Archive for Politics
www.telegraph.co.uk 10th February 2011
The 280ft wind turbine in a business park near Reading has received £600,000 from the government in subsidies since it began producing electricity in 2005. However, since then it has been running on an average of 17% capacity. Last year, the turbine produced £100,000 worth of energy put received £130,000 in subsidies (£48 for every MWh generated). A spokesman for the wind turbines owner Ecotricity said: ”The turbine is designed to power the business park and has been doing a good job. They are happy with it and we are happy with it.” The news comes amid an effort in government to make sure wind farms are only built in areas with enough wind for them to make economic sense.
www.nytimes.com 6th January 2011
The new Republican governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, has scrapped two environmental laws claiming they were ‘burdensome for industry and harmful to the state’s economy’. One of these laws required 3% annual cuts to state greenhouse gas emissions and the other aimed to regulate the discharge of waste from dairies in the southern part of the state. Governor Martinez, who received thousands of dollars from oil and gas interests, does not believe that ‘science has clearly established a link between climate change and human activity’. She also dismissed most of the members of the state’s Environmental Improvement Board claiming: “Unfortunately, the majority of E.I.B. members have made it clear that they are more interested in advancing political ideology than implementing common-sense policies that balance economic growth with responsible stewardship.” Some have claimed that her actions, both in scrapping the laws and firing the EIB members, is illegal. Governor Martinez’s actions goes against the current trend in southwestern US states as governors in California and Arizona are firmly backing cleaner sources of energy.
www.telegraph.co.uk 11th December 2010
Quoted from source:
‘The cause of the major political story of last week – the row over tuition fees, students rioting and all – was, as we all know, “public spending cuts”. But how much money does the Government actually hope to save on tuition fees? If the immediate problem is our massive state deficit, it seems odd that the Government should risk such unpopularity, not for any immediate saving, but in the hope that it will get the money back over the next 30 years, as students can afford to repay it. In the short term, the Government’s own projection as to how much it will save is that the funding of university tuition will be cut by £2.9 billion by 2014. As it happens, £2.9 billion is the sum ring-fenced, by the same public spending review, to be given to developing countries to help them fight global warming with windmills and solar panels. It is also slightly less than the £3 billion by which our public debt is rising every week. These much-vaunted “cuts” are not all we are led to believe.’
www.nytimes.com 10th December 2010
Ten years ago the city of Kristiangrad in Sweden vowed to shove off its dependence on fossil fuels completely. Today, with a population of 80,000, the city and its surrounding county effectively uses no oil, gas, or coal for heating and electricity, even during the chilly winters. This has not been achieved by renewable energies such as solar or wind though, but through the burning of bio-gas generated from waste. Everything from food waste to manure, cooking oil, and wood waste is converted to a form of methane in a plant outside of the city, which can then be used to generate energy, whether it be for heating or bio-fuels for cars. Gas is also collected from sewage ponds and old landfills. Although bio-gas generators are not uncommon in Europe, with 5,000 in Germany alone, most are used on a small-scale, particularly on farms. Kristiangrad is one of the first efforts for an ‘across-the-board regional energy makeover’ and it has succeeded on reducing CO2 emissions by a quarter in a decade.
www.bbc.co.uk 11th December 2010
A compromise has been reached at the climate summit in Cancun. A draft paper drawn up by the hosts of the summit, Mexico, found unexpected support among the countries that have caused the biggest problems in finding a successor to the Kyoto treaty, namely China, Japan, and the USA. As the spokespeople of each of these three stood up to endorse the paper, which states that carbon reductions are necessary and also establishes a fund to help poorer countries in their fight against the effects of global warming, other delegates cheered. The Green Climate Fund will spend $100 billion each year on developing low-carbon technologies in poorer nations as well as investing in infrastructure related to tackling the effects of climate change, such as flooding. Also in the paper are parameters to tackle deforestation. However, the deal is a lot less than many hoped for. Although a step up from the disastrous Copenhagen summit last year, it is unsure whether the Cancun deal will be legally binding. Tara Rao, senior policy adviser with WWF, is optimistic however. “There’s enough in it that we can work towards next year’s meeting in South Africa to get a legally binding agreement there,” she said. Bolivia was the most outspoken critic of the deal, with the President reportedly stating the agreement was ‘ecocide and genocide’. The Bolivian delegate has claimed that the deal will still amount to a rise in global temperatures of over 4 degrees C.
