Canadian Municipalities Take Protective Climate Action
OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada, November 18, 2002 (ENS) - Canadas Ministers of the
Environment and Natural Resources congratulated the city of Iqaluit and
the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Friday as the capital city of
the Nunavut Territory became the 100th Canadian municipal government to
participate in a national effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions - the
Partners for Climate Protection Program.
When Iqaluit, a city
some 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle, announced that it would join
the program, it completed the list of Canadas capital cities. Now
all provincial and territorial capitals from St. Johns to Victoria,
are participating in the Partners for Climate Protection Program (PCP).
Iqaluit Mayor John
Matthews said, Climate change is significantly impacting our
community, causing permafrost thawing that damages buildings, roads and pipelines,
and is disrupting wildlife and hunting, important elements of our
economy. Through our participation in PCP, we want to take steps to
address energy consumption by developing an action plan to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions.
David Anderson, who is fighting Canada's oil and gas industry on behalf
of the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions, is
pleased that the municipalities are demonstrating to their residents and
to the country that curbing emissions does not mean an economic downturn.
gas capture to electricity cogeneration projects to urban planning, they
are showing that we can take actions that are effective both
environmentally and economically," he said.
municipal governments representing half of Canadas population are
now involved in this program that shows Canadas municipal
governments and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities are determined
to be among the leaders in taking action on climate change," he said.
By joining the PCP,
municipal governments commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from
their operations to 20 percent below 1990 levels within 10 years, and
community wide emissions by six percent below 1990 levels. The Kyoto
Protocol would require Canada as a whole to cut its emissions six percent
below 1990 levels.
Canada has signed the
protocol, but has not yet ratified it. The protocol will not take effect
until it is ratified by 55 percent of the nations responsible for at
least 55 percent of the total carbon dioxide emissions for 1990. Because
the United States has dropped out of the process, Canada's ratification
is considered crucial to the agreement's entry into force.
The Federation of
Canadian Municipalities supports ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Federation
president Calgary Alderman John Schmal said Friday, PCP is
successfully partnering with municipalities and proving its value in
stimulating strong local action to address climate change, protect the
environment, achieve cost savings, and improve quality of life.
committed to helping municipal governments find new ways to use resources
wisely and improve services through the Climate Change Action Fund,"
said Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal. "We are supporting
municipal government leaders as they strengthen communities and tackle
the climate change challenge."
Through the Climate
Change Action Fund, the government of Canada is contributing C$750,000
(US$472,000) over three years to the Partners for Climate Protection
* * *
Bomb Conference Set for March 2003
WASHINGTON, DC, November 18, 2002 (ENS) - The United States, Russia and the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will jointly sponsor a three
day, international convention on radiological dispersal devices, or
"dirty bombs," next March in Vienna, the U.S. Department of
Energy (DOE) has announced.
Conference on Promoting the Security of Radiological Materials will be
open to all member countries of the IAEA to join together in addressing
threats posed by dirty bombs, DOE said.
weapons usable material should be the highest priority for the IAEA and
its member countries," U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said. "However,
the organization also needs to seek ways to formally expand its scope to
deal with the dangers posed by lower grade nuclear materials. Working
with [IAEA] Director General El Baradei and our counterparts in Russia,
this conference is a first step to expanding those efforts."
Abraham proposed the
conference two months ago while attending the IAEA's 46th General
Conference in Vienna.
Addressing the new
and present threats posed by dirty bombs and their potential use for
terror is vital to America's homeland security and international security.
instructions on how to make dirty bombs found in Al Qaeda's caves make
horrifyingly clear our need to have a firm plan to reduce the
vulnerability of dangerous radiological materials to acquisition by those
seeking to use them as weapons," Abraham said.
Topics of discussion
for the conference will likely cover four major themes: 1) recovering and
securing high-risk, poorly controlled radioactive sources; 2)
strengthening long-term regulatory control of radiological materials; 3)
interdicting illicit trafficking/border controls; and 4) RDD scenarios,
possible consequences, mitigation strategies, and emergency response.
