On a day of remembrance for that epic tragedy to hit New York, here’s a story about how New York is preparing for the tragedy ever knows is coming.
When major ice sheets thaw, they release enough fresh water to disrupt ocean currents world-wide and make the planet wobble with the uneven weight of so much meltwater on the move. Studying these effects more closely, scientists are discovering local variations in rising sea levels — and some signs pointing to higher seas around metropolitan New York.
Sea level may rise faster near New York than at most other densely populated ports due to local effects of gravity, water density and ocean currents, according to four new forecasts of melting ice sheets. The forecasts are the work of international research teams that included the University of Toronto, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., Florida State University and the University of Bristol in the U.K., among others.
Scientists are laboring to make their predictions more reliable. While they do, New York has become an urban experiment in the ways that seaboard cities can adapt to climate change over the next century. For their part, the city’s long-term planners are taking action but are trying to balance the cost of re-engineering the largest city in the U.S. against the uncertainties of climate forecasts.
“We can’t make multibillion-dollar decisions based on the hypothetical,” says Rohit Aggarwala, the city’s director of long-term planning and sustainability.
Still, prompted by a possibility of floods from higher seas, some university-based marine researchers and civil engineers are debating whether New York ought to protect its low-lying financial district, port, power grid and subways with storm surge barriers like the mobile bulwarks that safeguard London, Rotterdam, Netherlands, and St. Petersburg, Russia. Engineering concepts for multibillion-dollar barriers around New York harbor were discussed here this week during the H209 Water Forum, an international conference on coastal cities and climate change, held by the Henry Hudson 400 Foundation at the Liberty Science Center.
There is no alternative to a global agreement on fighting climate change, so the chances of securing a deal at a meeting in Copenhagen later this year are 100%, European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said Thursday.
“This is what common sense tells us. We need to have an agreement, there is no alternative,” Dimas said during a press conference at which he presented a commission blueprint for financing the fight against climate change in developing countries.
The European Union wants to lead negotiations at the Copenhagen summit in December to reach an international agreement on limiting global”„warming to two degrees Celsius, compared with pre-industrial temperatures.
The deal would be the successor”„to”„the”„Kyoto”„Protocol, negotiated more than a decade ago.
The world must devise a climate change treaty that will allow all countries to contribute to cutting emissions and not drive companies and jobs to other nations, the U.N.’s top climate official said on Thursday.
Negotiations on a new global accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are set to conclude in the Danish capital Copenhagen in December, but officials are struggling to come up with a division of responsibilities that will satisfy all sides.
The United States is committed to reducing its own carbon dioxide (CO2) output, but many legislators are worried that an emissions trading scheme will give a competitive edge to Chinese industries.
“There’s a huge concern on the part of employers and labor unions in the United States that an agreement that distorts economic relations is going to have a damaging effect on the United States economy,” said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“The challenge is to craft a way forward in Copenhagen, to craft an agreement which does not result in economic activity shifting from one country to another. That doesn’t make sense at the end of the day,” he said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Dalian.
To help meet the world`s critical need for renewable energy, Applied Materials, Inc. has developed an innovative fab2farm„¢ business model for solar deployment designed to bring cost-effective, utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation capability to local areas and stimulate economic development.
The fab2farm model represents a complete regional ecosystem, bringing together communities, utilities and solar panel manufacturers to drive down the cost of solar electricity, create green jobs, and spur local economic activity — while delivering a supply of clean energy for decades to come.
Key to the fab2farm model is a locally-sited solar panel factory built by a solar module manufacturer using Applied`s revolutionary SunFab thin film production line. The SunFab line produces the world`s largest and most powerful solar PV panels, which are optimally suited for utility-owned solar farms. Since electricity generation is sited for distribution near load centers, a solar farm can be quickly deployed without the need for extensive, costly transmission lines. This utility-scale solar farm would not only generate cost-competitive, clean, renewable energy for the community, it can help the utility avoid up to 170,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year.
“Applied`s fab2farm model unlocks a low-risk, cost-effective opportunity to integrate solar PV electricity into a community`s energy portfolio,” said John Antone, vice president, Energy and Environmental Solutions, Applied Materials. “This approach enables a significant share of solar PV investment dollars to remain in the community, in contrast to fossil fuel based power generation sources. It would create a regional economic engine generating a steady supply of skilled jobs and a path to achieving the lowest installed solar energy cost.”
Britain, France, Denmark, Sweden and Finland agreed Thursday to intensify “green diplomacy” to rescue an ambitious global climate agreement in Copenhagen in December, officials said.
Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moller said the European Union had shown leadership by committing itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 or by 30 percent if other countries make comparable cuts.
“Now it is time to show the same leadership on ensuring an ambitious financial package that can assist the poorest countries to adapt to the challenges posed by climate change,” Moller told a news conference.
“We today have agreed to work together to secure an ambitious deal in Copenhagen,” Moller said after a meeting with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and the Swedish and Finnish foreign ministers Carl Bildt and Alexander Stubb in the Danish capital.
