Monday, October 26, 2009

International Day of Climate Action

Written by Andy Burkhardt.

Last Saturday, October 24th I took part in the International Day of Climate Action. It was organized to send a message to world leaders that we need a strong, binding, international agreement to combat climate change.

The first activity I took part in was being a part of an aerial photo of humans spelling out "350 Vermont." It was pouring rain on us, but it didn't dampen our spirits. In fact it was pretty fun even though we got soaked. I even got interviewed by the Burlington Free Press (on page 2) when I was there.

From there we slowly ambled down along a winding route towards City Hall Park while church bells were ringing 350 times. It was pretty moving and probably got a number of people wondering what was going on. There were a lot of people marching which made it even more powerful.

Nearing the end of the night I attended a dance party at Slade Hall where the band Dubnotix performed in support of climate action. It was a great day, and even better because similar things were happening all over the world. It was nice being able to participate in something much larger than myself, and to see people all over the world organizing for a single important cause.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Burlington, VT Major action!

Fossil Fuel Free Adventures with the Outdoor Gear Exchange

Saturday October 24th is the International Day of Climate Action organized through is a climate change campaign organization bringing together community voices in over 150 countries worldwide for a one day event.
The Outdoor Gear Exchange is hosting Fossil Fuel Free Adventures, on October 24th, to help create national and international pressure on climate change legislation. We are organizing community biking and hiking adventures, with a variety of difficulty levels. In an effort to encourage participation in these trips, the Outdoor Gear Exchange will be donating money to for every fossil fuel free adventurer. In addition we will be rewarding every participant with a free pair of Teko Eco-Merino wool socks! Please come prepared to take care of yourself and the group. The sign up for trips is in the entryway of the OGE, or email for RSVPs. Our trips all start at the OGE, 152 Cherry Street, Burlington and details are as follows:
Organized Group Trips:
Mount Mansfield Epic:
Meet at the Outdoor Gear Exchange at 7:30 AM ready to ride, leaving by 8AM, bring everything needed for a full day (food, water, tubes, lights, etc.). Bike out Rt 15to Smugglers Notch hike up to the top of Vermont, take a group picture with a banner and then ride the loop back to Burlington via Waterbury and Rt 2. OGE donation: $20 to for each participant and a free pair of socks for each participant!
Mount Philo Adventure:
Meet at the Outdoor Gear Exchange at 10AM ready to ride, bring everything needed for a biking adventure (food, water, tubes, etc.). Bike out to Mount Philo on Spear Street, bike up to the top, take a group picture with a banner and then bike back to Burlington. OGE Donation: $10 to for each participant and a free pair of socks for each participant!
Do It Yourself Fossil Fuel Free Adventures:
We have created a selection of group and family local fossil fuel free adventures. All do it yourself adventures will start at the OGE to pick up suggested route maps and banners to take group pictures with. Do it yourself adventure groups are required to provide their own camera, so we can submit pictures to Each participant will receive a free pair of socks and the OGE will make donations to in amounts determined by difficulty of the adventure.


-North on the bike path to the water gap on the causeway. OGE donation: $20 to per group and a pair of socks for each participant!

-To the Ethan Allen tower in Ethan Allen Park. OGE donation: $15 to per group and a pair of socks for each participant!

-Down the paths through the Intervale Community Farms. OGE donation: $10 to per group and a pair of socks for each participant!

-North on the bike path to Bayside Park in Colchester. OGE donation: $15 to per group and a pair of socks for each participant!

-Out to Shelburne Pond. OGE donation: $20 to per group and a pair of socks for each participant!

-To Dorset Nature Park in South Burlington. OGE donation: $15 to per group and a pair of socks for each participant!

-To East Woods in South Burlington. OGE donation: $20 to per group and a pair of socks for each participant!

Hiking / Walking:

-Centennial Woods trails. OGE donation: $10 to per group and a pair of socks for each participant!

-Up the bike path to North Beach. OGE donation: $15 to per group and a pair of socks for each participant!

-Down the bike path to Oakledge Park. OGE donation: $15 to per group and a pair of socks for each participant!

-In the Intervale Community Farms. OGE donation: $15 to per group and a pair of socks for each participant!

-Out to the fishing pier by the Coast Guard station. OGE donation: $5 to per group and a pair of socks for each participant!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Joining Forces with State Radio

On Friday, October 30th (from 1-3pm at the Great Room of the Main Street Landing), the Vermont Oxfam Action Corps will be joining forces with the non-profit branch of the bands State Radio and Dispatch, to draw attention to the ways in which climate change exacerbates gender inequalities in vulnerable communities throughout the world.

