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Supporting balanced responses to natural resource management to meet future ecological and human needs. More

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Environment Under Review
Contributing to sustainable development and improved well-being through empowering stakeholders at global, regional and national levels; by providing open web platforms, services and access to timely, substantiated knowledge about the environment and emerging issues; and by strengthening capacities to make use of substantiated knowledge in decision-making.

Regional News

‘Whole System’ approach needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, experts say at climate meeting

Appropriate management of natural resources at centre of solutions to climate change, says International Resource Panel

Paris, France, 30 November 2015 – Decoupling economic growth from escalating resource use should be an integral part of climate policy, according to a group of the world’s most renowned natural resources scientists. 

As nations gathered at COP21 in Paris for their first day of deliberations to determine a new, global climate regime, the IRP said a “whole system perspective” was crucial when considering climate policy.

Releasing its Ten Messages on Climate Change today, the International Resource Panel (IRP) said natural resource management and climate change were intrinsically linked, with a large part of global energy use, and therefore greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, tied directly to the acquisition, processing, transport, conversion, use and disposal of resources.

Raising resource productivity through improved efficiency and reducing resource waste could lower resource consumption and GHG emissions, bringing economic gains and promoting more equitable access to resources, the IRP said. Moreover, through decoupling, developing countries could cut the increase in annual energy demand by more than half over the next 12 years, while realizing their development goals. 

“Policy changes aimed at mitigating GHG emissions affect not only the stability of the climate, but also other environmental aspects and resource use, positively or negatively,” the IRP co-chair, Janez Potoènik, said. “A whole system approach that connects production, consumption and their impacts on the environment and resources helps prevent adverse unintended consequences of GHG emission mitigation”.

This argument is further underpinned by the new IRP report, Green Energy Choices: the Benefits, Risks and Trade-offs of Low-Carbon Technologies for Electricity Production, also released today. This assesses nine low-carbon energy technologies, which will be essential for meeting 2°C objective and growing energy demand.   

For the first time, countries making the decision about which renewal energy technology to use have clear, comparative science-based information about not only their GHG reduction benefits but also about other positive and negative environmental, human health, and natural resource use impacts. 

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, said, “Clean energy technologies such as photovoltaic and wind power have clear benefits in terms of tackling climate change and air pollution, and providing access to clean and affordable energy. 

“These technologies will be critical to keeping global warming under 2°C, but we need to remain cognizant of their effects on the environment, such as their higher use of metals like steel and copper in manufacturing. As countries look to meet their energy needs while combatting climate change, this report can help identify the most sustainable mix of energy technologies to accomplish that goal.”   

Global demand for energy is expected to require an estimated investment of $US 2.5 trillion a year over the next 20 years in new energy installations and energy conservation initiatives. This report presents a unique opportunity for countries to carefully select the electricity production technologies in which they invest. 

Key findings of Green Energy Choices include: 
·        Coal- or gas-fired systems with carbon capture and storage (CCS) reduce GHG emissions, but increase other pollution problems by 5-80 per cent, and  create higher human health and environmental impacts. 
·        Electricity generated from renewable sources causes 70-90 per cent less pollution harmful to ecosystems and human health than coal power. Greenhouse gas emissions are commonly 90-99 per cent lower.   
·        Wide-scale deployment of a mix of low-carbon electricity generation technologies, as foreseen in mitigations scenarios such as the IEA’s Blue Map Scenarios, helps to stabilize or reduce pollution such as eutrophication, acidification, particulates, photochemical smog, and toxicity. 
·        Renewable power sources have lower pollution-related human health and ecological impacts per unit of  power  produced  than  coal-fired  power  plants  or  the  current  electricity  mix,  but  require  more metals and other minerals. 
·        Sound sustainability criteria should be used as a basis for making sound decisions about future energy choices and investments. 


