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Eco-tourism reports show true figures on cost of travelling

Travelling light can have heavy costs.

A tourist flying economy class from Britain to Kenya and back generates around a tonne of carbon emissions, according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

No matter how many times he reuses his towels or sits on a composting toilet when he is there, he could never hope to offset the burning of all that jet fuel.

Does that mean the very notion of “sustainable tourism” is an oxymoron?

The phrase has three possible meanings. The first is ecological. Given the contribution that transport, especially by air, makes to global warming, on this definition it is almost guaranteed to fall short.

The only truly sustainable holiday would be camping in the back garden eating berries, says Harald Zeiss of the Institute for Sustainable Tourism at Harz University in Germany.

The second is social. Ideally, when cultures meet and gain in mutual understanding, the long-­term benefits will be intangible, but real.

The final one is economic. Tourists who step off the beaten track have a chance to help lift the poor out of poverty and encourage them to preserve their environments for financial gain.

The question is how much weight to give to each. According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), a United Nations agency, 1.1 billion international trips were made in 2014, a 4.4 per cent increase on the year before.

As popular destinations become overcrowded, more people seek places that remain comparatively unspoilt. But pristine wildernesses don’t stay pristine for long once they are on the holiday trail. The paradox of sustainable tourism is that it can be “both a destroyer of nature and an agent for its conservation”, notes Andrew Holden of Bedfordshire University in Britain.

Keeping resorts small, and perhaps even temporary, can help resolve that paradox of conservation.

Maurice Phillips and Geri Mitchell opened Sandele, an eco-­resort, in Gambia in 2008. Locals are too often persuaded to sell their land to developers for less than it is worth, says Phillips, and villages can vanish once the hotels go up.

LOCAL INVOLVEMENT

Instead, he leased the land for Sandele from villagers, and employs them in the resort. When the lease runs out in 20 years’ time, the property will revert to locals, who should by then have the skills to manage it.

The pair also run courses for locals, including on how to make “rocket stoves” that require very little wood for fuel, thereby reducing deforestation.

Those on larger ­scale eco­tourism packages may be doing good in other ways. Concentrating large numbers of visitors in a single location increases their local impact – which can be for the better.

If a resort buys local food, says Zeiss, or invests in renewable­ energy generation that can be used by those who live nearby, then the surrounding area can receive a boost.

But hotels must seek ways to mitigate their negative effects. Though signs suggesting that guests can help “save the planet” by re­using their towels overstate the case, water­guzzling is one of the biggest evils of mass tourism.

An analysis by Thomas Cook, a large holiday firm, suggests that on average each tourist around the world accounts for around 350 litres of water per day by showering, using the swimming pool and the like – which rises to 6000 litres when indirect use such as food production is added. In Greece, for example, each tourist directly uses around three­-fifths more water than a local.

Being more frugal with water can boost comanies’ profits. TUI, another big travel company, says it saved €2.2 million ($3.5 million) in 2014 by cutting energy and water use at 43 of its hotels.

But often it is the guests themselves who kick against energy-­saving initiatives. To stop patrons leaving lights and air­conditioning on when they are out, many hotels have keycards that control the electrics in rooms.

Yet some report that guests override the system by inserting a business card into the control slot before heading out, rather than waiting to recharge portable devices or put up with a stuffy room for a few minutes on their return.

Overall, the benefits of sustainable tourism outweigh the harms, thinks Dirk Glaesser of UNWTO. And Zeiss argues that the most unnecessary flights are taken not by tourists but by businessfolk who fly abroad for a toe-­touch meeting that could easily have been replaced by a video­call, and then fly home the same day.

Perhaps.

But it is unclear how many such trips actually occur. Executives already have an incentive to avoid unnecessary business travel – it is less fun than the frivolous sort.

Source: afr


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Food Waste Grows With the Middle Class

Massive food waste by humanity is an undisputed fact documented daily in tons of discarded scrapings from dinner plates around the world. It is now being measured as a serious threat to the global environment and economy, with an estimated one-third of all the food produced in the world left uneaten at a cost of up to $400 billion a year in waste disposal and other government costs.

The food discarded by consumers and retailers in just the most developed nations would be more than enough to sustain all the world’s 870 million hungry people if effective distribution methods were available.

Unfortunately, most of the uneaten food goes to landfills where it decomposes and produces the dangerous greenhouse gas methane at a volume that amounts to an estimated 7 percent of the total emissions contributing to the global warming threat. This puts food waste by ordinary humans in third place in methane emissions behind the busy economies of China and the United States, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. These stark facts have been laid out in a new report from the Waste and Resources Action Program, or WRAP, a British antiwaste organization. The organization warns that the problem is getting worse because the global middle class is, fortunately enough, expanding. According to the report, by 2030, consumer food waste will cost an estimated $600 billion a year — a 50 percent increase from current costs — unless there is a wide effort to change the trend.

