Climate Change news updates: 31 October, 2013

1 October 2013
Climate Change News Updates

1. India among world economies at risk of climate change impact
India is among the “extreme risk” countries of the world where economic impacts of climate change will be most keenly felt by 2025, according to new research released on Wedesday.
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/environment/global-warming/india-among-world-economies-at-risk-of-climate-change-impact/articleshow/24938473.cms

2. Climate Change Alters Timing Of Spring Growth In Forests
In a recently published study, researchers at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) investigated 36 tree and shrub species. Their work delivered a surprising result, as lead author Julia Laube explains: “Contrary to previous assumptions, the increasing length of the day in spring plays no big role in the timing of budding. An ample ‘cold sleep’ is what plants need in order to wake up on time in the spring.”
http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112989042/climate-change-alters-timing-spring-growth-in-forests-103013/

3. US ends most financing of overseas coal projects
The United States has said it would end most financing of coal projects overseas, taking a potentially significant step to curbing carbon emissions blamed for climate change.
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international-business/us-ends-most-financing-of-overseas-coal-projects/articleshow/24950145.cms

4. These Countries Face The Biggest Threats From Climate Change
The expected costs of climate change are painting a grimmer and grimmer picture of the future for people around the world.
In its sixth annual Climate Change Vulnerability Index, risk consultancy firm Maplecroft revealed the countries most likely to suffer from the effects of warming climates by 2025.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/30/climate-change-vulnerability-index-countries-impacts-costs_n_4174938.html

5. Climate Change Destroyed the Bible’s Ancient Kingdoms, Study Finds
Between 1250 and 1100 B.C.E., all the great civilizations of the eastern Mediterranean – pharaonic Egypt, Mycenaean Greece and Crete, Ugarit in Syria and the large Canaanite city-states – were destroyed, ushering in new peoples and kingdoms including the first Kingdom of Israel. Now scientists are suggesting a climatic explanation for this great upheaval: A long dry period caused droughts, hunger and mass migration. Such is the conclusion of a three-year study published this week in Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University.
http://jewishvoiceny.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5653:climate-change-destroyed-the-bibles-ancient-kingdoms-study-finds&catid=96:business&Itemid=279

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Climate change news Updates: 30 October, 2013

30 October 2013: Climate Change News updates:

1. Accelerating Rate Of Climate Change Will Challenge Farmers
Climate change is forcing farmers to adapt, but the accelerating rate of change will present bigger challenges to food production. That was one of the messages conveyed during a day long symposium at the Vermont Law School sponsored by the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law last week.
http://digital.vpr.net/post/symposium-accelerating-rate-climate-change-will-challenge-farmers

2. Lessons on adapting to climate change
Representatives from 20 cities from  across South Asia will come together in Kochi on Wednesday to learn from each other on the issue of adaptation to climate change at the seminar on  Asian Cities Adapt: Learning Exchange, co-organised by ICLEI South Asia and Kochi Corporation. The two-day workshop, will present an impressive line-up of high-level local representatives from India, the Philippines, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal, who will discuss solutions on how cities can adapt to climate change, together with climate experts and other practitioners from India, Southeast Asia and Europe. The civic representatives from other cities include Male city (Maldives) Mayor Maizan Ali Manik, Mongla Mayor Zulfikar Ali, and Singra (Bangladesh) Mayor Shamim Al Razi, and Shimla Deputy Mayor Tikender S Panwar.
http://newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/Lessons-on-adapting-to-climate-change/2013/10/30/article1863114.ece

3. Indonesians Unaware of Climate Change
A new survey has revealed that information on climate change is failing to reach people who are most prone to the environmental changes in Indonesia. BBC Media Action which launched Survey Climate Asia said that the survey, which studied how people deal with effects of climate change, found campaigns related to the global phenomenon did not reach suburban areas in Indonesia and that they failed to inform the public on how to adapt to the changes they were facing. The survey involved more than 33,500 respondents in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam.
http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/indonesians-unaware-of-climate-change/

4. Climate change may make coastal flooding like Sandy’s more frequent
Beyond coastal flooding events, climate change is leading to other extreme weather patterns. In 2003 and 2004, a series of summer heat waves in Central Europe and Russia took more than 30,000 lives, by some estimates. A 2010 heat wave killed 11,000 in Moscow alone. These are related to rising global land temperatures, as well as decreasing air quality….  http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57609494/climate-change-may-make-coastal-flooding-like-sandys-more-frequent/

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Fukushima Earthquake Sets Off Tsunami Warning in Japan | TIME.com

A 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit near the Fukushima area of Japan on Saturday at 2:10 a.m. local time, the U.S. Geological survey said, according to the Associated Press.  Japan’s emergency agencies have issued a tsunami warning for the region.

