Environment Institute

Adelaide, Australia

Environment Institute

Adelaide, Australia

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News Article | April 27, 2017
Site: www.rdmag.com

Researchers have constructed a marine food web to show how climate change could affect our future fish supplies and marine biodiversity. Published today in Global Change Biology, the researchers found that high CO2 expected by the end of the century which causes ocean acidification will boost production at different levels of the food web, but ocean warming cancelled this benefit by causing stress to marine animals, preventing them using the increased resources efficiently for their own growth and development. The result was a collapsing food web. “Humans rely heavily on a diversity of services that are provided by ocean ecosystems, including the food we eat and industries that arise from that,” says project leader Professor Ivan Nagelkerken, from the University’s Environment Institute. “Our understanding of what’s likely to happen has been hampered by an over-reliance on simplified laboratory systems centred on single levels of the food web. In this study, we created a series of three-level food webs and monitored and measured the results over a number of months to provide an understanding of future food webs under climate change.” The researchers constructed marine food webs based on plants which use sunlight and nutrients to grow (algae), small invertebrates that graze on the plants (such as shrimp), and fish that in turn prey on small invertebrates. They had 12 large aquaria with different species to mimic seagrass, open sand and rocky reef habitats, simulating tidal movements with circular currents. The food webs were exposed to the levels of ocean acidification and warming predicted for the end of this century. Over several months, the researchers assessed the basic processes that operate in food webs like predation and growth of organisms. “Elevated carbon dioxide concentrations boosted plant growth; more plant food meant more small invertebrates, and more small invertebrates, in turn, allowed the fish to grow faster,” says PhD candidate Silvan Goldenberg, who is supervised by Professor Nagelkerken and Professor Sean Connell. “However, ocean warming cancelled this benefit of elevated carbon dioxide by causing stress to the animals, making them less efficient feeders and preventing the extra energy produced by the plants from travelling through the food web to the fish. At the same time, fish were getting hungrier at higher temperatures and started to decimate their prey, the small invertebrates.” The researchers found that ocean warming would be an overwhelming stressor that made food webs less efficient, neutralised the ‘fertilising’ effect of elevated carbon dioxide and threw the fragile relationship between predators and prey off balance. “The consequences for marine ecosystems are likely to be severe,” says Professor Nagelkerken. “Oceans in the future may provide less fish and shellfish for us to eat, and larger animals that are at the top of the food web, in particular, will suffer. We hope this study will provide predictive understanding which is critical for effective fisheries management.”


News Article | April 27, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

University of Adelaide researchers have constructed a marine food web to show how climate change could affect our future fish supplies and marine biodiversity. Published today in Global Change Biology, the researchers found that high CO2 expected by the end of the century which causes ocean acidification will boost production at different levels of the food web, but ocean warming cancelled this benefit by causing stress to marine animals, preventing them using the increased resources efficiently for their own growth and development. The result was a collapsing food web. "Humans rely heavily on a diversity of services that are provided by ocean ecosystems, including the food we eat and industries that arise from that," says project leader Professor Ivan Nagelkerken, from the University's Environment Institute. "Our understanding of what's likely to happen has been hampered by an over-reliance on simplified laboratory systems centred on single levels of the food web. In this study, we created a series of three-level food webs and monitored and measured the results over a number of months to provide an understanding of future food webs under climate change." The researchers constructed marine food webs based on plants which use sunlight and nutrients to grow (algae), small invertebrates that graze on the plants (such as shrimp), and fish that in turn prey on small invertebrates. They had 12 large aquaria with different species to mimic seagrass, open sand and rocky reef habitats, simulating tidal movements with circular currents. The food webs were exposed to the levels of ocean acidification and warming predicted for the end of this century. Over several months, the researchers assessed the basic processes that operate in food webs like predation and growth of organisms. "Elevated carbon dioxide concentrations boosted plant growth; more plant food meant more small invertebrates, and more small invertebrates, in turn, allowed the fish to grow faster," says PhD candidate Silvan Goldenberg, who is supervised by Professor Nagelkerken and Professor Sean Connell. "However, ocean warming cancelled this benefit of elevated carbon dioxide by causing stress to the animals, making them less efficient feeders and preventing the extra energy produced by the plants from travelling through the food web to the fish. At the same time, fish were getting hungrier at higher temperatures and started to decimate their prey, the small invertebrates." The researchers found that ocean warming would be an overwhelming stressor that made food webs less efficient, neutralised the 'fertilising' effect of elevated carbon dioxide and threw the fragile relationship between predators and prey off balance. "The consequences for marine ecosystems are likely to be severe," says Professor Nagelkerken. "Oceans in the future may provide less fish and shellfish for us to eat, and larger animals that are at the top of the food web, in particular, will suffer. We hope this study will provide predictive understanding which is critical for effective fisheries management."