After a screening of the short film, Sisters on the Planet, we will hear from Arshinder Kaur, a consultant with the Women's Earth Alliance and recipient of the Environmental Leadership Fulbright who will share some of her experiences as an environmental organizer in India.

Join us at 1pm for lunch (catered by Sugar Snap), followed by the film and discussion. State Radio will also be doing an acoustic set to round it all out!

We hope to see you there. Please spread and word and bring friends!

To RSVP and for more information, please visit or email

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Two very timely articles on International Adaptation

The International Institute for Environment and Development does a fantastic job of highlighting the need to address adaptation as part of the international climate change negotiations. Please see below for two very relevant and timely articles showcasing recent research:

Cost of Adapting to Climate Change significantly Underestimated

Tazania has just 20 years to adapt agriculture to climate change, economists warn

We have the power to influence the outcomes of the international negotiations in favor of the world's poor. Let's use our power for good!

Blog Action Day!

Happy Blog Action Day! Bloggers around the world are all posting about climate change today to raise awareness and take action on this great threat that is facing us.

We need to act now to make sure irreparable harm is not done to our world. Because of this is hosting events around the globe on October 24th to send a message to wolrd leaders that we need decisive action on climate change.

There's even events going on here in Vermont. So get involved and take action on climate change today!

Friday, October 2, 2009

World Bank Estimate cost of adaptation: $75-100 billion/year!

World Bank Estimates Costs of Adaptation

© The World Bank30 September 2009: The World Bank has presented the results of an Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change (EACC) study, which estimates costs of adaptation to climate change in developing countries will be in the order of US$75-100 billion per year for the period 2010-2050, considering a 2°C warmer world.

The EACC study, funded by the Governments of the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, has two broad objectives. The first is to develop an estimate of the global costs of adaptation in developing countries. The second is to help decision makers in developing countries to better understand and assess the risks posed by climate change and to better design strategies to adapt to climate change, particularly keeping the most vulnerable communities in focus. A second report, based on seven country case studies, will be produced by the first half of 2010, focusing on the second objective. [The study website] [World Bank press release]

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act


September 30, 2009

Oxfam welcomes climate bill as a step toward addressing needs of the hardest hit Robust resources needed for global deal

Washington, DC – International development organization Oxfam America today made the following statement on the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act introduced by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA). Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, made the following statement:

"Oxfam America welcomes today's introduction of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act by Senators Kerry and Boxer. It marks a critical step forward in addressing the climate crisis facing the most vulnerable communities around the world.

“The bill does not yet address the allocation of emission allowances. We look forward to working with Senators Kerry and Boxer to ensure that this bill devotes the substantial resources needed to help hard-hit communities adapt to the serious consequences of climate change already underway. Doing so is essential to protecting security and achieving a global solution to climate change.

“As we head toward the international negotiations in Copenhagen where world leaders will hammer out a global agreement this December, the U.S. Senate must demonstrate global leadership by acting to pass a strong climate bill."


New Science Report Underlines Urgency for Governments to Seal the Deal in Copenhagen

Impacts of Climate Change Coming Faster and Sooner: New Science Report Underlines Urgency for Governments to Seal the Deal in Copenhagen

Washington/Nairobi, 24 September 2009 -The pace and scale of climate change may now be outstripping even the most sobering predictions of the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC).

An analysis of the very latest, peer-reviewed science indicates that many predictions at the upper end of the IPCC's forecasts are becoming ever more likely.

Meanwhile, the newly emerging science points to some events thought likely to occur in longer-term time horizons, as already happening or set to happen far sooner than had previously been thought.

Researchers have become increasingly concerned about ocean acidification linked with the absorption of carbon dioxide in seawater and the impact on shellfish and coral reefs.

? Water that can corrode a shell-making substance called aragonite is already welling up along the California coast?decades earlier than existing models predict.

Losses from glaciers, ice-sheets and the Polar Regions appear to be happening faster than anticipated, with the Greenland ice sheet, for example, recently seeing melting some 60 percent higher than the previous record of 1998.

? Some scientists are now warning that sea levels could rise by up to two metres by 2100 and five to ten times that over following centuries.

There is also growing concern among some scientists that thresholds or tipping points may now be reached in a matter of years or a few decades including dramatic changes to the Indian sub-continent's monsoon, the Sahara and West Africa monsoons, and climate systems affecting a critical ecosystem like the Amazon rainforest.

The report also underlines concern by scientists that the planet is now committed to some damaging and irreversible impacts as a result of the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere.

? Losses of tropical and temperate mountain glaciers affecting perhaps 20 percent to 25 percent of the human population in terms of drinking water, irrigation and hydro-power.

? Shifts in the hydrological cycle resulting in the disappearance of regional climates with related losses of ecosystems, species and the spread of drylands northwards and southwards away from the equator.

