Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Climate Snippets - 28 November

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

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NZ trailing in Kyoto stakes, says UNFCC

A recent UNFCCC report New Zealand is lagging behind most other countries in curbing greenhouse gas emissions. New Zealand's emissions increased by 24.7 per cent between 1990 and 2005, roughly the same as Australia (25.6 per cent), Canada (25.3 per cent), Greece (26.6 per cent) and Ireland (26.3 per cent). But the United States, Britain, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, France and Japan have either reduced their emissions to below 1990 levels or pegged their rise at levels well below New Zealand's.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the latest figures put New Zealand among the worst performers in the industrialised world." Globally, emissions from the transport sector are increasing rapidly and New Zealand is no exception, with the massive road building under way adding to the traffic and emissions. "We need to reverse the spending balance between roads and public transport to reduce our emissions and prepare for peak oil."

Climate Change (Transport Funding) Bill

Parliament could soon be taking some real steps to counter both climate change and the rising cost of fuel thanks to the drawing today of one of the Green Party’s Six Pack of Climate Change Bills announced last November. The Climate Change (Transport Funding) Bill, sponsored by Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, aims to gradually increase the National Land Transport Fund allocated to public transport, walking and cycling, rail, coastal shipping and travel demand management. In the 2007/08 year the National Land Transport Programme spent six times as much maintaining and expanding the road network as it did on providing more sustainable options like public transport. “While having good roads is important, we have to prepare for the increased demand on alternatives once fossil fuels become less affordable.

New exhaust emission standards from Jan

New exhaust emission standards for new and used car imports will be introduced from January 3 next year. The Land Transport Vehicle Exhaust Emissions rule 2007 will impose higher minimum emission standards on all new and used vehicles coming into the country from that date.

NZ to lead research into livestock emissions

David Parker says the Livestock Emissions and Abatement Research Network (LEARN) will focus strongly on research. The aim of LEARN is for international researchers to collaborate to better measure greenhouse gas emissions from livestock. The network will also help develop cost-effective and practical means to reduce these emissions. It will focus on sharing information, facilitating discussion and promoting face-to-face contact between researchers around the world. LEARN proposes to cover research into methane emissions from ruminant livestock, nitrous oxide emissions from grazed grassland, an integrated approach to reducing emissions across an entire farm, and a national inventory of agricultural emissions.

Rudd could ratify Kyoto on day one

Austalian Prime Minister-elect, Kevin Rudd, is legally able to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change simply by getting the Governor-General to sign an order after Mr Rudd and his ministers are sworn into office, the former head of the Department of Environment Roger Beale has said. Ratification at the Australian end could be done by early next week. The UN would then take 90 days to process Australia's request but the decision in Canberra would signal to the Bali conference that Australia had joined the countries who have ratified Kyoto, improving its standing at the talks.
The talks in Bali begin on Monday but the senior ministerial session which Mr Rudd has promised to attend takes place the following week. The head of the conservation group WWF, Greg Bourne, said Mr Rudd's advice to the negotiating team will be critical. "Will that negotiating team signal something completely different? Or will they keep going with the inertia of the previous 11½ years?" he said.

Climate change threatens unprecedented human development reversals

With governments preparing to gather in Bali, Indonesia to discuss the future of the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report has warned that the world should focus on the development impact of climate change that could bring unprecedented reversals in poverty reduction, nutrition, health and education. The report, "Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world", provides a stark account of the threat posed by global warming. It argues that the world is drifting towards a “tipping point” that could lock the world’s poorest countries and their poorest citizens in a downward spiral, leaving hundreds of millions facing malnutrition, water scarcity, ecological threats, and a loss of livelihoods. On mitigation, the authors call on developed countries to demonstrate leadership by cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050.

Guyana's extraordinary offer to Britain to save one of the world's most important carbon sinks

Guyana, the former British colony, sandwiched between Venezuela and Brazil, is home to fewer than a million people but it is also home to an intact rainforest larger than England. In a dramatic offer, the government of Guyana has said it is willing to place its entire standing forest under the control of a British-led, international body in return for a bilateral deal with the UK that would secure development aid and the technical assistance needed to make the change to a green economy. The deal would represent potentially the largest carbon offset ever undertaken, securing the vast carbon sinks of Guyana's pristine forest in return for assisting the economic growth of South America's poorest economy.

Rich nations fail to honour climate pledge

A group of rich countries including Britain has broken a promise to pay more than a billion dollars to help the developing world cope with the effects of climate change. The group agreed in 2001 to pay $1.2bn (£600m) to help poor and vulnerable countries predict and plan for the effects of global warming, as well as fund flood defences, conservation and thousands of other projects. But new figures show less than £90m of the promised money has been delivered. Britain has so far paid just £10m. The disclosure comes after Gordon Brown said this week that industrialised countries must do more to help the developing world adapt to a changed climate, and two weeks before countries meet in Bali to begin negotiations on a new global deal to regulate emissions which is expected to stress the need for all countries to adapt.

Under the terms of the climate adaptation agreement, made at a UN meeting in Bonn in 2001, the EU, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and New Zealand said they would jointly pay developing countries $410m (£200m) each year from 2005 to 2008. They called on other countries to donate as well. The money was supposed to compensate developing countries for the severe effects over the coming decades of global warming, which is largely caused by carbon emissions from the developed world. But accounts presented last week show that only $177m (£86m) had been paid into the funds by September 30 this year, much less than the $1.2bn due by the end of 2007 under the Bonn agreement.

Britain to build world's biggest biomass plant
The U.K. Government has given the go-ahead for the biggest biomass plant in the world to be built on the South coast of Wales. The 350-megawatt wood chip-fuelled electricity generating plant will cost £400 million to set-up and will be sited in the industrial town of Port Talbot. Environmental groups oppose the project because of its location with Greenpeace expressing concern that wood would be transported over the Atlantic Ocean. The exact source of the wood to be used has not been made clear.

In Brief

Carbon Credit Confusion: voluntary carbon projects lose credits under Kyoto

Google earmarks hundreds of millions for green power

Chocolate-powered biodisel drivers leave London, headed to Timbuktu

Sea Shepherd vows to stop Planktos ship Weatherbird II, "iron seeding" - dumping tonnes of pulverised iron ore into the ocean - can catalyse the growth of microscopic algae that will then suck carbon out of the atmosphere.

Best of the net

Brilliant ad for wind power

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