News Article | April 27, 2017
Site: www.rdmag.com

Researchers have constructed a marine food web to show how climate change could affect our future fish supplies and marine biodiversity. Published today in Global Change Biology, the researchers found that high CO2 expected by the end of the century which causes ocean acidification will boost production at different levels of the food web, but ocean warming cancelled this benefit by causing stress to marine animals, preventing them using the increased resources efficiently for their own growth and development. The result was a collapsing food web. “Humans rely heavily on a diversity of services that are provided by ocean ecosystems, including the food we eat and industries that arise from that,” says project leader Professor Ivan Nagelkerken, from the University’s Environment Institute. “Our understanding of what’s likely to happen has been hampered by an over-reliance on simplified laboratory systems centred on single levels of the food web. In this study, we created a series of three-level food webs and monitored and measured the results over a number of months to provide an understanding of future food webs under climate change.” The researchers constructed marine food webs based on plants which use sunlight and nutrients to grow (algae), small invertebrates that graze on the plants (such as shrimp), and fish that in turn prey on small invertebrates. They had 12 large aquaria with different species to mimic seagrass, open sand and rocky reef habitats, simulating tidal movements with circular currents. The food webs were exposed to the levels of ocean acidification and warming predicted for the end of this century. Over several months, the researchers assessed the basic processes that operate in food webs like predation and growth of organisms. “Elevated carbon dioxide concentrations boosted plant growth; more plant food meant more small invertebrates, and more small invertebrates, in turn, allowed the fish to grow faster,” says PhD candidate Silvan Goldenberg, who is supervised by Professor Nagelkerken and Professor Sean Connell. “However, ocean warming cancelled this benefit of elevated carbon dioxide by causing stress to the animals, making them less efficient feeders and preventing the extra energy produced by the plants from travelling through the food web to the fish. At the same time, fish were getting hungrier at higher temperatures and started to decimate their prey, the small invertebrates.” The researchers found that ocean warming would be an overwhelming stressor that made food webs less efficient, neutralised the ‘fertilising’ effect of elevated carbon dioxide and threw the fragile relationship between predators and prey off balance. “The consequences for marine ecosystems are likely to be severe,” says Professor Nagelkerken. “Oceans in the future may provide less fish and shellfish for us to eat, and larger animals that are at the top of the food web, in particular, will suffer. We hope this study will provide predictive understanding which is critical for effective fisheries management.”


