CLIMATE CHANGE AND SOLUTIONS

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‘Parking Gets A Lift’ was a heading from a morning newspaper. This is a technology, which all upper middle class people loves to cherish. Space is very limited. Hence, we are going for things which are more and more smaller in technology. Something, which fits our pocket and in miniature form is always a welcome. The important significance lies in the fact that if it is in a smaller form, it reduces the release of Green House Gases and thus we make a difference in our Climatic System too. Lets now have a look into the newly made Parking Lot – Something, which do not need any human interference. A 5 level underground parking, with a capacity to park over 1500 cars at a time. Now imagine this technology solutions :- Total Capacity is 1518 cars, Number of cars handled at a time is 21, Area is 10,000 sqm, Number of levels is 5 and the total cost is almost 30 million dollars. Well, imagine the space we save with
this technology!

Constructive thinking make a better climate. People can use the space for tree plantation. Hence, a city which has very less greeneries will have a choice to include afforestation initiatives in their Urban Planning Project and thus improve. The next thing, which goes into effect is creating awareness about Green Energy. Well, an energy, which is renewable and can be utilized again and again. Just a simple definition of physics that energy cannot be destroyed or created but transforms form one form to other. Hence, the onus goes to the Research Universities to find out as to how to use light energy to electrical and then to light and back to electrical. Just an example, Most of us must have seen a Solar Lantern. The basic energy is Sun Light. In general, a Solar Lantern can light upto 3 hours for 3W. Well, now imagine this situation, can this 3W light that is emitted can be transformed again back to electrical energy, by some instrument, so that it can be used for some other work. Green Technologies can make wonders. It is clean and doesn’t emit harmful substances.

Special awareness is required for the use of Green Technologies. Each one of us has to play a small part. Its though our joint effort, we can make a difference.

a) Make your mind to grow up in environment of Clean and Green Energy.
b) Report and request your elected Representatives to give more importance in making Green Buildings
c) Change most of your power to Solar, Wind or Geothermal energies.
d) Write and Voice your concerns. Talk to Media about your wish to give importance to Clean
Energies.

We have to remember just one fact that if we don’t take any interest in ‘Green Technologies’, then others will not follow. Its just when there is a demand; Industries will build it with more interest and thus we move forward with it. The demand itself will change the marketing policies and hence the word ‘Green’ will be linked to each and every small items, which will later make a more sustainable Climate.

This is an opportunity for us to make a difference into the life of our future generations.

It is not only uncertainty about the underlying climate science that should be of concern to us. Ultimately we are interested in the impact of climate change on human societies, and this involves knowing not only how the climate may alter but also how changes in the climate regime translate into impacts that matter for humans. How do climate changes translate into changes in agricultural production, into changes in the ranges of disease vectors, into changes in patterns of tourist travel, even into feelings of well-being directly associated with the state of the climate? So the main concern here about the outcome of a process is of two stages:
Change in the climate regime:

Translation of Climate Change into changes in things that matter directly to us. Even if we knew exactly what the climate would be in 2050, we still would face major economic uncertainties because we currently do not know how altered climate states map into human welfare. Right now, we are prognosticating the dangers, but it’s not late, when it will be a reality.

In assessing the economics of climate change there are therefore at least two sources of uncertainty – what the climate will be, and what any given changed climate will mean in economic terms. In fact there is a third stage, uncertainty about the policies that we will choose as humans to control emissions over the coming decades.

Responding to Climate Change:
A good sustainable policy is a very good answer to Climate Change. A good Environment means a better climate and in turns a sustainable world. Sustainable development means that the needs of the present generations should be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is stated in many reports that adaptability is one of the best known options to such situations. Well, it’s a good option, but then it’s losing attitude to an incident.

The best way towards having a sustainable climate is reducing the gap between humans and its surroundings. It requires collaboration of natural and social scientists, planners and managers and the local people. It should be an interdisciplinary programme of research and training which emphasizes an ecological approach to the study of interrelationship between humans and their environment. The general objective of the programme is to develop the
basis within the natural and social sciences for the rational use and conservation of the resources of the biosphere and for the improvement of global relationships between human and their environment to predict the consequences of today’s actions on tomorrow’s World and thereby to increase human’s ability to manage efficiently the natural resources of the biosphere and make a Sustainable Climate.

