Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nicholas Stern hopeful over US climate deal

Economist Lord Stern has said he is optimistic a global deal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions will be struck under Barack Obama's US presidency.

Lord Stern, who was behind the first detailed economic assessment of the impact of climate change, said US and Chinese agreement to a cut was crucial.
President George W Bush's climate views were "prehistoric" and had been seen as an obstacle, Lord Stern told the BBC.
But many now believed the new president could take a lead, he said.
"He's night and day on this issue relative to his prehistoric predecessor George Bush," Lord Stern told the BBC's Today programme's guest editor Jarvis Cocker. More >>>

Monday, December 29, 2008

German Scientist Warns Climate Change Accelerating

29 December 2008{ Climate change is happening more rapidly than anyone though possible, the German government's expert, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, warned in an interview.

The threats posed by climate change are worse than those imagined by most governments, warned Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the scientist who heads the Potsdam Institute for Research on Global Warming Effects and acts as an adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on climate-change issues.
Schellnhuber warns that previous predictions about climate change and its catastrophic effects were too cautious and optimistic. More >>>

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bringing China into the Climate Change Fold

The current economic crisis cast a pall over climate change talks held this month in Poland.

While negotiators hoped for concrete progress towards an international climate agreement, the world’s two largest polluters were distracted – the US with preventing a collapse of the financial system in the midst of a presidential transition, China with a slowdown in domestic investment and weakening foreign demand for its manufactured goods. With American home values and retirement savings falling and Chinese unemployment numbers rising, observers worry that neither America nor China will have much appetite to cut emissions.

The paradox here is that the crisis presents a unique opportunity for the United States and China to strike a deal that would lay the groundwork for a global climate agreement. More >>>

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Obama's revolution on climate change

• Leading green scientist joins team

Sunday 21 December 2008Barack Obama ushered in a revolution in America's response to global warming yesterday when he appointed one of the world's leading climate change experts as his administration's chief scientist.

The president-elect's decision to make Harvard physicist John Holdren director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy reveals a new determination to draw a line under eight years of US policy that have seen George Bush steadfastly reject overwhelming evidence of climate change. More >>>

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hot southern summer threatens coral with massive bleaching event

Sydney, Australia -19 Dec 2008 - A widespread and severe coral bleaching episode is predicted to cause immense damage to some of the world’s most important marine environments over the next few months.

A report from the US Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts severe bleaching for parts of the Coral Sea, which lies adjacent to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and the Coral Triangle, a 5.4 million square kilometre expanse of ocean in the Indo-Pacific which is considered the centre of the world’s marine life.
“This forecast bleaching episode will be caused by increased water temperatures and is the kind of event we can expect on a regular basis if average global temperatures rise above 2 degrees,” said Richard Leck, Climate Change Strategy Leader for WWF’s Coral Triangle Program. 

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Did Early Global Warming Divert A New Glacial Age?

ScienceDaily (Dec. 18, 2008) — The common wisdom is that the invention of the steam engine and the advent of the coal-fueled industrial age marked the beginning of human influence on global climate.

But gathering physical evidence, backed by powerful simulations on the world's most advanced computer climate models, is reshaping that view and lending strong support to the radical idea that human-induced climate change began not 200 years ago, but thousands of years ago with the onset of large-scale agriculture in Asia and extensive deforestation in Europe.

What's more, according to the same computer simulations, the cumulative effect of thousands of years of human influence on climate is preventing the world from entering a new glacial age, altering a clockwork rhythm of periodic cooling of the planet that extends back more than a million years. More >>>

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Obama left with little time to curb global warming

WASHINGTON (AP) December 14 -- When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, global warming was a slow-moving environmental problem that was easy to ignore. Now it is a ticking time bomb that President-elect Barack Obama can't avoid.

Since Clinton's inauguration, summer Arctic sea ice has lost the equivalent of Alaska, California and Texas. The 10 hottest years on record have occurred since Clinton's second inauguration. Global warming is accelerating. Time is close to running out, and Obama knows it.

"The time for delay is over; the time for denial is over," he said on Tuesday after meeting with former Vice President Al Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming. "We all believe what the scientists have been telling us for years now that this is a matter of urgency and national security and it has to be dealt with in a serious way." More >>>

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Poznań, Poland - COP 14

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Poznań, Poland - COP 14

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznań ended on Saturday, 13 December. The Conference was a milestone on the road to success for the processes which were launched under the Bali Road Map. The meeting came midway between COP 13 in Bali, which saw the launch of negotiations on strengthened international action on climate change, and COP 15 Copenhagen, at which the negotiations are set to conclude.

