Ecology Arkive Year Beta Q-Delta 2016

||  October   ||  November  ||   December ||  

The image at the centre is of Princess Charlotte Bay, Australia, Coral Reefs. NASA Image

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Ecology Arkive Year Beta Q-Delta 2016 || October ||  November ||  December ||    

Fluorinated Gases Continue to Be Phased Down in Europe: The EEA Report

|| December 15: 2016 || ά. The production, import and export of fluorinated-gases:F-gases continued to decline in the European Union, according to a new report published on December 13 by the European Environment Agency:EEA. F-gases, which are mainly used in cooling and heating equipment, have a high global warming potential and their phase-down is therefore essential to global efforts to mitigate climate change.

F-gases were in many cases introduced to replace chemicals that were found to be harming the ozone layer. Currently, F-gases are mainly used in refrigerators, heat pumps and air-conditioning equipment in buildings and in cars. The EEA report ‘Fluorinated greenhouse gases 2015’ tracks progress towards the EU target of reducing F-gas emissions by two thirds by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. According to the report, the production, imports, exports and supply of F-gases in the EU decreased in 2015, both in physical amounts as well as in amounts weighted by the global warming potential of the gas in question, measured in CO2-equivalent tonnes:CO2-eq.

The F-gas share of the global warming potential of the EU’s overall greenhouse gas emissions was 03 % in 2014, but this share has been on the increase. Curbing F-gas emissions is therefore an important part of the EU’s overall commitment to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 40 % by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

Large reductions in F-gas use and emissions are expected from a new phase-down measure, which will progressively cap the sales of hydrofluorocarbons:HFCs on the EU market down to 21 % of baseline levels by 2030. Furthermore, bans on the use of F-gases that have a high global warming potential are expected to result in additional reductions.

The Montreal Protocol to reduce the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances was amended to regulate HFCs, in October 2016, in Kigali, Rwanda. Both developed and developing countries have taken on mandatory commitments to reduce production and consumption of HFCs in the next three decades.

Key findings of ‘Fluorinated greenhouse gases 2015’, based on reporting by companies in the EU:
Production of F-gases in the EU declined by 05% as CO2-eq. in 2015.
F-gas imports to the EU decreased by about 40%, compared with the exceptionally high amounts reported in 2014, both by weight and as CO2-eq.
EU exports of F-gases decreased by 02% by weight or 01% CO2-eq. compared with 2014. However, compared to 2013, exports in 2015 increased by 18 % by weight and 23 % CO2-eq.
Supply of F-gases in the EU decreased by about 24% by weight and as CO2-eq. since 2014.

Read the Report

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Mind How You Design and Build: Air Quality in City Streets and Boulevards Affected by Surrounding Buildings

Kuva: Tero Pajukallio

|| December 13: 2016 || ά. The Finnish Meteorological Institute and the University of Helsinki have used supercomputers to investigate what kinds of block structures should be built along future city boulevards planned in Helsinki in order to limit the adverse affects of emissions on air quality as much as possible. The new Helsinki City master plan includes areas of new city development where the aim is to change the existing access routes inside the Ring Road I into urban boulevards lined with residential and commercial buildings.

According to the study conducted by the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the University of Helsinki, the structure of the blocks surrounding the boulevard streets has a significant impact on the air quality in the streets. The study compared four different types of blocks and one of the solutions proved to be clearly better than the others in this respect. Block models studied V1-V4. In the top picture the colour indicates the height of the buildings and the ground. The darkest shade of green represents the maximum height. The picture below shows the cross sections of the block models. The study showed that block model V3 was best for ventilation and reducing air pollution.

"The best solution in terms of air quality are blocks of different heights, which contribute to the transfer of air pollution from the street level. In this solution, the short façades of the blocks face the boulevard and the height of the blocks varies gradually from one block to the other in the direction of the street." says Finnish Meteorological Institute researcher Antti Hellsten. More efficient ventilation reduces concentrations of harmful pollutants to which people are exposed at street level. According to the modelling this sort of construction method allows the air to flow providing good ventilation.

Such detailed air pollution dispersion modelling in an urban environment has not been carried out anywhere else in the world. The area of study was focussed on four theoretical urban boulevard plans drawn up for the Hämeenlinnanväylä area. The simulations were made at the Finnish Meteorological Institute on a Cray XC30 supercomputer running four hundred computing processes in parallel.

In the study the air flow and its entrained air pollutant concentrations were modelled using a large-eddy simulation model. The study took into account not only the buildings but also the air braking effect of trees in the street and the surroundings, as well as the effect of the weather on the ventilation.

The work was done in collaboration with the University of Helsinki's Research Division of Atmospheric Sciences, as well as the Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority:HSY. The study was commissioned by the Helsinki City Planning Department. The study used methods developed for the Academy of Finland funded CityClim research project, as well as other methods.

More information: Senior Research Scientist Antti Hellsten, Tel. +358 50 409 0477, antti.hellsten at
Researcher Mona Kurppa, Tel. +358 400 991 944, mona.kurppa at
Researcher Mikko Auvinen, Tel. + 358 29 415 0714, mikko.auvinen at

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Climate Engineering: As Simply as This: We Must Not Seek to Do What is Not Science

|| December 07: 2016 || ά.  It is as simple as this. Medicine cannot do, must not do, does not do that what is not science, meaning it can and must always apply that what has been established as science with substantial, corroborative and indisputable body of evidence. NASA or ESA or any other space agencies of the world simply cannot do that what is not science. It will be catastrophic if they did that, seeking to go and do what their 'gut feeling' is. It will be absolutely deadly if we begin to move away from this. The child has had a temperature: the parents do not just go and give the child a cold bath! They simply do not, cannot, must not. It might be that the child is seriously ill because of which the temperature is high. This must be investigated in order to eliminate the hypothesis that the child may be ill. The child may not be ill but that can only be ascertained after having examined the child properly to gather enough evidence to make a judgment whether the child is ill or not and then respond to that judgment.

And like  this we cannot just go about doing anything that comes to mind, that appears to be a good thing, in relation to climate change minimisation because there are so much, a vast amount of, variables that are involved in climate change issues and some of these variables are so complex because of the fact that their implications take a long time to show. Climate engineering refers to the systematic, large-scale modification of the environment using various climate intervention techniques. However, a new study by VTT and the Finnish Meteorological Institute suggests that the uncertainties associated with climate engineering are too great for it to provide an alternative to the rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate engineering has been proposed as a rapid and cost-effective means of mitigating climate change. It has been suggested that climate engineering could be used to postpone cuts to greenhouse gas emissions while still achieving the objectives of limiting global warming to under two degrees, as set in the Paris Climate Agreement. However, according to a recent study, the uncertainties associated with climate engineering are currently so great that it cannot be regarded as a substitute for, or a way of postponing, emission cuts.

According to the study's results, climate engineering would allow very little additional emissions during the coming decades. "Climate engineering could have side-effects which become visible only after it is started. This means that huge uncertainty surrounds the method and it might have to be abandoned very quickly." says Professor Hannele Korhonen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute. "If emission cuts were postponed due to climate engineering, a halt in climate engineering would place the two-degree objective beyond reach." says Tommi Ekholm, a Senior Scientist at VTT.

If, in addition to mitigating global warming, we also want to prevent the acidification of oceans by carbon dioxide, climate engineering could substitute for emission reductions only in greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide. Our results show that the limitations imposed by climate objectives and the available means of combating climate change could have a major impact on the optimal climate change mitigation measures.

Climate engineering could cool the climate by reflecting the sun's radiation back into space, for example by changing the characteristics of clouds or imitating particle cover in the stratosphere caused by volcanic eruptions. The advantage of these methods lies in their rapid cooling effect and reasonably low costs. However, such methods involve major risks, such as the weakening of monsoon rains and the knock-on effects on food production in Asia and Africa.

A sudden halt to the use of such methods, due to issues such as major negative effects, would also lead to rapid climate change, to which ecosystems and societies would have difficulty in adapting. "This means that the possibly large cooling potential of climate engineering should not be used as a reason to postpone unavoidable cuts in greenhouse gas emissions." summarises Hannele Korhonen.

The study was published in the journal Climatic Change and was funded by the Academy of Finland. Research scientists from VTT and the Finnish
Meteorological Institute collaborated on the project.

More information: Finnish Meteorological Institute: Professor Hannele Korhonen, tel. +358 40 8424 852, hannele.korhonen at
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd: Senior Scientist Tommi Ekholmt, tel. +358 40 775 4079, tommi.ekholm at

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UN, International Health and Development Agencies to Promote Environmentally and Socially Responsible Procurement of Health Commodities


|| December 07: 2016: Geneva: Switzerland || ά. The World Health Organisation today joined other international agencies in signing a Statement of Intent to align and 'green' procurement of health commodities, in an effort to protect the environment and contribute to sustainable development. “We need to make sure that when international organisations procure health commodities, we promote responsible consumption and production patterns and support the Sustainable Development Goals.” says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan in signing the joint statement at WHO Headquarters in Geneva.

WHO and its sister UN agencies collectively procure an estimated $3 billion in health commodities each year. UN agencies procure significant amounts of generic anti-retroviral therapies:ARTs, anti-Malaria drugs and insecticide-impregnated bed nets, anti-TB medicines and condoms as well as certain vaccines. Additional health commodities procured include medical and laboratory equipment and consumables. The new agreement sends an important message to suppliers and manufacturers of health commodities that purchasers will increasingly be looking for environmentally and socially sourced health commodities, particularly those within the international health development sector.

WHO and the other signatories have agreed to reflect this common commitment to advancing environmental and socially responsible procurement as part of their standard engagement with suppliers and manufactures. They will also include it in their institutional strategies and policies.

Global Fund Executive-Director Dr Mark Dybul, Ms Aurélia Nguyen, Director of Policy and Market Shaping at GAVI, Mr Jan Dusik, Head of UN Environment in Europe, Ms Maria Luisa Silva, Director of the UNDP office in Geneva, and Ms Marilena Viviani, Director of UNICEF’s Geneva Liaison Office, were also present at the signing ceremony today at WHO Headquarters. Other signatory organizations are UNITAID, UNFPA and UNOPS. ω.

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The UN Biodiversity Conference Mexico: Governments and Businesses Must Integrate Biodiversity Into Their Practices to Halt Degradation: Each and Every Single Individual Human Being, Each and Every Single State, Nation, Government and Agency Must Act as the Champion of the Earth

Forests play a critical role for many countries in their ability to mitigate climate change. Image: FAO:Rudolf Hahn

|| December 02: 2016 || ά. The UN Biodiversity Conference today opened in Cancun, Mexico, with a call to governments and businesses to integrate biodiversity into their practices if countries are to halt further environmental degradation and ensure the well-being and prosperity of future generations. “We have a tendency to look at issues in an isolated way, to seek solutions without studying the implications in other fields, to undertake quick fixes that disregard the consequences.” the Executive Director of the Convention on Biological Diversity:CBD, Dr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, told the High-Level Segment of the 13th Conference of the Parties of the CBD, also known as COP13.

“We are often ineffective in our actions because actions taken in other domains are not aligned. We need to stop repeating the same mistakes over and over again. We need to advance coherence of our actions and policies in all areas. We need to be thoughtful and inclusive to successfully mainstream biodiversity within and across sectors.” Over 100 ministers are attending the COP13, and for the first time they include not just environment ministers but also from the sectors of forestry, tourism, agriculture and fisheries, sectors which depend, but also affect, countries' biodiversity. Investment in biodiversity and ecosystems is essential.