www.boston.com 6th December 2010
Quoted from source:
‘The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a global warming pollution case filed by environmental groups and eight states, including Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut. In a 2004 lawsuit, the groups claimed American Electric Power Co. and four other electric power corporations that at the time were the U.S.’s five largest emitters of greenhouse gases were contributing to a public nuisance: Global warming. A New York federal district court ruled against the groups in 2005 but an appeals court overturned that decision last year. Oral arguments are expected in the spring according to Matthew Pawa, a Massachusetts lawyer representing some of the environmental groups.’
www.wsj.com 2nd December 2010
Major retailers in the US including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. are fighting against a new federal law that forces them to reveal whether store-goods contain minerals from war-torn central Africa. Metals such as gold, tin, tantalum, and tungsten from countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo have been blamed of prolonging conflict by giving rebel groups an accessible source of income. The requirement, which is part of the Dodd-Frank financial law passed in July this year, forces the retailers who use such minerals to prove that no part of their acquisition benefits rebel groups. Those companies that verify the source of their materials can bear the label “DRC Conflict Free”. Those that don’t may continue selling but face public embarrassment. Major retailers, such as Wal-Mart, sell private-label goods made by other companies so the retailer claims it should be exempt from the law as it has no direct control over the manufacturing process. Other companies have complained that sometimes it is very difficult to ascertain where raw materials come from due to the high number of intermediaries involved. Others have stated that it is also difficult to know who controls transit routes in central Africa as territory is in constant flux. The law, which had bipartisan support in Congress, is an attempt by the US government to bring corporate pressure on to rebel finances. Critics have long claimed that the 15 year conflict has received little attention from the West, resulting in $185 million being raised in 2008 alone for rebel groups selling the four minerals to western markets.
www.bbc.co.uk 6th December 2010
The latest round of talks at the UN Climate summit in Cancun has centred around the 1 gigaton of CO2 emitted by the shipping industry. Shipping emissions are currently exempt from national carbon accounts leading to uncertainty about how they can be reduced. The Carbon War Room, which was co-founded by Sir Richard Branson, has proposed a solution, which has so far the backing of Papua New Guinea alone. The idea dictates that ships be charged different fees for docking depending on how much greenhouse gas they admit. To help the process along, the Carbon War Room has published an online tool grading 60,000 vessels on their emissions, complied mostly from data of the International Maritime Organisation. The effects of the tool are two fold. Not only will companies be allowed to see the emissions of their carrier ships, thereby being able to choose a less polluting ship, but also governments will be able to use it if they decide to introduce the carbon tariffs at ports. The Carbon War Room, a non-profit organisation created to encourage business to take a leading role in the fight against climate change, has claimed that the shipping industry could reduce its emissions by 30% by improving efficiency alone.
www.guardian.co.uk 3rd December 2010
Plan: To hold emissions to a maximum temperature rise of 2C.
Progress: Little. But many rich countries only interested in implementing unambitious Copenhagen accord.
Outlook: Bleak. Hard to see how big emitters like the US will compromise to greater cuts.
Plan: Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (Redd). To set up an international forest and land use agreement which will allow countries to offset carbon emissions by protecting forests – and locking away emissions – in developing countries.
Progress: Little. Informal discussions taking place but Saudi Arabia is hostile.
Outlook: Good. No final agreement but all parties determined to deliver one.
Plan: To raise $100bn a year by 2020 for developing countries affected by climate change, and set up a giant carbon fund.
Progress: Good. Financiers confident money can be found. Some of the key elements like governance of the fund and allocation of more money for adapting to the impacts of climate change – such as flooding – are heading in the right direction.
Outlook: Close to agreement. This could be one of the deliverables at Cancún. Developing countries will have to agree to a large tranche of risky market-driven money rather than guaranteed public funds, but look like keeping control over the funds.
Plan: To reach agreement so all countries have access to new low-carbon technologies.
Progress: Talk of regional or international centres to provide advice and information.
Outlook: Good but probably to be concluded in 2011.
Plan: To get rich countries to sign up to extending the Kyoto protocol and state their plans for emissions cuts.
Outlook: Critical. Kyotyo protocol is totemic issue for developing countries who say it is the only legally binding treaty forcing rich countries to cut emissions.
