By Scheherazade Daneshkhu
Some good news for a change. Food security - the availability and affordability of food – has got better, according to research published on Wednesday.
The 66-page report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by DuPont, the chemicals company, found that despite last year’s freak weather patterns - drought in California, heatwaves in Australia and floods in Russia – food security improved in almost three-quarters of the world’s countries. Read more
There was good news for Europe’s farmers this week after a survey of EU citizens showed strong public support for the much criticised common agricultural policy. French farmers, who rely on EU subsidies for about half their income, will be especially glad to hear that Europeans polled by the latest Euro Barometer survey place an increasing importance on the challenges of developing agriculture while preserving the environment .
The French certainly believe the farmer is crucial to safeguarding the countryside as well as producing their food as the recent Salon de l’Agriculture showed. One of the world’s largest food and farm shows, it is held every year close to heart of Paris and this year drew a record 703,000 visitors.
People come here to revel in the best of the French terroir – the people, the food and the drink that make up rural France. The Salon is a mandatory stop for any politician with ambition, and this year everyone from President Francois Hollande to hopefuls in the race for Paris mayor made an appearance. Read more
Sunny Stockholm – Getty
Stockholm looks bright and brisk today, unlike some of the scientists and government officials who were heading into a large brick conference centre on the city’s waterfront at 8am this morning.
They had been working through the night until 2:30am to finalise the most comprehensive climate science report in six years for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The bulk of the report is finished, having been drafted by 259 scientists from 39 countries over the last four years, with the help of more than 600 contributing authors.
The Stockholm meeting, which started on Monday and is closed to the public and journalists, is finishing its most widely-read section: a 31-page summary for policymakers that governments have to approve before release, in consultation with some of the scientists who wrote it.
The summary is based on the larger report and its basic conclusion – that human influence on the climate caused most of the global warming recorded since 1951 – cannot change.
But the way its many findings are expressed are very much up for debate and with just one day left before the summary is due to be released on Friday morning, delegates are braced for another long night tonight. Read more
Climate change special: should we be worried by the latest findings on global warming?
As the world’s leading climate scientists gather in Stockholm to discuss new findings on climate change, Clive Cookson, science editor, is joined by environmental correspondent Pilita Clark and Simon Buckle, policy director at Imperial College’s Grantham Institute of Climate Change, to discuss climate sensitivity and the steps that the international community must take to mitigate against global warming.
By Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children
There are two sessions on the future of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals beyond 2015 at Davos this year – the same number of sessions given to meditation and art walks. The word ‘growth’ features in 11 of the agenda’s headings, ‘human’ in four, but ‘poverty’ gets no airtime at all. Yet, if the World Economic Forum is ‘committed to improving the state of the world’, what happens after 2015 is a critical debate for every government that signed up to the MDGs in the first place, and for every business with supply chains or future customers in emerging and developing countries. Read more
The climate change talks in Doha have come to a predictably acrimonious conclusion. As well as the baffling technical, economic and scientific challenges involved, the diplomatic deadlock throws up a fascinating question of political philosophy – do the citizens of one country have responsibilities to people in other parts of the world? If so, what are they? Internationalists might respond that we should have equal obligations to all human-beings. But, as a matter of fact, that is not how practical politics or human emotions work. Most people are willing to do much more for the people who are closest to them: family and neighbours. They also usually feel more willing to help compatriots than people on the other side of the world. They might, however, feel some obligation, or desire, to help people in far-off places. But how far do those obligations stretch?
Those questions lie at the heart of a fascinating new academic enterprise, pioneered by Hakan Altinay, a Turkish academic. I come across a lot of schemes to improve the world. But Altinay’s efforts to promote the idea of a “global civics” is one do-gooding idea that might actually really do some good. Read more
Here’s what we’ve been chatting about today:
Amazon rainforest destruction. Reuters
Rio de Janeiro, where tens of thousands of delegates are gathered this week for the Rio +20 summit, is sometimes described as more of a landscape than a city. But what a landscape: the hard rock mountains and jungles that percolate down to Rio’s beaches give the impression that modernity and the environment can coexist. Read more
Twenty years on from the 1992 Rio earth summit, more than 100 leaders have convened for the Rio+20 sustainable development conference. The 1992 summit launched a number of landmark treaties, but what has actually been achieved since then?