- Share your favorite videos with friends
- Comment on videos and join the conversation
- Get personalized recommendations
- Enjoy exclusive offers
Purchased a FORA.tv video on another website? Login here with the temporary account credentials included in your receipt.
Good evening and welcome to tonight's meeting of the Commonwealth Club of California. I am Norma Walden, chair of the club's international relations forum. We welcome our audiences here and on radio and FORA tv and invite every one to visit us on the internet at commonwealthclub.org. It is my pleasure to introduce our speaker Patrick McCully is the Executive Director of International Rivers Network. A Berkeley based Human Rights and Environmental Group. Their mission is to protect rivers and defend the rights of communities that depend on rivers. Mr. McCully was the International Rivers Network Campaign's Director from 1994 to 2005 before becoming Executive Director. He is the author of "Silenced Rivers: The Ecology and Politics of Large Dams". This audience will be interested to know, he also wrote "Before the Deluge: Coping with Floods in a Changing Climate" and "Fizzy Science: Loosening the Hydro Industry's Grip on Greenhouse Gas emissions Research. Among other advisory positions, he was a member of the steering committee of the United Nations environment program dams and development project. And is a board member of echo equity, a US based NGO that advocates for a just and effective global climate treaty. Originally from Northern Ireland, he has a Bachelor's degree in archaeology from the University of Nottingham, England. Please welcome Patrick McCully. Thank you very much Norma, thanks every one else for coming night on a Monday evening. That's quite an impressive audience; it's very nice to see. So my talk is entitled as you see "Bubbles, Shmarbon and maladaptation" and subtitle dams in a changing climate and hopefully by the end of this talk you will know what I am talking about. So what are the key messages? One - Bubbles, so dams and reservoirs are major global sources of global warming pollution. Two Shmarbon International Carbon Trading. It's poorly conceived and has rife with scams. And three maladaptation. So a big dam overdependence increases climate change risks. So I will explain how all these things interconnect with dams and these are the three different areas that we are working on that the link dams and climate change together. Each one of it is rather different but they are all linked. So first Bubbles, so to most people our reservoir seems the epitome of clean energy, there is lovely stretch of blue shimmering water. It's rather far from the truth. In reality reservoirs come to rather large sources of global warming pollution. The three gases that are emitted by reservoirs are carbon dioxide, which I am sure everyone knows is the most important green house gas, lots of methane - CH4, and nitrous oxide and those gases come from the rotting of organic matter in the reservoir. It's a biological process that probably happens in every reservoir. There is been around a 100 reservoir studied so far around the world, probably a bit more than that now. Because studies are on going and every time scientists have actually looked at a reservoir, they have found that these carbon dioxide and methane, the nitrous oxide, which is actually the most powerful of these three green house gases. Has only been measured at a few reservoirs but there is only been a few attempts to measure it, so it's a big unknown how much the how important the nitrous oxide is? And the biological matter which rocks, - ask for pointers we got a real - oh I was thinking a little laser, I got a real old school ruler. Is that something for punishing people with? So the organic matter that rocks as both the organic matter which is originally flooded by the reservoirs, so well the trees and shrubs on the soils which is very important component of the flooded carbon and around 10 - 15 years ago when mainly scientist in Canada, an some scientist in Brazil started to look at this issue was originally thought of oh that's where the carbon comes from, it's just the original flooding so after that matter has all the decayed, then there will be zero emissions but it's now known, that's much more complicated complicated and there is a lot of other sources of carbon. So there is a lot of carbon, in organic matter detritis, dead plants and so on, the washed in sediments that wash in reservoir from upstream. There is plants that grow around the edges of the reservoir during the dryer season then in the wet season, when the reservoir rises, those plants then provide fuel for producing these emissions, there is also plants, an algae that grow in the reservoir and then by and then another source and in a sense they are pulling carbon out of the atmosphere as they grow. And then rotting and releasing it again. Those are the major reasons why dams emit carbon, but there is also another set of reasons, although these are a much more purely quantified. One is how you see the construction of the dam, there is huge amounts of cement used in the construction of the dam and the production of cement is itself a major cause of carbon dioxide emissions and also the fossil fuels go into dam construction, then there is a clearing of land, to rebuild the dam on, for all the infrastructure that goes with the dam, access rules and so on and then irrigation, flooded soils are a major sources of methane emissions around the world. And the type of irrigation you get, usually from big dam projects is often very inefficient, it leads to lot of water logging. My point over this - through some of the water logging from the backyard project in India which is huge irrigation project, a lot of their lands and a large proportion of land is going out of production because of that water logging. Nobody has measured those methane emissions but they are likely quite sizable. So there is a number of different factors that dictates on how what the quantity of emissions are. As far as the science goes in this issue, all the serious scientists that look at it realize there are emissions but the complicated issue and I will speak a bit later, also very controversial issue is how actually to quantify the emissions and how large are the emissions. And you get one fraction of people in the high department industry that say, they are really unaware of this issue. And say the emissions are zero. That's clearly wrong. There are other fractions that will say "Yes, there are some emissions, but they are very low". And then there are other independent scientists that will say "Actually these emissions can be extremely high". So what are the different factors? Well, the one single biggest factor it seems is climate. What climate zone is the dam in and basically the clear trend you see as it, the reservoirs in the tropics have very much higher emissions than elsewhere. And it's in the tropics that the emissions can really be comparable to fossil fuel emissions and in some cases even much higher than fossil fuel emissions. Other factors are how is the reservoir operated? What is the depth of the reservoir? How big is the reservoir? Generally, obviously a very large reservoir will have more emissions than a smaller one. And the reasons I will explain it later. Shallow reservoirs, then have larger reservoirs and deep reservoirs. So a reservoir, say in a deep canyon which has got quite small surface area and is very deep. Will - will tend to have pretty low emissions, reservoirs built in a flood plain where it's very shallow and covers spreads out for wide area, could have very high emissions. Then also the depths of the dam - because the concentration of methane gets higher than lower you go in the reservoir. The water quality, if you have poor quality waters, if you have a lot of organic material from agriculture or for human settlement sewage upstream that will