Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pror. Mohan Munasinghe - Sustainable Development (Walking the Talk)

The next few posts are going to be about talks that I attended recently. A number of them, and I would do my best to share on what I learn from those talks.

The first one I am going to share would be about Sime Darby Lecture Series. Thanks a lot to Yu Cheng for providing me with this opportunity to attend. It was a talk by Professor Mohan Munasinghe on "Sustainable Development - Walking the Talk". This is the 5th lecture under this series, with previous talks by Professor Emil Salim, Professor Robert F. Engle, Revered Jesse Jackson and Tim Harford. I got the chance to attend the talk by my fellow Cornellian, Prof. Robert F. Engle and Tim Harford. So, this one is the 3rd one that I attended.

For the lectures, you can view it here . The previous 4 lectures are shown there.

A little background of Professor Mohan Munasinghe. His name may seem not too familiar for most of us, but he is the joint recipient of 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, together with Al Gore. He is the Vice Chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

With United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15 Copenhagen) to be held from 7th to 18th December 2009, it is good that we take stock and understand more on climate change and its impact. We only have one mother land, and we should treasure it.

News reports by The Edge on this lecture. Read it here .

Some of the key sharings by Professor Mohan and Tun Musa Hitam that I capture.

1. Are we really walking the talk? Are we doing enough for the environment? Are we serious enough? Are we doing sustainable development?

2. We should apply SUSTAINOMICS, and the South can share with the South, and perhaps even share with the North.

3. 85% of the world's income are with the top 20% of people, whereas the lowest 20% of people are only having 1.4%.

4. If we do not take positive steps, by 2035, we would need natural regenerative capacity of 2 earths.

5. For climate change, poorer countries and poorer groups are the most vulnerable. We should make development more sustainable.

6. Today, financial bailout was $4 trillion, poverty spending was $100 billion a year, but for climate change, we are only spending a few billion a year.

7. For the stimulus plan, Korea spent 80% of it on Green Investments, whereas China spent 35%. Other countries spent between 10%-15%.

8. In the last 100 years, temperature went up 0.75 Celcius and sea level went up 16 cm. If no concrete step is done, temperature would go up another 3 Celcius by 2100 and sea level go up by 40 cm. If that happens, countries like Bangladesh would lose 17% of populated areas.

9. We should adopt common, but differentiated responsibilities. For developed nations, it is about transforming and decarbonise. Reduce the emission, whereas for developing countries, it would be about adaptation, where as they develop, they adopt greerer ways of doing things. There should be safety net for poor and vulnerable countries. Funds can be transferred, in change for carbon credits, where carbon is taken away from the earth.

10. The threshold is about 2 Celcius increase in temperature and we need to really do something urgently.

11. Now, the emission is 390 parts per million, and the maximum the world can go is 450 parts per million. So, if nothing is done, we are very near to the limit.

12. Climate change effort is like hiking, where we take a step at a time. Even though we won't know how peak is like, we should start plan for the hike and take a step at a time.

13. Sustainable Development Triangle - Economic, Social and Environmental

14. Sustainable development would transcend boundaries of disciplinary, space, time, stakeholders, operational and values.

15. The youth can and should do something for the environment. The Berlin Wall was torned down, due to initiatives by 50,000 youths in 1989.

16. Greed and selfishness are unsustainable.

17. Question to ask ourselves is that are we really to leapfrog and tunnel through?

18. We should identify the weak spots and arget group, and make the change. Say for light bulbs, then the target would be at consumer level, whereas for reduction of carbon for milk, it would be at the farm level (as 75% of carbon is there).

One of the interesting aspects for this talk is that the centerpiece on the table was plants, and each of us was asked to bring home at least a plant, so that we can be a little part of the change, and remind us of the environment and climate change.

Lets hope for the best for COP15! But in the mean time, lets do our little part for climate change.

For those of you in Malaysia, Ruth Yeoh has been one of the biggest proponents of Climate Change, and one of the outcomes is Climate Change Week .
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