Jamaica Observer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/ JamaicaObserver.com, the most concise and in-depth website for news coverage on Jamaica and the Caribbean. Updated daily 7 days a week, 24 hours a day en-us copyright Jamaica Observer, 2011 What a waste! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/What-a-waste-_86195 If you have been using East Avenue, Maxfield Avenue, and Waltham Park Road over the last two months or so, you would have noticed sets of green, blue and lavender bins at different points along the road. <br /> <br /> They are intended for the separation of garbage &mdash; green for plastic bottles, lavender for organic material, and blue for everything else &mdash; but if you look closely, you&rsquo;ll realise that they are not being used as directed. Those residents who do use them consider them as general garbage receptacles and pay no attention to the categories of waste they put in. <br /> <br /> There are others, too, who continue to either dump on empty lots or in gullies, or burn their rubbish in their yard. We saw evidence first-hand while conducting interviews in the Gem Road area when a woman threw a large black garbage bag into the gully. We also visited dump sites in close proximity to the coloured bins. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;In the garrison yuh nah go find dem a separate. Ghetto people n&rsquo;have nuh time fi dat,&rdquo; a young man on Maxfield Avenue told us.<br /> <br /> Across the street we watched as a woman threw a diaper soiled with faeces into one of the bins.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Nobody nuh tell us what is to go where,&rdquo; she said when we asked her which colour bin she used. &ldquo;People been following the rules [putting garbage in bins instead of littering], but they don&rsquo;t separate.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> As Alicia Dicks from Fitzgerald Avenue explained garbage collection trucks don&rsquo;t routinely go onto the avenues that lead off the aforementioned thoroughfares, so as far as she is concerned, the bins provide a central collection point.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s good &rsquo;cause usually people throw the rubbish on the ground and it look bad,&rdquo; she told the Jamaica Observer.<br /> <br /> An elderly woman, Lurline Galloway, was also pleased with the installation of the new bins, but she too was unaware of the meaning of the colour coding.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Mi neva look pon dem. A wha day somebody tell me say fi look pon it and read it, but mi just put mi rubbish in deh,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> The bins are among 2,281 distributed across 30 communities in Kingston, St Andrew, St Catherine, Clarendon, St Ann, St James, and Westmoreland. They were procured under the World Bank-funded Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP) at a cost of $13 million, and are a means of &ldquo;improv(ing) solid waste management in these select underserved communities by providing communities with the necessary equipment to enable waste separation and further conversion of waste into income generation&rdquo;, according to project implementers, Jamaica Social Investment Fund.<br /> <br /> The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and Recycling Partners of Jamaica are partner implementers with JSIF. But it seems their goals of enabling waste separation is some way off, as a trio of young men on Crescent Road told us. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;A nuh everybody can read fi know wha fi go inna what. Di greatest ting is dat dem still deh yah and nobody nuh tief dem out. Dem a use dem fi keep di place clean, &ldquo; said Marlon Simmonds.<br /> <br /> His brother, Richard, who runs a cook shop in the area, reported that he was associated with the Rose Town Foundation, which charged him with installing nine bins in his area.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It good for the community because they normally litter the open land, but nuh care how mi tell dem [about the different bins], dem nah hear. Dem just throw anything in any one,&rdquo; he reported.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We use dem, but wi nuh really watch di colour,&rdquo; said Phillip Wright, whom we met at a shop in Greenwich Farm.<br /> <br /> The shopkeeper said she doesn&rsquo;t use the JSIF bins because they are too small for the quantities of garbage her establishment produces. And she wasn&rsquo;t the only one.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Dem nuh ready!&rdquo; McMillan Stewartson exclaimed. &ldquo;Look how dem likkle. How dat fi serve fi everybody rubbish? A burn mi burn mine or wait pon di truck. Nuff people haffi still have dem drum inna dem yaad &rsquo;cause dem three likkle bin yah nuh good enough.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> On the matter of separating the rubbish, Stewartson said he was never informed about that objective and said signs to that end should be displayed on the bins. When we told him there were signs, he said: &ldquo;Listen, if yuh waan hide tings from people or yuh waan trick people, write it dung. Ninety-nine per cent a wi illiterate. Somebody shoulda come talk to wi &rsquo;bout it so wi know wha gwaan.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> For Trevor Murphy, the waste separation project is useful in theory, but is being mishandled. He called it &ldquo;a typical example of Government at work&rdquo; and maintained that his community was not consulted nor informed about the project or its objectives.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Is afta dem put in dem plan dem tell yuh &rsquo;bout it. But I&rsquo;m wondering how dem reach people gate? Nobody was consulted.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The separation is not being practised. People are just putting things wherever they feel. Mark you, they have useful value, but you have to educate the people first; you can&rsquo;t start from the back and work your way to the front. I&rsquo;m not complaining about the collection. We have a pretty good system where that&rsquo;s concerned. But this particular venture was not well planned,&rdquo; Murphy said.<br /> <br /> In response to the criticisms, environmental specialist at JSIF, Dr Milton Clarke, said he was not surprised that separation was not taking place at the level required, and conceded that &ldquo;it will take a very long time for residents to buy into an initiative of this nature [because] people are accustomed to managing their waste in a certain way from birth, which becomes engrained, and therefore it will take significant effort and time, perhaps years, to effect the desirable change in knowledge, attitude, perception and behaviour with respect to solid waste management and environmental sustainability in general&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> He maintained, however, that JSIF and the NSWMA did engage community groups prior to installing the bins, through meetings &mdash; which he said only a few residents attended &mdash; the distribution of flyers, and the training of 165 environmental wardens. Dr Clarke noted that the team is in the process of developing a social marketing programme based on strategic recommendations from a recently conducted social marketing consultancy in several of the project communities.<br /> <br /> With respect to the placement of the bins, the environmental specialist explained that effectiveness in at-source waste separation schemes depend heavily on close proximity to the source of waste generation, as well as a reliable waste collection system.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The bins were not arbitrarily placed by JSIF or the NSWMA. A walk-through was conducted in each community with the CBOs (community-based organisations) and the sites selected. Bins were not placed in areas where persons objected. I am aware that some individuals would prefer not to have the bins close to their homes because of the fear that persons might place dead animals in the receptacles, as well as because of concerns with infrequent collection by the NSWMA,&rdquo; he told the Observer via email yesterday.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;At this point, the NSWMA is having some challenges, which provide added motivation for residents to dispose of the waste in the bins with available space, even though they may be aware of the waste separation initiative,&rdquo; Dr Clarke said. <br /> <br /> Criticisms aside, Dr Clarke reported that the agency has had mostly positive feedback regarding the installation of the bins.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Importantly, there are reports of improvements in the cleanliness of the communities because of the increased storage capacity provided by the bins. Waste which would have been otherwise disposed of inappropriately, for example, in the drains, along the streets and in gullies are now being placed in a suitable receptacle for collection by the NSWMA,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> The project is said to be first of its kind in Jamaica in terms of structure and magnitude. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13562450/251947_78590_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13562444/251941_78587_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13562449/251942_78588_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13562443/251953_78593_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13562446/251944_78589_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13562447/251951_78592_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13562448/251948_78591_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, January 11, 2017 12:00 AM Study: Climate change will lead to annual coral bleaching in the Caribbean http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Study--Climate-change-will-lead-to-annual-coral-bleaching-in-the-Caribbean_85841 UNITED NATIONS (CMC) &mdash; A new study has predicted that if current trends continue and the world fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, nearly all of the world&rsquo;s coral reefs, including many in the Caribbean, will suffer severe bleaching &mdash; the gravest threat to one of the Earth&rsquo;s most important ecosystems &mdash; on annual basis.<br /> <br /> The finding is part of a study funded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners, which reviewed new climate change projections to predict which corals will be affected first and at what rate.