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Business gets serious about emissions (special edition)

Business Week
Special edition on climate change, with many articles online. Among them:

The Race Against Climate Change
How top companies are reducing emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases

In Asia, A Hot Market For Carbon
The market for carbon credits is cutting pollution in developing countries

Online Extra: Toyota: Greener Cars — and Factories
In addition to its popular Prius hybrid, the Japanese carmaker is determined to reduce emissions from its plants, especially at home

Online Extra: Cinergy Answers Burning Questions
Why CEO Jim Rogers’ coal-burning power provider is warming up to environmental concerns — and even pushing for rules

Online Extra: Slide Show: Green Technology Innovators
Here’s a countdown of the companies whose products and services have done most to help reduce carbon emissions

Online Extra: Table: Top Companies of the Decade…

Online Extra: Table: Top 50 Emitters
Which companies will be most impacted by carbon dioxide regulation? Have a look at some of the top emitters of carbon dioxide worldwide, along with their year-over-year change in emissions.
(12 December 2005 edition)
David Roberts says in a post at Gristmill:

BusinessWeek has a large and informative package of stories on the changing climate (har!) around climate change, both in the business world and in the halls of government. There are too many stories even to summarize here — just go browse around.

One positive notion that crops up in several stories is that federal limits on CO2 emissions are inevitable. The science is solid and public opinion is squarely behind it, and in those circumstances there’s only so long politicians can drag their feet (though a shout out here to the Bush administration, which has been amazingly effective at stalling, a perverse accomplishment of sorts). Businesses are already busy planning for it.

…Also of particular interest — and a refreshing change from typical media reports that say “business is coming around” but provide only scattered anecdotes — BusinessWeek, Climate Group, and a panel of judges ranked companies based on their action so far on climate change. You can see a list of the top 10 overall performers as well as lists of the best management practices, best individual performers, and best financial-services companies.

This is a fantastic, comprehensive, balanced set of stories, and hopefully it will reach the right people.

It’s hard to see sometimes, especially weeks like this when the U.S. is busy shaming itself at the Montreal conference, but the tide really is turning on global warming.


Warming effect in a world without snow

Kate Ravilious, The Guardian
The role of snow in maintaining the Earth’s climate is far more important than scientists had previously thought. According to a new climate model in which researchers imagined a world without snow, not only would global temperatures rise but, bizarrely, the amount of permanently frozen land in the world would also go up.

Losing every last snowflake in the world is an unlikely scenario. But global warming is expected to melt around 10-20% of the world’s snow in the future and, by modelling the no-snow climate, Stephen Vavrus from the University of Wisconsin-Madison was able to work out how the predicted melting would affect the planet.

Snow tends to cool the air above it and stops the Earth from overheating. Professor Vavrus found that, in a world without snow, the temperatures in the northern hemisphere rocketed.
(6 December 2005)

Emissions simply don’t respect borders

Linda McQuaig, Toronto Star via Common Dreams
No doubt some people would adamantly deny the need for mandatory worldwide action against climate change, even as freezing flood waters engulfed them.

This scenario is no longer far-fetched. As we endlessly bicker over how to address the problem, the frightening implications of climate change creep ever closer.

Last week, even as a pivotal U.N. conference on climate change ground to a stalemate in Montreal, a British scientific journal reported evidence suggesting the long-feared slowdown of the Gulf Stream is already underway. Without the stream’s warming influence, far northern countries like Britain — where the surprisingly temperate climate allows palm trees to grow in Cornwall — could become like Siberia, within our lifetimes.

Scientists say this same Gulf Stream slowdown could bring more brutal winters to parts of Canada and the U.S., and contribute to ever-greater hurricane intensity in the tropics.

Oh well, on with the conference bickering.
(4 December 2005)

U.S. climate official’s work is questioned

Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post
Environmentalists are unhappy with the job the lead U.S. climate negotiator, Harlan Watson, has been doing in the ongoing Montreal talks on how to combat global warming.

Watson has spent the past week in Montreal touting the administration’s record on climate change. He said there is no reason the United States and other countries that oppose mandatory carbon dioxide limits should have to talk about what should be done once the Kyoto Protocol, which aims to cut global greenhouse gases by 7 percent by 2012, expires.

Watson’s position and the environmentalists’ reaction should hardly be surprising — considering his apparent popularity with the oil industry.

A Feb. 6, 2001, fax sent to the White House by oil giant Exxon Mobil proposed involving Watson more closely in international climate negotiations.
(5 December 2005)

US facing pressure to sign up to future climate protocols

Andrew Buncombe, The Independent via Common Dreams
The United States will this week face intense lobbying in an effort to force concrete action from the Bush administration over climate change when ministers from around the world meet at a United Nations summit in Canada. A failure to obtain some concession from the US would lead to further condemnation of both President George Bush and Tony Blair, who has said he believes a legally-binding commitment is achievable.

When the talks on climate change opened last week, the US chief negotiator made clear the US would not be part of a binding agreement to cut emissions of greenhouse gases once the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012. “We would certainly not agree to the United States being part of legally binding targets and timetable agreement post-2012,” said Harlan Watson.

But in this second week of talks, conducted by high-level ministers, the US will be strongly lobbied by conference hosts Canada and the EU, of which Britain currently holds the presidency. They believe that Mr Watson’s initial flat-out refusal may have been a negotiating tactic and that the US could be persuaded to move from that position.

The talks are to discuss the second phase of the Kyoto protocol, established in 1997, which came into effect in February this year. Currently, 36 countries are bound to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by around 5.2 per cent below their 1990 levels by 2012.
(5 December 2005)

Global warming cartoon

Martin Rowson, Guardian
(5 December 2005)