Best of our wild blogs: 28 Nov 14



Small-scale restocking of fluted giant clams in Singapore
from Neo Mei Lin

A Southern Islands’ Tour – Kusu, St John’s and Lazarus
from Remember Singapore

Lesserus Island
from The annotated budak


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Singapore firms 'can take pole position on urban solutions'

Jacqueline Woo The Straits Times AsiaOne 28 Nov 14;

Singapore's growing expertise in the area of devising policies and processes for sustainable urban living could put local firms working in the sector in pole position for contracts overseas, according to Ms Grace Fu, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

Ms Fu told the Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development yesterday that there is "business potential in exporting such solutions to the region and beyond".

She cited the Building and Construction Authority's (BCA) Green Mark Scheme, which has been adopted in Indonesia and China.

"This allows some of our architects and engineers, consulting businesses... to bring their experiences (with the certification framework) out to the region as well," added Ms Fu, who is also the Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.

The BCA Green Mark Scheme was launched in 2005 to recognise best practices in environmental design and performance.

Ms Fu pointed to Singapore's potential role as a "test bed for smart urban solutions", adding that collaborations among the Government, the private sector and research institutions are expected to raise the country's capabilities in domains such as water, energy, mobility and other urban solutions.

The minister also urged businesses to do their part, along with the Government, in ensuring that economic development does not come at the expense of the environment.

"Environmental sustainability has to feature in business decisions and be discussed in boardrooms," she said, noting that the exponential increase of the urban population and global development has come with an "irreversible" impact on the environment.

"(But) companies that understand the environmental impact of their activities derive competitiveness from it," added Ms Fu.

She also said that "a well-executed environmental strategy will bring about stronger consumer branding, better relations with stakeholders and greater readiness for a resource-constrained future".

The three-day forum at Marina Bay Sands, which ends today, was organised by five partners, including Singapore-based media firm Global Initiatives, online publication Eco-Business and the World Wide Fund for Nature Singapore. The Straits Times was an official media partner.

Last night, 10 companies were honoured at the inaugural Sustainable Business Awards in Singapore. The event was organised by Global Initiatives and PricewaterhouseCoopers to recognise companies that have instilled sustainable best practices in their long-term business strategies.

Unilever Asia was crowned overall winner for its robust approach to sustainability and its commitment to enhancing livelihoods, caring for the natural environment and improving health and well-being across its supply chains.

Other winners included telco SingTel for its fair workforce strategy and Loola Adventure Resort in Bintan, which was cited for its commitment to land use, biodiversity and the environment.

Developer City Developments was also recognised for its work in evaluating and measuring the most significant environmental impacts of its work.

- See more at: http://business.asiaone.com/news/spore-firms-can-take-pole-position-urban-solutions#sthash.zSUCc0rX.dpuf


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A car-lite Singapore: How to get there?

Feng Zengkun The Straits Times AsiaOne 27 Nov 14;

A new sustainable blueprint to guide Singapore's development over the next 15 years was launched earlier this month, to create a better home, a better environment and a better future. That better future, however, includes curtailing the dream of many Singaporeans - owning a car.

One priority of the ambitious $1.5 billion Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 is reducing the number of private cars on the roads. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong explained: "We have to rely less on cars on the road, because we can't keep building roads; more roads for more cars."

Roads already make up 12 per cent of land use, compared to housing at 14 per cent.

Fewer vehicles would also reduce land needed for carparks, and improve the quality of life. Air quality, for example, would be better, with fewer polluting emissions from the tailpipes of private cars.

PM Lee said the Government would aim for a "car-lite" Singapore by providing more transport options, such as an expanded MRT network, buses and bicycle paths.

But experts said infrastructure gaps need to be plugged, and, in a country where the car is king, laws and attitudes towards them changed. More is also needed to help people move seamlessly from one form of transport to another more easily.

Beefing up alternatives

Last year, about 63 per cent of trips during peak hours were by public transport such as buses and trains.

Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan recently said that cycling makes up 1 to 2 per cent of transport.

