Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

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Big guns aim at Govt climate policy.

New Zealand's largest company, its richest man and a state-owned enterprise are among the parties combining to lobby against the way the Government plans to devolve, to the owners of land under commercial forests which already existed in 1990, the deforestation liabilities which the country incurs under the Kyoto Protocol.

A body called the Flexible Land Use Alliance, to be launched in Wellington today, brings together Fonterra, Graeme Hart's Carter Holt, Landcorp and the Forest Owners Association, among others. At a carbon price of $25 a tonne the liability could be around $20,000 a hectare.

The Business Herald understands the group's first preference is for the Government to drop plans to devolve the liability altogether. That would leave the liability with the taxpayer. If the regime is imposed, they want to be fully compensated for the loss of value of their land. At the very least, they argue, the regime should allow for offsetting. This would allow people to avoid the deforestation liability if they planted a new forest somewhere else instead of replanting the existing one.

Get real on clean technologies, minister tells coal industry

The Climate Change Minister said although world-scale deposits of the low-quality coal had the potential to make the country self-sufficient in terms of transport fuel for several hundred years "…there is a degree of wishful thinking and exaggeration around how close clean-coal technology really is. If the Government was to apply the same brave assumptions to new technology renewables as are relied upon by some coal proponents, we would be pilloried. A dose of reality is required." That irritated Solid Energy chief executive Don Elder, who challenged him on that point. Mr Elder on Tuesday outlined progress in Australia on carbon storage where 100,000 tonnes of CO2 will be injected underground in April in Victoria. In questions, Mr Elder said to his knowledge Mr Parker had not consulted anyone among "a room full of chief executives and international experts". Mr Parker said officials had consulted widely and there was nothing in Government policy stopping the development of lignite resources in Southland.

Hay's head is in the sand on climate action, says Northey.

City Vision-Labour's Leader on the Auckland City Council, Councillor Richard Northey, today strongly condemned the decision by the new Auckland City Council, led by Deputy-Mayor David Hay, to cut out all the commitments to combating climate change that had been made by the previous Council. The first meeting of the Council's Performance Monitoring Committee was held in confidential on 23rd January and the minutes have only now become publicly available. The committee's Chair, Deputy-Mayor David Hay, moved to delete all the climate change action goals from the current 2007-08 financial year objectives of the Auckland City Council's Chief Executive, David Rankin.

Investors discuss climate risks at UN.

Hundreds of investors controlling $20 trillion in capital came searching for answers Thursday on how to put a price on carbon emissions blamed for global warming and create a new — and lucrative — economy based on cleaner sources of energy. The gathering of 480 investors and other Wall Street types was organized by groups supporting U.N. efforts such as the U.N. Foundation, Ceres and the U.N. Fund for International Partnerships.

$1 Trillion U.S carbon market predicted.

The new US president will most likely see in the emergence of a colossal carbon trading market, worth $1 trillion a year by 2020, according to a report released on Thursday. Another report, also out this week, estimates the US could be trading $600 billion in pollution credits annually by 2015. Either way, "it will be the largest environmental market of its kind," says Tiffany McCormick Potter, senior analyst for Point Carbon, which produced the 2015 estimate. According to Point Carbon, the European carbon trading scheme totalled $42 billion in 2007.

British Columbia becomes the first jurisdiction in North America to introduce a consumer-based carbon tax.

Driving and other fuel-dependent activities are about to get more expensive however Finance Minister Carole Taylor vowed Tuesday that all money collected through the new tax will be returned through matching tax cuts and credits. Taylor said the new carbon tax will kick in July 1. Initially, drivers will pay about 2.4 cents per litre more for gasoline at the pumps. The tax will apply to virtually all fossil fuels, including gasoline, diesel, natural gas, coal, propane and home-heating fuel. It will rise each year, reaching 7.2 cents per litre of gasoline -- and comparable amounts on other fuels -- by 2012. Lower-income British Columbians will receive further credits in the form of an annual "climate action credit" of $100 per adult and $30 per child.

Australian Govt. plays down Garnaut's climate call.

The federal government has tried to play down its chief climate change adviser's call for even deeper cuts to dangerous greenhouse gases. Economist Ross Garnaut in his interim report on climate change policy says the government should set a 2020 greenhouse target this year and consider setting a tougher 2050 target. "Australia should be ready to go beyond its stated 60 per cent reduction target by 2050 in an effective global agreement that includes developing nations," Prof Garnaut said in a statement.

UNEP unveils the climate neutral network to catalyze a transition to a low carbon world.

Four countries (Costa Rica, Iceland, New Zealand and Norway), four cities and five corporations are the first to join the Climate Neutral Network (CN Net), launched today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in cooperation with the UN's Environment Management Group, as one inspiring solution to the challenge of rising greenhouse gases. The Network, a web-based project, is seeking to federate the small but growing wave of nations, local authorities and companies who are pledging to significantly reduce emissions en route to zero emission economies, communities and businesses.

Sumatran deforestation driving climate change and species extinction, WWF report warns.

In brief

Eight of the top U.S. water utilities are joining forces to study how rising sea levels, droughts and other effects of global warming are taking a toll on supplies of drinking water.

Wisconsin college to give bikes to freshmen who pledge not to drive.

Venture to dump iron-sand in sea to fight warming runs out of cash.

As climate change warms the nation, giant Burmese pythons could colonize one-third of the USA.

Underground vault for crop seeds opens in Arctic Norway.

Branson's coconut airways - but jet is on a flight to nowhere, say critics.

Climate protesters arrested after scaling Heathrow jet

Runway protesters take to roof of parliament

Mega solar-station to cut Australian emissions.

Best of web

Greenpeace Unveils Its Eco City Concept – interactive web based programme.

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