<br /> <br /> The report is published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. Researchers found that the reefs in Taiwan and the Turks and Caicos archipelago will be among the first to experience annual bleaching, followed by reefs off the coast of Bahrain, in Chile and in French Polynesia.<br /> <br /> Calling the predictions &ldquo;a treasure trove&rdquo; for environmentalists, the head of the UN agency, Erik Solheim, said the projects allow conservationists and governments to prioritise reef protection.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The projections show us where we still have time to act before it&rsquo;s too late,&rdquo; Solheim said.<br /> <br /> On average, the reefs started undergoing annual bleaching from 2014, according to the study.<br /> <br /> Without the required minimum of five years to regenerate, the annual occurrences will have a deadly effect on the corals and disrupt the ecosystems which they support, UNEP said.<br /> <br /> However, it said that if governments act on emission reduction pledges made in the Paris Agreement, which calls on countries to combat climate change and limit global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius, the corals would have another 11 years to adapt to the warming seas.<br /> <br /> Between 2014 and 2016, UNEP said the world witnessed the longest global bleaching event recorded.<br /> <br /> Among the casualties, it said, was the Great Barrier Reef, with 90 per cent of it bleached and 20 per cent of the reef&rsquo;s coral killed. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13553563/251294__w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13553561/251295__w300.jpg Local News Saturday, January 07, 2017 12:00 AM Regional group welcomes conclusion of regulatory project for CARIFORUM countries http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Regional-group-welcomes-conclusion-of-regulatory-project-for-CARIFORUM-countries_85836 BELMOPAN, Belize (CMC) &mdash;The Belize-based Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) says it has successfully completed a project aimed at helping Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) countries to improve the safety of fish and fishery products for consumers in national and export markets, and several activities.<br /> <br /> The CRFM said the &ldquo;capacity building of regulatory and industry stakeholders in aquaculture and fisheries health and food safety to meet the requirements of international trade&rdquo; project was undertaken in collaboration with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture.<br /> <br /> The project, which started in September 2016, was funded under the EU&rsquo;s 10th European Development Fund Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Project.<br /> <br /> CRFM said that the project prepared six new manuals to help fish inspectors apply the best international practices to the inspection of fishing vessels, processing establishments, and aquaculture facilities.<br /> <br /> In addition, the project has prepared two manuals for laboratories &mdash; testing of fishery products to make sure they are safe, and ensuring that laboratory test results are accurate. The manuals will be distributed by the CRFM and will soon be available in the Spanish, French and Dutch languages and online in English.<br /> <br /> CRFM&rsquo;s project coordinator, Dr Susan Singh-Renton, deputy executive director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism Secretariat, welcomed the successful completion of the project, saying that &ldquo;capacity to achieve international standards in safety of fishery products has been a major area of weakness impacting the full realisation of economic benefits for fishing industries in CARIFORUM States, particularly the earnings from exports.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;In this regard, the project&rsquo;s contribution has been a crucial one, through development of two training courses and eight operational manuals suitable for use by food safety laboratory experts and fish product inspectors within the CARIFORUM region.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Though the project has ended, the manuals, course video, and impact assessment tools will continue to be useful reference products for all industry stakeholders striving for the same goals in fisheries food safety,&rdquo; she added. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13552918/190590_78018_repro_w300.jpg Local News Saturday, January 07, 2017 12:00 AM Huge Antarctic ice block set to break off &mdash; scientists http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Huge-Antarctic-ice-block-set-to-break-off---scientists_85860 PARIS, France (AFP) &mdash; A massive ice block nearly 100 times the area of Manhattan is poised to break off Antarctica&rsquo;s Larsen C ice shelf, scientists reported yesterday.<br /> <br /> A slow-progressing rift suddenly grew by 18 kilometres (11 miles) at the end of December, leaving the finger-shaped chunk &mdash; 350 metres thick &mdash; connected along only a small fraction of its length.<br /> <br /> The rift has also widened, from less than 50 metres (160 feet) in 2011 to nearly 500 metres today.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;If it doesn&rsquo;t go in the next few months, I&rsquo;ll be amazed,&rdquo; said Adrian Luckman, a professor at Swansea University in Wales, and leader of Britain&rsquo;s Project Midas, which tracks changes in West Antarctic ice formations. <br /> <br /> By itself, the soon-to-be iceberg will not add to sea levels, the likely consequence of ice sheet disintegration that most worries scientists.<br /> <br /> The real danger is from inland glaciers, held in place by the floating, cliff-like ice shelves that straddle land and sea.<br /> <br /> The fragile West Antarctic ice sheet &mdash; where Larsen C is located &mdash; holds enough frozen water to raise global oceans by at least four metres (13 feet). <br /> <br /> Recent studies have suggested that climate change may already have condemned large chunks of it to disintegration, though whether on a time scale of centuries or millennia is not known.<br /> <br /> The breaking off, or calving, of ice shelves is a natural process, but global warming is thought to have accelerated the process.<br /> <br /> Warming ocean water erodes their underbelly, while rising air temperatures weaken them from above.<br /> <br /> The nearby Larsen A ice shelf collapsed in 1995, and Larsen B dramatically broke up seven years later.<br /> <br /> The ice block currently separating from Larsen C contains about 10 per cent of its mass, and would be among the 10 largest break-offs ever recorded, Luckman said. <br /> <br /> If all the ice held back by Larsen C entered the sea, it would lift global oceans by about 10 centimetres (four inches). <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are convinced &mdash; although others are not &mdash; that the remaining ice shelf will be less stable than the present one,&rdquo; Luckman said in a statement.<br /> <br /> Oceans in recent decades have absorbed much of the excess heat generated by climate change, which has lifted average global air temperatures by one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit).<br /> <br /> The world&rsquo;s nations have undertaken in the Paris Agreement, inked in the French capital in December 2015, to cap global warming at &ldquo;well under&rdquo; two degrees Celsius (3.5 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial era levels. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13553615/251329_w300.jpg Local News Saturday, January 07, 2017 12:00 AM 17 ways to be good to Mother Earth (and yourself) in 2017 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/17-ways-to-be-good-to-Mother-Earth--and-yourself--in-2017_85505 What better commitment to make at the start of the year than taking better care of the planet we call home, and in turn taking care of ourselves?<br /> <br /> The best and most fundamental way to do that is to stick to all things natural or stay as close to it as possible. Otherwise, reducing how much we consume, reusing everything that lends itself to that, and recycling such things as plastics, aluminium and paper products, has to be the order of the day.<br /> <br /> Here are 17 things you can do this year to be good to Mother Earth:<br /> <br /> 1)<br /> <br /> Grow insect-repelling herbs in your garden<br /> <br /> Rather than light fires or coils to ward off mosquitoes and other insects, grow plants with natural insect-repelling abilities like lemon grass, marigold, rosemary, basil, lemon thyme, and horsemint.<br /> <br /> 2)<br /> <br /> Redeem glass bottles for cash<br /> <br /> Ever noticed that when you buy certain (especially alcohol) brands of glass bottle beverages you pay a bottle deposit? That&rsquo;s because the beverage company remits the amount to you once you turn in the empty bottle, which they then recycle and/or reuse. Each bottle has a value of about $10 or $15, but it adds up, especially if you entertain a lot. <br /> <br /> 3) Don&rsquo;t release balloons into the air<br /> <br /> It might seem a cool way to celebrate an event, but when balloons pop and the pieces fall, it adds to litter. When it pops over the sea, it often ends up in the stomachs of marine animals such as sea turtles, fish, and some birds which mistake it for food and pay a fatal price. <br /> <br /> 4)<br /> <br /> Don&rsquo;t buy exotic and/or endangered animals<br /> <br /> This includes things like Hawksbill, Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles, spider monkeys, tigers, iguanas, scissor-tailed hummingbird, cockatoos, parakeets and parrots. They are intended to be in the wild, not pets or additions to your home d&Atilde;&copy;cor. <br /> <br /> 5) Dispose of garbage properly<br /> <br /> Tie your household garbage in a bag and put it in a bin. The garbage truck will collect it and take it to the landfill. Also, try to separate your garbage as best as possible. National Solid Waste Management Authority and Jamaica Social Investment Fund are currently testing waste separation pilots in a few communities in Kingston & St Andrew and St Catherine. With any luck, they should soon spread across the country.<br /> <br /> 6) Plant more trees<br /> <br /> Trees, as you know, purify the air, help produce rain, and trap heating gases like carbon and methane, thus keeping us cool. <br /> <br /> 7)<br /> <br /> Switch to green power<br /> <br /> Installing solar panels, wind turbines or a tankless hot water heater might sound daunting to the construction-impaired. But it might be easier than you think since suppliers of alternative energy equipment do installations. On the issue of cost, the purchasing sums are relatively high, but energy experts say costs are expected to keep trending down, and since both solar and wind are cheaper than petroleum-generated electricity, the systems will pay for themselves in about three to five years.