tend to make worse emissions than other factors, other aquatic plants growing in the reservoirs which then decay give fuel for especially methane generation, lots of production of plankton, how much vegetation is there that originally gets flooded, length of ice covers so we say in Canada where reservoirs are flooded for large part of the year, there is no emissions while the reservoirs are flooded and then things even like wind forcing, how windy is it - the emissions vary between night and day, in different seasons, there is a lot of complicated factor and still a lot of science needs to be done to adequately quantify it. Another important consideration when looking at the whole reservoir emission issue is separating net in gross emissions, the important thing if you are trying to evaluate what actually is the impact in terms of green house gases offer reservoirs is the net emissions. And in order to work that out you need to calculate what are the emissions actually being given off at the surface of the reservoir and actually out the dam and just down stream and you know I explained a bit more about that recently. But then you also need to allow for what was there before hands, so where there sinks of greenhouse gases like growing forests which you have eliminated and so, you are then causing a net increase over the sources of green house gases say, wet land that was there before which may be giving off a lot of methane and you have destroy that wet land so then that's you subtract that from the emissions you are measuring. And that also post dem, there may be sinks so. For example, if there is lot of plankton growing in the reservoir that it will be taking in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere so that's something to subtract. So, it's a very complicated science and and people are still working on how to do it. And that's not actually a a single reservoir which anybody would think, would claim has been really sufficiently studied to to really fully know what the what the net emissions are although scientists are getting closer to them. So methane is standing on a global level, the most important gas coming from reservoirs, at least most important in sense of contributing the most to to global warming. And most of the methane almost all, I would say that methane production is actually net and reservoirs in a sense act as factories for converting carbon is normally in the form of carbon dioxide into methane. Because methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide is. That's a very important impact of the dam. And the conditions in in tropical reservoirs are especially ideal for the production of methane. So you you get water which is warm and which is very poor in oxygen and that crazy habitat for these methane producing bacteria. And that's why methane tropical reservoirs are so much worse than the reservoirs else where. And the very important factor about methane is that it is is a very polluting greenhouse gas much each molecule of methane traps a lot more heat than a molecule of carbon dioxide. The latest figures from the the IPCC the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is that, you take it over a hundred year periods the methane is 25 times worse than CO2 But if you look over the shorter term, then it's a it is much worse than that. So, over 20 years it's it's 72 times worse than than CO2. So, by converting carbon dioxide into into methane or by taking carbon which may have been released as carbon dioxide and having it released as methane, you have a sizeable impact on on the warming impact. So methane degassing. So as well as the the emissions from the surface of the reservoir; so the the emissions are too main sources. There are bubbles that rise from the bottom of the reservoir and then there is also the diffusions of the gasses especially carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the from the reservoir surface. The the methane is produced at the bottom of the reservoir from these bacteria which are are decomposing organic matter. And, now as those bubbles of methane rise up through the the water column rise rise towards the top of the reservoir, a lot of them are most of them, lastly be converted to, - through there they are oxidized. So the methane is given out as CO2. But where you have turbines and spillways which you you frequently do have in dams which are relatively deep in the reservoir, the water which comes water which is being emitted will be very very rich in methane. And what happens when you suddenly release methane rich water is just like opening a can of Coke. You have Henry's Law applies and you release the pressure and so the the dissolved gases are are given off. And these high emissions are very high right out the dam itself, so we are just immediately going stream with the dam is the water is gushing out, I know that you can see this is a well this dramatic shot is from water coming out from the spillways from a dam in Brazil. You can see there is a the water is so pulverized as well as the pressure dropping, there is this surface increase of the water increases greatly and and so there is a very large may be 60 to 80 percent of the methane is given off. And then a lot more is the methane given off in in the river downstream. Now in in the tropics, these degassing emissions are actually higher than the the emissions from the reservoir surface. Now, this whole business of of degassing emissions, the emission from all the fizz at the dam is a very controversial issue. And although now I would say this, controversy is on its way to may be quieting time. But basically over the last couple of years, there has been a series of editorials in in climatic change which is a very renowned, respected climate journal edited by Stephen Schneider at at Stanford. And so there is two sides in this debate, there is Philip Fearnside who is an American scientist but he is living in Brazil for about a 30 years and he is with a government research institute called the IMPAN based right in the middle of Amazon and on the other side is a physicist called Louis Pinguelli who is at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro but also used to be the - for the short time was the head of electro brass which is the largest, one of the largest hydro power utilities in the world and the largest utility in Brazil Fearnside was the first person actually to talk about this application of Henry's law to the dam and to point out that this heavily methane saturated water is been released so there must be this big release of gas and he used the measurements that some French scientists have made in French Guyana that down there and then extrapolated that to Brazil and so using modeling he figured out that it was going to be very high emissions out of Brazilian dams. Pinguelli rejected and Fearnside also said its just like in a kind of cook and so was oenology Pinguelli rejected that argument said no no no this can't be happening and basically you know this guy's a gringo and what does he know and its actually like its actually like opening a can of GuaranÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡ which is a Brazilian soft drink and the - supposed idea was that at least this was Pinguelli's argument that Brazilians, Americans like fast food and fast drink and so they open a can of coke and all the gas comes out, but if Brazilians they open the can of GuaranÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡ they pour at the glasses and it is very light colored so you can see the bubbles and bubbles rise very slowly and so you don't have this huge emission at the dam, this is a really bizarre argument than its I mean strange that it was published in peer review of scientific journal, but its been published I say over and over again. But he is over the last year so I think Pinguelli has started to back away form his position and he has admitted these emissions must