With less than 100 days until the December 7-18 Copenhagen conference, Moller said the momentum toward a climate deal risked fading away if the opportunity were not seized now.
Differences between rich and poor countries over funds for dealing with the consequences of climate change have emerged as the main stumbling block to a new U.N. climate treaty which world leaders hope to agree in Copenhagen in December.
The United States should show decisive leadership at the Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh this month and rally heads of state to prepare for the next global crisis — climate change.
In a speech before the G20 meeting on September 24-25, Nancy Birdsall, president of the Washington-based Center for Global Development, said preparing for climate change was key because it was a new issue and because the world’s poor will be severely hurt by it.
Influential think tanks in Washington typically schedule briefings and speeches ahead of big international gatherings in a bid to influence the agenda. This week, G20 ministers are meeting in Washington to finalize the agenda for Pittsburgh.
“To make this summit a success the heads of government must look beyond the current (financial) crisis and begin to prepare for the crisis next time,” said Birdsall.
She proposed G20 leaders pledge to work together, before the next summit in Seoul, South Korea, on reaching agreement on ways to implement a future global climate pact.
A newly formed alliance pushing for passage of climate legislation used President Obama’s prime-time speech on health care yesterday to launch an advertising campaign that asks people to lobby lawmakers for action on global warming.
Clean Energy Works — a coalition of environmental, labor, veteran and hunting and fishing advocacy groups — is footing the bill for the campaign that will run for a week on broadcast and cable television stations. The ad appeared during breaks in coverage of Obama’s speech and on NBC’s “Tonight Show.”
“We want to remind people that while health care is important, clean energy also is on the agenda,” said Josh Dorner, spokesman for Clean Energy Works. “It’s an issue that’s of equal if not greater concern to the American people than health care reform.”
The campaign launches as the Senate gets back to work after its August recess, with energy legislation on its plate along with health care.
The ads mark the latest salvo in a series of efforts to sway public opinion and Congress on climate legislation. The National Association of Manufacturers and the National Federation of Independent Businesses teamed up for ads that ran in late August in Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and Virginia. Those were intended to drive opposition to climate legislation. Last month, coal’s biggest lobbying group launched a television ad campaign featuring ordinary people talking about the importance of low-cost electricity.
“Poland’s shortfall of pollution permits under the European Union’s climate plan may reach a lower-than-expected 50 million tons between 2008 and 2012, Deputy Environment Minister Bernard Blaszczyk said on Thursday.
“The figure is lower than previous estimates because the economic crisis has crimped industry emissions and energy demand in the coal-reliant country and biggest ex-communist EU member.
“”The deficit should not top 50 million tons for the whole economy, but given the technology innovations and the crisis in particular, it could also be somehow lower than that. It should not amount to hundreds of millions of tons,” Blaszczyk said at the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit.
“Warsaw originally opposed the bloc’s climate package aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to curb global warming, arguing less pollution rights would hurt its expanding economy. Poland eventually agreed to the plan after getting concessions.
“Until the end of 2012 many installations under the scheme receive some carbon dioxide (CO2) permits for free, but in the next phase of the plan the vast majority of them will be sold on market tenders.
The House on Wednesday passed a bill to encourage research and production of hybrid-powered commercial vehicles. The bill, passed by voice vote, would create a grant program for research and development of hybrid heavy-duty trucks. A similar bill passed the House in the last Congress but was never taken up by the Senate.
The bill, passed by voice vote, would create a grant program for research and development of hybrid heavy-duty trucks. A similar bill passed the House in the last Congress but was never taken up by the Senate.
“Hopefully we can get some movement on this measure this time around,” said Paul Tonko , D-N.Y. “By enhancing the Department of Energy’s research program in heavy duty hybrid trucks, this bill draws much-needed focus to a very critical component of the transportation sector “” that being commercial trucks.”
Heavy-duty trucks typically rely on diesel or gasoline engines for power, and have lower fuel economy and higher emissions than cars or SUVs because of their size and weight.
If the Senate passes a cap and trade bill, it needs to be regulated so that trading of carbon credits is transparent and not subject to manipulation, members of the Senate Agriculture Committee were told Wednesday. “If we’re serious about a cap and trade system, that means we must get the trading part right,” Ag Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) said when he opened the hearing. He added that he’s concerned about the potential for excessive speculation in carbon credits to distort their value.
Under a bill passed by the House, emitters of greenhouse gases will have to buy offsets, which could include carbon sequestered in the soil of farms that practice no-till, or on land planted to trees.
Gary Gensler, chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), told the panel that the CFTC aleady has experience monitoring the trading of offsets for sulfur dioxide, a regulated byproduct of coal burning that causes acid rain. And the CFTC monitors trading of carbon credits under a voluntary program run by the Chicago Climate Exchange.
For a carbon market to work properly, Gensler said, it will need 5 things: uniform standards, record keeping, oversight of trade, clearing of the trades and prevention of fraud.