Kicking off the 15th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, delegates in New York proposed a wide range of measures to bring modern energy services to the poor, reduce energy waste and cut climate change-causing greenhouse gases.
“We need a major policy push to promote energy efficiency, to generate new energy technologies, and to promote advanced and cleaner technologies,” said Jose Antonio Ocampo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, in an opening address to the two-week session.
Last week, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with former United States Vice President Al Gore to discuss climate change.
In his meeting, Ban said he was “very much encouraged by his firm commitment, as well as voluntary willingness to help the cause of the United Nations” regarding global warming. Ban also noted that he hopes to work closely with Gore to mobilize countries and “enhance the awareness of the international community with this issue.”
Actress Daryl Hannah was among the awardees.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recognized seven winners for its ‘Champions of the Earth Award’ at a ceremony in Singapore.
UNEP chief Achim Steiner, who presented the awards, said “If we are to shape a new partnership between human-kind and the natural environment upon which all life ultimately depends then we need leaders, we need champions – champions in public life, champions in business and champions in our communities.”
For a list of the winners, click here.
After negotiations throughout the night in Brussels, the second installment of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is ready for publication. The Financial Times offers a good summary of the panel’s findings:
Spring is occurring earlier all around the world, and glaciers are melting. The polar ice caps are also melting, sea levels are gradually rising, and wildlife are migrating.
Mr Pachauri [the Panel's Chair] said one of the most important aspects of the report was the “equity dimension” – that poor countries, which are least able to cope with climate change and which are least responsible for past emissions, are likely to be most affected by it.
A new report released by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says that the right mix of government regulation, energy saving technologies and behavioral change can reduce global-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the building sector. The building sector, the report notes, accounts for 30 to 40 per cent of total energy use.
“The savings that can be made right now are potentially huge and the costs to implement them relatively low if sufficient numbers of Governments, industries, businesses and consumers act,” UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said of the measures that range from revamping ventilation systems to replacing the traditional incandescent light bulb.
“By some conservative estimates, the building sector worldwide could deliver emission reductions of 1.8 billion tonnes of C02. A more aggressive energy efficiency policy might deliver over 2 billion tonnes or close to three times the amount scheduled to be reduced under the Kyoto Protocol,” he added, referring to the pact setting legally binding emission reduction targets for 35 industrialized countries in the 2008-2012 period.
Today the world observes World Water Day, a moment dedicated to a widespread, but often-overlooked issue. The UN’s 2007 World Water Day website delivers some sobering statistics:
In an industrialized city with plenty of water, flushing the toilet in an average household can send up to 50 litres of water down the drain every day. Yet more than one in six people worldwide — 1.1 billion — don’t have access to 20-50 litres of safe freshwater daily, the minimum range suggested by the UN to ensure each person’s basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Two people in five lack proper sanitation facilities, and every day, 3,800 children die from diseases associated with a lack of safe drinking water and proper sanitation.
Both water use and the world population are growing, which means that water will only grow more scarce. And, the implications of that scarcity are not limited to humanitarian concerns, though those concerns are great (guaranteeing water security is central to achieving the Millennium Development Goals).
Middle East: During the last 48 hours of the continued ceasefire, humanitarian workers have delivered food to hundreds of thousands of people, repaired water and sanitation infrastructure, re-stocked medical supplies, and some of the 520,000 displaced Palestinians have returned to their homes. However, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator remarked the scale of needs remains “unprecedented in the Gaza Strip.”
Middle East: At today’s informal session of the General Assembly on Gaza the SG remarked that the most recent ceasefire has held since yesterday at 8 a.m. local time. He noted that a durable ceasefire is necessary and UN shelters must continue to remain safe zones. The SG thanked UN staff in Gaza and will fly the UN flag at half-mast tomorrow in memory of those who died in the conflict.
Middle East: The SG commended Israeli and Palestinian parties for committing to a 72-hour ceasefire that took place at 8 a.m. local time today. He urges all parties to abide by the ceasefire and commence peace talks in Cairo to address underlying issues and agree on a durable ceasefire to sustainably stop the violence. The UN lends its full support toward these efforts.
Middle East: The SG condemned yesterday’s shelling outside of an UNRWA school in Rafah that killed at least 10 Palestinian civilians. The SG stated that the attack violated international humanitarian law and UN shelters must continue to be safe zones and not combat zones.
SG: Last night the SG spoke at a joint press conference with the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica where he repeated his call for an unconditional and extendable humanitarian ceasefire. Speaking about yesterday’s shelling of a UN shelter he said: “Nothing – nothing – justifies such horror” and demanded “that all parties immediately respect UN premises”.
SG: The SG met with President Ortega yesterday in Nicaragua where he visited a wind farm and praised the country’s commitment to renewable energy. The SG arrived in Costa Rica today where he is expected to lecture about “Costa Rica and the United Nations: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century”.