be happening all though he says there are not going to be as high as Fearnside says and he says now he is going to study them and also he sense this this spat has been going go there is been some scientists actually have been measuring the emissions at the Brazilians dams and basically finding that Fearnside is right and actually the measured missions are through than a few percent of what Fearnside recommended - tightly that emissions would be so I think basically the arguments over that opening, releasing water from a dam turbine is like a can of coke and not a can GuaranÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡ important scientific resolution. So there is a lot of controversies and this whole issue is going to be expected the hydro power industry which has for the past 15 years or more been very strongly pushing hydro power as climate friendly energy has been now taken it back by the science showing that this is, in many case it is not so and so they have reacted in a number of ways initially the reactions was just to say that this is all baloney so this courts form, the one of my favorite courts in national hydro power association its baloney and its much over blown methane is produced in the rain forest and no one suggest cutting down the rain forest. And that is baloney actually, according to Google images any way that is I didn't really know a baloney was before I did that search. But it's, its not baloney and I think even the national hydro power association would probably have to admit now that they had over reacted a little there but there is a lot of controversies to net versus gross emissions or how to actually measure those, what are the impacts on the water sheds, the whole water sheds scaled taking from the from far above the dam even or to the sea and there could be impacts for example when you build the dam, you often trap almost all the sediment traveling down the river many dams trap upwards of 90- 95 percent of the sediment with out the dam many of those sediments would have traveled back to sea where and associated nutrients they would fertilize plankton and plankton in the sea take a lot of carbon dioxide and our carbon cycle would actually be very different with the very important rule of the oceans playing sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, so its possible that dams by reducing the flow of nutrients and sediments into the ocean, are actually cutting down the plankton blooms and affecting climate that way although there has been very few terms to quantify that. This way is how all those problems are, how does it effect the emissions from estuaries it seems to be a lot of CO2 given out by estuaries and we don't know whether dams reduce that or increase that so a lot water shed impacts are not known. Quantifying emissions over time, its difficult because you get is very high initial pulse often once you initially flood initially create the reservoir but then once the - that pulse is over you do get - emissions will continue for the life of reservoir but it was actually contradictory evidence from different reservoirs, some reservoir seems to decline over time some reservoir even the methane seems to increase over time and its not really known how exactly to model that over period of 20, 50 or 100 years. The issue of tropical versus non tropical reservoirs - that the hydro power industry when they talk about the reservoir emission issue, they always say the people that are well the methanol emission, for example the International Hydro power association, they will always use the figures of the temperate reservoirs and say, all emissions are 40 or 80 times less than from a from a reservoir than they are from a fossil fuel plant, but they refused to actually, even mention what the tropical emission could be, and then this issue, how exactly you compare hydro power with fossil fuels and the impacts of methane versus of impacts of CO2 and you look over 20 year period, when methane looks much worse versus 100 year period, when it may look better, so here is some of the some of the numbers, so these are figures that are actually from Pinguelli, so the Brazilian scientists, at the Stanford university of Rio De Janeiro and he did studies on this nine dams, now he only looked at gross emissions, he didn't attempted to look at the net emissions, and he also didn't look at degassing, and his findings were, that you see all - these projects, so that the black in the graph is the emissions from a hydro plant, and then the grey is the emissions of natural gas combined cycle plant generating the same amount of electricity and you can see, there is four dams here, were the emissions, are quite a bit higher from from the dam, than the natural gas plant would be and those are - two of those projects on basically tropical forest eco systems and two of them are in more savanna type eco systems, and all in the Amazon basin and this one took it away, this is the largest dam in any in a rainforest eco system any where in the world, this is the major Amazon tributary, and you see that according to even Pinguelli, the hydro emissions are only slightly better than the gas emissions, then you have these other projects and these are basically dams that are in in narrow canyons relatively, narrow canyons rather high generational potential, so you can see, Itapu which is actually the worlds well, before three gorgeous dam, was completed, until three gorgeous dam is completed, that will be the world's largest hydro power plant, so its emissions, at least gross emissions over looking to degassing are very much lower than natural gas dam would be, but these figures are used by Pinguelli and are used a lot by the hydro power industry, to argue that hydro power is basically always is much better than fossil fuels and with only very few exceptions, I would say, that well if you have four, basically four that are worse, four that are better and one that is sort of in the middle, may be little better that doesn't really give an over whelming superiority to hydro power, but anyway that's the argument that is developed from this, and this is being, these figures are being pretty influential because Pinguelli is very well connected with in the Brazilian government dam, within the whole international climate negotiations and so these numbers have affected some of the international policy within under the whole Kyoto protocol in the UN freemark convention in protocol, freemark convention on climate change, how they have dealt with the reservoir emission issue is affected by the SLO even this is not made it into some of the important documents for example of the Brazilian government, like all governments that are signatories to the convention and then separately on to the protocol, they have to produce inventories of all resources being house gasses so Brazilians government actually, commissioned Pinguelli to do a big study of what were the Brazilian emissions and that's when he produce these figures, but when Brazil actually come out with this inventory, they don't include any of this and so they claim in the one hand, that their being very progressive, because they are actually looking at reservoir emissions, but again when they publish the results, they don't they don't include it, sorry, that's natural gas combined cycle, sorry, basically an efficient state modern natural gas plant, sorry. So these are net tropical hydro so these are figures from from Philip Fiernside and you can see that that this includes the degassing emissions, you can see it's pretty different here you have took away, the emissions are about three times as high, and as three times as high as a natural gas plant, and these to other dams, some [0:24:25] ____ are still considerably worse but the most, shocking figure is Balbina dam, which is a huge reservoir, huge very shallow reservoir which generates, not very much electricity right in the middle of the