Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Climate Snippets - 20 December

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

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Bali – what happened?
The United Nations Climate Change Conference 07 ended with a compromise agreement on a "Bali Roadmap," which sets the agenda for defining an agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol when its commitment period expires in 2012. "Parties have recognized the urgency of action on climate change and have now provided the political response to what scientists have been telling us is needed," said Yvo de Boer, head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat. Whether or not to include specific emissions reduction targets had proved a serious source of contention during the meeting. The European Union favoured an explicit goal of a 25 to 40 per cent reduction in emissions below 1990 levels by the year 2020, but this was strenuously, and successfully, opposed by the United States. The final text of the Roadmap only refers to the need for "deep cuts in global emissions." But, with this compromise, the United States will play a role in developing the post-Kyoto regime. The Roadmap commits negotiators to pursue means of encouraging developing nations to curb, on a voluntary basis, emissions growth. The negotiators will consider "measurable, reportable and verifiable nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country Parties in the context of sustainable development, supported by technology and enabled by financing and capacity-building." Negotiations on the post-Kyoto agreement will be finalized by 2009.


Emissions Trading Scheme Bill
The Climate Change (Emissions Trading and Renewable Preference) Bill has
been referred to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee and
submissions close on 29 February 2008. The report back date is 10 June
2008. Members of the Committee are:Chauvel (L. Chairperson), English (N), Fitzsimons (G), Foss (N), Gosche (L), Harawira (M), Hide (A), Mackey (L), Smith (N), Swain (L), Tremain (N), Turner (U), Woolerton (NZF).

Seas could rise twice as high as predicted: study
The world's sea levels could rise twice as high this century as U.N. climate scientists have predicted, according to researchers who looked at what happened more than 100,000 years ago, the last time Earth got this hot. Experts working on the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have suggested a maximum 21st century sea level rise of about 32 inches. But researchers said in a study appearing on Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience that the maximum could be twice that, or 64 inches. They made the estimate by looking at the so-called interglacial period, some 124,000 to 119,000 years ago, when Earth's climate was warmer than it is now due to a different configuration of the planet's orbit around the sun. That was the last time sea levels reached up to 20 feet (6 meters) above where they are now, fueled by the melting of the ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica. The researchers say their study is the first robust documentation of how quickly sea levels rose to that level.

3,000 walruses die in stampedes tied to climate
Several thousand Pacific walruses (out of population of perhaps 200,000) above the Arctic Circle were killed in stampedes earlier this year after the disappearance of sea ice caused them to crowd onto the shoreline in extraordinary numbers, deaths some scientists see as another alarming consequence of global warming. Unlike seals, walruses cannot swim indefinitely. The big, tusked mammals typically clamber onto the sea ice to rest, or haul themselves onto land for just a few weeks at a time. But ice disappeared in the Chukchi Sea this year because of warm summer weather, ocean currents and persistent eastern winds. s a result, walruses came ashore earlier and stayed longer, congregating in extremely high numbers, with herds as big as 40,000 at Point Shmidt, a spot that had not been used by walruses as a "haulout" place for a century, scientists said. Walruses are vulnerable to stampedes when they gather in such large numbers. The appearance of a polar bear, a hunter or a low-flying airplane can send them rushing to the water.

Roles focus on charcoal's benefits
Two professorships at Massey University have won Government funding for wide-ranging research of "biochar". Studies overseas have shown that turning wood or other plant material into charcoal and burying it in soils can not only keep carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere, but also help soil organisms extract more carbon from the atmosphere.

Kangaroo farts could fight global warming
Australian scientists are trying to give kangaroo-style stomachs to cattle and sheep in a bid to cut the emission of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. Thanks to special bacteria in their stomachs, kangaroos' flatulence contains no methane and scientists want to transfer that bacteria to cattle and sheep who emit large quantities of the harmful gas. Another group of scientists has suggested Australians farm fewer cattle and sheep and just eat more kangaroos.

All new U.K. schools to be zero-carbon by 2016
Schools will install wind turbines and solar power systems in a multi-million pound drive to reduce carbon emissions, schools secretary Ed Balls announced in a statement to MPs. He wants all new school buildings to be zero-carbon by 2016. Balls announced the details of about 200 energy-saving projects that will cost about £110m over the next three years.

In Brief

Social Democrats in Germany call for climate-related sanctions on U.S.

Climate Camp moves down under to Newcastle, Australia mid next year.

Palm oil is a net source of CO2 emissions when produced on peatlands

China Says Glaciers Shrink by up to 18%

Honda to Launch Car Using 'Affordable' Hybrid Engine

Congress sends bill raising fuel efficiency standards to Bush

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