says Estherine Fotabong, NEPAD Programmes Director, at the NEPAD Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) event held on the sidelines of COP21 in Paris, on 7 December 2015.
Research by NEPAD (www.Nepad.org) through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme shows that climate change effects are becoming more frequent and more severe, threatening the reliability and productivity of agriculture, exacerbating the already extreme levels of poverty, and reinforcing persistent inequity and chronic under-nutrition.
The African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) is supporting the implementation of CSA in Africa through the Agriculture Climate Change Programme and other related initiatives. These efforts will sustainably increase productivity, resilience and adaptation, as well as build capacity at all levels, especially for smallholder farmers and institutions in order to attain the goal of 25 million African farmers practicing Climate-Smart Agriculture by 2025.
“The African agricultural sector employs 65 per cent of the continent’s population, 50 per cent of them are women and climate change is predicted to have significant impact on agriculture, therefore, constituting a major hurdle for Africa,” says Miti Chikakula, COMESA Agriculture Officer.
“By adopting CSA practices, smallholder farmers can reduce the risks they face due to climate change, while enhancing food security and livelihoods,” he adds.
As negotiations for COP21draw to a close , participants raised concerns about the need to include climate smart and gender appropriate policies in the COP21 agreements because women are the majority of African smallholder farmers. Participants also commended the NEPAD Agency’s efforts in making Climate Smart Agriculture a reality for millions of smallholder farmers and forestalling the negative impacts of global climate change..
The side event discussed the continent’s approach to climate change and agriculture, showcased progress, experiences, and lessons from recent work to support the scaling up of CSA in Africa and the way forward beyond COP21. Discussions also centered on what efforts are required by both Africans and development partners to bring aboutpractical and grassroot-based actions on agriculture and climate change; and opening up new opportunities for African farmers.
In closing, Martin Bwalya, NEPAD Coordinator of Programme Implementation reaffirmed NEPAD’s commitment to fighting climate change in Africa and to enhancing resilience and livelihoods through smart collaboration across all disciplines and sectors; evidence based processes; expanding the cadre of negotiators in terms of numbers and fields; strengthening capacities of smallholder farmers and institutions; embracing local knowledge and involving women who are active participants and players in agriculture.
Though, the major factor attributed to climate change is the emission of toxic gas such as Carbon dioxide to the atmosphere mostly from industrial countries in the past hundred years, it is developing countries that are highly vulnerable to its effects. Countries all over the world have come up with adoptive and mitigation mechanisms based on their respective capacity to respond to the change. Most importantly, it is vital to building environmentally friendly green economy to withstand the effects of climate change in the long run.
Ethiopia has been trying to build a Climate-Resilient Green Economy to addressing both climate change adaptation and mitigation objectives. Various institutions were also established to follow up the proper implementation of the green economy strategy.
The government for more than a decade has devoted its time, finance and energy to establishing institutions and providing capacity building training for their staffs. In addition, significant amount of budget for conducting research on climate change and global warming were allocated to several pertinent institution. Among such institutions, the Ethiopian Environmental and Forest Research Institute (EEFRI) which is set to play pivotal role in sustaining the continued building efforts of the green economy for which the country has gained recognition internationally. The institute would in particular help to reduce the widespread deforestation and enhance the utilization of forest.
Recently, the institution held its annual meeting. Ethiopian Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry, State Minister Kebede Yimam on the occasion said global warming climate change has become a burning global issue as it endangered the very livelihood of human beings. In continents like Africa where economies are mainly dependent on agriculture, the extreme weather conditions resulting from climate change have put the success of the struggle against poverty into question, he said adding, to address this challenge, action plans based on relevant research should be made available for environmental protection, proper land management system and afforestation and EEFRI could play an immense role in this regard.
He further added that while there are several institutions which are concerned about issues of climate change, because of lack of coordination, their joint efforts to mitigate the problem has gone disarray. Hence, coordinating the effort for common action is essential, he added.
The EEFRI Director Dr Wobalem Tadese on his part said EEFRI is established to introduce and adopt new environmental and forest research technologies with the support of stakeholders. It also coordinates national environmental researches and their outcomes to ensuring future achievement.
Currently based on the mission given to it in the second Growth and Transformation Plan, the institution has prepared its own plan and equipped itself with the necessary manpower and laboratory apparatus for the successful implementation of the plan.
