B4E, the Business for Environment Global Summit, is the world's leading international conference for dialogue and business-driven action for the environment. The summit addresses the most urgent environmental challenges facing the world today. Important topics on the agenda include resource efficiency, renewable energies, new business models and climate policy and strategies. CEOs and senior executives join leaders from government, international agencies, NGOs and media to discuss environmental issues, forge partnerships and explore innovative solutions for a greener future.
Guy has been involved in the energy sector since 1984 working initially in the oil and gas industry as an exploration geologist for Amoco before joining the newly formed PowerGen in 1990. At PowerGen Guy worked initially in the UK core business before transferring to be part of the International expansion of developing conventional power stations in Portugal, Germany and Eastern Europe.
Pete is the Programme Director for Transport at the European Climate Foundation, where he has worked since 2011. Prior to that, he spent 10 years analysing and reporting on politics, business and markets for the international newswire Reuters. Since 2008, he has been living in Brussels, focusing on the European politics of climate and energy. He has published several books and papers on ecology, travel and communications.
Aled has 15 years’ experience in the development of regional sustainability policies and programmes in the UK and Europe. He started his career in local government working on the EU Structural Fund programme for West Wales and the Valleys before moving to the Wales office in Brussels as a policy adviser on regional and environmental policies. He returned to the UK to work for the Regional Development Agency for the West Midlands on its low-carbon development projects.
By Pep Canadell
For the third year in a row, global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry have barely grown, while the global economy has continued to grow strongly. This level of decoupling of carbon emissions from global economic growth is unprecedented.
Global CO₂ emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels and industry (including cement production) were 36.3 billion tonnes in 2015, the same as in 2014, and are projected to rise by only 0.2 per cent in 2016 to reach 36.4 billion tonnes. This is a remarkable departure from emissions growth rates of 2.3 per cent for the previous decade, and more than 3 per cent during the 2000s.
Given this good news, we have an extraordinary opportunity to extend the changes that have driven the slowdown and spark the great decline in emissions needed to stabilise the world’s climate.
This result is part of the annual carbon assessment released a few weeks ago by the Global Carbon Project, a global consortium of scientists and think tanks under the umbrella of Future Earth and sponsored by institutions from around the world.
Fossil fuel and industry emissions
The slowdown in emissions growth has been primarily driven by China. After strong growth since the early 2000s, emissions in China have levelled off and may even be declining. This change is largely due to economic factors, such as the end of the construction boom and weaker global demand for steel. Efforts to reduce air pollution and the growth of solar and wind energy have played a role too, albeit a smaller one.
The United States has also played a role in the global emissions slowdown, largely driven by improvements in energy efficiency, the replacement of coal with natural gas and, to a lesser extent, renewable energy.
What makes the three-year trend most remarkable is the fact that the global economy grew at more than 3 per cent per year during this time. Previously, falling emissions were driven by stagnant or shrinking economies, such as during the global financial crisis of 2008.
Developed countries, together, showed a strong declining trend in emissions, cutting them by 1.7 per cent in 2015. This decline was despite emissions growth of 1.4 per cent in the European Union after more than a decade of declining emissions.
Emissions from emerging economies and developing countries grew by 0.9 per cent with the fourth-highest emitter, India, growing at 5.2 per cent in 2015.
Importantly, the transfer of CO₂ emissions from developed countries to less developed countries (via trade of goods and services produced in places different to where they are consumed) has declined since 2007.
Deforestation and other changes in land use added another 4.8 billion tonnes of CO₂ in 2015, on top of the 36.3 billion tonnes of CO₂ emitted from fossil fuels and industry. This is a significant increase by 42 per cent over the average emissions of the previous decade.
This jump in land use change emissions was largely the result of increased fires at the deforestation frontiers, particularly in Southeast Asia, driven by dry conditions brought by a strong El Niño in 2015-16. In general, though, long-term trends for emissions from deforestation and other land use change appear to be lower for the most recent decade than they were in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The carbon quota
When combining emissions from fossil fuels, industry, and land use change, the global economy released another 41 billion tonnes to the atmosphere in 2015, and will add roughly the same amount again this year.
We now need to turn this no-growth to actual declines in emissions as soon as possible. Otherwise, it will be a challenge to keep cumulative emissions below the level that would avoid a 2 C warming, as required under the Paris Agreement.