A business forum is also being held to engage the private sector on this issue.  ''Investment in biodiversity and ecosystems is essential in its own right and for human well-being.'' said the UN Development Programme:UNDP Administrator Helen Clark. “The evidence is clear: protecting, restoring and sustainably managing nature will yield high returns at low costs. Global investors are seeking environmental investment opportunities because it makes economic sense.”

During the opening of the High-Level Segment, various UN officials emphasized the relationship between biodiversity and tackling some of the most pressing issues that societies face today such as food security, climate change, and health. Deputy Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation:FAO Maria Helena Semedo stressed that while agriculture practices in many parts of the world are leading to biodiversity loss, sustainable agriculture can help protect it.

“Agriculture, forests and fisheries are key users of biodiversity and have enormous potential to protect it,” she said. “Scientists increasingly recognize that the agriculture sector can contribute to the function of ecosystems, control of pests, pollinations, erosion of soil, if they're managed sustainably.”

The Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change:UNFCCC, Patricia Espinosa, highlighted the link between biodiversity and climate action. For example, coastal ecosystems are heavily impacted by climate change, but many also hold the key to address it, as is the case with mangroves, which can absorb large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.

“The relationship between biodiversity and climate change needs to be more transparent in our negotiations going forward,” Ms. Espinosa said, referring to negotiations of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which entered into force last month. “We need different sectors of our societies to work together on these issues.” The Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme:UNEP, Eric Solheim, emphasized that countries need to be more ambitious to do better, and that this can only happen if they work together.

Champions of the Earth

In other news today, six environmental leaders, representing government, research and grassroots action, received the 'Champions of the Earth Award,' the UN's top environmental prize. From an indigenous activist killed for protecting the environment, to the world's largest beach clean-up organiser, this year's awards recognise bold visionaries who confront the defining challenges of our generation, such as climate change, marine litter and the depletion of natural resources.

UNEP noted that each of the laureates, in different ways, shows how shifting the world onto a path that is low-carbon, efficient, inclusive, and socially, economically and environmentally sustainable is not only possible, but already in progress.

The 2016 winners are: Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, for outstanding leadership in fighting climate change and in national environmental action;
Leyla Acaroglu, founder of Disrupt Design, New York, Eco Innovators, Melbourne, and UnSchool, for dedication to positive change through design, innovation, communication and human connection; Masen, the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy, for its commitment to advancing solar power, making solar energy affordable and innovative approaches to green financing;

Afroz Shah, for outstanding leadership and initiative in mobilising large-scale public support to remove 3,000 tonnes of litter from Versova beach in Mumbai; Berta Cáceres, recognised posthumously for her tireless campaign for the rights of indigenous people in Honduras and the protection of their natural environment; and José Sarukhán Kermez, for a lifetime of leadership and innovation in the conservation of biodiversity in Mexico and around the world.

The COP13 High-Level Segment concludes tomorrow and over the next two weeks countries, are expected to adopt the so-called Cancun Declaration, to step up their commitments to protect biodiversity and achieve 20 biodiversity goals known as the Aichi Targets, which have a 2020 deadline.

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Climate Change Changes the Way You Live: But the Elderly are the Vulnerable Ones

|| December 02: 2016 || ά. The population of Finland is projected to age significantly in future decades in which the Finnish climate is expected to become warmer, leading to changes in the number and severity of extreme weather events that could have important impacts on the health of elderly people. In order to illustrate the changes it the risks due to the climate change for the elderly in different parts of Finland, the Finnish Environment Institute:SYKE has developed an interactive vulnerability mapping tool in collaboration with the Finnish Meteorological Institute:FMI. The tool was published today in the national web portal.

It builds on earlier joint work conducted with the Universities of Oslo, Norway and Linköping, Sweden for the three Nordic countries: Finland, Norway and Sweden. Compared to other age groups, the elderly, 65 years or older, tend to be more exposed to health risks of specific weather events. "A warmer climate is expected to bring some benefits for the health of elderly in winter, with fewer intense cold spells and less cold-related symptoms and mortality." states Reija Ruuhela, a Climate expert at the Finnish Meteorological Institute. "On the other hand, in northern regions with temperatures that currently remain well below zero throughout the winter, warming could mean more icy surfaces in the future and an increased risk of injury. Conditions should improve gradually in the rest of the country during this century."

It is in the summer, however, that the impacts of climate warming are expected to be most severe. As Ruuhela explains, "The numbers of days with extremely high summer temperatures are expected to increase in the coming decades. This can be dangerous for some elderly people, as we saw during
the hot summer of 2010 when mortality rates increased significantly." Community engagement and improved awareness could reduce vulnerability .

Elderly people may be vulnerable to extreme weather events for a variety of social, economic and health-related reasons. With increasing age, people are less able to adjust to rapid changes in temperature. They may be more at risk in such situations if they live alone or have difficulties accessing essential health care or other welfare services. The research team interviewed national and regional officials from the social, welfare and health sectors in Finland and Sweden.

"They had many helpful suggestions for reducing the impacts of extreme weather" reported Stefan Fronzek, a Senior Researcher at SYKE. "Ideas included improving communal engagement with elderly residents, raising community awareness of the risks of extreme weather, enhancing preparedness for such events, and greater consideration of elderly persons' needs in urban planning."

With the new map tool a user can view how indicators of climatic and socioeconomic conditions may place elderly people at risk, and how the situation could change in the future. The user can select a single indicator or a combination of several indicators, and produce maps that illustrate the changes at municipal scale in Finland.

Research Professor Timothy Carter, who led the research project, explains, "The mapping tool allows users to view how future climate change may alter
the risk of extreme weather events in different parts of Finland. Users can combine this information with estimates of the proportion of elderly people living in each municipality as well as the level of local health, social and welfare provision. We hope that the tool can raise awareness among decision-makers who need to plan measures for adapting to the changing conditions."

Senior Researcher Reija Ruuhela, tel +358 500 424 533, reija.ruuhela at
Senior Researcher Stefan Fronzek, Finnish Environment Institute, SYKE, tel +358 295 251 122, firstname.lastname at
Research Professor Timothy Carter, Finnish Environment Institute, SYKE, tel +358 295 251 094, firstname.lastname at

Carter, T. R, Fronzek, S, Inkinen, A, Lahtinen, I, Lahtinen, M, Mela, H, O'Brien, K. L, Rosentrater L. D, Ruuhela, R, Simonsson, L, Terema, E. 2016.
Characterising vulnerability of the elderly to climate change. Reg. Environ. Change, 16:43–58.

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The Answer to Global Transportation Challenges is Not Less Transport: It is Sustainable Transport: Ban Ki-moon

Image: World Bank:Curt Carnemark


|| November 27: 2016 || ά. Opening the first-ever Global Sustainable Transport Conference, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told delegations gathered in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, that the world has the resolve, commitment, imagination and creativity 'to transform our transport systems in a sustainable manner that will improve human wellbeing, enhance social progress and protect our planet'. “This sector is responsible for nearly a quarter of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. And that is expected to substantially increase in the future.” said Mr. Ban in his opening remarks to the conference, which opened today in the Turkmen capital and wraps up today.

“Without action on the transportation front, we will not be able to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius and as close to 01.5 as possible.” The two degrees Celsius threshold was set by global leaders with the adoption of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change last December, which entered into force early this month, on November 04. The two-day conference has brought together representatives from the UN, governments, the private sector and civil society, with the common goal of setting new directions for global transport efforts.

Mr. Ban noted that the transport sector transcends economics, indeed, it has a human side, and 'we should all be concerned about people who do not have the access they deserve'. “Sustainable transport is out of reach for too many rural communities. Millions of persons with disabilities cannot use public transportation because it is inaccessible. Older persons struggle to move from one place to the next. Even where transport is available it may not be safe, especially for women and girls, who often rightly fear they may be attacked.” he explained.

In this respect, the Secretary-General highlighted the critical importance of sustainable transport, noting that it has to answer to the needs of those who have the least. “When it does, we can bridge more than physical distances; we can come closer as one human family.” he said.
Further highlighting the heavy toll of unsustainable transport on human life, Mr. Ban said road accidents claim about one and a quarter million lives every year. “The vast majority, nine out of 10, is in developing countries.” he said, also noting that city traffic saps productivity. Further, transport contributes to air pollution, which costs more than three million lives a year.

Mr. Ban noted that the answer to such challenges 'is not less transport, it is sustainable transport...we need more systems that are environmentally friendly, affordable and accessible. Technological advances can get us there.”

The Secretary-General went on to outline seven ideas for sustainable transport, including the need for an integrated policy framework that aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals:SDGs. “Second, we must address the needs of vulnerable countries, including least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.” he said, noting that those countries need simplified border crossings and harmonised regional regulations and requirements.

The third idea, Mr. Ban said, was the need to promote better transport systems in cities. “That means improving public transport while promoting walking and cycling.” he said. He also highlighted the need to make all transport systems safe and secure 'to reach the ambitious target set in the 2030 Agenda calling for access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all'.

Calling for bold and innovative steps in re-thinking transport systems, from design, to technology and consumption patterns, the Head of the UN stated, as his fifth idea, the need to address the environmental impacts of transport in order to mitigate the impact on climate change and reduce local air pollution.

Mr. Ban underscored that all these ideas need financing, noting, 'it takes investments to see results'. “That means mobilising funds from a variety of sources and fostering North-South, South-South and triangular co-operation. Public-private partnerships are indispensable.” he explained. Lastly, Mr. Ban highlighted, as his seventh idea, the importance of partnerships, saying: “We have to mobilise all partners by putting people at the centre of transport planning and by working together. Transport is team work.”

As this will be the final international conference he is convening as UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban said he is happy to end his term by focusing on sustainable transport, telling delegations that he is confident the international community has 'the resolve, commitment, imagination and creativity to transform our transport systems in a sustainable manner that will improve human wellbeing, enhance social progress and protect our planet Earth.”

Later in the day, Mr. Ban took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the new UN House in Ashgabat, where he noted that the Government of Turkmenistan has worked tirelessly with the UN over the past 16 months to renovate the building to ensure it meets the highest standards.

“This new UN House is a great example for other countries around the world.” said the Secretary-General, thanking President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov for his commitment to providing the facility, as well as his support to its maintenance in the coming years.

Calling the grand structure 'a powerful symbol of the strong partnership between Turkmenistan and the United Nations' Mr. Ban noted that many members of the UN family are working with the Government and people of Turkmenistan: led by the UN Resident Co-ordinator, together with the UN Development Programme:UNDP, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation:UNESCO, the UN Population Fund:UNFPA, the UN Children's Fund:UNICEF, the World Health Organisation:WHO, The UN office on Drugs and Crime:UNODC, the International organisation for Migration:IOM, UN Women, the UN Department of Safety and Security:UNDSS, as well as the World Bank.

“I count on our staff to open the doors of this UN House wide to many partners, especially from civil society.” he said, stressing that by supporting the activities of civil society, securing human rights and promoting fundamental freedoms, 'we can realise true progress. This also demands full equality and true empowerment for women and girls.”