Plan: Close loopholes in negotiating texts that could mean a rise emissions.
Progress: None. EU, Australia, Russia New Zealand and Canda are trying to open more loopholes.
Outlook: No prospects for agreement.
Plan: Commit to an international program by which countries would monitor, report and verify one another’s progress on emission reduction commitments and climate aid pledges.
Progress: China and the US have indicated they are prepared to compromise, and an Indian compromise proposal on self-financed actions at home is shaping up as a deal-maker. Countries are now discussing setting up a new oversight body for long term finance.
Outlook: Significant steps so far suggest there could be a breakthrough.
www.boston.com 26th November 2010
The non-profit organisation Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, one of the foremost opposition groups to the USA’s first offshore windfarm, has fallen into debt. After raising, on average, $3.6 million a year from 2003-5 to campaign against the renewable energy farm and its owners Cape Wind. However, by last year funding was down to $1.4 million following the groups defeat in Washington and this year, according to December tax returns, the Alliance was $500,000 in the red. The Alliance president Audra Parker claims that the lack of funding is due to both the length of the fight (almost a decade now) and the recession. Ms. Parker has insisted that the Alliance will continue to protest against the windfarm, which, they claim, will destroy the Nantucket Sound in Massachusetts and cost more for the tax-payer. In reality the windfarm will only add less than $2 to the average monthly energy bills on nearby residents but in comparative terms Cape Wind power will double the cost of electricity from fossil fuels. Although the group has around 5,000 members in the Massachusetts area, when funding dipped it relied upon just nine wealthy donors who contributed about $1 million. One of these is William I. Koch, the fossil fuel magnate, who donated $100,000 to cover the cost of the former Alliance president Glenn G. Wattley. Mr Koch also gave $1 million to a lobbying firm to persuade government officials to drop the Cape Wind plans.
www.telegraph.co.uk 29th November 2010
A series of papers published by the Royal Society has revealed that scientists believe current plans to tackle climate change are not enough. Organisations such as Oxford University and the Met Office have contributed to the publication which states that unless more drastic measures are taken global temperatures could rise as much as 4 degrees centigrade by the 2060s. This would cause catastrophic floods, drought, and mass migrations across the world. One drastic example of the severity of the situation, according to the contributors, is from Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, who believes that the only way to reduce global emissions enough, while continuing to allow poorer nations to grow, is to stop growth in the developed world for twenty years. This would mean people in countries like the UK and USA would have to live less carbon intensive lifestyles. One way this could be achieved is by adopting a strict rationing system much like that of world war two. Electricity restrictions and less food from abroad are examples of this measure. Other authors wrote that the aim of reducing emissions by 50% relative to 1990 levels by 2050, the target the current climate summit in Cancun hopes to secure, is not enough and will not prevent temperature sensitive ecosystems such as coral reefs from being wiped out.
www.guardian.co.uk 28th November 2010
A new report from the Friends of the Earth has assessed the UN’s Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) pilot schemes. The paper, the first of its kind, has revealed that ‘banks, airlines, charitable foundations, carbon traders, conservation groups, gas companies and palm plantation companies have also scrambled into forestry protection’. The release of the document has been timed to coincide with the UN sponsored climate talks taking place in Cancun, Mexico, today. Although few governments believe that a binding resolution to reduce emissions will be created at the summit, Chris Huhne, the UK’s climate change secretary, has expressed optimism that efforts will be made to curb deforestation. Although REDD is the biggest effort yet to halt the destruction of the world’s forests, critics say that it amounts to privatisation of natural resources. For example, the Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell, the Russian gas giant Gazprom, and the Clinton Foundation have united to invest in a 100,000ha area of peat swamp in Indonesia that will prevent 75 million tons of carbon being released over 30 years. Similarly, an investment of $10 million will secure Merrill Lynch , the conservation group Fauna and Flora International, and the Australian carbon trading company an area of 750,000ha of forest in Aceh province, Indonesia. This will generate around $430 million over 30 years. It is predicted that, if an agreement over carbon off-setting and deforestation is achieved in Cancun, a REDD rush could see as much as $30 billion a year flowing from wealthy nations to poorer ones who have large areas of forest left.
www.independent.co.uk 27th November 2010
The latest rounds in UN sponsored talks on climate change are set to take start in two days time (29th November) in the holiday resort of Cancun in Mexico. Spectators hope that a viable alternative to the Kyoto Pact will be put into place following last year’s failure at Copenhagen. The summit will be hosted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 194 parties are due to attend. The two main objectives are as follows:
1) ACTION BEYOND 2012
- launching a new financial vehicle, unofficially dubbed the Green Fund, to help poor countries cope with the impact of climate change. It could be the main source for aid, promised in Copenhagen, that could reach 100 billion dollars a year by 2020.