As part of our carbon budget assessment, we estimate that cumulative emissions from 1870 (the reference year used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to calculate carbon budgets) to the end of 2016 will be 2,075 billion tonnes of CO₂. The remaining quota to avoid the 2 C threshold, assuming constant emissions, would be consumed at best in less than 25 years (with remaining quota estimates ranging from 450 to 1,050 billion tonnes of CO₂). Ultimately, we must reduce emissions to net zero to stabilise the climate.
This article was originally published on Mogabay and is republished with permission.
An excavator shifts sand between Pulau Melaka and the mainland. Photo by Kate Mayberry.
Melaka – The expanse of sand stretches hundreds of meters in both directions, featureless and flat, its dusty monotony alleviated only by the excavators, trucks and dredgers that dump sand and rocks into the sea and smooth out the newly-created land.
Billboards surrounding one site tout an aspirational dream of stylish apartments, luxury hotels and designer shopping malls. On the other side of the deserted highway that divides this artificial island, construction is already underway on an estate of extravagantly porticoed homes.
“We’re standing in the middle of the sea,” remarks one of the guards at the security post.
Over the past 20 years, reclamation has gobbled up swaths of ocean along Malaysia’s western coast, creating a man-made landscape of homes, offices, deep sea ports and cruise ship terminals. The state of Melaka, with its historic city overlooking the Strait of Malacca, began reclamation in 1974, but the process has gathered pace over the past two decades and a slew of recent projects have deepened concern about the environmental cost.
This satellite image shows Pulau Melaka, an artificial island in the Strait of Malacca. Little Pulau Upeh lies to the north.
The island of Pulau Upeh is only a few kilometres north of the UNESCO-listed city. For generations it has been the state’s major nesting site for the critically-endangered hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), but reclamation is encroaching. Once two kilometres out to sea, Pulau Upeh is now only 600 metres offshore.
The effect on the turtle has been immense. From 111 landings in 2011, there were just 13 recorded as of October this year.
WWF Malaysia has been monitoring hawksbill activities on the island for a decade, and is concerned not only about the population in Pulau Upeh, but all along the coast of Melaka where there are at least ten nesting beaches. After Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, Melaka has the most significant population of hawksbills in the country.
“We are advocating for a hydraulic study to see the effect of all these reclamation projects,” Lau Min Min, Team Leader of WWF’s Melaka hawksbill turtle conservation project told Mongabay during a visit to the turtle hatchery at Padang Kemunting, about 35 kilometres north of the city. “We need to do a stock check to see how these projects are affecting the beach and the sea.”
The turtle hatchery at Padang Kemunting. Photo by Kate Mayberry.
Advances in engineering, coupled with rising prices for land and a desire to avoid messy ownership disputes, are helping fuel a boom in reclamation across the region.
“Technology has advanced so much that what used to be a multibillion-dollar project is down to a multimillion-dollar investment,” said Fairul Izmal Jamal Hisne, a marine scientist and environmental consultant who co-founded Malaysian NGO MareCet five years ago to champion the conservation of marine mammals. “It is a concern when we have technology that is enabling us to do mega projects cheaply.”
China has a long history of coastal reclamation,and is now involved in some of the biggest projects in Malaysia, which wants to tap Chinese expertise in infrastructure engineering. Indonesia has triggered controversy with schemes in both Bali and Jakarta, while Singapore has built much of its prosperity on reclaimed land.
Chou Loke Ming, an adjunct research professor at the National University of Singapore’s Tropical Marine Science Institute says reclamation can have a widespread impact on the environment, from where the sand is dredged to where it’s dumped.
“Where the sand is deposited, burial of original biodiversity and habitats occur, suspended sediment increase will occur if not effectively managed, and changes in hydrodynamic patterns will affect biodiversity,” said Chou, who’s spent 30 years in marine science. “Because of water currents, these impacts are not confined to the specific dredge or dump site but to a wider area, so impacts on neighboring habitats are possible and the containing the spread of these impacts is crucial.”
The hawksbill turtle. In the state of Melaka, landings of this Critically Endangered species have dropped dramatically this year. Photo by Gary Rinaldi/Flickr.
Under Malaysian law, an Environmental Impact Assessment is mandatory for 19 types of activity, including land reclamation involving more than 50 hectares. Projects must also secure approval from the authorities at district and state level.
In Melaka, a three volume Macro Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) covering coastal land reclamation in the state was finished in 1998. The report, which is not available online and has been removed from the Department of Environment’s central library along with other reports completed prior to 2004, covered 19 proposed projects and 2,835 hectares of land. Idris Haron, the Chief Minister of Melaka, was travelling overseas and unavailable to talk to Mongabay about the state’s approach to reclamation.