<br /> <br /> 8) Conserve electrical energy <br /> <br /> Nobody should still be using the orange-hued incandescent bulbs. But even with fluorescent, the energy requirement is significant. Swap them out for LEDs. They do cost more than the prior technologies, but they use much less energy and still give a bright, sharp, clean glow.<br /> <br /> 9) Conserve water<br /> <br /> Repair leaking pipes immediately or suffer increased bills. You can also install a rain barrel which you can use to water your garden and do sundry projects around the house, thereby saving water from the main.<br /> <br /> 10) Use organic fertilisers/compost<br /> <br /> Chemical fertilisers have shown to produce greater crop yields, but they have been proven to contaminate water sources and are potentially harmful to humans. Using organic waste from your kitchen and your garden to create compost, which gardeners call black gold, is a much healthier option.<br /> <br /> 11) Use products made from recycled material<br /> <br /> Last year the Jamaica Observer featured the work of eco-conscious visual artist Scheed Cole who uses plastic beverage bottles, styrofoam, cardboard and other waste products to create sculptures, playground equipment, flower pots, table and bench sets, even a building. <br /> <br /> We&rsquo;ve also featured writing pens made by Pilot from 80 per cent recycled plastic bottles. There are also recycled notebooks and other paper products on the market.<br /> <br /> 12) Use reusable shopping bag<br /> <br /> A strong, natural-fibre bag that you can use multiple times, and looks trendy on top of it, is sure to give you way more mileage than single-use bags which are choking the landfills or worse, being thrown into drains and gullies and ultimately washing into the sea.<br /> <br /> 13) Stop chewing gum<br /> <br /> Gum was originally made from tree sap called chicle, a natural rubber, that freezes and thaws within a short range. When scientists created synthetic rubber, they replaced chicle with polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate, aka plastic. What&rsquo;s worse, the chemical which makes polyvinyl acetate &mdash; vinyl acetate &mdash; has been shown to cause tumours in lab rats.<br /> <br /> 14) Don&rsquo;t buy single-use water bottles, refill a reusable bottle<br /> <br /> Bottled water produces 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year in the US, and these bottles require 47 million gallons of oil to produce, according to Food & Water Watch. By simply refilling a reusable bottle, you&rsquo;ll prevent some of these bottles from ending up in landfills and oceans. So, bring a reusable cup to coffee shops and ask the barista to fill it up, and keep a mug at your desk instead of using plastic, paper or Styrofoam cups. <br /> <br /> 15) Clean green<br /> <br /> There&rsquo;s no need for multiple plastic bottles of tile cleaner, toilet cleaner and window cleaner if you have a few basics on hand like baking soda and vinegar. So free up some space, save some cash, and avoid those toxic chemicals by making your own cleaning products. <br /> <br /> 16) Say no to straws<br /> <br /> One of the easiest ways to keep plastic out of the landfill is to refuse plastic straws, but if you can&rsquo;t fathom giving up the convenience, purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass one and take it with you even when eating out.<br /> <br /> 17)<br /> <br /> Go an entire day without driving your car <br /> <br /> Vehicles are among the major contributors of air pollution. To help reduce the level, try car pooling, riding your bicycle, taking public transportation, or walking wherever you can.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13545613/250732_77436_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13545620/250746_77439_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13545615/250731_77435_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13545612/250733_77437_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13545619/250734_77438_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13545618/250758_77441_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13545616/250753_77440_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13545610/250759_77442_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, January 04, 2017 12:00 AM &lsquo;Wattway&rsquo; opens http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/-Wattway--opens-_84596 France on Thursday inaugurated the world&rsquo;s first &ldquo;solar highway&rdquo; in the small Normandy town of Tourouvre.<br /> <br /> The one-kilometre (half-mile) &ldquo;Wattway&rdquo; covered with 2,800 square metres (30,000 square feet) of resin-coated solar panels cost &euro;5 million (&Acirc;&pound;4.2m) to construct and will be used by about 2,000 motorists a day during a two-year test period to see if it can generate enough energy to power street lighting in the village of 3,400 residents.<br /> <br /> It was hooked up to the local power grid as sustainable development minister S&Atilde;&copy;gol&Atilde;&uml;ne Royal looked on.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This new use of solar energy takes advantage of large swathes of road infrastructure already in use... to produce electricity without taking up new real estate,&rdquo; Royal said in a statement.<br /> <br /> The minister announced a four-year &ldquo;plan for the national deployment of solar highways&rdquo; with initial projects in western Brittany and southern Marseille.<br /> <br /> An average of 2,000 cars use the road in Tourouvre each day, testing the resistance of the panels for the project carried out by French civil engineering firm Colas, a subsidiary of construction giant Bouygues.<br /> <br /> The idea, which is also under exploration in Germany, the Netherlands and the United States, is that roadways are occupied by cars only around 20 per cent of the time, providing vast expanses of surface to soak up the sun&rsquo;s rays.<br /> <br /> Colas says that in theory France could become energy independent by paving only a quarter of its million kilometres of roads with solar panels.<br /> <br /> Sceptics are waiting to see whether the panels can withstand the ravages of time and weather, as well as the beating they will take from big trucks.<br /> <br /> Solar panels installed on a 70-metre stretch of a cycling lane north of Amsterdam experienced some damage last winter but the problem has been resolved, the project&rsquo;s company TNO said.<br /> <br /> The Wattway project began with four pilot sites around France, in parking lots or in front of public buildings, on much smaller surfaces of between 50 and 100 square metres each. <br /> <br /> One drawback of the system is that solar panels are more effective when angled towards the sun, typically on slanted rooftops, than when they are laid flat. And the cost question is far from being resolved. Each kilowatt-peak &mdash; the unit of measure for solar energy &mdash; generated by Wattway currently costs &euro;17, compared with &euro;1.30 for a major rooftop installation.<br /> <br /> But Colas hopes to make the cost competitive by 2020, noting that the cost of producing solar energy decreased by 60 per cent between 2009 and 2015, according to French renewable energy association Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables.<br /> <br /> Another issue is that Normandy is not known for being particularly sunny; the region&rsquo;s political capital Caen has just 44 days of strong sunshine a year.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13530741/249677_76272_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13530742/249678_76271_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, December 28, 2016 12:00 AM 66-lb turtle returned to ocean after rehab in Florida http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/66-lb-turtle-returned-to-ocean-after-rehab-in-Florida_84882 JUNO BEACH, Florida (AP) &mdash; Dozens of animal lovers gathered on Juno Beach yesterday morning to watch Nicklen, a 66-pound loggerhead sea turtle, being released into the Atlantic Ocean<br /> <br /> .<br /> <br /> Nicklen was found in the Jupiter Inlet just outside Dubois Park in October. It had barnacles &mdash; sticky crustaceans related to crabs, lobsters, and shrimps&mdash; covering its shell and flippers and suffered from an intestinal infection that made it difficult to float. Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach treated it with antibiotics.<br /> <br /> It was named in honour of a globally acclaimed photographer, marine biologist and conservationist, Paul Nicklen.<br /> <br /> Beachgoers snapped photos of Nicklen with their smartphones as the reptile was hauled out in a stretcher and through the sand.<br /> <br /> The Loggerhead Marinelife Center treats about 100 turtles at its hospital each year and released 49 in 2015.<br /> <br /> Juno Beach is north of West Palm Beach. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13530760/249649_76232_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13530763/249650_76231_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, December 28, 2016 12:00 AM Energy companies plan to boost wind generation in New Mexico http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Energy-companies-plan-to-boost-wind-generation-in-New-Mexico_84883 ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) &mdash; Energy companies are expected to double the generating capacity of wind farms in eastern New Mexico over the next few years, thanks in part to federal subsidies and improvements in technology.<br /> <br /> More than a gigawatt of wind capacity is now under construction or planned in New Mexico, said Jeremy Lewis, head of the energy, conservation and management division at the State Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department.<br /> <br /> If all of that comes on line, that would be enough to potentially supply nearly 700,000 homes every year.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The costs for wind and solar have dropped precipitously, allowing a lot more renewable energy to move onto the grid,&rdquo; Lewis told The Albuquerque Journal. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ll see a lot more wind energy connected to our economy moving forward.