He further said based on the 40 years accumulated research documents on forests, the institution has prepared research strategy which will be implemented in the next 10 years. Besides, research will also be conducted to enhance the contribution of the forest sub-sector to the GDP and to deter water and soil pollution.
According to one paper presented at the meeting, Ethiopia spends considerable amount of hard currency to importing forest products. Hence, supporting the sector through scientific research is vital to substitute the import and save the hard currency.
On the other hand, the issue of climate change should also take both dry and liquid waste management into consideration. Because, if not properly managed, the waste generated from individual households, hospitals, garages, open latrine and industries would cause pollution and endanger the various ecosystems. Thus the cumulative effect further aggravate climate change and global warming.
Special adviser to the EEFRI, Professor Fasil Kebede who was also a presenter of a paper emphasized that environmental pollution occurs when the physical, chemical and biological character of land, water and air changes because of pollution.
Study shows that in Addis Ababa and its vicinity, there are about 2500 medium and small industries and 90 percent of them have no liquid waste treatment plant. Annually, they release about 5 million cubic meter of polluted water which is released to rivers around Akaki. As a result, in downstream areas near Akaki, farms and their cattle who utilize the water from the main Akaki river have been affected and exposed to health risks. As to Fasil, though the Addis Ababa city administration environmental protection proclamation clearly stipulate that polluters should be accountable to their actions, there is still gap in enforcing the law.
Regarding dry waste management, Fasil noted that, each day about 250 tones of waste is released from households, institutions, markets and factories. However, only 65 percent of the waste is properly dumped while 20 percent is utilized for compost and recycled.
Fasil further said that 60 percent of Addis Ababa’s waste is bio-waste and it can easily be converted to fertilizer but though a lot remain to be done in this regard. In addition, the waste generated from aggro-industries can be converted to bio-gas and bio-fertilizers. In general, if the necessary technology, finance and human resources are made available, waste can be converted into something useful.
Climate change impacts and associated changes in water resources could lead to reductions in electricity production capacity for more than 60% of the power plants worldwide from 2040-2069, according to a new study published today in the journal Nature Climate Change. Yet adaptation measures focused on making power plants more efficient and flexible could mitigate much of the decline.
“Hydropower plants and thermoelectric power plants—which are nuclear, fossil-, and biomass-fueled plants converting heat to electricity—both rely on freshwater from rivers and streams,” explains Michelle Van Vliet, a researcher at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria and Wageningen University in the Netherlands, who led the study. “These power-generating technologies strongly depend on water availability, and water temperature for cooling plays in addition a critical role for thermoelectric power generation.”
Together, hydropower and thermoelectric power currently contribute to 98% of electricity production worldwide.
Model projections show that climate change will impact water resources availability and will increase water temperatures in many regions of the world. A previous study by the researchers showed that reduced summer water availability and higher water temperatures associated with climate change could result in significant reductions in thermoelectric power supply in Europe and the United States.
This new study expands the research to a global level, using data from 24,515 hydropower and 1,427 thermoelectric power plants worldwide.
“This is the first study of its kind to examine the linkages between climate change, water resources, and electricity production on a global scale. We clearly show that power plants are not only causing climate change, but they might also be affected in major ways by climate,” says IIASA Energy Program Director Keywan Riahi, a study co-author.
“In particular the United States, southern South America, southern Africa, central and southern Europe, Southeast Asia and southern Australia are vulnerable regions, because declines in mean annual streamflow are projected combined with strong increases in water temperature under changing climate. This reduces the potential for both hydropower and thermoelectric power generation in these regions,” says Van Vliet.
The study also explored the potential impact of adaptation measures such as technological developments that increase power plant efficiency, switching from coal to more efficient gas-fired plants, or switching from freshwater cooling to air cooling or to seawater cooling systems for power plants on the coasts.
“We show that technological developments with increases in power plant efficiencies and changes in cooling system types would reduce the vulnerability to water constraints in most regions. Improved cross-sectoral water management during drought periods is of course also important,” says Van Vliet. “In order to sustain water and energy security in the next decades, the electricity focus will need to increase their focus on climate change adaptation in addition to mitigation.”
