Energy and global warming news for March 3, 2011: Clean energy investment hit record $243 Billion in 2010; Five ways climate change threatens health

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"Energy and global warming news for March 3, 2011: Clean energy investment hit record $243 Billion in 2010; Five ways climate change threatens health"

Clean Energy, Carbon Investment Rose 30% to $243 Billion in 2010

Global investment in clean energy and the carbon markets surged 30 percent last year from 2009 levels to a record $243 billion, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Investment in 2010 was the highest since the London-based researcher began keeping records in 2004. The figures were pooled from a database of financial transactions in clean energy and the carbon markets, New Energy Finance said in a statement.

“Total worldwide new investment in clean energy surged last year by over $50 billion into new record territory,” Michael Liebreich, chief executive of New Energy Finance, said today in the statement. “It was nearly five times higher than when we first handed out the New Energy Finance League Table Awards, six years ago.”

The research company named 13 organizations it considers the leading investors and financial service providers in clean energy and the carbon markets.

Among these, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, based in the U.S., scooped top investor by number of venture capital investment rounds.

For mergers and acquisitions, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA) won top financial adviser to target companies, and Banco Santander SA (SAN) was the leading adviser to acquirer. The European Investment Bank was the biggest arrangers of project finance, and Invesco Ltd.’s PowerShares Cleantech fund was the best performing clean energy fund last year.

Why Climate Change Threatens Health

Climate change is what the people at the Pentagon like to call a “threat multiplier.” Warming takes existing dangers like political instability in developing nations, and amplifies them in ways that can be hard to predict “” but which are rarely positive. It’s not just about melting icebergs and rising sea levels; a warmer world is likely to be a more unstable one as well, and more dangerous.

That goes for human health too. It can be tough to tease out the impacts of warmer temperatures and changing weather patterns on the spread of infectious diseases, for instance, but researchers are becoming more confident that climate change will prove a net negative for human health. That was the message from the heads of the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association (APHA) last week, when they came together to lay out the health case against global warming. The “evidence has only grown stronger” that climate change is responsible for an increasing number of health problems, including asthma, diarrheal disease and even deaths from extreme weather like heat waves, said Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the APHA.

That doesn’t mean that spending money to reduce carbon emissions is always going to be the best way to tackle those health threats “” for instance, poverty and hygiene often make the primary difference on the spread of infectious disease. But unchecked warming would just make tough health problems even tougher. Here’s what to look out for:

Climate rules bill flags ‘EPA bureaucrats’

A bill ending U.S. agency regulation of greenhouse-gas emissions puts lawmakers in charge of climate-change policy, “not EPA bureaucrats,” a GOP senator said.

The bill, to be introduced in both houses of Congress Thursday, would permanently revoke the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority, under the U.S. Clean Air Act, to regulate presumed climate-altering gases emitted from buildings such as factories and power plants.

It would leave intact an agreement among automakers and federal and state governments to cut vehicle-tailpipe emissions through 2017.

The bill — dubbed the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 and to be introduced by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Reps. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky. — comes after House Republicans passed a spending bill to cut EPA financing by $3 billion, or 30 percent, more than twice the $1.3 billion U.S. President Barack Obama proposed cutting last month.

Inhofe is the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Upton is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Whitfield chairs the panel’s Energy subcommittee.

The lawmakers said EPA greenhouse-gas regulations raise energy costs, drive manufacturers offshore, cost jobs and strangle the economic recovery.

U.N.: work on climate pacts to start next month

Work on implementing recent climate agreements, including a new green fund, will start next month despite wrangling over the future of the Kyoto Protocol, a top U.N. official said on Thursday.

Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. climate change secretariat, said the Green Climate Fund as well as the work agenda for this year’s U.N. climate talks will be discussed at a ministerial meeting hosted by Mexico in March.

Uncertainty has been growing over the future of the Kyoto Protocol, the first legally binding treaty to cut greenhouse gases, with Japan, Russia and Canada insisting they will not extend emission cuts.

Although most governments including developing nations support an extension, the three holdouts want all top emitters, notably China and the United States, to agree a new treaty beyond 2012, when Kyoto’s first period ends.

Figueres, in Japan for an informal meeting of climate envoys from about 30 governments, shrugged off the possibility that the main U.N. climate forum of all countries in Bangkok in April will be overshadowed by disagreements about Kyoto.

Kyoto is not a new issue although governments will have to address and make “some decision” by a year-end climate summit in Durban, South Africa, she said.

“There are many ideas that have been considered to find a middle of the way path forward … They have to come to some decision in Durban,” she said in an interview with Reuters.

Figueres also downplayed concern that a further rise in oil prices could undermine global economic recovery and provide an excuse or hurdle for governments to avoid immediate initiatives on cutting emissions.