Numerous antiwaste programs are underway, from backyard composting to restaurant donations to food pantries, from London’s campaign to cut food waste by 50 percent in five years to fish-drying innovations in West Africa that prevent spoilage. Reducing food waste by 20 percent to 50 percent could save an estimated $120 billion to $300 billion a year, according to the WRAP report.

This would take far more action by national and local governments, food producers and, most of all, consumers unaware of the mounting costs of their dinner scraps.

Source: NY Times


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Carbon Footprinting: Critical to understanding man’s contribution to climate change

By Alex Hetherington

With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) continuing to produce updated and scientifically robust detail on the causes and impacts of climate change, there is little doubting that the issue of man-made carbon emissions will continue to be a hot topic.

The IPCC says there is 95 per cent certainty that global warming is being exacerbated by emissions from the anthropogenic (human induced) burning of fossil fuels such coal, oil and natural gas.

In its most recent report on the impacts of climate change, the IPCC predicts increased temperatures over much of the world and decreased global production of maize, rice and wheat of 25 per cent by 2050. Much of this will happen in sub-Saharan Africa.

With such attention on climate change, there is going to be increased scrutiny on those who are responsible for the emissions that cause it.

As corporate sustainability reporting matures, so too does the issue of carbon emissions and the measurement of companies’ carbon footprints (the volume of greenhouse gases emitted by a company).

So prolific has the carbon footprint become, that it can now be considered a “charismatic specie” of sustainability reporting, with international and national awards being offered for completeness and performance of companies’ carbon accounting activities.

In years gone by the measurement of carbon footprints were the preserve of the major accounting firms. Excessive pricing, however, opened up the market to specialist carbon footprint and carbon management companies. In recent years there have even been a number of small one-man bands offering carbon accounting services in South Africa. Newly designed software solutions are also being introduced to the market. Of course, the levels of service, delivery and budgets vary and companies must decide on the best type of service for their needs.

What is of paramount importance in choosing a carbon footprinting firm is to ensure that the correct accounting methodologies are being deployed and that the practitioners are professionally qualified to carry out the task. At present there are two accepted methodologies.

The most widely used, internationally, is the Greenhouse Protocol that was developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development ( WBCSD). This was launched in 2001, and was shortly followed by an almost identical derivative produced by the International Standards Organisation (ISO 14064-3).

Both methodologies categorise a company’s greenhouse gas emissions into three scopes, according to whether the emissions are generated by equipment that is owned by the reporting company (referred to as “direct” emissions) or whether the emissions are generated by the company’s electricity usage or other areas of its supply chain (both referred to as “indirect emissions”).

Greenhouse Gas Protocol, Scopes of Carbon Emissions
Greenhouse Gas Protocol, Scopes of Carbon Emissions

Emissions from owned equipment (Scope 1) and electricity usage (Scope 2) are mandatory reporting under both footprinting methodologies, while those emissions emanating from a company’s supply chain (Scope 3) are voluntarily reported, although it is good practice to do so. All companies that we deal with in South Africa measure their Scope 1 and 2 emissions, as well as a certain number of categories from Scope 3.

These indirect emissions captured in the supply chain typically include business travel activities, paper usage, employee commuting, waste generation and courier services. Ironically Scope 3 emissions often take the longest to measure, due to their complexity and data-heavy nature. Equally ironic is that most companies are able to report on business travel, which usually accounts for a small percentage of supply chain emissions.

Prudent practice would be to focus on employee commuting, or other large emitting activities in the supply chain that account for a significant portion of Scope 3 emissions.

See Nampak’s publically available carbon footprint that follows.

Nampak 2012 carbon footprint

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.59.47 PM

In absolute terms, South Africa is the 12th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world – considering the size of our economy that is an ignominious record. Driving this reality is the fact that we are heavily dependent on the use of low-grade, high emitting, dirty coal for 95 per cent of our electricity generation.

These figures are neatly reflected in how our carbon emissions are apportioned by business and industry.

As the generator of electricity, Eskom is by far the largest emitter at 228 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (the de facto measure of greenhouse gas emissions), out of a national total of 560 million tonnes per year.

South Africa cannot, however, lay the blame only on Eskom. It is, afterall, everyone’s

(business and individuals) demand for electricity that forces Eskom to generate it. If any pressure is to be placed on Eskom it should be encouragement to adopt cleaner energy sources (renewables and gas), and wean itself from the dependence on coal. Following Eskom, Sasol and ArcelorMittal are the next largest culprits of emissions at sixty and 11 million tonnes respectively.

For most companies, the majority of their emissions come from their electricity usage. In many cases it is as much as eighty per cent. Hence, we are witnessing an increased focus on reducing electricity consumption as a sure way of reducing carbon emissions.