The topic of climate change is at the heart of recent discussions, as world leaders from over 190 countries met in Paris at the UN Conference and an estimated 70,000 people marched in London to raise awareness of global warming. Our carbon emission is no longer a problem, but a serious threat.
The majority of our activity here on earth emits carbon dioxide as well as a range of other greenhouse gases. The gas emission traps the sun’s heat, leading to the increase of global temperature. The stakes are higher than ever before, as the rise of even a few degrees is enough to turn the earth into an unstable environment, unsuitable for humans to flourish. Western societies are responsible for the highest amount of emission; however, the harsh effects of this are felt most by those in vulnerable positions in many developing countries. From life-threatening floods to droughts, humans all over the world who are least responsible are paying the price for our excessive use of resources.
With seasonal holiday travel just around the corner, it’s a good time to question whether we, as much as our own government, have a responsibility to live and travel in a conscious and sustainable manner.
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines ecotourism as responsible travel to countries with a mindset that aims to conserve the environment, minimise impact and improve the well-being of local people. Eco-travel allows you as a tourist to build environmental and cultural awareness; in effect, providing positive experiences for you, the visitor and your hosts. The two overlapping factors of conscious travel are ecotourism and ethical tourism. The world trade organization reports ecotourism to be the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry worldwide.
The availability of cheap travel means that now more than ever, people seek to go on holiday, even if it’s just for a few days. We often allow ourselves to spend more money and purely enjoy the experience of not having to worry about anything other than eating, drinking and sight-seeing. After all, you’re on holiday! Yet, it’s this kind of mentality that is a part of excessive resource waste that is a huge challenge of mass tourism.
By embracing conscious travel, you can allow yourself to feel more present and mindful of the whole experience. Here are some suggestions to help you become a conscious traveller:
The central focus of ecotourism is the preservation and protection of local environment and culture and, as a result, volunteering in both rural and natural landscapes is commonly associated with ecotourism. Whilst it is a great way to learn new skills and offer hands-on assistance with conservation of coastlines, animals and national parks, it has now become a student phenomenon, where organisations often expect large amounts of money in return for the opportunity to help. Many are dissuaded by the idea of having to pay organisations for such placements when the same money could be used on a fun holiday instead. However, there are a number of animal sanctuaries and national parks all over the world that will openly allow you to volunteer without having to pay a penny! These establishments are much harder to find because they do not advertise placements through other agents and instead will value your time if you approach them yourself.
Ecotourism is not limited to volunteering in nature. You can find opportunities to be a conscious traveller in virtually any city in the world. Sustainability: how you get to a city and find your way around it, is incredibly important. This means you should find creative ways to reach your destination and whilst there, try and support locally owned businesses. Embrace ethical tourism by using public transport systems, staying in hostels and hotels that make an effort to be green. This is more than likely to enhance local economies as well as communities wherever you go.
Amsterdam, Netherlands: This city has an incredible commitment to keeping green. Its public transport system is virtually non-existent as everyone loves to cycle everywhere! Why not rent a bike, and head to a locally owned restaurant for lunch?
Reykjavik, Iceland: The capital of Iceland is already powered entirely by hydro-power and geothermal resources. It has a goal of completely eliminating the use of fossil fuels by 2050. Take a trip to hike around the local volcano, bathe in thermal waters and enjoy the spectacular display of the northern lights.
By choosing to be a conscious traveller, you are allowing yourself to be more mindful of your environment as well as offer future generations a chance to see the world how we see it today.
Representatives of 195 nations came to Paris to attend the UN COP 21 summit to ‘tackle’ the climate change crisis faced by the citizens of the world due to a suicidal model of development and unsustainable industrialization.
The nations attending were represented by Heads of State, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Vice-presidents, Ministers and thousands of diplomats. There was also a vast rainbow of NGOs and activists scrutinizing their every move. The UN was represented by Ban Ki Moon, its Secretary General, and by Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and by hundreds of its diplomats. Despite this very high level of representation and even if many of the world’s top journalists covered the COP 21 event, there was no serious mention or detailed coverage of what the world needs to do with its more than 1 billion cars, trucks and buses and with its public transport, even though transportation is a major cause of toxic, climate changing gases.