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Still, some question whether the uptick will be temporary since subsidies will be phased out by 2020 and President-elect Donald Trump&rsquo;s incoming Administration is expected to pursue fossil-fuel development over renewables.<br /> <br /> In New Mexico the other challenge is the need for more transmission lines, which can add to the cost of new projects.<br /> <br /> But, at least for the next few years, wind energy will be booming.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Today&rsquo;s tax credits have brought down the costs to make wind energy very economical,&rdquo; said David Hudson, president of Xcel Energy New Mexico, which serves eastern New Mexico and West Texas through its subsidiary, Southwestern Public Service Co. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s an opportune time to acquire wind-generated electricity.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The federal production tax credit, which currently pays 2.3 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity from wind farms, has contributed to rapid deployment of new wind facilities across the nation in the past decade. Developers installed a total of nearly 75 gigawatts of electricity nationwide as of 2015, or enough to power about 20 million homes, according to the Wind Energy Association.<br /> <br /> As of last summer, the association reported 20 gigawatts of wind projects in advanced construction or planning nationwide, nearly three times the level in 2015.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We&rsquo;re seeing near-record development,&rdquo; said John Hensley, association manager for industry data and analysis. &ldquo;Many companies want to increase their holdings to lock in low, stable wind prices now.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Massive wind farms are either planned or under construction in Torrance and Curry counties. That includes two interrelated projects near Clovis, totalling 497 megawatts of generating capacity.<br /> <br /> The 298-megawatt El Cabo Wind Farm near Moriarty will open next year, and three other projects ranging from 30 to 250 megawatts are in the planning stages.<br /> <br /> Together, those projects would double New Mexico&rsquo;s wind generation to nearly 20 wind farms, with more than 2 gigawatts of installed capacity.<br /> <br /> The US$500-million El Cabo project will be the state&rsquo;s largest wind farm.<br /> <br /> New Mexico&rsquo;s eastern plains have enough wind energy potential to generate 11 gigawatts of electricity, or about 75 times more than the state needs, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado. As a result, most newly planned wind farms will supply customers in other states.<br /> <br /> To do that, New Mexico needs more transmission, since current lines operated by the state&rsquo;s largest utility, Public Service Company of New Mexico, can only accommodate another 1 gigawatt of capacity, said Jeff Mechenbier, PNM director of transmission, distribution and planning contracts.<br /> <br /> Five large-scale transmission projects are currently in different stages of development, including the 515-mile SunZia line that will carry wind-generated electricity from central New Mexico to Arizona.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13530761/249654_76234_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, December 28, 2016 12:00 AM Don&rsquo;t buy protected animals as gifts &mdash; NEPA http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Don-t-buy-protected-animals-as-gifts---NEPA_84598 THE National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is warning members of the public who may be seeking to purchase pets as gifts for the Christmas season to be careful not to buy protected species.<br /> <br /> Some protected animals include the Yellow-billed Parrot, the Black-billed Parrot, the Crested Quail Dove, the Jamaican Parakeet, the American Crocodile and the Jamaican Boa (Yellow Snake). <br /> <br /> &ldquo;It is an offence under the Wild Life Protection Act (WLPA) to possess, hunt, kill, capture or wilfully molest any protected animal. The full list of species covered by the WLPA is available on the agency&rsquo;s website,&rdquo; said NEPA.<br /> <br /> Individuals found guilty of the offence may be charged a maximum fine of $100,000 or face one year imprisonment, said NEPA, which urged urged members of the public to report any such illegal activity to the agency or the police. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13524642/249234_w300.jpg Local News Saturday, December 24, 2016 3:00 AM Oklahoma warns of more quakes from energy drilling http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Oklahoma-warns-of-more-quakes-from-energy-drilling_84325 OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (AP) &mdash; Oklahoma regulators said yesterday that the number of induced earthquakes could increase as oil and gas production expands in a broad area of the state, and they&rsquo;re telling energy companies that they need to be ready to shut down if a temblor exceeds magnitude 3.5.<br /> <br /> The Oklahoma Corporation Commission&rsquo;s Oil and Gas Division and the Oklahoma Geological Survey have developed new guidelines to help producers deal with the risks of earthquakes linked to hydraulic fracturing in drilling oil and natural gas wells in parts of the state where new development is underway, officials said.<br /> <br /> The commission said the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province and the Sooner Trend, Anadarko Basin, Canadian and Kingfisher counties fields in central and southern Oklahoma are expected to account for most new oil and gas activity in the state.<br /> <br /> Researchers have linked the rising number of earthquakes in parts of the state to the underground disposal of wastewater from oil and gas production. Regulators said the new operations shouldn&rsquo;t produce as much wastewater as in other regions where earthquakes of magnitude 5 or stronger have occurred.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;There is broad agreement among researchers that disposal of these large amounts of water into the state&rsquo;s deepest formation can be linked to the high earthquake rate,&rdquo; said Tim Baker, director of the commission&rsquo;s Oil and Gas Division. By comparison, the regions targeted for new drilling produce only small quantities of water.<br /> <br /> But state seismologists found that some small earthquakes in the regions might be related to hydraulic fracturing, a process used to enhance production by injecting a mix of water, sand and chemicals under high pressure.<br /> <br /> Unlike areas of the state that experience strong earthquakes linked to disposal activity, &ldquo;response to seismic activity that might be related to hydraulic fracturing can be more precisely defined and rapidly implemented&rdquo;, Oklahoma Geological Survey Director Jeremy Boak said.<br /> <br /> A spokesman for the energy industry said producers are ready to implement the new guidelines.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;As the data indicates, these seismic events have been small, rare and manageable,&rdquo; said Chad Warmington, president of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association. The new guidelines will help manage seismic activity and protect development of the areas, Warmington said.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13518114/248659_75118_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, December 21, 2016 12:00 AM &lsquo;Billions available for climate change but...&rsquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/-Billions-available-for-climate-change-but----_79151 Island states, which climate scientists have repeatedly said are more at risk from increased flooding, higher rates of beach erosion and eventual submersion by the sea as a result of more severe weather events brought on by climate change, could save themselves and their populations by tapping into the funds available for mitigation of and adaptation to the stresses.<br /> <br /> There is only one problem. Access to the funds is complex, making it difficult for individual countries to secure on their own.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;There are billions of dollars available for mitigation and adaptation of climate change, but very few countries have been able to get hold of that money,&rdquo; secretary general of the Commonwealth Baroness Patricia Scotland told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.<br /> <br /> At the time, Scotland was promoting a two-day brainstorming workshop called &lsquo;Regenerative Development to Reverse Climate Change&rsquo; at the secretariat headquarters in London at which she hosted leading biologists, ecologists, oceanographers and other authorities on sustainability and regenerative development from around the world.<br /> <br /> As she explained then, the process of accessing climate change development funds was &ldquo;technically very difficult&rdquo;, particularly so for small, under-resourced countries.<br /> <br /> It&rsquo;s for that reason, she said, that the Commonwealth secretariat introduced the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub in 2015.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s difficult and challenging and that is why we are better if we do it together. That was the idea of the Hub, because it&rsquo;s usually one small country trying to access the funds, but working together as a family helping each other will maximise the chances of success,&rdquo; the baronness told the Observer.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We really want to try and help the countries in the Commonwealth to get the monies they need in order to address the real pressing issues,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> The Hub is hosted in Mauritius and is linked to technical advisers across the Commonwealth.<br /> <br /> At its launch, Prime Minister of Mauritius Sir Anerood Jugnauth told reporters that he was &ldquo;confident that the climate finance access hub will be instrumental in our endeavour to address climate change issues&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;The flow of international climate funds for Small Island Developing States and Least Developed States, which are the most vulnerable to climate change, has remained problematic. The hub will assist in unlocking existing and new climate funds for urgent adaptation and mitigation,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, a November report by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), the World Bank, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that in spite of increasing climate risks, only 14 per cent of development aid for vulnerable small island nations addresses climate change and natural disasters.