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Climate Change: Even the Birds are Adapting to It

 Lappwing's chick: Kuva: Edward Kluen


|| November 19: 2016: University of Helsinki News: Laura Hiisivuori Writing || ά. A recently published study on data collected by bird hobbyists, established that 26 common Finnish bird species have started their nesting earlier during the past fifty years. Birds time their nesting according to which time of the year can provide the most food for their hatching young. For example, species with young dependent on insects for food will try to time their nesting based on the amount of insects available. Conditions preceding the nesting give the birds hints on what is to come.

The study compared the time when birds began to lay their eggs to the spring’s temperatures and rainfall. The data consisted of nearly 130,000 observations of bird nests submitted by volunteer bird hobbyists between 1961 and 2012. As average spring temperatures increased, all of the 26 bird species in the study began nesting earlier. “Nesting was started earlier regardless of whether the species in question was a migratory bird or one that winters in Finland.” says researcher Edward Kluen from the Finnish Museum of Natural History, an independent institute of the University of Helsinki.

Species that winter in Finland, such as the great tit and the Eurasian treecreeper, made the biggest changes to their nesting schedule, while species that winter relatively nearby, such as the fieldfare and the common starling, made smaller changes, and species that migrate long distances, such as the European pied flycatcher and the common tern, made relatively minor changes.

“It is of course easiest to observe how quickly spring is progressing and change behaviour accordingly when the birds are here." Kluen muses about these discrepancies. To cope in a changing climate, migratory birds must also alter their behaviour. The recent study proves that birds that winter in Finland or nearby countries have already made significant amendments to their behaviour.

"Birds that migrate long distances, have managed to start their nesting a little earlier, but it is considerably difficult to predict how the Finnish spring will proceed when the birds are in central Africa. Whether these birds can keep up with the increased spring temperatures has to be seen. To study this we need to look more into the breeding success of the birds and whether this is affected by their timing of nesting." states Kluen.

Extensive national nesting records provide researchers with the opportunity to study the changes in bird nesting behaviour caused by climate change on a broad scale. Historical records enable comparison with the past.

Finland’s system of nest-card records for nesting observations is one of the world’s oldest ongoing nest monitoring projects. The nest-card has obtained the same information for 75 years, and records of more than 220,000 nests have been collected over the years. Even though these days, most of the data is in a digital format, Finnish hobbyists and researchers still refer to the observation entries as 'cards'.

According to Kluen, the now published study is proof of the power of citizen science. “I would encourage everyone to participate. We need new hobbyists, and it is possible to participate in many of the monitoring projects with little previous knowledge. For example, the tits or pied flycatchers living in a nesting box in the backyard are an interesting and easy target for observation. It’s rewarding to work together for science and for bird conservation, and to get real results."

For further information: Edward Kluen, Finnish Museum of Natural History Luomus: Edward.Kluen at tel: +358 44 0804906:

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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New UN Initiative Aims to Save Lives and Cut Climate Change Impacts by Protecting Peatlands

This is Canals in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan Province, Indonesia, are hedged by dams to retain water for the regeneration of peat fields.
However, the orientation of the image has been changed and now tell apart the sky and the canal that flows on the earth.
Perspective is
paramount when observing and there are countless number of perspectives. That is why it is paramount that we remain
of ever getting closed up and to ensure that we always remain open: Image: UN Photo:Mark Garten

|| November 17: 2016 || ά. A new global initiative was launched today at the United Nations Climate Change Conference:COP22 under way in Marrakech, aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and save thousands of live by protecting peatlands, the largest terrestrial organic soil carbon stock. According to the UN environment Programme:UNEP, the Global Peatlands Initiative seeks to mobilise governments, international organisations and academia in an effort to protect peatlands, which contain almost 100 times more carbon than tropical forests. If global temperatures continue to rise, this could lead to thawing permafrost, switching boreal and Arctic peatlands from carbon sinks to sources, resulting in huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and potentially causing climate change to spiral out of control.

Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment stressed that despite the Paris Agreement, global temperatures will rise over three degrees Celsius this century. “This will cause misery and chaos for millions of vulnerable people, so we cannot afford to let any opportunity to reduce emissions slip by.” he added. Mr. Solheim also urged taking action through the Global Peatlands Initiative, as it is 'critical we do not reach the tipping point that will see peatlands stop sinking carbon and start spewing it into the atmosphere, destroying any hope we have of controlling climate change'. UNEP said that peatlands were coming under increased threat from conversion for palm oil and pulp wood production, which may result in environmental problems such as enormous fires in Indonesia and Russia in recent years.

In recent years, Indonesia has suffered from peat forest fires, resulting in greater emissions than the daily ones from the entire United States economy. However, emission is not the only negative impact of peatland degradation. The 2015 peat fires in Indonesia may have indirectly killed up to 100,000 people through the toxic haze, in addition to causing $16.1 billion in economic damage, according to recent studies.

Therefore, with support from over a dozen partners, a UN Environment team launched the largest effort on peat so far, called the Global Peatlands Initiative, which aims to increase the conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of peatlands in countries with significant peat deposits.

The initiative was launched at the Global Landscapes Forum, the leading side event of the UN's COP22 climate change talks in Marrakech, Morocco. The Global Peatlands Initiative was founded by the governments of Indonesia, Peru, the Republic of Congo, UNEP, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation:FAO, the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, CIFOR, Wetlands International, UNEP-WCMC, GRID-Arendal, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, European Space Agency, WRI, Greifswald Mire Centre and StarVision:Sateligence.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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2016 Slated to Be the Hottest Year Ever: And Record-Breaking Emissions and Melting Arctic Ice

Image: Pablo Tosco:Oxfam

|| November 14: 2016 || ά. According to the United Nations weather agency, 2016 is set to be the hottest year on record with global temperatures of approximately 01.2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, in part because of the powerful El Niño weather pattern that began late last year. The continued trend means that 16 of the 17 hottest years on record will have been during this century. 1998 is the outlier. Temperatures are not the only record-breaking indicators of climate change. Concentrations of major greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to increase to new limits and Arctic sea ice remains at very low levels, particularly at the beginning of this year and in October as the re-freezing period begins. This year also saw significant and unusually early melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

In a press release, World Meteorological Organisation:WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas warned that despite the extra heat due to El Niño no longer having an impact, global warming would continue. According to Mr. Taalas, temperatures in parts of Arctic Russia were as much as 06° to 07°C above long-term averages; other Arctic and sub-Arctic regions throughout Russia, Alaska and northwest Canada were at least 03° above average. “We are used to measuring temperature records in fractions of a degree.” he said. WMO’s findings show that temperature increases are most pronounced in the northern hemisphere; more than 90 per cent of land areas in the northern part of the globe had temperatures of more than 01°C above average, although much of southern Africa and several other regions throughout the southern hemisphere saw the same trend.

Ocean temperatures were also above normal, which has contributed to significant coral bleaching and disruption of ecosystems, including in the Great Barrier Reef, which has seen up to 50 per cent of its coral die in certain parts. Temperatures were below-normal in the southern oceans, particularly around the Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica. Sea levels rose about 15 millimetres between November 2014 and February 2016, five times that of the post-1993 trend of three to 03.5 mm per year.

Mr. Taalas spoke of the WMO’s support for implementing the Paris Agreement, which 'came into force in record time and with record global commitment' and is critical for responding to alarming trends across the globe. The accord was adopted last December and entered into force on November 04 of this year. In early October, the accord cleared the final threshold of 55 countries representing 55 per cent of global emissions required for it to come into effect within one month. Its entry into force was extremely swift, particularly for an agreement that required a large number of ratifications and the two specific thresholds.

“Because of climate change.” he said, “the occurrence and impact of extreme events has risen. ‘Once-in-a-generation’ heatwaves and flooding are becoming more regular. Sea level rise has increased exposure to storm surges associated with tropical cyclones.” Indeed, 2016 has witnessed major impacts from extreme weather events, with Hurricane Matthew this October responsible for the most casualties. There have also been typhoons and cyclones, flooding throughout Asia and Africa, major heatwaves, the most damaging wildfire in Canada’s history, and major droughts.

WMO is working to improve its monitoring of greenhouse emissions and to help countries take effective measures to reduce them. “Better climate predictions over timescales of weeks to decades will help key sectors like agriculture, water management, health and energy plan for and adapt to the future.” explained Mr. Taalas. “More impact-based weather forecasts and early warning systems will save lives both now and in the years ahead. There is a great need to strengthen the disaster early warning and climate service capabilities especially of developing countries. This is a powerful way to adapt to climate change.” he declared.

As part of the 22nd Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, currently under way in Marrakech, Morocco, and known by the shorthand ‘COP 22’, WMO published a provisional statement that, for the first time, includes an assessment of the humanitarian impact of climate change, thanks in part to input from UN partners. The final statement is to be released early next year.

WMO has linked weather-related events to conclusions by the International Organisation for Migration:IMO and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees:UNHCR, which reported 19.2 million new displacements due to weather, water, climate and geophysical hazards in 113 countries in 2015, data for 2016 is not yet available. That number is more than twice the number of people displaced due to human-related conflict and violence.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Marrakech: Efforts to Revolutionise Transport Gaining Momentum

Image: World Bank:Curt Carnemark

|| November 12: 2016 || ά. Efforts to revolutionise transport around the world are gaining momentum with more Governments and businesses exploring possibilities for electric vehicles and low-carbon emissions transport systems, said transport experts attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Marrakech:COP22. “The transport sector is very uniquely positioned to deliver both on decarbonisation as well as on human well-being. Countries are stepping out to it.” Underscored Paula Caballero, Global Director, Climate Programme of the World Resources Institute, at a press conference on Saturday.

She said that the New Urban Agenda adopted at Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, in Quito, in October 2016 “very clearly encapsulates that”. “Habitat III was just one month ago and clearly the transformation that is needed in the urban sector, that is needed in our cities, can be driven by transport.” Ms. Caballero added. “It is about ensuring that there is infrastructure for cycling and much better public sector transportation”. Transport counts for 24 percent of energy related greenhouse gas emissions. Without disruptive action, transport emissions can be expected to grow from 07.7 gigatonnes to around 15 gigatonnes by 2050. For 45 percent of countries, transport is the largest source of energy related emissions.

The transport sector is very uniquely positioned to deliver both on decarbonisation as well as on human well-being At Marrakech Climate Conference, transport experts and leaders took stock of progress made on transport initiatives since the previous UN Climate Conference in Paris:COP21 last year. Over the last 12 months, the MobiliseYourCity initiative secured 35 million euros in funding and announced the start of developing Sustainable Urban Mobility plans in Morocco and Cameroon.

The Global Fuel Economy Initiative:GFEI is supporting an additional 40 countries to realise the financial, and CO2 benefits of improved vehicle fuel economy. And Airport Carbon Accreditation Scheme now has 173 certified airports worldwide, including 26 carbon neutral airports. The Partnership for Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport:SLoCaT launched a global roadmap for decarbonisation of the transport sector at COP22. SLoCaT is a partnership between international organisations, business sector and NGOs, seeking to promote sustainable transport and focusing on land transport in developing countries.

“We are fully on board as the transport sector. We think we are increasingly well organized, we think we have increasing political support and that we have the right ideas.” said the Secretary General of SLoCaT, Cornie Huizenga, at the press conference. The Morrocan Minister in charge of Environment and 'Climate Champion', Hakima El Haité, expressed her optimism for the future. “Transport can be revolutionary tomorrow. We will have solar roads and maybe we will have solar vehicles.” she said at the press conference.