It is well known by all of us that combustion engines are used to commit suicide by desperate people who lock themselves in a garage with the engine of their car running until its toxic emissions kill them. With more than a billion cars in circulation and more than 66 million new cars produced every year, it is time to realize that the atmosphere is our collective garage and to declare that: combustion engines belong in a museum as a sign of how humanity almost committed mass suicide, killing millions of people each year with poisonous gases from cars, trucks, buses and other combustion engines throughout the world.
Government officials have to face up to their lack of responsibility in protecting citizens. Mainstream politicians have been the principle defenders of the combustion engine and the car industry, and the silent but avid opponents of increased investments in mass transport. Appalling examples of these suicidal transport policies can be seen in Europe and Japan and especially in the United States and Canada. Many others such as Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, China, India, Indonesia, Egypt, Nigeria, Turkey, Australia, South Africa, Russia are not much different.
G20 nations are not the exception in this suicidal defense of the combustion engine and there continues to be a marketing push to own big and heavy weight cars as a status symbol. Both are not only unnecessary but should be illegal. It is high time that the use of the combustion engine as the main form of personal and cargo transport be outlawed.
The COP 21 deadlines do not have a real sense of urgency. If COP 21 was to be considered a meaningful summit, then a major decision on public transport should have been adopted. Developed nations must introduce EMERGENCY MEASURES like reducing the use and circulation of combustion engine vehicles by 20 percent by the end of 2016, then by 40 percent by the end of 2018 until they are all out of circulation in 5 years, by the end of 2020.
These goals are achievable with an aggressive and well thought-out public transport policy and new legislation on combustion engines, size and weight of all vehicles. There are countries in Europe like the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain (all car producing nations) where the cost of travel by train is artificially high and where night trains are almost illegal, measures designed to help auto manufacturers sell vehicles, buses and trucks that can pollute and kill us 24 hours a day.
Which political leaders are willing to fight until all of us can breath fresh air again and millions stop dying due to air pollution? I am sorry to say, I can’t name a single one among the leaders of the G20 nations.
If we want fresh air, we must accept it’s TIME FOR CHANGE! High time to create a real TASK FORCE with a sense of mission that has as its goal to stop all deaths caused by air pollution and to take a giant step towards stopping climate change.
Most of those who travelled to COP 21 created a lot of air pollution but did not tackle the real issues, they only tickled the auto industry.
What do you think? Should we relegate the combustion engine to its rightful place: museums?
Looking back at 2015, it has been an exciting year for energy storage and for the renewable energy industry as a whole. We saw ever-increasing rates of rooftop PV installations, along with other renewable sources, and a concurrent increase in the installation of cutting-edge battery storage and management systems. In some cases, storage by itself has been more popular than ever, particularly in places where weather events can create reliability issues for the local grid.
As we look forward to 2016, we expect to see an even faster adoption of DERs, as both consumers and utilities look to increase the reliability and environmental aspects of the grid. While there are many factors at play, the five things worth watching in 2016 that will have outsized impact on the market.
1. Environmental and economic concerns will combine to accelerate the retirement of coal-fired generation and increase the importance of renewables.
One of the top concerns at the recent Climate Change Conference in Paris was to reduce the contribution of coal-fired electric plants to greenhouse gas emissions. Even before the conference began, the U.K. pledged to close coal-fired generation plants much earlier than previously planned. Both the U.S. and China, two of the largest coal users in the world, are reducing the role of coal in energy production over the coming years in order to meet vital environmental goals.
At the same time as environmental concerns are top of mind, lower cost is driving the increase in use of other energy sources. This is true both for fossil fuels like natural gas, as well as renewables like solar and wind. Between environment and economics, it seems unlikely that we’ll see any reversal of the downward momentum for coal as an energy source in 2016.
However, that doesn’t mean that we’ll see an overnight replacement of coal with renewables. In fact, even as China and the U.S. reduce the use of coal-generated electricity, its use could actually increase in India without some significant changes in the political and economic situation there. The good news is that nanogrids and microgrids that combine distributed generation with local energy storage can provide an important and economical alternative, especially in poorer or more isolated communities that are far removed from the grid. This can help not only in India, but around the world in places where it is just too costly or difficult to extend the existing grid.