The Government wants public transport to make up 75 per cent of peak-hour trips by 2030, and has outlined plans to achieve this.

From the year 2012 to 2016, it will have added 800 buses to the fleet - a 20 per cent increase - and from last year to 2030 it will have expanded the rail network from 178km to 360km.

It will build an island-wide cycling path network of more than 700km by 2030, including both park connectors and cycling paths in Housing Board towns.

It is also conducting a year-long study to shed light on why and how Singaporeans walk, and what would encourage them to do so more often.

The Economic Development Board and Land Transport Authority (LTA) plan to co-lead a project involving the pooled sharing of electric cars.

While the agencies would say only that the project is in the planning stages, The Straits Times understands the Government had considered rolling out up to 1,000 electric cars under such a scheme as recently as two years ago.

The LTA has said "car sharing can help those who need to use a car for a few hours or over a weekend, and allow convenient access to it without people having to own or maintain one".

The authority will pilot a bicycle-sharing scheme next year, possibly in the city centre and Jurong Lake District.

But transport experts said the devil is in the details.

When three Straits Times reporters rode 180km over three days last October to test cycling paths for commuting, they found snags that could dissuade users.

An 11km stretch that people who live in Ang Mo Kio and Bishan can use to go to work at the Upper Paya Lebar Road factories, for example, had six overhead bridges, three of which did not have ramps. People have to haul their bikes up and down the stairs.

Some park connectors were actually existing pavements, which meant cyclists and pedestrians had to jostle for space.

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy transport researcher Paul Barter said the cycling network needs to be not just comprehensive but also enjoyable and seamless so people can ride almost anywhere efficiently.

"You want people to be able to travel at speeds that let them cover 7km to 8km in half an hour. But it also has to be safe enough for your 10-year-old child," said the adjunct associate professor.


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Indonesia cracks down on deforestation in symbolic u-turn

Indonesia’s new president announces plans to protect rainforest and peatlands, signalling a new direction for country with worst rate of deforestation in the world
Damian Carrington The Guardian 27 Nov 14;

Indonesia’s reforming new president is to crack down on the rampant deforestation and peatland destruction that has made the nation the world’s third largest emitter of climate-warming carbon dioxide.

Joko Widodo signalled the significant change of direction for Indonesia when he joined a local community in Sumatra in damming a canal designed to drain a peat forest. Halting the draining and burning of peatland will also tackle the forest fires which have trebled since 2011 and can pump smoke across the entire region.

Indonesia suffers more deforestation than any other country, including Congo and Brazil where new data shows deforestation is dropping. One study estimated 80% of the deforestation in Indonesia was illegal, with most of it being cleared for palm oil and timber plantations.

During his visit to Sungai Tohor village, in Riau province, Widodo announced a review of plantation company operations: “If they are indeed destroying the ecosystem because of their monoculture plantations, they will have to be terminated. It must be stopped, we mustn’t allow our tropical rainforest to disappear because of monoculture plantations like oil palm.”

Widodo also said he would strengthen legal protection for peatlands, which store massive amounts of carbon and rarely burn if left undisturbed.

“Peatlands can’t be underestimated, they must be protected because they constitute a special ecosystem,” he said. “This [drainage] canal dam is very good and must be made permanent. What’s best is for peatland to be given to the community to be managed for sago [palm starch similar to tapioca]. Community management is usually environmentally friendly, but if it’s given to companies it is turned into monocultures like acacia and oil palm.”

Greenpeace welcomed the move and said it hoped it would lead to better forest and peatland protection in Indonesia, where the campaign group said existing laws are “weak and poorly enforced”.

“Indonesia’s new president has wasted no time stepping into an international leadership role, well timed to position his country ahead of next week’s UN climate negotiations in Lima, Peru,” said Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace’s international executive director.

Indonesian President to review licenses of companies converting peatlands
Antara 27 Nov 14;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Joko Widodo has said he will review the licenses of companies that have converted peatlands into monoculture plantations as they can damage the countrys ecosystem.