“The transport initiatives, by creating a new reality on the ground, increase popular understanding and support for climate action which, in turn, drives up Governments ambition to tackle climate change.” she added.

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From Marrakech: New Initiatives on Forest Protection Give Boost to Climate Action Agenda

Forest loss contributes to 1/6 of annual greenhouse gas emissions. Image: FAO:Joan Manuel Baliellas

|| November 09: 2016 || ά. The global effort to protect and sustainably manage forests and deliver on climate change targets got a major boost at the United Nations Climate Conference:COP22 taking place in Marrakech, Morocco, where several projects on protecting woodlands worldwide were announced. Forest actors at the meeting, formally known as the 22nd Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change:UNFCCC, expressed cautious optimism, welcoming the progress made on forest protection but warned against complacency.

“We know that the annual net loss of natural forests is slowing, a 25 per cent decrease in 2015 compared to 2000. But this is very much about restoration, regeneration of forests and reforestation, but unfortunately tropical forest clearing continues.” said  Climate Champion Laurence Tubiana at a press conference yesterday. Ms. Tubiana, the French Ambassador on climate change and Hakima El Haité, Moroccan Minister in charge of Environment, were appointed Climate Champions by the previous UN Climate Conference, known as COP21.

“It is improving, the action was effective, but we have to improve it if we want to be really consistent with the Paris targets.” Ms. Tubiana added, referring to the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change, which was adopted in the French capital last year and calls on countries to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future, and to adapt to the increasing impacts of the phenomenon.

Also at press conference, René Castro Salazar, the Assistant Director-General for Forestry of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation:FAO, also warned against complacency. “Forests are still disappearing at close to three million hectares per year especially natural forests. We hope the remaining four billion hectares of forest of the world will be sustainably managed, that will be the only way to preserve the resource. Addressing climate change cannot be done without a sustainable forest management programme.” he underscored.

In efforts to tackle climate change, forests play an important role as they absorb and store carbon as trees grow, thereby eliminating emissions from the atmosphere. But deforestation and forest degradation have the opposite effect: they release carbon into the atmosphere. Currently, deforestation and forest degradation are responsible for 12 per cent of global carbon emissions. “Forests are one of the largest and most cost-effective responses we have to climate change.” said Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme:UNDP, said in a news release.

According to Mr. Castro Salazar, healthier forests not only help combat climate change but also contribute to many other global development goals by providing food, income, fuel and shelter. The sense of prudent optimism was shared by the Senior Director of the Forest and Climate Program of the non-governmental organisation WWF, Josephina Brana-Varela. “There is a lot of progress. We are on the right path but we need to do it faster.” she said at the press conference. To that end, she drew attention to the “very unusual coalition of partners” that has emerged around the issue, including developed countries, developing countries, corporations, private sector actors, indigenous people, and multilateral organisations.

A dozen initiatives were presented yesterday at COP22 by countries from Africa, Asia and South America during Forest Action Day, which is part of the Global Climate Action Agenda initiative by France and Morocco to boost cooperative action between governments, cities, business, investors and citizens. Among initiatives, the Government of Indonesia announced that it is implementing a moratorium on clearing super-high-carbon intact peatlands. Colombia announced forest plans linked to the peace process, including an initiative to put very large areas of forest under the control of indigenous people.

The Moroccan Government announced an initiative called ‘Strengthened Action in Favour of Forests in the Mediterranean-Sahel Region in the Context of Climate Change’ to help countries of that region meet multilateral commitments to forests. “The idea is to form a collaborative partnership throughout the region given the interactions and strong relationships in environmental and socio-economic areas.” said the Secretary General of the High Commissioner for water and forests of Morocco, Abderrahim Houmy, at the press conference. ω.

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Past Five Years Hottest on Record: World Meteorological Organisation

World Meteorological Organisation:WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. Image: WMO:Kate Chumak

|| November 08: 2016 || ά.  In a new detailed analysis of the global climate between 2011 and 2015, the hottest f-year period on record, the World Meteorological Organisation:WMO has found an increasingly visible human footprint on extreme weather and climate events with dangerous and costly impacts. The record temperatures were accompanied by rising sea levels and declines in Arctic sea-ice extent, continental glaciers and northern hemisphere snow cover,WMO said in a news release today. “This report confirms that the average temperature in 2015 had already reached the one degree-Celsius mark. We just had the hottest five-year period on record, with 2015 claiming the title of hottest individual year.” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in a news release announcing the report.

“Even that record is likely to be beaten in 2016.” he added, recalling that the Paris Agreement on climate change aims to limit the global temperature rise to well below two degree-Celsius. Further in the report, WMO, the UN system’s authoritative voice on the state and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere, also highlighted some of the high-impact climate events. These included the east African drought, 2010-2012 that caused an estimated 258,000 deaths, the southern African drought, 2013-2015, South-East Asia floods, 2011 that killed 800 people and caused more than $40 billion in economic losses; heatwaves in India and Pakistan, 2015, that claimed more than 4,100 lives; Hurricane Sandy, 2012, which resulted $67 billion in economic losses in the United States; and Typhoon Haiyan, 2013 which killed 7,800 people in the Philippines.

According to the agency, the five-year timescale allows for a better understanding of multi-year warming trends and extreme events such as prolonged droughts and recurrent heatwaves than an annual report. The report further examined whether human-induced climate change was directly linked to individual extreme events. Many individual extreme weather and climate events recorded during 2011-2015 were made more likely as a result of human-induced climate change, WMO said. In the case of some extreme high temperatures, the probability increased by a factor of ten or more.

The WMO report was submitted to the Twenty-second Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change:UNFCCC known as COP22, meeting Marrakech. The agency added that will release its provisional assessment of the state of the climate in 2016 on November 14 to support the discussions at COP22.

Further in the news release, temperatures for the 2011-2015 period were 0.57 degree-Celsius, 1.03 degree-Fahrenheit, above the average for the standard 1961-1990 reference period. The warmest year on record to date was 2015, with temperatures 0.76 degree-Celsius, 1.37 degree-Fahrenheit, above the reference period.

Additionally global ocean temperatures also rose at unprecedented levels and sea-surface temperatures for the period were above average in most of the world, except in some parts of the Antarctic Ocean and the eastern South Pacific Ocean. The period also saw a decline in the Arctic sea ice coverage. Averaged over 2011-2015, the mean Arctic sea-ice fell 28 per-cent below the 1981-2010 average. The minimum summer sea-ice extent of 03.39 million square-kilometres in 2012 was the lowest on record.

By contrast, for much of the period 2011–2015, the Antarctic sea-ice extent was above the 1981-2010 mean value, particularly for the winter maximum. Surface melting of the Greenland ice sheet also continued at above-average levels and mountain glaciers also continued their decline. Northern hemisphere snow cover extent was well below average in all five years and in all months from May to August, continuing a strong downward trend, said WMO.

Referring to studies, WMO said that the contribution of continental ice sheets, particularly in Greenland and west Antarctica, to sea-level rise is accelerating. It noted on satellite record, from 1993 to present, sea levels have risen approximately 03 mm per year, based on tide gauges, compared to the average 1900-2010 trend of 01.7 mm per year.

“As the oceans warm, they expand, resulting in both global and regional sea-level rise.” the agency explained, adding that increased ocean heat content accounts for about 40 per cent of the observed global sea-level increase over the past 60 years. The news release also mentions some examples of “extreme weather” which include record high seasonal and annual temperatures in the United States in 2012 and in Australia in 2013, hot summers in eastern Asia and western Europe in 2013, heatwaves in spring and autumn 2014 in Australia, record annual warmth in Europe in 2014, and a heatwave in Argentina in December 2013.

Pointing to a study of a 2014 drought in south-eastern Brazil that found that similar rainfall deficits had occurred on three other occasions since 1940, the agency said that the impacts in 2014 were, however, exacerbated by a substantial increase in the demand for water, due to population growth. Such impacts show an increased link to human vulnerability, noted WMO. ω.

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Paris Climate Change Agreement Entered Into Force and the World Meets Again in Marrakesh Climate Change Conference Today

President Barack Obama with the cleanest-energy, on the Universe, making 'construction', construction for human ingenuity has developed and built it, behind him: Why We Have to Act on Climate Now:White House Photo.

|| November 07: 2016 || ά.  The UN climate change negotiations continue in Marrakesh, Morocco in November 07-18. The nations of the world meet in Marrakesh in a situation where the Paris Climate Change Agreement has just entered into force. The threshold for the entry into force of the Paris Agreement was surpassed in the beginning of October when the EU, among others, delivered the ratification document to the UN Secretary-General in New York. The agreement entered into force  on November 04, 30 days after the date when the threshold was achieved. This means that the first session of the Parties to the Paris Agreement can now be held in connection with the Marrakesh Climate Change Conference. Since the COP21 last year the World has moved much in realising the utter urgency of the task facing humanity. And the fact that the agreement entered into force in such a short space of time goes to show how the world and countries, governments and bodies responded.

The World, the World Bodies and All Agencies must now concentrate in seeking to implement the agreement and aim to do more than what is agreed. The need, the desperate need is to change the culture, change the way we think, look at things, plan, work, invest, run and do business. This culture change must happen in political spheres, in political economic spheres, in social and cultural spheres and in the living everyday human spheres. Climate change impacts will not be minimised unless every single human being, in concert with all the 'bodies and agencies' begins to change the way we think, the way we work, they way we buy and sell things, they way we approach life. We need to become aware of questions like, how much do we use, how much really do we need to use, why do we need to use this and not a better product. Why do we drive a car to a place where we can walk or take a bus or train that runs on green power. Why should we encourage agencies, companies, businesses that are seeking to promote, sell and make money with products, services that harm? Why do we use something that is harmful? We need to think more and do things in ways that are smart and purposeful. This change must happen everywhere. And it must happen fast.

Finland's Minister of Agriculture and the Environment Kimmo Tiilikainen heads the Finnish delegation during the high-level meetings taking place in November 15-18. "The Paris Agreement entered into force more quickly than almost anyone could have believed. Now there is a will in the world to take climate action, as also shown by the recent agreements on reducing the HFC compounds and emissions from air traffic. Now we have to proceed with all the details in the implementation of the Paris Agreement." he says.

The first session of the Parties to the Paris Agreement will be held in Marrakesh on November 15. So far the agreement has been ratified by 97 parties, representing around 69% of the global GHG emissions. "I’m happy that Finland will be completing the national ratification process by the first session. We’ve also seen a lot of progress in implementing different climate actions. The speed at which global climate politics is moving has to be taken into consideration in the finalization of our new energy and climate strategy and the ambition set in our government program put promptly into practice." Minister Tiilikainen says.

Outi Honkatukia, Chief Negotiator for Climate Change at the Ministry of the Environment, will head the Finnish delegation during the first week of the meeting. “More than 20 years of climate talks culminated in the Paris Agreement. Now in Marrakesh it is important to make rapid progress in preparing the implementation in terms of the whole content of the agreement and as a joint effort of all nations, without any reinterpretation." Honkatukia says.

