Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World. To subscribe to regular Climate Snippet emails, contact with subscribe in subject line

Phenomenal growth of the carboNZero programme

Over 350 organisations and individuals are now signed up to the carboNZero programme – with interest doubling in recent months. Twelve months ago the team consisted of 1.2 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff but since then, the team has been expanded to 10 FTEs. The carboNZero programme which started around restaurant table in 2000 uses a concept that joined up their skills in measuring greenhouse gases with their responsibilities for restoring New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity.

Judges should enforce U.K. climate bill targets, say MPs

Judges should have the power to compel the prime minister to set out the remedial measures his government will take if it fails to hit targets to reduce carbon emissions, a cross-party committee of MPs and peers has recommended. A bill due to be introduced in the next parliament places a legal duty on the environment secretary to reduce carbon emissions by 60% by 2050. The bill sets out a series of milestones, including five yearly "carbon budgets" setting out the projected carbon emissions.
But the joint committee of peers and MPs examining the draft climate change bill concluded that the enforcement mechanisms in the bill were unclear. The committee also recommends that the government be required to include aviation and shipping emissions in its carbon budgets as soon as possible.

15,200 megawatts of new wind turbines went up
around the world last year

According to the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute 15,200 megawatts of new wind turbines went up around the world last year, reducing CO2 output by around 43 million tonnes - the equivalent of offsetting the emissions of 8 million cars. The increase in worldwide wind power last year saw global capacity increase by almost 26%, with Germany, Spain and the USA generating over half the total. Roughly US$22b was invested into the technology in Europe and North America last year.

2007: Record breaking weather events

The world experienced a series of record-breaking weather events in early 2007, from flooding in Asia to heatwaves in Europe and snowfall in South Africa, the The World Meteorological Organization has said. Global land surface temperatures in January and April were likely the warmest since records began in 1880, at more than 1 degree Celsius higher than average for those months. There have also been severe monsoon floods across South Asia, abnormally heavy rains in northern Europe, China, Sudan, Mozambique and Uruguay, extreme heatwaves in southeastern Europe and Russia, and unusual snowfall in South Africa and South America this year, the WMO said.

South Asia's worst monsoon flooding in recent memory has affected 30 million people in India, Bangladesh and Nepal, destroying croplands, livestock and property and raising fears of a health crisis in the densely-populated region. Heavy rains also doused southern China in June, with nearly 14 million people affected by floods and landslides that killed 120 people, the WMO said. England and Wales this year had their wettest May and June since records began in 1766, resulting in extensive flooding and more than $6 billion in damage, as well as at least nine deaths. Germany swung from its driest April since country-wide observations started in 1901 to its wettest May on record.

The WMO and its 188 member states are working to set up an early warning system for extreme weather events. The agency is also seeking to improve monitoring of the impacts of climate change, particularly in poorer countries which are expected to bear the brunt of floods, droughts and storms.

US House shifts US$16 b toward renewable energy

The US House passed a Democratic rewrite of US energy policy that strips US$16 billion in tax incentives away from Big Oil and puts it toward renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. The bill, the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act and the related tax title would spur a massive redistribution of federal incentives to wind, solar, geothermal and away from producing energy from oil, natural gas and coal. The bill sets new standards for appliances and building efficiency codes, and spurs possible renegotiation of faulty Gulf of Mexico drilling leases signed by the Clinton administration that left about US$2 billion on the table. The House voted 220-190 to add a controversial amendment that would require US utilities to generate 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2020.

U.S. report: Climate Bill
would shave $533 Billion Off US economy

A Senate bill to cut US greenhouse gas emissions would raise energy prices and also reduce American economic output by more than half a trillion dollars over two decades, according to a government report released Monday. One proposal, introduced by Sens. Joseph Lieberman and John McCain, would gradually reduce total US emissions by the year 2050 to 60 percent below 1990 levels. Their bill would require companies to report their yearly greenhouse gas emissions and submit a matching number of government-issued allowances to equal the emissions spewed. Companies that emit more would have to buy allowances from cleaner companies that produce fewer emissions.

Bush seeks discussion of climate change

President Bush invited representatives of major industrialized and developing countries to a fall climate change summit in Washington, September 27-28, the same week that the United Nations is holding a similar conclave in New York. The meeting will address ``life after'' the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The Kyoto agreement, adopted in 1997, requires 35 industrial nations to cut their global-warming emissions 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Key dates in international climate calender

September 2-9: Australia's John Howard hosts the Asia-Pacific APEC summit, gathering leaders of 21 countries

September 27/28: a "Major Emitters" conference of the biggest polluters.

December 3-14: UN-led negotiations begin in Bali, Indonesia for a global climate change treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

In Brief

American researchers develop DIY solar panels
It may be as easy as click-and-print when you need a spot of solar energy, according to American researchers who say they've developed an inexpensive solar cell that can be painted or printed on flexible plastic sheets.

3,000 black cabs switch to biofuel blend
London's biggest black cab company is fuelling its fleet on a blend of diesel and biofuels. By the company's calculations, the move will save up to 5,220 tonnes of CO2 per year, roughly equivalent to taking 300 cars off the road.

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