2. The demand for flexibility from consumers and utilities alike will continue to increase.
One of the most important effects of the widespread use of customer-sited renewable generation and storage is to demonstrate to consumers that there are reliable, safe and environmentally sound alternatives to the traditional electricity market. As consumers examine the potential, they will insist on even more options and flexibility in terms of how their power is generated, stored and managed. They will expect any utility or other entity they deal with to provide this kind of flexibility, while at the same time maintaining a safe and reliable energy supply.
Of course, more flexibility for individual consumers means utilities have to deal with more complexity, while they also face increased challenges to maintain grid reliability. Consumers will want systems that can automatically make the best choices about energy usage and deliver the highest return; utilities will want to be able to manage the power coming onto the grid from these consumers, as well as deal with demand issues and keeping peak costs in check. With those demands and pressures, the role of storage and intelligent management in enabling flexibility and reliability is going to increase dramatically.
3. Legacy NEM will give way to new tariffs that are more closely tied to grid operating costs.
When rooftop solar was still in its infancy — and systems were far more expensive and less efficient than they are today — many states created net energy metering (NEM) regulatory structures that provided financial support for homeowners who were early adopters of solar. Those supports did their job and drove the uptake of solar, which in turn helped make the solar industry stronger, even as solar panels became cheaper and better.
Now that solar has become more widespread, there is a new set of issues to face, including the cost of managing and upgrading the grid to accommodate this two-way energy flow, and ensuring that the cost of some consumers going solar doesn’t fall so heavily on the shoulders of other ratepayers.
We’ve already seen this addressed in Hawaii, which retired its old NEM regulations in favor of more market-based tariffs, including some intriguing new options for “self-supply.” The California PUC is also considering new regulations that shift in the same direction. Given that these two states are setting the direction for solar in the rest of the country, we’re likely to see an acceleration of this shift from first-generation NEM tariffs to new approaches.
As these new tariffs are established, they will create an even greater demand for advanced storage options and control technology. For example, taking full advantage of the self-supply tariff in Hawaii is possible only when consumers have intelligent battery storage of significant capacity. Even consumers who want to use a more traditional grid-connection tariff will see a better return on their solar investment using intelligent storage.
4. Smart homes will get smarter; intelligent appliances and home control devices will proliferate.
We’re already seeing second- and third-generation devices for the intelligent home, from thermostats and heating/AC units to water heaters, appliances and lighting. As devices get smarter and easier to use, prices are declining. That sets the stage for greater adoption in 2016, both in existing homes and in new construction.
This is a crucial component for overall reduction in energy consumption and, importantly, for demand management. As homes get smarter, it will place a greater premium on software standards for controlling and managing all those diverse units, both for providing homeowners with flexible control and for giving utilities the ability to manage them automatically to match tariffs or homeowner settings. This will spur the adoption of an industry standard control platform on the utility and device manufacturer side, a platform that also has to work with the home’s energy storage and on-site generation systems. Look for significant movement toward this standardization in 2016.
5. DER and storage will accelerate the development of the energy cloud.
Where we’re really heading with all these changes is toward a transformation of the century-old one-way grid into an “energy cloud” that resembles the IT cloud, offering not just power, but services as well, on demand. This is going to change everything about the industry, from the design of the grid to how it is managed — and by which entity or entities. This is going to bring a lot of new players into the mix along with existing utilities and generators. The energy cloud will support the flexibility that consumers want and help them manage costs, while also creating new revenue opportunities for all the participants.
“This is huge: Almost every country in the world just signed on to the Paris Agreement on climate change – thanks to American leadership,” said US President Barack Obama at the recent adoption of the Paris Agreement to stop global warming at the COP21 conference.
British PM David Cameron said, “Today’s climate change deal means our grandchildren will see we did our duty in securing the future of our planet.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated, “[The] Paris Agreement sets the stage for progress in ending poverty, strengthening peace, and ensure a life of dignity and opportunity for all.”
After the French Foreign Minister said, “I see there is no objection; Paris climate accord is now adopted!” cheers and applause erupted at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference.
Tourism leaders are also applauding the Paris Agreement and want to have a say in its implementation.
“The International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) has been working to get tourism boards to join together on green growth and travel,” said ICTP Chairman Juergen T. Steinmetz. “This is a historic step that has been taken in the world, and the tourism industry must be included as this important movement goes forward.”