Once upon a time, in the distant 60s and 70s, the Great Barrier Reef faced imminent destruction. Tenement applications for drilling and mining covered vast swathes of the reef, with both government and industry enthusiastically backing the plans for mass exploitation. In the face of the reef’s impending doom a motley collection of ordinary Australians shared a common determination that something had to be done. But the odds didn’t look good. The poet turned campaigner Judith Wright wrote that “if it had not been for the public backing for protection of the reef that we knew existed, we might have given up hope”. The optimism of the poet was well founded. First in the hundreds, then in the tens of thousands, a people’s movement grew to defend the reef. Everyday Aussies turned activists and campaigners. Scientists and lawyers came forward with vital expertise. At a crucial moment the Queensland Trades and Labour Council approved a total black-ban by all affiliated unions on oil drilling on the Great Barrier Reef. As hard as is now to believe, the Murdoch-owned Australian opined that the ban would have an unprecedented measure of public support and would probably succeed. It deserved to. Only finally did the politicians follow the will of the people. Through the power and determination of the Australian people, the greatest marine park in human history was established and the Great Barrier Reef lived to fight another day. Inherently democratic in its size and closeness to the shore, the Great Barrier Reef is truly the people’s reef. Looking back on the first great struggle for the reef between the Australian people and the fossil fuel industry, Wright wrote that “if disasters in the shape of weather, accident and climate change lie ahead, the work done already has shown what can be done to shield it from such dangers and has proved that people will agree, in the event, to supplying the help it needs”. Unhappily, those disasters are now upon us. Global warming brought the great bleaching of 2015-16 and the dreadful and unprecedented sequel over the summer that has just finished. Our reef is in dire trouble. But while the people’s reef is grievously wounded, it is still very much alive. And life fights for life. Innumerable animals are now doing what creatures do, navigating the hazards of life as best they can to survive and reproduce in the warming waters. Given time and the right conditions, the people’s reef can recover and life will flourish again. So how this time around do we supply the help the reef needs? The big lie propagated by Australian government and big business is that it is possible to turn things around for the reef without tackling global warming. As scientists have made clear, it isn’t – we have to stop climate pollution to give our reef a chance. It is true that Australia can’t save the reef alone because climate change is a global problem. But that does not mean we are powerless to act and we should not be deterred. Because when you love something deeply – as we Australians cherish our people’s reef – then you do all that is within your power to save that thing which you hold so dear. And there is much that is within our power to do. So what is to be done? The answer does not lie in false techno-fixes or the faux-democratic farrago of the government-business funded Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef. Australia’s greatest contribution to global warming is through our coal, exported and burned in foreign power stations. So our most determined Australian efforts to save the reef must be directed to closing down the coalmining industry, while ensuring decent new jobs and fair transitions for all affected workers and communities. Again, the balance of power seems loaded against us. First the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, and now the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, have betrayed both the reef and the trust of the Australian people by snivelling across the seas, pledging allegiance to the Carmichael coalmine. All too often, the rest of big business is complicit in the crisis by explicitly or tacitly supporting the coal industry. Financial institutions such as CommBank continue to invest in the fossil fuel projects that are bringing disaster to the reef. But, once we are roused, never underestimate the power and determination of the Australian people to defend our iconic animals and the natural beauty of our lands and seas. The extraordinary success of the Stop Adani Roadshow – which sold out across the eastern Australian capital cities reaching an audience of thousands – is just a glimpse of the popular will to fight the coal industry for the future of our reef. We have the opportunity to write our own story, not of despair but of defiance. If we, the people of Australia, stand determined together against coalmining and the rest of the fossil fuel industry then the future of our reef is not bleak but hopeful. The roadmap to full recovery for our reef will be decades or even centuries in the making. And it is going to get worse before it gets better. But we, the Australian people, can again agree to supply the help it needs, to give the reef we love the best chance of future flourishing. Now is the time to get involved. • This op ed is a modified version of comments made at Global Warming and the Mass Bleaching of Corals, a public event held by the Sydney Environment Institute of Sydney University on 31 March.


News Article | June 22, 2017
Site: www.ictsd.org

INVESTMENT TRENDS MONITOR – SPECIAL ISSUE. Published by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) (June 2017). This special issue of UNCTAD’s Investment Trends Monitor examines the relationship between services and investment, including through the lens of the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The publication is available for download here. CURRENCY CONFLICT AND TRADE POLICY: A NEW STRATEGY FOR THE UNITED STATES. By C. Fred Bergsten and Joseph E. Gagnon for the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) (June 2017). This book focuses on conflicts over currency valuations as a recurrent feature of the modern global economy and investigates the implications for trade, investment, and other areas. The authors also assess policy options that Washington could consider going forward. To access this book, please visit the PIIE website. STEEL, ALUMINUM, LUMBER, SOLAR: TRUMP’S STEALTH TRADE PROTECTION. By Chad P. Bown for the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) (June 2017). This policy brief examines the Trump administration’s approach to trade policy and the rules-based trading system. The author argues that the Trump administration has been taking a trade-restrictive approach to policy and examines possible implications for bilateral, regional, and global trade policy. To view the full document, please visit the PIIE website. AFRICAN ECONOMIC OUTLOOK 2017. Published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (May 2017). This annual report examines Africa’s performance in various economic and financial areas, including on trade, along with development and governance. The report focuses especially on the relationship between entrepreneurs and industrialisation and proposes national-level policy options. To learn more and to download this report, please visit the OECD’s iLibrary. FIVE WAYS TO ADDRESS FOSSIL FUEL SUBSIDIES THROUGH THE WTO AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE AGREEMENTS. By Peter Wooders and Cleo Verkuijl for the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) (June 2017). This blog post builds on recent workshops regarding the role of the WTO in advancing fossil fuel subsidy reform. The authors also look at this subject through the lens of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The article is available here.