The Conference included the 29th sessions of the Convention’s subsidiary bodies - SBSTA and SBI – as well as the 4th session of the AWG-LCA and the 2nd part of the 6th session of the AWG-KP. Over eleven thousand participants attended the Poznań meeting, which both advanced international cooperation on a future climate change regime and ensured progress on key issues. More >>>

Decisions adopted by COP 14 and CMP 4 will be available here shortly

View On-demand webcast

[For Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Arctic communities as well as other vulnerable communities the following phrase, endorsed by over 80 countries made it into the summary of the LCA round table, which means it will likely be considered a "key outcome" from Poznan.

*Participants at the round table expressed the need for international solidarity in embarking on a low emissions path that safeguards the developmental aspirations and survival of the most vulnerable countries and people. * Editor]

Seychelles Country Statement on Climate Change delivered today by Ambassador Ronald Jumeau today at the High Level Session at UNFCCC COP XIV, Poznan, Poland on Behalf of the Seychelles, Small Island Developing States and the Alliance of Small Island States. Read Full Statement

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wetter and wilder: the signs of warming everywhere

In the third part of our series on the eve of the Poznan conference, we look at how climate change is already changing ordinary people's lives from Australia to Brazil
Joao da Antonio's eyes are full of tears. If good rains do not come, he says, he will pack his bag, kiss his wife and two children goodbye and join the annual exodus of young men leaving hot, dry rural north-east Brazil for the biofuel fields in the south.

Da Antonio, 19, can earn about £30 a month for 10 hours gruelling work a day cutting sugar cane to make ethanol, and more than a million small farmers like him migrate south for six months of the year because the land can no longer support them. Tens of thousands a year never return, forced to move permanently to Sao Paulo or another of Brazil's cities in search of work.

"Life here is one of suffering," Da Antonio said. "I will do anything to earn some money. None of us want to die, but the lack of water here will kill us. " More >>>

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Global Warming Study: Carbon output rising faster than forecast

23 October 2007 - Global warming “will come sooner and harder”; Chinese growth and loss of natural “sinks” highlighted in study.

Scientists warned last night that global warming will be “stronger than expected and sooner than expected”, after a new analysis showed carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere much faster than predicted.

Experts said that the rise is due to soaring economic development in China, and a reduction in the amount of carbon pollution soaked up by the world’s land and oceans.

It also means human emissions will have to be cut more sharply than predicted to avoid the likely effects.
Dr. Corinne Le Quere, a climate expert at the University of East Anglia and British Antarctic Survey, who helped conduct the study, said: “It’s bad news because the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide has accelerated since 2000 in a way we did not expect. My biggest worry is people are discouraged by this and do nothing. I hope political leaders will act on this, because we need to do something fast.” More >>>

[This is an article from October last year that I missed but thought important enough to post today. Editor]

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ancient skills 'could reverse global warming'

Trials begin of a technique used by Amazon Indians that takes CO2 and locks it safely into soil

7 December 2008 - Ancient techniques pioneered by pre-Columbian Amazonian Indians are about to be pressed into service in Britain and Central America in the most serious commercial attempt yet to reverse global warming.

Trials are to be started in Sussex and Belize early in the new year, backed with venture capital from Silicon Valley, on techniques to take carbon from the atmosphere and bury it in the soil, where it should act as a powerful fertiliser.
The plan is to scale up rapidly into a worldwide enterprise to reverse the build-up of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming, in the atmosphere and eventually bring it back to pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
The ambitious enterprise – which on Friday received its first multimillion-pound investment from California – is the brainchild of two of Britain's most successful environmental entrepreneurs: Craig Sams, one of the founders of the best-selling Green & Black's organic chocolate, and Dan Morrell, who co-founded Future Forests, the first carbon offsetting company. More >>>

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Climate change: Young people take a stand at Poznan

05 Dec 2008: Fifteen inspired young people have travelled overland from the UK to Poznan, Poland to urge our government to take strong and equitable action on climate change. Poznan is the setting for this year's UN Climate Change Conference, a critical stage in negotiating a global deal on climate change to take effect after 2012.

We are joining international youth from more than fifty countries to ensure our voices are heard and listened to. As things stand, we are miles away from where we need to be and we have only one year left to get there in time for the Copenhagen conference in December 2009.

The UK Youth Delegation (UKYD) is a self-organised group of 18 to 25-year-olds who are passionate about the need to equitably reduce greenhouse gas emissions right away, in order to avoid dangerous climate change. This is a generational issue: peer-reviewed science predicts fundamental impacts on the world's climate system – the system that humanity has been intimately linked to throughout history. The decisions made at Poznan will shape the world we grow up in. If a global deal is not reached, the world will look very different in 2050, when members of the UKYD will not yet have reached retirement age. Climate change is not just about polar bears. It's about us. More >>>

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pacific: climate change threatens food security

2 December 2008, Rome - Ocean warming, frequent tropical cyclones, flash floods and droughts are likely to have a devastating impact on food production systems in Pacific island countries, FAO warned today.

