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#COP21: $1 Billion Dollars Mobilised To Protect The Vulnerable From Extreme Climate

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Major international partnerships under the Lima to Paris Action Agenda are mobilizing large-scale financing to protect people who the most vulnerable from climate impacts, reflecting the fact that building a climate resilient world is essential to secure hard-won development gains and ensure that future investment is not lost to climate change.

Announcements were made today under the Lima-Paris Action Agenda in the second part of the “Resilience Focus” event, dedicated to building more resilient societies and economies for people who are vulnerable to climate change impacts.

Extreme climate already impacts hundreds of millions of people every year, undermining or destroying their livelihoods, their homes and their environment. The Rockefeller Foundation estimates that over the last 30 years, $1 out of every $3 spent on development has been lost as a result of such recurring crises, a total loss of $3.8 trillion worldwide. In contrast, resilient societies and economies suffer less and recover more quickly from such natural disasters.

The initiatives in the Resilience Focus cover the full spread of peoples needs as they face increasing climate impacts, underling the fact that building effective resilience cannot be achieved in a disconnected fashion. For example, giving people early warning of extreme climate events may save their lives, but there is no additional economic benefit if they cannot get insurance in the first place.

The initiatives include:

Early warning systems for over 50 least developed countries and small island states

A coalition has been launched to develop early warning systems for more than 50 least developed countries and small island developing states by 2020. The Climate Risks and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative is to mobilize US$ 100 million over that period to fill gaps in existing bilateral and multilateral cooperation programs. A trust fund hosted by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery will support this objective. Annick Girardin, French Minister of State for Development and Francophony said: “Prevention is always the less expensive solution. CREWS is about saving lives”.

Providing access to insurance to 400 million vulnerable people in 5 years

The G7 InsuResilience Initiative is to work with existing regional risk management and insurance pools, such as the African Risk Capacity and the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), to provide access to insurance services for 400 million people over the next five years in the most vulnerable countries.

With an initial commitment of 150 million Euros from Germany, the G7 InsuResilience is committing finance to set up the initiative and to start the first phase of implementation. The initiative will also support the development of early warning systems in the most vulnerable countries. Additional resources will be announced during Action Day.

Increase resilience for local communities in the Sahara and Sahel

The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative is a major African-led initiative with the bold ambition to restore the productivity and vitality of the Sahel region, whilst ‘growing solutions’ to the Continent’s most urgent development challenges. The initiative seeks to improve climate resilience for local communities in the region, and to increase food security for 20 million people faced with starvation in the Sahel.
As announced yesterday, the World Bank will allocate investments amounting to USD 2.2 billion for the Great Green Wall and Lake Chad.

US$ 150 million partnership looks to mobilize more funding for Africa and Asia

The Global Resilience Partnership (GRP) is increasing its ability to invest in innovative resilience measures in the next five years by mobilizing additional funding, inviting others to join the partnership. With an initial commitment of US$ 150 million, the GRP’s goal is to build resilience in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and South and Southeast Asia, prioritizing cross-sector collaboration and innovation that enables vulnerable communities to better manage and adapt to climate change. The additional funds will allow GRP to expand coverage to other vulnerable hotspots.

EU mobilizes €125 million for countries affected by ‘El Niño’

The European Union announced today a contribution of €125 million to finance emergency actions in countries affected by the extreme weather phenomenon ‘El Niño’ in Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America. The support will contribute to the joint effort of bringing life-saving emergency assistance and increasing resilience in the affected countries. It will combine humanitarian and development assistance to address immediate needs of nutrition, water and sanitation, health and shelter. It will provide support to health structures, provision of food and safe drinking water, supplementary food for pregnant women and children. It will also help build resilience in the most exposed countries by enhancing disaster preparedness, early response mechanisms, and supporting long-term development solutions.

UN initiative strengthens ability to anticipate, absorb and “reshape” climate impacts

A new initiative has been launched to build climate resilience in the world’s most vulnerable countries by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and 13 members within the UN system. The “A2R” (anticipate, absorb, reshape) initiative is to strengthen the ability of countries to anticipate hazards, absorb shocks, and reshape development to reduce climate risks.

The new initiative is to address the needs of the nearly 634 million people, or one tenth of the global population, who live in risk-prone coastal areas just a few meters above existing sea levels, as well as those living in areas at risk from droughts and floods. It brings together private sector organizations, governments, UN agencies, research institutions and other stakeholders to scale up transformative solutions. It focuses on Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries, and African countries. “It is time to move from risk to resilience”, said UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon.