Can the international trade system be a catalyst for reforming fossil fuel subsidies (FFSs) to help relieve the burden on the public purse, reduce local and global air pollution, improve energy security and tackle climate change? This was the theme of a recent workshop set at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva and organized by Climate Strategies, the Stockholm Environment Institute and the International Institute for Sustainable Development. The event forms part of a broader conversation on how the international trading system can be made compatible with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Participants found there is significant scope for the WTO and international trade agreements to complement and strengthen reform efforts already being supported under a range of international forums, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the G20 and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Owing to its wide membership, its central role in disciplining trade-distorting subsidiesacross economic sectors and its well-established dispute settlement system, the WTO is well equipped to take the FFS reform agenda forward. To date, however, the WTO’s involvement in FFS has been limited. In notable contrast with the various disputes against renewable energy subsidies that have been launched at the WTO over the past decade, no FFSs have been disputed thus far. In part, this is because many WTO Members do not fully notify on their FFSs, whether because of a lack of data and understanding of energy subsidies and their trade effects, current shortfalls in the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures’ (ASCM) notification questionnaire or a lack of mechanisms to enforce notification. In the absence of case law and targeted research, there is also a lack of legal clarity on the extent to which different types of FFSs can be disciplined by the ASCM to begin with. And yet addressing this topic falls squarely within the WTO’s mandate. FFSs can have a range of distorting impacts on trade and investment, including by affecting the rate and timing of development of new fields or mines. Moreover, the WTO was established with a view to ensuring economic progress is achieved in accordance with the objective of sustainable development, and the SDGs explicitly identify trade as a critically important means of implementation. As such, trade should be viewed as an enabler for achieving the SDGs and targets, including the objective of reducing FFSs set out under SDG 12. Although parallels should not be overstated, it is also worth noting the WTO’s continued engagement on reducing environmentally harmful fisheries subsidies as part of the Doha Round. Observing the discrepancy in how the two subsidies were treated in the WTO, the former Director-General Pascal Lamy characterized the absence of FFS from the WTO’s agenda as a “missed opportunity.” What Can Be Done? During the Geneva workshop, participants identified multiple avenues to address FFSs within the international trading system. While not purporting to be exhaustive, the table below identifies five key categories of action available to WTO Members: 1) promoting capacity building and technical cooperation; 2) enhancing transparency; 3) adopting subsidy reform pledges and ensuring credible follow-up through reporting and review; 4) clarifying the interpretation of existing rules; and 5) making changes to existing rules. Several concrete pathways to help realize these goals are also identified. Table 1: Five Ways to Address Fossil Fuel Subsidies at the WTO It is important to note that these pathways are not mutually exclusive, and many are likely to be particularly effective if adopted together. A pledge, report and review system, for instance, would benefit from parallel efforts to improve transparency. All approaches would necessarily be led by WTO Members. They range from those that are purely voluntary to those that are binding and embedded in the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism. This provides scope for gradual enhancements of ambition. In a similar vein, many approaches can either be taken forward plurilaterally (by a coalition of the willing) or multilaterally (involving all WTO Members). As illustrated by references to fossil fuel subsidy reduction in the EU-Singapore Free-Trade Agreement (which is awaiting formal approval), bilateral and regional trade agreements may form an effective platform to pioneer cooperative approaches to FFS reform. The workshop also made clear that any successful effort to address FFSs through the international trade system will need to adequately address the special circumstances of developing countries. That might involve special and differential treatment provisions, including potential exemptions and carve-outs for development, energy access and other reasons. With the WTO’s 11th biennial Ministerial Conference coming up in Buenos Aires in December 2017, creative thinking, constructive debate and further research on the various options on the table are needed to help ensure the promise of Paris and the SDGs is fulfilled.


