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The Swiss Expedition "Race for Water Odyssey" Reaches New York
 


New York, 9 April 2015 - The Race for Water Odyssey (R4WO) reached New York City on Thursday, concluding its Atlantic crossing in a journey that will take its crew over 40,000 nautical miles as they attempt to draw up the first global assessment of plastic pollution in the oceans.

After completing the crossing of the Atlantic-which was turbulent due to several large depressions-the expedition has now arrived in New York, where it is welcomed and supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Swiss Consulate, among others. The crew members will be in New York until April 15th, participating in numerous outreach events including an open forum organized by UNEP to highlight the issue of plastic debris in the oceans.

The R4WO will be the guest of honor this afternoon at a plenary session regarding the "Global Partnership on Marine Litter" (GPML), organized by UNEP at the United Nations headquarters-undoubtedly the defining moment of the New York stopover. Launched at the Rio+20 Conference in 2012, the GPML aims to coordinate and support private and public action in the fight against marine pollution. During this session, an open forum will take place in honor of the R4WO, with remarks by Patricia Beneke, Director of the Regional Office for North America, UNEP, Nancy Wallace, member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Chair of the GPML; and H.E. May-Elin Stener, Deputy Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations. At the same time, outreach activities for young audiences will be held aboard the "MOD70 Race for Water" trimaran.

"The world's oceans receive an enormous amount of litter each year, much of which is persistent and creates marine pollution that is global and intergenerational," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director. "Collaboration between governments, the private sector, civil society and academia is key to stemming the flow of waste into this fragile environment."

"The Race for Water Odyssey is a pioneering and inspiring expedition that is helping to uncover the true impact of pollution in the world's oceans, 80 per cent of which comes from human activities. Through their bold mission to extend our limited knowledge of waste gyres, and the major environmental threat they pose, the Odyssey's crew are inspiring us all to take action and speak up for the oceans, the lifeblood of our blue planet."

After leaving Bordeaux, France on March 15th, the R4WO made an initial stopover in the Azores before heading to the Bermuda islands, located in the center of a plastic gyre, to conduct the first of 11 scientific analyses.

Heading for Necker Island, Panama, then Valparaiso (Chile)

The R4WO crew will remain in New York before heading to Necker Island (British Virgin Islands). The expedition is invited there to participate in the Leadership Program developed by Virgin United and its famous founder, Richard Branson. The "MOD70 Race for Water" will subsequently enter the Pacific Ocean through the Panama Canal and continue on to Valparaiso. A second series of analyses will be conducted on the island beaches, which are found in the trash gyre of the South Pacific.

About the Race for Water Odyssey (R4WO)

Initiated by the Race for Water foundation, the "Race for Water Odyssey" is a unique expedition that aims to draw up the first global assessment of plastic pollution in the ocean by visiting island beaches situated in the 5 trash vortexes. In less than 300 days, over 40,000 nautical miles will be traveled, punctuated by 11 scientific stopovers and 9 outreach stopovers, involving a total of 13 countries. The Race for Water Odyssey benefits from the support of ISAF, Duke University, Oregon State University, senseFly, Swisscom and Swissnex.

About the Race for Water Foundation

Founded in Lausanne in 2010, the "Race for Water" Foundation's mission is to preserve our planet's most valuable resource: water. The foundation is an officially recognized non-profit organization seeking to implement concrete and sustainable actions, focusing on two main themes: protecting oceans and freshwater. "Race for Water" initiates projects aimed at raising awareness and taking concrete action on the ground. These actions are directed at four target audiences: economic players, political bodies, the scientific community, and the general public-with particular emphasis on future generations. "Race for Water" collaborates with organizations such as UNESCO, UNEP, IUCN, WWF, and WBCSD.

