Sunday, April 29, 2012

New initiatives approved for fast and scaled-up action on Black Carbon, Methane, and HFCs

Hillary Clinton announcing the Coalition

Five transformational initiatives aimed at accelerating and scaling-up action against a range of health, crop and climate-damaging pollutants were given the go-ahead by ministers meeting in the Swedish capital Stockholm, on Tuesday April 24, 2012.

It is believed the initiatives, which mark the beginning of the implementation phase of the new Climate and Clean Air Coalition, will fast track momentum towards reducing black carbon or ‘soot’, methane and a range of fluorinated gases called HFCs.

The meeting assessed around a dozen initiatives proposed by developed and developing countries for fast and federated action on short lived climate pollutants including many happening already at the national level.

Delegates took forward five steps to be approved for rapid implementation by ministers on the final day, due to the following reasons.

§  Fast action on diesel emissions including from heavy duty vehicles and engines

Studies show that reductions are possible by addressing emissions from the freight transportation supply chain, through city action plans, and adoption of a range of measures for reducing sulphur in fuels and vehicle emissions.

§  Upgrading old inefficient brick kilns which are a significant source of black carbon emissions

Mexico has for example [20,000] small and medium-sized brick kilns and the design of many of the [6,000] in Bangladesh hark back to the 1900s.

§  Accelerating the reduction of methane emissions from landfills

World-wide the waste management sector contributes about 11% of global methane emissions, and the coalition will work with cities to reduce methane emissions from landfills by improving strategic municipal solid waste planning and providing technical assistance.

§  Speeding up cuts in methane and other emissions from the oil and gas industry

Natural gas venting and leakage from the oil and gas industry accounts for over one fifth of global man-made emissions of methane: Flaring at oil installations generate both methane and black carbon emissions. An estimated one third of leaks and venting can be cut using existing technologies at low cost.

§  Accelerating alternatives to HFCs

HFCs are being rapidly introduced as replacements to chemicals that can damage the ozone layer - the Earth’s protective shield that filters out hazardous ultra violet light. But HFCs are also powerful greenhouse gases.

The Coalition aims to fast track more environmentally-friendly and cost effective alternatives and technologies to avoid HFC growth.

Furthermore, additional initiatives – including a proposal by Ghana on agricultural/forest open burning and a proposal by Bangladesh on cookstoves – would be further developed over the coming weeks.

Revealing these in a press release, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said fast action to reduce short lived climate pollutants can have a direct impact on climate change with the potential to reduce warming by up to 0.5 degrees Celsius by 2050 and help keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius.

It maintained that reductions of SLCPs would also allow for addressing rapid melting in the Arctic and in mountain regions with glaciers, like the Himalayas.

UNEP disclosed that by around 2030, fast action can potentially prevent millions of premature deaths from for example inhalation of black carbon while avoiding an estimated 30 million tonnes of crop losses.

New Climate and Clean Air Coalition expands to 13 members

Representatives of first members of Coalition including Ghana

Work of the new Climate and Clean Air Coalition launched in Washington DC on 17 February 2012, was given a further boost Tuesday, April 24, 2012, with the announcements of Colombia, Japan, Nigeria, Norway, the European Commission and the World Bank that they are joining.

This brings to 13 the number of partners who have joined, thus expanding the initial membership founded by Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden and the United States and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

The Coalition was launched at an event in Washington DC in February hosted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Five other countries - Australia, Denmark, Finland, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom, along with delegates from the private sector, also attended as observers at last week’s meeting to learn first-hand the Coalition’s plans.

Announcing these through a press statement, UNEP said more than 10 years of scientific research and assessment has indicated that substances such as black carbon or ‘soot’ and methane are triggering wide-ranging health, climate and crop-damaging impacts.

The Coalition aims among others, to catalyse the speed and the scale of action on short lived climate pollutants, enhance existing and develop new national actions to address mitigation gaps and encourage existing and new regional actions.

It also aspires to reinforce and track existing efforts to reduce the pollutants, promote opportunities for greater international coordination, develop and improve inventories, identify barriers to action and seek to surmount them, as well as promote best practices or available technologies and showcase successful efforts to address short lived climate pollutants.

