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Finer M.,Save Americas Forests | Finer M.,Center for International Environmental Law | Jenkins C.N.,North Carolina State University
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Due to rising energy demands and abundant untapped potential, hydropower projects are rapidly increasing in the Neotropics. This is especially true in the wet and rugged Andean Amazon, where regional governments are prioritizing new hydroelectric dams as the centerpiece of long-term energy plans. However, the current planning for hydropower lacks adequate regional and basin-scale assessment of potential ecological impacts. This lack of strategic planning is particularly problematic given the intimate link between the Andes and Amazonian flood plain, together one of the most species rich zones on Earth. We examined the potential ecological impacts, in terms of river connectivity and forest loss, of the planned proliferation of hydroelectric dams across all Andean tributaries of the Amazon River. Considering data on the full portfolios of existing and planned dams, along with data on roads and transmission line systems, we developed a new conceptual framework to estimate the relative impacts of all planned dams. There are plans for 151 new dams greater than 2 MW over the next 20 years, more than a 300% increase. These dams would include five of the six major Andean tributaries of the Amazon. Our ecological impact analysis classified 47% of the potential new dams as high impact and just 19% as low impact. Sixty percent of the dams would cause the first major break in connectivity between protected Andean headwaters and the lowland Amazon. More than 80% would drive deforestation due to new roads, transmission lines, or inundation. We conclude with a discussion of three major policy implications of these findings. 1) There is a critical need for further strategic regional and basin scale evaluation of dams. 2) There is an urgent need for a strategic plan to maintain Andes-Amazon connectivity. 3) Reconsideration of hydropower as a low-impact energy source in the Neotropics. © 2012 Finer, Jenkins.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is hoping to have the final text ready on Friday, and key issues remain open, with talks likely to carry on through the night. Human rights organizations, aid agencies and climate-impacted people were disappointed to find an earlier binding proposal that said a Paris agreement should be implemented "on the basis of respect for human rights" had been thrown out. “We would certainly think human rights is not something that should be dropped,” said Benjamin Schachter of the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. "There still is time to bring this language back." There has been concern during the two-week talks in Paris that some states - including Saudi Arabia, Norway and the United States - have been trying to weaken the presence of human rights in the climate deal. The removal of the reference was a particular affront because of its timing, campaigners said. "Incredibly, references to human rights have been stripped from the body of this U.N. agreement on the very day that people around the world mark Human Rights Day," said Friends of the Earth International climate justice coordinator Sara Shaw. On Thursday morning, U.N. experts said human rights are already being violated by climate change impacts, including more extreme weather and rising seas, as well as solutions. A report from the U.N. Environment Programme said the environmental impacts of climate change pose a threat to human rights, including the rights to health, food, water and adequate housing. Ursula Rakova of the Cartaret islands in the Pacific, a community leader who has been trying to relocate some of her people threatened by rising seas to Bougainville, said she was "very angry this agreement does not protect our rights". “Looking at this (text), it doesn’t give us any hope. It means business as usual. Climate change impacts violate our rights,” she added. International aid group Oxfam described the loss of the binding human rights language as "extremely disappointing", noting it followed the earlier loss of references to gender equality and a just transition to a clean economy. The non-binding introduction to the latest version of the text acknowledges that climate change is "a common concern to humankind". It says countries should "promote, respect and take into account their respective obligations on human rights" when developing policies and taking action to address climate change. But this does not satisfy human rights officials or campaigners. "The language in the preamble is merely aspirational. It doesn’t require (governments) to do anything,” said Alyssa Johl of the Center for International Environmental Law. “This means it’s not a priority issue for them.” Joni Pegram, climate change policy advisor with the U.N. children's agency Unicef UK, said combating climate change and helping communities adapt should be about ensuring the rights of children, particularly the poorest, and other vulnerable groups, including migrants, indigenous peoples and women. "World leaders talk of securing a deal that will protect the planet for children and future generations, but what they are proposing suggests that these are nothing more than warm words," she said.

Loibl G.,Diplomatic Academy of Vienna | Hite K.,Center for International Environmental Law | Martinez C.,Global Policy Unit | Morgera E.,University of Edinburgh
Environmental Policy and Law | Year: 2010

UNFCCC / COP-15 - Final Stages of the Copenhagen Conference "No Longer Secret" 134 UNFCCC - Major Economies Forum and BASIC Ministers Meetings (Soledad Aguilar) 135 UNEP GCSS-11 / GMEF - Building Confidence in the Multilateral System (Elisabeth Mrema) 136 UNEP - Compilation of Environmental Goals and Objectives (Gerhard Loibl) 140 CSD / COP-18 - Transport, Chemicals and Waste Management 141 UNCSD / PC1 - Rio+20: What Next? (Kristen Hite and Constanza Martinez) 144 UNCCD - The Role of the Desertification Convention in the Early 21st Century "Facing the Fundamentals of Human Existence" (Bo Kjellén) 146 CBD / SBSTTA 14 and WGRI-3 - Integration and Implementation in Focus (Elisa Morgera) 153 FAO - Agricultural Biotechnologies in Developing Countries (Elsa Tsioumani) 158. © 2010 IOS Press.

Finer M.,Center for International Environmental Law | Jenkins C.N.,North Carolina State University | Powers B.,E Technology International
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

The western Amazon continues to be an active and controversial zone of hydrocarbon exploration and production. We argue for the urgent need to implement best practices to reduce the negative environmental and social impacts associated with the sector. Here, we present a three-part study aimed at resolving the major obstacles impeding the advancement of best practice in the region. Our focus is on Loreto, Peru, one of the largest and most dynamic hydrocarbon zones in the Amazon. First, we develop a set of specific best practice guidelines to address the lack of clarity surrounding the issue. These guidelines incorporate both engineering-based criteria and key ecological and social factors. Second, we provide a detailed analysis of existing and planned hydrocarbon activities and infrastructure, overcoming the lack of information that typically hampers large-scale impact analysis. Third, we evaluate the planned activities and infrastructure with respect to the best practice guidelines. We show that Loreto is an extremely active hydrocarbon front, highlighted by a number of recent oil and gas discoveries and a sustained government push for increased exploration. Our analyses reveal that the use of technical best practice could minimize future impacts by greatly reducing the amount of required infrastructure such as drilling platforms and access roads. We also document a critical need to consider more fully the ecological and social factors, as the vast majority of planned infrastructure overlaps sensitive areas such as protected areas, indigenous territories, and key ecosystems and watersheds. Lastly, our cost analysis indicates that following best practice does not impose substantially greater costs than conventional practice, and may in fact reduce overall costs. Barriers to the widespread implementation of best practice in the Amazon clearly exist, but our findings show that there can be great benefits to its implementation. © 2013 Finer et al.

Johl A.,Center for International Environmental Law | Duyck S.,University of Lapland
Ethics, Policy and Environment | Year: 2012

Over the past several years, the human rights implications of climate change have become more evident. While extreme weather events and slow onset changes caused by climate change affect the exercise of human rights, the implementation of climate change policies - in relation to both mitigation and adaptation - may also lead to the infringement of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. Despite this recognition by the UN Human Rights Council and other bodies, the international climate change regime has failed to address these implications, recognizing only in 2010 the importance for parties to respect human rights in the implementation of the Framework Convention. The adoption of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), together with the reform of existing mechanisms and the operationalization of new institutions, offers several opportunities to ensure the adequate fulfillment of human rights obligations under the Convention. In this commentary, we highlight four concrete options available to the parties in the upcoming negotiations to guarantee the respect of substantial and procedural rights of all the stakeholders and to offer a redress mechanism in the case of loss and damages caused by climate change. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

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