Global environmental challenges
As the special envoy on climate change for the World Bank, Andrew Steer might be thought of as the $6 billion man of environmental finance. He oversees more than that amount for projects to fight the effects of global warming.
“More funds flow through us to help adaptation and mitigation than anyone else,” Steer said in a conversation at the bank’s Washington headquarters. Named to the newly created position in June, Steer said one of his priorities is to marshall more than $6 billion in the organization’s Climate Investment Funds to move from smaller pilot projects to large-scale efforts.
While the World Bank is not a party to global climate talks set for Cancun, Mexico, later this year, it is deeply engaged in this issue, Steer said. Acknowledging that an international agreement on climate change is a long shot this year, he said there are still opportunities to make changes to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that spur climate change.
“We do see there are opportunities,” Steer said. “The mistake would be if it’s sort of all or nothing.” The bank is strongly supporting action to limit deforestation, offer quick financing to start climate projects and reform carbon markets to extend them to countries that have been left out so far.
Most people wouldn’t consider an earthquake to be an environmental issue. But while the tremors that shattered Haiti early this month have nothing to do with the island’s degradation, the extent of the suffering they unleashed is a direct result of the country’s ecological woes.
It was as I lay in a Singapore hospital bed — ablaze with dengue fever but shivering in a sweat that chilled my aching bones — that I began to understand why villagers in a remote part of Indonesia would trade their forest for decent health services.
Teluk Meranti is a tiny, 800-family fishing hamlet in Riau province of Sumatra island in Indonesia, where dengue is common but health services are poor and infrastructure is very basic.
Farmers are often portrayed as the villains, slashing and burning trees to clear land for crops and wrecking forests from the Amazon to Indonesia (…not to mention Europe, where people cleared most forests thousands of years ago).
But a report today by the World Agroforestry Centre indicates that farms aren’t such enemies of trees as usually thought - it says tree canopies cover at least 10 percent of almost half the world’s farmland. That is a gigantic area the size of China, or Canada. (For a story, click here).
Clashes in the Amazon between indigenous protestors and Peru’s army that killed some 60 people last week throw some old issues into sharp new relief: development versus the environment and local versus foreign control of natural resources.
Indigenous tribes, worried they will lose control over natural resources, have protested since April seeking to force Peru’s Congress to repeal new laws that encourage foreign mining and energy companies to invest billions of dollars in huge tracts of pristine rain forest.
The Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has released some pictures from the first large-scale census of jaguars in the Amazon region of Ecuador—one of the most biologically rich regions on the planet.
One of the pictures, shown here, was taken with a “camera trap” that photographs animals remotely when they trip a sensor that detects body heat.
A carbon fund named “Obama, future” could invest in increased forest coverage in another country and Obama himself could plant a tree there, Lin Hui said in an open letter, published on www.ditan360.com. Lin hopes that country will be China.