Recent science suggests that it may still be possible to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. However, this will only happen if there is immediate, cohesive and decisive action to both cut emissions and assist vulnerable countries adapt.

These are among the findings of a report released today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) entitled Climate Change Science Compendium 2009.

The report, compiled in association with scientists around the world, comes with less than 80 days to go to the crucial UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In a foreword to the document, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who this week hosted heads of state in New York, writes, "This Climate Change Science Compendium is a wake-up call. The time for hesitation is over".

"We need the world to realize, once and for all, that the time to act is now and we must work together to address this monumental challenge. This is the moral challenge of our generation."

The Compendium reviews some 400 major scientific contributions to our understanding of Earth Systems and climate change that have been released through peer-reviewed literature, or from research institutions, over the last three years.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said, "The Compendium can never replace the painstaking rigour of an IPCC process?a shining example of how the United Nations can provide a path to consensus among the sometimes differing views of more than 190 nations".

"However, scientific knowledge on climate change and forecasting of the likely impacts has been advancing rapidly since the landmark 2007 IPCC report," he added.

"Many governments have asked to be kept abreast of the latest findings. I am sure that this report fulfils that request and will inform ministers' decisions when they meet in the Danish capital in only a few weeks time," said Mr. Steiner.

The research findings and observations in the Compendium are divided into five categories: Earth Systems, Ice, Oceans, Ecosystems and Management. Key developments documented since the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report include:

Earth Systems

? A new climate modeling system, forecasting average temperatures over a decade by combining natural variation with the impacts of human-induced climate change, projects that at least half of the 10 years following 2009 will exceed the warmest year currently on record. This is despite the fact that natural variation will partially offset the warming "signal" from greenhouse gas emissions.

? The growth in carbon dioxide emissions from energy and industry has exceeded even the most fossil-fuel intensive scenario developed by the IPCC at the end of the 1990s. Global emissions were growing by 1.1 percent each year from 1990-1999 and this accelerated to 3.5 percent per year from 2000-2007.

? The developing and least-developed economies, 80 percent of the world's population, accounted for 73 percent of the global growth of emissions in 2004. However, they contributed only 41 percent of total emissions, and just 23 percent of cumulative emissions since 1750.

? Growth of the global economy in the early 2000s and an increase in its carbon intensity (emissions per unit of growth), combined with a decrease in the capacity of ecosystems on land and the oceans to act as carbon "sinks", have led to a rapid increase in the concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This has contributed to sooner-than-expected impacts including faster sea-level rise, ocean acidification, melting Arctic sea ice, warming of polar land masses, freshening of ocean currents and shifts in the circulation patterns of the oceans and atmosphere.

? The observed increase in greenhouse gas concentrations are raising concern among some scientists that warming of between 1.4 and 4.3 degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial surface temperatures could occur. This exceeds the range of between 1 and 3 degrees perceived as the threshold for many "tipping points", including the end of summer Arctic sea ice, and the eventual melting of Himalayan glaciers and the Greenland ice sheet.


? The melting of mountain glaciers appears to be accelerating, threatening the livelihoods of one fifth or more of the population who depend on glacier ice and seasonal snow for their water supply. For 30 reference glaciers in nine mountain ranges tracked by the World Glacier Monitoring Service, the mean rate of loss since 2000 has roughly doubled since the rate during the previous two decades. Current trends suggest that most glaciers will disappear from the Pyrenees by 2050 and from the mountains of tropical Africa by 2030.

? In 2007, summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean shrank to its smallest extent ever, 24 percent less than the previous record in 2005, and 34 percent less than the average minimum extent in the period 1970-2000. In 2008, the minimum ice extent was 9 percent greater than in 2007, but still the second lowest on record.

? Until the summer of 2007, most models projected an ice-free September for the Arctic Ocean towards the end of the current century. Reconsideration based on current trends has led to speculation that this could occur as soon as 2030.

? Melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet surface also seems to be accelerating. In the summer of 2007, the rate of melting was some 60 percent higher than the previous record in 1998.

? The loss of ice from West Antarctica is estimated to have increased by 60 per cent in the decade to 2006, and by 140 percent from the Antarctic Peninsula in the same period.

? Recent findings show that warming extends well to the south of the Antarctic Peninsula, to cover most of West Antarctica, an area of warming much larger than previously reported.

? The hole in the ozone layer has had a cooling effect on Antarctica, and is partly responsible for masking expected warming on the continent. Recovery of stratospheric ozone, thanks to the phasing out of ozone-depleting substances, is projected to increase Antarctic temperatures in coming decades.


