Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Climate Snippets - 26 June

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

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Put oil firm chiefs on trial, Hansen.

James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer. Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech to the US Congress - in which he was among the first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming - to argue that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the "perfect storm" of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable.

Paris plans help-yourself green car hire.

First came self-service bicycles, and now Paris is launching a green scheme to provide electric cars that drivers can pick up and drop off anywhere in the city.
The Socialist mayor, Bertrand Delanoƫ, announced yesterday that from the end of next year, 4,000 electric cars will be placed around Paris and its outskirts for drivers in the scheme to help themselves for short journeys. It is the first electric car project of its kind in a capital city.

Government secures a cheaper route for Transmission Gully.

Transport Minister Annette King announced the go-ahead for the inland highway Tuesday after a detailed investigation that has mapped out an alternative route saving $275 million. The project, aimed to ease congestion along the coastal highway, is now projected to cost $1.025 billion, compared with $1.3 billion using a 2004 inflation-adjusted price tag. The Dominion Post understands savings have been made by axing the number of entry and exit points, including trimming one of two Porirua on-ramps. The route also crosses flatter land, which has cut down on the number of streams requiring bridges. The Green Party questioned the viability of the 27-kilometre highway with petrol prices rising and motorists unable to afford petrol taxes or tolls, which will probably be used to

Auckland leaves the car at home, traffic cut 3%.

New traffic-flow figures suggest our love of driving is waning, possibly because of rising fuel prices. Figures for last month, given to the Weekend Herald by Transit NZ, show traffic on the city's motorways in peak hours is down an estimated 3 per cent since May last year. That translates to a reduction of more than 6000 cars a day on some of the system's busiest stretches. In the same period, Auckland's population rose by about 23,000, from 1,394,000 to about 1,417,000. Transit's northern operations manager, Joseph Flannagan, said the average reduction in motorway traffic was about 3 per cent, but decreases of between 4 and 7 per cent were recorded at Great North Rd on the Northwestern Motorway, and at Silverdale, Oteha Valley Rd, Esmonde Rd and St Marys Bay on the Northern.

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said the change in driving habits should herald a swing towards public transport funding in Auckland. But future public transport investments were being pushed aside while motorway funding was secured. Auckland's rail electrification was now in doubt as the expected regional fuel tax to provide the funding had lost favour in Parliament, she said. Electrification of the rail system and converting Britomart to a through-station would enable passenger numbers to increase from 6 million a year now to 38 million, at a cost of about $2 billion. A similar figure is being spent on the Western Ring Route's Waterview tunnel. Ms Fitzsimons says this project should be scrapped and the money spent on rail, avoiding the need for any petrol tax.

Big gains touted in emissions report.

An emissions trading scheme would unlock investment of more than $12 billion over the next 10 years and create nearly 10,000 jobs, according to a report commissioned by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development. The business council's aim is to remind MPs considering the ETS legislation that it has an upside to weigh against the risks and costs other business lobby groups and companies have been emphasising.
  • Council members "blindsided" by report. Some key members of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development are steamed up about yesterday's "special report" to MPs promoting a multibillion-dollar bonanza for New Zealand if the emissions trading legislation is passed.
  • Price on carbon could be positive for the economy – Greens. Farmers would profit from involvement in the Emissions Trading Scheme, reinforcing the Green Party's insistence that farming be included in the Bill earlier than 2013, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says. "If the use of nitrogen inhibitors can increase a dairy farmer's profit by 18 percent a year as well as add 1728 jobs, why is the government so reluctant to take this free, low hanging fruit? Can't we start agriculture now with what is not only easy, but free, and delay action on methane as planned? "In addition to nitrogen inhibitors there are several other technologies that would reduce nitrous oxide emissions - they have plenty of options." Ms Fitzsimons welcomes the New Zealand Council for Sustainable Development report, released this afternoon, as it demonstrates the financial benefits of a price on carbon.
Firms to get billion-dollar green subsidy – Sustainability Council.

Seven of New Zealand's biggest companies will receive "corporate welfare" of $1.2 billion over the next decade, according to an environmental think-tank. It would include subsidies on greenhouse gas emissions and their increased energy bills, Sustainability Council executive director Simon Terry said this week. And an eighth company, Fonterra, will receive a further $200 million, in addition to separate subsidies of $1.3 million being given to the nation's farmers.

In Brief

The replacement of traditional fuels with biofuels has dragged more than 30 million people worldwide into poverty, Oxfam says.

UN climate chief asks G8 summit to agree on 2020 emission targets.

World's biggest solar plant goes online in Germany.

China accounted for two-thirds of the rise in carbon dioxide emissions in 2007 and is now pumping out about 14% more emissions than the USA.

Americans drove 22 billion fewer miles from November through April than during the same period in 2006-07, the biggest such drop since the Iranian revolution led to gasoline supply shortages in 1979-80.

Climate change ads should be more cheery, report says.

Oram: Lobbyists can't see the wood for the trees.

Monbiot: Big oil's big lie.

Colin James: Does it matter if climate bill dies?

Best of the Net

Greenpeace NZ coal video.

The United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, has unveiled a carbon calculation tool on its website that allows travellers to estimate the carbon footprint for any flight they take.

New global campaign –

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