Climate change-related disasters are already imposing serious constraints on development in the islands, which appear to be in a "constant mode of recovery," according to a new report entitled Climate Change and Food Security in Pacific Island Countries, jointly published by FAO, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the University of the South Pacific.

"Climate projections for the Pacific island countries are bleak and indicate reduced food security, especially for households," said Alexander Müller, FAO Assistant Director-General, Natural Resources Management and Environment Department. More >>>

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Climate change watchdog backs expansion of Heathrow

UK could meet its ambitious pledge to slash greenhouse gas pollution even if ministers give the go-ahead to expanding Heathrow airport, the government's leading climate change adviser has signalled.

This week the chairman of the government's Environment Agency, Lord Smith of Finsbury, joined critics who say that adding a third runway at Britain's biggest airport would destroy the government's promise to tackle climate change, and increase local air and noise pollution to intolerable levels.

But when asked about the contentious Heathrow plan, Lord Turner, chairman of the independent Climate Change Committee, told the Guardian that it would be possible for aviation to be expanded while still meeting the target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the middle of this century, especially if airlines were able to use biofuels or other low-carbon power sources.
More >>>

[The time will come when commercial interests must give way to the greater good, to saving the biosphere, the environment and future generations. Ed.]

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Climate change makes economic meltdown look like picnic: May

OTTAWA — Nov 25 2008 - Green party Leader Elizabeth May says the threat of climate change makes the global economic meltdown look like a "Sunday school picnic."

May plans to attend United Nations meetings next week in Poland which will plan for next year's major climate-change conference in Copenhagen.

The Copenhagen summit is supposed to produce a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement on reducing greenhouse gases which expires in 2012.

May says a new pact to cover the post-Kyoto period is needed quickly because the world will be "past the point of no return" if greenhouse gas levels keep rising beyond 2015.

The talks in Poland follow last year's climate-change discussions in Bali, Indonesia, and are meant to prepare countries for Copenhagen.

May says even if Canadian negotiators don't say or do anything in Poland, that would still be better than Bali, where critics accused Canada of obstructing talks. More >>>

Monday, November 24, 2008

California Builds Second Life Of Defense Against Global Warming

Sacramento, CA (AHN) - November 24, 2008 - California is going beyond the traditional methods taken by states to minimize the effects of climate change such as setting limits on tailpipe emissions and coming up with renewable energy standards.

This is keeping in line with the leadership role California has maintained in climate-change among the American states, bolstered by Los Angeles' hosting last week of the two-day Global Climate Summit.

Among the extra measures being pushed by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are a proposal from the state Transportation Department to move a 3-mile stretch of Highway 1 in Big Sur, which hugs the ocean, up to 475 feet inland to be ahead of the tidal rise. It also includes a triage among state wildlife officials to decide species to be saved from global warming and a plan by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission to hold an international contest to create designs for edifices that are flood resilient. More >>>

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Greenwashing is universal, at least at NBC

NBC Universal made the first of potentially several rounds of staffing cuts at The Weather Channel (TWC) on Wednesday, axing the entire staff of the “Forecast Earth” environmental program during the middle of NBC’s “Green Week,” as well as several on-camera meteorologists. The layoffs totaled about 10 percent of the workforce, and are the first major changes made since NBC completed its purchase of the venerable weather network in September.

The timing of the Forecast Earth cancellation was ironic, since it came in the middle of NBC’s “Green is Universal” week, during which the network has been touting its environmental coverage across all of its platforms. Forecast Earth normally aired on weekends, but its presumed last episode was shown on a weekday due to the environmentally-oriented week.

Forecast Earth was hosted by former CNN anchor Natalie Allen, with contributions from climate expert Heidi Cullen. It was the sole program on TWC that focused on global climate change, which raises the question of whether the station will still report on the subject. More >>>

Thursday, November 20, 2008

California leads fight against climate change on global level

Gov. Schwarzenegger signs a pact with heads of other states and provinces to cut greenhouse emissions. 'We have got to do something worldwide here,' he says.

November 20, 2008 - California formally moved to spread its can-do global warming gospel around the world, signing a declaration Wednesday with 11 other U.S. states and provinces or states in five other countries to help them slash their greenhouse gas emissions.

Fighting climate change shouldn't just go "nation by nation," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told a climate summit in Beverly Hills attended by more than 700 delegates from 19 countries. It must go "province by province. . . . We have got to do something worldwide here," he said. More >>>

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Obama promises leadership on climate change

WASHINGTON (AP) November 18 2008 — Calling climate change an urgent challenge, President-elect Barack Obama promised Tuesday that Washington would take a leading role in combating it in the United States and throughout the world. "My presidency will mark a new chapter in America's leadership on climate change," Obama said in a video message to governors and others attending a Los Angeles summit on the issue.

Said Obama: "I promise you this: When I am president, any governor who's willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House. Any company that's willing to invest in clean energy will have an ally in Washington. And any nation that's willing to join the cause of combating climate change will have an ally in the United States of America."

