Environment Forum

Auxiliary verbs at 10pm and the scarcest resource – sleep

December 17, 2009

CO2tonneThe issues are global and urgent, but the bureaucracy can sometimes be mind-bogglingly slow and petty.

Can you trust the science?

December 16, 2009

Today we pose the question to our virtual panel of experts, “How far can we trust the science of climate change?”

Are the Copenhagen climate talks failing?

December 15, 2009

COP15picIn the last few days it has seemed like the only thing everyone can agree on in Copenhagen is that time is running out.

Cap and trade not the solution, climate scientist says

December 15, 2009

Fighting climate change is a huge investment opportunity but not through emissions trading and investors should instead put their money into renewables which will power the economy in the future, says a leading environmental scientist and cap and trade expert.

Sleeping next to activists in Copenhagen

December 12, 2009

There’s no concierge, no bellboy nor even a check-in counter. There’s no lobby, nor mini-bar and not even any heating. But despite the lack of amenities there was still something special about sleeping alongside 2,000 other climate change activists in an empty warehouse in an industrial section of northwest Copenhagen last night. 

Forget polar bears, who will save the prostitutes?

December 11, 2009

Among the many messages sent out by politicians during the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, “Be sustainable — don’t buy sex” has to be one of the least expected. This was the advice circulated by Ritt Bjeregaard, the city’s mayor and a former EU Environment Commissioner, sent via postcard to all the hotels in the city to tell them to stamp down on conference-goers looking to patronise prostitutes on their premises.

Youth groups bending the ear of business at COP15

December 11, 2009

There are numerous youth groups at the Copenhagen Climate Conference (they are known as ‘Youngos’, short for young non-governmental organisations) and they have all come here to make sure their collective voice is heard as delegates negotiate an agreement on how to tackle climate change.

Climate skeptics hold their own Copenhagen conference

December 9, 2009

With the world’s eyes firmly fixed on the U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen it is easy to forget that there remains a significant group of scientists and politicians who do not accept that humanity’s emissions of greenhouse gases are the primary cause of climate change.

from The Great Debate UK:

John Reid on climate change and global security

December 5, 2009

johnreid- John Reid MP, formerly UK Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Defence, is the Chairman of the Institute for Security and Resilience Studies at University College, London. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Forest carbon schemes – new hope for the Amazon?

December 4, 2009

By Stuart Grudgings

In the tiny settlement of Boa Frente on the banks of a tributary to the Amazon river, bright blue butterflies flitting through trees and the constant squawks of parrots add to the feeling of a paradise on earth. The poverty endured by most of its residents quickly shatters that illusion, but environmentalists hope this village and 35 others in Brazil’s Juma reserve could be a model for saving the world’s greatest forest from destruction.


This feature about the Juma REDD project, which stands for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, gives a fuller account of the issue.
REDD projects, in which reserves in developing nations with forest like Brazil and Indonesia receive funds from rich nations looking to offset carbon emissions, have emerged as one of the few areas in which a strong deal is possible in the divisive United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen this month.
My trip to Juma, which lies about an hour’s flight from Manaus city in Brazil’s vast Amazonas state, gave me an idea of how much is at stake as the seven-seater plane glided over a carpet of unspoiled forest that stretched to the horizon on every side. I also found that opinion is starkly divided over how to go about REDD schemes and whether Juma, whose backers include Coca Cola and hotel chain Marriott, is a desirable model.
For the 320 families in the reserve, the benefits are already becoming clear. As well as a $30 monthly stipend for all families, Boa Frente has gained a smart new school with Internet access that stands in sharp contrast to the simple huts that residents live in.  If the REDD scheme takes off according to plan they could stand to gain $7 million a year by 2020 from carbon credit sales. That would go some way towards fulfilling a long-held truism of Amazon protection — that people will only stop cutting down trees when it becomes more valuable to keep them standing.
Yet some environmentalists I spoke to back in Manaus were surprisingly critical of the project. One worried that such projects would create dependency among the families and do little to address what he saw as the main causes of their poverty — a lack of markets for forest products. Another head of an environmental group who has worked with river communities for decades said that Juma community leaders were being manipulated by the project and were losing their freedom.
While REDD certainly represents new hope for preserving the Amazon and other tropical forests, there is a largely unheard debate over how they should best serve the interests of the forest dwellers who will have to live with them.