To download Ten Messages of the International Resource Panel on Climate Change, and Green Energy Choices: the Benefits, Risks and Trade-offs of Low-Carbon Technologies for Electricity Production, please visit http://www.unep.org/resourcepanel/. 

About the International Resource Panel 

The International Resource Panel is hosted by UNEP in the Division of Trade, Industry and Economics. It was established in 2007, as a scientific body that provides independent policy-relevant scientific assessments to governments and other stakeholders on the efficient and effective use of natural resources over the whole life-cycle. By providing up-to-date information and best-science available, the IRP contributes to a better understanding of how to decouple human development and economic growth from environmental degradation. The IRP’s reports and assessments aim to be policy-relevant and support policy-framing, and planning. Through its reports to date, the IRP is able to demonstrate a growing impact on policy-development at international, regional and national levels. The IRP’s reports have been used by and referred to by international organizations, national governments, think-tanks and research organizations, academia, industry and civil society, in their discussions and planning for new policies that take into consideration resource efficient and sustainable consumption and production. 

About UNEP   
Created in 1972, UNEP represents the United Nations’ environmental conscience. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, its mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UNEP’s Division of Technology, Industry and Economics – based in Paris – helps governments, local authorities and decision-makers in business and industry to develop and implement policies and practices focusing on sustainable development. The Division leads UNEP’s work in the areas of climate change, resource efficiency, and chemicals and waste. 

For more information, please contact: 

·        Moira O’Brien-Malone, Head, Communications, UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, Tel: +33 1 44 37 76 12 or mobile +33 6 82 26 93 73. Email: moira.obrien-malone@unep.org 
·        Shereen Zorba, Head of News and Media, UNEP. Tel: +254 788 526 000. Email: unepnewsdesk@unep.org

Pope Francis Calls for Strong Climate Agreement during Visit to UN Environment Programme Headquarters

Pope Francis Calls for Strong Climate Agreement during Visit to UN Environment Programme Headquarters 
Transforming Current Development Models “Political and Economic Obligation”, Says Pontiff.
Nairobi, 26 November 2015 – His Holiness Pope Francis today called on world leaders to seal a strong agreement at the Paris climate change meeting next month, adding that transforming current development models was a “political and economic obligation”, as he visited the global headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi. 
Speaking to an audience of thousands, which included UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) Director-General Sahle-Work Zewde, Pope Francis placed particular emphasis on the need to adopt low-carbon energy systems and end the “throw-away culture” that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. 
“In a few days, an important meeting on climate change will be held in Paris ... It would be sad, and I dare say even catastrophic, were particular interests to prevail over the common good,” Pope Francis said. “In this international context, we are confronted with a choice which cannot be ignored: either to improve or to destroy the environment. 
“COP21 (the climate meeting) represents an important stage in the process of developing a new energy system which depends on a minimal use of fossil fuels, aims at energy efficiency and makes use of energy sources with little or no carbon content. We are faced with a great political and economic obligation to rethink and correct the dysfunctions and distortions of the current model of development.” 
UNEP’s Emissions Gap report, released in early November, showed that the expected Paris commitments from member states will cut up to 4 to 6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year from global emissions in 2030. This, however, is 12 gigatonnes short of the level that will keep the world on track to stay below the “safe” limit of a 2°C temperature rise this century. 
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner praised Pope Francis’s moral leadership on the environment— which the Pontiff has already displayed with his encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ calling on the faithful to embrace their responsibilities to the environment—saying it added global momentum to efforts to close this emissions gap and implement the Sustainable Development Goals. 
“Addressing the world just a few days before the Paris climate conference, with the future of this planet hanging in the balance, you (Pope Francis) remind world leaders, business leaders and individual citizens that we each have not only a responsibility, but an obligation to act on what our conscience tells us to be right,” Mr. Steiner said. 
“In this pivotal year, your powerful notion of the ‘globalization of indifference’ speaks to the heart of the practical and ethical challenges ahead: both to reach a climate change agreement in Paris and to deliver it within the much broader, holistic spectrum of sustainable development that must leave no one behind.” 
Pope Francis also touched upon the need to create a world in which unsustainable consumption and production patterns—which contribute to pollution, ecosystem degradation and climate change through the wasteful use of resources in the production of food and other goods—are ended. 
“This calls for an educational process which fosters in boys and girls, women and men, young people and adults, the adoption of a culture of care—care for oneself, care for others, care for the environment—in place of a culture of waste, a ‘throw-away culture’ where people use and discard themselves, others and the environment.” 
As a further symbol of his environmental commitment, Pope Francis planted an Olea capensis, an indigenous tree found across the continent of Africa, on the grounds of the UN headquarters before his talk. 
“Planting a tree is first and foremost an invitation to continue the battle against phenomena like deforestation and desertification,” he said. “Planting a tree is also an incentive to keep trusting, hoping, and above all working in practice to reverse all those situations of injustice and deterioration which we currently experience.” 
Mr. Steiner took Pope Francis on a tour of the UNEP offices, a sustainable facility powered largely by solar panels, to demonstrate renewable energy and energy efficiency in practice. 
There, Mr. Steiner presented Pope Francis with an elephant created from discarded flip-flops (a product designed to draw attention to the issue of marine litter and plastic waste) as a token of his appreciation for the Pope’s commitment to the environment. 
For more information, please contact: 
Shereen Zorba, Head of News and Media, UNEP, +254 788 526 000,unepnewsdesk@unep.org 
A full copy of Mr. Steiner’s speech is available at the following URL: http://www.unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentID=26855&ArticleID=35592&l=en 

