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China takes “urgent” energy challenge to masses

China’s leaders have called on ordinary people to help tackle the “urgent” problem of booming energy demand and massive pollution, which they warn threatens growth, launching a huge propaganda campaign on Saturday.

“For the long-term development of our Chinese nation, saving energy and reducing pollution are so important, so urgent,” Ma Kai, head of the powerful ministry that controls energy policy, said at the televised launch of the country’s first large-scale appeal to consumers to change their lifestyle.

“If we don’t change this situation…the economy will go badly and won’t go far,” he added, between videos highlighting China’s environmental and energy woes.

With pollution already causing unrest in some parts of the country, previous efficiency drives have largely focused on large companies and power-guzzling industries.

Much of the new plan has an old-fashioned didactic flavour, including a TV show called “Who is the energy saving champion”, and the slogan “conservation is glorious, waste is shameful”.

At least one official booklet of energy saving tips has an austerity reminiscent of earlier communist eras. It recommends washing clothes by hand once a month, and cutting back on new outfits and even alcohol consumption.

Drink 500 grams less of (Chinese spirit) baijiu and save the equivalent of 400 grams of coal,” it admonished drinkers in a country that produces over 2 billion tonnes of the fuel a year.
(1 August 2007)
China pays to save energy
(Asia Times)

Nations agree on need for action on climate change

Mike De Souza, CanWest News Service
OTTAWA — Industrialized countries like Canada must aim for dramatic reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade if the world is to avoid disastrous consequences, according to a consensus reached Friday by nearly 160 countries at a week-long United Nations climate change summit in Vienna.

The agreement suggests that, by 2020, developed countries need to slash their output of the pollutants linked to climate change by 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels. Otherwise, international experts predict catastrophic consequences, including more droughts and water shortages.

While the suggested targets would not be binding on any particular country, UN officials say the new consensus will be important for a climate summit in Bali, Indonesia in December.
(1 September 2007)

U.N. Climate Talks End in Cloud of Discord

John Ward Anderson, Washington Post
Industrialized, Developing Nations Still at Odds Over How and When to Cut Emissions

A five-day U.N. conference on climate change ended in Vienna on Friday with significant disagreements remaining about how countries should reduce greenhouse gas emissions and daunting estimates about the price tag for combating global warming.

Some industrialized countries balked at adopting language in the conference’s final statement that would have set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. They agreed in the end that this target would be a nonbinding starting point for future discussion.

Many industrialized countries, including the United States, are wary of strict and mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, fearing that such curbs could strike at core sectors of their economies.
(31 August 2007)
Interesting to see the differences in intrepretations between this and the previous article. Journalist Anderson seems to have specialized in international politics, but may not have much background in environmental issues. His article doesn’t demonstrate an awareness of the seriousness of global warming, instead emphasizing the economic and political aspects. -BA

Oil-producing nations will have to control gas flaring

Saifur Rahman, Gulf News
Dubai: Companies in the Middle East will have to look at corporate sustainability seriously in the coming years as environment and climate change issues gain momentum, according to industry leaders.

“According to satellite data, in 2006, oil producing countries and companies burned about 170 billion cubic metres (BCM) of natural gas worldwide or nearly five trillion cubic feet,” said a latest World Bank report released yesterday, a copy of which was obtained by Gulf News.

“That is equivalent to 27 per cent of total US natural gas consumption and 5.5 per cent of total global production of natural gas for the year. If the gas had been sold in the US instead of being flared, the total US market value would have been about $40 billion. Gas flaring also emits some 400 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.”

Around 22 countries have increased gas flaring over the past 12 years.

…”Gas flaring not only harms the environment by contributing to global warming but is a huge waste of a cleaner source of energy that could be used to generate much needed electricity in poor countries around the world,” says Bent Svensson, manager of the Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction partnership (GGFR) partnership.

Flaring or burning of gas is widely used to dispose of natural gas liberated during oil production and processing. This occurs in remote areas where there is often no infrastructure on site to make use of the gas.
(30 August 2007)

World Bank calls on oil producers to cut $50bn gas fire

Tim Colebatch, The Age (Australia)
THE world’s oil producers are wasting more than $50 billion a year of natural gas by burning it off in flares — and adding significantly to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions in the process.

A study commissioned by the World Bank and carried out by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that, based on satellite photos, 170 billion cubic metres of natural gas went up in oil producers’ flares last year.

The bank said the amount was equivalent to 27 per cent of the entire US consumption of natural gas, and 5.5 per cent of global gas output. Had it been sold in the US at 2006 prices, it would have been worth $US40 billion ($A53 billion at 2006 exchange rates).

And were the world’s oil producers a country, gas flares alone would make them one of the biggest polluters on the planet. The flares emit some 400 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, more than 1 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, and not much less than Australia’s.
(1 September 2007)