Another important factor for climate change is to do research on various issues. For example: Biologists at the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center will do some leaf peeping of their own to find out — studying how temperature affects the development of autumn colors and whether the warming climate could mute them, prolong the foliage viewing season or delay it. Using a three-year, $45,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, they’re planning to measure the color pigments in leaves exposed to varying temperatures in hopes of finding a pattern. NASA carried out a study on the burning of fossil fuels — notably coal, oil, and gas — which has accounted for about 80 percent of the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide since the pre-industrial era. Now, NASA researchers have
identified feasible emission scenarios that could keep carbon dioxide below levels that some scientists have called dangerous for climate. The research, published Aug. 5 in the American Geophysical Union’s Global Biogeochemical Cycles, shows that the rise in carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels can be kept below harmful levels as long as emissions from coal are phased out globally within the next few decades.

So, what would Climate Change mean for the business community?

Global warming will change the economic climate. For example, global warming changes rainfall patterns, which will impact agricultural practices and production. To mitigate global warming will call for nontraditional energy sources. Coastal states dependent on agriculture or traditional energy production for their economic base have vested economic interest in the mitigation of global warming and in solutions to energy needs that move beyond traditional fossil fuel sources because of their link to climate change. Realizing that rising sea levels would have a profound impact on local coastlines, many States are taking GHG reduction plan to mitigate global warming, based primarily on voluntary covenants from businesses, schools, churches, and the state’s largest utility company.

National Climate Service:

Each Country may have a national climate service — an interagency charged with understanding climate dynamics, forecasts and impacts – with tie up with Research Universities. This can help to get new ideas and diversify our efforts towards a better Climate. Unlike the National Weather Service, which forecasts weather up to a week in advance and
sometimes two weeks in advance, a national climate service ideally would help with forecasts of climate fluctuations that might be expected anywhere from three months to a year. Forecasts from a national climate service could give months of advance warnings to water and power managers, private industries and those charged with human safety when the probabilities for such things as flooding and drought appear to be changing from what is typical. In addition, scenarios of climate change could be projected for specific regions up to one hundred years out. Such a service would be concerned both with “climate variability,” the natural seasonal to decades-long variations in climate, and the effects of climate change, the changes brought about by increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,
largely because of human activities.

So, for a better climate and a Safer World, these projects can be taken up:

a) Giving importance and funding for renewable sources of energy like wind, water, geothermal and bio-energy for meeting the daily usage.

b) Funding research for:
I) More Fuel efficient vehicles;
ii) Bio-fuels
iii)Higher efficiency aircrafts
iv) Other good transport planning and policies
c) Spreading awareness and stressing on:
I) Efficient use of lighting
ii) More efficient electrical appliances and heating and cooling
iii) Use of solar energy to meet the demand
iv) Proper use of electricity and as the saying goes ‘energy should not be wasted’.
(The most important thing that could be done is creation of intelligent meters that will provide feedback and control)

d) Industries:

I) Industry employees should be trained towards usage of cleaner technology
ii)Recycling of the harmful wastes
iii) Saving of power
iv) Control of carbon-dioxide gas emissions
v) Usage of more power efficient machines
vi) Creating a green belt around the industry and its proper maintenance.

e) Agriculture:

I) Transfer of good equipments for the farmers in the poorest and the poorest areas for
effective land management. Also methods to give good yields.
ii) Techniques and equipments so that Methane emission can be lessened
(This can be done by increasing the financial incentives and regulations for improved land
management, maintaining soil carbon content, efficient use of fertilizers and irrigation.)

f) Forestry:

