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Climate-Change Risks: Lawmakers From Nato Allies Demand Ambitious Response

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Faced with mounting security threats related to climate change, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (PA) is urging Allied governments to back an ambitious, legally-binding global agreement in the run-up to and during negotiations at the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Paris this December (COP 21).

A resolution is expected to pass today at the NATO PA’s annual session in Stavanger. Norway has urged governments of the 28 Alliance members to secure an ambitious and legally-binding deal at Paris, while also more fully recognizing climate-change risks and stepping-up their foreign and security policies in response.

The lawmakers also call upon NATO to improve strategic awareness of the security threats increasingly posed by climate change in the form of natural disasters; increased competition for natural resources such as food and water supplies; heightened migration pressures; and growing impacts on public health.

The resolution states that “climate-change related risks are significant threat multipliers that will shape the security environment in areas of concern to the Alliance.” In a clear call to action, the resolution also urges NATO member governments to enhance planning for climate risks; make a greater commitment to green defence policies; and intensify co-operation with partners in the Arctic, Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and other regions particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

“If the world wants to stop irreversible damage to the planet, all governments must agree in Paris to clear, fair, and ambitious targets to reduce emissions,” said French Parliamentarian Philippe Vitel, who drafted the resolution as the NATO PA’s Special Rapporteur of the Science and Technology Committee.

Lord Jopling, Vice-President of the NATO PA and former UK Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, stressed that “we need legally binding rules with regular reviews to encourage states to raise their ambitions. Far too often, governments promise grand commitments, but when you examine them later, very little is done about it.”

“In Paris, our governments must take actions that they will not regret in a few years’ time. We cannot have a repeat of Copenhagen 2009. And that means we need a real commitment to keep the rise in global average temperature to below 1.5° or 2°C above preindustrial levels,” says Baroness Ramsay, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee and Member of the UK House of Lords.

Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, in response to the NATO Parliament Assembly resolution on climate change and international security, explains: “Addressing the pressing security challenges NATO is facing today, especially around the southern and eastern flanks of the Alliance, must be the immediate priority. But, at the same time, to be an effective security organisation there needs to be an eye to future threats. Amongst these threats is the impact of a changing climate, including the risks posed to geopolitical stability and global wellbeing. Indeed, there is compelling evidence to show that a prolonged period of extreme drought has contributed to the current conflict in Syria, with the attendant mass movement of people within the region and beyond.”

“Now is the time for alliance members to demonstrate, both collectively and as individual nations, their commitment to reducing the security risks posed by a changing climate. Paris provides NATO members with the opportunity to show leadership in addressing one of the greatest challenges that we face in the 21st century. Failure to act will likely result in a more unstable world, one that will require NATO forces to be deployed, not just in a humanitarian role but also conflict prevention and, ultimately, conflict resolution.”

Climate change has been rising on the NATO agenda. As Allies observed in the 2010 Strategic Concept and reaffirmed at the 2014 NATO summit, climate change has the power to shape the Euro-Atlantic security environment, with “the potential to significantly affect NATO planning and operations.” Building on this momentum, the Allied lawmakers are now calling on NATO to take the next step and “increase the frequency of military and political consultations on climate change within NATO.”

Although non-binding for Alliance governments and NATO itself, the Assembly’s resolutions are influential in shaping policy. Jens Stoltenberg, who was UN Special Envoy on Climate Change until being appointed NATO Secretary General, will lay out in writing his thoughts on the resolution by the end of 2015.

“The security of Alliance members is at stake,” insists Vitel. “Climate change is increasing the risk of violent conflict by exacerbating known sources of conflict, like poverty and economic shocks. The time to act is now.”

Besides the resolution, he authored a detailed report on the international security implications of climate change for the NATO PA’s Science and Technology Committee in Stavanger. It warns that “climate change is arguably the most critical and difficult challenge of the 21st century.”

The emphasis on climate change at the NATO PA’s Annual Session as part of its comprehensive agenda reflects a growing international understanding of the threat it poses from a security perspective. In April this year, the G7 Foreign Ministers recognised that climate change “poses a threat to the environment, to global security and economic prosperity”. As a result, the ministers set up a working group exploring the recommendations submitted by a consortium of think tanks in the G7-commissioned report “A New Climate for Peace: Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks”.

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly brings together more than 250 senior members of parliament from Allied nations, plus more than 20 associate and observer delegations. It serves as a vital bridge between voters and NATO leadership and is a critical forum for inter-Allied parliamentary discussions. The NATO PA has consistently urged concerted global responses to climate change challenges and has repeatedly called for the inclusion of climate change in NATO’s political agenda.

Lieutenant General Tariq Waseem Ghazi, a member of the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change (GMACCC) and former Defense Secretary of Pakistan, welcomed today’s NATO PA resolution: “The call to NATO members by its Parliamentary Assembly comes at a key time as world leaders prepare to decide upon a collective response to climate change. Growing competition for natural resources, heightened migration pressures, erratic water and food availability, and increasingly frequent natural disasters are just a few of the ways that humanitarian impact from climate change is transforming the security agenda. Exacerbating conflict, changing livelihoods and forcing people into poverty, its bite is already being felt. It is imperative that we see a strong, coordinated response across borders.

“The UN’s climate summit at the end of November is the time for action to ensure we have a lasting, just and meaningful global deal on climate action. World governments have varying but shared responsibilities to ensure not just the conservation of our planet, but also prosperity for their people. Just as NATO’s leaders have been urged to demonstrate the leadership required, so too should militaries around the world more fully recognise the significance of security risks from climate change. If future conflicts due to pressures created by climate change events are to be prevented, global initiatives need to be put in place now.”

Environment

Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations

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green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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Environment

How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions

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auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.

Progress

The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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