- setting financial encouragement to tropical countries so that they preserve their forests rather than cut them down. Logging and land clearance have accounted for between 12 and 25 percent of global emissions annually over the past 15 years.
- encouraging the transfer of clean technology from rich countries to poor economies.
- agreeing ways to measure and monitor countries’ actions, including emissions curbs.
2) FUTURE OF THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
The renewal of greenhouse gas reduction targets. This is difficult due to the lack of support from the USA and the absence of developing economies like Brazil, China, and India. Even the European Union, which saved Kyoto following the USA’s refusal to ratify the treaty in 2001, is doubtful that such as renewal is possible.
e360.yale.edu 23rd November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Chinese officials say international climate talks next week in Mexico will succeed only if wealthy countries are willing to share technologies and funds to help developing nations reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While Western nations had pledged at last year’s climate summit in Copenhagen to pay into a $30 billion fund to help developing countries deal with the effects of climate change, details of the fund have not been finalized. Xie Zhenhua, a senior Chinese climate envoy, said that developed nations must cut their emissions “massively” to allow development space for emerging nations. China’s tough negotiating stance comes as a new report shows that emissions from China and other developing countries are having an increasingly significant impact globally. According to the annual Global Carbon Project report, released this week, global carbon emissions dropped only 1.3 percent in 2009, far below the projected 3 percent decrease, largely as a result of emissions increases in China. Greenhouse gas emissions in China reached 7.5 billion tons in 2009, a 9 percent increase.’
www.nationalgeographic.com 19th November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘When the Navy F/A-18 jet called the Green Hornet takes off over the Chesapeake Bay on Earth Day, it will aim to break a barrier that has proven far more durable than the speed of sound. The twin-engine tactical aircraft is prepared on April 22 to make a supersonic flight on biofuel—its tanks filled 50 percent with oil refined from the crushed seeds of the flowering Camelina sativa plant. The test flight at the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River, Maryland will be a milestone in the Navy’s efforts to reduce its reliance on petroleum, and perhaps, in the elusive search for an alternative fuel for aviation. The event is meant to showcase the Pentagon’s efforts to increase use of renewable energy, not only as a climate change initiative but to protect the military from energy price fluctuations and dependence on foreign oil. When President Obama announced his offshore drilling and energy security plan last month at Andrews Air Force Base, he used the Green Hornet as a backdrop. As naval aviation’s biggest fuel consumer, the F/A-18 Super Hornet is a fitting test aircraft. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has set a that half of naval energy consumption will come from alternative sources by 2020. A “Great Green Fleet,” to sail by 2016, will include nuclear ships, as well as surface combatants with hybrid electric power systems using biofuel and biofuel-powered aircraft. But for now, the Navy is seeking only to certify its first blend of biofuel and petroleum, by showing it can be used for the Super Hornet’s full range of flight operations. That includes demonstrating that the alternative fuel can deliver the power needed to fly faster than the speed of sound (343 meters per second).’
Read more on the US military’s attempts to move away from fossil fuels in LMV’s published editorial ‘The Army of the Sun: the US Military’s Move Away from Fossil Fuels’.
www.guardian.co.uk 23rd November 2010
Indonesia has found a cunning way of felling its remaining areas of forest, replacing it with palm oil and biofuel crops, and then claiming $1 billion from the UN in climate aid, according to papers discovered by Greenpeace. The island nation is able to do this due to ambiguous terminology used in the UN’s ambitious forestry reform program REDD (Reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation). Terms such as ‘degraded’ and ‘forest’ are not clearly defined meaning the Indonesian government can claim natural forest is ‘degraded’ and the replacement plantations are ‘forests’. Internal government documentation from Jakarta states that 60 million hectares, or an area five times the size of England, of forest are earmarked for development in the next 20 years. This includes 50% of the country’s Orangutan habitat and 80% of its carbon-rich peat land. Such development would lead to a trebling of paper pulp production by 2015 and a doubling of palm oil production by 2020. This comes despite Indonesia’s promise to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26%. REDD is an ambitious policy that would pay countries to replant trees and restore land.