The Climate Coalition further intends to improve understanding of and review scientific progress on short lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), their impacts and benefits of mitigation and dissemination of knowledge; and mobilise targeted support for those developing countries that require resources to develop their capacity and to implement actions consistent with national strategies to support sustainable development.
Introducing cost effective and environmentally-friendly alternatives to fluorinated gases known as HFCs are also part of the Coalition’s aims, as a result of their high potential to impact climate change, if widely taken up over the coming years.

Meanwhile, the announcement of new national partners was made at the end of the first Ministerial meeting of the Coalition, which took place in parallel with Stockholm+40 - a conference marking four decades after the UN Conference on the Human Environment which took place in the Swedish capital in 1972.

The meeting and conference also came in advance of Rio+20 - two decades after the 1992 Earth Summit that set the course for contemporary sustainable development.

New countries make commitments
Declaring Colombia’s intention to join the Coalition, Frank Pearl, the Colombian Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development, said: “Colombia has recognised for some time the urgency of acting on these short lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) including the impacts of black carbon on public health and the accelerated melting of glaciers in the high mountain areas of Latin America”.

“Colombia is among several countries in our region to act on soot particles from vehicles and other contaminating sources as well as emissions that are triggering tropospheric or ground level ozone - another short lived climate pollutants,” he said.

“In joining the Coalition we see not only potential national and global benefits but Colombia plans to act as a regional hub, reaching out to other countries in Latin America in order to generate regional opportunities for sustainable development,” said Mr Pearl.
Speaking on behalf of the European Commission, Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, also said: "The European Commission is very pleased to join this Coalition. This initiative should complement the efforts needed under the UN climate change convention to cut global greenhouse gas emissions to a level that will limit global temperature increase to below 2°C.

“The Commission is willing to consider further support to concrete projects in developing countries to reduce emissions from short-lived climate pollutants. Action on these pollutants will not, however, replace the need for continued action by all major economies to reduce CO2 emissions, which needs to be stepped up,” she added.

Making a comment on behalf of Nigeria, Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia , Nigerian Minister of the Environment said: "Nigeria is delighted to be a new member of the Coalition. It is estimated that 95,000 women in my country die each year prematurely because of black carbon emissions from sources such as inefficient cook stoves--this is a conservative estimate.

Meanwhile there are enormous opportunities for reducing methane emissions from sources such as the oil and gas industry and landfills that can benefit Nigeria and its people and the wider regional and global ambitions to combat climate change in a cost effective and economic way".

"We look to encourage more countries within Africa and beyond to join this inspiring initiative so that fast action can be federated everywhere in order to save lives, improve food security and tackle climate change which challenges the future of the poor and the vulnerable exponentially," she added.

Also declaring the intention of his country, Bård Vegar Solhjell, the Norwegian Minister of the Environment, said: “Norway is delighted to join the Coalition. It unites our country’s interest in achieving national sustainability with international responsibilities in the areas of health, food security, climate and development”.

“There are many international initiatives addressing these short term pollutants, and Norway is participating in several of them. In this Coalition the United Nations Environment Programme participates, both as partner and as Secretariat for the Coalition. This is a very wise decision, which provides credibility and leverage and increases the value of the Coalition´s work”, he added.

“Finally it echoes to Norway’s interest in the Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication - a key issue for the upcoming Rio+20 Summit in June -in which well-targeted policy and financial interventions can catalyse benefits across multiple fronts,” said Mr. Solhjell.

Speaking on behalf of the World Bank, Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development said: "From multi-billion dollar investments in clean energy each year to climate smart solutions for agriculture and cities, the Bank already targets short-term environmental pollutants in developing countries through our lending, data and evidence based knowledge sharing and technical assistance. But, we can achieve even more by working as a coalition".

