Thursday, 24 July 2008

Climate Snippets - 25 July

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

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Australia outlines emissions scheme.

While the Government struggles to get its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) down the legislative slipway and launched before the election, its Australian counterpart has outlined its own scheme. There are as many differences as similarities between them. Both are intended to apply to electricity generation from 2010. In Australia's case, "stationary energy" accounts for about half of its emissions, because of its reliance on coal-fired generation. Australia does not envisage including agriculture (about 16 per cent of its emissions) until 2015 at the earliest. It will not decide until 2013. Neither Government is in any hurry to add to the price of transport fuels. Australia plans a Clayton's approach initially, where any increase in petrol or diesel prices from the ETS will be offset, cent-for-cent by a reduction in the excise on those fuels. That would entirely eliminate any price signal for the first three years of the scheme. The New Zealand Government opted to push back transport's entry into the scheme from 2009 to 2011.

In response

ETS: Opinion poll backs emission law.

An opinion poll on the emissions trading scheme has found more people support it than not. The survey of 514 people, conducted by DigiPoll last month, found 34 per cent for and 24 per cent against the legislation. The bill has been reported back by the finance select committee and the Government is trying to muster enough support among the smaller parties to get it passed before the election. Nearly half of respondents agreed: "New Zealand should be one of the world leaders on climate change and work at the same pace as other countries which are determined to make a difference." Forty-four per cent disagreed with the assertion: "New Zealand's carbon emissions are so small that any action we take will not make any difference to the effects of climate change." Thirty-four per cent agreed with the statement. And 87 per cent said they were personally prepared to take steps or accept costs to reduce the effects of climate change. But price resistance set in somewhere between $10 and $20 a week when asked how much more they would pay for power and petrol.

Secret report: biofuel caused food crisis.

Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% - far more than previously estimated - according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian. The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body. The figure emphatically contradicts the US government's claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises. It will add to pressure on governments in Washington and across Europe, which have turned to plant-derived fuels to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and reduce their dependence on imported oil. Senior development sources believe the report, completed in April, has not been published to avoid embarrassing President George Bush.

Environment: Climate risk from flat-screen TVs.

The rising demand for flat-screen televisions could have a greater impact on global warming than the world's largest coal-fired power stations, a leading environmental scientist warned yesterday. Manufacturers use a greenhouse gas called nitrogen trifluoride to make the televisions, and as the sets have become more popular, annual production of the gas has risen to about 4,000 tonnes.

As a driver of global warming, nitrogen trifluoride is 17,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide, yet no one knows how much of it is being released into the atmosphere by the industry, said Michael Prather, director of the environment institute at the University of California, Irvine. Prather's research reveals that production of the gas, which remains in the atmosphere for 550 years, is "exploding" and is expected to double by next year. Unlike common greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs), emissions of the gas are not restricted by the Kyoto protocol or similar agreements.

In Brief

World leaders vague on climate change goals.

Gore challenges US to produce every kilowatt of electricity through wind, sun and other Earth-friendly energy sources within 10 years.

Coal or Kiwi: Solid Energy at it again.

Global warming may raise kidney stone cases: study.

A massive swath of northern Ontario boreal forest, considered the world's largest carbon storehouse, will be off-limits to forestry and mining activities.

Pope expresses worry about climate change.

No gasoline or oil price relief until winter 2009, says EIA.

Vast oil, natural gas reserves estimated in Arctic.

Ugandan coffee may disappear in 30 years: Oxfam.

Best of the Net

Climate change as seen through the eyes of the world's top cartoonists.

Safer cycling petition.

Latest Al Gore video.

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