I) Initiatives for proper and good forest management. Reduced deforestation. Making mandatory the slogan’ “A HUMAN, A TREE”, so that all humans can involve themselves. Project to initiate on the fact that one human in the World should plant one tree/plant.
ii) Research into increasing the biodiversity. Efforts should be made for funds transfer
towards projects like this.
iii) Improved Remote Sensing Technologies along with GIS (Geographic Information Systems)
for analysis of vegetation/soil carbon sequestration potential and mapping land use change.
iv)  Planting Mangroves in coastal areas towards Natural Disaster Management

g) Waste:

I) Recycling of the waste products and also organic composting. This will help to create
manure from the wastes.
ii) Research on waste incineration

h)  Disaster Risk Reduction:

I) Creating policies and planning for DRR activities towards mitigation strategies for disaster
prone areas.
ii)  Usage of improved technologies for vulnerability and hazard mapping.
iii) Improved Environmental Planning towards good mitigation strategies.
Also, if the members of the public are given CARBON Credit Cards stating how much Green
House Gas they are saving and some benefits to those who saves most will produce new
enthusiasm amongst the members of the public and also would spread awareness.

—- Writer:

Mr. Mainak Majumdar
Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

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UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK ON CLIMATE CHANGE (History of UNFCCC)

un91Climate Change is a burning issue these days. In October 1985, at an International meeting in Villach, Austria convened by United Nations agencies, a group of Scientists decided it was time for the World to take action. The meeting concluded that there was a need to combat the perceived danger of global warming that would result from increasing concentrations of so-called green house gases in the atmosphere. This green house gas concentrations, particularly those of carbon dioxide  ( a product of burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels ) are increasing as a direct consequence of a range of human activities.

The Villach Statement and its threat of global warming became an international forum for actions to curb emissions of green house gases to the atmosphere. Around the World a diverse range of interest groups, especially across the environment movement, co-operated to raise public awareness of the greenhouse climate change threat.  Later a series of Government and National and International conferences of invited experts were widely reported in the media and ensured a raised public recognition of the issue. So, successful was the awareness- raising campaign that within 3 years the United Nations, through its agencies UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) and WMO (The World Meteorological Organization), had established an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which we know as IPCC. This organization was empowered with:

a) “Assessing the scientific informaton that is related to the various components of the climate change issue, such as emissions of major green house gases and modification of the earth’s radiation balance resulting therefrom, and that needed to enable the environmental and socioeconomic consequences of climate change to be evaluated.

b) Formulating realistic response strategies for the management of the climate change issue.

3 .  Working groups were established to address the IPCC objectives. The tasks of Working Groups I, II and III were respectively to:

i) Assess available scientific information on climate change.
ii) Assess environmental and socio-economic impacts of climate change.
iii) Formulate response strategies.

The working group did confirm the Villach conclusions and found a serious anthropogenic threat to the Global Climate. After a period of less than 18 months, in July 1990, the IPCC WG1 published their findings following an assessment of the available scientific literature. The principal findings of the report were:

i) There is a greenhouse effect because a range of gases occurring naturally in the atmosphere, such carbon dioxide, keep the earth’s surface warmer than it would otherwise be.
ii) The concentrations in the atmosphere of a range of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, are increasing because of human activities.
iii) The increasing concentrations of certain greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide will lead to global warming but neither its magnitude, timing nor regional characteristics could be determined.

Later the United Nations General Assembly took up the challenge presented by the IPCC scientific assessment and the Statement of the second World Climate conference. An Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee was convened to develop a Framework Convention on Climate Change in time for the June 1992, Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro.  The committee, open to all member countries of the United Nations, met six occasions between 1991 and May 1992 before finally a reaching agreement. At the Earth Summit, representatives of more than 150 countries signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Cimate Change (UNFCCC) that result from negotiations. More countries signed subsequently. The Convention requires countries to take actions necessary for “Stabilisation of green house gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”Despite the perceived threat posed by anthropogenic global warming, the short period available for negotiations meant that agreement could not be reached on binding mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and commitments that individual countries should make. Counter balancing the global warming threat were the immediate economic and social costs that would be experienced by many countries if they took action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The IPCC continued its work and issued its Second Assessment Report in 1995. Contemporary experiments using computer models of the climate system and various natural and anthropogenic forcing functions pointed to anthropogenic signals that could be detected in the observed Global Warming Pattern. The IPCC in its Second Assessment Report, concluded that the balance of evidence suggested that a discernible human influence on global climate could be detected.