Amazon, and there, it's emissions soon after start operation, were about 29 times that of a coal fired plant and likely for entire operation of that as long as that reservoir is there, its going to be emitting more than a coal plant would be, its really a disaster in climate terms as well as overall ecological terms, with this with this graph I said, I don't know, probably quite a lot of you have seen "An Inconvenient Truth" and there there is a section when Gore is giving a the slide show and then he gets on the cherry picker and the line goes away up above his screen and he rises in the cherry picker. So I wish I had a cherry picker here and I could shorten the graph as these numbers look some You know it looks so small in relational to Balbina. So what about North America then, well, in Canada there is been quite a lot of research and some of the - the main researches happening around the world is been in Canada and Brazil and the gross emissions there and I don't know we had of any decent estimate for net emissions are there. But they are on two between two and 12 percent of a natural gas combined cycle plant. So they are not negligible but they are much less than fossil fuel. In the US, there has been a very few published emissions but there were a few reservoirs in the Western US including three in California that were studied by some Canadian scientists and according to their figures Shasta Dam which is one they looked at the emissions would be about 10 percent of a natural gas plant. But they only looked at these reservoirs in one day; it was one day in September several years ago. And we knew the emissions vary widely between seasons and according to the what ever the weather is the weather conditions are so on and so it's pretty hard to extrapolate from that one day to a whole year and so that's a very rough guess. Another very interesting thing they find was they looked at new New Melones reservoir and they find it was actually a sink of green house gases. It was actually consuming green houses gases from the atmosphere. It was taking in a lot of carbon dioxide you know, rather that was just because at that time there was a lot of plankton growing and that was consuming a lot of CO2.I don't know but there certainly are emissions but we can expect them to be a lot less than lot less than in tropics and a lot less in fossil fuels. But there may be some reservoir US reservoirs which are much worse than that. I think especially in the south east of the US where you have more tropical conditions and a very lot of large reservoirs. But those emissions could be pretty high. And some of the Klamath Dams, so you may know, the big controversy removing the dams in the Klamath and the power company is saying "well, we need to keep them for the climate reasons" but the water quality in a couple of those reservoirs is so horrendous, so there may be quite a large methane production because of the terrible water quality. But overall US dam emissions are like, they are quite significant component. I mean I would say that several percent of the total US, of green house gas emissions. It's a point to remember only five percent of US dams I see of a hydro power purpose so it's also all the dams that are there for supposedly flood control or especially irrigation, water supply and so on. All those dams will be giving off emissions. So what's the global impact? Well these are the really striking figures, so according to the recent estimate from this Brazilian research institute called INPE which is actually the Brazilian Space Research Institute. They calculated and those are the very rough calculation made with very inadequate data but it's the best that we have got so far and there is reasons to believe it may be too high and reasons to believe it may be too low. But they estimated a 100 million - a 104 million tons of methane given out by dams world wide. Mostly by dams in Brazil, China and India because they have so many dams and because they have, because of the tropical climate especially in Brazil and India. So that 104 million tons, what is the main, well it's 23 percent almost a quarter of human caused methane. And methane is the second most important green house gas after in terms of its overall impact on climate change after carbon oxide. So that works out according to how you calculated at 45 percent of the total global warming impact caused by reservoirs which is rather incredibly high and this is something that is really not been taken seriously inside the IPCC or the other bodies working on the climate policy. This photograph here is of James Hansen, so many of you may know, he was a scientist at NASA who is been very outspoken on climate issues and the Bush administration has tried to censor him and he is very bravely and forthright he has spoken out against that. and absolutely refuses to be shut up and I think the more they try to shut him up, the more he speaks out and - he is a very strong in the importance of cutting methane emissions and how because methane is so short lived and so potent that we can really start to make a difference in addressing climate change by acting very aggressively on methane and that when so much attention is on CO2. But we should also really prioritize methane. And we hear some comparisons of what does it mean that 104 million tons of methane, so you can convert that to CO2 so that's carbon dioxide equivalent. And the standard way of doing that is to use this 100 year factor which now is calculated 25 times worse so then 104 million tons of methane, will equal to 2.6 billion tons of CO2 equivalent. And by comparisons of global CO2 emissions of fossil fuels are 27 billion tons and US CO2 emissions from fossil fuel is six billion tons and US CO2 emissions from coal 2.1 so may be that globally dams are emitting more than all the coal emissions from the US. and nearly 45 percent of all US CO2 emissions now from fossil fuels. That's over a 100 year life span. If you take the 20 year figure, 7.5 billion tons then the emissions from dams are even greater than the US fossil fuels. So globally it is a very at least according to these recent Brazilian figures it a very significant impact. Now some good news for a change, this is actually been happening recently to atmospheric methane concentrations and this is the only green house gas for which this is happening. Although some actually nitrous oxide may be leveling out this last year but methane concentrations in atmosphere definitely have leveled out. And people like James Hansen and others who have inspected that as "why this may be happening" and one reason various reasons have been suggested. One is that there is less methane being given off by wet lands being drained and so on. But it's interesting when you if you look at a graph of the rate of large dam building that's also it's in this peak and a decline and the Brazilian scientist who came up with this figure on the global methane emissions from dams also propose that may be the reason why atmospheric methane is leveling off. The major factor of that may be because the rate of big dam building is declining so we can hope that continues. So Shmarbon so changing the topic although it's still very much connected. So there is a global carbon market which is now developing very rapidly I'm sure many of you have heard as various issues around carbon trading, carbon offsets and so on. for the US this has been a bit more abstract than especially for Europe and Japan because the US has not signed on to the Kyoto protocol, so there is no binding requirement for the US to be involved in any carbon trading programs. But under the Kyoto protocol, countries don't have to do carbon trading but they can supposedly make their meet their emission reductions more cheaply by buying these so called carbon credits from other countries and the main way that happens is there a thing called the clean development mechanism. And this is set