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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Asian and European countries to increase renewable energy spending

More info: http://www.aseminfoboard.org/content/documents/070426_EnvMM3_Declaration.pdf

Europe and Asia agree to boost renewables

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, May 2, 2007. Environmental leaders from Europe and Asia have stressed the importance of increasing the share of renewable energies.

The final declaration of the third Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) after a two-day summit in Denmark recognised the “key link” between energy generation and GHG emissions. ASEM represents half of the global economy, grouping EU states with the ten-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan and South Korea.

Last year, ASEM heads of state and government at the summit in Helsinki called for continuation of the ASEM dialogue on environmental issues. The countries support the ultimate objective and principles of the Kyoto Protocol to stabilize GHG concentrations and, in order to fulfil full implementation, the countries “decide to support a strengthened international cooperation on addressing climate change in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities,” the communique explains.

“Recognising the key link between energy generation and GHG emissions, ASEM countries agree that an urgent shift in the nature of energy systems is needed, in order to ensure continued sustainable economic development, sustainable security of supply and improved demand management in order to avoid lock-in of unsustainable technologies in ASEM developing countries,” it continues. “ASEM countries are determined to enhance cooperation on research and development, deployment and transfer of low carbon emissions technologies.”

There is a need to decouple economic growth from energy consumption and CO2 emissions, and the ministers “recognise the priority of developing countries to achieve sustainable economic growth and eradicate poverty,” it explains. “The ASEM countries underlined that meeting climate change goals, inter alia by improving energy efficiency and promoting renewable energy and the transfer of such technologies, is not only necessary, it is also possible while maintaining sustainable economic growth.”

“ASEM countries recognise that measures to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency can boost economic performance and ensure energy security while, at the same time, reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants,” and measures should be promoted to “combat climate change and to ensure sustainable transition and diversification of supply,” it notes. They “stress the importance of increasing the share of renewables in the energy mix, acknowledging the need to take national circumstances into account,” and pledged to “strive to improve access to such modern energy technologies.”

They also expressed the importance of an ambitious post-2012 arrangement in promoting the use of renewable energy technologies, and “acknowledge the role of targets specifically for renewable energy and energy efficiency taking national circumstances into account,” the document concludes. “The production of biofuels has considerable potential for diversification of energy, mitigation of climate change and the creation of livelihoods and income generation for rural people; however, the production of biofuels may have adverse environmental impacts if not applied in a sustainable manner.”

The 38 participating countries adopted the declaration, which is the first time that environment ministers of EU and Asia have reached agreement on an actual text under ASEM. At earlier ASEM environment meetings, the outcome has taken the form of chairman’s summary drafted by the host country only.

“I am very pleased that it has been possible for us to agree upon such an ambitious declaration, which can contribute to the future international climate process,” says Danish environment minister Connie Hedegaard. “The result of this meeting shows that there is willingness between the two continents to work closely together when it comes to the common challenges of combating climate change; however, we have still important ground to be covered.”

More info: http://www.aseminfoboard.org/content/documents/070426_EnvMM3_Declaration.pdf

Colony Collapse Disorder threatens honybees and global fod suppply

Honeybee die-off threatens food supply

By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer Wed May 2, 10:49 PM ET

Story from: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070503/ap_on_sc/honeybee_die_off

BELTSVILLE, Md. - Unless someone or something stops it soon, the mysterious killer that is wiping out many of the nation's honeybees could have a devastating effect on America's dinner plate, perhaps even reducing us to a glorified bread-and-water diet.

Honeybees don't just make honey; they pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops we have. Among them: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers. And lots of the really sweet and tart stuff, too, including citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons.

In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S.

Even cattle, which feed on alfalfa, depend on bees. So if the collapse worsens, we could end up being "stuck with grains and water," said Kevin Hackett, the national program leader for USDA's bee and pollination program.

"This is the biggest general threat to our food supply," Hackett said.
While not all scientists foresee a food crisis, noting that large-scale bee die-offs have happened before, this one seems particularly baffling and alarming.

U.S. beekeepers in the past few months have lost one-quarter of their colonies — or about five times the normal winter losses — because of what scientists have dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder. The problem started in November and seems to have spread to 27 states, with similar collapses reported in Brazil, Canada and parts of Europe.

Story continues at Yahoo News

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