The public interest in the anthropogenic global warming issue and the perceived need for action did not abate. More than 10,000 people, made up mostly of non-government lobby groups and representatives of the World media, converged on Kyoto, Japan in December 1997 for the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. They were there to witness Government delegates negotiate a Protocol to stem the unconstrained emission of green house gases into the atmosphere. The Protocol was expected to give teeth to the Convention.

But the rush to judgement met stiff resistance at Kyoto. The negotiations were tense and the final text of the Protocol was agreed to by a number of developed countries with reservation. Still now, Kyoto, the Protocol could not come into force.

Notwithstanding the stalled action on the political front, the scientific work has continued. The IPCC issued its Third Assessment Report in 2001, claiming that most of the warming of the previous 50 years has been caused by human activities. IPCC moved forward with its mission of the SAVE THE PLANET with its new reports. Its a great news to all that this year’s (2007) NOBLE PEACE PRIZE went to Mr. Al Gore, former US VICE-PRESIDENT and Mr. R K Pachauri, Chairman IPCC.

Thanks a lot for taking your time and reading the entire contents. Kindly give your feedback at writers  e-mail address:    mainakmajumdar@earthmessenger.org

Writer

Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

DISASTER MANAGEMENT FOR CORPORATES

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Corporate Social Responsibility is a term; we need to explore more and more. The term CSR itself came in to common use in the early 1970′ s although it was seldom abbreviated. The term stakeholder means those impacted by an organization’s activities, was used to describe corporate owners beyond shareholders from around 1989. One of the majorities of CSR projects are established in Africa. A more common approach of CSR is through the giving of aid to local organizations and impoverished communities in developing countries. Some organizations do not like this approach as it does not help in building the skills of the local people, whereas community-based development generally leads to the core issue and strengthens the basic mechanism or simply train them to earn a living. That’s where the term; ‘Creative Capitalism’ works. Its works on the simple concept; fortunate helping the less Fortunate.

Capitalism has improved the lives of billions of people – something that’s easy to forget at a time of great economic uncertainty, but it has left billions more. These are the people who have great needs, but they can’t express their needs in a way which may matter to markets. Markets seem to avoid the needs as it doesn’t bring profit and hence poor always tends to remain poorer. It’s where International Non Governmental Organizations come to play and try to make a difference. But today Corporate Social Responsibility seemed to break that ‘tax free’ attitude and has come for the betterment of the World as more World Business Leaders tries to come forward with their aim to improve the smaller parts of the World where there presence is left.

Even if there are many allegations to the fact that CSR is for branding and bring a good image to the members of the public as well as to the stakeholders, but there are always positive things attached to it. CSR contributes for the betterment of atleast few marginalized sections of the Society. Well, in practical the number far exceeds our imagination. For example Mittal Steel at Kazakhstan owned and operated a Steel Plant and to make the place better Mittal Steel also renewed the tramways, the power plants, the hotels and the Stadiums and developed Social activities such as children’s camps. This was a need for the ordinary people of good infrastructure, good education. A dream of theirs filled by one Corporate through their CSR. That’s development. Today the Steel plant runs efficiently
and Mittal Steel is able to positively impact the livelihood of the community more broadly while continuing to improve the plant. This is what good CSR is all about. Helping the targeted communities and also doing Business. A win and win situation for both the community as well as the Corporate.