In fact, many companies have introduced targets to reduce carbon emissions that are based on a determined effort to reduce electricity consumption.

Sample of carbon reduction targets as reported in CDP South Africa 100 Climate Change Report 2013

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 2.01.44 PM

The transparency with which companies are reporting their carbon emissions and reduction targets are largely a result of the Top 100 listed companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (by market capitalisation) being requested for information from by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). The CDP represents 700 over number of global investment houses that request this carbon specific information from major listed companies.

The trend will continue in South Africa as the King III Codes of Corporate Citizenship demand all listed companies to report on their non-financial performance in addition to their financial. This will place responsibility on companies to report their environmental impact and, as described earlier, this will invariably include carbon (if not all scopes, at least Scope 1 and 2).

In addition to the investor demand for measurement, so too will the introduction of any potential carbon tax regime. While it was expected that such a tax would be

announced in South Africa in February this year, it is still very much on the radar screen of Treasury. The Department of Environmental Affairs developing a national greenhouse gas registry to which major emitters, at least, will have to report is supporting this.

It can be confidently claimed that, as the world becomes increasingly conscientised to the causes and effects of climate change, so the demand for carbon reporting will grow. There is much detail held in a carbon footprint. It is imperative that reporters employ the services of bona fide carbon footprint analysts who can assist them in understanding the challenges of compiling the correct data and adopting the correct methodologies.

When properly understood, companies can use this information to their advantage by focussing on their high emitting areas of business and deploying appropriate targets to reduce the consumption causing the emissions, thereby invariably cutting costs and wastage.

Source: The Sustainability and Integrated Reporting Handbook Volume 1


 

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Greenhouse Gas Management – Measurement and Reporting

By Teresa Legg

Introduction

With an increased awareness and concern of environmental issues, specifically global warming and climate change, and growing evidence of the financial benefit of environmental sustainability, stakeholder’s expectations have matured. Shareholders, investors, customers and employees are demanding a better understanding of an organisation’s environmental impacts. Measurement and reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions provides organisations with the base from which to understand their GHG impacts, manage their GHG risks and embrace the opportunities of a low carbon economy. This also provides a means to effectively communicate these outcomes with relevant stakeholders.

This chapter aims to discuss the benefits of measuring and managing greenhouse gas emissions in business, as well as outline the process and requirements of internationally accepted GHG measurement and reporting frameworks.

What are the Benefits of Reporting GHG Emissions?

The value of embracing a sustainable strategy is demonstrated through reduced costs, profitability, increased efficiencies, increased market share and customer loyalty, as well as reduced business risk, both reputational and financial. More importantly, a sustainable strategy drives innovation in product and technology, standing a company in good stead for long term success.

Embedding environmental sustainability into your strategy requires a thorough understanding of your impacts and the risks and opportunities that these impacts present. These risks and opportunities need to be brought into your strategy, managed and continually reviewed to feed back into strategy.

You cannot however understand the extent of your impacts and manage them without having a solid measurement framework. In light of expected carbon taxation, measurement also allows a prudent organisation to understand the financial risk of its emissions, both internal and external.

Due to the fundamental link between strategy and environmental impacts, executive leaders need to sponsor the measurement and management of GHG emissions. Understanding impacts is key to a sound strategy and therefore strategy should dictate such impact assessments and the results thereof should be fed back into the strategy. Executive commitment also secures funding and resources and places a priority on the carbon footprint project.

Carbon Footprint Reporting Standards for Business

Understanding your carbon footprint is a starting point to identify areas of the business where greenhouse gas emissions occur and where they need to be managed.

So what is a carbon footprint and why can it be complicated? Simply, a carbon footprint is a calculation of the total GHG emissions caused directly and indirectly by an organisation or company. This is typically calculated and reported over a period of 12 months. What often makes a carbon footprint complicated is defining the boundaries of the audit and categorising and reporting emissions in line with international standards and protocols, much like one would report financial information.

The GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, developed by the GHG Protocol Initiative is widely regarded as the standard for corporate GHG accounting and company reporting. From a carbon perspective, the protocol is analogous to the generally accepted financial accounting principles (GAAP) for an organisation’s normal accounting and reporting practices.

The GHG Protocol Initiative is a multi-stakeholder partnership of businesses, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), governments, and others convened by the World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The initiative has developed internationally accepted greenhouse gas accounting and reporting standards that have been broadly adopted by business worldwide.

Calculating a Carbon Footprint

The process of calculating a carbon footprint entails translating business activity data into a carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) for 7 selected greenhouse gases, namely carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perflourocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and nitrogen triflouride (NF3).

To find where these GHG emissions occur in business involves building a GHG inventory from which to operate. This is where a carbon footprint can become complicated and may require the skill of a GHG professional in complex operations or business structures.

