Thursday, 15 May 2008

Climate Snippets - 16 May

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

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World carbon dioxide levels highest for 650,000 years, says US report.

Scientists at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii say that CO2 levels in the atmosphere now stand at 387 parts per million (ppm), up almost 40% since the industrial revolution and the highest for at least the last 650,000 years. The figures, published by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on its website, also confirm that carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, is accumulating in the atmosphere faster than expected. The annual mean growth rate for 2007 was 2.14ppm - the fourth year in the last six to see an annual rise greater than 2ppm. From 1970 to 2000, the concentration rose by about 1.5ppm each year, but since 2000 the annual rise has leapt to an average 2.1ppm. Scientists say the shift could indicate that the Earth is losing its natural ability to soak up billions of tonnes of CO2 each year. Climate models assume that about half our future emissions will be reabsorbed by forests and oceans, but the new figures confirm this may be too optimistic. If more of our carbon pollution stays in the atmosphere, it means emissions will have to be cut by more than is currently projected to prevent dangerous levels of global warming.

Emissions Trading Scheme Watch

Greens secure warmer, drier State homes.

The Green Party has ensured that five years from now all State House tenants will be living in insulated homes. A Budget bid secured by the Greens will see a total of $53.4 million spent over five years on a variety of renovations that will make State houses warmer, drier and more energy efficient, Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says. In addition to insulating the remaining 21,000 uninsulated houses, the package includes draft-proofing windows and doors, wraps for hot water cylinders, efficient shower heads, lagging of pipes and, if appropriate, new energy efficient home heating.

NZ: heavy emitters influence climate policy most.

Businesses with high greenhouse gas emissions are having the most influence on climate change policy, according to a new national survey. Seventy per cent of New Zealanders think the heavy emitters have most influence, 17% more than the next nearest top influencer, environmental groups. Green Party MPs rank third (37%), business organizations fourth (34%) – while those believed to have least influence are beneficiaries (3%) and the unemployed (2%). Of the parties represented in Parliament, ACT MPs are seen as the least influential on climate change policy, and MPs from Labour (23%) and National (11%) the most effective, according to a ShapeNZ national online poll, undertaken between 11.30pm May 6 and 5.30pm May 11, 2008.

Estonia: Farmers to be charged for cattle emissions.

Estonian farmers are to become the first to cough up for their cattle's belching and flatulence. The country's government has announced plans to charge a greenhouse gas tax for the methane and carbon dioxide produced by cows. Each cow produces around 350 litres of methane and 1,500 litres of CO2 per day and cattle are responsible for around 25% of Estonia's methane emissions.

Australia: Green groups divided over viability of 'clean coal'.

Last month, a group of 25 environmental activists staged an impromptu demonstration outside the Sydney offices of yet another global organisation. But this time it wasn't a multinational mining or oil company that was the target, but the environment group WWF. They were protesting against WWF's decision to partner with the coal industry, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the environment think tank the Climate Institute in working to accelerate the development of carbon capture and storage technology, otherwise known as clean coal. This was just the latest exchange in the simmering brand war between Australia's two biggest green groups, WWF and Greenpeace, revealing the widening ideological divide between conservationists and activists of the founding denominations in the broad church of the environment movement.

In Brief

Taxpayers face having to pay an extra $200 million as part of the Government's buy-back of the national rail service.

Farmers in Rajasthan, India are forsaking their gas-guzzling tractors and returning to using their trusty camels for haulage.

U.S. could get 20%of energy from wind by 2030, says DOE.

UNEP wants to plant 7 billion trees.

Nissan Plans Electric Car in U.S. by 2010.

UK Government to miss 60% of eco-targets, think tank says.

The US lists the polar bear as a threatened species but says the decision will not affect climate change policies.

Global Warming Swindle coming to New Zealand.

Best of the Net

Check out the low carbon calculator.

VIDEO: What If Earth Warms 6 Degrees?

Radio NZ: our changing world.

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