Now, when Mr. William (Bill) H. Gates, Chairman, Microsoft brought out the concept of ‘Creative Capitalism’; little did he think that it will bring a new wave throughout the World. Creative capitalism is not a short term goal. It’s something, which we have planned for long term management of the issues, which we are addressing now. Hence the results may not show its flavor in the present as we still believe in our notion of giving relief to the persons who are in urgent needs, but will give dividends in the future. The problem lies in the fact that we think of providing fish to the people rather teaching the ways to catch fish. We have to do the latter and that’s what Creative Capitalism is all about. Almost one billion people live on less than a dollar a day. They don’t have nutritious food. They don’t have proper house to live in. The amazing innovations that we are proud of i.e Computers, Good Food, Technologies etc generally passes by. They remain in the same place with no growth. Yet, when we talk about CSR, we talk of elevating the lives of those who are
not so much fortunate and try to show them light.

The best part of creative capitalism is; it’s not about doing more philanthropy or asking companies to be more virtuous. It’s about giving them a real incentive to apply their expertise in new ways, making it possible to earn a return while serving the people who have been left out.  As, Mr. Gates point out that in Microsoft they used corporate philanthropy to bring technology to people who can’t get it otherwise, donating more than 3$ billion in cash and software that solves problems and recently they had realized that they aren’t bringing enough of that expertise to problems in the developing world. So, Microsoft is working on projects like visual interface that will enable illiterate or semiliterate people to use a PC instantly, with minimal training. Hence they are contributing.

So, even if Creative Capitalism is becoming a major part of CSR, yet there are objections.  According to the Chittagong University Economics Professor, Muhammad Yunus, the Father of Micro-credit and a believer of ‘Social Business’ states that the word ‘Creative’ means the very essence of progress. So, capitalism has to be created too. But the question lies in the fact that; if this creativity should be put in the present restrictive format and define newer boundaries for capitalism. We simply need to look at the term in a new way.

A man who states that ‘Social Business’ Enterprise is better than ‘Creative Capitalism’

There are reasons for it. It’s always in the minds of the people that can an organization make profits and contribute to social development as well? It’s an issue as, when one thinks of Social Development, one have to san profit. Inspite of lots of emphasis on CSR, there is a dilemma as to exactly how much we can comply our own profits for the social upliftment of people. Some critics of CSR have claimed that it is distraction from the essential activities of a business. Others struggle over constitutes appropriate CSR activities, taking into account the multiple and sometimes conflicting, expectations of customers, employees, stockholders and community members.

The CSR framework comprises of Employees, Customers, Stockholders, Environment, Business Colleagues, Communities and Society. The outcomes of the Corporate Social Responsibility are Stakeholder’s Trust, Organization’s reputation/rewards, Financial Benefits, Competitive Advantages, Business Leadership and Community Growth.

Corporate Social Responsibility has become an inescapable priority for business leaders across the globe. Governments, activists and the media now hold companies accountable for the social consequences of their actions and favorable publicity is often bestowed on companies with CSR programmes. But the fact lies as to how we can do a better CSR. Is it creative Capitalism or Social Business that will be given a priority? Bill Gates observes that global economic conditions have been improving, but that not everyone was sharing in the benefits. He argued that market forces typically focus the most energy on solving the problems of the relatively well-off. For example, treating baldness in the developed world receives more attention than curing malaria in the developing world!

Talking Social businesses are designed exclusively to maximize benefits to customers, rather than maximizing profits. Social businesses serve social needs in a businesslike manner. Such a business is sustainable and makes a profit, and the investor gets back the capital he invested, over time. Profits in a social business are entirely reinvested to expand the existing social business or start new ones. A charity dollar can be used only once, but a social business investment dollar is recycled indefinitely. Current tax laws offer tax benefits to charitable organizations. New tax laws are needed that put social businesses on at least an equal footing with charities.

While CSR is giving ready made food to the people, but creative capitalism deals with things wherein we teach the target group how to cook food. This gives much more credibility to the idea of helping the needy. Slowly, if this method is adapted then it will also benefit the corporate. Basic idea being educating the masses and sharing knowledge to help the needy so that they can make their own living.

Even employment in different forms can be generated. Later the corporate can generate their brand as well and make profits. According to Bill, he observed that global economic conditions have been improving, but that not everyone was sharing in the benefits. He argued that market forces typically focus the most energy on solving the problems of the relatively well-off. For example, treating baldness in the developed world receives more attention than curing malaria in the developing world.