Fukushima Earthquake Sets Off Tsunami Warning in Japan | TIME.com.

Freak weather offshoot of climate change: Experts – The Times of India

Intermittent showers in Hyderabad have flummoxed Met officials, while climate change experts said it is increasingly becoming difficult to predict future weather events in the country, considering how ambiguous the weather systems are turning out to be.

via Freak weather offshoot of climate change: Experts – The Times of India.

Only Woman Running for Afghan President Gets Disqualified | TIME.com

Khadija Ghaznawi says she knows exactly how to end the long-simmering conflict in Afghanistan: build more factories. A logistics company owner by profession and peace activist on the side, Ghaznawi says that if the government had been diligent about creating more jobs for Afghans, militants would ha…

via Only Woman Running for Afghan President Gets Disqualified | TIME.com.

Indonesia’s Native species threatened by Climate Change

Indonesia is a nation of 250 million people scattered across hundreds of islands that would be vulnerable to climate change from rising sea levels. But it\’s also a big contributor to the global problem, being among the largest emitters of greenhouse gases after China and the United States.

via Indonesia Forests Dwindle Despite Protection, Spurring Climate Change And Threatening Native Species.

Coral Reefs Fight Climate Change by Impacting Weather and Forming Clouds

\”The characteristic \’smell of the ocean\’ is actually derived from this compound, indicating how abundant the molecule is in the marine environment,\” said Cherie Motti, in a news release. \”In fact we could smell it in a single baby coral.\”

via Coral Reefs Fight Climate Change by Impacting Weather and Forming Clouds.

Press Statement: CAO found IFC made serious lapses in funding Tata coal plant

tatamundra

Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan, Mundra, Kutch, Gujarat, India

Press Statement | October 24, 2013

CAO found IFC made serious lapses in funding Tata coal plant; President Kim rejects expert findings, thwarts further action 

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) broke its own social and environmental rules, says the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) which released an investigation report yesterday. A recourse mechanism for communities affected by private sector projects that the World Bank Group supports, CAO found that IFC committed serious violations of its mandatory safeguards in financing its client, the Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd. (CGPL), which manages the 4,000 megawatt Tata Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project in Kutch, Gujarat.

Stopping short of calling for IFC’s withdrawal from financing the project, the CAO finds that the ‘IFC weaknesses in reviewing the client’s risk assessment and mitigation did not support the formation of a robust view that the project met the IFC’s policy requirements, that IFC did not consider alternative project design to avoid or minimize impacts, and that IFC has not treated complainants’ concerns as compliance issues.’

Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS – Association for the Struggle for Fishworkers’ Rights), the organization of fishing families that filed the complaint at the CAO in June 2011, welcomes the report. “The findings reconfirm the concerns we raised since project construction started,” Dr. Bharat Patel, General Secretary of MASS said. “CAO’s expert findings help bolster our fight to regain the damaged livelihoods of thousands of fishing families in Kutch coast.”

MASS asserted that IFC failed to account fisher people as project-affected people, to adequately assess and mitigate environmental and livelihood impacts, and to comply with mandatory performance standards and national regulations, among others. Dispute resolution attempts did not work, leading CAO in 2012 to do a compliance appraisal, which concluded that MASS complaint merited a full investigation.

In more than one year, CAO embarked on an extensive compliance audit process by hiring external experts, conducting field visits, reviewing relevant reports, and crosschecking with the IFC.

Disturbing findings:

CAO validated major MASS complaints. It found the IFC committed serious supervision failures and significant policy breaches.

CAO confirmed that IFC did not adequately consider in its risk assessments seasonally resident fishing community and religious minority population to be affected by the project, which excluded them from the application of land acquisition standard, biodiversity conservation and other relevant policies to protect them.

CAO confirmed that that IFC committed major shortcomings in fulfilling requirements to manage impacts on airshed and the marine environment. Specifically, the investigation found that IFC did not ensure that its client correctly applied the 1998 WB guidelines for thermal power that restrict a net increase on emissions of particulates or sulfur dioxide within the airshed. On marine environment, CAO found the IFC to have no robust baseline data on project impacts to marine resources, which constrained it from monitoring marine impacts.

CAO also found that IFC has not assured itself that the plant’s seawater cooling system complied with applicable IFC Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Guidelines. This compliance failure risks that thermal plume from the project’s outfall channel will extend into shallow waters and estuaries that pose significant ecological risks on marine resources.