Politics Seen to Limit E.P.A. as It Sets Rules for Natural Gas

When Congress considered whether to regulate more closely the handling of wastes from oil and gas drilling in the 1980s, it turned to the Environmental Protection Agency to research the matter. E.P.A. researchers concluded that some of the drillers’ waste was hazardous and should be tightly controlled.

But that is not what Congress heard. Some of the recommendations concerning oil and gas waste were eliminated in the final report handed to lawmakers in 1987.

“It was like the science didn’t matter,” Carla Greathouse, the author of the study, said in a recent interview. “The industry was going to get what it wanted, and we were not supposed to stand in the way.”

E.P.A. officials told her, she said, that her findings were altered because of pressure from the Office of Legal Counsel of the White House under Ronald Reagan. A spokesman for the E.P.A. declined to comment.

Ms. Greathouse’s experience was not an isolated case. More than a quarter century of efforts by some lawmakers and regulators to force the federal government to police the industry better have been thwarted, as E.P.A. studies have been repeatedly narrowed in scope, and important findings have been removed.

US EPA says big budget cut would hurt public health

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect citizens from premature death and other health problems would be gutted if Congress slashes funding as threatened by Republican lawmakers, its chief said on Wednesday.

Republicans in the House of Representatives have been trying to cut the EPA’s budget for this year, saying its regulations on clean air and water hurt businesses.

“Big polluters would flout legal restrictions on dumping contaminants into the air, into rivers and onto the ground,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee.

Jackson said every dollar that goes to protecting federal clean air and clean water laws saves as much as $20 or $30 in costs for health problems requiring visits to hospitals.

“I’m simply saying it’s preventive medicine,” Jackson said.

The EPA released a report this week that said cutting pollution under the Clean Air Act will save $20 trillion by 2020 in health costs. It will also have prevented 230,000 premature deaths annually from heart attacks, and other health problems that can be brought on by smokestack pollutants such as soot, it said.

U.N. presses for action on climate

World governments are called on to implement agreements reached at last year’s climate conference in Mexico, a U.N. official said in Japan.

The agreement struck in Cancun, Mexico, where representatives from 194 nations met to prepare a climate protection treaty, calls for major emissions cuts, launches a multibillion-dollar fund to help poor nations adapt to climate change and finalizes a scheme to stop deforestation.

The secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, said during a news conference in Tokyo that world leaders needed to get to work on climate reform.

“Governments must now implement quickly what they agreed in Cancun and take the next big climate step this year in Durban, (South Africa)” she said in a statement.

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15 Responses to Energy and global warming news for March 3, 2011: Clean energy investment hit record $243 Billion in 2010; Five ways climate change threatens health

  1. Jesus wept… Has one of America’s political parties ever been more wilfully blind, suicidally irresponsible and poisonously corrupt as the contemporary Republican Party? And meanwhile what’s that buzzing sound coming out of the Whitehouse? It’s the President asleep on the job.

    Meanwhile, in CONSERVATIVE-governed Britain, this is what our energy secretary has to say:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/mar/03/chris-huhne-oil-prices-green-economy

    Britain is in the grip of deficit-obsessed, cut-everything rightwing polticians. They are most thinks Fox News would love. And yet they are able to recognise the reality of planetary constraints.

    There is nothing conservative about ecocide. It is moral stupidity, pure and simple.

  2. dbmetzger says:

    more news from antarctica…
    Scientists Probe Antarctic Waters Over Acidification
    Scientists are studying organisms in Antarctic waters to discover the repercussions of acidification caused by dissolved carbon dioxide. http://www.newslook.com/videos/294812-scientists-probe-antarctic-waters-over-acidification?autoplay=true

  3. GFW says:

    Joe, other than the headline, the opinions in that second to last item above (from The Hill, a blog post by Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.)) are pretty far from what you (and the scientifically literate in general) advocate.

    [JR: Sorry!]

  4. Offshore jobs are a way of life. Not everybody can and want to work on an oil rig. May find such job annoying and dangerous. But there are people, who do not mind working under harsh weather conditions and even find it exciting.

  5. paulm says:

    South Florida Water Managers: October-to-February driest in 80 Years
    http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=172316079482338&id=187700434593711

  6. Colorado Bob says:

    When up to two feet of snowpack in the upper watershed of the Mississippi River melts, it may create one of the worst floods ever in southeastern Minnesota.

    Today’s National Weather Service flood outlook for the river from Lake City to Winona predicts a 30 percent to 40 percent chance the river will exceed the record levels of 1965 and a 10 percent chance of them going up to two feet higher.

    http://www.postbulletin.com/news/stories/display.php?id=1446786

  7. Hey Joe, avid long time reader, first time commenter – yay!

    You haven’t given much coverage to the carbon tax debate happening in Australia right now, which is fair because our emissions don’t count for much of the world total.