The key negotiation themes in Marrakesh concern the common transparency framework, implementing national climate actions, and creating a process to boost the achievement of the emissions reduction targets by which global warming would stay below 02°C compared to the pre-industrialised level. Means will also be sought to reinforce the capacity of especially the poorest countries.

Besides the session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC:COP22, there will be meetings of several subsidiary bodies and side events. Finland will be showcased especially in the events at the common Nordic pavilion, where the topics include cleantech innovations and citizens' role in mitigating climate change.

The Finnish Parliament approved the Government proposal concerning the ratification of the Paris Agreement on October 25. The Parliament's reply was discussed at the Government Plenary Session on October 10. On November 11 the decision on the ratification of the Paris Agreement is to be presented to the President of the Republic, who signs the ratification document. After that the ratification document is to be deposited with the UN Secretary General in New York. With respect to Finland the agreement will enter into force 30 days after being deposited.

Outi Honkatukia, Chief Negotiator for Climate Change, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 50 341 1758, firstname.lastname at Marrakesh Climate Change Conference
Tuija Talsi, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 40 720 5574, firstname.lastname at Paris Climate Change Agreement; national ratification process.
Jussi Palmén, Communication Specialist, tel. +358 50 532 2278, firstname.lastname at

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October Recording a Record Dry in Finland


|| November 06: 2016 || ά. The amount of precipitation for the whole of Finland was record low in October. Station-specific record low precipitation levels were observed both in the west and in the north. According to Finnish Meteorological Institute statistics, October was exceptionally dry in many areas in the western and northern parts of the country, something that occurs on average less frequently than once every 30 years. Precipitation in these areas was mainly between five and 20 millimetres.

In the eastern part of Finland, the precipitation of 30–50 millimetres was closer to the long-term average thanks to precipitation towards the end of the month. The total amount of precipitation in the whole country in October was record low in the material that starts from 1961. The month's highest amount of precipitation was 61.6 mm, measured in Virolahti, and the lowest amount 01.1 mm, measured in Karesuanto, Enontekiö. The greatest amount of precipitation in a 24-hour period was 31.1 millimetres, recorded in Kärsämäki on October 27.

October was record dry at the following long-operating observation stations of the FMI:
Kaarina Yltöinen: 09.5 mm
Laitila Haukka: 07.8 mm
Huittinen Sallila: 10.7 mm
Isojoki Kärjenkoski: 08.8 mm
Karvia Alkkia: 11.4 mm
Kuusamo Kiutaköngäs: 08.4 mm
Posio Raistakka: 09.2 mm
Ylitornio Meltosjärvi: 04.3 mm

In terms of temperature deviations, Finland was split. The average temperature in October was about one degree colder than usual in the southern and central parts of the country, whereas Lapland saw temperatures that were 01–02 degrees warmer than usual. The highest temperature recorded in October was in Rajakari, Turku, where a temperature of 16.2°C was measured on October 02, and the lowest temperature was measured at -09.3°C in
Näkkälä, Enontekiö, on October 17. ω.

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A New Space-Based View of Human-Made Carbon Dioxide

Burnt and degraded forest within Tesso Nilo National Park, Riau Province, Sumatra, Indonesia. Image: World Bank:Flore de Preneuf

|| November 02: 2016 || ά. Scientists have produced the first global maps of human emissions of carbon dioxide ever made solely from satellite observations of the greenhouse gas. The maps, based on data from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2:OCO-2 satellite and generated with a new data-processing technique, agree well with inventories of known carbon dioxide emissions.  No satellite before OCO-2 was capable of measuring carbon dioxide in fine enough detail to allow researchers to create maps of human emissions from the satellite data alone. Instead, earlier maps also incorporated estimates from economic data and modeling results.

The team of scientists from the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, produced three main maps from OCO-2 data, each centred on one of Earth's
highest-emitting regions: the Eastern United States, Central Europe and East Asia. The maps show widespread carbon dioxide across major urban areas and smaller pockets of high emissions. "OCO-2 can even detect smaller, isolated emitting areas like individual cities." said research scientist Janne Hakkarainen, who led the study. "It's a very powerful tool that gives new insight."

The results appear in a paper titled "Direct Space-Based Observations of Anthropogenic CO2 Emission Areas from OCO-2," published November 01 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Human emissions of carbon dioxide have grown at a significant rate since the Industrial Revolution, and the greenhouse gas lingers in the atmosphere for a century or more. This means that recent human output is only a tiny part of the total carbon dioxide that OCO-2 records as it looks down toward Earth's surface.

 "Currently, the background level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is about 400 parts per million, and human emissions within the past year may add only something like three parts per million to that total." said Hakkarainen. The data-processing challenge, he noted, was to isolate the signature of the recent emissions from out of the total amount. The team's new data-processing technique accounts for seasonal changes in carbon dioxide, the result of plant growth and dormancy, as well as the background carbon dioxide level.

To be sure their method was correct, they compared the results with measurements of nitrogen dioxide, another gas emitted from fossil fuel combustion, from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument, a Dutch-Finnish instrument on NASA's Aura satellite. OMI and OCO-2 are both in the A-Train satellite constellation, so the two measurements cover the same area of Earth and are separated in time by only 15 minutes.

The two measurements correlated well, giving the researchers confidence that their new technique produced reliable results. Coauthor Johanna Tamminen, head of the atmospheric remote sensing group at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, noted that with its comparison of OCO-2 and OMI data, "The research demonstrates the possibility of analysing joint satellite observations of carbon dioxide and other gases related to combustion processes to draw out information about the emissions sources."

OCO-2 Deputy Project Scientist Annmarie Eldering of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, said, "We are very pleased to see this research group make use of the OCO-2 data. Their analysis is a great demonstration of discovery with this new dataset." Eldering was not involved in the study.

NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

More information: Researcher Janne Hakkarainen, tel. +358 451240257, janne.hakkarainen at
Researcher Iolanda Ialongo, iolanda.ialongo at
Head of group Johanna Tamminen, johanna.tamminen at
Alan Buis Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California: 818-354-0474, Alan.Buis at

Hakkarainen, J., I. Ialongo, and J. Tamminen 2016, Direct space-based observations of anthropogenic CO2 emission areas from OCO-2, Geophys. Res.
Lett., 43, doi:10.1002/2016GL070885.

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Indirect Effects of Rising CO2 Levels on the Ecosystems More Important Than Previously Thought

Research in Tasmania. Image: Mark Hovenden

|| October 30: 2016: University of Southampton News || ά. The indirect effects of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide:CO2 levels, such as changes in soil moisture and plant structure, can have a bigger impact on ecosystems than previously thought. Understanding the importance of these indirect effects, in comparison to the direct effects, will improve our understanding of how ecosystems respond to climate change. A study, involving researchers from the University of Southampton, found that water-limited ecosystems in arid and semi-arid regions, such as The Great Plains and South-West United States and some in Australia and Mediterranean Europe, were particularly impacted by these indirect effects. For those ecosystems, the importance of the indirect effects was as much as or in some cases, greater than, the direct effects.

Co-author Dr Athanasios Paschalis, a New Frontiers Fellow in the Water and Environmental Engineering group at the University of Southampton, said: “These results have major implications for our understanding of the CO2 response of ecosystems, the future of water resources and for global projections of CO2 fertilisation. This is because, although direct effects are typically understood and easily reproducible in models, simulations of indirect effects are far more challenging and difficult to quantify.” Rising CO2 levels affect a lot of plants directly by stimulating photosynthesis and reducing the loss of water, plant transpiration, by reducing the opening of the small pores in the leaves, known as ‘stomata’.

This triggers several more subtle, indirect effects. For example, when plants close their stomata, they use less soil water, changing the amount of soil water available to other plants. At the same time, altered water availability and enhanced photosynthesis can change the amount of leaf, root and below ground microbial biomass, resulting in changes to ecosystem functioning.

In the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:PNAS, the researchers found that these indirect effects explain, on average, 28 per cent of the total plant productivity response, and are almost equal to the size of direct effects on evapotranspiration:ET, the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration from the land to the atmosphere.

Using computer simulation, the researchers investigated the effects of elevated CO2 across a variety of ecosystems. They were able to specifically determine for which ecosystems and climatic conditions the indirect effects of elevated CO2 are of crucial importance.

The simulations suggested that the indirect effects of increased CO2 on net primary productivity, how much carbon dioxide vegetation takes in during photosynthesis minus how much carbon dioxide the plants release during respiration,are large and variable, ranging from less than 10 per cent to more than 100 per cent of the size of direct effects. For ET, indirect effects were, on average, 65 per cent of the size of direct effects. Indirect effects tended to be considerably larger in water-limited ecosystems.

Dr Paschalis added: “Understanding the responses of plants to elevated concentrations of CO2 is of major importance with potential implications on the global economy and water and food security under a changing climate.”

The study was led by Dr Simone Fatichi, ETH Zurich -Switzerland, and involved researchers from Aukland University of Technology, NZ, the University of Southampton, UK, Duke University, US, Villanova University, US and the University of Tasmania, AU.

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Ban Ki-moon Welcomes Steps by UN Maritime Organisation to Limit Carbon Emissions from International Shipping

Baha Blanca, Argentina, 2013. Image:IMO

|| October 29: 2016 || ά. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki moon has welcomed the steps agreed upon today by the members of the International Maritime Organisation:IMO to address greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping. According to a statement issued by Mr. Ban's spokesperson, the steps include: efforts to limit sulphur emissions; a mandatory data system for fuel consumption; strengthened implementation of energy-efficiency regulations; and a road map for developing by 2023 a comprehensive IMO strategy on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships.

“Welcoming these important steps, the Secretary-General calls for urgent and ambitious action to limit the greenhouse gas emissions from global shipping [which] are projected to rise significantly given the critical role that shipping plays in the global economy.” said the statement. Further to the statement, Mr. Ban called on IMO members, in partnership with the maritime industry, to promote further progress on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships to contribute to the objective of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which enters into force on November 04, 2016.

For its part, the IMO, which, as a specialized UN agency, is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping, called the new mandatory requirements important milestone on the road to controlling greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping. The requirements were adopted by the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee:MEPC meeting in London for its 70th session October 24-28. IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said the new requirements sent a clear signal that IMO was ready to build on the existing technical and operational measures for ship energy efficiency.

“The data collection system will equip IMO with concrete data to help it make the right decisions, as well as enhancing its credentials as the best placed and competent forum for regulating international shipping.” Mr Lim said. According to IMO, the new mandatory data collection system is intended to be the first in a three-step approach in which analysis of the data collected would provide the basis for an objective, transparent and inclusive policy debate in the MEPC.

This would allow a decision to be made on whether any further measures are needed to enhance energy efficiency and address greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping. If so, proposed policy options would then be considered.

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El Niño Drives Concentration of C02 in Atmosphere to New High: WMO

Image: UNEP

|| October 24: 2016 || ά. Globally averaged concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere surged again to new records in 2016, and, based on readings of the longest-established greenhouse gas monitoring station at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, the World Meteorological Organisation:WMO predicts that carbon dioxide concentrations will not dip below pre-2015 levels for many generations. “The year 2015 ushered in a new era of optimism and climate action with the Paris climate change agreement. But it will also make history as marking a new era of climate change reality with record high greenhouse gas concentrations.” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

Mr. Taalas says that without tackling carbon dioxide emissions, we cannot tackle climate change and keep temperature increases to below two degrees Celcius above the pre-industrial era. “It is therefore of the utmost importance that the Paris Agreement does indeed enter into force well ahead of schedule on November 04 and that we fast-track its implementation.” he added. The weather agency had warned earlier this year that the Earth is already one degree Celsius hotter than at the start of the 20th century, halfway to the critical two-degree threshold, and national climate change plans adopted so far may not be enough to avoid a three-degree temperature rise.