Dispersal Devices, or dirty bombs, are much simpler to make and use than
weapons, which require scarce, highly enriched uranium and plutonium for
their destructive capabilities, dirty bombs can be made using many
different types of dangerous radiological material," Secretary
Abraham said. "While dirty bombs are not comparable to nuclear
weapons in destructiveness, they are far easier to assemble and
In June, the U.S.,
Russia, and the IAEA established a tripartite working group on
"Securing and Managing Radioactive Sources." This group is
developing a coordinated strategy to locate, recover, secure, and recycle
orphan radiological sources throughout the Former Soviet Union.
* * *
African Forest Wasted by Logging
MONROVIA, Liberia, November 18, 2002 (ENS) - The Liberian rainforest is
threatened by destructive logging operations, according to the first
Liberian nongovernmental report on the forest industry released by La
Fondation pour la Sauvegarde de lAvenir (SAMFU)in September. This
Liberian nongovernmental organization was founded in 1987, but remained
dormant during most of the 1990s because of the civil war in Liberia.
The last two blocks
of continuous tropical rainforest subsisting in the Upper Guinea forest
in West Africa, are to be found in Liberia, the group says. The Upper
Guinean forest, recognized as one of the 25 hot spots for world
biodiversity, forms a belt of fragmented forests along the West African
coast across 10 countries from Guinea to Cameroon.
Between 1997 and
2001, SAMFU reports, the production of roundwood increased over 1,300
percent with enormous impact on indigenous rural communities and the
local population, whose means of subsistence came from the land and the
forest. "Their cultural and spiritual practices depend so closely on
the forest that, with its rapid disappearance, the survival and growth of
such communities are seriously threatened," SAMFU says.
The Upper Guinean
forest has lost 12.7 percent of its initial area, about 727,900 square
kilometres, some 45 percent of it in Liberia, SAMFU estimates. The
Liberian forest is inhabited by many native plants and animals found
nowhere else. It is a unique ecological niche for some of the world's
The Upper Guinean
forest contains 551 different species of mammals and half the known
species of mammals of the African continent. It is among the regions with
the highest degree of priority for the conservation of primates, and a
priority zone for conservation of world biodiversity.
"We would like
to stress that we do not oppose forestry development," SAMFU states
in its report. What the group condemns are the unsustainable practices of
the forest industry "and the lack of respect of the laws."
SAMFU concludes that
the volume of wood produced, given up or wasted to build bridges, some
which are replaced almost every year, is not viable. The
"anarchistic" cutting of logs without preliminary suitable
inventory, and the wasting of wood, must be discouraged, the group said.
The clearing of
hundreds of acres of forest belts, for the construction of forest camps
and cargo loading areas is "one of the most harmful practices of the
forest industry," SAMFU said.
with the bulldozer of several kilometers of dense forest to build short
cuts (roads) in order to deliver logs in haste to various ports must also
The research team
also reported on the existence of dangerous and unsustainable development
practices. The inhabitants of some regions told researchers that the
militia of some logging companies had harassed them and attempted to put
pressure on them.
These results also
showed the need for more exhaustive research on the logging industry. For
this reason the Campaign to Save the Liberian Forest and Respect
Liberia's Human Rights, was launched to carry out a more detailed
investigation on the activities of logging companies in Liberia.
The group urged the
Liberian government "to take immediate measures" to settle the
environmental questions raised in its report. The Liberian forest agency
must be more vigilant about law enforcement and must require payment from
the logging companies, SAMFU said.
The report is in
La destruction silencieuse de la forκt pluviale du Liberia" is online at: http://www.forestsmonitor.org/reports/plunder/pillage.pdf
* * *
Tannery Protesters Charged with Rioting
VELLORE, Tamilnadu, India, November 18, 2002 (ENS) - Eight people, including
environmental activists and local residents of Vellore, have been charged
with rioting and illegal assembly for participating in a demonstration
outside the Vellore Collectorate Thursday.