Planning a GHG Inventory

Your GHG inventory requires a skeleton of business structures, facilities and emission sources from which your emissions data will be sourced. To define what will be measured, the GHG Protocol provides guidance to assist in determining both the organisational and operational boundaries of the carbon footprint. The organisational boundary refers to entities and facilities that will be included while the operational boundary defines which operations and sources of emissions will be included.

Organisational Boundary

The GHG Protocol provides three options to define the organisational boundary. These options are as follows:

Equity Share

Under the equity share approach, a company accounts for GHG emissions from operations according to its share of equity in the operation.

Financial Control

The company has financial control over an operation if it has the ability to direct the financial and operating policies of an operation with a view to gaining economic benefits from its activities. Under this approach, the economic substance of the relationship between the company and the operation takes precedence over the legal ownership status.

Operational Control

Under the operational control approach, a company accounts for emissions from operations over which it has operational control. A company has operational control over an operation if it has authority to introduce and implement operating policies.

The operational control approach is preferred as it provides the most complete GHG inventory. It also lends itself to performance tracking as managers can be held accountable for activities under their control and companies are also likely to have better access to operational data under their control. Most importantly, it has the advantage that a company takes ownership of the GHG emissions that it can directly influence.

Once the boundary approach is decided upon, the entities and facilities included in the boundary are identified and form part of the GHG inventory.

Operational Boundary

The operational boundary defines which operations and sources of emissions will be included in the carbon footprint. Examples of emission sources include motor vehicles, generators and air conditioning equipment.

GHG emissions are categorised as direct and indirect and accordingly grouped into scopes for accounting and reporting purposes.

Emissions are categorised as ‘direct’ when they are generated from activities or sources within the reporting company’s organisational boundary and which the company owns or controls. Under the GHG Protocol these are called Scope 1 emissions and are accounted for as such. These largely include fuel burned in company owned assets.

‘Indirect’ sources are those emissions related to the company’s activities, but that are emitted from sources owned or controlled by a third party company. These are categorised as either Scope 2 emissions for purchased electricity or as Scope 3 for other non-owned or controlled emissions e.g. rental cars, commercial airlines or paper use.

Under the GHG protocol reporting of Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions are mandatory. Reporting of Scope 3 emissions is voluntary but encouraged where the activities are material to the overall footprint of the organisation.

Calculating Emissions

The next step involves sourcing business activity information for the relevant emission sources. Business activity data could be electricity consumption or fuel purchases. For each emission source one needs to determine what would be the most appropriate activity units required, e.g. litres of fuel , as well as the availability of such data. Estimations, assumptions and samples may need to be applied where data is incomplete or unavailable.

The data collection process is often an overlooked step, however sourcing the most accurate, appropriate data is vital for the credibility of the report output. As they say, rubbish in, rubbish out. So rigorous quality checks on all data gathered will ensure good quality data is fed into the analysis.

With business activity data for each emission source in hand, the data is converted into carbon dioxide equivalents using formulas and factors that are relevant to the data, organisation and geography concerned.

Relevant, updated factors to apply to the emission calculations also need to be sourced. A review needs to be made on which factors are most relevant bearing in mind the activity data available to the analyst and the geography in which the emission sources occur. Factors are specific to emission source and are generally updated annually. The factor producing the most accurate emission value should be applied.

In its simplest form, a calculation formula would look like this:

Activity data × emissions factor = CO2e emissions

Where activity data quantifies a business activity in units e.g. litres of fuel purchased, tonnes of paper used and the emissions factor converts activity data to emissions values e.g. Kg CO2e per litre fuel or Kg CO2e per tonne of paper used.

However, in reality formulas become more complex where assumptions and estimations need to be applied to incomplete or unavailable data, or where certain emissions require additional factors to be applied. For example in air travel emissions additional factors to account for uplift and radiative forcing are applied.

Due to the varying ability of GHG to trap heat in the atmosphere, each GHG has a ‘global warming potential’. Global warming potential (GWP) refers to a gas’s heat trapping potential relative to that of CO2. Using GWP factors, emissions from all 7 greenhouse gases are converted into a common metric of CO2e and reported as such for consistency and like for like comparisons.

It is important that all formulas, factors, estimations and assumptions are clearly documented in the GHG inventory for transparency and consistency in reporting.

Selecting Base Year and Setting Targets

Managing emissions requires a commitment to reduce absolute emissions or intensity emissions (e.g. emissions per unit of activity). To set this target, one needs to measure against a yardstick – this being the base year emissions. Therefore, a base year needs to be selected from which future years’ performance will be measured against. It is important that the base year emissions are based on reliable emissions data.

Once you have selected a base year, set short and long term targets. Targets can be absolute (e.g. reduce emissions by 5% year on year from base year) or rate based (e.g. reduce emissions per employee headcount or unit of production).

Absolute targets are preferred as they result in a real emissions reduction, whereas emissions may increase in the face of a rate based decrease in emissions.