“The initiative is a multi-stakeholder partnership that focuses on accelerating climate resilience before 2020 for the most vulnerable by strengthening three elements: First, the capacity to better anticipate and act on climate hazards through early warning and early action; second, the capacity to absorb shocks by increasing insurance and social protection coverage; third, the capacity to adapt development to reduce risks at the national and international levels,” he said.

The LPAA initiatives addressing RESILIENCE Vulnerability & People are, as for today:

– Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI)

– Climate Risks and Early Warning Systems – CREWS

– G7 Insurance Resilience Initiative

– Food Security Climate Resilience Facility

– Rural Resilience Facility R4

– Global Resilience Partnership

– A2R Anticipate Absorb Reshape

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Environment

Two Ancient Japanese Philosophies Are the Future of Eco-Living

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Eco-Living
Shutterstock Photos - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Our obsession with all things new has blighted the planet. We have a waste crisis, particularly when it comes to plastic. US scientists have calculated the total amount of plastic ever made – 8.3 billion tons! Unfortunately, only 9% of this is estimated to have been recycled. And current global trends point to there being 12 billion tons of plastic waste by 2050.

However, two ancient Japanese philosophies are providing an antidote to the excesses of modern life. By emphasizing the elimination of waste and the acceptance of the old and imperfect, the concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi have positively influenced Japanese life for centuries.

They are now making their way into the consciousness of the Western mainstream, with an increasing influence in the UK and US. By encouraging us to be frugal with our possessions, (i.e. using natural materials for interior design) these concepts can be the future of eco-living.

What is Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai??

Wabi-Sabi emphasizes an acceptance of transience and imperfection. Although Wabi had the original meaning of sad and lonely, it has come to describe those that are simple, unmaterialistic and at one with nature. The term Sabi is defined as the “the bloom of time”, and has evolved into a new meaning: taking pleasure and seeing beauty in things that are old and faded. 

Any flaws in objects, like cracks or marks, are cherished because they illustrate the passage of time. Wear and tear is seen as a representation of their loving use. This makes it intrinsically linked to Wabi, due to its emphasis on simplicity and rejection of materialism.

In the West, Wabi-Sabi has infiltrated many elements of daily life, from cuisine to interior design. Specialist Japanese homeware companies, like Sansho, source handmade products that embody the Wabi-Sabi philosophy. Their products, largely made from natural materials, are handcrafted by traditional Japanese artisans – meaning no two pieces are the same and no two pieces are “perfect” in size or shape.

Mottainai

Mottainai is a term expressing a feeling of regret concerning waste, translating roughly in English to either “what a waste!” or “Don’t waste!”. The philosophy emphasizes the intrinsic value of a resource or object, and is linked to hinto animism, the notion that all objects have a spirit, or ‘kami’. The idea that we are part of nature is a key part of Japanese psychology.

Mottainai also has origins in Buddhist philosophy. The Buddhist monastic tradition emphasizes a life of frugality, to allow us to concentrate on attaining enlightenment. It is from this move towards frugality that a link to Mottainai as a concept of waste can be made.

How have Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai promoted eco living?

Wabi-Sabi is still a prominent feature of Japanese life today, and has remained instrumental in the way people design their homes. The ideas of imperfection and frugality are hugely influential.

For example, instead of buying a brand-new kitchen table, many Japanese people instead retain a table that has been passed through the generations. Although its long use can be seen by various marks and scratches, Wabi-Sabi has taught people that they should value it because of its imperfect nature. Those scratches and marks are a story and signify the passage of time. This is a far cry from what we typically associate with the Western World.

Like Wabi Sabi, Mottainai is manifested throughout Japanese life, creating a great respect for Japanese resources. This has had a major impact on home design. For example, the Japanese prefer natural materials in their homes, such as using soil and dried grass as thermal insulation.

Their influence in the UK

The UK appears to be increasingly influenced by thes two concepts. Some new reports indicate that Wabi Sabi has been labelled as ‘the trend of 2018’. For example, Japanese ofuro baths inspired the project that won the New London Architecture’s 2017 Don’t Move, Improve award. Ofuro baths are smaller than typical baths, use less water, and are usually made out of natural materials, like hinoki wood.

Many other UK properties have also been influenced by these philosophies, such as natural Kebony wood being applied to the external cladding of a Victorian property in Hampstead; or a house in Lancaster Gate using rice paper partitions as sub-dividers. These examples embody the spirit of both philosophies. They are representative of Mottainai because of their use of natural resources to discourage waste. And they’re reflective of Wabi-Sabi because they accept imperfect materials that have not been engineered or modified.

In a world that is plagued by mass over-consumption and an incessant need for novelty, the ancient concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi provide a blueprint for living a more sustainable life. They help us to reduce consumption and put less of a strain on the planet. This refreshing mindset can help us transform the way we go about our day to day lives.

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