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Climate - Feb 24

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Failure hits Nasa's 'CO2 hunter'

BBC
Nasa's first dedicated mission to measure carbon dioxide from space has failed following a rocket malfunction.

Officials said the fairing - the part of the rocket which covers the satellite on top of the launcher - did not separate properly.

Data indicates the spacecraft crashed into the ocean near Antarctica.

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) was intended to help pinpoint the key locations on our planet's surface where CO2 is being emitted and absorbed.
(24 February 2009)
Related:
NASA mission to monitor carbon dioxide fails (AFP)
Background from Grist



Climate Fears Are Driving 'Ecomigration' Across Globe

Shankar Vedantam, Washington Post
... The two men are at contrasting poles of a phenomenon that threatens to reshape economies, politics and cultures across the planet. By choice or necessity, millions of "ecomigrants" -- most of them poor and desperate -- are on the move in search of more habitable living space.

There were about 25 million ecomigrants in the world a little more than a decade ago, said Norman Myers, a respected British environmental researcher at Oxford University. That number is now "a good deal higher," he added. "It's plain that sea-level rise in the wake of climate change will inundate the homelands of huge numbers of people."

In Bangladesh, about 12 million to 17 million people have fled their homes in recent decades because of environmental disasters -- and the low-lying country is likely to experience more intense flooding in the future. In several countries in Africa's Sahel region, bordering the Sahara, about 10 million people have been driven to move by droughts and famines.
(23 February 2009)



A collapsing carbon market makes mega-pollution cheap

Julian Glover, The Guardian,
Europe's system to edge up the cost of emissions and boost green energy has backfired. There isn't much time to rescue it
---
... Set up to price pollution out of existence, carbon trading is pricing it back in. Europe's carbon markets are in collapse.

Yet the hiss of escaping gas is almost inaudible. There's no big news headline, nothing sensational for TV viewers to watch; no queues outside banks or missing Texan showmen. You can't see or hear a market for a pollutant tumble. But at stake is what was supposed to be a central lever in the world's effort to turn back climate change. Intended to price fossil fuels out of the market, the system is instead turning them into the rational economic choice.

That there exists something called carbon trading is about all that most people know. A few know, too, that Europe has created carbon exchanges, and traders who buy and sell. Few but the professionals, however, know that this market is now failing in its purpose: to edge up the cost of emitting CO2.
(23 February 2009)



Australian Government Hoist on its own Petard over Emissions Trading

Kenneth Davidson, The Melbourne Age
THE Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the Minister for Climate Change, Senator Penny Wong, have gone so far out of their way to outflank the Coalition on climate change by coming up with a low carbon reduction target that they themselves are the ones most exposed in a political no man's land. The Rudd Government could yet be hoist on its own petard on the environmental issue.

... Economists on the left and the right who are concerned about global warming are now openly opposed to carbon trading as proposed by the Government and in favour of a carbon tax.

As originally envisioned both in Europe and Australia, companies would buy all the permits needed to cover their projected carbon dioxide emissions. If they produced more CO2 than expected, they would have to buy more permits. If they produced less carbon than anticipated, they would be able to sell their surplus permits. Because the supply of permits was to be fixed, if demand exceeded supply the price of permits would be forced up.

But in the EU (and now in Australia) the largest polluters argued that having to buy permits would undermine their competitiveness. In the EU, permits were given out for free and in such large quantities that the market became glutted and the price collapsed.

Even so, the "market value" of permits was passed on to consumers. The scheme generated billions of dollars in rents for the largest polluters and the amount of CO2 actually increased since the trading scheme was introduced in 2004.

The German magazine Der Spiegel recently pointed out that while Germany leads the world in wind and solar energy generation, the EU emissions trading scheme hasn't led to a reduction in German emissions by a single gram.

In the US, the Obama Administration's Energy Secretary, Nobel prize-winning scientist Dr Steven Chu, has indicated he favours the US adopting a carbon tax rather than emissions trading.
(23 February 2009)

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