A strategy and work plan should provide a framework from which to initiate and run reduction projects to meet these targets. This is an on-going process which requires constant measurement and review.

Reporting

Businesses may want to communicate their performance to stakeholders such as investors, customers, employees or the business community. In reporting information, it is valuable to follow the guiding principles of The GHG Protocol (see insert).

Emissions need to be reported for all seven greenhouse gases separately in metric tonnes of CO2e. Emissions must be categorised and reported by scope, clearly stating the scope totals.

The boundaries of the inventory must be described together with a description of the company.

All emissions information, including methodologies, calculations, assumptions, estimations and exclusions must be disclosed.

The base year must be documented with a view of performance over time.

For credibility of reported information it is wise (and in some cases required) to have your footprint assessed by a 3rd party GHG professional, especially when publically reporting.

In Conclusion

Business operates within the context of an environment. Best practice principles, standards and guidelines provide methodologies, processes and guidelines which if followed rigorously will provide a deep understanding of an organisation’s internal and external impacts. For responsible and accountable governance it is imperative to understand and manage the risks and opportunities that emerge from these environmental impacts.

Source: The Sustainable Energy Resource handbook Volume 5


 

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Tanzania’s unique park where tourists overflow over well conserved glaciers

For a tourist climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, some of the breathtaking tourism attractions feature is the permanent glaciers on the Mountain peaks.

