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Supreme Court tackles global warming

Marc Gunther, Fortune via CNNMoney
As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to take up the issue of climate change, some unusual alliances are forming – and corporate America finds itself on both sides of the debate.

The case before the high court, known as Massachusetts v. EPA, turns on a question that, surprisingly, remains unanswered after seven years of legal wrangling: Does the U.S. EPA have the authority under the 36-year-old Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide as an air pollutant?

It sounds simple, but like the rest of the scientific, legal and political debate about global warming, it’s not. Nor is the response from big business.

Carbon dioxide, you may recall from high school science, is a clear, odorless gas that helps trees and crops grow – in other words, not your typical pollutant. Yet rising levels of CO2, most of which is generated by power plants and motor vehicles, contribute to the greenhouse effect, which traps heat in the atmosphere, increasing the earth’s surface air temperature.

Here’s how the sides have lined up in the case, so far…
(26 Oct 2006)

Tackle climate change or face deep recession, world’s leaders warned

James Randerson, The Guardian
Climate change could tilt the world’s economy into the worst global recession in recent history, a report will warn next week.

Sir Nicholas Stern, a former chief economist with the World Bank, will warn that governments need to tackle the problem head-on by cutting emissions or face economic ruin. The findings, due to be released on Monday, will turn economic argument about global warming on its head by insisting that fighting global warming will save industrial nations money. The US refused to join the Kyoto protocol, the international agreement on greenhouse gas emissions, because George Bush said it would harm the economy.

The contents of the Stern review into the economics of climate change – commissioned by the Treasury – have been kept secret since the nature of the work was revealed to the world’s environment ministers in Mexico this month. But Sir David King, the government’s chief scientific adviser, yesterday gave the Guardian a preview of its main findings.

Speaking at a climate change conference in Birmingham, he said: “All of [Stern’s] detailed modelling out to the year 2100 is going to indicate first of all that if we don’t take global action we are going to see a massive downturn in global economies.” He added: “If no action is taken we will be faced with the kind of downturn that has not been seen since the great depression and the two world wars.”
(26 Oct 2006)

Bidding for the environment

Leader, The Guardian
Economists regularly argue that the best way to tackle climate change is to put a price tag on the environment. As it happens, in recent weeks a bidding war has broken out over the issue – not in dollars or carbon trading futures but between Britain’s major political parties. In contrast to political debates on migration, for example, this bidding war is a virtuous one, a race to the top rather than the bottom, as the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour seek to burnish their eco-credentials. The fruits could be seen on the front page of this newspaper yesterday, in the government’s plans for a climate change bill that will set out long-term targets for cutting Britain’s carbon emissions, perhaps as early as the Queen’s speech to parliament next month.

The change in the political climate has been as eye-opening as the environmental damage being revealed by scientists. After some initially glacial progress, parties are now moving quickly.
(26 Oct 2006)

Australia Unveils 500-Million-Dollar Climate Change Drive

AFP via Terra Daily
Australia is to launch a 500-million-dollar drive to tackle global warming, Prime Minister John Howard announced Monday, as the country battles its worst drought in more than a century. It comes as his government, which like the United States has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, scrambles to contain the political impact of the effects of the protracted drought on Australia’s farming community.

As he unveiled the initiative, a group of academics and experts meanwhile launched a public advertising blitz urging Howard’s government to press for reduced greenhouse gas emissions to combat the global scourge.
(23 Oct 2006)

Australia: Warming to the idea

Katharine Murphy, The Age
A self-proclaimed climate-change sceptic, John Howard is now repositioning his Government to the front line of the global warming battle. Katharine Murphy outlines the reasons why.
…A much-quoted recent poll from the Lowy Institute bears out this conclusion: 68 per cent of respondents said climate change was a “critical threat” to Australia’s interests over the next decade – rating it ahead of issues such as Islamic fundamentalism.

After a decade of trying to dismiss global warming as an elite preoccupation by strange hemp-wearing eco-warriors and the loathed latte set, John Howard has suddenly shifted gear.

…Drought-water-climate-energy: the Prime Minister is bolting the political narrative together and looking frenetically busy. But so far, there has been more politics than substance. The really tough policy decisions now loom.
(26 Oct 2006)
Good article. Contributor Beacon Boy writes:

Australia seems to be at a tipping point in the climate change debate.With constant photos of drought ravaged farms in the media its hard to ignore the effects of climate change.