Launch of the Geneva Science-Policy Platform on Environment and Security

Launch of the Geneva Science-Policy Platform on Environment and Security

Diplomats and scientists pledge to work together to find meaningful solutions for issues of environment and security

Geneva, 17 November: Today Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives of countries accredited at the UN in Geneva, as well as distinguished members of the international academia, attended the launch event of the Geneva Science-Policy Platform on Environment and Security, hosted jointly by the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) represented by the UN Environment Programme and the University of Geneva. The launch event provided an opportunity for the policy-making and academic community to discuss the implications of climate change on European and global security.

The newly established platform will serve as a network supplying knowledge and technical expertise for new approaches to confront existing and emerging challenges in the field of environment and security. It will establish continuous dialogue between scientists and policymakers to generate new ideas and methodologies to implement new solutions that facilitate environmental cooperation. The Platform will meet on an annual basis to address existing and emerging environmental risks and tensions in the overall context of global issues.

At the launch event, dedicated to Climate Change and the Future of European Security, participants exchanged views on the effects of climate change already happening in Europe, and the associated security implications for the future, such as the threat of mass migration from climate change-affected regions and humanitarian crises in the context of increasingly probable natural disasters. They also discussed what tools have been applied by various stakeholders to combat climate change, and what lessons can already be learned from other regions to formulate new environmentally sound security strategies.

“Through implementing ENVSEC projects on the ground, we came to realize how important it is to transform the current thinking to appreciate how deeply the environment and natural resources relate to our security concerns, and how the environment is at risk due to political tensions and lack of security. It is in this context that we also realized the importance of knowledge in integrating environmental sustainability and ecosystem management in the political agenda of states, as we are embarking on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said Jan Dusik, UNEP Director and Regional Representative.

The Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) is a partnership of five international organizations – UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and Regional Environment Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) – with specialized but complementary mandates and expertise that provide an integrated response to environment and security challenges. The mission of ENVSEC is to contribute to the reduction of environment and security risks through strengthened cooperation among and within countries in four regions: Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Southern Caucasus, and South-Eastern Europe.

For more information, contact Isabelle Valentiny, Head of Communications, Regional Office for Europe, UNEP at isabelle.valentiny@unep.org - + 41 79 251 82 36 or Mahir Aliyev, UNEP Regional Coordinator: mahir.aliyev@unep.org

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