Thursday, 3 July 2008

Climate Snippets - 4 July

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

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Condemned to single-sex life by climate change.

Rising temperatures look set to produce male-only offspring in the tuatara, condemning the ancient reptile species to extinction by 2085, computer modelling predicts. Researchers studying tuatara made their doomsday prediction using digital terrain maps detailing the consequences for the reptiles' nesting sites of a 4°C hike in average temperature. The entire tuatara population is now effectively trapped on about 30 small islands in New Zealand’s north, having been wiped out elsewhere by predators. They therefore have no chance of adapting by fleeing to cooler climes, the researchers say. The study is reported in Proceedings of the Royal Society. “Since the mid 1990s, people have been talking about the vulnerability of reptiles to climate change because they have temperature-dependent sex determination. But no one has been able to model it in this type of complexity before,” says research leader Nicola Mitchell of the University of Western Australia in Perth.

UN reports big jump in 'green energy'. investment.

Global investors plowed $148 billion into new wind, solar and other alternative energy assets last year, in what the United Nations describes as a "green energy gold rush" gaining speed the last several years. The spike in investment — 60 percent above the $92.6 billion spent on such projects in 2006 — reflects sharply rising concerns over climate change and energy prices, U.N. officials said in a report Tuesday. In 2005, alternative energy drew $58.5 billion in new money.
An additional $56 billion changed hands on mergers and acquisitions involving alternative energy last year — another sign the "clean energy" industry is maturing in the eyes of investors, U.N. Undersecretary-General Achim Steiner said. Solar power was the fastest-growing sector, rising almost 90 percent to $28 billion.

Yvo de Boer sees record oil price as a positive.

The UN's top climate change official said Thursday that record oil prices, which have surged to 146 dollars a barrel, were positive for the environment. "I think they are a net positive. First of all you see that through decreasing demand in Europe and North America where people are becoming much more conscious of petrol prices," Yvo de Boer told AFP. "High oil prices also improve the competitiveness of renewable sources of energy and make it more interesting to focus on energy efficiency," he added. "There is a risk that as dirty forms of oil become commercially more attractive that would lead to an increase in emissions," he said. One such worry is the Canadian tar sands, a dense mixture of sand, water and petroleum used to extract bitumen, which are controversial because of the environmental impact of extracting and refining the mixture.

Greens say truckies should not hold country to ransom.

New Zealanders should not be held to ransom by a trucking industry that has been heavily subsidised by taxpayers for too long, Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says. Truck drivers, furious at a rise in diesel road user charges, plan to clogged city centres today. Transport Minister Annette King announced the increase in road user charges on Monday night and they came into effect on Tuesday -- angering truckies who wanted notice so they could pre-purchase But Ms Fitzsimons today said the trucking industry had been heavily subsidised for years and the price rise, which was small, was warranted. She said a 2005 Transport Ministry report showed trucks only paid 56 percent of the costs they caused to the economy whereas rail freight paid 82 percent. "That distorts the playing field between trucks and rail. That means we have more freight going by big trucks on the road rather than on trains. That's bad for all other road users." In addition she said road user charges had only been raised once since 1989. "We know that the costs of maintaining highways have gone up massively during that time. It is time that trucks paid their way."

Nats attack new fuel tax law.

National attacked the Government yesterday over increased road-user charges and a law passed last night allowing regional fuel taxes to fund large capital projects - but won't say it would undo them. The tax of up to 10c a litre when fully implemented will be limited to 2c next year and 5c a litre in 2010. The Transport Minister will have to approve applications for regional fuel taxes and no more than 5c a litre can be applied to roading projects. Up to 5c a litre can be applied to fund public transport. Acting Transport Minister Harry Duynhoven said the electrification of Auckland rail network would be an early project to benefit. The Land Transport Management Amendment Bill allowed the transport system to be planned in a fully integrated manner.

In Brief

Young Greens and Greens on Campus Auckland Climate Action Hui 2,3 August.

Young Kiwi travellers care about carbon footprint.

Greenpeace activists are blockading Australia’s most polluting coal-fired power station to call for an energy revolution.

India offers 8 ideals on a climate change policy, but few details.

High gasoline prices have dramatically changed Americans' views on energy and the environment, with more people now viewing oil drilling and new power plants as a greater priority than energy conservation, according to a new survey.

Chief executives from 99 of the world's largest companies called this week for Group of Eight nations to take the lead on climate change and agree to a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol.

Tuxedo clad canaries in the coal mine.

Flat-screen televisions could have a greater impact on global warming than the world's largest coal-fired power stations.

EU to include airlines in emissions trading system.

Fitzsimons: open letter to Key receives closed response.

Monbiot: A radical new idea could save the world’s ecosystems. But what will it do to the economy?

Carbon neutral cows?

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