Strange as it may sound, some tourists and researchers walking to the roof of Africa would like to know why the white capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro is just 300km from the equator, yet glaciers exist! Explains Chief Park Warden for Kilimanjaro National Park, Erastus Lufungulo.
He said under normal circumstances its location near the equator and permanent snow cover throughout the year is a wonder to many tourists because one does not expect to find glaciers on the Mountain which is just 300km from the equator where   temperature is usually hot.
As a result he said there have been a big number of tourists traveling all the way from Europe, America and Africa just to see and enjoy the glaciers.
Despite this uniqueness and the role the glaciers play to attract tourists, yet increased human activities at village, district, regional, national and international level have severely affected the glaciers causing it to shrink.
The mountain forest has been subjected to logging of indigenous trees for construction purposes, charcoal, fires, mushrooming of squatters and unsustainable agriculture which has partly contributed to the receding of the glaciers.
“Unlike the past, currently, Kilimanjaro is very populated. For example, Moshi District population density stands at 240 per square km, which means there is very high demand for land,” he said.
“Warmer global temperatures, increased industrial activities and green houses effect have also partly contributed to climate change which in turn is causing the shrinking of the mountain glaciers.
According to the Chief Park Warden, glaciers depended very on the natural and conserved surrounding environment. In the past, the air moisture from the Ocean would move horizontally through the mountain forest towards the peak of the mountain.
This caused regular rains and snow that would accumulate on the mountain peaks, keeping the glaciers in its natural form.
Moshi, Marangu
Chairman of Kisangesangeni village, Kahe ward, Moshi District, Gerald Mlay and a villager Joyce Mushi together with residents of Marangu Arisi village near the mountain, explained that in the past the mountain forest was intact.
They said Marangu would be filled with snow and at times they would use sharp objects to rub out the snow spread on the house walls.
“It was too cold here, snow everywhere covered the thick forest, but we started experiencing drought some 20 years ago due to increased deforestation.
Currently the rains are unpredictable and in order to increase food production, one has to dig borehole for irrigation during absence of rains which is very expensive,” said Mlay .
Research findings
According to Lufungulo, a research conducted by the Department of Geosciences of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the United States of America has revealed shrinking of the glaciers.
He explained that the research findings showed that Kilimanjaro glaciers began shrinking towards the end of the 19th century-prior to the first ascent in 1889 from what was likely their greatest extent of the Holocene epoch.
He said that according to the research, the total ice covered area dropped nearly 90 percent from approximately 20km2 to 2.5km2 in 2000 over the next nine years the glacier area shrank by another 30 percent.
Satellite imagery reveals the best estimate of ice area in June 2011 to be 1.76 km2. Glacier shrinkage will almost certainly continue, and Kilimanjaro could be without glaciers within several decades.” concludes the research findings.
Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA)
Commenting on the shrinking of the glaciers, Professor Clavery Tungaraza from the faculty of Science at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) who has conducted a research on the shrinking of the glaciers said that the shrinking of the glaciers is to a large extent contributed by global warming.
Warmer global temperatures, air and wind that pass through the top of the Mountain from other parts of the world have also played a big part.” he said.
Prof Tungaraza said it is a responsibility of everybody, institution, and every country to play its part in the restoration of the Mountain Glaciers.
Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG)
The Executive Director for Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) Charles Meshark said climate change is definitely responsible for the loss of glacier ice mass on Kilimanjaro.
 “I believe deforestation and forest degradation at the foot of the mountain is a contributing factor to slow disappearance of glaciers of Kilimanjaro Mountain. The drivers of deforestation include harvesting timber, wildfires and livestock grazing in different areas, with total impunity,” he noted.
He said that changes in the local vegetation around Kilimanjaro, which has lost much of it’s forests, may have affected the cloudiness and amount of snow that falls on the mountain. However, scientists believe that warmer global temperatures have had a bigger impact on the rate at which its glaciers are melting.
Whatever the reasons, if Kilimanjaro is to lose its snowy top, the repercussions would be extremely serious. Kilimanjaro glaciers are essential to the survival of the local villages. They supply drinking water, water to irrigate their crops and produce hydroelectric power; never mind the blow the loss of the snow-cap would affect tourism, he said.
For his part, Former Director of Forestry and Beekeeping division of the Ministry of Natural Resource and Tourism Dr Felician Kilahama said that the shrinking of the glaciers is due to global warming, which is a result of negative impacts of climate change.
Dr Kilahama said experiences show that temperatures globally have been on the rise because the atmosphere is filled with undesirable gases of Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as a result of increased refrigeration, air conditioning, and similar applications.
The greatest contributor of global warming is carbon dioxide generated from industrial production using fossil fuels, increased transportation activities also heavily relying on fossil fuels.
In Africa and other developing countries climate change reports indicate that most of the carbon dioxide is due to unsustainable use of natural forests.
Deforestation and forest degradation due to various human activities cause carbon dioxide emissions globally estimated to be about 23 percent of total global carbon dioxide emissions.
Besides USA and other developed countries, countries like Brazil, China, India and South Africa are nowadays noted to contribute significantly to carbon dioxide  emissions; adding additional threats to global warming.
He suggested that there is a need to seriously regulate and stop deforestation throughout the country saying this will happen only if there shall be a strong political will.
He also said that there is a need to expand conservation efforts and the global political leaders must agree to significantly reduce Carbon dioxide emissions.
Why concerted efforts are needed to conserve the Mountain
According to the Chief Park Warden, apart from glaciers that attract tourists, Mount Kilimanjaro provides direct and indirect socio-economic and cultural values to the surrounding communities, Tanzanians, neighbouring countries like Kenya, Africa and the world at large.
Tourism attraction
The Park is endowed with diverse varieties of attractions ranging from terrestrial wilderness to permanent glaciers on the Mountain peaks.
The chief park warden said that there are three peaks namely Kibo, the highest peak (5,895m), which is covered by snow throughout the year, Mawenzi (5,149m) and Shira (3,962).
Being the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro attracts visitors from all over the world said Chief Park Warden.
The number of tourists hiking Mount Kilimanjaro has been increasing in recent years although in 2013/14 the number decreased.
For example, he said that in 2009/10, the number of non residents were 41,213 where as residents were 2,974. In 2010/11 the number of non residents were 49,515 where as residents were 3181. In 2011/12 the number of non residents were 54,320 where as residents were 3,136.
He further said that in 2012/2013, the number of non residents were 51,835 where as the residents were 3,718. In 2013/2014 the number of non residents were 48,813 where as the residents were 2,021.
Provision of social services
Besides tourism attraction, the Mountain is famous water catchment for both Tanzania and Kenya. Forest belt forms the major source of water flowing from Mount Kilimanjaro.
He said that this benefits human population for domestic use, irrigation agriculture, industrial activities and for generation of hydroelectric power.
Citing an example, the Chief Park warden said that the Pangani River is one of the Tanzania’s largest rivers drains water to the hydropower plants.
He named the plants as Nyumba ya Mungu (8MW), Hale (17 MW), and Pangani falls (66 MW) which generates about 20 percent of Tanzania’s total electricity output.
He further explained that water from the forest supports traditional furrow irrigation systems for coffee and banana plantations in densely populated area with over one million inhabitants in the southern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.
He named other benefits as conducting research studies, provision of employment to TANAPA workers, tour guides, porters, and hoteliers among many others.
Efforts by Kilimanjaro National Park to address the situation
According to the Chief Park Warden, in recent years, the Park in collaboration with the government has put in place comprehensive plans and strategies that have started bearing fruits.
Smoking out the poachers and cattle
The Chief Park Warden explained that most poachers in Kilimanjaro National Park are those looking for forest products. However, wild animal poachers are in the west at a game controlled area in the boundary with Amboseli Park in Kenya.
“This poaching is trans-boundary; some poachers come from Kenya hunting the Elephants, Buffaloes, Giraffes, and Antelopes. They hunt Elephants that migrate from the dry areas of Amboseli in Kenya following water in Kilimanjaro National Park,” he said.
He said that Kilimanjaro National Parks in collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) have launched intelligence system of exchanging information and they meet once every year to assess the situation and put new strategies.
He also said that the Park in collaboration with the Kilimanjaro Regional Authorities launched regular patrols to smoke out the poachers in the forest. Citing an example, he said that in 2012/2013, KINAPA’s patrol team arrested a total of 426 poachers.
“During the same period, we arrested a total of 2239 timbers, 94 ordinary wood saws and 5 chain saws. The Park also arrested and smoked out 102, Cows, 23 Goats and 27 Sheep.”
In 2013/14, the park arrested 337 poachers, 105 ordinary wood saws, 3 chain saws, 755 timbers, 45 cows, 22 goats, and 46 sheep
“During the operation, the regional commissioner Leonidas Gama gave us a very big support. We also work closely with law enforcement organs such as the police, the court and government state Attorneys,” he revealed.
Community participation
Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) Outreach Programme: This involves provision of social services by the authorities while local communities support conservation through community policing and intelligence to counter illegal activities such as poaching.
To enhance community participation, TANAPA conducts conservation education and awareness campaigns to the local communities.  This makes the surrounding communities part of the conservation of the Mountain.
The Park’s Outreach Programme warden, Charles Ngendo explained that the Park established community outreach department where the Park is conducting regular training on conservation education of the Park.
“If we have good cooperation with the adjacent communities it is easy to win their support and dissolve some conflicts that arises between the Park and the surrounding communities,” he added.
About community projects
According to Ngendo, the projects are initiated by the communities themselves according to their preference. He said that they are bottom-up approach.
In realising this goal, seven percent of the recurrent budget is set aside to support different community projects. It is like corporate social responsibility,” he said.
In these projects, KINAPA contributes 70 percent and the community 30 percent of the total cost of the project. “Communities contribute some amount so that they don’t perceive KINAPA as a donor agent but feel a sense of ownership and for sustainability of the project” he said.
He said since the programme started in early 1990’s, the Park has supported a total of 120 different projects ranging from construction of classrooms to health projects in Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions. Districts supported include Hai, Moshi Rural District, Rombo, Siha and Longido.
The views of the government
The Chairman of Permanent Parliamentary Committee on Land, Natural Resources and Environment James Lembeli said that conservation should be given first priority because that will attract more tourists in the Park.
“Everyone should play his role in the fight against poachers, there should be no politics in this issue because without conservation there shall be no tourists” said Kahama Lawmaker.
The Minister for Natural Resource and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu explained that as the Ministry plans to rebrand tourists attraction, conservation of Tanzania National Parks is a must.
He explained that the government is determined on this matter and will continue working with local communities and the international community to adequately implement its anti-poaching drive in its different national parks.
Source: IPP Media 

