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Climate Change News

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Cancún, Mexico – Last week, the COP 16 got under way with a welcoming ceremony hosted by Mexican President Felipe Calderón.

This year’ s climate summit — the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change or UNFCCC — could not be more different from last year’ s negotiations in Copenhagen. Unlike Copenhagen, with artic sub-zero temperatures suffered in few hours of scant of daylight, Cancún welcomed attendees to the summit with plentiful sunshine, clear blues skies and balmy temperatures in the 70s. Yet it’s not only the weather that contrasts.

While last year attendees — heads of state, negotiators, journalists, non-governmental organizations and activists — arrived in droves previously never witnessed for a climate summit, with 35,000 negotiators, journalists and observers attending the conference, and up to 100,000 attending the walk or demonstration, this year, far fewer are attending the conference this year with Mexican authorities estimating up to 22,000 people.

Although that might bode well for the collective carbon footprint, it does not bode well for securing an international legally binding treaty.

Countries have gathered together to achieve agreement on three goals: 1. Establish greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions reductions for developed countries; 2. Secure funding and technology transfers from developed countries to developing countries, to help them address and adapt to climate change; and 3. Decide on a method to monitor, report and verify (MRV) the agreed upon targets of an international climate treaty.

Read more: The Skinny on Cancún: What’s Happening at the International Climate Meeting and What’s at Stake?

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2010 was one of the deadliest years on record for coral reefs. The Caribbean Sea just outside the Cancún climate conference offers evidence of global warming's negative effect.

This summer’s extreme heat may seem like a distant memory as winter approaches the United States. 

But the summer that broke heat records across the Northern Hemisphere is still being felt below the surface of the Caribbean Sea: 2010 will likely be one of the most deadly years on record for coral reefs.

Read more: Outside Cancún climate conference, Caribbean Sea testifies to global warming

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Approximately 5 million people will die over the next ten years due to climate change. They are currently dying at a pace of 350,000 per year, and that rate will increase to one million fatalities per year by 2030, according to a new study published by humanitarian research organziation DARA in conjunction with  the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of vulnerable countries.

The "Climate Vulnerability Monitor: The State of the Climate Crisis" classifies 184 countries across the world according to their vulnerability to climate change on four key areas of impact (health, weather disasters, habitat loss and economic stress) to produce an overall vulnerability ranking ranging from low to acute.

Much of today’s impacts are highly concentrated in some 50 acutely vulnerable low-income countries, urgently needing assistance. The United States of America and Spain are the only advanced industrialized countries in the world to fall into the ‘high’ vulnerability category. Remarkably, when the same methodology is used to assess all countries, the US and Spain register levels of vulnerability similar to major emerging nations such as China, Iran, Indonesia and the Philippines, or African nations like Gabon, Ghana and Egypt.

Read more: Climate Change Will Lead to 5 Million Deaths by 2020 - Report

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A UN agency says there are major funding gaps in efforts to help the agricultural sector adapt to climate change.  The Food and Agriculture Organization, the FAO, says this could affect food security.  The warning comes as the U-N Climate Change Conference continues in Cancun, Mexico.

The World Bank estimates it will cost about $2.5 billion a year – for the next 40 years – to help agriculture in developing countries adapt to climate change.  Other estimates say costs could run as high at $14 billion a year.

However, the FAO says, “Available financing mechanisms are substantially insufficient to meet the climate change and food security challenges faced by the agricultural sector.”  This, despite the fact that the FAO says there are many examples of how agriculture can become more resilient.

Read more: Climate Change: More Funding Needed for Agriculture Adaptation

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DHAKA (Xinhua) - Regional bodies in Asia and the Pacific should get dynamic to combat from the front the impacts of climate change, an Asian Development Bank (ADB) expert said from Mexico's Cancun through a teleconference in Dhaka on Monday.

David S McCauley, ADB's chief climate change specialist, told Xinhua, "Enhanced cooperation through regional and sub-regional bodies like SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is vital to address climate change."

Read more: More regional cooperation vital to combat climate change: ADB expert

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MANILA, Philippines – Just as scientists search for better and immediate solutions to counter the impacts of climate change, international experts bared that the world's coastlines, which include mangroves, sea grasses, and tidal salt marshes, could potentially act as a major "carbon sink" in storing massive quantities of carbon for a long period of time.

It pointed out that mangroves, sea grasses, and tidal salt marshes could serve as immediate and cost-effective tool to offset the impact of climate change.

Conservation International (CI) and the International Union of Conservation Scientists (IUCN) explained that total carbon deposits per square kilometer in these coastal systems can be up to five times the carbon stored in tropical forests, resulting from their ability to sequester carbon at rates up to 50 times those of tropical forests.

Read more: World coastlines can act as 'carbon sink'

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A series of figures released on the sidelines of the ongoing Cancun climate talks highlight the serious impact of climate change on people, cities and countries all over the world.

All nations are vulnerable to climate change and will continue to face the risks as the earth continues its warming trend, according to the Climate Vulnerability Monitor report, launched by the DARA, a leading humanitarian research organization, and the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of committed most vulnerable countries.

The report categorized the impacts in terms of health, weather disasters, habitat loss and economic loss in more than 170 countries. Using large and small green, yellow, orange and red dots, it not only indicates how each country is affected today, but also forecasts the degrees of danger the countries face in the future.

Read more: Cancun data highlights global warming

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 (Bernama) -- Japan and Malaysia are looking at collaborating in the area of green technology through joint business ventures as well as research and development projects.

Japan's Ambassador to Malaysia, Masahiko Horie said he believed that through such an effort, called "Greentech Partnership between Malaysia and Japan" the two countries would be able to achieve many things together.

Read more: Malaysia And Japan Set To Partner On Greentech Projects

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MANILA, Philippines – Green groups urged President Benigno S. Aquino III to lay-out his administration’s plan for the environment in the new Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP). 

Jonathan Ronquillo, environment campaigner of the La Liga Policy Institute also said Aquino should make sure that such plan will give premium to climate change.

“Since President Aquino’s centerpiece program is poverty alleviation, it is imperative that climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction measures must be integrated in the overall anti-poverty program of government. We all know that the poorest sectors are also those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and disasters. How does the Aquino government plan to promote a sound environment today and for the medium term? This should be clearly identified in the MTPDP for 2011-2016,” Ronquillo added.

Read more: Aquino urged to prioritize environment, 'climate' actions in MTPDP 2011-2016

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This is going to be a dirty story — about carbon soot that is. In the combustion of biomass (e.g. wood, crop residues, dried dung), and fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas), the primary end product is the gas carbon dioxide.

As has been noted previously, this gas is colorless and invisible to the eye. Also formed during the combustion process, under certain conditions and to a lesser extent, are small black particles which one can see (such as from diesel engines or lit candles with long wicks), and which have recently been recognized by scientists as a contributor to global warming.

Black carbon or soot is a part of a larger type of emissions, both natural and manmade, called aerosols. These aerosols are very small particles that are suspended in our atmosphere. They can originate from natural sources such as salt spray formed during ocean wave processes, dust formed from the grinding and erosion of land surfaces, forest fires, and volcanic eruptions for example.

Read more: Black Carbon: Impact on Climate Change and Human Health

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