The New Normal: Extreme Weather, Rising Temperatures, Higher Emission Rates & Inconclusive Climate Talks

In spite of firm words from Ban Ki-Moon to revive deadlocked global climate change talks that “extreme weather is the new normal and it poses a threat to the human race”, the results of two week’s work at Doha by hundreds of politicians, diplomats and civil servants, produced little more than a decision to delay the inevitable. Maybe what the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) plans in its Low-Carbon Society (LCS) Blueprint for Malaysia is a better way for countries to agree themselves to cut emissions. Read More

Reuters report (9 December 2012):

Following are major decisions by almost 200 nations at U.N. meeting on climate change in Doha, Qatar, November 26 to December 7:


The conference agreed to an eight-year extension to 2020 of the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding U.N. pact for combating global warming.

It now obliges about 35 industrialised countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions by an average of at least 5.2 percent below 1990 levels during the period 2008-12. Nations will pick their own targets for 2020.

But backers of Kyoto will dwindle from 2013 to a group including the European Union, Australia, Ukraine, Switzerland and Norway. Together they account for less than 15 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions.

Others of the original Kyoto group — Russia, Japan and Canada — are pulling out, saying that it is time for big emerging economies led by China and India to join in setting targets for limiting their surging emissions.

The United States signed but never ratified Kyoto, arguing that it would cost U.S. jobs and wrongly omitted goals for developing nations. Developing nations have insisted on keeping Kyoto as a sign that rich nations are leading.

Under Saturday’s extension, there will be a possibility for tightening targets in 2014. The European Union, for instance, has promised cuts of at least 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.


Countries laid out a timetable for working on a new global deal, due to be agreed in 2015 and to enter into force from 2020 that would apply to all nations. Kyoto now only sets targets for industrialised nations.

Negotiations would be split into two “work streams” – one looking at actions to combat climate change from 2020 and another to look into how to step up ambition before 2020

They agreed to hold a first session of talks from April 29 to May 2, 2013, in Bonn, Germany, perhaps another in September 2013, and at least two sessions in 2014 and two in 2015.

The talks are named the “Durban Platform” after the South African city that hosted talks last year where the new push for a global deal from 2020 was decided.


The conference stopped short of obliging developed nations, facing austerity at home, to give a timetable about how they would achieve a promised tenfold increase in aid to $100 billion a year by 2020.

The text “encourages developed country parties to further increase their efforts to provide resources of at least to the average annual level of the (2010-12) period for 2013-15.” It would extend work on identifying new sources of funds by another year.

Developed nations agreed at a summit in 2009 to give developing nations $10 billion a year in aid to help them adapt to a changing climate for 2010-12. They also set a separate goal of $100 billion for 2020 but did not say what would happen from 2013-19.


The meeting agreed ways to address rising losses for developing countries from the impacts of climate change, ranging from droughts to a gradual rise in sea levels.

It decided to set up new arrangements to address loss and damage, including perhaps a new international mechanism at a next meeting in 2013. The text includes no promise of new cash.

Delegates said that the United States was the most adamant that any new project would not be in addition to a $100 billion funds promised from 2020 to help the poor.



Extreme weather the ‘new normal’, UN chief says

Sydney Morning Herald (5 December 2012):

Extreme weather is the new normal and poses a threat to the human race, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday as he sought to revive deadlocked global climate change talks.

Ban’s intervention came as efforts to agree a symbolic extension of the U.N. Kyoto Protocol, a treaty that obliges about 35 developed nations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions until the end of 2012, looked to be faltering.

In a speech to almost 200 nations meeting in Doha to try to get a breakthrough, Ban said a thaw in Arctic sea ice to record lows this year, superstorms and rising sea levels were all signs of a crisis.

“The abnormal is the new normal,” he told delegates at the November 26-December 7 talks. He said signs of change were apparent everywhere and “from the United States to India, from Ukraine to Brazil, drought (has) decimated essential global crops”.

“No one is immune to climate change – rich or poor. It is an existential challenge for the whole human race – our way of life, our plans for the future,” he said.

The failure to agree a Kyoto extension is blocking efforts to lay the foundations of a new global U.N. deal that is meant to be agreed in 2015 and to enter into force from 2020.

At the last attempt in 2009, a summit in Copenhagen failed to agreed a global deal to succeed Kyoto. Kyoto requires countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2 per cent below 1990 levels from 2008 to 2012.