Scientists, environmentalists and government and industry officials were attending the two-day Governors' Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles, held ahead of a U.N. gathering in Poland next month.

Obama said he won't attend that conference but that he has asked Congress members who will to report back to him. "Once I take office, you can be sure that the United States will once again engage vigorously in these negotiations, and help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change," Obama said. More >>>

Friday, November 14, 2008

Give the rainforests our word and bond

As the Prince of Wales turns 60, he plans to unleash ‘the greatest public-private partnership yet'.

Faced with a global credit crunch, the governments of the world are coming together to act with urgency. But faced with a far more serious climate crunch, we have yet to show our mettle.

If we are to prevent dangerous and unpredictable climate change, global greenhouse emissions must have peaked by 2015 and be cut by 50-80 per cent from 2000 levels by 2050. So how, in only seven years, can we reverse the gathering emissions momentum? A key part of the answer lies in the rainforests - and the Prince of Wales's Rainforest Project.

Rainforests are critical because their destruction deals a double blow to our defence against climate change. Cutting them down damages the land's greatest carbon sink - trees are very efficient at sucking CO2 from the atmosphere. Not only that, deforestation releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year than all the world's cars, aircraft and ships combined. More >>>

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Climate change measures could ‘stimulate economies’

Brussels - November 12 2008 - Lord Nicholas Stern, the British economist who helped galvanise views on climate change, has derided as “muddled thinking” claims that the financial crisis would make it too costly for Europe to adopt ambitious plans to fight global warming.

Investments in clean energy technologies could help to better position European companies for the future while providing a much-needed stimulus to help revitalise slowing economies, he said.

“These two crises coming together give a fundamental opportunity, and it is only confused and muddled thinking that sets one against the other,” he said at a conference in Brussels.

His comments chime with Joaquín Almunia, the European Union’s monetary affairs commissioner, who Tuesday said Europe should try to limit the damage inflicted by the global financial crisis on its economy by accelerating structural reforms and the introduction of low-carbon technologies. More >>>

Monday, November 10, 2008

Climate Change, One Light Bulb at a Time?

Nov. 08, 2007 - If today's youth are supposed to be politically apathetic, more engaged in Facebook than the fate of the world, no one told Jessy Tolkan. The 26-year-old activist spent Nov. 2 to 5 in Washington at the Power Shift summit, where over 6,000 college students from every state in the country gathered to agitate for federal action on climate change.

For Tolkan, the executive director for the Energy Action Coalition, an umbrella group of youth-oriented environmental groups that helped organize the conference, Power Shift was "by far the most incredible thing that I have ever experienced in my life. I'm going to be running off that energy for a long time."

Energy — and results — is something that the campaign to create political action on climate change in the U.S. has often lacked. Over the past few years there has been a grassroots groundswell on global warming, but the focus has been on personal action, small behavioral changes individuals can make — or more often, buy — to reduce their impact on the Earth. It's the light bulb theory — switch your wasteful incandescent lights for more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, and you're doing your bit to save the planet.

But while individual action is important — and the increasing ubiquity of green consumerism is a sign that the business world is getting the environmental message — the sheer scale of the climate challenge is so overwhelming that only a worldwide revolution in the way we use energy will be enough to stave off the worst consequences. More >>>

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Stabilize at 350 ppm or risk ice-free planet, warn NASA, Yale, Sheffield, Versailles, Boston et al

The good news: We can avoid multimeter sea level rise, the loss of the inland glaciers that provide water to a billion people, rapid expansion of the subtropical deserts, and mass extinctions — each of which is all-but inevitable on our current path of unrestrained greenhouse gas emissions.

The not-so-good news: We will probably need an ultimate target of 350 ppm (or lower) for atmospheric carbon dioxide — if you accept the analysis of ten leading climate scientists from around the world.

And yes, the authors of “Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim?” in The Open Atmospheric Science Journal are painfully aware we’re already at 385 ppm and rising 2 ppm a year. That is why they propose the self-described “Herculean” task of phasing out coal use that does not capture CO2 over the next 20-25.” More >>>

Saturday, November 8, 2008

UN announces Beijing Declaration on climate change

BEIJING, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations released the Beijing Declaration here on Saturday, calling for strengthened international cooperation and improved technology transfers to battle climate change.

The declaration was issued at the end of a high-level conference that opened on Friday, co-organized by China and the UN, attended by more than 600 people including 30 ministerial officials and four UN agency heads. The document stated that international cooperation was very important, as climate change had affected every aspect of life and no country could tackle it alone.

A more comprehensive mechanism of international cooperation should be established to address the challenge, covering all stages of technology development, transfer and application, it said. The participants agreed the challenge should be addressed, based on "common but differentiated responsibilities" and respective abilities.
The event was held in the run-up to the next conference of the parties to the UN convention, to be held in Poznan of Poland next month. More >>>

Friday, November 7, 2008

Welcome to Reality, Mr. President-Elect

7 November 2008 - Our eight-year interlude from reality draws to a close, and the job of cleaning up begins. The trouble is, we're not just cleaning up after a failed US presidency. We're cleaning up after a two-century binge.

