Climate change

State of the art - options for mitigation and adaptation
 


A Prognosis, and Perhaps a Plan, for Geoengineering Governance
The idea of global climate engineering exists, but there are no global institutions capable of making legitimate choices about deploying and managing such an intervention. On the other hand, sub-global regions, mostly individual countries could, and in fact currently do, deploy smaller interventions against natural disasters without global decision-making. If governments actively plan to cooperate on developing and managing interventions to avoid, redirect or modify severe weather natural disasters related to climate change they may along the way learn about how to set intervention goals, make intervention choices, assess outcomes of the intervention and adapt the interventions accordingly. These crucial deliberation and management skills could grow as the interventions grow in response to more severe impacts. Governments should plan to use collaboration on natural disasters as a vehicle for developing the institutional capacity to manage the global climate.

Are Cities a Relevant Scale of Action to Tackle Climate Change?
Some Reflections to Inform the Debate on the Post-2020 Regime

Making Sense of Carbon Market Development in China
China has recently begun promoting market-oriented policy instruments to reduce carbon emissions as part of its domestic climate strategy. A centerpiece of this new policy approach has been the launch of pilot carbon markets in seven distinct regions. Based on extensive field visits to all pilot markets under development, this analysis assesses the implications of this “bottom-up” approach to carbon market development for the prospects for nationwide carbon trading in China. It concludes that initiating carbon trading in the seven regions across China with insufficient capacity building, an extremely compressed time frame, and little bureaucratic coordination has engendered challenges for the development of a national carbon market. Nevertheless, these pilots have advanced the prospects for sustained climate action in China at the local Level through their contribution to indigenous technical and human capacity as well as through engaging new stakeholders, including domestic and international actors, supportive of the development of an eventual national trading scheme.

Climate Change Mitigation from the Bottom Up: Using Preferential Trade Agreements to Promote Climate Change Mitigation
This paper proposes the introduction of a regional model for promoting climate change mitigation as an alternative to the present structure of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)/Kyoto Protocol framework. Given the proliferation of preferential trade agreements (PTAs) – especially in the form of bilateral treaties – in the international trading system, this paper advocates creating PTAs with strong climate change chapters, thus embedding climate goals within bilateral/trilateral/plurilateral trade agreements. Involving major greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters through PTAs which include climate chapters can be an effective avenue towards reducing GHG emissions, and could therefore facilitate the ultimate goal of creating an effective global climate regime. This option may therefore be worth exploring.

Getting Ahead of the Curve: Supporting Adaptation to Long-term Climate Change and Short-term Climate Variability Alike
Climate change mitigation, the moderation of temperature increases through reductions in emissions or emissions growth, remains the central component of global climate change action under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Nonetheless, climate change adaptation is playing an ever more prominent role at the UNFCCC annual meetings, the Conferences of the Parties (COPs), as exemplified by the creation of the Green Climate Fund in 2009 in Copenhagen with the goal of mobilizing $100 billion per year by 2020 for climate change activities including adaptation. Many other entities are also financing adaptation, such as the World Bank’s Strategic Climate Fund, to which $920 million has been pledged.

Climate Change Performance Index: Emissions are rising - but there is a glimmer of hope
Canada and Australia are the worst performers of all industrialised countries

IPCC report shows growing risks from already-present climate change
Climate change is already having substantial and widespread impacts around the world, according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Drawing on a larger body of evidence than ever before, it highlights a wide range of risks in vital areas such as food supply, human health and economic development.




Consumption

How much is sufficient, and how much is too much?

>>>The new FAO report on food waste is now included (see below)



Image: Fotolia
 


Food Waste Generation in Germany
Based on a study which aimed to calculate the generation of food waste in Germany along the food supply chain (FSC), to estimate the share of prevention, to demonstrate the causes of food waste as well as to design measures for food waste prevention in Germany, the paper focuses on generation and composition as well as on data gaps which lead to uncertainties in the estimations.

Composition Analyses of Food Waste – the Influence of Food Packaging
The disposal of food which would have been fit for human consumption, has become an increasingly discussed topic in recent years. In order to identify and implement effective measures for its reduction, data about the quantity and composition of food waste are required. However, currently available data are fragmentary and reveal significant information gaps and uncertainties.

Environmental Product Declarations for Complex Electronical Equipment
Environmental information about products is increasingly asked for by consumers or industrial clients. Depending on the target group this information is corresponding to the basic standards ISO 14021, 14024 and 14025 more or less complex. Well-known examples are the German "Blue Angel" or the Austrian eco-label which are predominantly designed for final consumers.

