Reduce meat consumption to curb global warming — U.N. report

Marje Pelayo   •   August 9, 2019   •   1186

Global meat consumption must fall to curb global warming, reduce growing strains on land and water and improve food security, health and biodiversity, a United Nations report on the effects of climate change concluded on Thursday (August 8).

Although the report stopped short of explicitly advocating going meat-free, it called for big changes to farming and eating habits to limit the impact of population growth and changing consumption patterns on stretched land and water resources.

Plant-based foods and sustainable animal-sourced food could free up several million square kilometers of land by 2050 and cut 0.7-8.0 gigatonnes a year of carbon dioxide equivalent, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said.

The IPCC met this week in Geneva, Switzerland to finalize its report which should help to guide governments meeting this year in Chile on ways to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Land can be both a source and sink of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming, and better land management can help in tackling climate change, the IPCC said.

But it is not the only solution and cutting emissions from all sectors is essential to quickly curtailing global warming.

Since the pre-industrial era, the land surface air temperature has risen by 1.53 degrees Celsius, twice as much as the global average temperature (0.87C), causing more heatwaves, droughts, and heavy rain, as well as land degradation and desertification.

Human use directly affects more than 70% of the global, ice-free land surface and agriculture accounts for 70% of freshwater use, the IPCC added in the report.

Agriculture, forestry and other land use activities accounted for 23% of total net man-made greenhouse gas emissions during 2007-2016. When pre- and post-production activity in the food system are included, that rises to up to 37%.

Last year the IPCC’s first special report warned that keeping the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), rather than the 2C target agreed under the Paris accord, required rapid change across society.

The IPCC warned of more disruption to global food chains as extreme weather becomes more frequent due to climate change and said environmental costs should be factored into food.

It projects a median increase of 7.6% in cereal prices by 2050, meaning higher food prices and an increased risk of hunger.

While an estimated 821 million people are undernourished, changing consumption habits have already contributed to about 2 billion adults being overweight or obese.

While forests can soak up heat-trapping gases from the atmosphere, desertification and deforestation can amplify warming due to the loss of vegetation cover and soil erosion.

Measures to cut emissions, such as the production of biofuels, biochar – made from biomass – as well as planting trees, will also increase demand for land conversion.

Reducing deforestation and forest degradation could result in a reduction of 0.4-5.8 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, the report said. (REUTERS)

(Production: Marina Depetris)

Robredo on claim she invited UN prosecutors to discuss drug war: ‘Fake news yun’

Robie de Guzman   •   November 20, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday denied President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that she invited United Nations Human Rights Commission prosecutors to look into the government’s campaign against illegal drugs after she was appointed to co-lead its inter-agency committee.

Robredo said she only met with officers from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, and the United States Embassy in Manila last week to discuss initiatives against illegal drugs.

“Wala akong UN prosecutor na kakilala. Wala akong sinulatan. Wala akong inimbita. Kaya kung may nakarating sa kaniyang may inimbita ako, fake news yun,” she said.

Duterte on Tuesday appeared incensed over a tweet by Phelim Kine, former deputy director for Asia of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, in which he stated his willingness to go to the Philippines to help advise Robredo about her new role as anti-drug committee co-chair.

“Dear VP @lenirobredo – my bags are packed and I’m ready to come to the #Philippines to help advise how to end this murderous “drug war,” Kine said in his tweet posted on Nov. 11.

“Meanwhile here is my Recommendation No. 1: Arrest #Duterte and his henchmen for inciting & instigating mass murder,” he added.

Duterte described Kine as a United Nations prosecutor supposedly invited by Robredo.

“Pati ba naman ‘yang prosecutor and the tweet. Nakita ko yung tweet eh. ‘I am packed and ready to go to arrest Duterte.’ Yan ang imbitahin mo? Ganun ang salita sa akin?” he said.

“She invited even ang mga prosecutor ng Human Rights Commission which we rebuked. Bakit papupuntahin dito ang mga prosecutors and all? She was grandstanding na. It was like a carnival, she was talking right and left na,” he added.