"I have told the minister of environment and forestry to review the licenses of the companies that have converted peatlands into monoculture plantations if they are found damaging the ecosystem," he stated in Pekanbaru, Riau, on Thursday.

He noted that during his field inspection in Riau province, he had found sago plantations damaged because of the development of monoculture plantations.

He said the green cover seen from the sky must be verified whether they are tropical rain forests or monoculture plantation forests.

President Joko Widodo has reaffirmed his intention to stop land and forest destruction in various places such as Sumatra and Kalimantan.

To prevent the tropical rain forests in the country from vanishing, we will continue the moratorium on concessions for plantations such as oil palm plantations, he stated.

Environment and forestry minister Siti Nurbaya has hinted that the moratorium on industrial forest concessions will be continued while an evaluation of problematic licenses is carried out.

"License moratorium will continue. No new licenses will be issued with regard to internal evaluation," she emphasized while inspecting the measures to prevent land and forest fires in Pekanbaru, Riau, Sumatra, on Tuesday.

She revealed her office was studying the reports about forest concessionaires that have caused problems as well as concessionaires that have been neglected by concession holders.

She cautioned that the situation could trigger forest fires and encroachment as well as illegal logging.

The Association of Indonesia Forest Concession Holders (APHI) has asked President Joko Widodo to evaluate the benefits of moratorium saying it will not be effective to curb deforestation, especially land and forest fires.

"Thirty-four percent of fire spots from February to March 2014 were found in the forests that are under moratoriums. I wish the government would reveal the map to show the condition of forests before and after imposing moratoriums. We must not be naive or feel proud, because I am convinced the real condition is even worse," APHI chairman for industrial plantations Nana Suparna remarked in Pekanbaru on Tuesday.

The government has over the past three years stopped issuing forest concessions through Presidential Instruction Number 10/2011, which has been extended through Presidential Instruction Number 6/2013.(*)


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Indonesia: Solving forest fires a matter of will, says Jokowi

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 27 Nov 14;

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has issued an ultimatum demanding that all stakeholders show a strong will to resolve land and forest fires in Indonesia, especially in Riau province, where the issue has persisted for the last 17 years.

“There is no new solution to the issue as everyone understands what must be done. This is a matter of whether we are willing to resolve the issue,” Jokowi said during a visit to Pekanbaru, Riau, on Wednesday.

Jokowi reiterated he had received reports from all quarters, including the Indonesian Military (TNI), the National Police, relevant ministries and regional administrations as well as conservation institutions, which said that all were familiar with the issue.

He said he had immediately gone to the field to understand the reality.

“If we master the situation in the field, making decisions is easy,” said the President, who is also a graduate of Gadjah Mada University’s School of Forestry.

Asked whether the government would revoke the licenses of companies faced with environmental management problems, Jokowi said he had delegated the matter to the Environment and Forestry Ministry.

“Direct your query to the minister,” said Jokowi.

Jokowi and his entourage arrived at Rusmin Noerjadin Airport, Pekanbaru, around noon on Wednesday and directly departed for Sungai Tohor village in Meranti Island regency, one of Indonesia’s outermost areas, via helicopter.

He was expected to fly to the location taking a route that passed over the Tesso Nilo National Park in Pelalawan regency and the Zamrud Lake Nature Preserve in Siak regency.

However, less than 30 minutes into the flight, the weather worsened and forced the Air Force’s Super Puma helicopter that was carrying the presidential entourage to return to Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport in Pekanbaru.

Jokowi, who is on a visit to Riau with First Lady Iriana and two of their children, Kahiyang Ayu and Kaesang Pangarep, will stay the night in Pekanbaru.

On Wednesday afternoon, Jokowi held a meeting with Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya, acting Riau governor Arsyadjuliandi Rachman, Riau Police chief Brig. Gen. Dolly Bambang Hermawan and a number of regents and officials. The meeting took place at Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport’s VIP lounge.

Jokowi also canceled a visit to Bawah Market in Pekanbaru. Traders, students and local residents who had waited for Jokowi’s arrival at the gateway starting at noon, then dispersed.