Read Greenpeace’s report here and please spread the word.
www.nytimes.com 21st November 2010
In 2007, Richard Branson, supported by Al Gore (pictured), set up the Virgin Earth Challenge, a prize of $25 million to anyone who could come up with a process that would extract significant amounts of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Despite over 2,500 applicants submitting their ideas, four years on and the prize still has not been awarded. One reason for the delay is that several of the more effective methods of reducing global warming create further problems relating to environmental and social health. For example, geo-engineering, the process whereby mankind deliberately manipulates the environment, includes processes such as spraying sulphur particles at high altitude to minimise the effect of the sun’s rays or using the oceans to absorb more CO2. Mr Branson described these tactics as ‘risky’. Another problem is that none of the processes submitted to the Virgin Earth Challenge are ready for large-scale deployment. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is exempt from the competition as it captures gases before they have a chance to enter the atmosphere. Due to the lack of progress on the matter, Mr Branson and his team are thinking about setting up an interim strategy that will help various promising ideas along in the development process.
www.guardian.co.uk 19th November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Until recently she was best known for her international best-seller Wetlands, a frank debut novel about the sex life of an 18-year-old that has been described as everything from literary eroticism to undiluted pornography. Now Charlotte Roche, a 32-year-old, British-born German TV presenter, has found further fame after sending an invitation to the German president. “I’m offering to go to bed with him if he refuses to sign into law the extension of the country’s nuclear power stations,” she told Der Spiegel. Whether or not she is now embarrassed by her own daring – perhaps unlikely given her well-documented record of thriving on provocation – Roche refused a request to talk further on the topic, saying she had said all that needed to be said. In a statement, however, she explained that her overture to Christian Wulff was a matter of life and death, driven by fear for her own future and that of her children. “My husband is in agreement. Now it’s just up to the first lady to agree to it,” she said, offering an added incentive: “I am tattooed.” At stake is the future of nuclear energy in Germany, which has become the source of furious debate following the recent announcement by the government of Angela Merkel that it was planning to extend the lifespan of the country’s 17 nuclear power stations by a further 12 years. Merkel was accused of kowtowing to the powerful energy sector, which is set to make billions from the deal, and of threatening the future of the renewable energy industry.’
www.telegraph.co.uk 19th November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, said aid money will be used in a new way to tackle climate change, as well as funding health and education. In a controversial move, the Coalition Government will be using tax-payer’s money to encourage private investors to put further funds towards ‘green’ development projects. However aid agencies and charities argue it is dangerous to involve big business in aid because they will only help people while there is the potential for profit. Mr Mitchell announced two public-private partnership projects in Africa and Asia to stimulate investment in renewable energy schemes. The UK Government has already put aside £2.9 billion of the aid budget to tackle climate change over the next four years. From this grants will be put in a central pot and then matched by private investors, renewable energy projects can then dip into the fund to develop hydro-electric plants and other schemes. Once the money is flowing private investors will see that there is profit to be made from investing in solar panels and other technologies for poor people. A ‘green market’ will be created for the first time in some of the most ‘energy poor’ areas of the world. Initial modelling of the fund estimates £9 of private investment could be raised for every £1 put in by the UK Government. DfID estimates that, over 25 years, the project could generate energy for millions of rural homes, create 60,000 jobs and save 150 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. The project is all part of international efforts to fight climate change by making sure that developing countries, which will produce the most carbon in the future, grow in a green way.’
www.guardian.co.uk 18th November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘It’s very nearly a wrap for Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose career as governor of California will come sputtering to an end in January with his approval rating in the 20s, the state budget shortfall at $25bn (£16bn), and unemployment at nearly 13%. But, like the action heroes he has so often played, the man they called the governator is already working on a comeback. In what is likely his last performance on a world stage as governor, Schwarzenegger this week launched the R20 climate network, an alliance of regional leaders who have pledged to work together to fight climate change. Schwarzenegger is the “founding father” of the new venture, a self-appointed global champion in the war against climate change.’
