Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Climate Snippets - 24 January

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

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EU sets 20% target for carbon cuts.

A blueprint for tackling global warming was put on the table by the EU, which challenged the US and other big polluters worldwide to join the battle against climate change. Setting out plans for the world's first significant low-carbon economy, the EU ordered swingeing cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Under draft legislation unveiled by the European commission, 20% of Europe's energy mix is to come from renewable sources by 2020, while Europe's biggest polluting industries must slash their emissions by 21% against 2005 levels by the same deadline.

While the overall aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 363m tonnes, or 20%, by 2020, Stavros Dimas, the environment commissioner, said the scheme included "automatic triggers" to take the cuts to the level of 30% if the remainder of the world signed up for similar action.

The EU executive laid out binding targets for each of the 27 member countries on emissions reductions and on renewable energy in order to reach the goal of the 20% cut in greenhouse gases, as well as the 20% target for Europe's energy mix being provided by renewables, and 10% of all road fuel deriving from biofuels. The British government welcomed the commission's draft, which orders a 16% cut in emissions by Britain by 2020. The UK is also obliged to increase its reliance on renewable energy, from less than 2% now to 15% of the country's total energy needs by the same date.

"A work in progress", was the verdict of Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change. "I see no reason why some of these targets may not become stronger, may not become more stringent."

Amazon rain forest destruction quickens.

Deforestation of the Amazon has accelerated, in recent months and is likely to increase this year for the first time in four years, says a senior Brazilian government scientist. The rise raises questions over Brazil's assertion that its environmental policies are effectively protecting the world's biggest rain forest, the destruction of which is a major source of carbon emissions that cause global warming.

"I think the last four months is a big concern for the government and now they are sending people to do more law enforcement," Carlos Nobre, a scientist with Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, told a seminar in Washington. "But I can tell you that it [deforestation] is going to be much higher than 2007." Nobre, whose government agency monitors the Amazon, said that 6000sq km of forest had been lost in the past four months. That compares with about 9600sq km in the year to July, which Brazil officials hailed as the lowest deforestation rate since the 1970s.

Brazil's government has said that policies such as more controls on illegal logging But environmental groups have warned that rising global commodity prices are likely to fuel more clearing of land for farms, as occurred in 2004 when Brazil recorded the highest deforestation rate of more than 27,000sq km. Destruction of forests produces about 20 per cent of man-made carbon dioxide emissions, making conservation of the Amazon crucial to limiting rises in global temperatures.

Save Happy Valley to celebrate 2 year occupation of future mine site and Walkers to set off soon.

Beginning on the 28th of Jan a crew will set out from Auckland, their goal is to walk to Happy Valley to raise awareness of climate change and the Valley. Anyone is welcome to join them for sections or meet up with them on their journey. Check out: for details of the journey, their planned route and timetable.

US calls January 30-31 climate talks.

US President George W. Bush has called major world economies to a second round of climate change talks on January 30-31 in Hawaii, the White House's Council on Environmental Quality announced. "The two day meeting will further the shared objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy security and efficiency, and sustaining economic growth, and will help to advance the negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change," it said in a statement Tuesday. Bush held a first round in September 2007 under an initiative he proposed in June in the face of intensifying international pressure for Washington to do more to battle greenhouse-gas emissions.

Norway says aims to go carbon neutral by 2030.

Norway, which last year set what it called the world's most ambitious target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, said that it aimed to go "carbon neutral" in 2030, which is 20 years earlier than its previous target. The government said last year that Norway would aim to cut net emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) to nil by 2050 by reducing emissions at home and investing abroad in environmental projects that will give Norway CO2 reduction credits.

The plan includes offsetting Norwegian emissions by spending around 3 billion crowns ($553.1 million) per year to combat deforestation in developing countries. Forests act as a sink for CO2, the main greenhouse gas blamed for causing global warming. "The parties now think it is realistic to assume reductions in Norwegian climate gas emissions of 15-17 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents by 2020 when forests are included," the government said in a statement. Environmental groups said the deal was too vague, and Oil and Energy Minister Aaslaug Haga acknowledged: "We don't know how we will achieve the goals yet, and that is challenging."

Nanowires Could Be Used To Convert Heat Into Electricity.

Energy now lost as heat during the production of electricity could be harnessed through the use of silicon nanowires synthesized via a technique developed by researchers with the U.S. The far-ranging potential applications of this technology include hydrogen fuel cell-powered cars and personal power-jackets that could use heat from the human body to recharge cell-phones and other electronic devices.

In Brief

U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization warns of biofuels' environmental risk.

The 10,000-tonne MS Beluga SkySails - powered partly by a giant kite sets off on a maiden voyage from Bremen to Venezuela.

World's greenest city' plans revealed.

Virgin Atlantic plans first biofuel flight.

NZ's Pike River to raise NZ$100 million for coal mine

Climatologists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City have found that 2007 tied with 1998 for Earth's second warmest year in a century.

Best of the web

Neat little peak oil animation.

Greenpeace UK’s Convenient Truth video

Prince Charles appears in hologram form to argue climate action at Dubai Future World Energy Summit.

Climate denial car adverts.

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