Climate & environment - Nov 13
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Obama will act quickly on climate change: adviser
Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters
President-elect Barack Obama will act against climate change early in his presidency, an environment adviser said on Wednesday amid doubts that a U.S. carbon-capping program will be in place before 2010.
"The president-elect will move quickly on climate change," Jason Grumet, the Obama campaign's lead energy and environment adviser, told a conference on carbon trading.
Grumet, who has been mentioned as a possible choice for the new U.S. administration's energy secretary, told the group of business and policy-making specialists: "My suggestion to all of you is to enjoy the holiday season ... and rest up because I think it's going to be a very, very busy 2009."
(13 November 2008)
Japan CO2 hits record
Risa Maeda, Reuters
Japan's greenhouse gas emissions rose to a record high in the year to March, putting the world's fifth-largest carbon dioxide producer at risk of an embarrassing failure to achieve its Kyoto target over the next four years.
The increase of 2.3 percent last year, largely due to the closure of Japan's biggest nuclear power plant after an earthquake, will ratchet up the pressure for it to give up its efforts to control emissions through voluntary measures and adopt tougher limits on industry like the European Union and Australia.
(12 November 2008)
Under a Sooty Exterior, A Green China Emerges
Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360
Call it the new China Syndrome. Putting the world’s most populous country in the environmental doghouse is a game anyone can play. You’ve heard the litany of sins. China is buying up whole mountains in Latin America to get at the copper inside. It is the world’s largest importer of tropical hardwood, most of it hacked illegally from rain forests. Its carbon emissions are now the world’s largest, exceeding even the United States. Many of its rivers are little more than industrial discharge pipes. And didn’t you see all that smog in Beijing around the time of the Olympics?
All true, of course. But even so, much of what is said about China and its attitude toward the environment — even by usually fair-minded folk — is hypocritical and decidedly unfair.
... And there’s the rub. China is huge. For most of human history, it has been home to as much as a fifth of the world’s population. And many of the scary statistics simply reflect that.
China, as WWF reported recently, consumes 15 per cent of the world’s resources. But with 20 percent of the world’s population(1.3 billion people), is that really surprising? Likewise, should we be shocked that the world’s most populous country has the world’s largest carbon footprint? If China were instead a series of smaller countries each reporting their statistics separately, we probably wouldn’t turn a hair.
... We hear a lot about China building a new coal-fired power station every week. I checked the stats. It’s worse. It has recently been building two new 1000-megawatt plants each week. But last year, China also built more wind turbines than any other country. And its biogas and solar power industries are also growing fast.
China’s green credentials are surprisingly good in many respects. China has long led the world in aquaculture. By raising most of its fish in artificial ponds it has done a huge good turn for the world’s ocean fisheries.
(12 November 2008)
Temperature set to rise by 6C, energy agency warns
Robin Pagnamenta, The Times
Long-term global temperatures are on course to rise by 6C (43F) unless radical changes are adopted in the way that the world produces energy, the International Energy Agency (IAE) said yesterday.
In its 2008 World Energy Outlook, the IEA said that if present trends continued, greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of coal, oil and gas “would be driven up inexorably”, putting the world on track for a doubling in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by the end of the century.
The IEA said that the biggest single contributor to global emissions over the next two decades was likely to be the use of coal - the world's second- most important fuel after oil, accounting for 26 per cent of energy demand...
(13 November 2008)
Does Natural-Gas Drilling Endanger Water Supplies?
Abrahm Lustgarten, Business Week
Natural-gas operations are proliferating from Wyoming to New York. At the same time, Halliburton (HAL) and other gas-service giants are fighting to keep secret the potentially hazardous chemicals they use to split thick layers of rock and release the fuel beneath.
Some regulators and many environmentalists worry that the fluids injected into many U.S. gas fields could be contaminating drinking water with benzene, methanol, and other toxic substances. The industry counters that its methods are safe. Drillers point to a 2004 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that supports their position, as well as a key legislative exemption from federal oversight they won in 2005.
The debate is heating up as reports of water pollution near gas drill sites accumulate and the incoming Obama team considers reversing a recent Bush Administration move to permit more drilling in Utah. A close look at the EPA's 2004 study reveals that the agency may have played down evidence of health dangers. And now some regional EPA officials say it's time for the industry to disclose precisely what it's pumping into the ground...
(13 November 2008)
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