Thursday, 22 May 2008

Climate Snippets - 23 May

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

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Nats call for a delay to emission trading scheme law.

National has called for a delay to the climate change emissions trading scheme saying more care needs to be taken. National Leader John Key told the National Party Lower North Island Regional Conference that he still supported an ETS, but Labour had embarked on a rushed process that put New Zealand at risk. "We believe that the current rushed timetable for the design of the ETS and the select committee process is reckless, given the importance of the issue," Mr Key said "Therefore, I'm calling for a delay in the passage of this legislation." Mr Key's announcement is another blow to the controversial legislation which has come under fire from business groups for its potential economic costs and environment groups for not going far enough. Climate Change Minister David Parker called Mr Key's announcement "pathetic" and said he had failed to show any leadership.

In response:

More delay is the last thing we need: Greens.

John Key's approach to climate change policy has all the urgency of a methane-emitting cow chewing its cud, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.
“He criticises Labour, fairly enough, for aiming at the moon and failing even to get airborne. So instead he has set a far off target - of a 50 percent reduction in 2050 - and isn't even aiming at getting airborne,” Ms Fitzsimons says.

National – weak in the face of anti-climate lobby: Greenpeace.

Greenpeace climate campaigner Simon Boxer said it seemed Mr Key was caving in to big business. "Rarely has a piece of legislation been so heavily analysed and widely consulted over as the ETS. For National to now call `wait' says more about National's lack of commitment to tackling the issue than it does about the robustness of the legislation," Mr Boxer said. Mr Boxer said National's opposition to a moratorium on new thermal generation was equally unacceptable.

Peters plays it cool on NZ First support for global warming legislation.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says his party will be talking to the Government in the next few weeks about support for its emissions trading scheme legislation. National still believes a trading scheme is the way to go, but says the legislation is poorly drafted and is being needlessly rushed. He criticised National leader John Key for not showing leadership on the issue. Mr Key had gone from being a "climate change denier to its number one activist in the country" and then had reneged on that position to see what Australia was doing.

EU lawmakers call for faster climate change curbs.

Global temperature rises should be kept well below the European Union's target of 2 degrees Celsius to avoid costly damage to people and their lifestyles, the European parliament said on Wednesday. Its members voted 566-61 in favour of a report which also said EU consumers must be given better information about the "carbon footprint" of goods they buy, including products imported into the 27-nation bloc. The bloc has adopted ambitious targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a fifth by 2020 from 1990 levels, and Dimas said it was making good progress with CO2 down 8 percent since 1990.

Radical climate action would change sky's colour.

Scientist Tim Flannery has proposed a radical solution to climate change which may change the colour of the sky. But he says it may be necessary, as the "last barrier to climate collapse." Professor Flannery says climate change is happening so quickly that mankind may need to pump sulphur into the atmosphere to survive. The gas sulphur could be inserted into the earth's stratosphere to keep out the sun's rays and slow global warming, a process called global dimming. “It would change the colour of the sky," Professor Flannery said. "It's the last resort that we have, it's the last barrier to a climate collapse. We need to be ready to start doing it in perhaps five years time if we fail to achieve what we're trying to achieve."

As well as the global dimming plan, Professor Flannery said carbon should be taken out of the air and converted into charcoal, then ploughed into farmers' fields. Wealthy people should pay poor farmers in tropical zones to plant forests - possibly through a direct purchase scheme such as the eBay website.
And all conventional coal-fired power stations - which did not have "clean coal" technology - should be closed by 2030. Capturing carbon emissions from coal-fired power stations and storing it underground - called carbon capture and storage - was a good idea, Professor Flannery said.

More unintended risks from biofuels?

At a United Nations meeting in Bonn, Germany, on Tuesday, scientists from the Global Invasive Species Program, the Nature Conservancy and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, as well as other groups, presented a paper with a warning about invasive species. “Some of the most commonly recommended species for biofuels production are also major invasive alien species,” the paper says, adding that these crops should be studied more thoroughly before being cultivated in new areas. Controlling the spread of such plants could prove difficult, the experts said, producing “greater financial losses than gains.” The International Union for Conservation of Nature encapsulated the message like this: “Don’t let invasive biofuel crops attack your country.”
To reach their conclusions, the scientists compared the list of the most popular second-generation biofuels with the list of invasive species and found an alarming degree of overlap. They said little evaluation of risk had occurred before planting.

“These are tough survivors, which means they’re good producers for biofuel because they grow well on marginal land that you wouldn’t use for food,” Dr. Howard said. “But we’ve had 100 years of experience with introductions of these crops that turned out to be disastrous for environment, people, health.”
Stas Burgiel, a scientist at the Nature Conservancy, said the cost of controlling invasive species is immense and generally not paid by those who created the problem. The Global Invasive Species Program estimates that the damage from invasive species costs the world more than $1.4 trillion annually — five percent of the global economy.

In Brief

Oil soars to new record over $135.

Oil: from perpetual backwardation into contango.

Prius sales top 1 million.

Getting Their Message a Cross. Conservative Christians launch sceptical climate campaign.

Study finds meat and dairy create more emissions than miles.

Biodiesel pirates steal cooking oil.

The sun sets on Rudd's climate change credibility.

Best of the Net

Climate Change in Our World, a project from Google Earth and British environmental and meteorological offices that gives a visual representation of what we've got in store.

The IPCC's vice chairman Mohan Munasinghe warns against the economic and social consequences of global warming.

Gordon Campbell interviews Russel Norman - The cost of being green.

Hollywood aiming for a neutral future.

Harrison Ford has chest waxed to help raise awareness of effect of deforestation on global warming.

Greenpeace parody: GIvE uS tHe caSh or tHe CLiMaTe gETs it!

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