Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Climate Snippets - 14 August

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

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Environment Minister Trevor Mallard and Energy Minister David Parker yesterday announced the proposed statement for renewable electricity generation.

It would encourage the small-scale development of renewable electricity generation projects to cut back on the reliance of rural communities on the national grid.
That could include making it simpler to set up small renewable energy sources such as a wind turbine in the backyard. The ministers have appointed an independent board of inquiry to consider the proposed policy to help achieve the Government's goal of generating 90 per cent of the country's electricity from renewable sources by 2025. The board of inquiry will receive public submissions and report back to the Environment Minister on the proposed national policy statement before it was gazetted.

Greenpeace has welcomed the Government's announcement saying "Greenpeace has long been asking for a national policy statement (NPS), to help sort the good electricity projects from the bad. A clear NPS will allow councils to weigh up a variety of factors, such as benefits to the climate and risks to biodiversity, when considering consent applications. Crucially, the Labour-led Government's NPS will be coupled with a 90 per cent by 2025 renewable electricity target."
The National Party releases its energy policy.

A 10-YEAR ban on new coal and gas-fuelled power stations is likely to be abandoned by National under plans to protect against future electricity shortages. Security of electricity supply is expected to be the focus of its energy policy, due to be unveiled today by leader John Key, as a tit-for-tat war over infrastructure spending heats up. The policy will probably include previously announced measures to streamline the resource consent process, and more investment in the national grid may also be on the cards. But National is also expected to argue that the 10-year ban on new coal and gas-fuelled power stations, which stymied the development of a $500 million turbine near Auckland, should be scrapped.
NZ fuel market fair and competitive, says report.

The sneaking suspicion that petrol prices go up faster than they fall has been dismissed, with a report claiming the fuel market here is "fundamentally competitive". The report, based on the Australian Competition and Commerce Commission's own inquiry, found that New Zealand had the fifth-lowest petrol prices and taxation levels in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development behind Mexico, the United States, Canada and Australia. Despite a public outcry at the record price rises seen earlier this year, the study found those were primarily the result of record rises in the barrel price of crude. Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said the report showed that the supply of cheap oil was nearing an end and other, more sustainable options, had to be pursued urgently.

Meltdown in the Arctic is speeding up.

Ice at the North Pole melted at an unprecedented rate last week, with leading scientists warning that the Arctic could be ice-free in summer by 2013.
Satellite images show that ice caps started to disintegrate dramatically several days ago as storms over Alaska's Beaufort Sea began sucking streams of warm air into the Arctic. As a result, scientists say that the disappearance of sea ice at the North Pole could exceed last year's record loss. More than a million square kilometres melted over the summer of 2007 as global warming tightened its grip on the Arctic. But such destruction could now be matched, or even topped, this year.

'It does not really matter whether 2007 or 2008 is the worst year on record for Arctic ice,' Maslowski said. 'The crucial point is that ice is clearly not building up enough over winter to restore cover and that when you combine current estimates of ice thickness with the extent of the ice cap, you get a very clear indication that the Arctic is going to be ice-free in summer in five years. And when that happens, there will be consequences.'

Scientists link warmer temperatures to rainfall extremes.

The link between a warmer climate and more powerful rainstorms has been confirmed by scientists using both computer models and satellite observations gathered over a period of 20 years. Heavy rain events increase during warm periods and decrease during cold periods, according to the scientists in Florida and England who said this week that their research is the first to provide observational evidence linking higher temperatures with heavier rains.

Norman: Oil dependency takes its toll .

This weeks new trade deficit figures showing a massive increase in the cost of importing petrol and other oil products dramatically illustrate why the Government must reduce New Zealand’s dependence on oil, the Green Party says. The cost of imports of petroleum and products have increased 22 percent in the last 12 months - from $5.8 billion in the year to June 2007 to $7.1 billion in the year to June 2008. “We have built our transport system based on cheap oil, which means as the price of oil has risen rapidly so has our oil import bill. We have to sell $7 billion worth of exports a year just to break even,” Co-Leader Russel Norman says. “We are oil junkies who can’t kick the habit as the cost increases because successive governments have invested in roads and motorways that keep us addicted.

Kingsnorth Climate Camp.

From 3rd-11th August, the Camp For Climate Action has been held in Kingsnorth, Kent near the proposed site of the first coal-fired power station in the UK since 1984.
In Brief

Fitzsimons on Taranaki LNG: “From the point of view of energy policy it is daft, from the point of view of climate change it is damaging, and from the point of view of the local community, it is dangerous."

Hutt venture catches winds of change for 'green' generation.

Dell Computer's worldwide business operations are now carbon neutral.

Green credentials need close scrutiny.

Aussies should fight climate change by eating kangaroo, says study.

'Big Dry' claims River Murray lakes.

Tyre pressure adds to campaign hot air.

On a planet 4C hotter, all we can prepare for is extinction.

Swedish bachelors 20 percent higher energy users compared to bachelorettes.

Monbiot: Radioactive coal.

Best of the Net

MIT expert explains solar breakthrough.

From Grist: Want to fight global warming but too lazy to change a lightbulb, bike to work, or hit the farmers market? How about sitting on your ass - can you manage that? Congratulations, you're green!

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