News Article | June 16, 2017
Site: www.theenergycollective.com

President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Paris climate agreement reaffirmed what was already clear: The federal government is no longer leading American efforts to shrink our carbon footprint. But many state and local governments — along with businesses and consumers — aim to help fill this policy void. At least a dozen governors have joined the United States Climate Alliance, committing their states to achieve emissions reductions consistent with President Barack Obama’s Paris pledge. More than 200 mayors are promising their cities will follow suit. My research with my former student Shayak Sengupta about how cities can benefit from buying electric cars suggests that fuel-free municipal fleets can cut urban carbon footprints while improving public health and saving taxpayers money. States can help curb emissions in many ways, such as by setting caps on power plant emissions and creating incentives and targets for renewable electricity. Most of those steps lies beyond the jurisdiction of cities. So how can they take climate action? Urban governments most strongly impact emissions by influencing the behavior of local residents and businesses through building codes and incentives, public transit and urban planning. Buying increasingly affordable electric vehicles gives cities an additional opportunity to cut climate-warming emissions by reducing the amount of fossil fuels their vehicles consume. Historically, cities and transit agencies turned to natural gas as an alternative fuel for fleet vehicles and buses. However, our previous research showed that natural gas does not provide significant emissions savings compared with gasoline cars or diesel buses. Electric vehicles, however, can bring about clear-cut reductions in carbon emissions. U.S. cities own few of the 540,000 electric cars on the road nationwide as of 2016. The nation’s two largest cities, New York City and Los Angeles, operate 1,000 and 200 electric cars, respectively. That could soon change. Thirty cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston, are seeking bulk-rate deals on electric vehicles. They’ve asked manufacturers to submit bids to supply up to 114,000 electric vehicles, ranging from police cruisers to trash haulers, at a total cost of roughly US$10 billion. This surge in electric vehicle sales could make them more affordable not just for cities but for the rest of us too. That’s because emerging technologies typically get cheaper as production increases. A study by researchers from the Stockholm Environment Institute estimates that electric car batteries prices fall by 6 percent to 9 percent every time production doubles. Some analysts forecast that as soon as 2025, electric cars will become cheaper than gasoline-powered cars. In some cases, they are already cheaper to own and operate over the vehicle’s lifetime, our research has shown. If cities help ramp up demand for electric cars faster than anticipated, this transition could happen even faster. City-owned fleets are in some ways ideal candidates for electric-powered transportation. Cities operate large numbers of vehicles in densely populated areas, where emissions most endanger human health. Local driving by municipal employees is well-suited for electric cars. For example, the Nissan Leaf now has a range of as much as 107 miles, and the Chevy Bolt can travel 238 miles without recharging. Meanwhile, electric models of pickup trucks, dump trucks, buses and police cruisers are becoming increasingly available. We studied vehicle options available to Houston, which operates a fleet of about 12,000 vehicles, in 2015. Those options included two gasoline-powered Toyota sedans (the Corolla and the Prius), the natural gas-powered Honda Civic, the plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius and the fully electric Nissan Leaf. Since all these sedans seat five passengers, they are interchangeable. Because Houston in 2015 bought 75 percent of its electricity from wind farms (it now draws even more of its power from wind and solar sources), we calculated that the fully electric Leaf would have reduced life cycle greenhouse gas emissions by 87 percent relative to the gasoline-powered Corolla over seven years. About half of those benefits would have been lost if the Leaf was charged from the fossil-heavy grid elsewhere in Texas. Financially, the savings on fuel and maintenance would have more than offset the $12,000 premium for buying a Leaf instead of a Corolla. We estimated that Houston would have saved about 4 cents per mile while operating the Leafs, as long as enough charging stations were available. That’s even before counting any savings from bulk purchases or federal tax credits. One significant problem holding back demand for electric vehicles is the shortage of charging stations. Greater availability of charging stations assures cities and consumers that full electrics like the Nissan Leaf can complete their trips, and lets plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt operate mostly in electric mode. That’s why cities like Pittsburgh have obtained state grants to build their own, while utilities in Seattle and Kansas City are building charging stations to jump-start demand for electric cars. Electric municipal fleets won’t by themselves propel cities all the way to their Paris-based pledges. But by speeding the adoption of charging stations and cleaner cars, they could help curb emissions — while saving money for urban taxpayers and improving public health. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. Main image: Nissan Leaf electric vehicles added to the City of Seattle fleet. Credit: Mayor McGinn, CC BY 2.0