READ: Duterte admits not trusting Robredo

Duterte has been sensitive to criticisms against his administration’s war on drugs, and even decided to withdraw the Philippines’ ratification of the Rome Statute, a United Nations (UN) treaty that created the International Criminal Court following its move in 2018 to launch a preliminary probe on claims that Duterte committed crimes against humanity through his war on drugs.

In July 2019, The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution led by Iceland, seeking to probe the human rights situation in the Philippines amid the administration’s war on drugs.

Malacañang slammed the adoption of the resolution, calling it “grotesquely one-sided” and designed “to embarrass the Philippines before the international community.” — RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

DILG pledges support to Green Climate Fund projects

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 19, 2019

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has pledged its support to the country’s first Green Climate Fund (GCF) project.

According to the DILG, the GCF aims to establish multi-hazard impact-based forecasting and early warning system (MH-IBF-EWS) in the local government units (LGUs).

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said this aims to translate hazard forecasts into warnings which will provide the location and specific impacts directly to the LGUs and communities on the ground.

“Climate change has been a global issue that we can’t just take for granted. We must acknowledge it and fortify our country with safety measures like the MH-IBF-EWS. As one of the most vulnerable countries that can fall victim to climate change, we should be proactive in developing counter-measures,” he said.

Año said areas including Tuguegarao City, Legazpi City, the town of Palo in Leyte, and New Bataan in Davao de Oro will be the target local government units (LGUs) of the GCF project.

The said project has been approved by the Green Climate Fund Board during its recent meeting in Songdo, Korea and is worth $10 million.—AAC

Duterte eyes ban on use of plastic

Robie de Guzman   •   November 8, 2019

Plastic along coastline in Cap-Haitien, Haiti | REUTERS

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing to ban the use of plastics in a bid to mitigate the effects of climate change, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president mentioned the idea during a discussion on climate change in a Cabinet meeting last Wednesday.

“The president floated the idea to ban the use of plastics, which according to him would require legislative action,” Panelo told reporters but said he is not sure if Duterte was referring to single-use plastics.

There are bills filed in Congress seeking to ban the use of single-use plastics that are currently pending at a committee level.

These measures seek to prohibit food establishments, stores, and markets from issuing single-use plastics, and task manufacturers to control the circulation and disposal of these materials. It also encourages consumers to instead use reusable or other alternative materials.

The Philippines has been listed in a 2015 report as one of the biggest sources of plastic leaking into the oceans, after China and Indonesia.

A recent study by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) revealed that Filipinos use more than 163 million plastic sachet packets, 48 million shopping bags and 45 million thin film bags daily.

The report called “Plastics exposed: How waste assessments and brand audits are helping Philippine cities fight plastic pollution,” used data from household waste assessments and brand audits conducted by Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) in six cities and seven municipalities across the country in the past five years.

The organization extrapolated the data to calculate daily and yearly plastic usage throughout the country in order to provide new quantitative evidence about plastic pollution in the Philippines.

GAIA said that findings in the report show how cities and municipalities in the Philippines are struggling against plastic residuals despite efforts of many localities to institute Zero Waste programs.

With the projected increase in plastic production worldwide, including in the Philippines, the group said that national governments, as well as local government authorities need robust data and effective strategies to address the looming plastic pollution crisis.

It also called on manufacturers to regulate, and stop producing, single-use plastics.

“We would appreciate kung ang Pangulo will tell Congress na iprioritize nga itong bill on single-use plastic,” Beau Baconguis, an Asia Pacific Plastics Campaigner of GAIA said.

“Dapat hindi lang tignan as a waste disposal issue at waste management issue pero titingnan ang buong life cycle ng plastic at buong problemang kaakibat ng different stages ng production ng plastic,” Baconguis added.

The House of Representatives, for its part, assured it will continue to conduct inquiries on proposals to ban the use of plastics in the country.

“There will be a hearing before the committee level, all the stakeholders shall be heard, and ultimately we shall decide the course,” Cavite Fourth District Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr., who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, said.

“The decision of the President will carry much weight in so far as the action of the House of representatives is concerned,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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