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29 Jan, 2008

Big Business Says Addressing Climate Change ‘Very Low on Agenda’

As the economic crisis raged in 2008, a survey of big business showed that tackling climate change had been ranked 8th on the list of concerns.

In this dispatch:









LONDON, Sunday, 27 January 2008, The Independent, UK — Global warming ranks far down the concerns of the world’s biggest companies, despite world leaders’ hopes that they will pioneer solutions to the impending climate crisis, a startling survey will reveal this week.

Nearly nine in 10 of them do not rate it as a priority, says the study, which canvassed more than 500 big businesses in Britain, the US, Germany, Japan, India and China. Nearly twice as many see climate change as imposing costs on their business as those who believe it presents an opportunity to make money. And the report’s publishers believe that big business will concentrate even less on climate change as the world economy deteriorates.

The survey demolishes George Bush’s insistence that global warming is best addressed through voluntary measures undertaken by business – and does so at the most embarrassing juncture for the embattled President. For this week he is convening a meeting of the world’s largest economies to try to persuade them to agree with him.

The meeting – in Hawaii on Wednesday and Thursday – follows the US’s refusal to accept binding targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the main cause of global warming, in international negotiations in Bali last month, and is seen as an attempt to develop a less rigorous approach to the crisis.

But the new report shows that even business does not support this, with four out of the five companies surveyed wanting governments to take a central role in tackling climate change.

The survey, carried out by the consulting firm Accenture, found that only 5 per cent of the companies questioned – and not one in China – regarded global warming as their top priority. And only 11 per cent put it in second or third place.

Overall it ranked eighth in business leaders’ concerns, below increasing sales, reducing costs, developing new products and services, competing for talented staff, securing growth in emerging markets, innovation and technology. Although most are taking limited action to reduce their own emissions, almost one in five had done nothing.

Mark Spelman, global head of strategy at Accenture, told The Independent on Sunday at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week: “Climate change is not going to get nearly the same degree of attention here as it would have achieved if the economic outlook were brighter. Whenever there are underlying economic concerns, people will focus on them.”

The report makes it clear that – in contradiction of the Bush administration’s position – business is waiting for governments to take the lead. Nearly half of all the companies worldwide said that climate change was already a major issue for them and three in five expected it to be so within five years. But more than half confessed to be struggling to understand its implications.

Read the rest: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/big-business-says-addressing-climate-change-rates-very-low-on-agenda-774648.html



Nairobi, 28 January 2008 – From protecting the unique biodiversity of Yemen’s islands to piloting climate-proofing strategies in Sudan and boosting conservation in Barbados, the 2008 Champions of the Earth are making their mark across the planet. Prince Albert II of Monaco, former US Senator Timothy E. Wirth and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Helen Clark – whose country will host World Environment Day this year with the theme ‘Kick the Habit: Towards a Low Carbon Economy!’ – are among the seven environmental achievers chosen for this year’s awards, the UN Environment Programme announced today.

The Champions of the Earth prize, which will be given out at a ceremony in Singapore on 22 April, recognizes individuals from each region of the world who have shown extraordinary leadership on environmental issues. The other 2008 Champions of the Earth are: Balgis Osman-Elasha, a senior researcher at Sudan’s Higher Council for Environment & Natural Resources; Atiq Rahman, the Executive Director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies; Liz Thompson, the former Energy and Environment Minister of Barbados; and Abdul-Qader Ba-Jammal, the Secretary General of the Yemen People’s General Congress.

Achim Steiner, the UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director said: “More than ever, our planet needs committed leaders and achievers like the 2008 Champions of the Earth who spur real, positive change and fuel innovative solutions to environmental problems. In doing so, these inspirational individuals demonstrate not only that action and different development paths are possible but also the abundant opportunities arising as a result of a transformation towards a green economy.”

Champions of the Earth is an international environment award established in 2004 by the UNEP. The annual prize rewards individuals from around the globe who have made a significant and recognized contribution globally, regionally and beyond, to the protection and sustainable management of the Earth’s environment and natural resources. Candidates are judged by a senior UNEP panel with input from UNEP’s regional offices.