“Pak Jokowi canceled his visit to Bawah Market and stayed overnight at the Pekanbaru Hotel. We don’t know about tomorrow’s agenda,” Antara news agency quoted Riau provincial administration spokesman Jefry as saying in Pekanbaru.

Riau University Disaster Studies Center director Haris Gunawan said forest fire prevention through peatland conservation in Riau was part of an effort to resolve the prolonged haze issue.

Haris said one conservation effort concerned preventing the peatland from drying up and allowing it to remain wet.

“Many residents and plantation companies dry up the peatland by making canals, causing the peatland to dry and easily catch fire, [or it is easy for others] to intentionally set fire to it,” said Haris.


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Malaysia: Labuan marine park dept continues its turtle conservation efforts

Borneo Post 28 Nov 14;

LABUAN: A total of 5,628 sea baby turtles were released into the wild, off Labuan waters since 2011, said Department of Malaysia Marine Park Labuan director Anuar Deraman.

The number was of the 7,381 eggs collected mostly in Kuraman Island, one of the three marine parks in Labuan.

“The success in the turtle conservation and protection was after the gazetting of three marine parks, Kuraman, Rusukan Besar and Rusukan Kecil and in collaboration with Petronas Cari Gali Sabah,” he said here yesterday.

He said the marine parks had become the nesting sites for two endangered species of turtles, namely hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys Imbricata) and green turtle (Chelonia Mydas).

To help avoid further extinction of the species, he said the department had developed a turtle hatchling site in Rusukan Besar Island.

Anuar said Kuraman Island had recorded the most number of turtle landing so far this year with ten nests found on the island, while Rusukan Kecil and Rusukan Besar had five and two nests respectively.

Anuar also said Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency Labuan (MMEA) was working closely to monitor the illegal activities within the waters of marine parks.

“We are also conducting education and awareness programmes in schools and for the broad spectrum of community on marine biodiversity conservation,” he said.

He said the turtle conservation and protection exercise in the marine parks was being transformed into an eco-tourism product of Labuan to support the efforts of Labuan Corporation and Tourism Ministry. — Bernama


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Coral Triangle could be last bastion for planet's beleaguered reefs

Johnny Langenheim The Guardian 27 Nov 14;
Major reef system in south-east Asia could be unusually resilient to climate change, Catlin Seaview Survey suggests

If humans are driving earth’s sixth great extinction event, coral reefs will be one of the first and most visible ecosystems to succumb. Scientists estimate that by 2050, the ocean could be largely devoid of reefs as climate change and our relentless plundering of the sea set in motion geological changes not seen for millions of years.

But according to the Catlin Seaview Survey, a multi-year project to map the world’s coral reefs, there may be evidence that certain reefs in the Coral Triangle could resist longer than others. The project is using cutting-edge camera technology and a big-data approach to establish baselines for key indicators like health, diversity, decline and resilience.

The sponsor, Catlin, is an international insurance company specialising in property and casualty insurance. It says insurers should take a lead role in improving understanding of the potential for changes to the environment.

“Studying coral reefs provides a better understanding of short-term risks on a local scale,” says Catlin Insurance Group chief executive, Stephen Catlin. “But, more importantly, [it] gives us better information about the long-term risks of climate change on a global scale. As insurers, we need to be ahead of the game.”

Coral reefs represent just 1% of our oceans but support 25% of the species that live in them. This makes south-east Asia’s Coral Triangle bioregion the global epicentre of marine biodiversity on the planet, with 75% of all known coral building species, 6 out of 7 of the world’s turtle species and more than 3,000 species of fish. 120 million people depend on these reefs for their livelihoods – if they disappeared, the attendant loss of food security would drive economic migration on a massive scale.

Over the last few months, Catlin Seaview Survey scientists have been assessing reefs in hotspots throughout the Coral Triangle, which encompasses the territorial waters of Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. They believe the bioregion could become one of the last refuges on earth for coral reefs.


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U.S., British data show 2014 could be hottest year on record

Alister Doyle PlanetArk 28 Nov 14;

This year may eclipse 2010 as the hottest since records began in the 19th century, a sign long-term global warming is being stoked by rising greenhouse gas emissions, scientists said.