Now let us take the example of “Social Business”. It is the use of money, without any profits. If we take the example of Grameen Banks then the following points are to be considered.

Now let us take the decisions as to how the system works here:

a)       We shall follow and advance the four principles of Grameen Bank — Discipline, Unity, Courage and Hard work – in all walks of out lives.
b)      Prosperity we shall bring to our families.
c)      We shall not live in dilapidated houses. We shall repair our houses and work towards constructing new houses at the earliest.
d)      We shall grow vegetables all the year round. We shall eat plenty of them and sell the surplus.
e)      During the plantation seasons, we shall plant as many seedlings as possible.
f)       We shall plan to keep our families small. We shall minimize our expenditures. We shall look after our
health.
g)       We shall educate our children and ensure that they can earn to pay for their education.
h)       We shall always keep our children and the environment clean.
i)        We shall build and use pit-latrines.
j)        We shall drink water from tube wells. If it is not available, we shall boil water or use alum.
k)        We shall not take any dowry at our sons’ weddings; neither shall we give any dowry at our daughters wedding. We shall keep our centre free from the curse of dowry. We shall not practice child marriage.
l)        We shall not inflict any injustice on anyone; neither shall we allow anyone to do so.
m)        We shall collectively undertake bigger investments for higher incomes.
n)        We shall always be ready to help each other. If anyone is in difficulty, we shall all help him or her.
0)        We shall always be ready to help each other. If anyone is in difficulty, we shall all help him or her.
p)        We shall take part in all social activities collectively.

Though all the points above are based on nations which are developing or undeveloped countries, yet we can try to incorporate some good points, so that we can merge Creative Capitalization with Social Business.  As Social Business may not be followed by Business Managers, as in that case, there may not be any profits or brand names. Hence it should be a mix flavor of ‘Creative Capitalism and Social Business’.

Before going into the details lets quickly go through the points which have changed the lives of millions of people living at or below poverty line; Microfinance and the concept of Grameen Bank. The Founder of it states that “We will create a Poverty Museum by 2030. We will start with Bangladesh”.

Here are the salient features of the concept of trust based banking; ‘Social Business’.

1)       The Grameen Bank issues loans using very simple trust-based financial arrangements; no legal documents are involved because, in part, Grameen’s borrowers are poor and have no collateral. So, Grameen relies on trust and the positive incentives of continued access to credit and other support to ensure repayments and Grameen’s repayment rates have averaged better than 98 percent. Because Grameen’s loans are based on trust and positive incentives and no legal documents, Grameen has never used lawyers or courts to collect any of its loans. Grameen has about 7.5 million borrowers in Bangladesh, and has loaned approximately $7 billion since its inception, with an average loan size of about $150.

2)        When a potential borrower wants a loan, she has to form a group of five or join such a group of borrowers from her neighborhood and agree to meet with that group once a week. Each loan is made to an individual in the group and is the responsibility of that one individual, but others in the group cannot get their next loans if any member of the group is late in her payments.

3)        Grameen’s borrowers are also required to maintain a regular savings plan, and today its borrowers and their no borrowing neighbors as a group have $150 in savings for every $100 in loans outstanding. Today, the Grameen Bank is funded by the savings deposits of the poor. It has been profitable for all but three of the last twenty-five years.

4)        Grameen has issued more than 600,000 housing loans at 8 percent and about 20,000 educational loans at 5 percent. Grameen also has arranged loans for about 100,000 beggars, whom it calls; struggling members. We need to gather resources, people, facilities and funds. Corporate Social Responsibility will always continue to be the essential part of the business activity and with the advancement of globalization, technology, stakeholders, perceptions and knowledge and the pressure that is generated by limited natural resources.

Now if we merge the points of “Social Business’ and ‘Creative Capitalism’ then one can make wonders, wherein the powerful Corporate World and the least developed people are benefited. Its then we can do a perfect CSR; CORPORATE STRATEGIC RESPONSIBILITY.

Writer:

Mainak Majumdar
Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/