up under the Kyoto protocol. So it's a UN body and it gives credits, so basically it has it's executive board and they project supply to the board for certain amounts of carbon credits saying that they buy building their certain projects, emissions are going to be reduced and so they should get a number of credits and each credit, it's basically certificate and each one was worth one tone of supposedly of weighted emissions. And these credits which the official name is carbon emission reductions or are then pulled up by European or Japanese companies or governments. And then used as a way of meeting their Kyoto commitments. So instead of actually having to reduce their own emissions they just hand in a piece of paper or send electronic send in an email and say we have got these credits and then they don't have to reduce their emissions. Now it's always talked about this carbon trading and so the concept is okay there is actually some how carbon as a commodity is being traded but it's not traded. What is being traded as something which is basically imaginary, which is avoided carbon or carbon that's not emitted. So that's why I call after a friend in England gave up this expression but I think it's a good one, it's called Shmarbon So it's they are not trading carbon, they are trading carbon which would other wise have been emitted which is a very abstract and quite complex concept. Then when you start to deconstruct it and break it down you find that actually that really doesn't work. So the credits are for projects. Supposedly this is the theory, if a project that must have credit income to be able to go forward so I am going to build a hydro power project in Guatemala. And it's going to be a small project relatively small and this is going to be look canyons, it's not going to have lot of reservoir emissions and supposedly if I built it, it means that some coal or may otherwise have been burnt to generate electricity will not be burned. And only if I get worth around - changes a lot, say $15 for every ton avoided. So it's only if I get those credits, am I then going to say, Okay, that's worth while me investing in this project. Only then will I get these returning my money, so only then project happens. And so then I apply to the UN and I get my certificate and I sell it to some company in Germany. And they can keep on emitting but they have their set up to get to know that well at least a there were just an emission somewhere else. But in the real world it really doesn't work like that. It's very very hard to know what is the exact reason why a project went forward. What is the exact reason that I am going to build this this dam in Guatemala? Is it the little bit of income that I can get from the carbon credit? Or is it because well I see it's a quite nice way to return anyway, and I have an office in Guatemala City and I have been looking for hydro-power projects developed there for the last few years. And this is really a nice one. And may be I just saw the there was a CDM thing and may be I could just get a bit of extra money if I applied for the for the carbon credit. And there is no way of knowing actually whether I genuinely would not have done it otherwise. And this supply is was not just hydro projects all, many different sorts of projects that are applying for credits. Some of them no doubt very nice, green, sustainable, really attractive and benign projects. And some of them probably not as nice projects. But the key thing is that by giving credits to a project which may be would have gone ahead anyway, then you are not actually reducing the emissions to the atmosphere and in fact, because you are allowing that; say, German company to increase its emissions or to to not reduce its emissions also, we have to under the Kyoto protocol you are making the climate situation worse. And the big problem with the system is that a lot of flaws would my organization the International Rivers Network got involved in got involved in looking at carbon trading because we are very concerned and lots of hydropower project were going to be promoted which wouldn't otherwise happens so to destructive projects that were undesirable for other reasons, displacement of people by mental impacts and so on. And that which basically went economic would become economic because of these subsidies. In fact, what's happening is it, all these projects that are being build anyway are just going to head in the plain for credits and getting these credits and mean while messing up the whole integrity of this of this system. And because the way the market usually in a market, you have a a buyer that wants to well, I'll just say, in in this market you have a system where everybody everybody in the in the market wants to generate as many credits as possible and you don't have anybody that actually wants to limit the generation of credits. Because the seller of the want to to get some money and and they can the Government can tax the credit income and the the developer is obviously are are getting some money. So they want to generate that credits. The buyers so the Europeans, they want to reduce their cost of meeting their Kyoto commitments. So they want as many credits generated as possible. Then you have this whole industry of carbon brokers and traders and consultants and verifiers and certifiers, because you have this whole complicated system; you need to know are they actually generating the electricity which they said that we generate and how they are actually offsetting some coal from somewhere. So this whole big industry is now growing up and of course they have a trade association International Emissions Trading Association and they all lobby very-very hard on the U.N. on the U.N. to keep this system loose and to keep generating lot of credits. So, the but clearly there is a lot of projects going forward. When you look through the documentation that are, what in that climate circles is called BAU, business as usual is usually sort of things that are happening anyway. And the the latest figure which came from somebody that actually works on one of the panels for the clean development mechanism, he estimated 30 to 50 percent of all the projects or or all the credits are are hot air. These are things that are happening anyway and we have see this very strongly in in just focusing on the on the hydro the hydro Shmarbon. So, there is now like 500 hydro projects which are either receiving only a few of them are actually receiving. But a lot of them are now in the pipeline going through the process to get approved. If current experience continues, some of these will be turned on but very very few of them a handful of few percent may be turn going. Amount of these hydro projects was 200 large hydro, so in the the CDM, that means hydro is over 15 mega watts in size. I so it was pretty pretty substantial because a lot of a lot of large hydro and not of those large hydro but half of them are in China. Now, some of you will be aware, China is a very big builder of hydro power. Chinese Government believes very strongly in hydropower. They build a lot of hydro they build hydro of all sizes from the very tiny to the exceedingly huge and it's not really a big problem to get a hydro power project built in China. And I suspect that not a single one of the CDM projects in China is actually additional. And I think these are all projects that are getting build anyway. And they just have the developers write-up paper which say, "Oh, we absolutely definitely wouldn't build this dam and unless we got the carbon credits." And sometimes it's really really obvious that the dam is going to be built anyway, because some times the dam is already complete and this is pretty incredible you read this project documentation and people claim, this consultants claim really straight faced or straight typed I guess. That the project is only going to happen if they get carbon income and then the next