About UNEP

UNEP, established in 1972, is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system. UNEP acts as a catalyst, advocate, educator and facilitator to promote the wise use and sustainable development of the global environment. UNEP work encompasses: Assessing global, regional and national environmental conditions and trends, developing international and national environmental instruments and strengthening institutions for the wise management of the environment. UNEP is the Secretariat for the Global Partnership on Marine Litter. www.unep.org

About the Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML)

The GPML was launched in June 2012 at Rio + 20 in Brazil. The GPML, besides being supportive of the Global Partnership on Waste Management, seeks to protect human health and the global environment by the reduction and management of marine litter as its main goal, through several specific objectives. The GPML is a voluntary multi-stakeholder coordination mechanism gathering international agencies, Governments, NGOs, academia, private sector, and civil society in which all partners agree to work together to further reduce and better manage marine litter.

www.unep.org/gpa/gpml

For more information or to obtain imagery:

Lucie Gerber - Press Attaché

media@raceforwater.org

+ 41 79 419 86 60

Laura Fuller, Information Officer, UNEP Regional Office for North America

(202) 255-2228, laura.fuller@unep.org

UNEP News Desk

unepnewsdesk@unep.org


Italy to Lead Global Celebrations of World Environment Day 2015



Nairobi/Rome, 7 April 2015 - Italy has today been named host of this year’s World Environment Day (WED) global celebrations on 5 June, in a joint announcement made by the Government of Italy and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The theme of this year's World Environment Day is resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production in the context of the planet’s regenerative capacity, as captured in the slogan ‘Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care’. Affirming WED as a global public outreach platform, this slogan emerged as the top choice by the global community through social media voting.

The 2015 global WED celebrations will be organized at the world famous Universal Exhibition, which attracts over 20 million visitors. Expo Milano 2015 will run from May 1 to October 31 and is expected to include over 140 countries plus a significant number of international organizations.

One of three UN Days that the UN Expo Team has chosen to mark at the Milan Expo this year, WED will support and complement the Expo theme of ‘Feeding the Planet - Energy for Life’, which showcases state-of-the-art technology, ideas and solutions that can help guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium.

“It is an honour for Italy to work together with UNEP in leading the global celebrations for World Environment Day 2015,” said Italian Minister for the Environment Gian Luca Galletti. “This year, WED will focus on the need to respect the carrying capacity of the planet and to manage natural resources efficiently—all aspects that are of utmost importance if really we want to ensure prosperity and wellbeing globally.”

“I firmly believe in the benefits offered by sustainable consumption and production models in terms of economic opportunities, inclusiveness, employment, resiliency and quality of life,” he said. “We have a unique opportunity to take advantage of the international and multidimensional arena represented by EXPO 2015 to stimulate greater thinking and action on these topics in view of the crucial decisions that will be taken later this year: the launch of the Post-2015 Development Agenda in September and the new agreement on Climate Change in December.”

Announcing World Environment Day 2015, UN-Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “While industrialized countries account for the bulk of the world’s resource consumption, unsustainable consumption patterns are becoming more prevalent worldwide, with 3 billion middle class consumers expected to be added to the global population by 2030 - many of them from emerging economies.”

“Food production is one of the most obvious examples of unsustainable consumption patterns, with 1.3 billion tons of food being wasted every year, while almost 1 billion people go undernourished,” he added. “This is an issue that UNEP is helping to address with partners like the UN Food and Agriculture Organization through our joint campaign against food waste, Think.Eat.Save. We are glad the Expo’s theme also focuses on sustainable food systems.”

“World Environment Day provides us with an important opportunity to identify solutions for re-engineering our consumer culture to create a sustainable society in which everyone has enough to live well while staying within the planet’s regenerative capacity. It is time to look seriously at what our appetite-for-more is costing the planet, our health, our future, and the future of our children.” he said.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea of Italy, the UN Expo Team and the Milan Expo, this year’s WED programme will involve various activities organized with partners such as FAO, International Fund for Agricultural Development, UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme, Slow Food, WWF Italy, Cinemambiente and the Green Film Network, and the national delegations and other international organizations that will be present at the Expo.