News Article | July 20, 2017
Site: www.ictsd.org

21 July, Geneva, Switzerland. THE BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE IN THE CURRENT TRADE AND INTEGRATION CONTEXT. This informal roundtable is being organised by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE) to discuss the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in relation to global economic integration and trade governance. Please note that attendance is by invitation only. More information is available at the ICTSD website. 24 July, Geneva, Switzerland. E-COMMERCE AND DEVELOPMENT: SHARING THE BURDEN OF COMMITMENTS AND ENJOYING THE BENEFITS. This dialogue on e-commerce is being organised by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) within the context of the E15 Initiative, which is jointly implemented by ICTSD and the World Economic Forum (WEF). The event will look at the issue of e-commerce within the WTO context, particularly in light of the organisation’s upcoming ministerial conference. Please note that attendance is by invitation only. More information is available at the ICTSD website. 25 July, London, UK. TRADE AND INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN LATIN AMERICA. This Chatham House event will feature Richard Lapper, former Financial Times editor covering the Latin American region, to discuss the economic opportunities available in regional markets. To learn more, visit the Chatham House website. 26-28 July, Seoul, South Korea. REGIONAL SEMINAR ON GENDER EQUALITY IN CLIMATE CHANGE AND DISASTER RISK MANAGEMENT: WEATHERING AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE. This event is being organised by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) with the goal of training participants on a series of topics, such as gender-inclusive climate change policy. It also aims to bring various government actors and ADB experts together in order to build new networks. To learn more, visit the ADB website. 27 July, London, UK. EUROPE’S FUTURE: WHAT DO THE PUBLIC AND THE ELITE REALLY THINK? This Chatham House event will examine public and “elite” attitudes towards the future policy direction of the EU bloc, building upon survey data, and will look at how these viewpoints may evolve going forward. More information is available at the Chatham House website. An updated list of forthcoming WTO meetings is posted here. Please bear in mind that dates and times of WTO meetings are often changed, and that the WTO does not always announce the important informal meetings of the different bodies. Unless otherwise indicated, all WTO meetings are held at the WTO, Centre William Rappard, rue de Lausanne 154, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland, and are open to WTO members and accredited observers only. 21 July: Working Group on Trade and Transfer of Technology 24 July: 27th Round of the Director-General’s Consultative Framework Mechanism on Cotton – Cotton Development Assistance 8-10 August, Lomé, Togo. 2017 AGOA FORUM. This year’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum will be hosted jointly by the US and Togo, with the theme “The United States and Africa: Partnering for Prosperity through Trade.” The event is geared towards senior officials from countries involved in AGOA’s implementation. More information is available at the US State Department’s website. 16 August, London, UK, and online. ODI IN CONVERSATION WITH RAJIV SHAH. This event is being organised by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and will feature Rajiv Shah, Rockefeller Foundation President and former Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) as its guest speaker. Please note that the event can be attended either in person or online via webcast. To learn more and to register, please visit the ODI website. 19 September, Paris, France. IMPLEMENTING SDGs IN AND BY EUROPE: WHAT ROLE FOR NGOs IN THE NEW PARTNERSHIP? This workshop is being organised by the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), the German Development Institute (DIE), and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). The event will focus on help supporting NGOs in taking a greater role in the process to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While the event is by invitation only, those interested in joining can e-mail the event organisers about the possibility of joining. More information is available online at the IDDRI website. 25-27 September, Geneva, Switzerland. TRADE FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT FORUM 2017. This annual event by the International Trade Centre (ITC) will examine the topics of voluntary sustainability standards and sustainable value chains, looking specifically at partnerships and other collaboration in this field. To learn more and to register, visit the ITC website. 26-28 September, Geneva, Switzerland. WTO PUBLIC FORUM 2017: “TRADE: BEHIND THE HEADLINES.” This year’s edition of the WTO’s outreach event will have as its theme “Trade: Behind the Headlines.” The meeting will aim to look at the real-life implications of trade, as opposed to rhetoric, and will also look at how trade can support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and related issues. To learn more, visit the WTO website. 25-26 October, Budapest, Hungary, 17th WORLD EXPORT DEVELOPMENT FORUM (WEDF). The International Trade Centre's (ITC) flagship event will have as this year’s theme “Trade - A force for good: include, innovate, integrate.” The forum will explore how trade can generate positive change at a time when global challenges – economic, social, and environmental – are changing how trade works. WEDF will be co-hosted by the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and will gather business leaders, policymakers, and representatives of international organisations and trade and investment support institutions for interactive sessions and facilitated business-to-business meetings. Registration is now open at https://wedf-registration.org/ For more information on the event, please visit the WEDF 2017 website. 2 November, Geneva, Switzerland, and online. THE FUTURE OF WORK. This event is being organised jointly by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and The Economist news magazine. This event will examine the relationship between education and employment in today’s context, given the fast pace of technological development and the implications for the labour market. Please note that this event can be attended both in person and via the webcast. More information is available on the Graduate Institute website. 11-12 November, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. ANNUAL MEETING OF THE GLOBAL FUTURE COUNCILS. This event will bring together the members of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Future Councils to discuss policy changes in areas such as technology and energy, among others. To learn more, visit the WEF website. 11-13 December, Buenos Aires, Argentina. TRADE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SYMPOSIUM (TSDS). This biennial event is being organised by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) in collaboration with select strategic partners, in parallel with the WTO’s Eleventh Ministerial Conference. A dedicated website to the TSDS is now live, with information on how to become a knowledge partner; the event’s format; and other relevant details. Additional information will be made available closer to the date. To learn more, visit the TSDS website. 14 December, Buenos Aires, Argentina. FORUM ON MIGRATION, TRADE, AND THE GLOBAL ECONOMY. This event is being organised by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the Fundación Foro del Sur, with a view to understanding the interlinkages between trade and migration. The forum is slated to bring together public and private sector participants, along with representatives from civil society and academia. More details on a call for papers is forthcoming. To learn more, visit the ICTSD website.