Barack Obama won an historic victory this week, and with it the right to take office under the most difficult circumstances since Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression. Maybe more difficult, because while both FDR and Obama had financial meltdowns to deal with, Obama also faces the meltdown meltdown - the rapid disintegration of the planet's climate system that threatens to challenge the very foundations of our civilization.

Do you think that sounds melodramatic? Let me give it to you from the abstract of a scientific paper written earlier this year by one of the people who now work for Mr. Obama, NASA scientist James Hansen. "If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleo-climate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 [in the atmosphere] will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm [parts per million] to at most 350 ppm." In other words, if we keep increasing carbon any longer, the earth itself will make our efforts moot. More >>>

Tax polluters for global warming funds: U.N. official

BEIJING (Reuters) - Nov 6, 2008 - The global financial gloom will make citizens of rich nations reluctant to use their taxes to fight global warming and any plan to help poor nations should make the polluters pay, a top U.N. climate official said.

His warning cast doubt on a Chinese proposal to ask the world's rich nations to devote up to 1 percent of their total economic worth to pay for cleaner expansion in the poor world.
"It is undeniable that the financial crisis will have an impact on the climate change negotiations," said Yvo de Boer, who heads the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat. More >>>

Sunday, November 2, 2008

U.N. chief urges climate change help despite slowdown

DHAKA (Reuters) - Sun Nov 2, 2008 - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urged developed countries not to neglect climate change as they tend to a global economic slowdown and called on rich nations to help poor countries prone to global warming.

"The leaders of the developed countries should not neglect the issue of global warming," he told a news conference at the end of his two-day visit to Bangladesh on Sunday.

"A one-metre rise in sea levels would displace 30 million Bangladeshis and deal a catastrophic blow to economic growth and development," Ban said.

Experts say climate change will hit Bangladesh's nearly 150 million people from all sides over the next 50 years with sea levels rising in the south, droughts in the north, river erosion as glaciers melt and disease risk growing with greater humidity. More >>>

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Climate Change and Human Rights

Last week Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) convened an open-ended consultation on the relationship between climate change and human rights in preparation of an OHCHR study on this subject due to be considered by the Human Rights Council at its tenth session in March 2009.

More than 150 representatives of States, Inter-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions and civil society organizations contributed to an engaging and fruitful discussion on the interface between climate change and human rights. The high quality of presentations made by expert panelists secured a substantive level of participation throughout the day. A number of these presentations are
now available on the OHCHR website at: More >>>

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Beijing to co-host high level conference on climate change in November

BEIJING, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- Almost 100 countries, international organizations and non-government organizations would attend the high-level conference on climate change next month, said the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) here Tuesday.

The Beijing High-Level Conference on Climate Change: Technology Development and Technology Transfer would be held Nov. 7-8 to discuss current development of environmentally sound technologies, and the demand of and obstructions in the transfer of such technologies, said Gao Guangsheng, a NDRC senior official at a press conference.

The meeting is co-hosted by China and the United Nations.

China would put forward its propositions on the establishment of a mechanism to promote international technology transfer at the conference, said Gao. More >>>

Monday, October 27, 2008

Risks of global warming greater than financial crisis-Stern

HONG KONG, Oct 27 (Reuters) - The risks of inaction over climate change far outweigh the turmoil of the global financial crisis, a leading climate change expert said on Monday, while calling for new fiscal spending tailored to low carbon growth.

"The risk consequences of ignoring climate change will be very much bigger than the consequences of ignoring risks in the financial system," said Nicholas Stern, a former British Treasury economist, who released a seminal report in 2006 that said inaction on emissions blamed for global warming could cause economic pain equal to the Great Depression.

"That's a very important lesson, tackle risk early," Stern told a climate and carbon conference in Hong Kong. More >>>

Friday, October 24, 2008

Global Green New Deal

Environmentally-Focused Investment Historic Opportunity for 21st Century Prosperity and Job Generation

UNEP Launches Green Economy Initiative to Get the Global Markets Back to Work

London/Nairobi, 22 October 2008 - Mobilizing and re-focusing the global economy towards investments in clean technologies and 'natural' infrastructure such as forests and soils is the best bet for real growth, combating climate change and triggering an employment boom in the 21st century.

The call was made today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and leading economists as they launched the Green Economy Initiative aimed at seizing an historic opportunity to bring about tomorrow's economy today.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "The financial, fuel and food crises of 2008 are in part a result of speculation and a failure of governments to intelligently manage and focus markets".More >>>

It's not too late to save planet: UN climate chief

October 24, 2008 - The head of the UN's peak scientific body on climate change believes it is still possible for the world to reach an agreement that will avoid the risk of catastrophic global warming.

