Showing posts with label sea-levels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sea-levels. Show all posts

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The meek shall inherit the earth

Maryanne is the wife of a friend of mine. A few years ago, she and her sister were deeply affected by the death of their mother. Although they had children of their own, they seemed to mourn their mother for years. I wondered what kind of woman she was and began to picture a person with special qualities, a paragon of virtue - love, charity, generosity? Or maybe she was eloquent, or gifted, or a passionate activist?

Some time later I had the chance to ask my friend about his mother-in-law. He said she was a rather meek woman who was bullied by her husband.

Suddenly I saw that this was a case where enduring love and commitment were aroused by frailty not by strength.

This got me thinking. We look for leaders who are strong and confident, and we forget that the most powerful moral force is exerted by the frail and the weak. They arouse our protective love.

Right now, the world looks to rich and powerful countries to lead the way on climate change. We have applauded European countries for their clean energy initiatives and we desperately want the U.S. to step forward and lead us to the new clean energy future.

Our disappointment in their recalcitrance feels like ashes in the mouth.

But how uplifting to see that the poorest countries are speaking out. Listen to this bold promise from Bangladesh. It promises unilateral action with no caveats, no ifs or buts. 
Let me affirm that Bangladesh, as a responsible member of the international community, will never exceed the average per capita emission of the developing countries. This is our commitment to a low carbon development path.
We expect such commitments and responsible behavior from those who have contributed most to climate change crisis over decades. It is time for them to act positively in the interest of present and future generations. 

More than most countries, Bangladesh knows the impact of climate change. They have 100 million people who will be homeless when sea levels rise by one metre in the next 1-2 generations. They're not standing back helpless, they are demonstrating the kind of action that is needed from all of us.

They are offering their widow's mite. If we count the value of a gift not by how much is given, but by how much is kept back we see the generosity of Bangladesh in promising to limit their per capita carbon emissions to the average of developing countries.

We open our hearts to the fragility of life in Bangladesh. Their honest promise calls us to action so that 100 million peaceful Bangladeshis can have some land to inherit. 


News from the Transformation tab.   

Australia will join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, a U.N.-led initiative to cut short-lived climate pollutants such as soot and methane. Other countries that have joined the initiative include major emitters such as Germany, Japan, the UK and the U.S, and developing nations such as Bangladesh, Ghana and Nigeria. Source: Reuters.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Small island nations: Throw them a lifeline

Everyone loses with climate change. Many countries will lose productive farmland to desertification while others will lose lives and infrastructure to extreme storms or flooding. Small Island States will lose the most, because their homelands will be engulfed by rising sea levels.

Low-lying Pacific island nations, such as Kirabati and Tuvalu, and the Maldives in the Indian ocean, are set to disappear altogether when sea levels rise a meter. 

We know that someone will have to throw them a lifeline.

New Zealand is the first country to throw a lifeline to its neighbours. Since 2001, a limited quota of citizens of Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati and Tuvalu have been able to enter New Zealand under the Pacific Access Category, effectively as environmental refugees displaced by climate change.

OK, it's a miserable quota which make it more of a gossamer thread than a lifeline, but Australia has been even less forthcoming. When Tuvalu requested immigration assistance for its population of 12,000 to move to Australia, the Australian government said its humanitarian obligations were to people who require ''assistance urgently''.

That's not exactly creative thinking, is it? And far from humanitarian.

These small countries are doing what they can to help themselves. The Maldives has established a sovereign wealth fund, drawn from its tourist revenue, to be used to buy land overseas and finance the relocation of the country's population of 350,000. They also aim to be the first country in the world to be carbon neutral.

But direct action is not all they are doing to help themselves, Small Island States have become a force to be reckoned with in international climate negotiations. At Durban, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) joined with the EU and Least Developed Countries to play a lead role in forging agreement to  keep the Kyoto process alive.

Going into the Rio Earth Summit, AOSIS argues that the Blue Economy (ocean-based economic life) needs as much attention as the Green Economy.

If these Small Island States are regarded as expendable collatoral damage it will be a loss for all of us. Their plight can be a catalyst for preventative action that would benefit everyone. Afterall, degraded ocean life and rising sea levels will affect most countries, not just the Small Island States.

The lifeline we need is preventative action, not migration quotas that try to deal with the mess.


News of the day on the Transformations menu tab.

The Maldives plans to be the world's first carbon neutral nation by 2020. It has set a mandatory target to generate at least 60% of its electricity from solar power by 2020. The latest initiative, funded by Japan, will install 675kW of solar power at schools and other public facilities. Source: PowerEngineering.