The period of January to October 2014 is already among the warmest ever recorded, and a warm ending to the year could easily make it top, according to U.S. and British data.

Skeptics who doubt the necessity of a shift away from fossil fuels to stop the Earth's climate from heating up point out that world average temperatures have not risen much since 1998, despite rising greenhouse gas emissions.

But the final ranking for 2014, due next year, may influence public and business perceptions about the severity of climate change. Almost 200 governments are due to agree a U.N. deal to combat global warming in Paris in December next year.

"2014 is more likely than not to be the warmest year," Tim Osborn, a professor at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, told Reuters, saying manmade greenhouse gas emissions are tending to push up temperatures.

He said there were many uncertainties about where 2014 would rank because of natural variations in temperatures late in the year. Also, a big volcanic eruption might spew out ash that dims sunshine, cooling the planet.

The U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) will publish a preliminary ranking for 2014 on Dec. 3, during annual U.N. talks in Peru which will prepare the Paris accord.

Promises for action by China, the United States and the European Union have made a global deal more likely, but any agreement will probably be too weak to halt rising temperatures despite new scientific warnings of powerful storms, floods, desertification and rising sea levels.

Of the WMO's three main data sources, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ranks January-October 2014 as the warmest such period on record, NASA as the second-warmest and the British Met Office and University of East Anglia as the third-warmest.

NOAA says 2014 is on track to be the warmest on record. The rankings differ partly because scientists use different estimates for places with few thermometers, such as the Arctic.

"It probably is a bit premature to say 2014 will be the warmest year on record," said Michael Cabbage, spokesman for NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The British data place 2014 third, fractionally behind 2010 and 1998, which both cooled toward the end of the year.

Despite a slowdown in the pace of warming since 1998, the WMO says 13 of the 14 warmest years on record have been in this century.

(Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)


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UN climate change deal must have legally binding targets, says EU

Arthur Neslen The Guardian 27 Nov 14;

An international deal on global warming must have legally binding targets, Europe will argue at a UN climate summit in Peru next week.

The Lima conference is intended to deliver the first draft of an accord to cut carbon emissions and stave off dangerous climate change, which is expected to be signed at a UN conference in Paris next year.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior EU official in Brussels said that the bloc had not abandoned its position that any agreement on emissions cuts needed to be mandatory.

“Legally binding mitigation targets are definitely something that the EU is pushing for,” the official said. “This is one of our key asks. We’re yet to be convinced that you could have a sufficient rules-base and certitude by alternative approaches. But it is no secret that some other countries are in a different place.”

“The current agreement prototype includes options within options, and has a broad range of views of what constitutes legal force,” the source said. “We need to see Lima bring about more convergence, more focus to the text and allow zooming into the really big political crunch issues, as time is short.”

Claims by major countries that they could not impose economy wide targets were “disingenuous” and liable to stall the negotiating process over how commitments should be differentiated between developed and developing countries, the official added.

The comments came as French president Fran├žois Hollande said on Thursday that the Paris summit had a “duty to succeed.” He said: “I have been asked when I became an environmentalist” and the answer was “when I arrived in power.”

“Because, at some point you have to leave your mark, and the mark we will leave together is a historic climate agreement...”

The US says it wants to put a ‘buffet option’ on the table in Lima, building on a New Zealand proposal that would contain some legally binding elements but allow countries to determine the scale and pace of their emissions reductions, even if this calls into question the aim of keeping temperature rises below 2C, the level that countries have agreed to limit warming to.

In Brussels earlier this month, the US special envoy on climate change, Todd Stern told journalists that while negotiations on the issue were ongoing, a ‘hybrid approach’ to legal enforcement offered the best chance of striking a deal agreeable to all.

“Proposals that would involve, in effect, a kind of designated burden-sharing on how reductions should be split up among countries of the world has extremely little chance of political viability,” he said. “Countries are not going to buy into that.”

