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How America plotted to stop Kyoto deal

Andrew Buncombe, The Independent
A detailed and disturbing strategy document has revealed an extraordinary American plan to destroy Europe’s support for the Kyoto treaty on climate change.

The ambitious, behind-the-scenes plan was passed to The Independent this week, just as 189 countries are painfully trying to agree the second stage of Kyoto at the UN climate conference in Montreal. It was pitched to companies such as Ford Europe, Lufthansa and the German utility giant RWE.

Put together by a lobbyist who is a senior official at a group partly funded by ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest oil company and a fierce opponent of anti-global warming measures, the plan seeks to draw together major international companies, academics, think-tanks, commentators, journalists and lobbyists from across Europe into a powerful grouping to destroy further EU support for the treaty.

It details just how the so-called “European Sound Climate Policy Coalition” would work. Based in Brussels, the plan would have anti-Kyoto position papers, expert spokesmen, detailed advice and networking instantly available to any politician or company who wanted to question the wisdom of proceeding with Kyoto and its demanding cuts in carbon dioxide emissions.
(8 December 2005)
The Guardian has an article on the same campaign: Oil industry targets EU climate policy.

UN climate talks enter key phase

Environment ministers from around the world are trying to break a deadlock over climate change policy, at a major UN conference in Montreal.

Ministers want to agree a deal to tackle global warming that includes the US and developing nations.

Some countries are refusing to limit their greenhouse gas emissions after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

“There is an urgent need to send a signal to the world about the future,” conference chairman Stephane Dion said.

The US is not a Kyoto signatory. It says it is serious on climate change, but is still resisting targets and is instead pursuing a policy of voluntary reductions through use of new technology.
(7 December 2005)
Only one of the many news items on the UN climate conference.

Bid to team rich and poor in sustaining forests

Peter N. Spotts, Christian Science Monitor
At Montreal climate talks, delegates examine incentives to stem deforestation in developing countries.
MONTREAL – Two years ago, it seemed like a bad idea: Let rich nations earn credit for trimming greenhouse-gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol by helping countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa save their vanishing tropical forests.

People thought it would be an easy out that would be difficult to monitor and present too many potential loopholes to be effective.

But now, delegates to global climate talks here have dusted off the concept. Deforestation and other land-use changes account for up to 25 percent of the CO2 that human activities release into the atmosphere each year.

By conserving the forests, analysts say, countries can maintain a natural storehouse for a significant amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
(7 December 2005)

Study: temperate forests could worsen global warming

Carnegie Institution via Science Daily
Growing a forest might sound like a good idea to combat Global warming, since trees draw carbon dioxide from the air and release cool water from their leaves. But they also absorb sunlight, warming the air in the process. According to a new study from the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, planting forests at certain latitudes could make the Earth warmer. Carnegie’s Ken Caldeira will present the work at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco on December 7, 2005.

New climate modeling research from the Carnegie Institution and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory shows that northern temperate forests (top) may contribute to global warming, while tropical forests (bottom) can help keep global temperatures cool. (Image courtesy of Carnegie Institution)

The researchers used complex climate modeling software to simulate changes in forest cover and then examined the effects on global climate. Their results were surprising. “We were hoping to find that growing forests in the United States would help slow global warming,” Caldeira said. “But if we are not careful, growing forests could make global warming even worse.”

The researchers found that while tropical forests help keep Earth cool by evaporating a great deal of water, northern forests tend to warm the Earth because they absorb a lot of sunlight without losing much moisture.
(6 December 2005)

Efficiency, intensity, and getting from here to there

Jamais Cascio, WorldChanging
Carbon dioxide output from the United States will peak and then begin to fall in just a few years, according to the numbers derived by John Whitehead at the Environmental Economics blog. The reason is that carbon intensity — the amount of carbon produced per dollar of GDP — is dropping at a rate faster than GDP is growing. At the current pace of intensity reduction, CO2 output in the US will peak in 2008, and begin a gradual decline thereafter. …

This is good news for a number of reasons, not least that it suggests that the current biggest contributor to the greenhouse effect could, with a bit more effort, achieve a far more dramatic reduction in CO2. How to do this is a mainstay of discussion at WorldChanging; what I’d like to do here is look at some of the numbers underlying these options.
(7 December 2005)

WWF Report: 2005 will be hottest, stormiest

Phil Couvrette, Associated Press via ABC News
MONTREAL — This year is likely to go down as the hottest, stormiest and driest ever, making a strong case for the urgent need to combat global warming, a report released Tuesday at the U.N. Climate Change Conference said.

The year 2005, the World Wildlife Fund said, is shaping up as the worst for extreme weather, with the hottest temperatures, most Arctic melting, worst Atlantic hurricane season and warmest Caribbean waters.

It’s also been the driest year in decades in the Amazon, where a drought may surpass anything in the past century, said the report by international environmental group.
(6 December 2005)

Scientist hopes for CO2 storage

Mankind’s only hope of staving off catastrophic climate change is burying CO2 emissions underground, says the UK’s chief scientist.

Sir David King told the BBC carbon capture and storage technology was the only way forward as China and India would inevitably burn their cheap coal. his would be disastrous unless they were persuaded to put CO2 from power stations into porous rocks, he said.

It is thought carbon capture and storage would add 10-15% to fuel bills. The process is currently being developed by an international consortium of energy firms. It involves removing carbon dioxide from emissions by one of three scientific methods.

The carbon dioxide is then pumped at pressure into porous rocks, where it is expected to stay for 1,000 years or more. By then it is anticipated that carbon-free energy sources will have been developed.

Professor King has often spoken of his deep concerns about climate change and has warned of a catastrophe if we keep emitting carbon at current levels. By 2030, China’s CO2 emissions from coal use alone are expected to have doubled.
(6 December 2005)