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    The December 2008 issue of Tropical Conservation Science is now online. The issue features a special section on the conservation of Neotropical reptiles and amphibians as well as articles on the ecological impact of rural depopulation, conservation of manatees in southern Mexico, and co-management approaches to conservation in Tanzania. The next issue of Mongabay.com's open-access scientific journal will be published in March 2009. Tropical Conservation Science - December 09, 2008.

    Taiwan's Feng Chia University has succeeded in boosting the production of hydrogen from biomass to 15 liters per hour, one of the world's highest biohydrogen production rates, a researcher at the university said Friday. The research team managed to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide (which can be captured and stored) from the fermentation of different strains of anaerobes in a sugar cane-based liquefied mixture. The highest yield was obtained by the Clostridium bacterium. Taiwan News - November 14, 2008.


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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Africa proposes own solution to climate change: full range of bio-carbon sequestration actions


Africa has not benefited from the carbon markets even though it has a large potential to help win the fight against climate change. Now a large coalition of African countries calls for the inclusion of carbon credits generated from agriculture and forestry in future climate agreements. This was the key message behind a fresh and bold initiative launched at the COP 14 meeting in Poznan, Poland. The initiative aims to become a movement comprising all countries from the Global South, where most people make a living from agriculture. Poor farmers in developing countries have so far been excluded from climate negotiations. The coalition wants to change this, because these farmers bring many solutions to the table.

The African Climate Solution – the most ambitious initiative towards climate mitigation, adaptation and improved rural livelihoods for the continent – was launched in Poznan at the COP 14 meeting by a grouping of 26 African countries in East, Central and Southern Africa. The African Climate Solution entails the reduction of green house gas emissions by forest resources (REDD) and carbon sequestration through agriculture, forestry and land use (AFOLU) in Africa and throughout the developing world. Carbon sequestration can be achieved by activities such as reforestation, afforestation, agro-forestry, reduced tillage and biochar. The initiative intends to build a global coalition of developing countries into a "REDD-AFOLU Bio-carbon Coalition".
It is no longer a question of if or of when, Africa should be and will be part and parcel of a post–Kyoto Protocol regime. This initiative is African in origin but is intended to include all developing nations. We all face the same problem of dealing with climate change and sustainable development. We are seeking the support of countries in Asia, Latin America and Small Island States to ensure that not only Africa’s voice but that of the world’s poor and excluded will be heard loud and clear in articulating solutions for mitigation and adaptation measures on climate change. - Sindiso Ngwenya, Secretary General of COMESA
Africa is leading a high level delegation to Poznan comprising representatives from organisations representing farmers, the private sector, the research community, civil society development, partners and banks. The African Climate Solution initiative is a culmination of multi-sectoral and continent-wide consultations started in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2008.

According to the United Nations’ panel of climate experts, Africa is "highly vulnerable" to the impacts of climate change. Drivers include recurrent drought, degrading lands, and declines in agricultural productivity, and widespread poverty. Climate change has serious implications for economic growth, sustainable development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as it magnifies, intensifies and speeds up already serious threats to ecosystems and the people.


Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects are concentrated in a handful of countries, and have largely bypassed Africa. Credit: UNFCCC/CDM.

The development gains attained in Africa are being threatened by the effects of global climate change, said Ngwenya, who has championed the call to use forest and agricultural systems to sustain Africa’s livelihoods. Over 100 developing nations have thus far received nothing from the global carbon markets because they are reliant on agriculture and forestry sectors which have been excluded from the current arrangements (see map of current CDM projects, click to enlarge).

The African Climate Solution calls for the expansion of eligibility of resources beyond REDD to include the full range of bio-carbon in the climate change negotiations. Agriculture, forestry, and land use all provide important opportunities for mitigating climate change and incentivising sustainable land use throughout the developing world.

Africa is calling for inclusion in the global carbon markets and the Clean Development Mechanisms of carbon credits for afforestation, reforestation, agroforestry, enhanced natural regeneration, re-vegetation of degraded lands, reduced soil tillage, and sustainable agricultural practices.
Despite the expansion of the global Market for Carbon emissions which the World Bank last year valued at over US$7.5 billion, Africa been left out in the cold. Most of all it excludes poor farmers. If they are included we can not only take the pressure off our existing forests the carbon market can help lift them out of poverty. - Sindiso Ngwenya
Africa’s civil society organisations (CSOs) have added their voice and endorsed the African Climate Solution as a model for a better future after 2012:
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All members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) have signed a declaration calling for the post Kyoto treaty to “include agriculture, sustainable land management, sustainable forest management, afforestation, reforestation reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation." This declaration is now also supported by The East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Lead advocate for CSOs, Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, speaking at the launch, underlined the importance of global carbon market in transforming Africa’s agriculture and economies. "We are saying the carbon markets must reward our resource-poor farmers for contributing to efforts towards mitigating the effects of climate change,” said Dr. Sibanda, who is also CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), based in South Africa.
Africa has spoken with one voice on its readiness to join hands with the international community in securing a cleaner and sustainable planet for current and future generations. The time for that action is now. - Dr Sibanda
Africa has set the ball rolling, having developed a framework for the creation of an African Fund that would provide a sustainable carbon financing mechanism suitable for investments sustainable agriculture/agroforestry projects in Africa. The Fund will acquire offsets from African land-use projects on a large enough scale to channel meaningful streams of revenue to communities to ensure the successful implementation and on-going stewardship of land-use projects.

The initiative is supported and endorsed by leaders from the Global South like Bharrat Jagdeo (President of Guyana), Vincent Karega (Minister of Natural Resources from Rwanda), Catherine Namugala (Minister of Tourism, Environment, Natural Resources of Zambia), Rejoice Mabudafhasi (Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, South Africa), Agus Purnomo (Head of Indonesia’s National Council on Climate Change), Ligia de Doens (Minister of Environment for Panama), Blake (Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the G77+China).

A number of international partners have endorsed the African Climate Solutions as well. Some of these include NEPAD, TerrAfrica, WWF, World Agroforestry Center, ICRAF, Terra Capital Global, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the Food Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and (ASARECA) and Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Ahead of COP 15 in Copenhagen, the global climate change negotiations currently taking place in Poznan provide the best potential for Africa to formally contribute to climate change mitigation, adaptation, poverty eradication and sustainable development.

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