line they admit the project has already started to generate electricity, that makes no sense what so ever, but yet these projects are going through and they are getting approved and people come up with these Byzantine arguments as to why actually they do need the carbon credits. So there is a big problem here its not a problem in terms of hydro its not least, at this point its not leading to lot of new hydro going develop new rivers getting harmed but it is really affecting the credibility of the carbon trading system is harming the climate, one good thing there was a party because of our lobby in efforts of International Rivers Network we have managed to get the executive board of the CDM to rule out large reservoirs, projects of large reservoirs relative to the power generation because of the concern over reservoir emission so that's one positive thing although it's a temporary decision it could possibly be changed. So here is just what happens when you have this very problematic Shmarbon non existing commodity introduced in to a what supposed to be a very clear piece of math's so the concept behind carbon trading or concept behind specifically the thing of amble mechanism is one ton of carbon is emitted some where in this case is mainly Europe. Would have been US at the US ratified Kyoto, but in the great wisdom of Bush administration, nothing happened. So one ton of carbon is emitted and then then the idea is that you minus one so there is a ton of avoided carbon and you get zero. Reality is that on ton of carbon is emitted but you don't know what is subtracted because you have the Shmarbon, you have this actually imaginary non existing commodity which can really be pointed there I no way to really know because you don't actually know what's that the developer going to develop that project any way and even if the developer is only building the project because h got his carbon credits then how much coal would have been to burnt we haven't burn - we hadn't built the dam and would it really have been coal that was going to be burnt or was it just some body else would have built another dam in the next river, in the next valley over so you really don't know, so you have a, your result is not zero, your result is well its some where between zero and one if you want to be kind you want to say okay some of these projects are additional and well you just don't know so basically the belief that with carbon trading we are able to offset emissions is on a one minus one basis is not true and what is this matter to California, well CDM credits may be coming to a registry near you soon the first of all federally, I mean obviously nothing going to happen on this administration but in the next we got a new president there are going to be climate bills pass through congress and CDM there are all ready on a number of bills that are been discussed in congress unite of those I think seven I mean six or seven bills in front of congress. Three of them include - especially include offsets and specifically mentioned international offsets and so the CDM is the likely source of those who could be at the US, directly could become a large market to buy CDM credits, it's also possible in California because under our state level plan to just reduce carbon emissions which is you know obviously getting a lot of curiosity put under the world is really important and fantastic what is happening but the rules are still being worked out and there is some pressure for California people to buy these CDM credits as a way of lowering the mind of action which actually has to happen here. So if these things happen its going to, depending on the volume of credits that's allowed in the US, you could sharply reduce the effectiveness of what the US tries to do to cut global warming pollution and it also but it does in a practical sense I think it is more intangible sense having in this very flawed system where this sort of Enron accounting built into it and filled with scans is really going to discredit any efforts to deal with with global warming at the cut mission reductions already there always reasons we have very very powerful large lobbies that are against taking any actions especially taking any, and these are really meaningful action we need to take and they are going to have a hay day when you have these media exposes which will happen , they are already happening actually on how the CDM is being gained by all these consultants and is this whole sort of carbon beaurocracy growing up which is making money of these things and hindering the climate effectiveness. So third part of the talk, third part of the link between dams and climate change, maladaption so the debate over climate change on an international level is really honed in two different points which is mitigation and adaptation. So mitigation means actually reducing the impact of climate change that means cutting emissions and then its adaptation and that is getting ready, getting our self prepared for the changes that are going to come. Now we can't avoided it, we have gone too far, we already seeing the impacts of global warming, we are going to continue to see it through all of our life time. It's not - I mean we missed the boat in this, it is happening all we can do now is try to do the most we can to trying slow it down so we are going to see increased floods, we are going to see increase droughts, already we are seeing the, heat ways in many of the other impacts of climate change and human society needs to adapt to that. One of the cruel things about climate change is that so people who are least responsible, who are most aggressed towards the poor people in the world, people in developing countries, poor people in developing countries, even the poor people in our own country as we saw with Hurricane Katrina very emphatically are those who are going to suffer most and these are the people of course contributes least because of their lifestyles are very very - they use right they emit very little carbon through there lifestyle. So there is going to be a big need for measures to drop as adapt to climate change to help wealthy societies and wealthy people and wealthy societies adapt the climate change but especially to help the poor to adapt the climate change and we need to prioritize what are going to be the most cost-effective ways of doing this and what are new regrets measures or what are things that we can do which even if climate change isn't is about as it seems will be there will still be good things to do so for example improving flood warning systems that is going to help even if the climate does change people still suffer because of floods and variable climate already harms people. Now, dams are being promoted quite strongly including by Governor Schwarzenegger ask climate change adaptation tools and in terms of California, the argument is Schwarzenegger has been making as it we need trying to build two new dams. One in the San Joaquin and one in the central valley up to the north of Sacramento that we need these dams to store extra water to get ready for the droughts that climate change are going to bring. And around the rest of the world, the international dam industries argue very strongly that we are going to need dams against strides and also against floods and that because if they all then mix it in with arguments that because of the huge need for poverty reduction around the world, that only storing more water is going to able to help reduce poverty. But there is a lot of problems when it comes to trying to deal with climate change rebuilding the impacts of climate change, rebuilding more dams. So first thing is this droughts. So one think which is going to increase in recognition in this country is that climate change is going to bring worse droughts and worse droughts mean ofcourse less water in our rivers and that means less power generation. Now in this country that is a problem in actually the