Rajendra Pachauri's optimism about an accord is at odds with the Federal Government's adviser, Professor Ross Garnaut. Dr Pachauri said world attention on climate change would increase despite the current economic crisis, leading people to call for tougher action to keep global temperatures from rising above 2 to 2.4 degrees.

"If you look at parts of Africa, by 2020 there will be 75 million to 250 million people living under water stress on account of climate change," he said yesterday. "Are we going to ignore the welfare and, I would say, even the peace and stability of societies that are so vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and say 'No, we can't do it'?" More >>>

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Danish PM says 5 elements needed for new global climate change agreement

BEIJING, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said here on Thursday that five crucial elements would be needed for a new climate change agreement expected to be reached at the Copenhagen conference next year.

The first would be a long-term vision for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent in 2050 from the 1990 baseline, Rasmussen said at the first Chinese-Danish Climate Change Conference that opened here on Thursday.
The upcoming Conference of Parties (COP15) of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen is regarded as the final opportunity to reach a new agreement before the Kyoto Protocol expires.

All industrialized countries will have to commit to an ambitious medium-term goal, the second element, according to Rasmussen.
"Without clear commitments to reductions from the industrialized countries in a 10 to 15 year perspective, it will be difficult to achieve cost effective measures." More >>>

Monday, October 20, 2008

Global warming faster than expected, WWF says

Monday 20 October 2008 - The EU should prepare to respond with more swift and ambitious climate change policies as global warming is accelerating at a faster pace than previously thought, a new scientific report states.

The report, published by the WWF, uses the first new scientific data on climate change since the publication of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report in 2007. It shows that global warming is in fact gathering pace faster than the IPCC forecast.

The report reveals that global sea levels are now expected to rise by more than twice the IPCC's maximum estimate of 0.59m by the end of the century, putting vast coastal areas in danger, while higher temperatures have already reduced global yields of wheat, maize and barley. Furthermore, the Arctic Ocean is now losing ice up to 30 years ahead of previous projections, according to the WWF. More >>>

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Eying rainwater harvesting as water crisis deepens

A girl collecting rainwater from an underground reservoir in Mirpur Photo: STAR
Dhaka - October 20 2008: Harvesting rainwater on the rooftop can be a possible alternative solution to acute water crisis in Dhaka city, experts say.

Many agencies, including the Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) are studying the feasibility of rainwater harvesting as alternative source of water and a way to recharge the depleted groundwater table.

Mizanur Rahman, senior hydrogeologist, Institute of Water Modelling (IWM), currently conducting a study said, “Rainwater harvesting has immense possibility in Dhaka city. Bangladesh is a country of heavy monsoon. The water that goes down the drain and causes waterlogging every year can serve a better purpose.”

The capital city averages nearly 1,700 to 2,200 mm rainfall per year while the nationwide average is around 2,200 to 2800. Monsoon usually lasts from May to October and there is occasional rainfall also in November.

Dhaka city is situated on around 370 sq km of land with a roof area of 75 sq km as there are around 6,75,000 concrete houses in the city. With the current amount of rainfall IWM estimates that around 149160 million litres of water can be harvested during the monsoon. More >>>

Saturday, October 18, 2008

California Maps a Plan to Slow Down Global Warming

The state's plan could be a model for other states, or even the federal government 

SAN FRANCISCO— October 16, 2008 - The presidential candidates certainly paid lip service to tackling the problem of climate change during their debate last night. But what would it actually take to slow down—or even reverse—global warming?

California lawmakers tried to answer that question two years ago when they passed the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, a first-of-its-kind law that spelled out the state's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In the absence of any federal regulation, the law ordered the state to lower its carbon emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020, a 25 percent reduction. "We simply must do everything in our power to slow down global warming before it's too late," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said at the time, thumbing his nose, many thought, at a White House that was dragging its feet on climate change.

This week, the California Air Resources Board, the state agency tasked with implementing the law, released the first details of exactly what the state must do to achieve its global warming goals. In a 142-page report many experts believe could serve as a policy template for other states—and even the federal government—the board provides specific estimates of exactly how and where the state could have an impact on climate change. More >>>

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Report says Arctic temperatures at record highs

WASHINGTON (AP) 16 October 2008 — Autumn temperatures in the Arctic are at record levels, the Arctic Ocean is getting warmer and less salty as sea ice melts, and reindeer herds appear to be declining, researchers reported Thursday.

"Obviously, the planet is interconnected, so what happens in the Arctic does matter" to the rest of the world, Jackie Richter-Menge of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H., said in releasing the third annual Arctic Report Card.
The report, compiled by 46 scientists from 10 countries, looks at a variety of conditions in the Arctic.
The region has long been expected to be among the first areas to show impacts from global warming, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is largely a result of human activities adding carbon dioxide and other gases to the atmosphere. More >>>

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hurricanes and Climate Change: NCAR Launches Intensive Study into Future Hurricane Risk

Zooming in on future climate.