? Recent estimates of the combined impact of melting land-ice and thermal expansion of the oceans suggest a plausible average sea level rise of between 0.8 and 2.0 metres above the 1990 level by 2100. This compares with a projected rise of between 18 and 59 centimetres in the last IPCC report, which did not include an estimate of large-scale changes in ice-melt rates, due to lack of consensus.

? Oceans are becoming more acidic more quickly than expected, jeopardizing the ability of shellfish and corals to form their external skeletons. Water that can corrode a shell-making carbonate substance called aragonite is already welling up during the summer along the California coast, decades earlier than models predict.


? Since the 2007 IPCC report, wide-ranging surveys have shown changes to the seasonal behaviour and distribution of all well-studied marine, freshwater and terrestrial groups of plants and animals. Polar and mountaintop species have seen severe contractions of their ranges.

? A recent study projecting the impacts of climate change on the pattern of marine biodiversity suggests dramatic changes to come. Ecosystems in sub-polar waters, the tropics and semi-enclosed seas are predicted to suffer numerous extinctions by 2050, while the Arctic and Southern Oceans will experience severe species invasions. Marine ecosystems as a whole may see a species turnover of up to 60 percent.

? Under the IPCC scenario that most closely matches current trends ? i.e. with the highest projected emissions ? between 12 and 39 percent of the Earth's land surface could experience previously unknown climate conditions by 2100. A similar proportion, between 10 and 48 percent, will see existing climates disappear. Many of these "disappearing climates" coincide with biodiversity hotspots, and with the added problem of fragmented habitats and physical obstructions to migration, it is feared many species will struggle to adapt to the new conditions.

? Perennial drought conditions have already been observed in South-eastern Australia and South-western North America. Projections suggest that persistent water scarcity will increase in a number of regions in coming years, including southern and northern Africa, the Mediterranean, much of the Middle East, a broad band in Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.


? The reality of a rapidly-changing climate may make conventional approaches to conservation and restoration of habitats ineffective. Drastic measures such as large-scale translocation or assisted colonization of species may need to be considered.

? Eco-agriculture, in which landscapes are managed to sustain a range of ecosystem services, including food production, may need to replace the current segregation of land use between conservation and production. This could help create resilient agricultural ecosystems better able to adapt to the changing climate conditions.

? Experts increasingly agree that active protection of tropical forests is a cost-effective means of cutting global emissions. An international mechanism of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) is likely to emerge as a central component of a new agreement in Copenhagen. However, many issues need to be resolved, such as how to verify the reductions and ensuring fair treatment of local and indigenous forest communities.

? A number of innovative approaches are emerging to keep carbon out of the atmosphere, including the use of "biochar", biologically-derived charcoal. It is mixed in soils, increasing fertility and potentially locking up carbon for centuries. This is a 21st century application of a technology known as Terra Preta, or Black Earth, used by Amazon peoples before the arrival of Europeans in South America.

To download the full report, visit

For more information please contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson and Head of Media, on Tel: +254 20 7623084, Mobile: +254 733 632755, or when travelling: +41 795965737, or e-mail:;

Elisabeth Guilbaud-Cox, Senior Communications Officer, UNEP Regional Office for North America, Tel: 1 (202) 974-1307, Mobile: 1 (202) 812-2100, Email:

What's the G20 doing about Climate Change?

Leaders of countries representing 85 percent of the world’s economy agreed on commitments on climate change and energy, among others, during the G-20 Summit held on 24-25 September 2009, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the G-20 leaders on 25 September 2009, stressing that “recovery and sustainable development are, and will continue to be, undermined by accelerating climate change.” He called on leaders to support and go beyond the proposal for a climate finance package of US$100 billion per year during the next decade, from a combination of public and private sources. Secretary-General Ban further urged G-20 leaders to agree on principles and options for managing and delivering these funds “well before Copenhagen.”

The Summit outcome document – the G-20 Leaders’ Statement – contains a section on energy and climate. On energy, leaders committed to: increase energy market transparency and market stability; improve regulatory oversight of energy markets; rationalize and phase out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption; stimulate investment in clean energy, renewables and energy efficiency; and provide financial and technical support for such projects in developing countries. They also agreed to take steps to facilitate the diffusion or transfer of clean energy technology, noting that the reduction or elimination of barriers to trade and investment should be pursued on a voluntary basis. On climate change, leaders committed to take “strong action to address the threat of dangerous climate change” and to intensify efforts, in cooperation with other parties, to reach agreement on mitigation, adaptation, technology and financing in Copenhagen.

In the concluding section of the Statement (“The Path from Pittsburgh”), leaders “designated the G-20 as the premier forum for international economic cooperation” and agreed to future meetings in June 2010 (Canada), November 2010 (Korea) and 2011 (France).