Given the scale of the new plans and the potential impact on coastal communities and vulnerable marine life, the WWF and affected communities have been calling for more detailed EIAs. Turtle landings across the state as a whole have fallen from 481 in 2013 to 367 at the end of October this year.
The Melaka Green City Action Plan 2014, the city’s own sustainable development plan, noted the need for “a more thorough understanding of the increasing risks along the coastline.” It also noted that land reclamation projects had not “adequately addressed” the potential environmental damage from the “manipulation of the shoreline.”
The same report pointed to the artificial island of Pulau Melaka as an example of the financial and environmental risks that come with reclamation.
Built 20 years ago in the sea off Melaka Raya — the modern city’s commercial hub and itself on reclaimed land — Pulau Melaka’s original developers abandoned the project at the height of the Asian Financial Crisis in the late 1990s.
Its streets and rows of shop-houses are now largely empty — home only to construction workers, the occasional property showroom and, on Fridays, the faithful heading to prayer at the island’s mosque.
Land reclamation underway at the Melaka Gateway in the Strait of Malacca. Photo by Kate Mayberry.
But the on-again, off-again project got a boost in September with the decision to push ahead with the RM43 billion ($9.64 billion) Melaka Gateway scheme, a Chinese-backed development that will see the creation of three more artificial islands. Targeted for completion in 2025, the project has the support of the country’s two governments. Malaysia sees the development as a way to create thousands of jobs and lure more tourists to Melaka, while China envisages it as a key link in its “One Belt, One Road” trade infrastructure initiative.
Melaka’s Kristang people, however, fear it will be a catastrophe.
The community of seafarers put down roots in Melaka more than 500 years ago after the Portuguese seized the port from the local sultan and married local women, but they say successive waves of reclamation have isolated them from the coast that is central to their way of life.
“The sea has provided for generations,” said Martin Theseira, a former fisherman who now makes a living selling Malaccan Portuguese seafood products and heads the Save Portuguese Settlement Committee. “My father always said: ‘The sea is our bank.’ You just need to go out to sea and you can earn a living. (But) the pressure of development is pushing us to the point of extinction.”
Fishing boats at the Portuguese Settlement. Photo by Kate Mayberry.
The community of just over 2,000 people mostly lives in what’s known as the Portuguese Settlement, an area that’s popular with tourists who come to eat seafood in the evening, but where parts of the seafront have already been reclaimed.
Only about 20 percent of the Kristang are now full-time fishermen. The fishermen have to go further out to sea if they want to get a decent catch, and the days of pottering along the shore to pick up a few fish for dinner are long gone.
The retreating tide leaves their modest fishing boats aground on a bed of pungent mud and rubbish. Community leaders say the reclamation has violated the guidelines set out in the original EIA, skirting recommendations to maintain a water channel of at least 750 meters between the settlement and any reclaimed land. The Kristang estimate the channel has shrunk to just 200 metres and worry the Pulau Melaka project will make the situation worse.
“If our waterway is polluted, clogged up and dead, what does that do to us?” said Michael Singho, President of the Malacca Portuguese-Eurasian Association.
A nest at Padang Kemunting turtle hatchery. Photo by Kate Mayberry.
In Padang Kemunting, peak nesting season for the hawksbill ended in September, but the rangers who patrol the beach are still discovering eggs, usually buried in the sand beneath the bushes that hug the shore. Each nest, usually made up of about 120 eggs, is brought to the hatchery, which is operated by Malaysia’s Department of Fisheries. The area may soon be declared a turtle sanctuary, the state government said in November.
Each nest is placed in a specially designed shelter on the beach – shaded to keep off the worst of the sun and surrounded with netting – and tagged with the number of eggs in each nest and the date of its discovery. It generally takes between 40 and 60 days for the eggs to hatch, with the temperature determining the gender of the hatchling.
The beach where each turtle comes into the world is the same beach where the females will return to lay their eggs. “They are linked to the beach,” said Lau. “it’s like they’re programmed to come back”.
Named for its bird-like beak, and renowned for the beauty of its shell, the hawksbill takes between 20 and 40 years to reach maturity and each female will reproduce about every two years. For every 1,000 hatchlings just one will survive.
The Critically Endangered Hawkbill Turtle is renowned for the beauty of its shell. Photo by Caroline S. Rogers, courtesy of NOAA.
Satellite data gleaned from the movements of 15 Hawksbills the WWF has managed to fit with tracking devices shows that after laying their eggs, the turtles swim south to the Riau Islands of Indonesia and the southern islands of Singapore, where they feed on the sponges of the area’s coral reefs.