energy crisis such as it was in California while a lot of it was caused of course by the deregulation system and how that was gained by Enron and so on there also was last power available to California because of drought in the pacific north west unless hydro power being generated there. But the amount of hydro dependence in the US is generally 10 to overall 11 percent of US electricity supply. It is not a huge amount but in many countries, it is a very large amount of their overall supply. So 58 countries more than half of the electricity comes from hydro power. Many countries it is a way over 90 percent, some countries, especially many African countries almost a 100 percent of the power comes from hydro power and those 58 countries were half electricity comes from the overwhelming majority of those countries are very poor developing countries. The few exception there is Norway which is only really wealthy country in the world which is almost totally hydro power dependent and there is a few European countries Switzerland and Sweden which got around half of electricity from hydro but bulk of those countries are very poor countries that are going to be very badly hit, when draughts take hold, then its already happening around the world, Uganda is a great example, were we work with colleagues in Uganda, who get electricity city, for just a few hours a weekend in their office, and their office is in the capital city, that is not some little village there in and the reason, why they don't get electricity is because Uganda is 99 percent hydro power dependent, then there is a drought, long term drought going on, and they don't have enough power and so the argument that for building the arguments for buildings more hydro power at the time of, when you already very hydro over dependent is a very risky thing to do, in the case of Uganda, even in Uganda, its already 99 percent, hydro dependent, and the world bank is still it still wants to build more hydro there and wants to make Uganda maintain its almost total dependence on Hydro power for for it's electricity and even in other countries like Tanzania, and Guiana, the world bank is being talking about, moving them away from hydro power, because of this issue, those same arguments, don't seem to apply in Uganda, and they have come up with totally spurious arguments of saying, how, oh the Nile based and because these dam, the Uganda is not dams are on the Nile, the Nile basin is not going to be affected by drought much in the next, in the coming decades which is total baloney, it's already being affected very seriously by drought that's why they don't have electricity right now and there is no way, that they can say that the global warming is not that they can with any confidence global warming is not going to be make that worse. And the best adaptation measure is not building more supply almost but its always efficiency in conservation and that's both electricity and water, it's the cheapest, its most cost effective way to go and the more we, our society is going to reduce our demand of water use the less vulnerable we are going to to beat the droughts and for this argument that we need more water storage for, poverty alleviation, and we need more water to storage because of climate change and because all these poor farmers are going to lose their water supply, and that argument breaks down when you actually look at water distribution around the world, irrigation systems around the world, farming economies around the world, you find that, the great majority of very poor people around the world, some 800 million people that have serious mal nutrition problems of mal nutrition, and they are almost all farmers living in dry land areas, their area is far from major rivers, they are not going to get water from many big irrigation schemes, they couldn't afford to pay for that water, even if the water could be provided to them, they are farmers who currently, depend on rain fed, depend on the rains and they are going to continue to depend on the rains and the priority, is got to be a small scale, rain water harvesting and other irrigation efficiency schemes, which can secure their water supplies, where they actually are trap water basically where it falls, and people's farms, those people's farms rather than allowing water to drain down to major rivers, and then flow down in and trap it behind a big reservoir and then build a huge canal and a major distribution system, which what happens to those systems is that water goes to the plains areas which are the better of, the better of areas, that's not where the poor farmers live. This photograph is, I took a few years ago in I want to Awwa district in Rajasthan, so it's a local farmer standing with a crop of tomato, this was an area, which is very and area which is very, very dry area, it is rain fed, it is really a dirt poor hard scrabble area, and people started look ten years ago maybe started building rain water harvesting structures, totally revived this area and now people are growing vegetables, like tomatoes very valuable crop and exporting them to Delhi, to sent them to Delhi to be sold and totally transform the economic life which was that a fraction of the cost of what these big dam schemes cost. And I find my self that went to this village, did some back of the envelope calculations and we worked out at the cost of irrigating each acre or each hector through these small scales, and small dams and small embankments, the cost was about 1365th, I think of the cost of the huge Sardar Sarovar dam project in Gujarat is on the Narmada river , it is a very notorious dam project and in India people being fighting for decades, and so it was 365 times less for every acre water from these small schemes and from these huge schemes, and as for supplying drinking water its about hundreds, the cost of supplying drinking water through these small scale schemes. The problem with these small scale schemes is they built locally by by the villages for some money from outside, with very little outside assistance, there is no international consultants are even, consultants from Delhi that are coming down, there is no body selling expensive equipment to them so, the international aid agencies, that the world bank and so on are in the national governments, the water ministries and so on and on often are not very interested in these schemes, but it is here that we we see the real solutions to poverty and to rainfall vulnerability and and not just current rainfall vulnerability but of course in the future to and of course climate change is going to make all those things harder because there there are going to be very severe droughts and no matter what we do, whether we build huge dams, tiny dams, whatever its going to be difficult to to get through. And the other issue is floods. So climate change is going to worsen both droughts and floods seems to counter initiative but we have already see its happening around the world and that and some areas in its not some areas, we'll see worse flood in some areas and we'll see worse droughts in some areas, we'll see both. And again that's already happening. The floods that just happening recently in England, in south Asia, now in China. And just year it is hundreds thousand of people killed around the world by by floods and rainfalls; flooding records have being broken all the time. And this threatens down safety in a in a pretty major way. Dams or built under the assumption that there is a stable climate. So when the hydrologists do their engineers work on the dam design, they look at however much rainfall records they have may be they have 50 years if they are lucky, may be they have 100 years and they work out, "Okay this is how much it rained in the past, this is how much what floods we had, and so this is what's going to happen in future and this is spillways are designed to allow for that. And the design of the and the project is