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At the Crossroads for Global Chemical Safety

September 12, 2012 Leave a comment

By Baskut Tuncak

Baskut Tuncak, Staff Attorney

Next week, negotiators from over 150 countries and other stakeholders will convene in Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss the future of global chemicals management.  These critical negotiations come at decisive juncture for the Strategic Approach to Chemicals Management (SAICM), with only eight years left on its ambitious mandate to ensure sound chemicals management—eight years in which developing regions face rapidly increasing risk of exposure to dangerous chemicals.  A recent report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Chemicals Outlook (GCO), highlights the global nature of the chemicals industry and chemical safety.  The GCO highlights three factors responsible for increasing the vulnerability of people living in developing economies to chemical exposure. Read more…

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Community Leaders Meet to Discuss Relocation in the Face of Climate Change

September 11, 2012 Leave a comment

By Alyssa Johl and John Crump*

Alaska PNG

Two different parts of the world, one common problem

This week, community leaders from two small villages in very different parts of the world will meet on Bougainville Island in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to discuss a common problem:  their need to relocate as a result of climate change.  The communities of Newtok, Alaska, and the Carteret Islands, Papua New Guinea, are among the first in the world to choose relocation as the best means of adapting to the effects of a changing climate and ensuring their cultural survival. Read more…

Rio+20 Outcome: The Anthropocene Challenge

September 10, 2012 Leave a comment

By Marcos Orellana, Rio de Janeiro (originally posted 22 June 2012)

Marcos, Alyssa and Andrea, part of CIEL’s delegation

On June 20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) officially started in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The Conference opened with a documentary, Welcome to the Anthropocene, which was introduced by the UN’s Secretary-General.  The documentary visually portrays the alteration in Earth’s natural cycles induced by human activities.
Welcome to the Anthropocene echoes the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) 5th edition of the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5), published on June 6, 2012.  The report concludes that the “scientific evidence shows that Earth systems are being pushed towards their biophysical limits.” Also it “cautions that if humanity does not urgently change its ways, several critical thresholds may be exceeded, beyond which abrupt and generally irreversible changes to the life-support functions of the planet could occur.” Read more…

UN Human Rights Council establishes an Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment

March 23, 2012 2 comments

CIEL and Earthjustice, working closely with Maldives, Costa Rica and Switzerland, obtained from the UN Human Rights Council a resolution on Human Rights & Environment that establishes an Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment.  Read more…

It’s time to admit there is no future in fossils.

December 5, 2011 2 comments

By Niranjali Amerasinghe

Niranjali Amerasinghe, Staff Attorney

Following the UN climate talks in Durban can be a tedious business. Even for a conference junkie like me.  There are times when the discussions get so mired in petty political bargaining that it’s hard to keep the bigger picture in mind.  People seem to forget why they’re actually there: to find a solution to the biggest environmental threat ever faced by humanity.  This involves making significant changes to the status quo, like transitioning away from fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy.  There is no way we will limit global warming to 1.5oC degrees Celsius (a level above which impacts from climate change are expected to be radically more extreme) if governments continue to pander to the special interests of the fossil fuels industry. Read more…

What’s at stake at Durban? We are.

November 23, 2011 1 comment

By Kristen Hite, Interim Director, Climate Change Program

In recent years we’ve seen global predictions on climate change becoming increasingly dire.  In recent weeks it’s gone from bad to worse:  The International Energy Association, often criticized for how its future projections of energy production rely too heavily on fossil fuels and nuclear energy just issued a report that says our current energy patterns will lead us to a global rise in temperature of 4 degrees Celsius or worse, leading to “irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change.”  This comes on the heels of a new analysis by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which tells us that impacts are worse than expected and that climate change is increasingly responsible for natural disaster damages to the tune of billions of dollars annually.  Put simply: we can’t avoid climate impacts—we’re already experiencing them and they are getting worse.  But we can avoid locking in an unsustainable future that guarantees widespread destruction to communities and ecosystems across the globe—that is, if diplomats representing 190+ countries agree on how to act. Read more…

Multilateralism works! An insider’s analysis of Basel COP10

October 26, 2011 Leave a comment

By Hana Heineken, Law Fellow

My very first COP experience, the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention in Cartagena, Colombia, was hailed by delegates, observers, and the UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner as the most successful Basel COP in the history of the Basel Convention.  I was fortunate to have joined CIEL’s delegation that participated in such a momentous event.

COP10 began with Read more…