"This is the most important decade for action on climate change", Kyte said, adding, "But with a global treaty that will speed the curbing of carbon dioxide many years off, the climate and clean air coalition puts a practical new deal on the table - one that helps slow global warming while reducing the soot and smog that is damaging food crops and health worldwide, undermining growth and development."
The Coalition emphasises that the climate benefits need to be backed by cuts in other greenhouse gases including C02 if temperature increases over the 21st century are to be held below 2 degrees Celsius.

However, addressing near term warming from SLCPs may be crucial to avoid the most serious impacts over the coming decades.

Trust Fund Established
To support the Coalition’s efforts, a new Trust Fund managed by a UNEP-hosted secretariat was agreed Tuesday.
Making a comment at the meeting, Lena Ek, Swedish Environment Minister, said: “Sweden is committed to continue working actively with this important coalition. Furthermore we are happy to announce our contribution to the Coalition Trust Fund with 1.4 MSEK for the UNEP Secretariat and 10 MSEK to concrete projects”. 11.4 million Swedish Krona is around $1.7 million.

In the meantime, initial financing pledges for the Coalition now amount to some $16.7 million with significantly more funds expected over the coming 12 months.

Science Advisory Panel
Saying sound science has underpinned the formation of the Coalition and will guide its work into the future, UNEP revealed ministers have asked three luminaries involved in short lived climate pollutant work to advise them on the formation of a dedicated world-class Science Advisory Panel to provide scientific advice to the Coalition.

The advice will be provided by Drew Shindell of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Mario Molina, the distinguished Mexican chemist and 1995 Nobel Prize co-winner and Veerabhadran Ramanathan, chair of the UNEP Atmospheric Brown Cloud project based at the University of California San Diego, USA.

Coalition Web Site Goes Live
Further, the Coalition Tuesday unveiled a dedicated web site ( ), to support dissemination of information about the initiative’s role and partners.

Ghana commits to increase resources for sanitation, water

Dr. Kwabena Duffuor

Ghana’s Minister of Finance, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, has stated government’s commitment to increase allocation of resources to sanitation and water, by revising and reinforcing the Ghana Compact, in line with the country’s needs and capacity as an emerging Middle Income Country.
He said government will also augment resources to the sector, to reflect the joint responsibility of government, development partners and civil society for implementing the commitments, as well as monitor, evaluate and report on progress in implementing the Compact.
Dr. Duffuor stated these, when he reaffirmed Ghana’s resolve to achieve all the water and sanitation targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), at the second High Level Meeting (HLM) held in Washington D.C, USA last week.
Ghana’s Finance Minister, who was presenting the country’s commitments to sanitation and water at the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) HLM, noted seven areas that government has decided to act to ensure access to sanitation and hygiene.
“In reaffirming our resolve to achieving all the Water and Sanitation targets of the MDGs, we make the following commitments – Continue to prioritise sanitation and water at the highest political level,” he started off.
To achieve that, he said “We commit to continuing participation in the SWA Partnership, leading country level processes and participating in all future high level meetings, prioritising water and sanitation alongside health and education in dialogue with donors, in national development plans and in sector strategies of other sectors, increasing policy dialogue on sanitation and water at all levels of our economy and, engaging in South-South experience sharing and dialogue on WASH issues.”
Dr. Duffuor added that the government of Ghana will ensure improved targeting of funds to where they are most needed, by focusing resources and attention on achieving and sustaining progress on equitable delivery of the national and MDG targets, especially for sanitation and WASH in schools.
To make good Ghana’s third commitment, he said a clear criteria for equitable targeting of resources at national and sub-national level including indicators and mechanisms for monitoring performance, will be developed and applied.
Ghana also pledged to ensure strong country ownership and government leadership, toward realisation of the aid effectiveness agenda in the sector. This it plans to do, by moving rapidly towards a Sector-Wide Approach (SWAp) and developing a government-led sector-wide coordination mechanism involving all relevant stakeholders.
Government also believes its fourth commitment can be achieved by establishing mechanisms to ensure accountability for progress, including an effective monitoring and evaluation mechanism and transparency of resource management, including public expenditure reviews and tracking.
It adds that it will mobilise all stakeholders including development partners, civil society and the private sector, to contribute towards national targets for sanitation and water embodied in existing plans and frameworks.
Dr. Kwabena Duffuor further promised that Ghana will see to the implementation of national action plans, by “fully implementing all national plans and strategies on sanitation and water, including the National Environmental Sanitation Strategy and Action Plan and its investment plan, Water Sector Strategic Development Plan and the accompanying investment plans of the rural, urban and water resources sub sectors”, as well as MDG Acceleration Framework for sanitation.
The Finance Minister stated that as Ghana’s sixth commitment, government pledges to “Ensure sustainability and scaling up of sanitation and water services”
“In addition to providing sanitation and water infrastructure, we commit to: Adopting a service delivery approach to ensure that facilities continue to deliver a basic level of service for all people and the benefits of these services endure over time through provision of adequate budget for post construction support, capital repairs and maintenance,” he disclosed.
Furthermore, he divulged that plans are afoot to institute measures to scale up achievement in WASH, by developing a national programme for demand creation, and committing adequate resources to support research and testing of WASH innovative tools/approaches, knowledge management, promotion and application.
Lastly, Dr. Duffuor told the august gathering of ministers that Ghana is committed to the establishment of a Sector Information System, which it will do by instituting an effective Sector Management Information system to strengthen the role of monitoring and evaluation in sustainable services delivery.
Other steps at arriving at that goal, he said, will be developing and implementing a framework for periodic analysis and regular monitoring of and reporting on equity and inclusion in the water and sanitation sector.
Also, sustaining government’s contribution to and participation in the development of the WASH Bottleneck Analysis Tool and to subsequently using the tool for periodic analysis to inform improved ability of the sector to deliver results.
Commenting on the commitments made by the Ghana government, WaterAid’s Country Representative in Ghana, Dr. Afia Zakiya, said: “These are crucial commitments made by the Ghanaian government; they put the country on the course to meeting the Millennium Development Goal on sanitation by 2015.”
“The lives of over 2,000 children under the age of five in Ghana could be saved if the government makes good on the sanitation MDG. WaterAid will keep a close eye on the Ministries over the next three years to push the government to honour its words with actions,” she added.
The second HLM held on April 20, 2012, was chaired by Ghana’s former President, John Agyekum Kufuor and attended by over 50 governments.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