“Especially for island state nations like Vanuata, Maldives, Seychelles, to name just a few, tourism and climate change is a matter of survival where tourism is the leading economic earner. The Paris Agreement assures the world is finally focused as one on this undeniably critical issue for the survival of our planet.”
ICTP is a grassroots travel and tourism coalition of global destinations committed to quality service and green growth. The coalition advocates sustainable aviation growth, streamlined travel formalities, fair coherent taxation, and investments for jobs. ICTP supports the UN Millennium Development Goals, the UN World Tourism Organization’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, and a range of programs that underpin them.
While the world’s leaders meet near Paris for the United Nations Climate Change Conference to hash out strategies to limit global warming, they have an added incentive: A new study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) finds that the average number of global natural disasters, including those related to climate change, have doubled since the 1980s. Additionally, the report determined that in a single decade (2003 to 2013), the economic damage from these events came at an estimated cost of $1.5 trillion—with $80 billion in losses due to decreased crop and livestock production in the developing world.
The 53-page report, titled “The impact of disasters on agriculture and food security,” focuses on climate-related disasters in developing countries and finds that the agriculture sector—and thus food security—suffers the most. In general, crop, livestock, fisheries, and forestry bear 25 percent of the negative impacts from such disasters as droughts, floods, and tropical storms. In the case of droughts, more than 80 percent of damage and losses are borne by crop and livestock producers.
According to Stephan Baas, the FAO’s natural resources officer, it’s likely the global figures are higher than what was presented in this study since it solely focused on medium to large-scale disasters in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Central America, and the Caribbean.
“The overall impacts are likely to be much higher, especially when including impacts of small-scale events as well,” Baas tells Modern Farmer in an email.
The FAO report is based on a review of 78 post-disaster needs-assessments conducted in developing countries as well as a statistical analysis of production losses, changes in trade flow, and agricultural sector growth connected with 140 medium- to large-scale disasters (those affecting at least 250,000 people). Among those included are the Indonesian Tsunami of 2004, which caused $860 million in agricultural losses; a series of droughts in Kenya from 2008 to 2011, with a loss of $10.5 billion; and flooding in Pakistan in 2010, with associated losses of $5.3 billion.
Baas says the report finds that the economic damage from climate-related disasters goes beyond losses of crops and farming equipment; it also includes the loss of facilities used for storage and processing, transportation, and even the government agencies that oversee agriculture. He cites the 2010 floods in Pakistan, which caused about $5 billion in damage, as an example. In that case, besides the 2.4 million hectares of unharvested crops (mostly cotton, rice, sugarcane, and vegetables) that were lost due to flooding, there were also negative impacts on cotton ginning, rice processing, and flour and sugar milling, among others.
“The floods caused a decline in both agriculture growth and overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. Livelihoods, food security, and nutrition were also strongly impacted: More than two-third of Pakistani farmers lost 50 percent of their expected income, and almost one-third of the population had poor consumption intake,” says Baas.
A link is very likely between these disasters and climate change, according to Baas. The data indicates a correlation between climate change and the increase in climate-related disasters such as floods, droughts, and storms. But, at this point, the researchers still can’t say that climate is the only driver of enhanced risk; nor what additional percentage of an impact climate change plays in the severity and frequency of natural hazards. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international body for the assessment of climate change formed by the UN in 1988, is still working on that answer.
What we do know for certain is that these disasters have a direct impact on agricultural livelihoods, food security, and nutrition. Disasters can cause either unemployment or a decline in wages and income for farm laborers and lower the availability of food in local markets leading to inflation of food prices.
“Such pressures reduce the purchasing capacity of households, restrict access to food, deplete savings, force the sale of vital productive assets, increase indebtedness, and erode livelihoods,” Baas says. “Such negative cascading effects often lead to an increase in food insecurity and malnutrition, particularly among the most vulnerable households.”
There are also negative cascading effects along the value chain that can lead to additional costs for governments, including increased imports of food and agricultural commodities; reduced exports and revenues; and a reduction in manufacturing and industrial output in sectors that depend on agriculture and raw materials, such as food processing and textile industries.
The report was strategically released to coincide with the climate-change conference in Paris, which runs until December 11. The FAO believes that agriculture, food security, and nutrition are still not yet prominent enough in the climate-change talks, according to Baas.