Food in Household Waste – Amounts, Indicators and Economic Relevance
Wasting food is an increasing subject for discussion because of increasingly importance of the food and resources security. This master thesis gives answers and insights to food waste related questions, but most importantly to the question which amount of food waste emerges in domes-tic households in Germany.

Europe's demand for resources reaching far beyond its borders
Demand for materials is so intense that between 20 and 30 % of the resources we use in Europe are now imported. With the boom in international trade, EU consumption and production damage ecosystems and human health far beyond Europe’s borders, according to a report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Unsustainable consumption – the mother of all environmental issues?
Consumption of products and services impacts the environment in many different ways. For example, the things we buy contribute, directly or indirectly through the product lifecycle, to climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss and resource depletion in Europe and other regions of the world.

New FAO report: "Food waste harms climate, water, land and biodiversity"
Food waste sums up to 1.3 billion tons annually, thereby "causing major economic losses (and) significant harm on the natural resources that humanity relies upon to feed itself".




The ocean - biggest garbage dump on earth

It belongs to everybody and nobody, yet - or that's why? - we are so heedless about it.



Picture: Fotolia
 


The Garbage Patch in the Oceans: the Problem and Possible Solutions
A study was conducted to assess the size and impact of a Garbage Patch in the Oceans. The findings from the study were compiled from a combination of mathematical and physical models estimates and data from expeditions.

Current State and Potential for Increasing Plastics Recycling in the U.S.
Plastics are a relatively new man‐made material that provides vast material benefits throughout their useful lifespan. However, their end of life disposal currently leaves much to be desired. The U.S. EPA estimates that 30 million tons (16.8% according to the EPA estimate of MSW and 8% according to the BioCycle/Columbia national survey) of the municipal solid waste (MSW) generated in the US annually is in the form of plastics.1 Of this amount only 7% is recovered for recycling , mostly in the form of polyethylene, and roughly 10% is combusted in waste‐to‐energy (WTE) facilities to generate electricity. The remainder of plastic wastes are landfilled, which is clearly a loss of non‐renewable, fossilbased resources. Also, plastics litter in some cases poses a threat to human health and also threatens other ecosystems. For example, there is an estimated 100 million tons of plastic litter in the oceans, with millions more tons added each year.

Seabirds study shows plastic pollution reaching surprising levels off coast of Pacific Northwest
Plastic pollution off the northwest coast of North America is reaching the level of the notoriously polluted North Sea, according to a new study led by a researcher at the University of British Columbia.

Biologists record increasing amounts of plastic litter in the Arctic deep sea
studies confirm that twice as much marine debris is lying on the seabed today compared to ten years ago. Bremerhaven, 22nd October 2012. The sea bed in the Arctic deep sea is increasingly strewn with litter and plastic waste. As reported in the advance online publication of the scientific journal Marine Pollution Bulletin by Dr. Melanie Bergmann, biologist and deep-sea expert at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association. The quantities of waste observed at the AWI deep-sea observatory HAUSGARTEN are even higher than those found in a deep-sea canyon near the Portuguese capital Lisbon.

Toxic Mine Waste Threatens Waters
Each year, mining companies dump more than 180 million tonnes of hazardous mine waste into rivers, lakes and oceans worldwide, threatening vital bodies of water with toxic heavy metals and other chemicals poisonous to humans and wildlife, according to a report released today by two leading mining reform groups.

Waste Dump at the End of the World
Ecologists of Jena University (Germany) propose managing strategies to protect the Antarctic




Soil

Sometimes the foundation which carries you starts to melt.



© Photo: Fotolia
 


Soil application of organic waste – sources or sinks of GHGs?
Organic waste material is used to return nutrients to soil to preserve and improve soil fertility. Several studies indicate that agricultural activities are contributors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Denman et al., 2007; USEPA, 2011). Release of Methane, Carbon dioxide and Nitrous oxide was measured from soil application of organic residues (“empty fruit bunch” (EFB), “fiber” and “shell”) on palm oil plantations in Indonesia using a flux chamber and a photoacoustic field gas monitor (INNOVA 1412-5). The results show that the application of organic residues onto soil resulting in the release of GHGs.

Potential and Constraints of Biochar for Carbon Sequestration and Soil Improvement
Current mitigation efforts of global climate change such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and land use change (especially no tillage agriculture, desertification control and agriculture to pasture conversion) are ineffective in reducing anthropogenic CO2 emissions. New promising techniques do not only remove atmospheric CO2 but also use it (Carbon Capture and Use, CCU). Such techniques comprise use of solid carbon (biochar) for soil improvement. The existence of intensively used anthropogenic soils in central Amazonia (terra preta) proves that this is principally possible in the long term (for millennia).