CO2 levels had previously reached the 400 parts per million barrier for certain months of the year and in certain locations but never before on a global average basis for the entire year.

The growth spurt in carbon dioxide was fuelled by the El Niño event, which started in 2015 and had a strong impact well into 2016. This triggered droughts in tropical regions and reduced the capacity of “sinks” like forests, vegetation and the oceans to absorb CO2. These sinks currently absorb about half of CO2 emissions but there is a risk that they may become saturated, which would increase the fraction of emitted carbon dioxide which stays in the atmosphere, according to the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

Between 1990 and 2015 there was a 37 per cent increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate – because of long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide:N2O from industrial, agricultural and domestic activities.

“The 400 parts per million threshold is of great symbolic importance.” said the previous WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud in 2014. “It should serve as yet another wakeup call about the constantly rising levels of greenhouse gases which are driving climate change and acidifying our oceans.” he said.

For thousands of year’s carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere, trapping heat and causing the earth to warm further. The lifespan of carbon dioxide in the oceans is even longer. It is also the single most important greenhouse gas emitted by human activities. According to the WMO it is responsible for 85 per cent of the warming effect on our climate over the past decade.

Post-Paris climate action

“The recent agreement in Kigali to amend the so-called Montreal Protocol and phase out hydrofluorocarbons:HFCs used in air conditioners and refrigerators, which act as strong greenhouse gases, is good news. WMO salutes the commitment of the international community to meaningful climate action.” said Mr Taalas.

The landmark deal to reduce the emissions of potent chemicals, signed by nearly 200 countries, was hailed by The UN Environment Programme as the single largest contribution the world has made towards keeping the global temperature rise "well below" two degrees Celsius.

The deal to curb HFCs comes amid a flurry of climate-related action, as a couple of weeks ago, two key events occurred: Member States of the UN civil aviation agency, known as ICAO, agreed on a new standard to control global greenhouse gas emissions from international airline flights; and the Paris Agreement on climate change cleared the final threshold of 55 countries representing 55 per cent of global emissions required for the accord to enter into effect, now set for early November. ω.

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Scientists Find Link Between Tropical Storms and Decline of River Deltas

Fishing in the Mekong River. Image: University of Southampton


|| October 21: 2016: Aalto University News || ά. The study, funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council:NERC and undertaken by the universities of Southampton, UK, Aalto, Finland, Exeter, UK, Hull, UK and Illinois, USA, found that changes in the behaviour of cyclones mean less sediment is running into rivers upstream of the Mekong delta, starving it of material vital for guarding against flooding. The findings are published in the journal Nature.

"Deltas are landforms made from sediment washed into rivers and carried downstream. The sediment builds up where the river meets slow moving or still water, such as seas or lakes. Deltas naturally subside under their own weight, so a constant flow of new deposits is vital to offset these changes and prevent flooding which could be disastrous to agriculture and the environment." explained Assistant Professor Matti Kummu from Aalto University.

Lead researcher Professor Stephen Darby of the University of Southampton said: “Our study is the first to show the significant role tropical storms play in delivering sediment to large river deltas. We show that although human impacts affect the amount of sediment in a river, cyclonic activity is also a very important contributing factor.”  Understanding the role played by changes in tropical cyclone climatology gives us a broader knowledge of the threats facing this delta and others like it around the world.

The Mekong is the world’s third largest river delta at 39,000 square kilometres. It’s home to 20 million people and has a large agricultural area which is dominated by rice and is vital to the economy of Vietnam. The international team behind this latest research developed a new method of analysing archived measurements of water discharge into the Mekong River to detect sediment concentration dating back over two decades, 1981-2005.

Then, by modelling the water flows through the Mekong’s channels, they were able to isolate the impact of changes in tropical storms on the river’s sediment load. Their data shows that of all the sediment transported to the delta, one third is due to tropical cyclones. It also shows that the Mekong’s sediment load has declined markedly in recent years, largely due to changes in the location and intensity of storms tracking across the upstream rivers that feed the delta.

Co-Investigator at Southampton Dr Julian Leyland added: “Climate models predict that, even though tropical cyclones may intensify as our climate warms, the locations of their tracks may well move further away from the Mekong’s catchment in the future.”

Professor Darby commented: “These results are very significant because the Mekong’s sediment load is already declining as a result of upstream damming and other human impacts such as sand mining. Understanding the role played by changes in tropical cyclone climatology gives us a broader knowledge of the threats facing this delta and others like it around the world.”

The research has implications globally because other major rivers such as the Ganges, India:Bangladesh, Yangtze, China and Mississippi, USA have catchments that are regularly struck by tropical storms. Some 500 million people live and work in the world’s major river deltas. This study indicates that changes in storm climatology, even in the river catchments far upstream of the deltas themselves, must also be considered when evaluating their future vulnerability to sea-level rise.

Article: Fluvial sediment supply to a mega-delta reduced by shifting tropical-cyclone activity

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We Must Put People, Not Cars, First in Transport Systems

A mother and her child ride a bicycle at Manama Mission, in Matebeland South Province, Zimbabwe. Image: UNICEF:Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

|| October 20: 2016 || ά. Lack of investment in safe walking and cycling infrastructure not only contributes to the deaths of millions of people in traffic accidents on unsafe roads and poorly designed roadways, but also overlooks a great opportunity to boost the fight against climate change, a new UN Environment report said today. In Global Outlook on Walking and Cycling, the UN Environment Programme:UNEP explained that greater investment in such infrastructure could help save millions of lives and reduce emissions of global warming gases from motorised transport.

The report noted that 01.3 million people die each year from traffic accidents, of which 49 per cent are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Four African countries are among the most dangerous countries to walk and cycle. Some 66 per cent of all road fatalities were pedestrians and cyclists in Malawi; 61 per cent in Kenya; 53 per cent in South Africa; and 49 per cent in Zambia and Nepal. “People are risking their lives every time they leave their homes,” said UNEP Executive Director Erik Solheim in a news release. “But it isn’t just about accidents. Designing transport systems around cars puts more vehicles on the road, increasing both greenhouse gas emissions and deadly air pollution. We must put people, not cars, first in transport systems,” he stressed.

The report said that motorised transport is responsible for 23 per cent of global carbon dioxide:CO2 emissions, the fastest growing sector in greenhouse gas emissions. It will be responsible for a third of CO2 emissions by 2050 at current rates. Poor air quality, in part due to vehicle emissions, is estimated to cause around seven million premature deaths each year and is increasing health problems like bronchitis, asthma, heart disease and brain damage.

The global fleet of private cars is projected to triple by 2050, with most of this new vehicle growth expected to take place in the same developing countries that are already hardest hit by road fatalities and injuries. In line with current trends, not only will this result in a staggering increase in road fatalities globally, but the increase in carbon-polluting cars will severely restrict the world's ability to limit the global average temperature rise to less than 02°C.

UNEP calls on countries to invest at least 20 per cent of their transport budgets in walking and cycling infrastructure to save lives, reverse pollution and reduce carbon emissions, which are rising at more than 10 per cent a year. “Unless we act to make our roads safe, in ten years, an estimated 13 million more people will have died on our roads, that is more than the entire population of Belgium. The human impact is horrific, but the impact on all of our survival must not be ignored.” Mr. Solheim added.

UNEP is also urging countries to draft national and local policies for non-motorised transport:NMT, pay particular attention to vulnerable NMT users, such as women, children, elderly and people with mobility challenges, and actively champion NMT as political will is needed not only for policies, but also for giving walking and cycling the equal status as private cars.

The report surveyed the progress towards safer walking and cycling infrastructure in 20 low- to middle-income countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, where compared with high-income countries, twice as many more people die in road traffic accidents.

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Reforesting Kilimanjaro Could Ease East Africa's Severe Water Shortages: UN

Aerial view of the dwindling ice on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Image: UN Photo:Mark Garten

|| October 19: 2016 || ά. There is a need to reforest Africa’s highest mountain to help protect vital water supplies that are under threat across large parts of East Africa, a UN Environment report urged today. The loss of Mount Kilimanjaro’s forests could trigger water crisis as rivers begin to dry up, notes the report, entitled Sustainable Mountain Development in East Africa in a Changing Climate, which was launched at the World Mountain Forum in Uganda today. The report stresses that climate change has already destroyed 13,000 hectares of the mountain’s forests since 1976, equivalent to cutting off a year’s supply of drinking water for one million people.

According to the UN Environment Programme:UNEP, Mt. Kilimanjaro’s forests are a vital source of water for the surrounding towns and the wider region. Water from the mountain feeds one of Tanzania’s largest rivers, the Pangani, providing food, fuel and building materials to much of East Africa. The report notes that higher temperatures as a result of climate change have increased the number of wildfires on the mountain and thus accelerated the destruction of forests. Because there are now fewer trees to trap water from clouds, the annual amount of dew on the mountain is believed to have fallen by 25 per cent.

As an example of the dire impact of this situation, UNEP notes that the town of Moshi, which is located in the foothills of Kilimanjaro, is already experiencing severe water shortages as rivers begin to dry up, starving farmland of water in an area already struggling to cope with a dramatic drop in rainfall. The report urges Tanzania to protect Mt. Kilimanjaro’s water catchment area by reforesting the mountain, investing in early warning systems and making climate adaptation a top priority.

Protecting East Africa’s mountain ecosystems will also help safeguard the region’s vital tourism industry, which is worth $07 billion to East Africa. Mt. Kilimanjaro, for example, contributes over one third of Tanzania’s total revenue from tourism, the report adds. Furthermore, the disastrous impact of climate change on East Africa’s mountains can be seen in the loss of its glaciers. Since the 1990s, the surface area of glaciers in the region has decreased by 80. These glaciers are expected to vanish completely within a few decades as temperatures increase, notes the report.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:IPCC, East Africa can expect an average increase in annual temperature of 03.2 degrees Celsius by 2080. The mountains of East Africa are not only highly productive agricultural areas: the rivers they feed also have significant, but largely unexploited, hydropower potential for a region crippled by a lack of electricity.

Rivers in the Nile Basin, for example, could generate 20 gigawatts of electricity while the Mau Forest could generate a further 508 megawatts, enough to meet half of Kenya’s capacity. The World Mountain Forum is taking place in Mbale, Uganda from October 17-20 uunder the theme ‘Mountains for our Future.’

Today’s report was co-authored by UNEP, GRID-Arendal, East African Community, the Albertine Rift Conservation Society and Nature-RIDD and is part of the Mountain Adaptation Outlook Series, which was launched by UNEP at the climate summit in Paris last year. ω.

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Tackling Impacts of Land Degradation Vital to Achieving Global Goals: Senior UN Treaty Official

In the Liptako-Gourma region, Niger, an area that has experienced large-scale land degradation and water scarcity,
a villager takes extra precautions to keep her supply of water clean. Image: UNDP:Rabo Yahaya

|| October 19: 2016 || ά. The head of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification told delegations gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, to assess the treaty’s implementation, the impacts of land degradation affect the sustainability of the entire world, so a global effort is needed to tackle it, including through the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Monique Barbut, the Executive Secretary of the Convention, known by its acronym UNCCD, opened meeting by stressing: “Ignoring land degradation neutrality:LDN could be political suicide.”