CAO also confirmed the failure of the IFC to conduct an adequate cumulative impact assessment. CAO stressed that IFC should have advised its client that environmental and social risks emerging from the project’s proximity and relationship with Mundra Port and Special Economic Zone should have been assessed by a third party, with mitigation measures developed.

CAO concluded that IFC’s review and adoption of its client’s reports are not robust to ensure the Performance Standards and supervision requirements are met.

IFC rejects findings, backs up the client

An eleven-page response written by Anita George and Willian Balmer, IFC’s Asia-Pacific Director for Infrastructure and Natural Resources and Director for Environment and Social Governance, respectively dismissed CAO findings. Essentially, they rejected expert findings, defended their project decision and their client and issued no remedial action. After a month of silence, World Bank President Kim cleared management response.

Dr. Kim, a physician by trade, was known for championing public health before joining the Bank. Yet, his approval on the IFC response presents a severe diversion from his typical advocacy. With the decision, thousands of fishing and fishworker families will continue to suffer from air pollution, contaminated water and destroyed marine resources that CAO found to be directly linked with the construction and operation of Tata coal plant. CAO found that this wide range of problems is attributed to IFC. Kim, instead of addressing the findings, stood by his IFC staff and their client, Coastal Gujarat Power Limited (CGPL), ignoring the plight of fishing communities adversely impacted by the deadly investment.

“By clearing the IFC response, President Kim sends a clear message that he supports his staff’s denial of science, of expert findings and endorses management’s avoidance of accountability,” says Dr. Patel.

President Kim contradicts Bank’s energy strategy and undermines CAO mandate 

“By flatly rejecting the findings of independent audit body, Kim simply revealed a highest form of hypocrisy in his climate stance,” says Soumya Dutta, a member of India Climate Justice and coordinator of the Independent Fact Finding Mission that produced the 2012 Real Cost of Power report that documented the violations of the company.

Dutta adds: “Kim’s endorsement of the management line indicates his real position that coal does not kill and he will continue supporting the deadly coal plants like Tata that are not only disastrous but also facing serious financial issues. It then contradicts the President’s energy directions paper and pronouncements on moving the institution away from coal financing. His tall talk on climate change is proving to be a charade.”

“That Kim approved management’s dismissive reaction reconfirms the lack of public accountability within the IFC,” observes Madhuresh Kumar of National Alliance of People’s Movements that supports MASS. “Kim sends a damaging signal that the World Bank Group’s internal watchdogs like the CAO and the Inspection Panel are more for namesake; and that despite their findings, it is business as usual for the Bank,” adds Madhuresh. “Kim simply undermined all the findings of the CAO in favor of their client. The President’s clearance smacks of arrogance, refusal to learn lessons and disregard to people and their rights.”

“We wonder why an institution like CAO exists if their findings are not given any value and no action is taken upon it,” said Soumya Dutta. “If President Kim is serious about the accountability that he talks about, and about learning from the Bank’s mistakes to prevent them from occurring again, he should take bold decisions based on the findings.’

Communities demand the World Bank President to stop his charade that he can take people for a ride and take bold actions based on the CAO findings. “Now that World Bank’s own investigations found such serious lapses, it is time for the Bank to sit up and take appropriate and immediate actions. We will not agree on anything short of IFC withdrawing financing from the project,” Dr. Patel said.

CAO Audit Report: http://www.cao-ombudsman.org/cases/document-links/documents/TermsofReference_CGPLAudit_October242012.pdf

IFC Response to CAO Audit report: http://www.cao-ombudsman.org/cases/document-links/documents/IFCresponsetoCAOAudit-CoastalGujaratPowerLimited.pdf

Key Observations and Findings of CAO Audit: http://www.bicusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Key-Observations-and-Findings.pdf

Contacts / For Interviews:

Bharat Patel (Mundra, Gujarat): +91-9426469803; Soumya Dutta (Delhi): +91-9213763756; Justin Guay (US): +1-202-664-6460; Jelson Garcia (US): +1-202-802-2995

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Joe Athialy
South Asia Coordinator | Bank Information Center; Post Box No 4659, New Delhi – 110016; +91.9871153775 | jathialy [@] bicusa.org | http://www.bicusa.org; Skype: joeathialy | Twitter: joeathialy

 BIC is an independent, non-profit organization that advocates for the protection of rights, participation, transparency, and public accountability in the governance and operations of the World Bank and other regional development banks