By setting a carbon neutral goal for New Zealand, Prime Minister Helen Clark has put her country at the forefront of today’s environmental challenges. Three major policy initiatives launched by Miss Clark are also blazing new trails for sustainability and the fight against climate change: the Emissions Trading Scheme; the Energy Strategy; and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy.

Miss Clark’s policies champion renewable energy and energy efficiency across key sectors of the economy. Her government is also achieving substantial work on environmental protection, from forestry and agriculture to improving public awareness and boosting private sector involvement in sustainability.

New Zealand will be hosting this year’s World Environment Day – one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. The event will take place on 5 June 2008 with the slogan ‘Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy’.


Dr. Balgis Osman-Elasha, a senior scientist from Sudan, is at the forefront of global research on climate change. A leading author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, she has produced groundbreaking work on global warming in Africa, with an emphasis on northern and eastern Africa.

Dr. Osman-Elasha’s emphasis on global warming and adaptation in Sudan is vital given the strong interlinkages between climate change and conflict in the country. Her work as a prominent researcher on climate change makes her a true role model for women in Africa. The award also recognizes Dr. Osman-Elasha’s efforts to educate Sudanese university students about the issue of climate change, thus raising awareness among the country’s new generation.


Dr. Atiq Rahman is an eloquent advocate for sustainable development from Bangladesh – a country highly vulnerable to climate change and flooding. As one of the top specialists in his field, the Executive Director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) transformed the NGO into a leading think-tank in South Asia on sustainable development issues.

Dr. Rahman’s extensive publications on the subjects of environment and development in Bangladesh are a reference for his peers, and he has also developed an innovative post-graduate course on sustainable development and North-South dialogue. With his national and international experience in environment and resource management, Dr. Rahman’s expertise remains vital throughout the Asia Pacific region and beyond as he helps to raise awareness of the hazards of global warming.


One of Prince Albert II’s first acts as sovereign of Monaco was to sign the Kyoto Protocol – an eloquent sign of his longstanding commitment to the environment. Prince Albert has been a prominent voice on environmental issues since the early 1990s and he has been strongly involved in raising awareness on climate change, leading an expedition to the North Pole in 2006 to draw attention to the consequences of global warming.

The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, which he created in 2006, works actively on protecting the environment and promoting sustainable development, with a focus on biodiversity loss, water and the fight against climate change. Prince Albert is also a patron of the Billion Tree Campaign, which successfully led to the planting of well over a billion trees across the planet in 2007.

Prince Albert has also shown remarkable commitment to sustainable development on his home turf of Monaco. Under his leadership, Monaco is now applying an exemplary policy on CO2 reduction in every sphere of society as well as in the business sector.


Ms. Thompson has become one of the recognized leaders on environmental issues of the Small Island Developing States. During her time as Minister of Energy and the Environment of Barbados, she enacted a range of progressive policies for sustainable development and environmental protection. She also became a key voice to raise awareness of global warming in Barbados – a country where the challenges of climate change and conservation are of particular relevance.

Ms. Thompson has also played a role in environmental awareness and protection across the Caribbean region. She has encouraged small island states to diversify their economies, undertake sustainability assessments, and promote community-based programmes that have positive environmental impacts.


For the last thirty years, Timothy E. Wirth has been an advocate for environmental issues in the United States. As the president of the UN Foundation and Better World Fund, Mr. Wirth has established the environment as a key priority and is mobilizing strong resources to address crucial issues from biodiversity to climate change and renewable energy.

A strong supporter of the Kyoto Protocol, Mr. Wirth was instrumental in raising awareness and calling for policy action on global warming during his time as US Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs. During his time as a member of the US Senate, he authored the Colorado Wilderness Bill as well as other successful legislation on energy, conservation and environmental protection.


Mr Abdul-Qader Ba-Jammal has had a truly pioneering influence on environmental protection in Yemen – a country which faces acute challenges from water scarcity to desertification. During his time as Minister and then Prime Minister, he established Yemen’s Ministry of Water and Environment and Environment Protection Authority, solicited national and international funding for environmental conservation and sustainable water management, and implemented a series of groundbreaking environmental policies in Yemen and its region.

Mr. Ba-Jammal also orchestrated conservation efforts for the Socotra archipelago, a site of global importance for biodiversity. The Socotra conservation fund came into being under his patronage, and the archipelago was listed as a UNESCO Man and Biosphere reserve in 2003. Mr. Ba-Jammal also supported the declaration of several marine and land protected areas in Yemen and established a state agency for the development of Yemeni islands with a focus on marine resources conservation.