No Easy Answers When Disposing of Oil and Gas Wastewater

We all want easy answers. And often times the harder the question, the easier we want the answer to be.

Increased natural gas use, for example, can help decrease U.S. greenhouse gas emissions as it has a lower carbon content compared to coal or oil. Natural gas also can help transition our energy mix to more renewable energy sources. This is because properly designed, gas-fired generation can respond quickly to pick up the slack if the wind suddenly dies or clouds unexpectedly roll in. But, these benefits mean nothing if the communities where gas is produced suffer air and water pollution, or if methane – a powerful global warming pollutant that is the primary ingredient in natural gas – is allowed to leak into the atmosphere unchecked.

We all should be worried about global warming and the role that sloppy oil and gas production and distribution practices contribute to the problem. But communities where oil and gas development is taking place are also worried about how oil and gas drilling is impacting their water supplies. This is a key issue and one aspect of the groundwater contamination concerns, rightfully gaining attention in these communities, is how and where toxic wastewater is disposed of that is produced along with oil and gas. But here, too, the answers don’t come easy.

The basic regulatory framework

More than 25 percent of the country’s approximately 700,000 injection wells handle produced water from oil and gas operations. The quantities are huge – at least 2 billion gallons per day. And this fluid is not harmless. Produced water from oil and gas operations is usually much saltier than sea water (it will kill plants and can ruin soil) and is often laced with heavy metals and radionuclides that are naturally present in the formation being drilled.  In addition, this produced water can contain hundreds of toxic chemicals – anti-freeze to name just one example.  The current standard practice for addressing this potential environmental hazard is through injection of the water into geologic formations suited to permanent disposal.

The 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act gave the EPA oversight of underground wells injected with chemical-laden fluids for disposal and other purposes. In most cases, EPA delegates the authority to state agencies, but in some states, such as Pennsylvania, EPA regulates the wells itself.

EPA’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) program generally has received high marks. In fact, many environmental advocates believe it is important to expand the program to include hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells, which was largely excluded from UIC regulation by the “Halliburton loophole” passed by Congress in 2005.

Challenges with existing methods

For all its high marks, the UIC program also has its problems. For starters, it is uncertain whether all states are following EPA’s definition of “Underground Source of Drinking Water”– the water that is supposed to be protected.