UN Publishes Greenhouse Gas Emission figures


The UN has launched its third annual Moving Towards a Climate Neutral UN report, detailing the organisation’s greenhouse gas emissions for 2010 and the ongoing efforts to measure and reduce them.    
The report reveals the UN’s 2010 emissions for 54 entities in hundreds of locations and over 200,000 employees. and shows that the UN’s total greenhouse gas emissions were 1.8 million tonnes of CO equivalent. 
This is the same amount of carbon sequestered annually by 383,795 acres of pine or fir forests, an area the size of the Faroe Islands.
According to the report, over 50 percent of the UN’s greenhouse gas emissions are from air travel (4.2 tonnes per capita), making this the biggest challenge for the organisation in reducing its overall emissions.  
Launching the report on the occasion of Earth Day 2012, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, said: “The United Nations system is strongly committed to leading by example and ensuring that our operations are continuously monitored and improved - not just in terms of what we deliver, but also how we deliver.  We are also looking to this year’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development -- Rio+20 -- to generate ideas that will energize sustainability efforts worldwide.”
Also in his foreword to the report, the Secretary-General highlights the efforts which are on-going across the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from UN operations and emphasises the special importance of renewing efforts in 2012.
The report details a wide range of actions that have been taken across the UN system to improve resource efficiency and cut the organisation’s emissions, which includes encouraging train journeys over air travel, providing bicycles for staff members, installing efficient lighting systems in UN offices or using e-conferencing instead of travelling to meetings. 
The report further provides a progress update on implementation of UN’s Climate Neutral Strategy, which was approved by the UN Chief Executive Board in 2007.  A press release detailing this says the strategy commits all agencies, funds and programmes to move towards climate neutrality within the wider context of greening the UN, and requires all UN bodies to estimate their greenhouse gas emissions, undertake efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and analyse the cost implications of purchasing carbon offsets.
It was as part of these efforts, that the Greening the Blue initiative was launched in 2010 to raise awareness of the importance of sustainability throughout the UN system and to encourage staff members to take an active role in reducing the organisation’s carbon emissions.
The emissions calculations used in the latest report have been compiled using internationally recognised guidance based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, a widely used methodology developed by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
According to the press release, the UN greenhouse gas inventory includes emissions from all activities that are under the direct financial control of the organisation, such as the heating and cooling of buildings and the travel of staff members.
How the Blue was Greened
As well as reporting the UN’s greenhouse gas emissions for 2010, the report highlights recent greening efforts and details the myriad ways in which UN organisations and staff continued efforts to reduce their carbon emissions in 2011.
These include the following:
·         Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the New Office Facility in Nairobi, which houses the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN-HABITAT and is among the most energy-efficient buildings in sub-Saharan Africa. Features include 6,000 square metres of solar panels, energy saving lighting and natural ventilation systems. The new offices are "energy neutral", which means they generate as much power (via renewable sources) as they consume over a year.
·         Senior officials of the inter-agency Environment Management Group approved a Strategic Plan for Sustainability Management in the UN System, to move UN organizations towards a consistent, systematic and cost-effective approach to managing sustainability. They also acknowledged the importance of a common structure to support implementation of the plan.