    Anyway, I wrote a blog post (with pretty graphics!) describing the positions of both major parties here in Australia:

    http://pragmatismblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/carbon-tax-and-the-climate-change-solutions-on-offer/

    Thank goodness both our major parties support action on climate change. Viva la science!

  8. paulm says:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/03/yikebike-foldable-bicycle_n_830818.html
    The YikeBike runs on electricity and is generally considered more eco-friendly than most cars, but a bike that runs on human pedaling is presumably still better for the environment and human health.

    That said, an unusual study suggests that compared to regular bicyclists, electric bike users may have a lower environmental impact because regular cyclists consume more food, which increases their energy consumption.

  9. paulm says:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2011/mar/03/bbc-climate-change-science

    Some BBC editors and presenters appear to treat climate change and other areas of science as if they are just matters of opinion, rather than fact, and impartiality means promoting different points of view, without any apparent responsibility to check their accuracy.

  10. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Michael #7. Are you saying the Coalition wants action on CC? Have you tuned into the ridiculous and disgustingly ignorant campaign against putting a price on carbon? Tony Windsor said we don’t want to go down the American road with death threats and violence and I agree with him. Abbott is reaching new lows with this one and we are seeing the results, ME

  11. paulm says:

    http://www.accuweather.com/blogs/astronomy/story/46417/extreme-super-full-moon-to-cause-chaos.asp

    “Extreme SuperMoon this month (March 2011) will bring strong earthquakes and storms and/or unusual climate patterns.” Google the term ‘extreme SuperMoon March 2011′ and see for yourself what comes up. The validity of these types of forecasts can be debated ad nauseum.

    So what can we expect this time? Earthquakes? Volcanic eruptions? I guess we can only wait and see.

  12. Prokaryotes says:

    Crimes against Humanity …

    Pressure Limits Efforts to Police Drilling for Gas

    When Congress considered whether to regulate more closely the handling of wastes from oil and gas drilling in the 1980s, it turned to the Environmental Protection Agency to research the matter. E.P.A. researchers concluded that some of the drillers’ waste was hazardous and should be tightly controlled.

    But that is not what Congress heard. Some of the recommendations concerning oil and gas waste were eliminated in the final report handed to lawmakers in 1987.

    “It was like the science didn’t matter,” Carla Greathouse, the author of the study, said in a recent interview. “The industry was going to get what it wanted, and we were not supposed to stand in the way.”

    E.P.A. officials told her, she said, that her findings were altered because of pressure from the Office of Legal Counsel of the White House under Ronald Reagan. A spokesman for the E.P.A. declined to comment.

    Ms. Greathouse’s experience was not an isolated case. More than a quarter-century of efforts by some lawmakers and regulators to force the federal government to police the industry better have been thwarted, as E.P.A. studies have been repeatedly narrowed in scope and important findings have been removed.

    For example, the agency had planned to call last year for a moratorium on the gas-drilling technique known as hydrofracking in the New York City watershed, according to internal documents, but the advice was removed from the publicly released letter sent to New York.

    Now some scientists and lawyers at the E.P.A. are wondering whether history is about to repeat itself as the agency undertakes a broad new study of natural gas drilling and its potential risks, with preliminary results scheduled to be delivered next year.

    The documents show that the agency dropped some plans to model radioactivity in drilling wastewater being discharged by treatment plants into rivers upstream from drinking water intake plants. And in Congress, members from drilling states like Oklahoma have pressured the agency to keep the focus of the new study narrow.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/04/us/04gas.html?_r=1

  13. Prokaryotes says:

    Are America’s Best Days Behind Us?

    Despite the hyped talk of China’s rise, most Americans operate on the assumption that the U.S. is still No. 1.
    But is it? Yes, the U.S. remains the world’s largest economy, and we have the largest military by far, the most dynamic technology companies and a highly entrepreneurial climate. But these are snapshots of where we are right now. The decisions that created today’s growth — decisions about education, infrastructure and the like — were made decades ago. What we see today is an American economy that has boomed because of policies and developments of the 1950s and ’60s: the interstate-highway system, massive funding for science and technology, a public-education system that was the envy of the world and generous immigration policies. Look at some underlying measures today, and you will wonder about the future.

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2056610,00.html#ixzz1Fc7Jt5Vp

    Exactly ….

  14. Prokaryotes says:

    Hillary Clinton Calls Al Jazeera ‘Real News,’ Criticizes U.S. Media (VIDEO)
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that Al Jazeera is gaining more prominence in the U.S. because it offers “real news” — something she said American media were falling far short of doing.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/03/hillary-clinton-calls-al-_n_830890.html

    We all here know that the MSM epic fails to inform the public about the dangers of climate change, because the MSM is influenced by the fossil dirty gas and coal industries, taxpayers – subsidies money.

    Or how Exxon & Koch wreck the entire future of the world.