Leaks sometimes occur from storage tanks at UIC wells.

Other challenges include: inadequate investigations in some jurisdictions of the surrounding disposal area to make sure no unplugged wells or natural faults allow wastewater to migrate into water supplies; not always assuring that pressures during injection are held low enough to avoid breaks in caprock that protect aquifers;  failing to make sure that injection is always limited to permitted intervals;  and responding to the  increasing number of small and medium size earthquakes that are linked to injections.

Underfunding of regulatory programs compounds the problem, making it harder to provide the public with assurance that their water quality is protected from oil and gas development.

Wastewater Recycling: Buyer Beware

Recycling oil and gas wastewater for reuse in hydraulic fracturing operations is on the rise. The challenge, however, is that recycling requires storage and transport, and almost always requires some sort of treatment. How new residual waste streams are dealt with that carry far more toxic and concentrated substances than the water treated is a major environmental concern as companies jump on the recycling trend. Growing interest in the Appalachian Basin to treat oil and gas wastewater and discharge it into surface streams has heightened attention on these matters. Right now, these discharges are subject to EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), but as EPA recently noted in its Preliminary 2014 Effluent Guidelines Program Plan, “current regulations may not provide adequate controls for oil and gas extraction wastewaters.”

Recycling wastewater does reduce the need for freshwater and reduce the volumes that need to be disposed, but it can make disposal much more challenging – particularly when we don’t know enough about the treatment process and resulting waste products.

Diligent oversight needed

Permanent storage using underground injection wells remains by far the most common disposal method. At this point, it also appears to be the least risky, not to be confused with “unrisky”.

But there are things that can be done right now to help us begin to minimize these risks, such as updating requirements for the installation and maintenance of pits and tanks, assessing risks posed by new forms of transport and adopting appropriate risk controls, and doubling down on efforts to identify and remediate leaks and spills.

Bottom-line: none of this is simple. And questions about management of this produced water from drilling operations further demonstrates why we need to stay vigilant in better understanding the environmental impacts of oil and gas development. Having worked most of my career on these issues, it is clear to me that incremental but near-constant improvements are essential to minimize risks and protect communities.

Source: The Energy Collective

COP 20: The cost of climate change

As negotiators gather in Peru, we count the cost of carbon emissions and ask what can be done to combat climate change.

Global climate negotiators have gathered in Lima, Peru, for the annual United Nations climate change conference COP 20, to discuss how to combat climate change and who should pay for curbing the world’s fossil fuel emissions.

There is a prevailing theory it should be the rich industrialised nations as they have been responsible for the majority of greenhouse gases. And five years ago, they were pledging to increase funding by $100bn a year by the year 2020.

The UN estimates as much as $175bn has been transferred over the last two years to developing nations, although there is a dispute about whether it is on track to hit that 2020 target.

Developing nations are stepping up but not together. China has said emissions will peak by 2030, while India chose to put economic growth ahead of emissions caps.

Low-lying nations may never be saved as sea levels rise and it is in Asia where some of the poorest nations will be hardest hit by climate change.

The capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, is a city under threat as it is sinking at a rate of seven centimetres every year. By 2030, according to experts, half of the city will be below sea level. Step Vassen reports from the Indonesian capital.

So what can be done to combat climate change? Will world leaders ever manage to act together? And why is it so difficult to reach a consensus on climate change?

Griffin Carpenter from the New Economics Foundation joins Counting the Cost to talk about COP 20 and the climate challenge.

The danger of deforestation

The preservation of the Amazon rainforest is considered central in the battle against global warming. But in Peru, the venue for this year’s crucial climate change conference, illegal logging continues at unprecedented rates.

“Mostly everyone here makes their money from illegal logging. You pay off the police and the right people,” Romelo Sangan, an illegal logger from Peru told Al Jazeera.

Deforestation has many causes – from slashing and burning for agriculture, to harvesting precious hardwoods for the construction industry.

In South Sudan, many people are chopping down trees just to exist. The country’s oilfields generate billions of dollars a year, but all the oil is exported, leaving millions of people to rely on wood and charcoal for fuel. The current rate of deforestation will mean no forest will be left in South Sudan within three or four decades.

Al Jazeera’s environment editor Nick Clark reports more on illegal logging in Peru and deforestation in South Sudan.

Oil and ISIL: The business behind the violence

As the armed group ISIL pushes to dominate more territory in Iraq and Syria, many think that the fighters who have joined ISIL must be motivated by a fanatical commitment to ideology.

But in an extraordinary look inside ISIL with rare access to key figures in the organisation, Al Jazeera correspondent Nick Shifrin found that ISIL’s management, organisation, and wealth are all dependent on foot soldiers whose main motivation is income.

Source: Al Jazeera