Environment Policy Background

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Background to proposed environment policy and action

Strategic fit

a. Ys Men International

Our mission states that we are to encourage and provide leadership to build a better world for all mankind. Therefore it is our duty to not damage the environment of this world. It is our duty to have no net impact on the environment in which all mankind lives.


(‘Climate Change: an NGO Framework for Action’ – from World Alliance of YMCAs web site: http://www.ymca.int)

The United Nations 60th Annual DPI/NGO Conference entitled “Climate Change: How it Impacts Us All” was held from 5-7 September, 2007 in New York. Over 2,500 participants representing more than 500 NGOs (non-governmental organisations) from more than 80 countries met with representatives from member states, UN agencies, the scientific community and the private sector. The World Alliance of YMCAs was represented by six members of the International YMCA of New York. We had the opportunity to present some experiences on tackling climate change from the YMCAs of Ghana, Gambia, Hong Kong, Lebanon and Greater Seattle. Delegates reviewed the latest scientific evidence from a wide variety of experts and heard from indigenous peoples to better understand climate change, its threats and what NGOs can do. Delegates produced a Declaration, which clearly stated that climate change is one of the most serious threats humanity and our environment have ever faced, and NGOs committed themselves over the next 12 months to a framework for action before the threats become irreversible. The Declaration recommends that government and industry leaders, the UN, international organisations and civil society work together to implement concrete solutions and to promote capacity-building to monitor compliance and report effective practices. It was strongly recommended that all educational institutions and media organisations become more effective in educating people about climate change, with a special emphasis on youth. Climate change provides an extraordinary opportunity for the YMCA to provide leadership at the local level on this issue, inviting civil society and the private sector to work together to implement the Framework for Action.

The Science

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific intergovernmental body tasked to evaluate the risk of climate change caused by human activity. The panel was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), two organizations of the United Nations. The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President of the United States Al Gore. The IPCC does not carry out research, nor does it monitor climate or related phenomena. A main activity of the IPCC is publishing special reports on topics relevant to the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international treaty that acknowledges the possibility of harmful climate change; implementation of the UNFCCC led eventually to the Kyoto Protocol. The IPCC bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific literature. The IPCC is only open to member states of the WMO and UNEP. IPCC reports are widely cited in almost any debate related to climate change. National and international responses to climate change generally regard the UN climate panel as authoritative (Wikipedia).

The fourth and latest report of the IPCC has indicated:

  • 100 year trend of increasing temperature now 0.74 C compared to 0.6 C in third report.
  • Global average sea levels rising faster: 3.1mm/yr compared to 1.8mm/yr in 1961.
  • Decreases in snow and ice.
  • Increased precipitation in some parts of the world and drier in other parts.
  • There is very high confidence that the net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming.

In the future:

  • More extreme weather – cyclones, hurricanes, droughts, etc
  • More flooding of coastal and low lying land

What it means for Y’s Men International

The amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted due to everything other than air travel is insignificant. About half the GHG emissions are due to the air travel of the IEOs, the APs and the ICMs. About one sixth is due to BF delegates. About one sixth is due to the International Convention committee and the Endowment Trustees. The rest is due to the air travel of ISDs, ASDs, RDs, etc. Y’s Men everywhere will be asked to take more care with planning travel and minimise or seek lower impact forms of travel when possible.

Carbon Neutral Task Force

The International Council Meeting in Adelaide in 2007 established a Task Force to consider the implications of becoming carbon neutral. The Task Force presented data at ICM08, at Holstebro indicating that the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from Y’s Men activities amounted to about 370 tonnes per annum. The cost of becoming carbon neutral was estimated to be CHF 14,000 pa, which was based on a cost per tonne to reduce emissions of CHF 40 per tonne. There is much debate about how to calculate the impact on the atmosphere of flying. The IPCC now indicates that the impact is 2 to 4 times greater at airline altitudes, versus what it would be on the ground. A common figure is 2.6 times. When this factor is used, the greenhouse gas emissions of Y’sdom is about 675 tonnes per annum. The cost of the carbon emissions, based on current price of carbon of about 20 EUR per tonne (about CHF 30), will be about CHF 20,000.