Environment: Commission calls for a stronger response to soil degradation
Soil degradation is a worrying phenomenon in the EU. Between 1990 and 2006, at least 275 hectares of soil per day were permanently lost through soil sealing – the covering of fertile land by impermeable material – amounting to 1,000 km² per year, or an area the size of Cyprus every ten years. Soil erosion by water is estimated to affect 1.3 million km² in Europe, an area equivalent to 2.5 times the size of France. Soil degradation affects our capacity to produce food, prevent droughts and flooding, stop biodiversity loss, and tackle climate change. These are some of the main findings of two new reports on the policy and scientific aspects of European soil presented by the European Commission.

5-10 percent corn yield jump using erosion-slowing cover crops shown in ISU study
AMES, Iowa - The most recent annual results from a four-year Iowa State University study on using cover crops between rows of corn reveals that higher yields - by as much as 10 percent - are possible using the soil-saving approach to farming.

Green potential of our industrial past
Manipulating the soil in urban and industrial areas in order to capture more carbon from the atmosphere is the “best resource we have to begin to mitigate human CO2 emissions”, experts claim.




Diversity

The variety of flora and fauna is called biodiversity - a frequently neglected part of this is cultural diversity, which the UNESCO refers to as being as important for humankind as biodiversity is for nature.

© Photo: Fotolia
 


Marine Biodiversity and Climate Change
There is now a general consensus that global warming is real and that one of the factors forcing climate change is the anthropogenic addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. The implications of climate change for ecosystems are, however, not yet entirely understood. As the oceans cover 71% of the earth’s surface and play a major role in the global carbon cycle, it is important to understand how a changing climate will affect the biota not only of terrestrial systems, but also of the marine environment.

Taking Adaptation Value Seriously: Designing REDD to Protect Biodiversity
The inter-related challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss present serious threats to the future of life on earth, while posing some of the most challenging issues in international law and policy. Climate change will exacerbate biodiversity loss, while continued loss of biodiversity will undermine efforts to adapt to a changing climate. The issues are nowhere more closely linked than in tropical forests, where challenging governance and equity questions have undermined prior international cooperative efforts.

Protected areas: a key element of Europe's sustainable future
Europe's protected areas play a key role in protecting biodiversity. But they are also a critical component of the continent’s economy, contributing over EUR 15 billion a year in jobs, food, and other services for the people of Europe. 2012 marks both the 20th anniversary of the most important international multilateral agreement on Biodiversity, the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity and of the most important EU piece of legislation on nature and biodiversity, the EU's Habitats Directive. As today, 22 May, is international biodiversity day, it provides an ideal opportunity to examine the state of protected areas today and the many benefits they provide.

Growing world trade makes food production cheaper – at the expense of the environment
Further opening of the markets for agricultural products leads to lower production costs for food. This will happen at the expense of the environment though, if for example forests are turned into cropland. The conflict of interests between food production and climate protection is now shown by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in calculations for the years 2005 to 2045. For the first time, the effects of an advancing liberalization of agricultural trade were comprehensively analyzed through computer simulations, focusing both on the economic impacts and on those on land use and nature.

Climate change and nature conservation – IMPACT presents adaptation strategies for protected areas
Climate change is one of the biggest problems of our time and adaptation to it is of the highest priority. This is the conclusion the Sustainable Development Summit drew in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. The EU-project HABIT-CHANGE developed adaptation strategies for large protected areas.

German-Californian commitment for the Earth
Five Max Planck Institutes and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of San Diego cooperate to explore changes in the Earth system




Efficiency

A sustainable handling of resources needs to envision increased efficiency as well as all framework conditions involved


© Bild: WPB
 


Comparison of the Pretreatment Efficiency Between UF and Sand Filtration of a Desalination Process Using a Reverse Osmosis Membrane
The pretreatment process is known to be the dominant infl uence factor in the RO process. Therefore, this study was done to evaluate effi ciency by comparing membrane fi ltration (UF) with two-stage sand fi ltrations for pretreatment of the RO process. SDI and particle size distribution of feed sea water and pretreatment permeate water were measured to analyse the infl uence of the fouling factor of the RO membrane. The SDI removal effi - ciency of the UF membrane fi ltration process was better than that for the sand fi ltration. The particle fraction under 20 μm of feed sea water and sand fi ltration permeate water was more than 93 % and 97 %, respectively. As for results of operation, micro particles were not removed by the sand fi ltration. Furthermore, although the UF membrane process had a higher recovery than the sand fi ltration process, the UF membrane process represented low RO resistance.

