Solar charged phones launched in Tanzania

Tanzanians have been urged to use environmentally friendly mobile phones to support global initiatives to reduce the impact of climate change.

The call was made by the Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office (Environment) Dr Batilda Buriani in Dar es Salaam on Thursday when launching the environmental friendly mobile phone which will run on solar power.

She said the mobile phone which has been launched by Vodacom Tanzania will help to preserve the environment and reduce dependence on electricity.

She said the cellular phones have come at the right time when Tanzania and other countries in Africa are facing serious power problems.

She said though the number of mobile phone users in Africa has increased by 50 percent, millions more cannot access the service due to power problems.

Dr Buriani said the solar charged cellular phones will help Tanzanians living in rural areas to get relevant agricultural information especially on markets.

“People in rural areas have for years not benefited from mobile phone services due to power problems, but currently they can enjoy modern communications by simply exposing their cellular phones to light”, said Dr Buriani.

She said Tanzania becomes the second country in East Africa to use the solar charged mobile phones after Uganda launched it last month. Vodacom Tanzania Director Dietlof Mare said his company was improving the communication industry by giving customers modern advanced products.

He said since most Tanzanians in rural areas are low income earners, they have decided to sell the solar charged phones at affordable price of 50,000/-.

Mare said his company has so far been successful in its recent M-PESA service with more than one million people registered to use it countrywide. He said more than 16bn/- is transacted through M-PESA every month.




UN climate change negotiations end with no answer to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

The UN climate change negotiations which ended yesterday in Bangkok have largely failed to deliver any substantive progress to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In a statement issued yesterday in Dar es Salaam, Saleemul Huq, senior fellow in the climate change group at the International Institute for Environment and Development, said the negotiations have also failed to transfer technology and finance from rich to poorer nations for adaptation and mitigation, leading to serious questions about the political commitment of the industrialized nations.

Huq, who is also a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said;

"Last month, President Obama, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other leaders of industrialised nations all lined up to say how committed they were in tackling climate change and reaching an effective agreement on how to do this when UN negotiations end in Copenhagen in December."

"This gave the world high expectations for the international negotiation session that has run for the past two weeks in Bangkok," he added

"But it seems like the negotiators from industrialised nations either didn’t follow their leaders’ speeches or haven’t been receiving any new instructions because in virtually every aspect of the talks, there has been minimal progress of any substance," he said.

The G77/China group of 132 developing nations said that the EU is trying to "divide and conquer" developing nations and detract attention from their own broken promises.

There was virtually no progress on new targets for developed nations that are party to the Kyoto Protocol to cut their emissions, despite them being legally bound to agree new targets, he said.

The G77/China accuses the United States and the European Union of trying to kill the Kyoto Protocol, the only legal agreement that commits nations to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. The EU as a party to the protocol is legally bound to agree new targets for a post-2012 period.

In the negotiations focusing on ways to tackle climate change by reducing deforestation, the European Union has removed a provision that would protect against the conversion of natural forests to plantations, threatening impact for biodiversity and forest-dependent people.

"One area of hope is that countries are now reaching agreement that adaptation is essential to protect people and economies in the developing nations," said Huq.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change binds rich countries such as the United States and European Union member states to provide funding for developing nations to adapt and mitigate climate change.


International legal regime inadequate to tackle climate change, says NGO

The Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) has said that international law is inadequate to deal with millions of people forecast to become `climate exiles’ in the face of escalating climate change.

A statement issued yesterday in Dar es Salaam by Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC), said during the occasion to mark its twentieth anniversary today, FIELD would highlight how international legal framework is unprepared to deal with the victims of climate change.

“Although estimates vary, between 200 million and one billion people could become displaced by climate change by 2050,” the statement read in part.

The statement said although some of these figures have been questioned, it is clear that the international community needs to prepare for the likelihood that some small island countries and low-lying territories will be lost.

As climate exiles have no standing in existing international law, this raises unprecedented legal challenges said FIELD in the statement.

“There are currently no legal frameworks or guidelines that can provide assistance or protection for people crossing borders because of displacement due to climate change,” the statement added.

Climate change is expected to hit developing countries the hardest. Its effects—higher temperatures, rising sea levels, food insecurity and more frequent weather-related disasters—pose risks for agriculture, food, and water supplies causing chaos for millions of people. The so-called ‘climate hotspots’ – low lying islands, coastal regions, large river deltas and underdeveloped regions – remain in danger of catastrophic environmental change.

Particularly vulnerable are small island states. The entire population of the CarteretIslands of Papua New Guinea, are the first people to be officially evacuated due to climate change. Others, such as Kiribati or the Marshall Islands, may disappear completely or become uninhabitable making their populations stateless. Kiribati has already started searching for a new home for future generations, according to the statement.

Under current international law, any climate-induced, cross-border migrations from these areas would trigger little of any protection or provide aid, it added.

FIELD Director Joy Hyvarinen said in the statement: “International refugee law focuses on those who are persecuted for political, racial or religious reasons. It was not designed for those who are left homeless by environmental pressure”.

“Migration in itself is not bad, but migration forced by climate change is a tragedy and the international legal framework needs to be adjusted to help climate exiles and deal with statelessness and compensation.”

So far IPCC has suggested that more than 600 million people currently living in low-lying coastal zones – 438 million in Asia and 246 million in least developed countries – will be directly at risk to potential threats of climate change in this century.