Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Europe to cut greenhouse gases 20 percent by 2020
The 27 European Union member governments approved a new target to cut their collective greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from the 1990 level in 2020. Europe currently generates 15 percent of the world’s emissions of carbon dioxide and agreed to cut CO2 emissions by eight percent between 1990 and 2012, and this new goal would require the EU to cut emissions by a further 12 percent between 2012 and 2020. By the beginning of 2007, the EU had managed to achieve only 1.2 percent of the eight percent reduction agreed under the Kyoto Protocol. Chancellor Merkel added that a target of 30 percent would be considered if other non-EU states are prepared to collaborate.

CO2 output from shipping twice as much as airlines
Carbon dioxide emissions from shipping are double those of aviation and increasing at an alarming rate which will have a serious impact on global warming, according to research by the industry and European academics. Separate studies suggest that maritime carbon dioxide emissions from the global fleet of 70,000 ships could rise by as much as 75% in the next 15 to 20 years if world trade continues to grow and no action is taken. Annual emissions from shipping range between 600 and 800m tonnes of carbon dioxide, or up to 5% of the global total - nearly double Britain's total emissions. Carbon dioxide emissions from ships do not come under the Kyoto agreement. Aviation carbon dioxide emissions, estimated to be about 2% of the global total, do not come under Kyoto either but have been at the forefront of the climate change debate because of the sharp increase in cheap flights, whereas shipping emissions have risen nearly as fast in the past 20 years but have been ignored by governments and environmental groups. Shipping is responsible for transporting 90% of world trade which has doubled in 25 years.

UK climate change bill is revolutionary, says Blair
Tony Blair compared the fight against climate change to the battle against fascism and the cold war today, as the government pledged to cut carbon emissions by 60% by 2050 with the publication of the UK's first ever climate change bill, which in another first, was explained to internet users in a YouTube webcast. The climate change bill sets legally-binding targets of a 60% reduction by 2050, and a 26-32% reduction by 2020. A carbon "budget" will set target emission levels at five-year intervals, advised by an independent committee of experts and the government will report annually to parliament on its progress in controlling emissions. The bill will not include plans repeatedly floated by Environment Secretary David Miliband to introduce personal carbon rationing, a system where every individual would be given a carbon allowance and permitted to generate only a certain amount of carbon dioxide a year from activities such as driving or flying. The Green party called the bill "dangerously unambitious", while the Confederation of British Industry said it "struck the right balance".

Warming May Cause Food, Water Shortages - UN Report
Global warming could cause severe food and water shortages for millions of people by 2100 and trigger a melt of polar ice that could keep ocean levels rising for centuries, a draft UN report shows due for release in Brussels on April 6, Hundreds of millions of people would suffer from water scarcity even with a small rise in temperatures, between 1.1 to 3.2 billion might suffer if temperatures jumped by more than 4 Celsius at the higher end of forecasts. The draft report said hundreds of millions of people would be vulnerable to rising sea levels that could swamp Pacific islands, coasts and cities from New York to Shanghai. It said there was "medium confidence" that a rise in temperatures of more than 1 to 2 Celsius might melt parts of Greenland and west Antarctica, "causing sea level rise of 4 to 6 metres over centuries to millennia." And it said that about 20-30 percent of species could be at risk of extinction with a moderate temperature rise.

NZ ‘too slow’ on wind farms
“New Zealand had such high wind speeds, it could produce all its power from renewable sources, including wind turbines, with among the lowest prices for renewable power in the world,” Bernhard Voll, technical director of wind power company Allco - a $3 billion finance company giant in Australia and a new entrant to wind farms in New Zealand, with plans for a 110-megawatt project in the Tararua Ranges said at the recent Wind Energy Association meeting in Wellington. The New Zealand Government had made a commitment to reduce greenhouse gases, but after that there was just "consulting, consulting and consulting and maybe a commissioner is appointed and more consulting and reports - This is not going to help us - we need support," he said. It would be easy to bring in a quota for renewable power, for example, demanding that power companies must get at least 20 per cent of the power from new renewable sources such as new wind farms, or hydro, or tidal power. The cost for consumers would be minimal, he said.

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