About World Environment Day

World Environment Day (WED) is the largest, most celebrated global day for positive environmental action. Established by the UN General Assembly in 1972, WED is celebrated every year on 5 June. WED is the principal vehicle through which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment, and encourages political attention and action. WED gives a human perspective to environmental issues, empowers people to become active agents of sustainable development and advocates multi-stakeholder partnerships in support of the environment.

For more information contact:

Isabelle Valentiny – Information Officer for UNEP in Europe – tel. +41 79 251 82 36 –

isabelle.valentiny@unep.org

Newsdesk at unepnewsdesk@unep.org

Renewables Re-energized: Green Energy Investments Worldwide Surge 17% to $270 Billion in 2014


Frankfurt / Nairobi, 31 March, 2015 — Global investments in renewable energy rebounded strongly last year, registering a solid 17% increase after two years of declines and brushing aside the challenge from sharply lower crude oil prices.


Major expansion of solar installations in China and Japan and record investments in offshore wind projects in Europe helped propel global 2014 investments to $270 billion, a 17% surge from the 2013 figure of $232 billion.

It was the first annual increase in dollars invested in and committed to renewables (excluding large hydro-electric projects) in three years, a total just 3% below the all-time record of $279 billion set in 2011. The falls in the investment figures for 2012 (to $256 billion) and 2013 (to $232 billion) were attributed in part to lower prices for renewable energy technologies due to economies of scale.

The 103GW of generating capacity added around the world made 2014 the best year ever for newly installed capacity, according to the UNEP’s 9th annual “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investments” report, prepared by the Frankfurt School–UNEP Centre, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

A continuing sharp decline in technology costs – particularly in solar but also in wind – means that every dollar invested in renewable energy bought significantly more generating capacity in 2014. The 103GW of capacity added by new renewable energy sources last year compares to 86GW in 2013, 89GW in 2012 and 81GW in 2011.

Wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-power, geothermal, small hydro and marine power contributed an estimated 9.1% of world electricity generation in 2014, up from 8.5% in 2013. This meant that last year the world electricity system emitted 1.3 gigatonnes of CO2 — roughly twice the emissions of the world’s airline industry — less than it would have if that 9.1% had been produced by the same fossil-dominated mix generating the other 90.9% of world power.

“Once again in 2014, renewables made up nearly half of the net power capacity added worldwide” says Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNEP. “These climate-friendly energy technologies are now an indispensable component of the global energy mix and their importance will only increase as markets mature, technology prices continue to fall and the need to rein in carbon emissions becomes ever more urgent. (…) “The growing penetration of renewable generation in the world’s developing economies is one of the important and encouraging aspects of the 2014 report.”

China saw by far the biggest renewable energy investments last year — a record $83.3 billion, up 39% from 2013. The US was second at $38.3 billion, up 7% on the year (though this is below its all-time high reached in 2011). Third came Japan, at $35.7 billion, 10% higher than in 2013 and its biggest total ever.

As in previous years, the market in 2014 was dominated by record investments in solar and wind, which accounted for 92% of overall investment in renewable power and fuels. Investment in solar jumped 25% to $149.6 billion, the second highest figure ever, while wind investment increased 11% to a record $99.5 billion. In 2014, some 49GW of wind capacity and 46GW of solar PV capacity were added worldwide, both records.

The dominant feature of the solar sector was unprecedented expansion in China and Asia. Between them, the two Asian giants invested $74.9 billion in solar in 2014, around half the world’s total.

In China, utility-scale projects of more than 1MW made up about three-quarters of the solar investment of $40 billion, which was a 45% increase on the previous year. In Japan, on the other hand, investment was dominated by small scale projects of less than a megawatt, which accounted for 81% of a total solar investment of $34.8 billion, a 13% increase on 2013.

A boom in European offshore wind development resulted in seven $1 billion-plus projects reaching “final investment decision” stage in 2014. Among these, the $3.8 billion 600MW Gemini installation off the cost of the Netherlands was the largest non-hydro renewable energy plant to get the go-ahead anywhere in the world.

