Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Climate Snippets - 7 August

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

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Key unveils plan to borrow for roads.

National Party leader John Key yesterday unveiled his plan for a big push to build more road, electricity, telecommunications and water infrastructure - to be financed by borrowing. The overall financial direction outlined by National at the weekend has drawn heavy fire from Labour. Prime Minister Helen Clark said the plans were hilarious and crazy.

The infrastructure plan, for which National will borrow $750 million more a year than Labour, is aimed at reducing bottlenecks and improving economic growth. It is not known if National has new projects in mind or intends to borrow to pay for projects already planned. But it is understood the party will identify specific projects during the election campaign. They are likely to include Auckland's Waterview motorway link.

Labour's 40-year plan for greener safer transport.

A five-fold increase in public transport use - and 50 per cent cut in the road death toll - are two of several ambitious transport targets the Government hopes to achieve within 40 years. Transport Minister Annette King announced the transport sector targets this week with the launch of the New Zealand Transport Strategy, which provides a 10-year roadmap for the sector.
Wairau hydro scheme heads to court.

Reaction to the final approval for TrustPower's planned $280 million hydro scheme for the Wairau River has been swift and damning, with the matter likely to proceed to the Environment Court. Few apparent changes have been made in the consent conditions for the electricity company's plan to divert water from the Wairau River. It wants to take up to 60 percent of the flow through nearly 50km of canals and five power stations to generate 70 megawatts of electricity.

The Green Party and Forest and Bird have criticised both the final consent decision as "disappointing". Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said the Wairau was one of the few remaining intact braided river systems in New Zealand, and had a very high representation of endangered species. The Wairau was likely to be ranked highly in a Wetlands of National Importance list currently being compiled, she said. "All this will be lost for just 70MW of capacity. This energy could be saved by insulating homes, using low-flow shower heads and replacing old fridges."

Untouched forests store 3 times more carbon – study.

Untouched natural forests store three times more carbon dioxide than previously estimated and 60 percent more than plantation forests, said a new Australian study of "green carbon" and its role in climate change. Green carbon occurs in natural forests, brown carbon is found in industrialised forests or plantations, grey carbon in fossil fuels and blue carbon in oceans. Australian National University scientists said that the role of untouched forests, and their biomass of green carbon, had been underestimated in the fight against global warming.

China's 'rapid renewables surge'.

China's rapid investment in low carbon technologies has catapulted the nation up the global renewable energy rankings, a report shows. The Climate Group study said China invested $12bn (£6bn) in renewables during 2007, second only to Germany.
However, it was expected to top the table by the end of 2009, it added. In order to meet its target of increasing the percentage of energy from low carbon technologies from 8% in 2006 to 15% by 2020, China is expected to invest an average of $33bn annually for the next 12 years. It has the world's largest hydroelectricity capacity since the controversial Three Gorges project began producing electricity, and the fifth largest fleet of wind turbines on the planet. Although its installed capacity of photovoltaic (PV) panels is still relatively low, it is already a leading manufacturer of solar panels.

According to figures from the World Bank, 20 of the planet's 30 most polluted cities are in China. In terms of total emissions, China is already the world's biggest emitter. But if you look at emissions on a per capita basis, we are not the biggest emitters because we have 1.3bn people. The report also showed that China was only responsible for about 7% of greenhouse gases emitted in the period before 2002, when more than 90% of emissions from human activity were released.
But since the turn of the century, it added, China's portion has been growing steadily and now accounts for 24% of the global total.

The final countdown.

Time is fast running out to stop irreversible climate change, a group of global warming experts warns this week. We have only 100 months to avoid disaster. Because in just 100 months' time, if we are lucky, and based on a quite conservative estimate, we could reach a tipping point for the beginnings of runaway climate change. That said, among people working on global warming, there are countless models, scenarios, and different iterations of all those models and scenarios. So, let us be clear from the outset about exactly what we mean.

Showdown looms for UK 'climate camp'.

Protesters are aiming to shut down Kingsnorth power station on the Medway estuary in Kent this weekend. They oppose the decision of its owner, the energy company E.ON, to replace the ageing site with a brand-new coal-fired power station - the first such to be built in Britain for 30 years. The protesters are hoping that their week-long demonstration will inspire others to follow in their green footsteps.

In Brief

Council 'soft' on dirty dairying.

Residents group annoyed at John Key's rejection.

McCain tours nuke plant, renews call for nuclear power expansion in U.S.

Enviros unhappy with Obama's offshore-drilling shift.

Spain has launched an ambitious plan to reduce energy consumption and save millions of euros on oil imports by cutting the speed limit to 50mph and handing out millions of low-energy use light bulbs.

Monbiot: Coal scuttled.

Lynas: The climate change clock is ticking.

Best of the Net

One Hundred Months.

Good peak oil video.

New website set up to stop Rodney power station.

Video: Dutch scientists demonstrate their electric kite.

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