Highlights of “Turn down the heat” : an assessment prepared for the World Bank of the health, social and environmantal impact of climate change induced by a global warming of 4°C

Highlights by GreenFacts of the executive summary of the Report “Turn down the heat ~ 4°C “

A Report for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics  http://climatechange.worldbank.org/content/climate-change-report-warns-dramatically-warmer-world-century

Turn down the heat

The conclusions of the report in a glance

This report spells out what the world would be like if it warmed by 4 degrees Celsius, which is what scientists are nearly unanimously predicting by the end of the century, without serious policy changes.

It is a stark reminder that climate change affects everything. The solutions don’t lie only in climate finance or climate projects. The solutions lie in effective risk management and ensuring all our work, all our thinking, is designed with the threat of a 4°C degree world in mind.

 The President of the World Bank Group, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, is very clear in its foreword of the report :  The lack of action on climate change not only risks putting prosperity out of reach of millions of people in the developing world, it threatens to roll back decades of sustainable development.  The scenarios evaluating the consequences of an increase of the global earth temperature of 4°C are indeed devastating:

  • the inundation of coastal cities;
  • increasing risks for food production potentially leading to higher malnutrition rates; many dry regions becoming dryer, wet regions wetter;
  • unprecedented heat waves in many regions, especially in the tropics;
  • substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions;
  • increased frequency of high-intensity tropical cyclones;
  • irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems.

Continue reading

Highlights of a global assessement report on the sources, fate & effects of micro-plastics in the marine environment

Highlights by GreenFacts of a 2012 GESAMP Working Group Report.


The report in a glance

Overviews of the current state of knowledge and knowledge gap

gesamp report 2012

s on sources, distributions and trends of micro-plastics and on the properties and degradation of polymers and physical and chemical effects of micro-plastics were presented at a meeting of GESAMP[1] Working Group 40 held in March 2012.

The main purpose of the meeting was to provide an opportunity for the dedicated Working Group (WG40) Members, sponsoring Agencies and invited observers, to discuss and agree the overall objectives, key questions and intended outputs : Terms of Reference, work programme and outputs. Among the main recommendations of the workshop was that there was a need for a global assessment to explore the extent to which micro-plastics represented a hazard to the marine environment.

There was agreement on the need to set this assessment in a recognised assessment framework, and a number of options were described. This framework was placed in an appropriate Road Map and a revised time-line for a work programme recommended for approval by a further GESAMP meeting that took place in April 2012.

The meeting also questioned whether there was a need to consider how to address social and economic concerns, including public perceptions.

While scientific evidence illustrates the presence and potential dangers of micro-plastics in the marine environment, the attention on this as a major threat that policy makers need to address has largely come from NGOs, the media and the general public.  It was pointed out during the meeting that there has been a disproportionately strong response by NGOs, the media and the public to emerging information about the extent of marine debris and micro-plastic contamination in the ocean, compared with the known impacts of POPs such as PCBs.

Continue reading

Highlights of the report on how produce more food and energy with less pollution – the challenges and risks related to nutrient use and availability.

our nutrient world 2

Highlights by GreenFacts of the report “Our Nutrient World”  prepared by the Global Partnership on Nutrient Management in collaboration with the International Nitrogen Initiative

THE REPORT IN A GLANCE  followed by its Highlights in 8 Questions and answers

1. The aim of this report  This report highlights how nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers are estimated to feed half the human population alive today, and how they will remain critical in the future, especially given increasing population and potential bioenergy needs. The report shows how these problems cross all global change challenges, threatening water, air and soil quality, climate balance, stratospheric ozone and biodiversity. The report also highlights that there is still no intergovernmental framework to address the multiple challenges for nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients.

 2. The specific threats related to nutrients Without swift and collective action, the next generation will inherit a world where many millions may suffer from food insecurity caused by too few nutrients, where the nutrient pollution threats from too much will become more extreme, and where unsustainable use of nutrients will contribute even more to biodiversity loss and accelerating climate change.

 3. Why are nutrients so important The world needs nutrients, especially nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), which are essential to raise crops and animals have more than doubled and their natural cycles are now out of balance, causing major environmental, health and economic problems that have received far too little attention.

4. The most critical environmental risks regarding nutrients The five key environmental threats of too much or too little nutrients are  Water quality , air quality , greenhouse gas balance, ecosystems &  biodiversity and  soil quality.

5.The risks of nutrient shortage On average over 80% of Nitrogen and 25-75% of Phosphorus consumed (where not temporarily stored in agricultural soils) end up lost to the environment, wasting the energy used to prepare them, and causing air and water pollution.  In particular finite phosphorus reserves in particular represent a potential risk for future global food security given that there is no alternative to P as an essential plant nutrient.

 6. How to adress these nutrient challenges Reduce nutrient losses and improve nutrient use efficiency across all sectors simultaneously would provide the foundation for a Greener Economy to produce more food and energy while reducing environmental pollution. This effort must cross the boundaries between economic sectors and environmental media, be underpinned by scientific and other evidence from a robust global assessment process, share best practices, and address the substantial cultural and economic barriers that currently limit adoption.