Offshore wind projects worth $18.6 billion were financed globally in 2014. This was 148% higher than the previous year and 45% higher than the next highest year, 2010. Most of this total – $16.2 billion – was in Europe with China accounting for the remaining $2.4 billion.

Other renewable energy sources did not perform so well by comparison. Biofuels fell 8% to $5.1 billion, biomass and waste-to-energy dropped 10% to $8.4 billion and small hydro was down 17% to $4.5 billion. Only geothermal bucked the trend with a 27% increase to $2.7 billion.

A salient feature of the 2014 result was the rapid expansion of renewables into new markets in developing countries, where investments jumped 36% to $131.3 billion. China with $83.3 billion, Brazil ($7.6 billion), India ($7.4 billion) and South Africa ($5.5 billion) were all in the top 10 investing countries, while more than $1 billion was invested in Indonesia, Chile, Mexico, Kenya and Turkey.

In contrast, the total renewables investment in developed economies rose only 3% to $138.9 billion. Even accounting for the booming offshore wind sector, investments in Europe hardly changed at $57.5 billion.

Despite turnaround, challenges remain

Although 2014 was a turnaround year for renewables after two years of shrinkage, multiple challenges remain in the form of policy uncertainty, structural issues in the electricity system — even in the very nature of wind and solar generation, with their dependence on breeze and sunlight.

Another challenge was, at first sight, the impact of the 50%-plus collapse in the oil price in the second half of last year. According to Udo Steffens, President of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, however, the oil price is only likely to dampen investor confidence in parts of the sector, such as solar in oil-exporting countries, and biofuels in most parts of the world.

“Oil and renewables do not directly compete for power investment dollars,” said Steffens. “Wind and solar sectors should be able to carry on flourishing, particularly if they continue to cut costs per MWh. Their long-term story is just more convincing.”

Of greater concern is the erosion of investor confidence caused by increasing uncertainty surrounding government support policies for renewables.

"Europe was the first mover in clean energy, but it is still in a process of restructuring those early support mechanisms," notes Michael Liebreich, Chairman of the Advisory Board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. "In the UK and Germany we are seeing a move away from feed-in tariffs and green certificates, towards reverse auctions and subsidy caps, aimed at capping the cost of the transition to consumers.

"Southern Europe is still almost a no-go area for investors because of retroactive policy changes, most recently those affecting solar farms in Italy. In the US there is uncertainty over the future of the Production Tax Credit for wind, but costs are now so low that the sector is more insulated than in the past. Meanwhile the rooftop solar sector is becoming unstoppable."

There are also structural challenges in the electricity system as grids and utilities in many countries struggle to cope with the increasing penetration of wind and solar in the generation mix. Coping with 25% or more variable generation is more difficult for grids and utilities than managing a 5% proportion.

Governments have often struggled to produce policy measures that keep up with the advance of renewable power and its knock-on effect on the rest of the electricity system. ing

2014 was a year of eye-catching steps forward for renewable energy with investment rallying strongly. If these positive investment trends are to continue it is increasingly clear that major electricity market reforms will be needed of the sort that Germany is now attempting with its Energiewende energy transition. The structural challenges needing to be overcome are not simple ones, but are of the sort that have only arisen because of the very success of renewables and their over two trillion dollars of investment mobilized since 2004.

Download the report at: http://fs-unep-centre.org/

For more information contact:

* Elisa Antz, Press Officer, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, Tel: +49(0)69-154008-566, mobile: +49 (0) 172 62 14; e.antz@fs.de

* Shereen Zorba, Head, UNEP News Desk; +254-20-762-5022; +254-788-526000 (m); +254-713601259; shereen.zorba@unep.org

* Terry Collins, Tel: +1-416-538-8712; Mobile: +1-416-878-8712, tc@tca.tc



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