operated is designed for that. But, - but the climate is changing. We no longer we are not going to have over the next 20-40-50-100 years, we are not going to have the climate we used to have. And so these dams are going to have to work on a different climates and it's a problem not just for dams that may be built in the future. But it's a big problem for the stock of dams we already have now where we have tens of thousands of large dams, hundreds of thousands of small dams around the world which are not engineered to cope with the types of floods that are likely to see. Another issue which is the less obvious, but it is also important is sedimentation ratio is likely to increase because first of all, all reservoirs are affected by sedimentation. All rivers carry some amount of of sediments, gravels and clays so on down into reservoirs. Now if you have a reservoir like Hetch Hetchy up in the High Sierras a very-very low rate of sedimentation, its draining is very thin soils on granite and I don't know about the figures for Hetch Hetchy But I think it will be a a very long time before its seriously is affected by sedimentation. But in other areas sediment is a including on the lowering down in the Sierras, sedimentation can be a big problem. And it means that in many cases dams are not hydro power is a nonrenewable energy. Hydropower of course is always sold as being renewable. But if your reservoir is going to fill with fill with sediments in 50 or 100 years, it's actually nonrenewable. It could be renewable if you include the cost to taking the reservoir out getting rid of all the sediments, building that again, and starting over the way you can do with a if your wind turbine breaks down, and gets to what you will stick up a new one. But its very-very expensive and difficult to do that for the them and funds are not let set aside for that to happen so, I think essentially reservoir hydropower should not be considered renewable, certainly over the longer the longer term. Now most sediments that flows into reservoirs comes in very short period, so it's during really intense dorms that the great majority of sediments come, its not that there is study to track all those sediments through the year and what's going happen with global warming is you are going to have more intense dorms, you are going to have faster sedimentation. It's you are also going to have other impacts we are seeing like more forest fires. So, when you have a forest fire; the area that burns is more prone erosion, if you have a forest fired vegetations is killed for a couple of years you have heavy rainfall and you get really high erosion rates, and that's one of the fear now for Tahoe that there is going to be a lot of rain in this area which recently burnt which will effect the visibility of the lake, but so there is a number of reasons why sedimentation is is likely to increase in the life time of dams; its going to be hydropower plants is going to be reduced. And the other aspect of this is that the dams have been built for the last say 100 years and many dams have been built for flood control purposes along with levees and some other methods. Now billions tens of billions of dollars have been spent on these flood control methods. Now we see steadily increasing steady increase in flood damages and basically these conventional approaches to dealing with flood is hard, structural, flood control has been a failure and there is a number of reasons for that. And one of them is the problem that they bring a false sense of security. So you build your dams so you have the people downstream. Okay, flood problem solved you are all okay. You can move on to the flood plain. So you get intense development of the flood plain, and homes and factories were set up there. Then you have a really big flood, and I see the dam is only designed to control floods up to a certain size. You got a very big flood and so, the dam will now have to suddenly open its gates the gates of the dam, and then you get a flood downstream and you'll have much worse damage than have the dam not been built in first place. This problem is going to be exacerbated by global warming because floods are going to be larger more unpredictable outside the range what's your dam has been built for and also you going to have more dam collapses when the dam fails you have a really the worst, the worst type of flood that worst type of flood occur a dam breaks floods whether it's a artificial dam break or some times you have the natural form by glaciers when they gone to suddenly break and you got the catastrophic floods and you face more of those. So just very very briefly so there are some arguments to be very cautious about relying on dams to try to a to get a sort of this climate change mess but there is a lot of other reasons why we shouldn't be going whole sale to built lots and lots of more dams we already have very serious impacts we have got 60 percent of the worlds rivers already impacted by dams and their versions 40 to 80 million people evicted by reservoirs millions more impacted down stream and by other effects of dams but not counted and we know that the majority of people that get this place by dams and much worse afterwards that they are not able to recover the previous standard of living they suffer culturally and psychologically and health wise and of course serious bio diversity and impact to fresh water eco systems are the most threatened of any major eco systems more so than trouble of forest eco system. And we have done all that, we have built all these dams done so much damage to rivers and the people live along them and still we have a world a scandals situation where we were a billion people don't know the access to clean water this catastrophic and morally shocking situation to a billion people around there don't have access to modern energy so we cant rely on this approach of big dam building to try and meet the needs of this people and where all these people that mainly in rural areas obviously there are poor people, if they are wealthy people they would these services they are scatter through rural areas and this big projects in most cases are not going to meet their needs and that turned out it hasn't been the case in the past. So just very quickly to end, what to do, support climate aware politicians we really need action really really quickly as soon as administrations are to office we got a we really got to seriously get going or even before - before then we need to do some thing in the US developed countries like 90 percent cut by 2050. one important thing is just no more coal so we gone to clear and clear that coal, new coal plants are really morally unsupportable and this is incredibly destructive way of generating energy taking this huge amounts of carbon out of the ground and dumping it all in to the atmosphere and lastly there is a lot of talk on the US about carbon trade mechanism like different forms of carbon trading I am very concerned that this is really the wrong way to go there is lot of time will because wasted and lot of money will be wasted trying to come up in the scheme which will be incredibly complicated its not going to work very well this is already happened in Europe people say that over time the problems are going to be solved and Europe is so far I thinks Europeans have lost a lot of time messing around with a very complicated system then I think carbon fee basically a carbon tax but tax is obviously quiet politically problematic so people saying carbon fees sounds better. Is going to be some thing better than a trading approach so that's my over view of links between dams and climate change and related things if you are interested in more information you go to our web site www.irn.org see these two publications which Norma mentioned the start "Fizzy science" and "Before the deluge " some copies available out side and there is also available online. So thank you very much.