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Friday, April 04, 2008

UN Says Markets Crucial to Climate Pact

By Michael Casey

BANGKOK, Thailand -
Back in the late 1990s, Henry Derwent had the unenviable job of selling a British government proposal that markets be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The idea was to create a system in which energy-intensive companies would buy and sell pollution permits, giving them a financial incentive to cut their carbon dioxide emissions.

It was a tough sell. Environmentalists condemned it as morally reprehensible and business leaders said it was bad economics. Even an investment bank refused to take part because it would sully its reputation.

But these days, Derwent is feeling vindicated.

The British set up a carbon trading market in 2002, followed by the European Union in 2005. New Zealand's system is expected later this year. The United States plans a regional greenhouse gas initiative in the nine Northeast states by 2009, and Australia wants a national system by 2010. All global warming bills in the U.S. Congress include a federal cap-and-trade mechanism.

While many people still oppose emissions trading over concerns that it would allow companies to keep polluting, most environmentalists and European governments now view the practice as the easiest and most comprehensive way to regulate industrial emissions.

"You are using profit motive to achieve a public good, and this is just brilliant," Derwent, now head of the International Emissions Trading Association, said on the sidelines of this week's U.N. climate change conference in Thailand.

The carbon market is getting a boost in negotiations this week in Bangkok to piece together a new global warming pact aimed at keeping temperatures from rising so high they trigger an environmental disaster. Negotiators have until late 2009 to complete work on an agreement to take effect when the Kyoto Protocol runs out at the end of 2012.

Emissions trading is seen by many as the glue that will hold the system together by reducing greenhouse gas production while generating funds to develop clean technology and help poor countries adapt to environmental changes such as rising sea-levels.

"A functioning carbon market will be critical to a successful agreement," U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer told The Associated Press ahead of the Bangkok meeting.

A carbon trading market - or "cap-and-trade" system - works much like any commodities market except that traders make their fees selling a ton of carbon dioxide instead of corn or copper.

Countries that agree to reduction targets are given permits for an amount of allowable carbon dioxide emissions, and the permits are passed onto businesses. Companies can choose to cut their emissions by retrofitting a factory and selling their permits for a profit - or continuing to pollute and buy additional units of carbon dioxide on the open market.

Under the 1997 Kyoto pact, countries also can earn credits by investing in environmentally friendly projects in developing countries.

A major attraction of carbon markets is their ability to generate money to be put toward cutting emissions and helping countries adapt to the effects of climate change.

The World Bank predicts that by 2030, it will cost between $28 billion and $67 billion annually to relocate villages, build sea walls and help farmers adapt to the worsening weather.

But carbon trading has plenty of critics, many of whom argue that it does little or nothing to actually cut greenhouse gases. The EU system, for example, has had a minimal impact on emissions in its first two years.

The system has also been criticized for leaving out sectors like transport and focusing on less profitable companies like cement or chemical producers that must cut output or make major investments to reduce emissions.

Other critics, like research fellows Benjamin Sovacool and Toby Carroll at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, say market solutions increase poor nations' dependence on the industrialized world for such things as clean technology, allow industries to keep polluting, and fail to change consumer consumption patterns.

"Until people consciously realize the situation that the world is in and change their own patterns of behavior, you can't change anything," Carroll said. "One of the reason carbon trading is so acceptable to the powers-that-be is that it doesn't substantially impact on existing operations."

Carroll and others argue that a more effective way to cut emissions would be a pollution tax.

While supporters agree that carbon markets alone cannot reduce emissions, they insist they can change behavior. They noted that the European system has resulted in a number of coal plants being mothballed and they predict they will spur investment in expensive but clean technologies like solar energy and carbon sequestration and storage in which carbon dioxide is stored underground.

"The point of the market is to find the most efficient way to reduce emissions," said Greenpeace's Bill Hare, who supports the market but admits he has concerns about the lack of regulations.

"The tighter the cap, the higher you will see carbon prices and the more incentive to switch to investments to lower emitting technology and practices," he said.

Also, carbon trading will generate money to meet funding needs of developing nations, proponents say.

"There is certainly reason to be optimistic," said Miles Austin, head of European regulatory affairs for the carbon trading firm EcoSecurities. But he also said much of the future growth depends on a new climate pact that includes binding emissions reduction targets.

"The growth will begin to tail off by the end of the year if there isn't increased clarity about what will happen post-2012," when the Kyoto protocol expires, he said.

