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Climate - March 22

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Gore Warns Congress of ‘Planetary Emergency’

Felicity Barringer and Andrew C. Revkin, NY Times
It was part science class, part policy wonk paradise, part politics and all theater as former Vice President Al Gore came to Congress on Wednesday to insist that global warming constitutes a “planetary emergency” requiring an aggressive federal response.

Mr. Gore, accompanied by his wife, Tipper, delivered the same blunt message to a joint meeting of two House committees in the morning and a Senate panel in the afternoon: Humans are artificially warming the world, the risks of inaction are great, and meaningful cuts in emissions linked to warming will happen only if the United States takes the lead.

While sparring with Representative Joe L. Barton, a Texas Republican critical of his message, Mr. Gore resorted to a simple metaphor. “The planet has a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor.” He added, “If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don’t say ‘I read a science fiction novel that says it’s not a problem.’ You take action.”

In the House, there was little debate about the underlying science; the atmosphere was more that of a college lecture hall than a legislative give-and-take. But in the Senate, James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, set a pugilistic tone, challenging Mr. Gore’s analysis of the dangers of climate change from hurricanes and melting ice in Antarctica.

“It is my perspective that your global warming alarmist pronouncements are now and have always been filled with inaccuracies and misleading statements,” Mr. Inhofe said.

Beneath the carefully groomed surface of the House and Senate committees’ scripted production, a rift was evident. Republican committee leaders, including Mr. Barton in the House, and Mr. Inhofe in the Senate, seemed somewhat isolated from their rank-and-file colleagues, who appeared more receptive to Mr. Gore’s message and the scientific consensus on climate change.
(22 March 2007)
Some of the best coverage of Gore's appearance has been by David Roberts at Gristmill, with posts such as

-BA


The next big thing in environmental law: Climate change

Barnaby J Feder, International Herald Tribune
Lawyers are looking at climate change and seeing visions of new business. They are showing up at meetings to discuss the legal implications of global warming, and a growing number of law firms are advertising expertise in climate change issues. ..

The biggest growth area for climate lawyers involves new emission-management tools — like credits for reducing carbon emissions by investing in technologies that reduce power consumption — and the markets that trade them.

The markets are regulated in countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol and, so far, voluntary in the United States, but each has a mind-numbing amount of legal questions to settle.

"You can accidentally create a lot of work for a lot of lawyers when you design a market for a particular need," Kaplan said. "You are binding together a lot of resources and obligations, and getting the rules right is very tricky." ..
(21 Mar 2007)


A technology competition that could save the planet

Michael McCarthy, The Independant
It's the technology that may do more than any other to save the planet - and Britain may be first to bring it on stream, Gordon Brown announced.

The Chancellor said the Government would launch a competition to build the world's first power station to use full-scale carbon capture and storage - known as CCS - a way of minimising the emissions of carbon dioxide, from fossil fuel burning, that are helping to cause climate change.

The technology involves trapping waste CO2 from power stations, liquefying it for transport and then pumping it into depleted North Sea oil and gas fields, deep in the seabed, where it would remain out of contact with the atmosphere. It is thought this could reduce carbon emissions from a given plant by up to 90 per cent. ..

The competition is to build such a working plant, and the winner (or winners), to be announced next year, would be able to count on considerable government funding assistance. ..
(22 Mar 2007)

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