Better ROI and Lower Emissions – Smart Decisions Based on Energy Efficiency Facts Reduce the Emissions and Improve Your OPEX –
Today`s world has many obligations; the energy consumption in general must be reduced, the emissions as per Kyoto protocol should be reduced to the 2005 level and there should be a shift from coal fired and nuclear power plants into renewable energy sources. Also the management in industry starts to request energy savings to compensate the high energy costs. Now, as by the end of 2011, the new ISO 50,001 Energy Management System shall be implemented for systematically saving the precious energy while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions. The world needs will soon be fundamentally changed. This ambitious goal must be achieved in less than 20 years. Each one of us is asked every day to save energy and resources and it all depends and starts with each human being.

EFFICIENCY CONTROL OF LANDFILL IN-SITU AERATION BASED ON LEACHATE CHARACTERISATION
The current emission potential of old municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills is mainly influenced by the degradation state of organic matter. During the phase of active landfill aftercare air supply affects the current and residual emission potential in a positive way. The shift from anaerobic to aerobic conditions is induced by the process of in-situ aeration. Accelerated organic matter transformation and mineralisation cause environmentally relevant emissions to decline. Reduction of substantial gaseous emissions is paralleled by decreasing concentrations of organic leachate compounds and inorganic mineralisation products.

Optimization of MBT considering Energy Efficiency and Protection of Resources and Climate
In 18 out of 46 MBTs in Germany biological treatment of organic-containing fine fractions takes place with the aim of achieving the deposition criteria exclusively through aerobic rotting. Thus energy potentials contained in the fine fractions are not utilized.

Europe needs to use water more efficiently
Europe needs to redouble efforts in using water more efficiently to avoid undermining its economy, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA). Inefficient water use impacts hard on the resources needed by ecosystems and people, both vital assets for European productivity and security.

Do we live in a 'green economy'? New report assesses progress in Europe
Despite progress in some areas, Europe must do more to create the 'green economy' needed for the continent to become sustainable, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA).




Sustainability

Sustainability needs integrity and a great presence of mind.



© Bild: WPB
 


Messages from the International Resilience Workshop
On March 28 to 30, 2012, a group of 47 scientists, representatives from regulatory agencies, NGOs, businesses and from media assembled in Wildbad-Kreuth, Germany, to explore whether and to what extent the resilience theory is applicable to sustainable development in general and in particular to finding solutions to tackle global warming, resource limitation, loss of biodiversity and human well being.

Social Inclusion, Environmental Sustainability, and Brazil’s National Biodiesel Production and Use Policy: The Critical Case of Agropalma
This article examines Brazil’s National Biodiesel Production and Use Policy and its goals of social inclusion and environmental sustainability. This examination explores this transformative development policy through a case study of Agropalma, one of Brazil’s first biodiesel producers and the largest producer of palm oil in the country. Agropalma’s location in the Amazon and its demonstrated commitment to social inclusion and environmental sustainability make it a critical case for evaluating this ambitious development and renewable transportation fuel policy.


Governing London and Sustainability: Power and Contestation in a World City
This paper offers a critical examination of London’s governmental and planning structures and its commitments to creating a sustainable city. Governing a world city like London has always been a difficult process. Legislative commitments to address London’s sustainable future have sometimes been undermined by different policy interpretations by different key players over different time periods.

The Sustainable Future of Humankind – IV, Xiamen, China and after
This is the fourth book on sustainable future of humankind and it deals with philosophical, theoretical and practical issues of importance for many people after the gala event in Xiamen, China on 25th September 2011 of the first public declaration of »The World Thinkers’ Panel on the Sustainable Future of Humankind« »WTP-SFH«.

The 51. Tutzing Symposion „Waste – our burden or resource?”: discussing about global waste management issues
The participants met at the beautiful Tutzing castle surrounded by the idyllic Alpine Starnberg Lake from the 22nd to the 25th of April to discuss global waste management issues and focus on methods that aim to contribute to wise waste management decisions.

Successful conservation policy needs monitoring and knowledge
New research has explored how well different governance systems can achieve desirable conservation outcomes. Results confirmed the importance of adaptive management, which relies on regular monitoring to enable ‘learning through doing’ to refine actions, and suggested that leadership using expert knowledge was also significant in successful governance.


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Topics
 
Presentation of special articles and news organised by themes.
 
By now:
 
The ocean
Soil
Diversity
Efficiency
Sustainability