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.
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[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 JoaquĆ­n 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 >>>