<br /> <br /> The report &mdash; Climate and Disaster Resilience Financing in Small Island States &mdash; shows that more than 335 major natural disasters have occurred in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) since 2000, resulting in an estimated US$22.7 billion in direct damages. Yet, efforts to build resilience to climate change and disasters are being hampered by a highly complex web of global financing, creating acute fragmentation.<br /> <br /> The result is often a confusing array of dozens of small projects &mdash; half of which are below US$200,000 each and which collectively account for only two per cent of all support. This, the report says, creates large inefficiencies and a lack of broad impact. The report also found that while SIDS received US$783 million a year in climate and disaster resilience financing during 2011-2014, the proportion of grant financing has been declining.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;When a single extreme weather event can cause losses that exceed a small island country&rsquo;s GDP by several times, governments need a more comprehensive approach to manage risk effectively,&rdquo; said John Roome, Senior Director of the Climate Change Group at the World Bank. &ldquo;We are working with our partners to ensure that Small Island Developing States have the tools they need to protect both their citizens and their economies, and are able to channel incoming financing where it is most needed.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Sustaining development progress in the midst of an increasingly volatile climate is no easy task, especially for communities within SIDS,&rdquo; says Jorge Moreira da Silva, OECD Development Director. &ldquo;However, with greater international cooperation and by harnessing emerging financial innovations, governments and donors can steer vital financing to build lasting resilience for these countries, and create a safer and more prosperous future.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The report calls for more coordinated, predictable and long-term financing for climate and disaster risk that is tailored to the needs of small islands. It also advocates for strengthened enabling policies and institutions in SIDS to ensure funds for managing climate risk are used more effectively. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12910900/199972__w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, December 21, 2016 12:00 AM Small countries most vulnerable to warming climate, IMF warns http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Small-countries-most-vulnerable-to-warming-climate--IMF-warns_83779 WASHINGTON, DC, United States (AFP) &ndash; The world&rsquo;s smallest countries are highly vulnerable to climate change and should work to adapt as sea levels rise and storms grow more frequent, according to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report released Monday.<br /> <br /> However, the needs of such states &ndash; those with the lowest populations and least land mass &ndash; are underfunded by as much as US$1 billion annually, the IMF report said, calling on both the fund and smaller member states to help prepare for life on a warmer, more disaster-prone planet.<br /> <br /> Unlike larger countries that can absorb catastrophic damage from natural disasters more easily, small states are more likely to see entire populations and economies affected, said IMF Assistant Director for strategy and policy Peter Allum &ndash; who coordinated the project &ndash; during a call with reporters.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This magnifies the size of the disaster relative to the size of the economy and its resource base,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> The study examined 34 developing IMF member countries with populations of fewer than 1.5 million in Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean and elsewhere.<br /> <br /> It found that around one in 10 natural disasters in such countries resulted in damage greater than 30 per cent of GDP. In others, the figure drops to one in a hundred natural disasters.<br /> <br /> The annual costs to small states&rsquo; economies averaged two per cent of GDP, four times higher than for other countries, Allum said. <br /> <br /> The Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, with a population of fewer than 300,000, tapped IMF emergency financing tools after it was devastated by Cyclone Pam last year, one of the worst natural disasters in the archipelago&rsquo;s history, he said.<br /> <br /> The Category 5 cyclone caused the country&rsquo;s economy to contract by 0.8 per cent in 2015, when it had previously been forecast to grow by 3.5 per cent, the fund said. The IMF board approved about US$24 million in emergency funds, helping the country meet balance of payments needs and also encouraging support from other aid donors.<br /> <br /> But since small states have benefited far less than larger countries from recent reforms to such financing, the IMF is now considering raising limits on access to emergency financing.<br /> <br /> Although a variety of policy proposals may be appropriate for member countries in preparing for and reducing risks, the report said, the fund itself should change its risk assessments to include natural disasters and encourage economic policies that reflect the dangers facing small states.<br /> <br /> Allum said the IMF board of directors may be presented with policy proposals by early next year. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13507456/247596_73936_repro_w300.jpg Local News Friday, December 16, 2016 3:00 AM Jamaica dedicates Dolphin Head Forest Reserve to Queen&rsquo;s Commonwealth Canopy http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Jamaica-dedicates-Dolphin-Head-Forest-Reserve-to-Queen-s-Commonwealth-Canopy-_83560 The Forestry Department has reported that it, on the behalf of the Government of Jamaica, has dedicated Dolphin Head Forest Reserve in western Jamaica as part of the Queen&rsquo;s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) project. <br /> <br /> The reserve, which covers approximately 1,167 hectares across six forest estates &mdash; Quasheba Mountain, Raglan Mountain, Geneva Mountain, Bath Mountain, Baulk Pen, and George&rsquo;s Plain Mountain &mdash; is recorded to have a higher density of local endemic plant species and rare or threatened plants per unit area than anywhere else in Jamaica. It is managed by the Forestry Department with support from the Dolphin Head Local Forest Management Committee (LFMC) which was launched by then Minister of Agriculture Dr Christopher Tufton, in 2009.<br /> <br /> Dolphin Head brings to 20 the number of forest reserves Commonwealth countries have committed to the initiative, which is designed to highlight the best examples of forest management throughout the Commonwealth. It was launched by Her Majesty The Queen at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta in 2015.<br /> <br /> Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace on November 15, 2016 to acknowledge the various countries&rsquo; dedications. Jamaica was represented Angella Rose-Howell, Deputy High Commissioner at the Jamaican High Commission in the United Kingdom, and Marilyn Headley, CEO of the Forestry Department and Conservator of Forests.<br /> <br /> Under the project, Jamaica is expected to benefit from the sharing of knowledge and best practices across the Commonwealth network, which will lead to better conservation measures to preserve the Dolphin Head Forest Reserve&rsquo;s rich biodiversity.<br /> <br /> Daryl Vaz, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, in a letter endorsing Dolphin Head&rsquo;s nomination, said the Government was committed to the sustainable management of the island&rsquo;s forest resources. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;The Government of Jamaica remains committed to managing all the country&rsquo;s forest resources at the highest standards for the benefit of present and future generations and we are happy that the initiative is aimed at raising awareness within the Commonwealth of the value of indigenous forests and the need to preserve them for future generations,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, Headley says the Forestry Department noted that the effective mitigation of the threats and the effective conservation of the biodiversity at Dolphin Head, which she described as ecologically fragile, is a priority for the island.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The Agency created the Dolphin Head LFMC to help establish and develop conservation-based activities to support sustainable forest management. This stemmed from the need to eliminate the threat of fragmentation and isolation of forest blocks as a result of forest clearance for agriculture, structural degradation of forests resulting from unregulated logging and extraction of timber products and other activities,&rdquo; Headley said.<br /> <br /> The Conservator of Forests reported that through the establishment of the Dolphin Head LFMC, 16 acres of denuded and degraded forest lands have been reforested and LFMC members have been able to secure other sustainable livelihood income streams.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The LFMC has established an apiary in the area, which serves as a thriving honey business and they have also established an agroforestry plot on privately owned land in close proximity to the reserve. With the creation of the LFMC what we find is that communities surrounding the reserve and persons who were using the forest resources in an unsustainable manner, are now using organised approaches to access these resources which has mitigated some of the problems we were facing,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> Chairperson of the Dolphin Head LFMC Collett Grant said: &ldquo;We gladly welcome the opportunity to work with all stakeholders associated with the QCC as the partnership can help in building, protecting and preserving the forest and its environs.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The Dolphin Head mountain range is recorded to have a higher density of local endemic plant species and rare or threatened plants per unit area than anywhere else in Jamaica. Therefore, the effective mitigation of the threats and ensuring the effective conservation of the biodiversity in this ecologically fragile ecosystem is a priority for the island.