Friday, 15 February 2008

Climate Snippets - 16 February

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

To subscribe to regular Climate Snippet emails, contact with subscribe in subject line

The true scale of climate change emissions from shipping is almost three times higher than previously believed.

It calculates that annual emissions from the world's merchant fleet have already reached 1.12bn tonnes of CO2, or nearly 4.5% of all global emissions of the main greenhouse gas. The report suggests that shipping emissions - which are not taken into account by European targets for cutting global warming - will become one of the largest single sources of manmade CO2after cars, housing, agriculture and industry. By comparison, the aviation industry, which has been under heavy pressure to clean up, is responsible for about 650m tonnes of CO2emissions a year, just over half that from shipping.

Until now, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated shipping emissions to be a maximum 400m tonnes, but the new draft report by a group of international scientists is a more sophisticated measure, using data collected from the oil and shipping industries for the International Maritime Organisation, the UN agency tasked with monitoring pollution from ships. It not only shows emissions are much worse than feared, but warns CO₂emissions are set to rise by a further 30% by 2020.

The UN report also reveals that other pollutants from shipping are rising even faster than CO2 emissions. Sulphur and soot emissions, which give rise to lung cancers, acid rain and respiratory problems are expected to rise more than 30% over the next 12 years. A recent peer-reviewed study of shipping emissions found world shipping led directly to 60,000 deaths a year.

Study reveals cost of biofuels.

Growing crops to make biofuels results in vast amounts of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere and does nothing to stop climate change or global warming, according to the first thorough scientific audit of a biofuel's carbon budget. Two separate studies published in the journal Science show that a range of biofuel crops now being grown to produce alternatives to oil-based fossil fuels release far more carbon dioxide into the air than can be absorbed by the growing plants. The scientists found that in the case of some crops it would take several centuries of growing them to pay off the "carbon debt" caused by their initial cultivation. These environmental costs do not take into account any extra destruction to the environment, for instance the loss of biodiversity caused by clearing tracts of rainforest.

They found that when peat lands in Indonesia are converted into palm-oil plantations, for instance, it would take 423 years to pay off the carbon debt. The next worse case was when forested land in the Amazon is cut down to convert into soybean fields. The scientists found that it would take 319 years of making biodiesel from the soybeans to pay off the carbon debt caused by chopping down the trees in the first place. Such conversions of land to grow corn, maize and sugarcane for biodiesel, or palm oil and soybean for bioethanol, release between 17 and 420 times more carbon than the annual savings from replacing fossil fuels, the scientists calculated.

Can New Zealand become carbon neutral? – Carbon farming may be answer says Peter Floyd.

"The Business Roundtable maintains we have no way of becoming carbon neutral, and DairyNZ warns that a carbon trading regime might push up the cost of farming, but they are both ignoring the huge potential that farmers have to lock up very large amounts of atmospheric carbon in their soils," says farm business sustainability specialist Peter Floyd. Some Australian farmers have begun 'carbon farming' to sequester soil carbon, and are already selling the carbon credits earned on the Chicago Climate Exchange. "Australian scientists have calculated that a 0.1% increase in organic carbon across just 10% of Australia's agricultural lands would sequester more than half of that country's total annual greenhouse gas emissions," says Floyd.

The Farming for Change Conference takes place at the Christchurch Town Hall on February 26-28, and includes a field day on two Canterbury farms.
For more information go to

Tindall, Todd join on climate change

Two of New Zealand's leading philanthropic organisations, the Todd and Tindall Foundations, have joined forces to fund a new foundation to stimulate practical solutions to the challenges of climate change. The Hikurangi Foundation has been established with a commitment of $500,000 from each of the Tindall and Todd Foundations over the next two years. The inaugural chair of the Hikurangi Foundation is Tom Lambie, Chancellor of Lincoln University and former National President of Federated Farmers as well as running an organic dairy farm in South Canterbury. Other Trustees include forestry executive George Asher, Tindall Foundation trustee Jenny Casey, communications strategist Matthew Jansen, economist Suzi Kerr and business journalist Rod Oram. He expects the foundation will be ready to call for submissions from interested parties by mid year and hopes additional funders may join this collaboration.

Queensland to develop peak oil strategy.

The Queensland State Government is to develop a strategy to help Queenslanders lessen their reliance on liquid fossil fuels as the price of oil increases and supply diminishes. Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation, Andrew McNamara, who is also the Australian patron of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil said the future availability of fossil fuel and alternative energy supplies is one of the main sustainability issues facing society today. The strategy will have three broad elements: reducing the consumption of liquid fossil fuels; encouraging the development and use of alternative fuels; and preparing for demographic and regional changes as Queenslanders alter travel, work and living habits in response to rising fuel prices.

In brief

Security council urged to punish CO2 offenders.

The U.N. General Assembly is bringing together business leaders, activists and government officials for a debate on climate change.

Monbiot - A new generation of biofuels turns out to be another environmental disaster.

Major cycling scheme announced by London Mayor.

U.K. Church advocates carbon fast for Lent providing 40 day plan.

Peak-oilers put money where mouths are with one-sided $100,000 bet.

Experts tip Australian emission targets of 13 to 15%.

The International Rising Tide network and its allies are calling for a day of action against the fossil fuel industry on April 1st 2008 FOSSIL FOOLS DAY!

Compare and contrast the U.S candidates - Grist's in-depth coverage of the presidential candidates' green stances, including exclusive interviews and fact sheets on their energy and climate platforms.

Hairy solar panels could result from nanowire breakthrough.

Taking people power to a new level – Knee mounted electrical generator.

No comments: