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Outcome of the COP21 Agreement

19 Jan 2016

The UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris 30 November to 11 December 2015 [COP21] confirmed the target of keeping global temperature rise to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, but added that the target should be 1.5°C, needed to protect island states most threatened by sea level rise.  It was agreed to ask all countries to review their 'Intended Nationally Determined Contributions' every 5 years, starting 2020. Countries were encouraged to make progress to more ambitious targets and must not change them to less ambitious.  They should aim to achieve carbon neutrality during 2050-2099; this goal will require ceasing to use the most polluting fossil fuels.  Funding for projects enabling adaptation to climate change impacts must raise US$100 billion per annum now [donations and loans] and be increasing.  Rich countries are to assist developing countries; rich countries and developing countries are to assist the poorest countries.  A meeting in 2025 is to further quantify commitments to assist the poorest countries.  Formal signing of the agreement takes place in New York on 22 April 2016. To come in to force, it needs to be ratified by at least 55 countries together representing at least 55% of global emissions.

Background to COP21, Paris, December 2015

9 Dec 2015

The 21st 'Conference of Parties' since 1992 [COP21] is poised to deliver agreement on the rules providing for periodic review of the 'Intended Nationally Determined Contributions' to greenhouse gas emissions. 146 of the 195 countries in the UN 'Framework Convention on Climate Change' [UNFCC] had submitted proposals by 1 October 2015, 155 by 30 October.
The 'worst case' scenario based on the current trajectory of emissions [which many scientists believe to be the 'most likely' scenario] would result in global warming of 4.5 to 6°C  by 2100.  The 'intended contributions' published by 1 October have been estimated [by the UNFCC] to result in global warming of 2.7 to 3.0°C by 2100.  These contributions are intended to be achieved by 2025 to 2030.  To achieve the widely recognised objective of global warming less than 2°C by 2100 [or 1.5°C as some countries demand] is expected to need more ambitious contributions than those currently on offer.  Hence the importance of COP21, one outcome of which is expected to be an agreed  mechanism for periodic review of intended contributions to greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

World Water Day 2014

20 Mar 2014

World Water Day 2014 is on 22 March.  Follow the link at left for information related to New Zealand water and an event in Christchurch.

Budapest Water Summit Statement

21 Oct 2013

Following the UN Conference on Sustainable Development 2012 [“Rio + 20”] a water summit was held in Hungary, primarily to develop a global ‘water development goal’ for Millennium Development from 2015. The ‘Budapest Water Summit Statement’ is the result.  This 6-page statement [see URL below] expands on seven main outcomes from the Summit, with brief headings: 1) Water is fundamental; 2) Water unites; 3) Water connects; 4) Water and ecosystems; 5) A dedicated water goal; 6) Capacity development for water; 7) A robust inter-governmental institutional mechanism. The water goal, 5, would be supported by specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound [SMART] targets related to: drinking water, sanitation, integrated water resource management, re-use, pollution, resilience including to climate change.

Rate of Global Temperature Change

15 Mar 2013

An article in Science on 7 March 2013 reports the use of 73 ice and sediment cores from around the world to reconstruct Earth’s temperature back 11 300 years to the end of the last ice age.  It shows a warmer planet now than has been the case during 70-80% of that time period.  The last 5000 years showed an average 0.7 degree C cooling, whereas the last 100 years showed an average 0.7 degree C temperature rise. "The Earth's climate is complex and responds to multiple forcings, including carbon dioxide and solar insolation," says one of the authors.  "Both changed very slowly over the past 11 000 years. But in the last 100 years, the increase in carbon dioxide through increased emissions from human activities has been significant. It's the only variable that can best explain the rapid increase in global temperatures."

Boulding Award 2012

18 Jun 2012

Ecological Footprint Co-Founder and President, Dr Mathis Wackernagel, and co-creator of the Ecological Footprint, Dr. William Rees of the University of British Columbia, have been named the winners of the 2012 Kenneth E. Boulding Award, the world’s top honour in the field of ecological economics.  The biennial award will be presented at the UN “Rio +20” Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 20-22 June 2012.