The protesters were
demanding action to address pollution from tanneries that has
contaminated groundwater, ruined a river and devastated agriculture in
the area. Vellore has one of the largest clusters of leather tanneries in
activists from Greenpeace and Pasumai Thaayagam [Green Motherland], local
residents and school children from Ramakrishna School and Vidyalaya in
Vellore, put up a human chain outside the office of Collector Mohan Das
to dramatize the sufferings of residents due to environmental pollution
from the leather tanneries.
A Common Effluent
Treatment Plant set up to treat the effluents from the tanneries has
failed to mitigate the pollution beause of the inherent limitations of
the technology, Greenpeace says.
Recently, the Supreme
Court of India ordered relief for the pollution-impacted communities and
remediation of the environment. But damage assessment and remediation has
not taken place.
On November 12,
activists from Greenpeace and Pasumai Thaayagam blocked the outlet of a
Common Effluent Treatment Plant that has failed to alleviate the
On Thursday, the
activists sought an audience with Das so that the assembled school
children and residents could present their memoranda. The collector
offered to come outside and receive the petition, and the activists were
taken to the collector by uniformed policemen in the presence of the
activists have been charged with rioting and illegal assembly. "These
charges are totally bizarre as there was no violence and no unruly
mob," said a spokesman for the protesters. In the wee hours of
Friday morning, the principals of the two schools were arrested. The
principals were released later that day.
reflect an unwillingness on the part of the administration to countenance
any democratic demand for justice and a clean environment, and expose the
dictatorial manner in which they are prepared to use police force to
intimidate residents and avoid addressing pressing environmental
problems," the protesters said in a statement.
* * *
Development as It Impacts Tribal Peoples
NAIROBI, Kenya, November 18, 2002 (ENS) - New dam construction, mining and
road development plans should only be approved after assessments of their
impacts on the lives and cultures of indigenous peoples, the head of the
United Nations's environment agency today told an audience of native
peoples from Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific.
executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), told delegates
to the 4th International Conference of the International Alliance of
Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests that new
construction and development projects are no longer allowed without an
evaluation of their environmental impacts.
He said the same
legally binding standards should be applied to the impact of these
projects on the lifestyles and cultures of indigenous peoples, not in
respect of nostalgia but as an "economic imperative."
carried out by UNEP in collaboration with other UN agencies, academics
and local people, have found a firm link between cultural and linguistic
diversity and biodiversity.
"If you look at
languages, you can see the links," said Toepfer. "On a global
level we have less than 7,000 languages and of those up to 2,500 are on
the Red List of endangered languages. If you correlate this to
biodiversity, the wealth of animal and plant life on the planet, you see
that where you are losing cultural diversity, you are losing
biodiversity, and visa versa," he told the conference.
Toepfer said the
wealth of animal and plant life nurtured by indigenous, tribal and local
peoples "for generations, for ages" is a treasure trove of
potentially promising new drugs, crops and industrial products.
Many of these
cultures and their indigenous knowledge are being lost, partly as a
result of the globalization of trade, of the media, and the rising
dominance of western or northern style values and traditions.
developments such as dams, mining camps and insensitive tourism projects
either force indigenous communities from their lands or by bring their
cultures into conflict with foreign ones.
Toepfer declared his
support for Alliance's demand that cultural damage be assessed as a
condition of development.
"The more we
lose diversity, both culturally and in the natural world, the more we run
the risk of instability, the possibility of disasters such as crop
failures and basic knowledge on coping with natural disasters such as
drought," said Toepfer.
local people and tribes have, for millenia, developed strategies and
methods for surviving in often harsh, sometimes, low rainfall areas. These
have allowed them to grow crops and graze livestock without sacrificing
the fertility and stability of the land. We must give this knowledge and
the genetic resources so carefully nurtured by indigenous people our
respect and an economic value," he said.
delegates that UNEP plans to further these issues at the next meeting of
its Governing Council set for Nairobi in February 2003.
* * *
Shepherd Launches First Vegan Anti-Whaling Campaign
MALIBU, California, November 18, 2002 (ENS) - In December 2002, Sea Shepherd
Conservation Society will embark on a campaign to oppose the Japanese
whaling fleet in Antarctica.