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13501757/247194_73628_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, December 14, 2016 12:00 AM Jennifer Layke to advise incoming secretary http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Jennifer-Layke-to-advise-incoming-secretary_83542 WASHINGTON, USA (WRI) &mdash; According to multiple media reports, President-elect Donald Trump will select Governor Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy. Perry was governor of Texas from 2000 to 2015, and twice ran for president of the United States.<br /> <br /> As secretary of energy, he would lead the department&rsquo;s mission to &ldquo;ensure America&rsquo;s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> The secretary of energy oversees a budget of US$29.6 billion (in 2016), including US$10.7 billion for all of the above science and technology.<br /> <br /> Last week, several reports revealed that the Trump transition team sent a request seeking names of people within the agency who work on climate and clean energy.<br /> <br /> Jennifer Layke, global director of World Resouces Institute&rsquo;s Energy Program is advising the incoming secretary to embrace a clean energy future that is good for people, the economy and the country&rsquo;s security since the department is &ldquo;the leading voice on energy in the country&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Governor Perry comes from a state long associated with the oil industry, but he also has a successful track record of promoting wind power. When Perry took office as governor, Texas had 116 megawatts of wind power, but it now boasts 18,000 megawatts, making it the country&rsquo;s largest wind producer. If the incoming secretary truly wants to boost America&rsquo;s economy, health and security, he should look no further than extending the department&rsquo;s commitment to clean, renewable energy,&rdquo; she said in a statement issued yesterday.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The shift to clean energy is well underway and already employing hundreds of thousands of people across the country, including in rural communities. Wind and solar power have been the largest source of new electricity in the US in recent years. The cost to instal solar power has fallen by more than 70 per cent over the last decade. Wind power currently supplies 4.7 per cent of US electricity and employs more than 88,000 Americans. That&rsquo;s why states from Texas to Maine and Iowa to Florida are all investing in renewable energy.<br /> <br /> Further, Layke said the Department of Energy leads essential programmes that drive innovation and fill important gaps to get new technologies off the ground. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;These are vital to keep the US at the frontier of energy technology. In recent years, the Department of Energy has given US businesses a significant boost to accelerate the development of battery storage, solar panels and electric vehicles. These programmes must continue,&rdquo; she stressed.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Recent signals about Trump Administration&rsquo;s energy agenda suggest a return to an earlier era and outdated energy model. This would undermine hundreds of small businesses and thousands of workers who are working in the clean energy sector. It would stand in conflict with the country&rsquo;s shift to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. The questionnaire from the transition team seeking names of Department of Energy staff who work on climate change and clean energy issues is alarming. Government workers need to be able to conduct research on all issues and use the best evidence and data available to inform their decisions,&rdquo; said Layke. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13501755/247197_73629_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, December 14, 2016 12:00 AM VTDI to help schools go solar http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/VTDI-to-help-schools-go-solar_83556 The tertiary arm of the HEART Trust/NTA, Vocational Training Development Institute (VTDI), is forging several partnerships with schools to encourage the use of alternative energy resources. <br /> <br /> Students at VTDI&rsquo;s Gordon Town-based campus in St Andrew will work with select schools to instal solar panels as part of the Alternative Energy-Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems programme offered at the institution, but the schools would need to have purchased equipment prior to installation.<br /> <br /> Acting director/principal of VTDI Donovon Jones said the initiative was in keeping with its dedication to ensure students are skilled as well as knowledgeable to do the job. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are into competency-based education and training. While the students are in training they will instal these systems in order to complete the practical component of the course. At the end of their training, they will have the competence and skills to instal these systems,&rdquo; said Jones.<br /> <br /> Some secondary institutions have already partnered with the VTDI to generate clean energy through the installation and use of PV systems, which will improve their economic viability and environmental sustainability. Under the agreement, the schools will enrol two of their staff members to be trained to instal and maintain the panels.<br /> <br /> The seven-week alternative energy course comprises five modules and is only offered at VTDI&rsquo;s Gordon Town and Mandeville locations. Training covers PV orientation and site surveying, energy audit, PV system designs, solar system installations and grid tie as well as PV system maintenance and trouble shooting.<br /> <br /> According to information gathered by the HEART Trust/NTA&rsquo;s Labour Market Research and Intelligence Department, PV installers are in high demand across the island.<br /> <br /> Hugh Cargill, instructor at VTDI, stated that this is as a result of the Government&rsquo;s established target to increase the use of renewables and the expansion of existing renewable energy plants.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;If a country is to effectively switch from its dependence on conventional methods of generating electricity to the use of PV systems, trained personnel are essential to make it happen. If individuals are not trained to carry out analysis at a prospective site, conduct energy audits, and attain the skills to not only instal the systems but design, maintain and troubleshoot them, then millions of dollars could be wasted, as the system which should last at least 25 years will be rendered useless after a short time,&rdquo; warned Cargill.<br /> <br /> Solar energy has been touted as a means of reducing the country&rsquo;s reliance on fossil fuels, which negatively impact the environment.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13171977/218521_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, December 14, 2016 12:00 AM UN Environment launches office in Kingston http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/UN-Environment-launches-office-in-Kingston_82801 The United Nations&rsquo; environment agency, which is now styled United Nations (UN) Environment, says Jamaica was the best location for its Caribbean office, formally opened in Kingston last week.<br /> <br /> Called UN Environment Caribbean, the office is located on the building that houses the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in downtown Kingston. It will subsume the Caribbean Environment Programme being run out of the Caribbean Regional Coordinating Unit, also housed on the ISA building. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;There were a number of considerations in terms of where the office might be located and Jamaica made a lot of sense... The fact that we already have a presence in Jamaica and a successful relationship with the Government, as well as what we in the UN are referring to as &lsquo;doing more with less&rsquo;, it made a lot of sense for us to build on what already existed here in Jamaica and on the good reputation that UN Environment has with Jamaica and with the Government, head of UN Environment Caribbean Vincent Sweeney told the Jamaica Observer in response to a question about why the UN choose Jamaica as the location for its new office.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I think Jamaica is an excellent choice,&rdquo; said retired Lt Col Oral Khan who serves as chief technical director in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation. &ldquo;Jamaica has been at the forefront and taking a leadership position in the Caribbean and I therefore think it is fitting that this Caribbean sub-regional office is located here alongside the other regional institutions of the UN,&rdquo; he added.<br /> <br /> United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Children&rsquo;s Fund, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Office and United Nations Population Fund have offices in Kingston.<br /> <br /> The new environment office, which has been operational for the past 10 months, is expected to &ldquo;bring the full range of environmental services provided by UN Environment closer to the Caribbean&rdquo;, according to Sweeney. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;It will build on the many years of good work done by the Regional Seas Programme and the Secretariat for the Cartagena Convention, which is also housed by UN Environment and which has been based in Kingston for many years,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> For junior minister Daryl Vaz, the location of the office is a &ldquo;clear signal of confidence to both the local and international communities that downtown Kingston is once again open for business&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;As Jamaica continues its trajectory towards sustainable development and prosperity, we are pleased to continue our partnership with UNEP through its sub-regional office and I will add that it is very, very important that downtown Kingston happens to be where this is,&rdquo; said Vaz.<br /> <br /> The opening of UN Environment Caribbean office occurred during Climate Change Awareness Week.