To read more about Arnold’s decision in the Guardian, click here.
www.nytimes.com 9th November 2010
Departing New York governor David Paterson has left his successors an ambitious plan of reducing the city’s carbon emissions 80% by the middle of the century. The plan follows on from a ten month consultation with ‘more than 100 experts from energy companies, utilities and labor and environmental groups’. It includes ‘doubling the state’s sources of renewable energy by 2030, setting stricter efficiency standards for all buildings, shifting private transportation toward electric vehicles and supporting the creation of jobs in research on energy technology and in clean energy industries.’ Although not legally binding, aides to Mr. Paterson hope that his successor Andrew Cuomo will use the plan it as a guide in developing shift to clean energy. Fortunately, the details of the plan are broadly in line with Mr. Cuomo’s energy policy during his campaign and both men are democrats. Mr. Paterson has not always been seen as a particular pro-Green politician however. He cut the budget to the NY Department of Environmental Conservation and then fired its head, Alexander Grannis, when he protested. The governor has also dipped into environmental funds to fill in the state’s budget deficit.
Public comments on the document, at nyclimatechange.us/InterimReport.cfm, are being accepted for 90 days.
The coalition government in the UK has come under fire for its apparent failure to live up to its grandiose claims of being the ‘greenest government ever’. With the latest budget cuts affecting DEFRA more than any other government department apart from the treasury it seems that the Con-Lib coalition is, in fact, doing the opposite. In order to make up the shortfall of funds, DEFRA may be forced to sell off as much as half of the nation’s forests. The government has also dropped its promise to reduce illegal timber imports, has refused to stop drilling in the North Sea following the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, plans to reduce the number of environmental quangos from 92 to 39, and has cut funding on the ‘Warm Front Scheme’ that provides grants for insulation for the less well-off. However, steps are being taken to radically overhaul the UK’s energy use. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Energy and Climate Minister Greg Parker is asked about the details of the plan and how it essential for the nation’s future. Read the full interview here at e360.yale.edu.
www.independent.co.uk 10th November 2010
The British government has admitted that its policy of doubling the amount of biofuels used in the country by 2020 will actually increase carbon emissions. The UK is signed up to an EU agreement that states that signatories have to source 10% of their transport fuel from biofuels by that date. The problem is that a large amount of land is needed to grow these fuel crops. It has been estimated that in order for the target to be met, an area of between the size of Belgium and the Republic of Ireland needs to be cultivated. But the carbon dioxide given off by clearing the vegetation off this land will, potentially, be more than the savings made by replacing fossil fuels with biofuels. As Europe does not have enough land to satisfy this demand, the crops are mostly grown in other countries such as Brazil and Indonesia (pictured). A study by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) has stated that the deforestation will produce as much as 56 million tons of CO2 per year, or the equivalent of between 12 and 26 million extra cars on European roads by 2020. Although the EU has banned biofuels bought from new land, i.e.: forested land cleared to grow them, biofuel companies have got around this law by buying up existing fields thereby forcing the farmers to clear land for their own means. This is known as Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC). The results of the IEEP study has caused the British government to reassess its position on the subject. Ministers are now urging the European Commission to rethink its plans on biofuels, a move welcomed by environmental groups.
www.nationalgeographic.com 3rd November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), the eight-year-old platform where power companies, manufacturers, and others agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and traded the credits they earned for their success, will shut down that program at the end of this year. That’s when the current commitments made by the CCX market participants were set to expire, but those involved in the program agree that their efforts would have continued if there were any prospect of congressional climate change action on the horizon. Although advocates of U.S. action on climate change could take away some good news from the results of the November 3 election—most notably, Californians rejected an effort to roll back the state’s pioneering global warming program—a Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives will effectively stymie any renewed effort to advance a bill like the one narrowly passed by the Democratic-controlled House in June 2009. The Senate’s Democratic leaders were unable to muster the 60 votes needed to affirm that legislation, even before the loss of at least six seats Tuesday.’