News Article | November 14, 2016
Site: www.newsmaker.com.au

A group of conservation scientists and policy makers led by University of Adelaide researchers are calling for global action to combat the illegal timber trade. They say governments and organisations responsible for protecting wildlife and forests around the world and certification schemes need to “catch up with the science†and put in place policies and frameworks to ensure the legality of timber being logged and traded around the world. Consumers too need to play their part in demanding verification of the origin and legality of the timber items they buy, they say. Illegal logging is a major cause of forest degradation and loss of biodiversity, and accounts for between an estimated 15-30% of the global trade in timber, worth US$30-100 billion annually. The scientists have published their recommendations in the journal BioScience – detailing the range of scientific methods available for timber identification and how they can be applied within the timber supply chain. The work is a collaboration between the University of Adelaide, timber-tracking specialists Double Helix Tracking Technologies, the USDA Forest Service, INTERPOL and other research and forestry organisations. The recommendations stem from work commissioned by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime in support of the UN Resolution 23/1 from May 2014 on “strengthening a targeted crime prevention and criminal justice response to combat illicit trafficking in forest products, including timberâ€. “We now have the scientific capability to identify and track illegally logged timber through the supply chain through DNA profiling, DNA barcoding and other means,†says lead author Professor Andrew Lowe, from the Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide. “But now we need the policy and regulatory framework to incorporate scientific verification.†“Illegal logging is a huge problem globally, driven as much by demand from consumer countries (including Australia) as from producer nations,†says co-author Dr Eleanor Dormontt, who was employed by the UN to write the recommendations. “Our paper is the first to bring together the various scientific methodologies available for timber identification and consider how best they can be applied in timber supply chains to promote legality. “We are all implicit in the exploitation of the world’s forests, and even the most conscientious consumer has a reasonably high chance of purchasing or otherwise handling illegal wood products in their lifetime. Scientists, policy makers, NGOs, graders, foresters and the general public all have a part to play. “The reality is that changes to timber supply chains can be made to improve their transparency, legality and sustainability. We need a coordinated international effort to make it happen.†Professor Andrew Lowe, Chair in Plant Conservafion Biology, Environment Institute, University of Adelaide (Currently overseas in Morocco). Mobile: +61 (0)434 607 705,