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13485300/245613_71973_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, December 07, 2016 12:00 AM Google hits renewable energy goal in quest to pare pollution http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Google-hits-renewable-energy-goal-in-quest-to-pare-pollution_82828 SAN FRANCISCO, USA (AP) &mdash; Google is crossing a milestone in its quest to reduce pollution caused by its digital services that devour massive amounts of electricity.<br /> <br /> The internet company believes that beginning next year, it will have amassed enough renewable energy to meet all of its electricity needs throughout the world.<br /> <br /> That&rsquo;s significant, given Google&rsquo;s ravenous appetite for electricity to power its offices and the huge data centres that process requests on its dominant search engine, store Gmail, YouTube video clips and photos for more than a billion people.<br /> <br /> Google says its 13 data centres and offices consume about 5.7 terawatt hours of electricity annually &mdash; nearly the same amount as San Francisco, where more than 800,000 people live and tens of thousands of others come to work and visit.<br /> <br /> The accomplishment announced yesterday doesn&rsquo;t mean Google will be able to power its operations solely on wind and solar power. That&rsquo;s not possible because of the complicated way that power grids and regulations are set up around the US and the rest of the world.<br /> <br /> Google instead believes it is now in a position to offset every megawatt hour of electricity supplied by a power plant running on fossil fuels with renewable energy that the Mountain View, California, company has purchased through a variety of contracts. About 95 per cent of Google&rsquo;s renewable energy deals come from wind power farms, with the remainder from solar power.<br /> <br /> Nearly 20 other technology companies also have pledged to secure enough renewable energy to power their worldwide operations, said Gary Cook, senior energy campaigner for the environmental group Greenpeace.<br /> <br /> Google made its commitment four years ago and appears to be the first big company to have fulfilled the promise.<br /> <br /> Apple is getting close to matching its rival. The iPhone maker says it has secured enough renewable energy to power about 93 per cent of its worldwide operations. Apple is also trying to convert more of the overseas suppliers that manufacture the iPhone and other devices to renewable energy sources, but that goal is expected to take years to reach.<br /> <br /> Cook said the symbolic message sent by Google&rsquo;s achievement is important to environmental experts who believe electricity generated with coal and natural gas is causing damage that is contributing to extreme swings in the climate.<br /> <br /> US President-elect Donald Trump dismissed the need for climate control during his campaign for office, and he has pledged to undo a number of regulations to protect the environment.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;More than ever, companies must show this sort of leadership on renewable energy,&rdquo; Cook said yesterday. &ldquo;Now is not the time to be silent.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Google still hopes to work with power utilities and regulators around the world to make it possible for all of its renewable energy to be directly piped into its offices and data centres around the clock.<br /> <br /> For now, Google sells its supply of renewable energy to other electricity grids whenever it isn&rsquo;t possible for its own operations to use the power.<br /> <br /> Google Inc declined to disclose how much it has spent on its stockpile of renewable energy or the size of its annual electricity bill.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13485303/245624_71989_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, December 07, 2016 12:00 AM Arctic sea ice hits record monthly low for 7th time in 2016 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Arctic-sea-ice-hits-record-monthly-low-for-7th-time-in-2016_82827 WASHINGTON, USA (AP) &mdash; Though this is the time the Arctic is supposed to be refreezing, scientists say sea ice there hit record low levels for November. In the crucial Barents Sea, floating ice decreased when it would be expected to grow.<br /> <br /> Arctic sea ice extended for 3.5 million square miles (9.1 million square kilometres) &mdash; 309,000 square miles (800,000 square kilometres) below the record set in 2006. The National Snow and Ice Data Center says it was the seventh month this year to set a record low.<br /> <br /> Some Arctic air was 18 degrees warmer (10 degrees Celsius) than normal and seawater was seven degrees (four degrees Celsius) above normal, preventing sea ice from forming. Data centre scientist Julienne Stroeve blamed natural weather patterns and man-made global warming.<br /> <br /> Local Environment Wednesday, December 07, 2016 12:00 AM Higher temperatures could mean economic decline &mdash; IPCC http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Higher-temperatures-could-mean-economic-decline---IPCC_82231 THE world economy stands to recede if global temperatures continue to rise. <br /> <br /> The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sounded the warning knell in Kingston on Wednesday at the launch of a three-day symposium intended to bring policymakers, academia, students and the media into the know about the workings of the body which assesses the science related to climate change. <br /> <br /> Speaking at the launch, IPCC chair Dr Hoesung Lee said the global impact could be a loss of 1.22 per cent with warming of just one degree Celsius.<br /> <br /> In Jamaica&rsquo;s case, severe weather events spawned by the warming have already caused economic losses.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We do know that any major shifts in weather severity and patterns could mean a significant loss of Gross Domestic Product for Jamaica, and indeed we are no strangers to this. As far back as 2006 Jamaica recorded a 7.3 per cent loss to GDP as a result of the impacts of climate change,&rdquo; Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz said Wednesday.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;An Inter-American Development Bank report on Jamaica&rsquo;s Catastrophe Risk Profile has also revealed that the country is at risk of average annual losses of US$105 million due to hurricanes, and other extreme weather events. We cannot sit by and allow climate change to derail our progress, and so we remain committed to the goals of the Paris Agreement,&rdquo; the minister added.<br /> <br /> He noted that experts are warning that the current rate of global warming is already causing impacts beyond the current adaptive capacity of many countries, particularly Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as Jamaica, and added that even with the Paris Agreement&rsquo;s provision to limit global warming to an initial 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial figures, significant residual impacts and losses are predicted.<br /> <br /> Jamaica joined the Paris Agreement in April this year and is taking steps to have it ratified by the end of the financial year.<br /> <br /> Vaz, who delivered the keynote address at the symposium launch Wednesday, signalled the country&rsquo;s commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement. As an example, he pointed to several sector strategies and action plans that are currently being prepared with a view to bolstering the national adaptation planning process. He noted, too, that the first biennial update report was recently submitted &mdash; a first among SIDS &mdash; providing an update on the country&rsquo;s greenhouse gas inventories.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;While we intend to do all we can to reduce our miniscule emissions footprint, we recognise that adaptation to climate change for us is a must,&rdquo; the minister said.<br /> <br /> Vaz also noted that the research coming out of SIDS to inform studies on the impacts of climate change are lacking.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We appreciate that there is need for a collaborative approach with researchers in other SIDS to address these gaps, and ensure that the reports that are generated truly capture the impacts being experienced and those that are likely to be experienced,&rdquo; the minister said.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, IPCC chair Lee affirmed the importance of science in guiding national and global efforts to address climate change. He said that while there have been concerns about the future of the Paris Agreement as a result of political developments in some parts of the world, science will be the common ground upon which the agreement will be implemented.<br /> <br /> Lee also used the opportunity to urge countries to ramp up investment in infrastructure that is resilient to the changing climate, as opposed to high-carbon development which contributes to the decline.<br /> <br /> The symposium is being staged by the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation and the University of the West Indies at the university&rsquo;s regional headquarters at Mona and forms part of Climate Change Awareness Week. The proceedings will culminate with a two-day Climate Smart Expo at Emancipation Park this weekend. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13475889/244591_71197_repro_w300.jpg Local News Saturday, December 03, 2016 3:00 AM 53-pound alligator snapping turtle saved http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/53-pound-alligator-snapping-turtle-saved_82214 TEXAS, USA (AP) &mdash; A 53-pound alligator snapping turtle is recovering at a Houston wildlife rehabilitation centre after fire-rescue crews saved it from a drainage pipe.<br /> <br /> The Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) says the specimen, one of a threatened species known as alligator snapping turtles, was found wedged Tuesday in the pipe in a new residential development near Hockley, about 35 miles northwest of Houston.<br /> <br /> Fire-rescue crews used a spreader to open the pipe enough to remove the turtle, which had struggled to keep its head above water. Several drowned alligator snapping turtles flowed from the newly unblocked pipe.<br /> <br /> The SPCA said it also is rehabilitating one other alligator snapping turtle, which had an embedded fish hook and other serious wounds. Both will be returned to the wild after recovering. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13473365/244432_71038_repro_w300.jpg Local News Friday, December 02, 2016 3:00 AM Dairy cows to combat global warming? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Dairy-cows-to-combat-global-warming-_82083 GALT, California (AP) &mdash; California is taking its fight against global warming to the farm.<br /> <br /> The nation&rsquo;s leading agricultural state is now targeting greenhouse gases produced by dairy cows and other livestock.<br /> <br /> Despite strong opposition from farmers, Gov Jerry Brown signed legislation in September that for the first time regulates heat-trapping gases from livestock operations and landfills.<br /> <br /> Cattle and other farm animals are major sources of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas. Methane is released when they belch, pass gas and make manure.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;If we can reduce emissions of methane, we can really help to slow global warming,&rdquo; said Ryan McCarthy, a science adviser for the California Air Resources Board, which is drawing up rules to implement the new law.<br /> <br /> Livestock are responsible for 14.5 per cent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, with beef and dairy production accounting for the bulk of it, according to a 2013 United Nations report.<br /> <br /> Since the passage of its landmark global warming law in 2006, California has been reducing carbon emissions from cars, trucks, homes and factories, while boosting production of renewable energy.<br /> <br /> In the nation&rsquo;s largest milk-producing state, the new law aims to reduce methane emissions from dairies and livestock operations to 40 per cent below 2013 levels by 2030, McCarthy said. State officials are developing the regulations, which take effect in 2024.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We expect that this package ... and everything we&rsquo;re doing on climate, does show an effective model forward for others,&rdquo; McCarthy said.<br /> <br /> Dairy farmers say the new regulations will drive up costs when they&rsquo;re already struggling with five years of drought, low milk prices and rising labour costs. They&rsquo;re also concerned about a newly signed law that will boost overtime pay for farm workers.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It just makes it more challenging. We&rsquo;re continuing to lose dairies. Dairies are moving out of state to places where these costs don&rsquo;t exist,&rdquo; argued Paul Sousa, director of environmental services for Western United Dairymen.<br /> <br /> The dairy industry could be forced to move production to states and countries with fewer regulations, leading to higher emissions globally, Sousa said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We think it&rsquo;s very foolish for the state of California to be taking this position,&rdquo; said Rob Vandenheuvel, general manager for the Milk Producers Council. &ldquo;A single state like California is not going to make a meaningful impact on the climate.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Regulators are looking for ways to reduce so-called enteric emissions &mdash; methane produced by bovine digestive systems. That could eventually require changes to what cattle eat.<br /> <br /> But the biggest target is dairy manure, which accounts for about a quarter of the state&rsquo;s methane emissions.<br /> <br /> State regulators want more farmers to reduce emissions with methane digesters, which capture methane from manure in large storage tanks and convert the gas into electricity.<br /> <br /> The state has set aside $50 million to help dairies set up digesters, but farmers say that&rsquo;s not nearly enough to equip the state&rsquo;s roughly 1,500 dairies.<br /> <br /> New Hope Dairy, which has 1,500 cows in Sacramento County, installed a $4-million methane digester in 2013, thanks to state grants and a partnership with California Biogas LLC, which operates the system to generate renewable power for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.<br /> <br /> Co-owner Arlin Van Groningen, a third-generation farmer, says he couldn&rsquo;t afford one if he had to buy and run it himself.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The bottom line is it&rsquo;s going to negatively impact the economics of the California dairy industry,&rdquo; Van Groningen said of the new law. &ldquo;In the dairy business, the margins are so slim that something like this will force us out of state.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> State officials say they&rsquo;re committed to making sure the new regulations work for farmers and the environment.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;There&rsquo;s a real opportunity here to get very significant emissions reductions at fairly low cost, and actually in a way that can bring economic benefits to farmers,&rdquo; Ryan said. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13467659/244221_70662_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13467660/244217_70661_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, November 30, 2016 12:00 AM GOJ, UWI host Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change on Caribbean visit http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/GOJ--UWI-host-Inter-Governmental-Panel-on-Climate-Change-on-Caribbean-visit_82071 The Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation and the University of the West Indies are this week playing hosts to the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) &ndash;the world body that assesses the science related to climate change &ndash; in a Caribbean outreach event that forms part of Climate Change AwarenessWeek.<br /> <br /> The outreach aims to raise awareness, especially among policymakers and the scientific community in the region, about the IPCC&rsquo;s role and activities. It will also demonstrate how climate change is affecting the region and highlight solutions to the challenges.<br /> <br /> The Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, the Inter-American Development Bank and Panos Caribbean are also partnering with the ministry and the UWI to host the event.<br /> <br /> The IPCC&rsquo;s planned outreach activities include:<br /> <br /> A two-day workshop for policymakers, practitioners, scientists, civil society representatives and media from across the Caribbean at the Regional Headquarters of the University of the West Indies (November 30 and December 1)<br /> <br /> A workshop for regional journalists at the University of the West Indies (November 29)<br /> <br /> A meeting with the Permanent Secretaries&rsquo; Board to provide information on the IPCC&rsquo;s most recent and upcoming assessment reports (November 29)<br /> <br /> A special meeting with high school students involved in the Youth Environmental Advocacy Programme (November 30)<br /> <br /> The activities at the Regional Headquarters will be streamed live at http://live.mona.uwi.edu/ and event details may be found at http://ipcc.ch/apps/outreach/eventinfo.php?q=369.<br /> <br /> While in Jamaica, the IPCC will provide information on its work to a Caribbean audience and will share the findings of its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) and updates on the Sixth Assessment Report process. The IPCC&rsquo;s assessment reports are publications on the full scientific and technical assessment of climate change. These assessments of climate change draw on the work of hundreds of scientists from all over the world, and help policy makers at all levels of government make sound, evidence-based decisions.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are honoured that the IPCC accepted the invitation of the Government to conduct this outreach to the region, here in Jamaica. The Government commends this fine example of a working partnership that has facilitated this gathering of minds from across the region to consider the scientific case for climate action to save the islands of our Caribbean home. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We anticipate vibrant exchanges of information as we learn from the most recent Assessment Report of the IPCC and share our own experiences from the region,&rdquo; stated Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Colonel Oral Khan<br /> <br /> For his part, Principal of the UWI, Mona campus Professor Archibald McDonald, said: &ldquo;The meeting signals the importance of research, climate information and science-based interventions to development, planning and the livelihoods of the Caribbean. The UWI stands committed to any partnerships that will ultimately better the lives of all across the region. We welcome the IPCC and look forward to the new opportunities and synergies that will emerge over the course of the meeting.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The IPCC outreach event comes on the heels of the recently concluded 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Marrakech, Morocco.<br /> <br /> At COP22, Jamaica gave the assurance that it remains fully committed, along with its CARICOM brothers and sisters, to seek international agreement to halt, and even reverse the adverse effects of climate change. Jamaica&rsquo;s statement also reaffirmed the country&rsquo;s commitment to the ratification of the Paris Agreement and noted that it is working assiduously to build resilience through a rigorous national adaptation process. <br /> <br /> The Paris Agreement has entered into force, having already been ratified by 55 countries which, between them, are responsible for at least 55 per cent of global emissions. Several CARICOM states have ratified the Agreement and Jamaica should get there by the end of the financial year, according to the Climate Change Division.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12425827/climate-change-agenda_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, November 30, 2016 12:00 AM Oil spill in Kingston Harbour http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Oil-spill-in-Kingston-Harbour_81689 THE National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) was yesterday investigating a report of an oil spill in the Kingston Harbour which occurred Thursday afternoon. <br /> <br /> The agency said a preliminary report indicated that the spill took place in the vicinity of Gordon Cay. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management is currently coordinating the clean-up and containment activities being undertaken by the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard,&rdquo; NEPA said in a release.<br /> <br /> It asked fishers and other marine interests to avoid Gordon Cay and surrounding areas until further advised. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12944595/202179_w300.jpg Local News Saturday, November 26, 2016 12:00 AM