Stern confirmed that a footnote to the US submission at a climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009 offered a 42% CO2 reduction by 2030 – higher than the 30% cut by 2025 announced by president Obama in China this month – but added that an 83% decrease by 2050 remained Washington’s objective in both cases.

The EU has gone further, setting out a stall for a legally binding 40% drop in emissions by 2030, but measures this against carbon output in 1990, rather than the US’s preferred 2005 baseline.

How to account for emissions commitments and monitor, report and verify (MRV) their implementation has taken on a correspondingly greater import.

“MRV provisions and accounting rules will be a core demand for the new agreement,” the EU official said. “Unless you have that, it will be difficult to validate that our partners are delivering on their commitments, so we need to really work with partners to ensure that we can come back on a regular basis and review our aggregated effort.”

While accepting that a binding deal could easily become a campaigning issue in the next US elections, the official said that Republicans could be persuaded to accept climate science if shown that a low carbon transition was possible.


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Best of our wild blogs: 27 Nov 14



STEP-NUS Sunburst Environment Programme, 16-22 November 2014
by Psychedelic Nature

Algae-eating snails and British writers
from Hantu Blog

Straw-headed bulbuls foraging
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Temasek Snail – A revisit
from Stir-fried Science


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Experts call for more to be done to tackle food waste

VALERIE KOH Today Online 27 Nov 14;

SINGAPORE — Up to one-third of food produced globally for human consumption is lost or wasted. In South Asia and South-east Asia, 414 calories from food produced for human consumption end up uneaten per person each day. But even in the face of these glaring World Bank statistics, countries around the region continue to lack the political will to address this, said a former food security researcher at S Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

Speaking at a dialogue at the Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development yesterday, Ms Sally Trethewie said there is a lack of a policy framework targeting food loss and waste in the region. “Perhaps one clever way to go about it is to make food loss and waste synonymous with food security,” she said. “For so long, the focus has always been on food security and producing enough food to feed us.”

Food loss is defined as food discarded during production and processing, while food waste is food thrown away at the retail and consumer levels.

Food loss is less prevalent in Singapore, given the nation’s reliance on food imports. But food waste is skyrocketing, with a whopping 796,000 tonnes generated last year, past figures from the National Environment Agency (NEA) showed. In South-east Asia, food loss and wastage is spurred by several issues, said Ms Trethewie, now a senior consultant with Bell Pottinger.

For instance, the adoption of modern technologies in the early stages of the supply chain is relatively low.Little attention is also paid to recycling food. In Singapore, a marginal 13 per cent of the food waste generated was recycled last year, said the NEA, below the food recycling rate of 16 per cent in 2010. But little information on food loss or waste is known, added Ms Trethewie.

Ms Aleksandra Barnes, another speaker at the dialogue, agreed and pointed out the lack of transparency around food waste, which she felt was the first step towards long-term change in this area.

Once the head of Tesco’s group corporate responsibility arm, Ms Barnes said the giant supermarket chain, in an effort to provide greater transparency, revealed this year that an estimated 56,580 tonnes of food were wasted at its stores and distribution centres during 2013-2014. Tesco took active steps to reduce food waste by liaising with its suppliers. Said Ms Barnes: “For example, we were establishing direct relations with banana suppliers and telling them, ‘Don’t put aside your small bananas or the ones that are not going to be winning any beauty contests. Send them to us and we’ll put them into value packs or process those bananas in the store and put them in milkshakes.’”

The supermarket also targeted consumers by providing, for instance, recipes for leftover cheese. Back home, local supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice is making reducing food waste a mission. Last month, it announced it would roll out a structured framework to address food waste early next year. Plans include enhancing and implementing internal processes and creating greater awareness of the issue among customers.


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Risk from extreme weather set to rise

Roger Harrabin BBC 26 Nov 14;

Climate change and population growth will hugely increase the risk to people from extreme weather, a report says.

The Royal Society warns that the risk of heatwaves to an ageing population will rise about ten-fold by 2090 if greenhouse gases continue to rise.

They estimate the risk to individuals from floods will rise more than four-fold and the drought risk will treble.

