Environment

Lima Climate Agreement

After running long past its scheduled finish time, the United Nations Lima climate talks finally delivered an agreement on Sunday that should see all countries, not just developed ones, pledge to cut their emissions after 2020.

But the deal still leaves much uncertainty and could reduce the amount of scrutiny that countries’ climate plans will receive as the negotiations inch their way towards a possible deal at the crucial talks in Paris next December.

The Lima climate deal has two critical consequences for developing countries . First, clause 4 urges developed countries to “provide and mobilize” financial support to help developing countries deal with the effects of climate change. To date, only US$10 billion (A$12 billion) has been allocated to the Green Climate Fund (10% of the annual target). This is clearly insufficient, and as Secretary of State John Kerry announced to delegates: “When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines last year, the cost of responding to the damage exceeded US$10 billion.”

Second, developing countries succeeded in reintroducing clause 11, which recognises their “special circumstances” in setting emissions-reduction targets. Australia (alongside the United States) fought against special status, arguing that: “It doesn’t matter where the emissions come from, they are global emissions.” This was the deepest fault line to emerge in Lima and we should expect it to erupt as pressure builds to reach a binding deal in Paris next year.

The Agreement – Link

Disease

West Nile virus – Brazil

On 9 December 2014, the Ministry of Health of Brazil reported a case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in the state of Piauí (PI). This is the first detection of a human case of WNV infection in Brazil.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne zoonotic arbovirus belonging to the genus Flavivirus in the family Flaviviridae. People who get WNV usually have no symptoms or mild symptoms. The symptoms include a fever, headache, body aches, skin rash, and swollen lymph glands. They can last a few days to several weeks, and usually go away on their own.

If West Nile virus enters the brain, however, it can be life-threatening. It may cause encephalitis, or meningitis.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Zhupanovsky (Kamchatka, Russia): Intermittent ash emissions continue to occur from time to time from the volcano. A plume of volcanic ash at 14,000 ft (4.2 km) altitude extending ENE was reported last night (Tokyo VAAC).

Lopevi (Vanuatu ): Vanuatu’s Geohazard unit has raised the alert level for the stratovolcano, as seismic activity has strongly increased “in a very short time span. From visual and satellite observations, it is clear that the volcano is in an eruption phase.” The island of Lopevi has been declared a “NO GO ZONE” until further notice.

Kilauea (Hawai’i): The active lava lobe that has been advancing along the northern flow margin of the lava flow that had entered Pahoa in Nov, but then stopped, continues to advance towards the town and is now only approx. 1700 m away from the commercial center of the town. Its speed in the past days averaged about 250 m, i.e. it could reach Pahoa in about a week if it continues at this speed and if it continues to follow the path of steepest descent. This path, calculated by HVO, would intersect the main road near the supermarket.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): Eruptive activity has started at the volcano in the form of abundant ash emissions from the volcano’s summit crater since yesterday. The volcano had been under increased vigilance since 3 Dec, when seismic activity started to pick up and suggest important internal changes. It is impossible to say whether the new activity is or will become a magmatic eruption and how it will continue. For now, the Manizales observatory maintains alert level 3 (yellow) unchanged.