· - the main website for the UN system - launched a new page on sustainability.
·         The number of Green Champions and Green Groups across the UN doubled in 2011, with over 100 volunteers from across the UN working to make their offices more sustainable.
·         UN offices in New York, Geneva and Nairobi joined millions of people across the world to mark Earth Hour at 8pm on 26 March 2011 by switching off their lights to raise awareness of energy efficiency
Towards a zero carbon future
Though the UN has come a long way, the report acknowledges that much still remains to be done. 
Writing in the report’s preface, Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UNEP, Achim Steiner states that “The process of moving the UN towards climate neutrality gives us direct experience of the complexities associated with preparing a large international organisation for a green economy. But we recognise that this work is vital for delivering sustainable development, and has the potential to realise the best of human ingenuity and creativity”.
He adds that “By championing a climate neutral UN the various organisations, agencies, programmes and funds are becoming part of a global community developing innovative solutions and sharing lessons learnt on the challenges and opportunities at hand.”
The report concludes that the UN must establish itself as a pioneer in working towards establishing a green economy and doing all it can to move the world towards sustainable energy.  
The UN Climate Neutral Strategy was approved by the UN Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) in October 2007, while the first UN greenhouse gas inventory, Moving Towards a Climate Neutral UN, was published in December 2009.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Over 572 million Africans don’t have proper sanitation!

Yahna Dinwur and a boy washing their hands in front of the latrine at the local primary school, Warok, Plateau State, Nigeria, January 2006. Credit:WaterAid/ Suzanne Porter

Africa alone is home to over 572 million (equivalent to about four times Nigeria’s population) of the world’s 2.6 billion people without access to proper sanitation, a new report has suggested.
The figure, a compilation of the number of people in 36 off-track African countries listed as not having access to proper sanitation by 2010, according to the report, means that over half of Africa’s estimated one billion population from 53 countries, do not have access to appropriate sanitation.
The report, “Saving Lives”, which was launched by WaterAid, an international aid organisation last week as the prelude to a high level meeting on sanitation on water in Washington D.C., puts the total figure of Africa’s population in need of proper sanitation, at 572,091,000.
Furthermore, the total estimated population of the 36 countries is 784,565,246, meaning only about 212,474,246 have access to adequate and proper sanitation.
Topping the list of countries with large populations without access to basic dignifying sanitation is Nigeria, with 109,312,000 of its 154,729,000 population without access and thus only 45,417,000 having access.
Following on the heels of Nigeria is Ethiopia, with 65,530,000 of her population of 85,237,338 without proper sanitation, then DR Congo, which has 50,134,000 out of its 63,655,000 population being without the required sanitation access as at 2010.
Ghana’s situation is also very intriguing, as out of a total population of 23 million, the report indicates that 20,977,000 people were without proper sanitation by 2010, which means only 2,023,000 (two million) people have access to improved sanitation in the country.
Although the report does not state why the other African countries are not included, it has been gathered that a country like Liberia is missing because records are not available.
The entire list of off-track African countries in WaterAid’s report is as follows:
1.      Benin
2.      Botswana
3.      Burkina Faso
4.      Burundi
5.      Cameroon
6.      CAR
7.      Chad
8.      Comoros
9.      Cote d’Ivoire
10.  DR Congo
11.  Djibouti
12.  Ethiopia
13.  Ghana
14.  Guinea
15.  Kenya
16.  Madagascar
17.  Malawi
18.  Mali
19.  Mauritania
20.  Mauritius
21.  Morocco
22.  Mozambique
23.  Namibia
24.  Niger
25.  Nigeria
26.  Rwanda
27.  Senegal
28.  Sierra Leone
29.  South Africa
30.  Sudan
31.  Swaziland
32.  Tanzania
33.  Togo
34.  Uganda
35.  Zambia
36.  Zimbabwe