October 08, 2008-- NCAR scientists are using a combination of weather and climate computer models to simulate the atmosphere in three dimensions at resolutions ranging from about 20 miles across a large part of the Northern Hemisphere to as fine as 2.5 miles in targeted areas of North America (red boxes).
This strategy enables scientists to forecast future climate in detail for specific regions without overloading existing supercomputing resources.

BOULDER—The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), working with federal agencies and universities as well as the insurance and energy industries, has launched an intensive study to examine how global warming will influence hurricanes in the next few decades. The goal of the project is to better inform coastal communities, offshore drilling operations, and other interests that could be affected by changes in hurricanes.

The project will use a combination of global climate and regional weather models, run on one of the world's most powerful supercomputers, to look at future hurricane activity in unprecedented detail. Researchers are targeting the hurricane-prone Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea to assess the likely changes, between now and the middle of the century, in the frequency, intensity, and paths of these powerful storms. Initial results are expected early next year. More >>>

UN: crisis must not stop climate change action

WARSAW, Poland (AP) 14 October 2008 — Environment ministers agreed Tuesday that the world financial crisis must not halt efforts to combat global warming, a top United Nations climate official said.

Officials from the U.S., China, Canada, India, the European Union and more than 30 other countries met for two days of informal talks in Warsaw ahead of a climate conference in December.
"There was a very strong consensus that the current financial turmoil should not be an excuse to slow down action on climate change," Yvo de Boer, executive secretary for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, told The Associated Press after the talks.
"Many ministers said that addressing climate change can deliver important economic benefits that are important in the light of the current financial situation as well," de Boer added.
Scientists say the emission of carbon and other greenhouse gases, mostly from fossil fuels, must peak within 10 to 15 years and then drop sharply to avoid potentially catastrophic changes in the climate. More >>>

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Inconvenient truths about global warming

VENICE -- October 14, 2008 -- I saw a colorful clothing advertisement on my way here. It said "global warming ready," and showed this city's famous San Marco square filled with parrots instead of pigeons. But if global warming proceeds at the current pace, the parrots of a newly tropical Europe will fly by overhead. For Venice could be well under water in future centuries.

Refugees fleeing the invasion of Germanic tribes in the 5th century could not have imagined when they first settled along this enchanted lagoon that their savior, the sea, could become their worst enemy.

Nowhere are the problems more obvious - the fragile lagoon against the background of chimneys spewing greenhouse gases on the mainland. It is not just a problem of industry lowering the water table that is causing Venice to sink. Rising sea levels worldwide will also have to be accounted for. Besides physical barriers to close the lagoon to floods, engineers here are seeking ways to help nature itself regenerate land. More >>>

Saturday, October 11, 2008

An Accurate Picture Of Ice Loss In Greenland

ScienceDaily (Oct. 10, 2008) — Researchers from TU Delft joined forces with the Center for Space Research (CSR) in Austin, Texas, USA, to develop a method for creating an accurate picture of Greenland’s shrinking ice cap. On the strength of this method, it is now estimated that Greenland is accountable for a half millimetre-rise in the global sea level per year.

The research was based on data from the German-American GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellites, two satellites that have been orbiting the earth behind each other since mid-2002. Deviations in the earth’s gravitational field cause fluctuations in the distance between the satellites, which is measured to a precision of a millionth of a metre. As gravity is directly related to mass, these data can be used to plot changes in the earth’s water balance, such as the disappearance of the ice caps.
More >>>

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

NASA Scientist Says Global Warming Danger Amounts to 'Planetary Emergency'

October 8 2008 ; NASA climate scientist James Hansen was among the first to alert the public to the dangers of climate change. He did so at a congressional hearing conducted by then-Senator Tim Wirth.

"In 1988, he stepped to the front of the line of the scientific community to proclaim a human fingerprint on the earth's rising temperature," Wirth said. "It was a brave, a lonely leadership role he played then and he hasn't stopped for one day since."

At a Washington event recalling that hearing, Hansen said the world has long passed dangerous levels for greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

"We really have reached a point of a planetary emergency," Hanson said. "And it is because there are tipping points in the climate system which we are very close to and which, if we pass, the dynamics of the system can take over. So the momentum of the system will carry you to very large changes which are out your control." More >>>

Monday, October 6, 2008

Now is the time to tackle global warming - Stern

Tuesday October 7 2008: Lord Stern of Brentford has suggested the credit crunch might provide an opportunity to invest in measures to tackle global warming as a way of stimulating economic growth.

Speaking to the Guardian ahead of a speech to launch a new climate change economics centre at the London School of Economics, the author of the government's influential report on climate change, said there were "two kinds of danger" because of the current fears of recession.