Past Champions of the Earth winners include among others: Ms. Massoudeh Ebtekar, the former Vice President of Iran; Mikhail Gorbachev of the Russian Federation; Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan; Jacques Rogge and the International Olympic Committee; and Al Gore, the former Vice President of the United States.

The Champions of the Earth are invited to accept their award at an international ceremony in Singapore on 22 April 2008. The event will be hosted in conjunction with the Business for the Environment Summit (B4E), details of which can be found on the UNEP website. No monetary reward is attached to the prize – each laureate receives a trophy made of recycled metal especially designed by the Kenyan sculptor Kioko and representing the fundamental elements for life on earth: sun, air, land and water.

Background on the Champions of the Earth award and all the laureates can be found at www.unep.org/champions. For information on World Environment Day 2008, please visit http://www.unep.org/wed/2008/english/About_WED_2008/index.asp

UNEP’s 10th Special Session of the Governing Council /Global Ministerial Environment Forum will take place at the Principality of Monaco on 20-22 February 2008. This year, a key issue will be mobilising finance to realise a low carbon world. More information: http://www.unep.org/gc/gcss-x/



OECD, Paris, 25 January 2008 — Denmark should reduce the health hazards and environmental risks related to the transport, agriculture, and energy sectors, according to a new OECD report. While the OECD welcomes Denmark’s progress in tackling environmental challenges over the past decade, it notes that further steps are needed in both international environmental co-operation and Denmark’s economic development.

The review is part of the OECD’s regular Environmental Performance Reviews of member countries. The Performance Review of Denmark makes 37 recommendations.

<> Denmark has some of the OECD’s highest rates of mortality from some types of cancer, and allergy and respiratory diseases affect about 20% of the population. The report notes that Denmark has no environmental targets for fine particulates PM2.5 and calls on the country to improve environmental health by reducing air pollutants, including particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and ground-level ozone. Denmark should also reduce pollution of groundwater, lakes, rivers and coastal waters.

<> Denmark should better protect its nature and biodiversity by establishing national parks, strengthening management of the Natura 2000 areas, and better defining objectives for the conservation action plan.

<> Environmental concerns should be integrated into transport policies, with a sustainable transport plan, an environmental review of transport infrastructure plans and projects, reformed transport taxes, consideration of road pricing, and balancing tax on car use and ownership.

<> Denmark needs to give more priority to marine protection, cutting marine discharges of toxic substances and nutrients, and reinforcing its sustainable management of commercial fisheries and aquaculture.

<> It should also redouble efforts to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets. Denmark is far from meeting its climate change related emission commitments.

Among achievements to date, the report notes that:

<> Pressures on the environment did not grow as quickly as the economy in several areas, including air emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), water abstraction, the use of nitrogen fertilizers and of pesticides;

<> Denmark has based its environmental policies on good economic analysis (such as cost-benefit analyses) as well as good use of economic instruments such as taxes, fees and charges;

<> It also integrated environmental concerns, to some extent, into agriculture, for example, with increased use of agri-environmental measures as well as increase in organic production;

<> Denmark is committed to international environmentalco-operation. A significant portion of its Development Assistance is devoted to environmental improvements and Denmark established the Greenland Dialogue on climate change. Looking forward, Denmark will host in 2009 a COP meeting for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen.



Thursday, 24 January 2008 — Entries are now being accepted for the 2008 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. The awards programme, in its ninth year, recognizes the achievement of individuals and organizations within the private sector, and public-private initiatives, in successfully restoring structures of heritage value in the Asia-Pacific region. The deadline for receipt of materials is 31 March 2008.

In addition to the established awards, entries are also accepted for the Jury Commendation for Innovation to recognize newly-built structures which demonstrate outstanding standards for contemporary architectural design that are well-integrated into historic contexts.

Projects involving buildings more than fifty years old and which were completed within the last ten years are eligible for consideration. Houses, commercial, cultural, religious, industrial or institutional buildings, gardens and bridges, for example, are all eligible for consideration. Public-private partnership projects such as historic towns, urban quarters and rural settlements where the essential elements are more than 50 years old are all eligible.