Eight off-track countries experience reversed gains in sanitation coverage

Eight of 57 countries of the world that are considered off-track with respect to meeting their sanitation Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target, have also experienced reversed gains, according to a report released by WaterAid, an international aid agency with headquarters in the UK.
The report, “Saving Lives” which was released prior to the second Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High Level Meeting (HLM) held in the United States of America, indicates that whereas most of the off-track countries made gains, though somewhat small in most instances, eight countries in particular, had their coverage depreciating in two decades, other than appreciating.
In a table depicting the various countries and their levels of coverage, the report listed Haiti as being the worse off, with an MDG gap of 48%, followed by Nigeria, Sudan and Djibouti, with 39%, 38% and 37% respectively.
The rest are Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea, Russia and Nauru, with gaps of 31%, 29% and 18% apiece respectively.
Explaining the gap, and why there was a reversal in gains in the eight countries, the table shows that although Haiti had a national coverage of  26% in 1990, that had reduced to 17% by the next two decades in 2010, although it has an MDG target of 63% to attain by 2015. This indicates that as things stand now, the country will only be able to achieve 15% coverage in three years.
In her case, Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa with about 154 million people according to United Nations estimates, had its coverage of  37% in 1990 reduced to 31% twenty years later in 2010, although it has an MDG target of 69% to attain, which will only be 30% in 2015.
Sudan on the other hand, started off with 27% in 1990, but had it reduced to 26% in 2010 with a target of 64% staring it in the face and so will have to be content with 26% coverage by 2015.
Djibouti’s 66% in 1990 also dwindled to 50% in 20 years, although it has challenged itself to attain 83% coverage in 2015 and so will have to make do with 46% by the time of the target date.
Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe for its part had a coverage of  41% in 1990 reducing to 40% in 2010, and has a target of 71% to achieve by 2015, but which will not materialise with the current trend. This means coverage will be at 40% by 2015 according to the WaterAid report.
Papua New Guinea also had its 1990 coverage of 47% reducing to 45% by 2010 with a target of  74% hanging around its neck and so will have to be content with 45% by 2015.
For her part, Russia’s 1990 coverage of 74% plummeted to 70% by 2010, although it has a target of 87% to contend with and so will have to be satisfied with 69% by the time the MDG target date is up, while Nauru also had its 1990 achievement of 66% ever so slightly lowering to 65% by 2010, even though it has set a target of 83% to achieve.
65% will thus be its lucky number by 2015, the date set to attain 83% 12 years ago in 1990.

GJA 2010 Award Winners

GJA 2010 Award Winners
Dzifa, Emelia and Gertrude

GJA 2011 Award Winners

GJA 2011 Award Winners
GWJN's 2011 GJA Award-Winning Team

New WASH-JN Executives

New WASH-JN Executives
They are from left - Edmund, Ghana, Aminata: Guinea, Alain: Benin, Paule: Senegal and Ousman: Niger

Celebrating Award

Celebrating Award
The benefits of Award Winning!

Hard Work Pays!

Hard Work Pays!
In a pose with my plaque