"One [is] people can only concentrate on a limited number of things at the same time, and the second is people will be sensitive to cost increases, and those will have to be managed carefully," he said. "There's a danger: it needs leadership."

But, he said, the current problems could help boost investment in tackling climate change because they have highlighted the dangers of not tackling risks early enough, and could create much more international cooperation. More >>>

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Energizing Investors and Inovators to Think Outside the Grid

10.02.2008 “The issue of our time is the combination of energy security and climate change,” said former Congressman Sherwood Boehlert at “Thinking Outside the Grid: An Aggressive Approach to Climate and Energy,” a September 23, 2008, forum co-sponsored by Wilson Center On the Hill and the Environmental Change and Security Program.

Boehlert noted that the energy security-climate change nexus has received more attention lately, due to record gas prices; successful advertisement campaigns like that of Texas oil magnate-turned-wind farm entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens; and bestselling books like Thomas Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How It Can Renew America. More >>>

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Prince Charles: World is not acting quickly enough over climate change

30/09/2008 - He said the clock of climate change was ticking faster towards midnight.

"We are simply not reacting quickly enough and we cannot be anything less than courageous and revolutionary in our approach to tackling climate change.

"If we are not, the result will be catastrophic for all of us, but with the poorest in our world hit the hardest," he said in an interview in Weather, the magazine of the Royal Meteorological Society of which he is the patron.

"There are some difficult questions that we must ask ourselves. Do we really understand the dynamics of a world in which energy and food security will become real issues for everyone? More >>>

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Methane: The Ticking Time Bomb

Dec 15 2004: The Arctic Council's [recent] report on the effects of global warming in the far north paints a grim picture: global floods, extinction of polar bears and other marine mammals, collapsed fisheries. But it ignored a ticking time bomb buried in the Arctic tundra.

There are enormous quantities of naturally occurring greenhouse gasses trapped in ice-like structures in the cold northern muds and at the bottom of the seas. These ices, called clathrates, contain 3,000 times as much methane as is in the atmosphere. Methane is more than 20 times as strong a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.

Now here's the scary part. A temperature increase of merely a few degrees would cause these gases to volatilize and "burp" into the atmosphere, which would further raise temperatures, which would release yet more methane, heating the Earth and seas further, and so on. There's 400 gigatons of methane locked in the frozen arctic tundra - enough to start this chain reaction - and the kind of warming the Arctic Council predicts is sufficient to melt the clathrates and release these greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. More >>>

Sunday, September 21, 2008

U.S. agriculture squeezed by demand, climate

ST. LOUIS, Sept 21 (Reuters) - U.S. agriculture faces the daunting task of growing enough crops to meet the demands of both a hungry world and the booming new biofuels industry while reducing its impact on climate change.

That formidable challenge hung over discussions this week at a U.S. soybean industry conference that chewed over topics from biodiesel fuels to agriculture's own greenhouse gases.

Agriculture was seen by some as a boon, producing alternative fuels that can reduce the man-made emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide cited by most scientists as the prime mover in global climate change. More>>>

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Region could save billions if more energy efficient

September 16, 2008- GEORGETOWN, Guyana: Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, has praised Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo's initiative on climate change, saying that it was "one of the most optimistic developments" on the issue.

A press release from the Government Information Agency (GINA) stated that Prince Charles made these comments in his address to almost 300 of London's most influential investors and representatives from some of the world's largest companies at a recent meeting. More >>>

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wealthy nations’ failure to mitigate climate change violates rights in developing countries

15 September 2008: Human rights abuse does not only happen in times of conflict. In its report “Climate Wrongs and Human Rights” released recently, a major civil society group Oxfam International said that the lackluster response of industrialized countries to climate change mitigation is another ticking bomb for human rights violations in developing nations.

“In failing to tackle climate change with urgency, rich countries are effectively violating the human rights of millions of the world’s poorest people,” Oxfam stated.

The report stressed that the industrialized countries’ lack of commitment to clean up their own backyard will hamper the worldwide effort to keep global temperature from going beyond the critical threshold of 2ºC, the ideal temperature in which climate change could be kept at bay. More >>>

Friday, September 12, 2008

Currently, rainforests are worth more dead than alive

Why the West should put money in the trees. Guyana's President Bharat Jagdeo explains how Guyana's forrests can contribute to carbon sequestration and mitigate global warming.

In 2006, Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo outlined an offer to place almost the entirety of Guyana's rainforest under international supervision as part of the world's battle against climate change. In the Green Room this week, President Jagdeo sets out his views on how to reduce the 18% of greenhouse gas emissions caused by tropical deforestation.

Imagine a business which invested 80% of its profits in products with the lowest rate of return. Is this business destined to succeed? Unlikely. Yet global efforts to combat climate change bear a worrying similarity. The Kyoto Protocol has resulted in the emergence of a more than US$60bn (£34bn) carbon market as the world's main mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. More >>>