The 2008 Heritage Awards programme, in its ninth year, recognizes the achievement of individuals and organizations within the private sector, and public-private initiatives, in successfully restoring structures of heritage value in the Asia-Pacific region. The 2008 Jury Commendation for Innovation, in its fourth year, will recognise newly-built structures which demonstrate outstanding standards for contemporary architectural design which are well integrated into historic contexts.

Winners will be announced in June 2008. Entries must be submitted with an official entry form, drawings, photographs and project description to the UNESCO Office of the Regional Advisor for Culture in Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok. For more information, please click: http://www.unescobkk.org/index.php?id=7712

Contact person: Montira H. Unakul, Tel: (66 2) 391-0577 ext. 509. Email: h.montira@unescobkk.org, or culture@unescobkk.org



Davos, Switzerland, 27 January 2008 – The World Economic Forum’s Community of West and Islam Dialogue presented a special award to Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, for his notable work in promoting dialogue and cooperation between Islam and the West. In a pre-recorded screening of the ceremony shown to members of the C100 at the Annual Meeting 2008 in Davos, Lord Carey of Clifton, former Archbishop of Canterbury, and Prince Turki Al Faisal of Saudi Arabia presented the award.

Members of the Community who joined in the delivery of the award included: Khalid A. Alireza, Chairman, Xenel/Saudi Cable Company, Saudi Arabia; Jihad B. Khazen, Director, Al Hayat Newspaper, UK; Farhan A. Nizami, Director, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, United Kingdom; David Rosen, Chairman, International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Relations (IJCIC), USA; Sir Sigmund Sternberg, Co-Founder, Three Faiths Forum, UK.

At the ceremony, Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, recognized the work of the Prince of Wales, and commended his “sustained work over the course of more than 30 years in community building with Muslims through the Prince’s Trust and many other avenues reaching out to those who feel alienated”. He commended the Prince as a vital “ambassador for the ideals that we all share and live by”.

Accepting the award, Prince Charles stressed that the need for the “Islamic and Western worlds to live and work together in our increasingly interdependent world has never been greater” but that “the basis for mutual peace and harmony already exists in the founding principles that are shared by the great Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. … The challenge to overcome misunderstanding and intolerance is there. It will need hard practical work on a scale commensurate to the challenge to win through.”

The Community for West and Islam Dialogue was created to clarify the factors that cause doubt and misunderstanding and to help overcome the tensions. It comprises public figures and business leaders as well as key media, religious and academic personalities from across the Western and Islamic worlds. A significant achievement of the Community is the first Annual Report on the State of Dialogue, published this week in collaboration with Georgetown University.

Since 2006, each year the award presented by the Community recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to improving dialogue and understanding. The previous award was given to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, honouring his work to promote respect, hope and understanding among children and adults.



New York, January 27, 2008, Press Trust of India — An American man is facing hate crime charges for allegedly punching in the face a 63-year-old Sikh, whom he called an “Arab”, and breaking his jaw and nose before shouting racial slurs outside a gurudwara in New York. David C Wood, 36, who attacked Jabeet Chadha on January 14 faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Wood was arraigned this week on charges of second-degree assault as a hate crime, second and third degree assault and second-degree aggravated harassment. He was ordered held on $ 10,000 bail and will return to court January 30.

Wood allegedly told Chadha “Arab, go back to your country” when he was about to enter the gurudwara in New Hyde Park, Queens District Attorney (DA) Richard Brown said. Wood then allegedly told Chadha “you don’t listen” and punched him in the face, the DA said.

Chadha’s nose and jaw were broken in the attack and he is on a liquid diet due to his injuries. He will need surgery on his nose and will have a medical consultation on what to do about his jaw after the swelling goes down; Times Ledger quoted Brown as saying.

“Crimes motivated by bias — particularly those involving violence — will never be tolerated in this county,” the DA said in a statement. “When they do regrettably occur, they will be vigorously prosecuted and those involved will be severely punished.”

Sikhs have been facing hate crimes throughout the country after the 9/11 attack as people mistake their turbans for a Muslim headdress. “Sikhs are targeted because of our appearance. There’s a lot of ignorance, anger and hate,” said Jaspreet Singh, a staff attorney for rights group United Sikhs.

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