The report’s lead author Prof Georgina Mace said: “This problem is not just about to come… it’s here already."

She told BBC News: "We have to get the mindset that with climate change and population increase we are living in an ever-changing world – and we need much better planning if we hope to cope."

The report says governments have not grasped the risk of booming populations in coastal cities as sea level rises and extreme events become more severe.

“People are increasingly living in the wrong places, and it's likely that extreme events will be more common," Prof Mace says.

“For most hazards, population increase contributes at least as much as climate change - sometimes more. We are making ourselves more vulnerable whilst making the climate more extreme.

“It is impossible for us to avoid the worst and most unexpected events. But it is not impossible to be prepared for an ever-changing world. We must organise ourselves right away."

The report’s team said the UK was comparatively resilient to extreme events – but still vulnerable because of the high density of people living in areas at risk.

The report advises all levels of society to prepare – from strategic planning at an international and national level to local schemes by citizens to tackle floods or heatwaves.

Its scenarios are based on the assumption that the world stays on the current trajectory of emissions, which the authors assume will increase temperature by 2.6-4.8C around 2090. It assumes a population of nine billion.

They say they have built upon earlier work by calculating the effects of climate change coupled with population trends. They warn that the effects of extremes will be exacerbated by the increase in elderly people, who are least able to cope with hot weather.

Urbanisation will make the issue worse by creating “heat islands” where roads and buildings absorb heat from the sun. As well as building homes insulated against the cold, we must also ensure they can be properly ventilated in the summer, the report says.

The authors say cutting greenhouse gas emissions is essential. But they argue that governments will also need to adapt to future climatic shifts driven by climate change.

They suggest threats could be tackled through a dual approach. The simplest and cheapest way of tempering heatwaves, they say, is to maintain existing green space. Other low-cost options are planting new trees, encouraging green roofs, or painting roofs white to reflect the sun.

The authors say air conditioners are the most effective way of keeping cool – but they are costly, they dump heat into city streets and their use exacerbates climate change.

Flooding is another priority area, the report says. It finds that large-scale engineering solutions like sea walls offer the most effective protection to coastal flooding - but they are expensive, and when they fail the results can be disastrous.

The ideal solution, the authors think, may be a combination of “hard” engineering solutions like dykes matched with “soft” solutions like protecting wetlands to hold water and allow it to seep into the ground.

A scheme at Pickering in Yorkshire previously featured by BBC News is held as an example. The report concludes more research is needed to measure the effectiveness of these ecosystem solutions.

It insists that governments should carefully prioritise their spending. They should protect major infrastructure like electricity generation because of its knock-on effect on the broader economy. They should expect some lower-priority defences to fail from time to time, then work to minimise the consequences of that failure .

The authors identify excess heat as another potential threat to economies and agriculture if temperatures climb too high for outdoor workers.

They examine projected rises in the “wet bulb” index used by the US Army and others to measure the temperature felt when the skin is wet and exposed to moving air.

Some areas may experience many weeks when outdoor activity is heavily restricted, they fear – although the trend of agricultural labour loss may be offset through the century as more and more people move to cities.

It puts a figure on those at greatest overall risk: populations in poor countries make up only 11% of those exposed to hazards but account for 53% of the disaster deaths.

Some economists argue this shows that poor nations should increase their economies by burning cheap fossil fuels because that will allow them to spend more later on disaster protection.

The authors also call for reform of the financial system to take into account the exposure of assets to extreme events.

They say: “Unless risks are accurately evaluated and reported, companies will have limited incentives to reduce them. And valuations and investment decisions will continue to be poorly informed.”

One author, Rowan Douglas, from the Willis Research Network, said he suspected this might be the most significant contribution of the report.

The authors want organisations to report their maximum probable losses due to extreme events, based on a 1% chance of the event on any given year.

“The 1% stress test is not as extreme as it might sound – it implies a 10% chance of an organization being affected once a decade,” they say.

They say decisions made over the next few decades as the world builds vast urban areas will be key to the resilience of people by the end of the century.


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