Singapore is not averse to reclamation itself – the city state’s land area is now 24 percent bigger than it was at independence in 1965. But after years of policies that appeared to value development over the habitat protection, marine conservation has become increasingly important. All major development projects are required to provide detailed studies to minimize habitat loss and a real-time monitoring system detects problems almost immediately.
It was partly Singapore’s concern about the environmental impact of Malaysia’s biggest ever reclamation project – the RM600 billion ($134 billion) Forest City development creating four artificial islands in the narrow waterway between the two countries – that led to a seven-month halt in construction, a detailed EIA and the developer promising to spend millions to preserve important sea-grass meadows.
“The Government has taken a strong stand to conserve/protect marine habitats and biodiversity from the unnecessary impacts of development and insisted on restoration/mitigation if the impacts are unavoidable or cannot be minimized,” Chou explained. “I think the realization that sustainable development is possible and that it is the best way forward has sunk in.”
In Melaka, meanwhile, the scale models in the master developer’s showroom, reveal the extent of its ambitions for Melaka Gateway.
Container ships, with their cargo painted in bright primary colours, depict a deep-sea port, while road bridges fan out across the waves to connect the newly-made islands – on one a ship-building yard, on another a cruise terminal, a marina and “cultural village” and, at the heart of it all, a 288-metre glass skyscraper promising a “premier 7-star hotel and premier condominiums.”
Mud built up between Pulau Melaka and the mainland. Photo by Kate Mayberry.
Outside, beneath the bridge that connects Pulau Melaka to the mainland, the waterway is already silted up with mud as the reclamation stymies the movement of water. KAJ Development, which is leading the Melaka Gateway project, declined to discuss its plans on the phone, and did not respond to emailed questions relating to the environmental impact of the scheme.
Padang Kemunting may seem a world away from the city, but it is not only at risk from the environmental changes wrought by reclamation work further south. It now faces the prospect of development on its doorstep; construction that could also affect the rare painted terrapins (Callagur borneonensis) that live in the surrounding river estuary and are also thought to nest along the coast.
Just north of the beach, the owners of Linggi Port are upgrading the facility, reclaiming hundreds of hectares of land for a RM12.5 billion ($2.5 billion) oil and gas hub, known as KLIP, to cater to the world’s biggest ocean-going tankers. China Railway Port and Engineering Group is already on board as a partner in the project,
Workers take a break on Pulau Melaka. Photo by Kate Mayberry.
A detailed EIA completed at the end of June found 43 percent of local residents were opposed to KLIP because of concerns about environmental degradation and its impact on the area’s small fishing community. The report noted a major risk to the painted terrapins – suggesting a number of mitigation measures during construction, and advising the developer to fund a terrapin research program, and the state government to develop a species’ conservation plan to preserve the terrapin’s habitat.
For the turtles, the environmental researchers found the “presence of infrastructure” would have a “significant negative impact,” but “no specific mitigation measure is possible.”
“Much of the coastline in Melaka has (already) been transformed into an urban landscape with more beaches becoming unsuitable for nesting,” Lau said. “Protecting of the remaining prime nesting beaches is urgent and vital.”
By Charles Robinson
This article was originally published on Carbon Trust and is republished with permission.
The Carbon Trust has launched a new certification to recognise companies that have successfully achieved zero waste to landfill.
The Carbon Trust Standard for Zero Waste to Landfill recognises an organisation’s achievements in reducing its environmental impact through actively diverting its non-hazardous waste streams from landfill, typically through a combination of reducing waste, finding ways to reuse materials, increasing recycling or sending waste to energy recovery.
The new standard provides a robust framework for verifying zero waste to landfill claims, which is fully aligned with the methodology of the existing Carbon Trust Standard for Waste. This supports the increasing number of organisations that want independent and credible recognition of their achievements in improved waste management. Although a substantial commitment for a business, a zero waste to landfill target can produce tangible savings, both through better use of resources and a reduced landfill costs, as well as demonstrating their commitment to becoming a more sustainable company. One of the first companies to achieve the new certification was ASSA ABLOY, one of the world’s largest lock manufacturers.
Minimising and ultimately eliminating waste generation across all of our waste streams, where possible, is a real opportunity for us to greatly reduce our environmental impact. Working with the Carbon Trust was a really good chance for us to verify our zero waste to landfill achievements, with an independent and internationally recognised organisation. ASSA ABLOY and the Carbon Trust share the same values in fact-based transparency, which ensured the partnership was a great fit
Charles Robinson, Sustainability Manager – EMEA, at ASSA ABLOY
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