Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Climate Snippets - 20 November

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

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ETS review comes under fire.

Environmental groups have criticised the incoming National government's decision to put the emissions trading scheme (ETS) on hold while it conducts a complete review. The review is part of ACT's support agreement with National. It will be conducted by a special select committee and its draft terms include reviewing the science stating humans are to blame for climate change. ACT campaigned on scrapping the ETS and has questioned whether human-induced climate change actually exists. National campaigned on watering down the existing legislation within nine months and prime minister-elect John Key this week said he was still confident an amended ETS could be passed into law before the end of next year.

Energy shakeup looms.

The National government could raise billions of dollars by putting three state-owned power companies back together and partly privatising the result, according to energy sector sources. John Key's new government is also expected to "soften" the impact of the planned emissions trading scheme, with some in the power industry calling for a delay of a year or more and a cap on carbon prices. Labour's 10-year ban on new gas or coal-fired power stations is likely to be lifted and if National keeps its word, the Resource Management Act will be reformed, which should cut the power sector planning consent process from up to five years to two years, speeding up the construction of new power plants.

Energy agency warns of supply crunch.

The International Energy Agency on Wednesday predicted world energy demand will rise 1.6 percent per year on average between 2006 and 2030 and called for massive investment in energy infrastructure to prevent a supply squeeze. The IEA's base scenario for energy demand has fallen due to the global economic slowdown and higher oil prices, but the agency stressed that a delay in spending on new projects due to the credit crisis could lead to a "supply crunch that could choke economic recovery." The IEA expects demand for oil to rise from 85 million barrels per day currently to 106 million barrels per day in 2030 — 10 million barrels per day less than projected last year. China and India continue to be the main drivers, accounting for more than half of incremental energy demand to 2030, but the Middle East, a longtime supplier, also emerges as a major new demand center.

The agency said that these trends call for energy supply investment of $26.3 trillion to 2030, or more than $1 trillion a year, but it noted that tight credit conditions could delay spending. Over 2008 to 2015, it predicts the price to average $100. The report also highlighted the expected rapid growth of renewable energy resources. It predicts that world renewables-based electricity generation — mostly hydro and wind power — will overtake gas to become the second-largest source of electricity, behind coal, before 2015.

The rate of warming is 'unprecedented'

Research on Arctic and North Atlantic ecosystems shows the recent warming trend counts as the most dramatic climate change since the onset of human civilisation 5 000 years ago, according to studies published on Thursday. Researchers from Cornell University studied the increased introduction of fresh water from glacial melt, oceanic circulation, and the change in geographic range migration of oceanic plant and animal species. "The rate of warming we are seeing (now) is unprecedented in human history," said Greene, whose research appears in the November 2008 issue of the journal Ecology.

Europeans form renewable energy agency.

A consortium of European governments is developing the world's first International Renewable Energy Agency. The agency, known as IRENA, will serve as a global cheerleader for clean energy. It plans to offer technical, financial, and policy advice for governments worldwide, according to a joint announcement from Germany, Spain, and Denmark - the project's leaders.

"IRENA aims to become the main driving force in promoting a swift transition towards the extensive and sustainable use of renewable energy worldwide," said Hermann Scheer, general chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy and a champion for the agency since 1990, in a prepared statement. "There exist international agencies for fossil and nuclear energies, but none for renewables. IRENA will close this gap." Scheer, a Social Democratic member of the German Parliament, led his government to commit to IRENA's creation in 2006 - arguing that it was a necessary balance to the International Atomic Energy Agency created in the 1950s.

At a conference in Madrid last month, IRENA's 51 participating nations agreed that the agency's first projects would be presented in January, at the formal launch of IRENA. In the meantime, details such as the organization's headquarters, leadership, and funding still need to be finalized. The involved nations currently include nearly all of Europe as well as Australia, Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates. In the past year, global renewable energy sources have increased dramatically. More than 250 gigawatts of capacity, excluding large hydropower, exists globally. Clean energy investments surpassed $148 billion in 2007, a 60 percent increase from 2006, according to the U.N. Environment Programme.

In Brief

NZ does badly in greenhouse gas survey.

Paradise almost lost: Maldives seek to buy a new homeland.

Australian Coal Association unveils advertising campaign.

Bicycle production was up 3.2 percent in 2007 to 130 million units, a continuation of the upward trend that has characterized production for most of this decade.

UNFCCC: emissions from industrialised world still high.

Pacific and EU forge climate change agreement.

Coming up: 350 Climate Action Festival in Wellington.

Best of the Net

Greenpeace asks you to film a climate response to John Key on Youtube.

Video: Coalfinger

Video: Obama’s climate message to governors.

Blog: ACT wagging the tail on climate change?

The Emissions Trading Scheme hits the backburner.

Blog: Next year forty 40 families from Carteret Island, dubbed the ‘world’s first climate change refugees’ by the United Nations, will relocate to the nearby Papau New Guinean island Bougainville.

Blog: Ride sharing – Fareshare.

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