“A blank slate”

Robert Stavins, director of Harvard University’s environmental economics programme, said there was some hope that an accord could be struck in 2015 despite past setbacks.

“It’s a blank slate and there is always hope for long-term happiness,” he said, likening the situation to somebody seeking a new romance after being twice divorced.

Ban said that Kyoto was a valuable model even though Russia, Japan and Canada are pulling out, leaving a group led by the European Union and Australia that account for only 15 per cent of world greenhouse gas emissions.

The defectors say Kyoto is no longer relevant because emerging nations led by China and India will have no targets to curb their soaring emissions from 2013. And the United States, the second biggest emitter behind China, never ratified Kyoto.

Ban also said that rich nations should step up aid to help the poor cope with climate change after a $10-billion-a-year funding programme promised for 2010-12 runs out.



In Doha, Malaysia pushes low-carbon blueprint

Bikya Masr Staff (3 December 2012):

Iskander Malaysia pushes low-carbon blueprint in Doha.

DOHA: Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) has launched the Iskandar Malaysia Low-Carbon Society (LCS) Blueprint in a bid to reduce the economic corridor’s carbon intensity emissions by 50 percent once it reaches maturity in 2025.

“It is a message to the world that Iskandar Malaysia and Malaysia have its ways of contributing to a better environment now and the future,” said IRDA’s chief executive, Datuk Ismail Ibrahim.

Ismail, who launched the Blueprint as a side event at the 18th session of the Conference of Parties (COP18) here last Friday, said: “We will start implementing the 12 Actions outlined in the blueprint during the first quarter of 2013.”

“While we are going through the process of economic development with physical development, at the same time we shall continue with our commitment to preserve the environment,” he said.

He said environmental issue was one of the topics that always cropped up during his engagements with investors and potential investors, especially foreign multinationals and foreign investors.

“They always asked what Iskandar Malaysia is doing with regard to protecting the environment while it continues to experience economic growth.

“That question is a clear signal that investors today and in the future always look for a balance between growth and the need to protect the environment, he said.

Ismail said the multinationals and investors wanted to embrace the investment that would run in tandem with the need to protect the environment, and what were being done in Iskandar Malaysia were actually something that supported that agenda.

The blueprint is a result of a joint effort between Japan and Malaysia, which started in July 2011.

The project, Development of Low-Carbon Society Scenarios for Asian Regions, was initiated by the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS).

Sponsored by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the project brought together a team of multi-disciplinary researchers from Kyoto University, the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), Okayama University and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) with a view to define Low-Carbon Society (LCS) visions and crafting a roadmap towards LCS at the national and city-regional level.

The project will showcase best practices in LCS for the Asian Regions and will therefore benefit not only Iskandar Malaysia and Malaysia, but also the Asian regions.

It is a hands-on project where researchers and government officials of Asian countries work together in implementing research output within the cities or regions involved, leading to the eventual establishment of an Asian Low-Carbon Society network.

It is in line with Malaysia’s voluntary commitment to reduce the country’s carbon intensity by up to 40 per cent by year 2020 (based on 2005 levels) and the research project began with a pilot study of Iskandar Malaysia.

“Although it is still early days, our research teams have already started some initial programmes such as the pilot project for Low-Carbon Village at Felda Taib Andak in Iskandar Malaysia, the use of CASBEE tools to assess Iskandar Malaysia’s regional environmental performance and the launching of Iskandar Malaysia Smart City Framework,” said Ismail.

He said the Blueprint, with its 12 Actions and its 300 plus programmes, must be implemented in a timely and proactive manner by all, and IRDA, as the regional authority, would play a lead role in ensuring that the Actions were carried out.

“UTM and our research partners from Japan will continue to play key roles in the implementation of these Actions, in which they are the main instigators,” he said.

Professor Dr Ho Chin Song, the project manager of Malaysia/Japan Joint Research project for Development of Low-Carbon Society Scenarios for Asian Regions, said UTM would be the hub for training and Iskandar Malaysia is the test bed for low-carbon technologies and policies that could be implemented in other Asian countries.

He said Low-Carbon Asia Research Centre has already been set up in UTM and would train Asian urban managers to understand how a low-carbon society works.

He said Iskandar Malaysia Low-Carbon Society Blueprint was the first of its kind to guide or transform a region into a low-carbon area.


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