Barcelona Climate Change Talks.

The Climate Change Talks are being held from 2-6 November 2009, in Barcelona, Spain.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Yvo de Boer opened the Barcelona Climate Change and highlighted the significant advances in the negotiations on adaptation, technology transfer, capacity-building and reducing emissions from deforestation (REDD)

The Barcelona meeting is unlikely to resolve the big issues on finance and emission reduction targets, but it is critical in terms of building the essential architecture in place to make a Copenhagen agreed outcome function.

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Security and Water in Israel

A recent report from Amnesty International finds that Israel has developed discriminatory practices that have created sever water scarcity for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.West_Bank_&_Gaza_Map_2007_(Settlements) Much has been made of the potential for resource scarcity to cause violent security issues.  In this case it seems that insecurity has resulted in resource scarcity.  According to the Amnesty report Israel has prevented Palestinians from accessing the surface water of the Jordan River, dominated use of the Mountain aquifer located under the West Bank, and prevented capital upkeep of sanitation stations in Gaza that are critical to refreshing the coastal aquifer.   The impacts of the imbalance land heavily on the Palestinian households dependent on water from these natural sources.  Decreased agricultural productivity and high costs to get needed clean water has placed substantial burdens on the economic well-being of affected households.  The ongoing violence in Israel may not be caused by resource scarcity but it seems likely that the inequality and desperation caused by discriminatory Israeli water policies breeds societal insecurity.

Global Environmental Governance: Fixing a troubled system: An Interview with Professor Adil Najam

In an interview with the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Adil Najam, a senior fellow for IISD and leading expert in international environmental affairs, discusses the challenges facing global environmental governance today.  Najam highlights the need for systematic reform to the way that global environmental governance is approached by the various players.  He compares organizing cooperation in the global environmental governance arena to herding cats and posits that a new system is necessary.

Obama Sets Energy Innovation as International Competition

I had the very good fortune to attend President Obama’s clean energy speech at MIT yesterday.  I was extremely excited to be in the room, yet left disappointed in the lack of new commitments and jingoistic tone set by President Obama.

The theme of the speech was innovation, geared toward the research oriented host, MIT.  Much was made of the pioneering identity of Americans, and our capacity for discovery and leadership.  The frontier for the 21st century is the transition to clean energy.  Obama expressed a certainty that the US has not lost its capacity to lead innovation, and that we can maintain world economic dominance by investing in clean energy.  He referred to clean energy as a “peaceful competition” that will determine the leaders of the global economy.  His belief that clean energy technology is the key to economic prosperity was inspiring and reassuring to me.

My concern is that the speech set Americans apart from the rest of the world in a competition, rather than affirming the need for global cooperation. Continue reading

Developing solutions for countries suffering water scarcity

Advances in technology and knowledge need to be encouraged in developing countries which are challenged with the problem of water scarcity.

Issues of Environment Are Aspects of Peace

Although a majority of us were surprised by President Obama receiving the Nobel Peace prize, he has claimed that by his acceptance there is the goal for all nations to come together–not only in terms of disarming nuclear weapons but also the need to focus on combating climate change. He states that it is essential that we all acknowledge that global warming is occurring, and the need for all nations to accept responsibilities. President Obama has used this opportunity to express concerns about our environment, and gives the world a glimpse of the US position for the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen later this year.

William Kamkwamba: How I harnessed the wind