Worldwide, the agriculture sector, while being hit the hardest by natural disasters, receives only a small portion of the total post-disaster humanitarian aid that finds its way to developing countries. Between 2003 and 2013, about $121 billion was spent on humanitarian assistance for all types of disasters and crises, with just 3.4 percent going to the agriculture sector, averaging about $374 million annually. Additionally, in certain parts of the world, notably Africa, governments aren’t investing enough in agriculture in general, according to the report.
“The situation simply reflects the priority setting in funding over the past two decades during which funding to agriculture went down significantly. This has to be reversed,” Baas says. “Currently 2.5 billion people worldwide depend on agriculture as the main source of their livelihoods. The main intention of the study was exactly to raise awareness is of what is at stake if we do not proactively put approaches and mechanisms in place to mitigate the impact of disasters on agriculture.”
While the FAO report gives us a good look at the issue of climate-related natural disasters 0n agriculture, there still needs to be more reporting in order to fully understand the problem. One big issue: There’s currently no standardized international system in place to monitor and report on how farming is affected by natural disasters, making it harder to assess associated needs.
“Systematic reporting is crucial to support the monitoring of progress towards the achievement of global and national goals and targets on disaster risk reduction and resilience,” Baas says. “In order to meet these challenges and as part of the Organization’s commitment to resilience, FAO is ready to support efforts to further improve monitoring and reporting of disaster impact on the agriculture sector.”
Here’s Dominique Burgeon, director of FAO’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division, giving some of the report’s highlights:
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No. But it’s not superman either. COP21 in Paris is set to have a more unlikely hero: green building.
If you think that’s a rather bold way to begin a blog, the facts speak for themselves. Buildings – and mostly the world’s old, energy guzzling and inefficient ones – currently account for around one third of global greenhouse gas emissions. They also place pressure on the world’s valuable resources – an astounding 40 per cent of global resources and 25 per cent of global water are used in buildings according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
But by the same token, green buildings – ones which have limited, zero, or, in some cases, positive impacts on the environment – can relieve this burden on resources and significantly reduce emissions.
84 gigatonnes of CO2. That’s the figure that the World Green Building Council and the International Energy Agency have projected must be reduced by 2050 if the sector is to play its part in limiting global warming to 2 degrees. To put that into context, it’s the equivalent of not building 22,000 coal powered power stations by the middle of this century.
It’s an enormous challenge, but this large-scale reduction of emissions is absolutely possible. It will take transformative action and collaboration, something that will be shown on an unprecedented scale tomorrow.
On Thursday, politicians, business leaders and NGOs will meet in Paris for the official COP21 Buildings Day – the first of its kind at any UN climate change negotiations – to set out how the buildings and construction sector can play their part in steering the world from the brink of dangerous global warming.
Initiated by the WorldGBC, France and other partners, it is being championed by Ségolène Royal, France’s Minister of Ecology and former presidential candidate. Ms Royal, together with the likes of the global CEO of French product manufacturer Saint-Gobain, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Climate within the Obama Administration and the Mayor of Sydney, will make the case to countries that green building is one of the most cost-effective solutions to climate change.
They will tell the world how green buildings create major economic opportunities, such as a projected 3.3 million US jobs by 2018 – more than one third of the entire US construction sector.
They will highlight how green buildings are better for people’s health, wellbeing and productivity – such as the estimated productivity improvements of up to 11 per cent from green features such as improved indoor air quality.
But perhaps most importantly, they will show how green buildings represent one of the best ways for countries to meet their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). At least 40 countries have specifically referred to the buildings sector as one of the means by which they can achieve their INDCs. And Buildings Day will also see the launch of a new alliance of more than 100 countries, cities and organisations – including WorldGBC and its network of 74 Green Building Councils – that will publicly commit to supporting countries to meet these targets through green building.
National Green Building Councils are also playing their part within their own countries – driving transformative action on the ground in a variety of ways. The Indian Green Building Council has, for example, committed to facilitate almost 1 million square metres of registered green building and to help the Indian Government meet its INDC through green building policies. In Australia, Canada and South Africa, the Green Building Councils have committed to introduce Net Zero certification schemes for buildings with no net annual carbon emissions, which will be critical in highlighting building assets that are at a reduced risk of exposure to the effects of our changing climate.
