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26 days to Cancun

We’re 26 days out from the 2010 climate talks in Cancun and it’s time to check in on the 30 Ways in 30 Days campaign from the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). A couple of entries worth highlighting from the last few days:

Green Passport Initiative

Some Cancun delegates will no doubt be wracked with pangs of guilt for all the carbon emissions their flights to Mexico produced. But UNEP hopes they’ll find good news in the form of the Green Passport program, aimed at helping vacationers make sustainable travel decisions. The problem, says UNEP, is that tourism is responsible for 5 percent of global CO2 emissions. (No word on the percentage due to methane release by international climate negotiators after the all-you-can-eat enchilada buffet). The Green Passport website assists would-be travelers in “choosing the least polluting form of transport, finding low-impact accommodation options, improving their energy efficiency at destinations, offsetting the inevitable carbon emissions of their trip, and acting to help improve livelihoods in host communities.”’

Many of the suggestions on the site seem like common sense, or at best, old news for your seasoned greenie — onsider taking a train rather than flying, pick a hotel with a commitment to sustainable tourism, be careful about bringing home souvenirs made from protected wildlife, etc.

But there are a few things you probably hadn’t considered. For instance, Green Passport (GP) notes that tourism can create an increased burden on waste disposal systems in many countries. So, GP suggests removing packaging like soap wrappers before you leave.

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Countdown to Cancun for climate change

It’s November 1 and we’re 29 days out from the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico. (Throw away those leftover Halloween Milk Duds now, so you’ll look good in your organic hemp Speedos/bikini at Señor Frog’s.) Diplomats, advocates, scientists and journalists will converge on November 29 to try (again) to draft a more comprehensive global agreement on addressing climate change. The good news: Last year’s meeting in Copenhagen resulted in 2020 emissions targets for most of the world’s governments. The bad news: Details are sadly lacking on how to monitor whether those targets are reached and how to finance carbon cutting efforts. Expectations for Cancun aren’t very high. UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said in October, “There is no possibility of having a legally binding treaty in Cancun. But it can be a very good effort to set the foundations and cornerstones.”

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