UN World Risk Index

23 Dec 2011

Two Pacific Ocean neighbours of New Zealand rank 1 and 2 on a World Risk Index released in September by the UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security based in Bonn, Germany [Institut für Umwelt und menschliche Sicherheit].  Vanuatu at 32% and Tonga at 29% rank above such nations as Philippines, Solomon Islands, Guatemala and Bangladesh using four indicators of risk to natural disasters: exposure; susceptibility; coping capacities; and adaptive capacities.  Although the index is focussed on suddenly occurring hazards like earthquakes and floods, it also includes chronic hazards like droughts and sea level rise – no doubt the reason for the position of Vanuatu and Tonga.  Japan at rank 35 is the only developed country to have a Risk Index greater than 10%.  New Zealand and Australia rank 119 and 120 [of 173: Qatar 0.02%], both at about 4%.

NZ Government Financial Support for Irrigation

18 May 2011

In addition to the pre-Budget announcements on a National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and a pollution clean-up fund [see below, 18 May] an announcement was made on 9 May by the Minister for Agriculture, David Carter, on “Lifting investment in irrigation”.  A new Irrigation Acceleration Fund will provide M$35 over five years to “support the development of irrigation infrastructure proposals to the ‘investment-ready’ prospectus stage”.  Also announced was an ‘intention to consider’, in a future budget, Crown equity investment up to M$400 from 2013/14 in construction of regional-scale schemes, some involving storage. The Government intention is to “give confidence” to capital markets to invest in such schemes.

NZ Government Freshwater Management

18 May 2011

On 9 May, as part of pre-Budget announcements, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith outlined three initiatives related to fresh water management.  One related to irrigation is noted above.  A National Policy Statement [NPS] “Freshwater Management 2011” was gazetted 12 May to take effect 1 July 2011.  It has a 5-year history. A Proposed NPS was prepared by the Minister for Environment following a decision to do so in 2006. This was subsequently referred to a Board of Enquiry, which notified a modified Proposed NPS in September 2008.  The Board reported its recommendations to the Minister in January 2010. Rather than adopting the recommendations in whole or in part, the Minister in March 2010 referred this modified Proposed NPS to the Land and Water Forum. The Forum included comment in its report to the Minister in September 2010. The NPS has national objectives and consequent policies related to water quality and quantity, integrated management and tangata whenua roles and interests.  These have to be observed by regional councils in their Regional Policy Statements, which in turn influence the content of regional plans for water management.  The third initiative is for a ‘pollution clean-up’ fund aimed to assist communities with historic water pollution problems.  This arose from a recommendation of the Land and Water Forum in their September 2010 report.  A contestable fund of M$7.5 in each of 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 will invite applications from June 2011. Sources: ;

Today is World Water Day

22 Mar 2011

World Water Day in 2011 is marked on 22 March.  There are events and activities around the world, including in New Zealand, in accord with the 2011 theme "Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge".  See more by clicking on the lowest navigation entry on the list at left.  As will be obvious from earlier News posts here about the recent Christchurch earthquakes, this city now has an even greater challenge than previously expected to restore and rehabilitate water ecosystems, networks and amenity values.

DPC Ltd Back in the Office

11 Mar 2011

The post-earthquake repairs and clean-up are sufficiently advanced for us to resume occupancy of the office. Computer and telecoms systems are back in order [and tied down].  Aftershocks continue and there remain major infrastructure and access problems in central Christchurch and Eastern suburbs.

Post-earthquake DPC Work Resumes

8 Mar 2011

Limited access to our Deans Park office has allowed retrieval of computing equipment and files.  Work has resumed from home.  Email is functioning [see 'Where we are'] but all telephone calls are currently diverted to our office landlord, Aqualinc Research Ltd [Dr John Bright].  Target date to re-occupy the office is 14 March.

22 February Christchurch Earthquake

26 Feb 2011

Due to a major earthquake at Lyttelton and Christchurch on 22 February 2011 there has been loss of life and devastation of buildings in the central city.  DPC Ltd office is presently not accessible. We ourselves [Robyn and David] and our immediate family and friends are fine and our house is OK.