So when you look to the sky for something that might solve our climate crisis, you might not see a flickering cape or bat-shaped sign, but you will see a green building. With the potential to reduce global emissions by up to a third, that’s an achievement worthy of a superhero.
“Commercial and industrial property owners who oversee green buildings will see a significant savings across energy, trash, water and maintenance costs,” says USGBC spokeperson Leticia McCadden. “Over the next four years (2015-2018), the green construction industry is expected to save $2.4 billion in energy.”
This was evident the US Green Building Council’s Greenbuild 2015 last week. And according to a new green building trends report previewed at the event about 70 percent of survey respondents cite lower operating costs as the greatest benefit of green building.
“Green buildings are better for the environment, better for business and better for the people within them,” says John Mandyck, United Technologies Corp. chief sustainability officer. “Green building activity continues to accelerate, with growing awareness of occupant and tenant benefits, speaking to the fact that the real, tangible benefits of green buildings are becoming more widely recognized.”
Green Building Doubling Every Three Years
United Technologies Corp co-funded the World Green Building Trends 2016 report by Dodge Data & Analytics. It surveyed 1,000 building professionals from 69 countries, building on 2008 and 2012 research, and found respondents across all regions studied projected that more than 60 percent of their projects would be green projects by 2018, with a doubling from current projects across the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, South America and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The largest percentage of green building activity continues to be in the commercial building segment, comprising 46 percent of respondents’ future green building projects. Activity in institutional buildings — schools, hospitals and public buildings — is expected to surpass green building projects in existing buildings (38 and 37 percent respectively) by 2018.
The full findings of the report, which will be available in 2016, reaffirm 2008 and 2012 research that green building is doubling every three years.
Forty percent of respondents noted client demands as a driver for green building activity, followed by environmental regulations (35 percent). Both categories increased over 2008 and 2012 responses. From an environmental perspective, reducing energy consumption (84 percent) and reducing water consumption (76 percent) topped the list as important.
Water Management an Emerging Focus Area
Benjamin Freas, Navigant Research senior research analyst, said at Greenbuild he heard more interest in water management as well as how buildings fit into smart cities. Water management in buildings is an area Navigant continues to watch as well.
“Water has historically been too cheap to worry too much about in commercial buildings,” Freas says. “Increased focus on water scarcity and declining prices of control hardware is starting to unlock the water management market.”
Another area for growth is in building controls. As HVAC, lighting and other equipment become increasingly efficient, future efficiency gains will rely on managing how the equipment operates, Freas says.
Green Building Challenges
“The biggest change in building controls is the continuing convergence of IT and building technology,” he says. “This is enabling better integration between building systems and providing more data to building systems. In turn, with more data, buildings can operate beyond the scope of optimized local systems to improving operation on a building level.”
While an “unprecedented level” of green building technology has emerged to keep occupants comfortable while reducing operating expenses, the challenge to building owners and operators is the cost-effective implementation of this technology, Freas says. Big data allows buildings to run more efficiently and these high-tech features help building owners better attract and retain tenants.
“The biggest opportunity comes from how to deliver this functionality,” Freas says. “It will be an internet of things platform. But, will it be traditional building controls companies adapting their offerings to the internet? Will it be IT infrastructure companies pulling building networks into their purview? Will it be consumer electronics manufacturers leveraging the ubiquity of mobile devices to provide meaningful data to building systems?”
Role in Climate Change
James Cameron weighed in on climate change and green building at the US Green Building Council’s Greenbuild 2015.
A keynote speaker at last week’s event, the director of films including “Avatar,” “Titanic” and “The Terminator,” told the Washington Post that growing populations mean massive building in cities globally. “If all those buildings are constructed the way we’ve traditionally constructed buildings it will be an enormous spike in greenhouse gas emissions,” Cameron said.
On a global scale, green buildings can play a key role in helping manage climate change, says the US Green Building Council.
As the COP21 climate talks in Paris approach, the USGBC has joined with other councils around the world to advance the green building sector by 2030 and achieve by 2050 two major goals: net-zero-carbon new building in addition to energy efficiency and deep refurbishment of existing stock. For the first time, COP will feature a Buildings Day to highlight the importance of green buildings as a critical piece of the climate change response. And USGBC has committed to, in the next five year, scaling up efforts to support certification of a projected over 5 billion square feet of green building with LEED and EDGE.