 7. The actions and outcomes that need to be decided  Ten main domains were identified in the report on which action should be concentrated in the area of agriculture,  transport and Industry, waste and recycling, societal consumption patterns and spatial and temporal optimization of nutrient flows. One option is to strengthen the mandate of the ‘Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities’ (GPA). Continue reading

Shale gas : identification of potential dangers and risks for the environment and human health arising from hydraulic fracturing in Europe.

Support to the identification of potential risks for the environment and human health arising from hydrocarbons operations involving hydraulic fracturing in Europe. 

A report to the EU Commission DG Environment 

A short presentation prepared by The GreenFacts Initiative from the original report.(*)


1.Aim of this report  This report sets out the key environmental and health risk issues associated with the potential development and growth of high volume hydraulic fracturing in Europe. The study focused on the net incremental impacts and risks that could result from the possible growth in use of these techniques. This addresses the impacts and risks over and above those already addressed in regulation of conventional gas exploration and extraction. The study distinguishes shale gas associated practices and activities from conventional ones that already take place in Europe, and identifies the potential environmental issues which have not previously been encountered, or which could be expected to present more significant challenges.

The study reviewed available information on a range of potential risks and impacts of high volume hydraulic fracturing. The study concentrated on the direct impacts of hydraulic fracturing and associated activities such as transportation and waste water management. The study did not address secondary or indirect impacts such as those associated with materials extraction (stone, gravel etc.) and energy use related to road, infrastructure and well pad construction. Continue reading

Environmental impact of micro-plastics present in marine litter: assessment and recommendations for a strategy

Highlights selected by GreenFacts from the executive summary of a report by GESAMP (2010) of microplastics in the marine environment and of the JRC report (2011) on Technical Recommendations for the Implementation to marine litter of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive requirements                                                                                                              (An update of the Highlight edition of Dec, 2010)                                                                       

In short: The question raised by the GESAMP is whether the micro-plastic could contribute to the bioaccumulation of toxic contaminants in marine life. Recent studies seem to reveal no increase in the concentration of these contaminants in areas of accumulation of plastic in the oceans and the solutions lie primarily in the management of waste on land and at sea.

Moreover, a technical subgroup under the Working Group on GES in relation to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive 2008/56/EC investigated the monitoring approaches for marine litter and provides a set of monitoring tools which can be employed for that purpose.

 1. The report on th GESAMP symposium


1.1. evaluation of the environmental impact of plastic litter and micro-plastics

 It is well documented that plastic litter causes physical harm to marine mammals, fish and invertebrates and instances of death by entanglement, asphyxiation or blockage of organs are common. It is also known that plastic particles tend to accumulate persistent, bioaccumulating and toxic contaminants such as PCBs, DDT and PBDEs. One of the greatest uncertainties is whether this leads to the bioaccumulation of the contaminant load (absorbed and plastic additives), and hence whether micro-plastics represent an additional and significant vector for transferring pollutants.

Continue reading

Cold snap of February 2012 and climate change: Is there a link ?

The climate is already changing, especially in the Arctic, where permafrost is melting, glaciers are retreating and ice is disappearing.

Changes in the Arctic will not only have an impact on populations and ecosystems, but also the rest of the planet, because the Arctic plays a special role in global climate.

How Arctic climate has changed so far, and how should it evolve ?

Evaluating the impact of climate change in the Arctic (ACIA, for Arctic Climate Impact Assessment) is an international project of the Arctic Council and the International Arctic Scientific Committee (IASC ) to evaluate and synthesize knowledge on climate variability, climate change and increased ultraviolet radiation and its consequences. The results of this evaluation were presented to the International Scientific Symposium of the CFIA in 2004 in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Continue reading

EU criteria for risk assessment of persistance, bioaccumulation and toxicity of chemicals

GHS-pictogram-environment dangerA summary prepared by GreenFacts of the COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 253/2011  of 15 March 2011

This regulation is amending Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) as regards Annex XIII

16.3.2011 Official Journal of the European Union L 69/7


1. The specific importance of persistance, bioaccumulative and toxic properties for managing risks

The identification of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic properties of substances (PBT substances), and very persistent and very bioaccumulative substances (vPvB substances) is important in order to evaluate their intrinsic potential impact to affect human health and the environment and assess the real risks.

This is also the basis on which define regulatory rules regarding their use, substitution or ultimate ban, depending on each specific case (within the global EU chemicals Regulation or more specific Regulations such as the one on electric/electronic equipments (RoHS Regulation) .

Continue reading

Trends of plastic waste in the EU

About the report PLASTIC WASTE IN THE ENVIRONMENT Final report November 2010 from the European Commission DG ENV in association with BIO Intelligence Service, AEA Technology, Institute for European Environmental Policy

The full report is available on : http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/studies/pdf/plastics.pdf

Overall,says the report, the level of environmental impact associated with plastic waste is anticipated to increase over the period to 2015 due to continued growth in plastic waste production (associated with continued rises in plastic waste consumption). Over this period the rise in environmental impacts is anticipated to be comparatively slower than in the past as much of this increase in production is dealt with by recycling and energy recovery expansion. However, disposal levels are only anticipated to remain static or drop in a limited way, maintaining the overall picture of the environmental footprint. Bioplastics are growing extremely rapidly but from a very small base, and further research into life‐cycle environmental impacts is needed. As for recycling, it is also expected to grow in absolute terms and innovate technologically, but it will not keep up on current trends and so other solutions are needed.

Continue reading