Moreover, she stressed that LDN remains a Sustainable Development Goals:SDGs target, under Goal 15, and populations will experience real benefits in terms of climate change, rural employment and food security. The Committee for the Review of Implementation of the Convention was established as a subsidiary body to the Conference of the Parties:COP. LDN will constitute a part within the CRIC15 Strategic Framework, under the Convention from 2018-2030. It is scheduled to be adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD next year.

“Ten billion people on earth by 2050 will require food production to increase by 70 per cent, and that means expansion and exploitation of at least four million hectares of new land each year,” she said. However, there are only two billion hectares of degraded land at our disposal, 500 million of which can be restored, she added.

In order to recover the ecosystems and feed the entire population, just 300 million hectares need to be restored. We would be able to sequester a significant amount of CO2 as well. It is the fastest and most cost-effective way to do so.” Ms. Barbut said. ω.

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Sustainable, Inclusive Cities ‘Can transform Our World for the Better: Ban Ki-moon at the HABITAT III Quito Conference

The city of Quito, Ecuador, which was declared a World Heritage Site by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organisation:UNESCO, in the late 1970s. Image: UNESCO:Francesco Bandarin

|| October 17: 2016 || ά. Opening today the United Nations Habitat III conference in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, Secretary-General Ban-Ki-Moon told the gathered delegations that “transforming our world for the better” means re-making towns and cities through sustainable development. The long-awaited global meeting, formally known as the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, takes place every 20 years, and its action-oriented outcome, known as the New Urban Agenda, was formally presented to delegations shortly after the conference got under way.

In his opening opening address, Mr. Ban thanked Ecuador for hosting the gathering, the first ever to be held in the Global South, where many of the biggest urban development problems are manifesting themselves. Lying almost on the equator at close to 10,000 feet, the Latin American capital was one of the first to be declared a World Heritage Site by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation:UNESCO, in the late 1970s. “It reflects both the challenges of sustainable development and many of the solutions the world will need in the years to come,” said the Secretary-General.

The New Urban Agenda sets new standards moving forward and is designed to re-think how the fast-growing urban population of the world can live more sustainably. Since the first Habitat conference in 1976, the urban population has grown hugely, and will represent close to 70 per cent of the total population on Earth by 2050, according to UN estimates.

The Agenda demands action at all layers of government, civil society, business and the private sector, to help lift up the wider Sustainable Development Goals:SDGs geared towards 2030. Cities are “remarkable engines of growth, centres of diversity and hubs of creativity” that will only get more important, said Mr. Ban. At the same time, he emphasized that urban areas are expanding rapidly, especially in developing countries, and that expansion is frequently unplanned.

Indeed, approximately a quarter of urban dwellers live in slums or informal settlements. Increasing numbers of poor and vulnerable people live in precarious conditions. Many are isolated from opportunities for decent work and are vulnerable to crime, forced evictions and homelessness. “The pollution that cities produce and the products they consume have dramatic consequences for the environment,” explained the head of the UN adding that the energy cities use is a major contributor to climate change.

“So it is clear that transforming our world for the better means transforming our towns and cities. That means better urban governance, planning and design,” he added. “It means more investment in adequate and affordable housing, quality infrastructure and basic services. And it means engaging women and girls in making towns and cities safer and more productive for all … Cities and towns have an immense role to play in ending poverty and building inclusive societies that promote participation by all,” stated Mr. Ban.

Mr Ban stressed that the success of the New Urban Agenda and this once-in-a-generation conference, depend on the collaboration of all countries and stakeholders.  Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa, who is presiding over Habitat III, pointed to the Quito Implementation Plan, which defines “mechanisms, to follow-up on agreements that we are going to reach at this conference.”

He told the first plenary meeting: “We look forward to a decisive commitment by all Member States, to meet these goals in the next 20 years.” He pointed to “erroneous concepts of development” in Latin America, which have now seen the continent become the most urban region of the world, thanks to uncontrolled “rural de-population.”

The Secretary-General of Habitat III, Joan Clos, who also heads up the UN Human Settlements Programme:UN-Habitat, has been leading the preparations towards Quito, and spoke of his excitement at the adoption of the New Urban Agenda, and what it meant for the overall pursuit of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

He described the agenda as a “vision for a better and greener urban future, where everyone has access to the benefits of urbanisation.” Surveying the main hall on the opening morning, President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson said “the many thousands of participants who have come to Quito … are a testament of the importance of cities to our lives, of sustainable urban development to our world, and the New Urban Agenda to guiding humanity to a sustainable urban future.”

Secretary-General Ban also highlighted the “increasing numbers of poor and vulnerable people” making their lives in the expanding cities of the developing world in particular.” A quarter of urban-dwellers live in slums conditions and lack access to basic services, he added. This was an area of need where the SDGs clearly dovetailed with the Quito agenda he said: “To fulfil the promise of the 2030 Agenda, we must address the humiliation and exclusion of people living in poverty and empower their inclusion in building a better future,” he declared.

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Human Transport Has Unpredictable Genetic and Evolutionary Consequences for Marine Species

Ciona intestinalis. Image: Station Biologique Roscoff:Wilfried Thomas

|| October 15: 2016: University of Southampton News || ά. New research, led by the University of Southampton, has found that human activities such as shipping are having a noticeable impact on marine species and their native habitats. The research, published in the journal Biology Letters, says that human forms of transport can disrupt natural genetic patterns that have been shaped over long periods of time. This has unknown consequences for both native and invasive species.

Lead author and PhD Student Jamie Hudson said: “Marine species are expected to develop populations whereby geographically close populations are more genetically similar than geographically distant populations. However, anthropogenic, environmental change caused by humans, activities such as shipping promote the artificial transport of species and bring distant populations together, leading to the crossing of individuals and therefore genetic material. The disruption of pre-modern genetic patterns through anthropogenic activities is an unprecedented form of global change that has unpredictable consequences for species and their native distributions.”

The researchers investigated the genetics of a native marine invertebrate species, the tunicate Ciona intestinalis, in the English Channel, an area with a high prevalence of shipping. Ciona intestinalis has restricted dispersal capabilities and is most often reported in artificial habitats, such as marinas, so are therefore readily transported by human activities.

They collected specimens between June and December 2014 from 15 different locations on the English and French coasts. They looked at sections of DNA called microsatellites, areas of DNA that contain repeating sequences of two to five base pairs, which can be read and can help determine how similar populations are to each other.

They found a mosaic of genetic patterns that could not be explained by the influence of natural or anthropogenic means alone.  Jamie, who is based in the Ecology and Evolution Lab, added: “We found that C. intestinalis from some locations exhibited a shuffling of genetic material, as expected by human-mediated transport, boats can travel further distances than the larvae.

However, unexpectedly some of the populations exhibited the opposite pattern, some populations were not genetically similar, despite there being evidence of artificial transport between these locations - this may be due to natural dispersal or premodern population structure.

Taken together, the authors found dissimilar patterns of population structure in a highly urbanised region that could not be predicted by artificial transport alone. They conclude that anthropogenic activities alter genetic composition of native ranges, with unknown consequences for species' evolutionary trajectories.

The research was conducted by Jamie, under the supervision of Dr Marc Rius from the University of Southampton, and Dr. Frédérique Viard and Charlotte Roby at the Station Biologique de Roscoff, in France. This study was funded by the ANR project HYSEA and the University of Southampton.

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Ten Lowest Figures for Arctic Sea Ice Cover Measured Over the Last 10 Years

Kuva: Jouni Vainio

|| October 11: 2016 || ά. The average extent of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean in September this year was 04.7 million square kilometres, which is the fifth lowest value measured since records began. All of the lowest levels of the extent of sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean have been recorded during the last ten years. As a result of climate change the thickness of ice in the Arctic Ocean has decreased, and the amount and extent of ice has decreased over many years.

Before 2000, the annual smallest extent of sea ice cover fluctuated between 06.2 to 07.9 million square kilometres. During the last ten years, the extent of the ice cover has fluctuated between 05.4 to 03.6 million square kilometres. The last ten years have also been the ten years that have seen the least ice.
The 03.7 million square kilometres that were measured in September 2012 was the lowest amount of ice recorded so far since records began. "The annual differences are due to normal climate variability, but at the same time the extent of sea ice has been reducing throughout the measurement period.

The change is over 13% a decade", comments Jari Haapala, Head of Unit at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, and he points out that the seas' ice  cover is one of the most important indicators of climate change. Amount of sea ice was also exceptionally low in spring and winter. The ice cover in the Arctic Ocean has been measured precisely since 1979. The most comprehensive information about changes in sea ice come from satellite measurements and these are used to calculate how the area covered by sea ice changes and how it fluctuates over the months and years. The biggest reduction is seen in September when the annual level of ice cover is at its minimum.

Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is formed during the autumn and winter and the ice cover is at its maximum in March. During the spring and summer, the ice cover melts to some extent and the sea ice cover is at a minimum in September. "2016 was in interesting year for researchers into the ice because the
extent of sea ice cover was at a record low in winter and spring too. Observations of the thickness of the ice also showed that the amount of sea ice in the Arctic was exceptionally low that year. However, the summer season in the area was cooler than average and as a result the ice field did not melt as rapidly as forecast", explains Jari Haapala.

The smallest instantaneous extent of ice cover, 04.14 million square kilometres, was measured on September 10. That is the second lowest figure measured since records began. The was a significant formation of new ice during the second half of September, and the average extent of ice cover for September was finally 04.7 million square kilometres This is the fifth lowest value after the years 2012 and 2007.

Further information: Head of Unit, Professor Jari Haapala, tel. +358 (0)40 757 36 21, jari.haapala at

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Ban Ki-moon at The Arctic Circle: The Fate of the Arctic and That of the World are Intertwined

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the Assembly of the Arctic Circle in Reykjavik, Iceland. Image: UN Photo:Rick Bajornas

|| October 09: 2016 || ά. Drawing attention to the melting of the Arctic ice cap, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today underlined the urgency of implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change and the need to help developing countries in their efforts to combat climate change. “The Arctic supports key pillars of the climate system regionally and globally. The fate of the Arctic is tied to the fate of Miami, Mumbai, Shanghai and coastal cities across the world, and so much else of course,” said Mr. Ban in an address to the Arctic Circle Assembly in Iceland's capital, Reykjavik.

“When the Arctic suffers, the world feels the pain. And when the planet is under assault, the Arctic is likewise a casualty,” he added. Noting that the Arctic region is “ground zero” for climate change, Mr. Ban pointed out that according to scientific research, it is warming more quickly than the rest of planet and that an increase in global temperatures by two degrees Celsius, the upper limit of what the Paris Agreement calls for, could mean a change of four and even five degrees in the Arctic. He also highlighted with the ratification by 79 countries, representing 59 per cent of global emissions, the Paris Agreement would enter into force on November 04 and underscored the importance of its implementation.