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ICT and Telecommunications World Expo 2008 launched in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, April 4 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia ICT and Telecommunications World Expo 2008 with the theme "Enable You One Step Ahead" was launched at the Mondial Center in Phnom Penh on Friday, expected to draw up to 50,000 visitors.

This international exhibition and conference is held by National ICT Development Authority of Cambodia (NiDA) and International Data Group (IDG Indochina) annually since 2005, a press release said.

This year, the event attracts the participation of more than 30international and local companies, showcasing the latest computer, cell phone and satellite technology, it said.

The Expo is organized to speedup the country's ICT industry development by calling government sectors, companies, and individual specialists to share their experiences, local and international companies showcase the latest ICT products, services and technologies during the three-day event, it added.

"ICT industry is developing rapidly from period to period leading Cambodia ICT and Telecommunications World Expo to play an important role in gathering local and international ICT companies to display their hottest products and services in order to meet the demand for government, private sectors, SMEs and education," said So Khun, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications of Cambodia.

By the end of 2007, there were 15,950 internet subscribers in Cambodia, compared to about 6,000 subs in 2000, according to official statistics.

In addition, mobile phone market in Cambodia is booming with 2,275,000 subscribers at the end of 2007.
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CityLink Selects Redline's RedMAX Solution for WiMAX Network in Cambodia

By Arun Satapathy

CityLink, a Cambodian Internet service provider, has chosen Redline's WiMAX Forum Certified RedMAX products for use in its multi-city network.
“To meet growing demand for broadband services throughout Cambodia, CityLink required a WiMAX solution that could support a high capacity of users while enabling us to deliver the service packages that meet our customers' needs,” said Rotha Chhay, CEO at CityLink, in a statement.

Chhay continued: “Redline's true open WiMAX (News - Alert) system, with its ease of installation, enabled us to quickly and cost-effectively integrate RedMAX with our existing wired network and immediately offer WiMAX services to our subscribers.”

CityLink has already initiated its two-city, phased deployment in Cambodia's capital city of Phnom Penh and is currently serving hundreds of business and residential subscribers.
The Internet service provider allows its WiMAX subscribers to choose from a variety of service packages, including WiMAX@Night, WiMAX@Home and WiMAX Unlimited.

CityLink also plans to extend its RedMAX network to the tourist city of Siem Reap, a popular tourist destination. The company expects to significantly increase its subscriber base by expanding its network to ten additional cities next year.

CityLink is one of the most recent service providers in Asia to adopt WiMAX technologies as way of expanding its communications network. The CityLink deployment is being managed by ECOMM Tech, a systems integrator and Redline Certified Silver Partner.

“Redline has helped carriers around the world to install and deploy reliable, profitable WiMAX networks to deliver the advanced services its customers need,” said Kevin Suitor, vice president of marketing and business development at Redline Communications (News - Alert) Group, in a statement.

Suitor continued: “There are now more than 150 deployments of our WiMAX Forum Certified RedMAX products worldwide, 49 of which are revenue-generating commercial networks. Working with ECOMM Tech, CityLink has planned a professional WiMAX network that we expect will generate a rapid return on investment.”

Benjamin Fang, Business Manager, ECOMM Tech, added: “Redline's RedMAX WiMAX offering have proven to be a cost-effective and reliable solution for expanding and enhancing communications networks. CityLink’s well-planned WiMAX strategy will enable its customers to benefit from true broadband access.”

Redline’s RedMAX Base Station (AN-100U) supports voice, video, and prioritized data traffic, enabling long-range, high-capacity wireless broadband networks. The company’s WiMAX products also include the RedMAX Indoor Subscriber Unit (SU-I) and Outdoor Subscriber Unit (SU-O), both designed for enterprise and residential services.

The RedMAX 4C, which operates in the 2.5 GHz and 3.5 GHz spectrum bands, is designed to conform to 802.16e Certification Wave 2 requirements.

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Former hunters help save rare birds in Cambodia: report

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — One-time hunters recruited to a conservation project have helped threatened bird populations in Cambodia's Great Lake recover, according to a report Friday.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) report said populations of some of the bird species had increased 20-fold since the project began in 2001 at Tonle Sap Lake, known as the Great Lake.

The project by the WCS and Cambodia's environment ministry employed about 30 former hunters and egg collectors as park rangers tasked with providing 24-hour protection for breeding colonies, the report said.

The plan was to boost the populations of the spot-billed pelican, milky stork, painted stork, lesser adjutant, greater adjutant, black-headed ibis and the Oriental darter.