Update on Monte Belo Dam

4 Feb 2011

A news item here a year ago [11 Feb. 2010 World’s 3rd Largest Dam?] reported that “the Brazilian government has granted an environmental licence for the Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River tributary of the Amazon, near Altamira in Northern Brazil.”  That was in spite of widespread opposition from community and environmental groups.  Now the next step has been taken with the granting of a ‘partial’ installation licence.  It allows the dam builder [Norte Energia] to build access roads and start clearing forest from dam construction sites.  It is claimed by opposition groups [and reportedly also by the Government’s own Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office] that the dam builder has not complied with environmental and social requirements for an installation licence and that there is no provision for a ‘partial’ licence in Brazilian law.  The Public Prosecutor is quoted as saying that the Environmental Agency which granted the licence [IBAMA] is “putting the region at a high social and environmental risk by granting a license allowing installation of the construction site while not requiring compliance with legally-mandated safeguards.”  The Environmental Agency’s President recently resigned, reportedly in connection with the licence and related political pressure.  The Brazilian National Development Bank has decided to not release funds from a US$640 million loan to the dam builder until 40 social and environmental loan conditions are met and a full installation licence is issued.
Sources: ;

World Wetlands Day

1 Feb 2011

2 February 2011 is the World Wetlands Day of the Ramsar Convention, this year having its 40th anniversary.  2011 is also the UN International Year of Forests, so the theme of World Wetlands Day is 'Wetlands and Forests' this year.  Six of the 1912 wetlands designated as 'of International Importance' are in New Zealand, covering 55 500 hectares: Firth of Thames, Kopuatai Peat Dome, Manawatu River mouth and estuary and Whangamarino peat bog and swamp in North island; Awarua and Farewell Spit in South Island.  We also have a National Wetland Policy (1986). The Department of Conservation is marking the Ramsar 40th Anniversary with a 'Target 40' calendar of activities related to wetlands.

Season Greetings from DPC Ltd

22 Dec 2010

The Directors, Management and Staff of David Painter Consulting [DPC] Ltd [that's Robyn and David] wish you all the best for this Christmas Season and a great start to New year 2011.

Christchurch Earthquake 4 Sep. 2010

8 Sep 2010

The magnitude 7.1 earthquake centred West of Christchurch on 4 September has had extensive coverage in the news media.  There are tragic stories of disrupted life in some city suburbs and rural districts and historic buildings destroyed in the central business district and in the countryside.  On a more positive note, possibly 70-80% of Christchurch homes escaped with minor or no damage, much of the rural landscape is untouched and there was NO loss of life directly from the earthquake.  Aftershocks up to magnitude 5.4 have continued, leaving people unsettled, but there is much determination to 'get on with life'.  The DPC Ltd office in Christchurch had no damage other than contents strewn on the floor.  Normal service resumes shortly!

Ellesmere, Lincoln and a 245 km2 Iceberg

16 Aug 2010

The largest iceberg in the Northern Hemisphere at the beginning of August 'calved' from the ice tongue of the Petermann Glacier in Northwest Greenland on 4 August. It is the largest such event on this glacier since 1991. Envisat ASAR satellite imagery is being used to monitor its movement because it is about to enter the Nares Strait, which is navigable by icebreakers during August and September. And what has this to do with Te Waihora Lake Ellesmere, near Lincoln [see home page photo]? Only the names. The Nares Strait separates Greenland from Ellesmere Island [Canada] and connects the Lincoln Sea with Baffin Bay.

New UN Body for Biodiversity and Ecosystems

23 Jun 2010

A meeting in South Korea of representatives from 85 countries agreed on 11 June to the formation of an ‘Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services [IPBES]’. It is expected to be approved by the UN General Assembly later this year and will operate much like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC].  The IPBES will periodically assess, at scales from global to sub-regional, biodiversity and ecosystem services to humankind such as: fresh water; fish, timber and a stable climate. It should also identify gaps in research and identify tools available to allow policy-makers to apply science to resource management decision-making.

'Six Gorges' Dam

2 Jun 2010

China is reported to be considering building a 38 GW hydropower station on the Yarlung Tsangpo River in SW Tibet.  The largest hydropower installation in the world at present is the Three Gorges dam on the Yangtze River in China, with installed capacity usually given as about 18 GW.  There is already a 500 MW installation under construction further upstream on the Yarlung Tsangpo and four others planned.  38 GW is more than 50 times the capacity of the Manapouri Power Station, New Zealand’s largest.  The Yarling Tsangpo is said to be “the last great undammed river in Tibet”.  After passage through Himalayan gorges it becomes the Brahmaputra River in India.  Eventually, in Bangladesh [as the Jamuna River], it merges with the Ganges and Meghna Rivers in the world’s largest river delta.  The lower reaches of the Brahmaputra [“son of Brahma”] are sacred to Hindu.  As the catchment of the river includes areas of China, Tibet, India and Bangladesh, and as the delta regularly floods with loss of lives and property, there are bound to be international issues related to upstream storage management.
Sources: Guardian Weekly 28 May-3 June 2010 p.6;

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