“Few expected such swift action. I thank all of you for your contributions to this historic step. Political leaders, scientists, citizens in the street -- all played a role in grasping the gravity of the threat and mobilising to set the world on a safer, more sensible path,” he said. In his address, Mr. Ban also hailed the recent agreement by members of the International Civil Aviation Authority:ICAO on a new global market-based measure to curb carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation and said that it is an important step by Governments, industry and civil society, building on the strong momentum provided by the Paris Agreement.

The Secretary-General further called for reducing short-lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon, which contributes to the rapid warming of snow and ice as well as appealed for more financial resources to help developing countries reduce their emissions and adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change.

The Head of the UN also underlined the importance of indigenous peoples' traditional knowledge systems and said that their contributions will be essential to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals:SDGs as well as in combatting climate change. He urged the Assembly to ensure that indigenous peoples, their rights and their sociocultural contributions, remain central as we address these shared challenges. “We need governments to reach consensus next week in Kigali on a critically important amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which will phase down hydrofluorocarbons.'' he said, adding: “This could help prevent up to half a degree of warming by the end of the century.”

Also today, Secretary-General Ban spoke at a seminar commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Summit between US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, which despite of failing to achieve its goals, provided a path that ultimately led to the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty:INF, eliminating all American and Soviet intermediate and shorter-range ground-based missiles.

“Thirty years later, Reykjavik's lessons have never been more relevant,” said Mr. Ban in his remarks. “As difficult as the international situation is today, current tensions fall well short of what President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev faced during the Cold War.” Expressing concern at the resurgence of “Cold War ghosts,” the UN chief also noted that the world faces serious challenges in arms control and disarmament as well as non-state actors seeking to procure nuclear materials.

“So my message to world leaders today is clear: Let us summon the spirit of Reykjavik,” he said and emphasized: “Our common aspirations for peace, human rights and sustainable development require us to find a new paradigm for sustainable security without reliance on weapons of mass destruction. And we need to put those ideas into action. In policies, in legislation, in treaties and in the real world.”  Further today, he held meetings today with Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson, President of Iceland, and with Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, the country's Prime Minister.

According to a readout issued by Mr. Ban's office, the Secretary-General congratulated Iceland for its ratification of the Paris Agreement and encouraged it to establish a mechanism to oversee the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Secretary-General and the two leaders also agreed on the responsibility for UN Member States to implement the commitments made during the recent UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, in particular the need to make addressing root causes of displacement a priority.

Also today, Secretary-General Ban held a joint press conference with Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iceland.

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International Vote Marks the Turning Point for Elephants: ZSL

Image: ZSL

|| October 08: 2016 || ά. Conservationists from the Zoological Society of London:ZSL hailed a potential turning point for Africa’s embattled elephants, as attendees at the CITES CoP17 Wildlife Conference in Johannesburg, on October 03, move to close all global domestic markets linked with poaching of elephants and trade in their ivory. The proposals, originally put forward by a number of African elephant range states last week and supported by ZSL’s conservation experts, were subjected to intense scrutiny by participants in working groups before a revised draft was presented to the assembled Parties for approval earlier today.

The decision means that efforts can now move towards translating these decisions into action on the ground and closing those markets linked to the illicit ivory trade. Commenting on the result, Professor Jonathan Baillie, Director of Conservation Programmes at ZSL, said: “Today’s vote in Johannesburg represents an important moment in turning around the situation around for Africa’s elephants and our delegation played a role in the intense working group discussions that helped to enable this outcome.

The ongoing existence of unregulated domestic ivory markets is without doubt a major factor fuelling the escalating elephant slaughter across Africa’s savannah and forests, so any effort of this magnitude to tackle the problem must be applauded. In the last 12 months, we have seen two of the world’s largest domestic ivory markets, USA and China, commit to near-closure.

The UK also recently committed to place additional restrictions on its own domestic ivory market and led efforts at CITES in Johannesburg to secure this proposal. We welcome the UK Government’s initiative and leadership on this topic and encourage it to move forward quickly to make good its commitment to close its domestic ivory market.

Achieving consensus at CITES between so many different Parties, many of whom have very different perspectives on this complex issue, means that compromises have to be made on all sides. The decision means that efforts can now move towards translating these decisions into action on the ground and closing those markets linked to the illicit ivory trade. ZSL strongly believes that all domestic ivory markets inherently pose a risk for illegal trade.”

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Countries Back ICAO's Landmark Framework to Curb Aviation Emissions

Image: NASA

|| October 06: 2016 || ά. Member States of the United Nations civil aviation agency agreed today on a new emissions standard to control global greenhouse gas emissions from international airline flights.“It has taken a great deal of effort and understanding to reach this stage, and I want to applaud the spirit of consensus and compromise demonstrated by our member States, industry and civil society,” remarked Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, the Council President of the International Civil Aviation Organisation:ICAO, adding: “We now have practical agreement and consensus on this issue backed by a large number of States who will voluntarily participate in the global market-based measure and from its outset.”

According to the agency, the standard, or Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation:CORSIA, serves as a positive and sustainable contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Aimed at curbing the growing climate impact of plane travel, it calls for international aviation to address and offset its emissions through the reduction of emissions elsewhere, outside of the international aviation sector. Further, the new standard is designed to complement the basket of mitigation measures the air transport community is already pursuing to reduce CO2 emissions from international aviation, including, technical and operational improvements and advances in the production and use of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation.

It is now up the agencies members to implement the agreement. ICAS says implementation of the aviation carbon dioxide standard will begin with a pilot phase from 2021 through 2023, followed by a first phase, from 2024 through 2026. Participation in these early stages will be voluntary. With the subsequent phases, from 2027 to 2035, ICAO would like all of its members to implement the standard.

Some exemptions were accepted for least developed countries:LDCs, small island developing States:SIDS, landlocked developing countries:LLDCs and States with very low levels of international aviation activity. Earlier this year UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed ICAO's proposal of the first binding limits on emissions from the aviation industry, saying that carbon emissions from aviation are growing rapidly, with the number of flights worldwide expected to double in the next 15 years.

The decision by ICAO member States comes just as the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change has crossed the final threshold that will trigger its implementation within 30 days: late yesterday, the latest instruments of ratification were accepted in deposit, boosting the number of countries backing the accord to those representing more than 55 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions, as needed for implementation.

The Montreal-based ICAO works with 191 member States and industry groups to reach consensus on international standards, practices and policies for the civil aviation sector.

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As Carbon Dioxide Levels Hit 15 Million Year High the UN Urges Action to Curb Greenhouse Gas Emissions

A massive, over seven-metre-high balloon, representing one tonne of carbon dioxide, CO2. Image: UN Photo:Mark Garten

|| September 30: 2016 || ά. The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction:UNISDR urged world leaders to take note of the profound implications of record-high carbon dioxide readings this month and appealed for their increased commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “It is deeply disturbing to learn that global levels of 400 parts per million have now been reached in September for the first time.” said Robert Glasser, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, in a press release yesterday.

“The last time CO2 levels were this high was 15 to 20 million years ago,” he added. According to Mr. Glasser, the lowest levels are traditionally recorded in September, which translates to the unlikelihood of seeing levels below 400 parts per million for the foreseeable future. “We know that the safe level is well below this,” he continued. “It also means that we are systematically raising levels of disaster risk for future generations and we can expect more severe weather events in the years ahead.

Climate disasters already account for 90 per cent of all devastations caused by natural hazards, potentially catastrophic, especially for low and middle-income countries that contribute little to greenhouse gas emissions but have huge populations exposed to drought, floods and storms.

“Much more vigorous action is necessary for a reasonable chance of limiting global warming to two degrees C while the Paris Agreement recognises that limiting global warming to 01.5 degrees C rather than two degrees C would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change," the Special Representative concluded.

UNISDR serves as the focal point for disaster reduction coordination between the UN and regional organizations. Its work is applied to climate change adaptation; building disaster-resilient cities, schools and hospitals; and strengthening the international system for DRR.

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The Tale of A Plastic Ocean: The Cost That Just Does Not Kill the Ocean But Comes Back to Our Plates 

|| September 30: 2016 || ά. An eye-popping film about plastic pollution featuring environmental science pioneered at Brunel University is up for a leading industry award. A Plastic Ocean is up for best documentary at this week’s Raindance Film Festival. It tells the insidious tale of the millions of tonnes of plastic litter turning the world’s seas into a toxic plastic soup. In it, Ecotoxicology Professor Susan Jobling, explains the hormone-disrupting effects of chemicals linked to plastic pollution. Professor Jobling, Director of Brunel’s Institute of Environment, Health and Societies appears alongside other leading scientists and Sir David Attenborough. The Raindance Film Festival winners will be announced later today.

“It is quite powerful. Shocking even in places,” said researcher Dr Christopher Green, one of the Brunel team of scientific advisors. A Plastic Ocean is produced by BBC Blue Planet producer, Jo Ruxton and told though the eyes of journalist Craig Leeson and free diver, Tanya Streeter. It shows how plastic marine litter harms wildlife, the environment, and potentially human health. A South Pacific islander tells how the pools she swam and fished as a child are contaminated by plastic waste, saying it has ‘destroyed our paradise’.

Brunel got on board as scientific advisors when the team asked Professor Jobling to talk about endocrine disruption and how chemicals associated with plastic can affect the hormone system. In the early 90s, Professor Jobling was one of the first researchers to show chemicals in plastics can mimic the female sex hormones, oestrogens. In the film, she explains how these chemicals can interfere with reproduction and development and their links to hormone related diseases. “Endocrine disruption in aquatic wildlife was pioneered here at Brunel,” Dr Green explained.

An alarming statistic is that 90 per cent of seabirds are likely to have swallowed plastic. Without intervention, by 2050, 99% of sea bird species will have consumed plastic. "I hope it will make people really think about how they use plastics and make them wonder for example if they really need a plastic drinking straw or a single use plastic bottle. I hope it starts to resonate with manufacturers, with industry and government and drives a wave of change towards a more sustainable future. Whatever happens, Brunel will be part of that change, through our innovative multi-disciplinary research."

Professor Jobling, who is researching public attitudes and understanding of plastic pollution with Brunel media sociologist, Lesley Henderson is calling for research into recycling and re-use of plastics. “Only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling,” she said. “We need a new future for plastic.''

Brunel Institute of Environment Health and Societies

Plastic Oceans Foundation

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A Plastic Ocean Fim: No Water, No Life. No Blue, No Green: Dr. Sylvia Earle

|| September 29: 2016 || ά.  A Plastic Ocean Fim: No Water, No Life. No Blue, No Green: Dr. Sylvia Earle. A Plastic Ocean is a new feature-length adventure documentary that brings to light the consequences of our global disposable lifestyle. We thought we could use plastic once and throw it away with negligible impact to humans and animals. That turns out to be untrue.

In A Plastic Ocean, an international team of adventurers, researchers, and Ocean ambassadors go on a mission around the globe to uncover the shocking truth about what is truly lurking beneath the surface of our seemingly pristine Ocean. The results will astound viewers–just as it did our adventurers, who captured never-before-seen images of marine life, plastic pollution, and its ultimate consequences for human health.

During its four-year production period, A Plastic Ocean was filmed in 20 locations around the world in beautiful and chilling detail to document the global effects of plastic pollution–and introduce workable technology and policy solutions that can, if implemented in time, change things for the better.

For information about the film, please contact Chelsea Bond Stuart: aplasticoceanscreenings at ω.  

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