The waterbird colonies were first discovered in the mid-1990s. At the time, the birds were threatened with extinction because of villagers' rampant harvesting of eggs and chicks, the report said.

"When first discovered, the colonies were heavily threatened by annual harvesting of the eggs and chicks by nearby villagers, mainly for trade and local consumption," the report said.

But the populations of the birds have increased from a total of 2,500 breeding pairs in 2001 to more than 10,000 pairs in 2007.

The colonies include the largest, and in some cases, the only breeding populations for the waterbirds in Southeast Asia, according to the report.

Tonle Sap lake is Southeast Asia's largest freshwater reservoir, which can expand to 12,000 square kilometres at the peak of the rainy season and recedes to about 3,000 square kilometres in the dry season.

The lake is rich in biodiversity and offers a breeding place for many species of birds and fish.
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Cambodia launches first satellite TV network

PHNOM PENH, April 3 (Xinhua) -- The national Television of Kampuchea (TVK) and the Cambodian DTV Network Limited (CDN), a branch of the Shin Satellite Company from Thailand, here on Thursday launched Techo-DTV, the first satellite TV network of Cambodia.

"From now on, people in all the corners of Cambodia will be able to watch all programs of our TV networks easily through this satellite TV network," said Khieu Kahnarith, Cambodian government spokesman and Minister of Information.

People who live at all kinds of geographical locations will be able to watch TV programs through this satellite TV service, he said.

The Cambodia National Election Committee (NEC) will be able to use this satellite TV network to educate people about election process for the general election in July, he added.

Kem Kunnawadh, director general of TVK, said that Techo-DTV is the country's first satellite television network service that can provide Direct-to-Home (DTH) television programs to every household in the kingdom.

The viewers will enjoy watching all local Khmer channels and some foreign channels, he said, adding that people can also subscribe to pay TV service in the near future.

Dumrong Kasemset, Chief of Executive for the Shin Satellite Company, said that the main benefit of Techo-DTV service includes digital quality of picture and sound similar to that of DVD and convenience to install at every location of houses and buildings.

The DTV service sells 75 U.S. dollars with satellite dish and antenna.

Urban Cambodian people can now access cable TV networks, while about 20 percent of the 14 million population in remote places can't access TV service. Satellite TV will be their solution if they can afford it.
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Rare Water Birds Recovering in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The populations of seven species of rare water birds have recovered significantly in Cambodia's Tonle Sap lake due to a program that employs former hunters as park rangers, conservationists said Thursday.

A report by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society found the populations have increased by as much as 20 times for some of the species since 2001, when the program started.
The findings mark a "success story" in efforts to protect the bird colonies from poachers, said Noeu Bonheur, the Cambodian Environment Ministry's deputy director of the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve.

"It is definitely exciting news that we should be proud of," he said.

His office and the WCS have worked together for several years on a conservation project at Prek Toal, a flooded region on the northwestern edge of the Tonle Sap.

The lake is Southeast Asia's largest freshwater reservoir, which can expand to 12,000 square kilometers (4,630 square miles) at the peak of the rainy season and recede to about 3,000 square kilometers (1,160 square miles) in the dry season. It is rich in biodiversity and provides a breeding ground for many species of birds and fish.

The WCS report, released earlier this week, said the Prek Toal bird colonies hold the largest — and in some cases the only — breeding populations in Southeast Asia of the seven globally threatened large water bird species.

The species are the spot-billed pelican, milky stork, painted stork, lesser adjutant, greater adjutant, black-headed ibis and the Oriental darter. There were over 20,000 birds in 2007, compared to 5,000 in 2001, the report said.

All seven species are listed as "threatened or near-threatened" by the World Conservation Union, Tom Clements, a WCS technical adviser in Cambodia, said in an e-mail Thursday.

"Prek Toal is the most important large water bird breeding colony in Southeast Asia. In some cases, Prek Toal supports up to 30 percent of the global population," Clements said.

When the colonies there were discovered in the late 1990s, they were threatened with extinction as a result of villagers' rampant harvesting of eggs and chicks, the report said.

But during the past seven years, a colony protection and monitoring program has resulted in a gradual decline in poaching incidents, allowing the birds to stage "remarkable comebacks," it said.

The program employs some 30 park rangers, many of whom are former poachers, who work in shifts around the clock to monitor the bird populations.

"The approach was extremely effective," Clements said.

He said some of the hunters who were not employed did try to collect the birds' eggs and chicks in the early years of the project, "but since 2004 this threat has effectively ceased."
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