To read more on this story click here.
www.telegraph.co.uk 2nd November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, will set out radical plans to upgrade all 26 million homes in the country over the next decade. Under the ‘New Green Deal’, households will be able to take out ‘pay-as-you-save loans’ from the local council , supermarket or chain store like B&Q. The loans of up to £10,000 will pay for double glazing, solar panels or other energy efficiency measures and will be paid pack over time through savings on fuel bills. Mr Huhne said the initiative will create more than 100,000 jobs over the next five years as home owners demand ‘green makeovers’. However there is little incentive for private landlords to take advantage of the scheme because they are not paying the bills. As a consequence many privately rented homes are badly insulated. At the moment about 670,000 homes, more than a fifth of the total 3.2 million in the private rented sector, are rated G or F, meaning they have some of the worst efficiency ratings in the country. To force landlords to act the new legislation will “create powers allowing any tenant asking for reasonable energy efficiency improvements to receive them from 2015 onwards”. It will also allow local authorities to insist that landlords improve the worst performing homes by installing insulation. Let Insurance Services, a specialist insurance provider to the private rented sector, said it could cause problems for landlords and tenants. “Anything that uses less energy and improves running costs for tenants is to be welcomed but the danger is that unneccessary costs of installations can be passed onto tenants and end up costing them more,” said a spokesman.’
www.nytimes.com 29th October 2010
Quoted from source:
‘The (US) coal industry, facing a host of new health and safety regulations, is spending millions of dollars in lobbying and campaign donations this year to influence the makeup of the next Congress in hopes of derailing what one industry official called an Obama administration “regulatory jihad.” Political spending by the coal industry is on track to exceed that of the 2008 cycle, when the presidency was at stake and Congress appeared determined to move forward with a national energy policy designed to address climate change by cutting back on the use of coal and petroleum. Over the last two years, the coal industry, along with its allies in oil and gas, electric utilities, manufacturing and agriculture, effectively killed any prospects for climate change legislation in the near future. But after two major coal industry accidents, a huge spill of toxic ash in 2008 and a West Virginia mine disaster in April that killed 29 workers, the industry is bracing for new federal action that it fears will curtail operations and drive up costs. Industry officials believe they face a hostile administration that could seriously harm their business with a range of new federal regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, mountaintop removal mining, air pollution, coal ash disposal and mine safety.’
Click here to read the whole article.
www.latimes.com 30th October 2010
Quoted from source:
‘If the GOP (the Good Old Party, i.e.: the Republicans) wins control of the House next week, senior congressional Republicans plan to launch a blistering attack on the Obama administration’s environmental policies, as well as on scientists who link air pollution to climate change. The GOP’s fire will be concentrated especially on the administration’s efforts to use the Environmental Protection Agency‘s authority over air pollution to tighten emissions controls on coal, oil and other carbon fuels that scientists say contribute to global warming. The attack, according to senior Republicans, will seek to portray the EPA as abusing its authority and damaging the economy with needless government regulations. In addition, GOP leaders say, they will focus on what they see as distortions of scientific evidence regarding climate change and on Obama administration efforts to achieve by executive rule-making what it failed to win from Congress. Even if Republicans should win majorities in both the House and Senate, they would face difficulties putting their views into legislative form, since Senate Democrats could use the threat of filibuster to block bills just as the GOP did on climate and other issues during the past year. Also, Obama could use his veto power. But the GOP’s plans for wide-ranging and sustained investigations by congressional committees could put the EPA and administration environmental policymakers on the defensive and create political pressures that could cause Obama to pull back on environmental issues as the 2012 presidential election draws closer.’
To read more, click here.
Quoted from source:
‘For thousands of years, nomadic herdsmen have roamed the harsh, semi-arid lowlands that stretch across 80 percent of Kenya and 60 percent of Ethiopia. Descendants of the oldest tribal societies in the world, they survive thanks to the animals they raise and the crops they grow, their travels determined by the search for water and grazing lands. These herdsmen have long been accustomed to adapting to a changing environment. But in recent years, they have faced challenges unlike any in living memory: As temperatures in the region have risen and water supplies have dwindled, the pastoralists have had to range more widely in search of suitable water and land. That search has brought tribal groups in Ethiopia and Kenya in increasing conflict, as pastoral communities kill each other over water and grass.
“When the Water Ends,” a 16-minute video produced by Yale Environment 360 in collaboration with MediaStorm, tells the story of this conflict and of the increasingly dire drought conditions facing parts of East Africa. To report this video, Evan Abramson, a 32-year-old photographer and videographer, spent two months in the region early this year, living among the herding communities. He returned with a tale that many climate scientists say will be increasingly common in the 21st century and beyond — how worsening drought in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere will pit group against group, nation against nation. As one UN official told Abramson, the clashes between Kenyan and Ethiopian pastoralists represent “some of the world’s first climate-change conflicts.”’
To watch the documentary click here.