News Article | September 25, 2016
Site: cleantechnica.com

Originally published on Energy Transition: The German Energiewende by Leonie Joubert South Africa shows how quick an energy transition can be. In four years, with coal and nuclear power stations on hold, South Africa’s renewable energy program has nearly 100 plants in development. Leonie Joubert takes an in-depth look. South Africa’s energy sector is changing so quickly, this publication may well be out of date before the year is out. In four years, the country’s utility-scale renewable energy program has nearly 100 plants at various stages of development. The cost of solar and wind energy has dropped so significantly they are now cheaper than coal power. The country’s two new coal power stations, which should have been completed in 2011, are still not ready to go online. And in the past four months, the political ground has turned to quicksand under plans to build six to eight nuclear power stations. If anything, this shows how quickly this country’s transition away from mega-infrastructure carbon-intensive energy investment could be. In 2007, when construction began on the first of two new coal-fired power stations – Kusile and Medupi in Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces – the two were designed to add 9.6 GW of electricity to the grid, and were due to come online in 2011. They were expected to cost R69.1 billion (US$ 4.5 billion at current exchange rates) and R80.6 billion (US$ 5.3 billion), respectively. By early 2016, the plants were still not completed. Their anticipated cost has ballooned to double the original price, now figured at R154.2 billion (US$ 10 billion), and R172.2 billion (US$ 11 billion). And their procurement has been dogged with accusations of corruption, which have been widely reported in local media. In the four years that these two coal stations have overshot their delivery date, the arrival of renewable energy has, quite literally, changed the face of SA’s energy future: almost 2.5 GW of renewables have been added to the grid; R190 billion (US$13 billion) has come in from private investments; and the cost of solar and wind energy has gone from being uncompetitive with coal to being significantly cheaper. The Department of Energy kicked off the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) in 2011. The aim was to bring 3.75 GW of power to the grid through a series of concentrated solar power, photovoltaic (PV), biomass, landfill, wind, or small hydro plants at various locations around the country. But the program had already exceeded that target about two-thirds of the way through the procurement process. REIPPPP has proved so successful, it has been hailed as a global success. While the construction of Kusile and Medupi runs behind schedule, REIPPP is finalizing the fourth of its anticipated five bidding rounds, and has over 100 projects at various stages of either bidding, contracting, raising finance, being signed off, or under construction. According to the Energy Blog, one of the most comprehensive databases of the REIPPPP projects, by mid-April 2016, some 47 of these plants were fully operational, and their combined energy production added up to nearly 2.5 GW to the grid. Professor Anton Eberhard, expert in infrastructure and associated policy development at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business, said that REIPPPP has contributed to more competitive pricing, transparency in the procurement process, and greater efficiency in project rollout. On the pricing matter, Eberhard wrote in a May 2014 report that in just two-and-a-half years since the start of REIPPPP, the price of solar PV and wind power dropped dramatically. In normative terms, he said, by 68 percent and 42 percent, respectively. South Africa is the only country on the continent with a nuclear power station, and its ambitions to build another six to eight were put on hold in March 2016, after the High Court in Cape Town heard that the state had sidestepped its statutory and constitutional obligations around transparency and public participation, as it wrapped up a deal with the Russian government to deliver the reactors. The controversial 9.6 GW fleet was expected to cost between R700 billion (nearly US$ 50 billion, at the exchange rate of late April 2016) to R1.4 trillion (approximately US$ 93 billion). This is the immediate cost of building, and excludes the additional cost of decommissioning the plants, handling waste, and interest on loans attached to what would amount to the biggest infrastructure project ever undertaken by this country. The R1.4 trillion, in 2015, was the equivalent to about a third of the current national budget. Following the court action, initiated by civil society organizations Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), the state announced it had put its nuclear plans on hold. Recent events have weakened the local currency and raised uncertainty for renewables. In November 2015, finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was fired unexpectedly, and replaced temporarily by an inexperienced and unknown parliamentarian (it was soon confirmed that the president fired Nene because he opposed the nuclear fleet procurement). The decision sent the local currency into a spiral, from which it has yet to recover. This currency crash, along with rising interest rates in South Africa, are likely to impact the cost of the next wave of plants planned for the REIPPP process, according to local WWF energy analyst Saliem Fakir. Fakir explains that “the fourth REIPPP bidding round hasn’t closed, and we haven’t done the calculations yet, so we don’t know for certain what the impacts will be. But it could influence renewable energy prices for the projects built as a result of this bidding round. It won’t stop the renewable rollout, but it could push up the price.” If so, this could offset some of the gains in terms of cost reduction which were made in the first three bidding rounds, as discussed above. Several macro-economic trends are adding to the sudden challenges for renewable prices at the moment: the over-supply of PV panels globally has made this a buyers’ market; the SA government’s level of indebtedness impacts whether the state can stand as surety for private sector finance, as is the case at present (a form of indirect state subsidy but these guarantees are not limited to renewables only, says Fakir); and the strength of the local currency, relative to the Dollar and Euro. “If foreign firms are buying locally produced services and technology for these plants,” explains Fakir, “then their buying power will improve if the Rand weakens. If local firms are buying, then the reverse applies.” In conclusion, South Africa’s clean energy transition is moving at rapid speeds driven in large part by highly effective government policy and dramatically falling prices for both wind and solar power. Renewable energies are becoming competitive with fossil fuels; the energy transition in South Africa is thus no longer about ideology but about economic forces. After all, it’s the economy, stupid! is a science writer and journalist, and currently works as a fellow with the  University of Cape Town’s Environmental Humanities of the South , where she is looking at the political economy of the food system in her country. Buy a cool T-shirt or mug in the CleanTechnica store!   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech daily newsletter or weekly newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

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