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 São Paulo Sets Climate Change Goals

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 25 (Tierramérica).- The city government of São Paulo, Brazil's most populous city, has set a goal to reduce municipal emissions of greenhouse gases by 30 percent, with a deadline of 2012 -- ahead of the federal government's target date.

The project, which will come up for a vote this year in the São Paulo Municipal Council, would require profound changes in transportation, which pollutes and congests this southern city.

The initiative is "very positive", because it will encourage municipal and state governments to follow the example and because it sets a goal, guiding the actions of business and the population, Rubens Born, director of the non-governmental Vitae Civilis Institute, told Tierramérica.

It may have been easier to focus on gradual objectives to avoid challenges to such an ambitious plan in the short term, he said. But the municipal elections in October will fuel the debate, added Born.

 Universities Commit to the Environment

TEGUCIGALPA, Aug 25 (Tierramérica).- The 20 universities in Honduras signed an environmental pledge on Aug. 18 that includes reforms in their programs and greater participation in managing threatening situations, research and policies.

"It is time to get more involved in this national and global problem in order to prevent the destruction of the environment, for lack of awareness in most cases, exhausting our natural resources," Jorge Arita, rector of the Autonomous National University of Honduras, told Tierramérica.

"Due to circumstances, the academic world has been very distant from those problems, but climate change is no longer a theory, but a tangible fact, and universities cannot continue seeking reforms without purpose, changes without solutions, and talking about participation without getting involved ourselves," he said.

The 20 public and private institutions of higher learning agreed to set up an inter-university committee for ecological sciences in order to generate knowledge, research and a stronger link to society, which will help them formulate a public environmental policy in the coming year.

 Justice Orders Demolition of Embankment in Wetland Preserve

BUENOS AIRES, Aug 25 (Tierramérica).- The Forestal Andina company received an order from the justice department of the northern Argentine province of Corrientes to demolish immediately the 27-kilometer embankment it built in the Esteros del Iberá ecological preserve.

The company must begin work before Aug. 27 in order to comply with the order that the Supreme Court of Justice had issued eight months ago.

"If the company does not comply, the responsibility falls to the controlling body, the Corrientes Institute of Water and Environment," attorney Patricia McCormack, representing the local residents who have called for the demolition, told Tierramérica.

"So far we have not seen any willingness from the company and we don't know what the Institute's attitude will be, but the attorney general's office leaked that they will try to delay the demolition" of the embankment that crosses an area of protected wetlands, said McCormack.

 More Traffic Restrictions, Better Air Quality

MEXICO CITY, Aug 25 (Tierramérica).- The inclusion of Saturdays in the Mexican capital's program for limiting the circulation of certain cars to certain days has made a notable improvement in air quality.

Measurements previous to the new limits, in place since July 12, showed that air pollution decreased 32 percent on average when comparing the five first Saturdays when the policy took effect to the same five days in 2007, according to figures that the Mexico City Environment Secretariat provided to Tierramérica.

The ban on driving on Saturdays is applied in steps to all vehicles, based on the last number on their license plates.

The Saturday circulation restrictions, which some people believe are ineffective, were added to the Monday-through-Friday limits, which have been in place for a decade. In Mexico City and the neighboring state of Mexico live more than 20 million people, with some four million vehicles.

*Source: Inter Press Service.
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