New Zealand on December 4, Captain Paul Watson will take the Sea
Shepherds ship the "Farley Mowat" and 45 volunteers on a
two month long voyage across the icy waters of Antarctica's Southern
Ocean in an attempt stop the slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean
The crew of the
Farley Mowat will be the first completely vegan crew to voyage to the
Southern continent, says Watson. "I don't want to hear the same
tired old argument from the Japanese about how whale-savers eat cows but
save whales," he said.
say there is no difference between whales and cows," argued Watson. "There
are of course, plenty of differences, and the most important difference
is that the Antarctic Minke whale is an endangered species, as listed by
the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species. (CITES).
"However, if the
Japanese see us as hypocrites for eating meat from cows and not from
whales, we have effectively removed this charge of hypocrisy by declaring
the Farley Mowat as a meat free zone."
A vegan (pronounced
VEE-gun) is someone who avoids using or consuming animal products. While
vegetarians avoid flesh foods, vegans also avoid dairy and eggs, as well
as fur, leather, wool, down, and cosmetics or chemical products tested on
The Sea Shepherd
Conservation Society has always made vegan and vegetarian meals available
to the crews of its various ships. Still, meat has been available to
non-vegans and vegetarians in the past, although the organization has had
a policy of not serving fish.
Watson says he and
members of the Sea Shepherd Society are concerned that "some 50
percent of fish taken from the sea is utilized as food for farm
animals." Fishmeal is used to raise chickens, cows, pigs, and
salmon. Large quantities of tuna is fed to domestic cats.
"With our oceans
dying, with numerous fish species on the brink of extinction, with the
proliferation of PCB's, mercury, and other heavy metals polluting the
world's fish, it is time for humanity to question this horrendous
destruction," Watson says. The Sea Shepherd crew intends to
exemplify this concern by adopting an exclusively vegan diet for its
While the Japanese
maintain they are taking a self imposed quota of 440 minke whales under
the scientific research provisions of the International Whaling
Commission regulations, Watson calls their whaling activities illegal.
He says, "These
whalers will be breaking laws that govern whaling by the International
Whaling Commission, International Laws of the Sea, Antarctic
Environmental Protection Act, The Convention of Antarctic Marine Living
Resources, and The World Charter for Nature."
* * *
Algal Blooms Meet Their Viral Match
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, November 18, 2002 (ENS) - A team of international scientists
has discovered a weapon to combat the pest algae species Phaeocystis
globosa that has attacked the North Sea coast each spring and summer for
The slimy colonies
can be up to one centimeter (.39 inches) in size and contain tens of thousands
of brown algal cells. Strong winds whip the slime into foam resulting in
a thick, stinking mess on the beaches. Slime remaining in the water
blocks the gills of fish, shellfish, and herbivorous plankton.
A three year
international study under the leadership of the Netherlands Institute for
Sea Research has found that as soon as the pest algae runs out of
nutrients, viruses attack and abruptly end the algal bloom.
investigated how viruses influence the growth of the pest algae. During
the period of rapid growth, the algae scarcely seemed susceptible to
viruses. But once the supply of phosphate and nitrate has been depleted,
the algae weaken.
In particular, what
the scientists described as "free-living, non-colonizing cells"
appear to be highly susceptible to viruses.
The cells in the
slime forming colonies initially suffer less at first. Still, in the end
the lack of nutrients ensures that these colonies also fall apart and
viruses can kill them within days.
which always graze on the algae, help the viruses in their destructive
Harmful algal blooms
occur in many European marine waters and have increased in frequency as
nutrient input from land in the form of agricultural fertilizers and
sewage outfall has increased.
foresee possibilities for controlling harmful algal blooms with the help
of viruses. But this will only be possible in isolated areas, for example
in fiords or in rearing areas for oysters. The spreading of viruses along
the entire North Sea coast would be met with a barrage of practical and
ethical objections, the researchers acknowledge.