Other stories below: Europe Could Reconsider Climate Approach; EU Roadmap Sees Big Shift Toward Renewables; Why the World May be Running out of Clean Water; Developing World Ups Ante in “Cleantech Race.”
I have little doubt that readers without a chip on their shoulder realize that this photo (Peter Biro/IRC) is meant as a visual of the health threat the doctors warn about in the article (see comments below).
Medical experts have urged policy makers to take concrete steps to tackle climate change, warning that failure to do so poses an immediate, grave and escalating threat to the health and security of billions of people around the globe.
More than 100 medical and military professionals, including Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of council at the British Medical Association and Lord Michael Jay, chairman of medical relief charity Merlin, yesterday backed a statement declaring climate change the greatest current threat to public health.
The statement outlines how rising temperatures and weather instability will lead to more frequent and extreme weather events, loss of habitat and habitation, water and food shortages, the spread of diseases, ecosystem collapse, and threats to livelihood, potentially triggering mass migration and conflict within and between countries.
It also warns that humanitarian crises will impact on military resources and that the human and economic cost of climate impacts “will be enormous”.
It urges the EU to urgently adopt a 30 per cent CO2 greenhouse gas reduction target for 2020 and for the United Nations to commit to restricting the global temperature rise to 2°C as agreed at the Copenhagen and Cancun Summits.
JR: In April the British Medical Journal warned that climate change “poses an immediate and grave threat, driving ill-health and increasing the risk of conflict, such that each feeds upon the other.” The UK’s Hadley Center notes that on our current one related impact, “By the 2090s close to one-fifth of the world’s population will be exposed to ozone levels well above the World Health Organization recommended safe-health level.”
In what could herald a significant shift in policy for a region that has been in the forefront of advocating action to combat climate change, the European Union is for the first time questioning whether it should press ahead with plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions if other countries don’t follow.
In a document seen by Dow Jones Newswires, the European Commission’s energy department says the EU should consider whether the region should seek to switch its domestic energy base away from carbon emitting sources in the absence of a global climate change deal.
“If coordinated action on climate among the main global players fails to strengthen in the next few years, the question arises how far the EU should continue with an energy system transition oriented to decarbonisation,” the commission says in a draft of its Energy Roadmap 2050 document.
To be sure, the EU will stick by its end-of-decade greenhouse gas reductions goals and the paper could still change before it is published later this year. Even if it doesn’t, the document would only be the opening salvo in what would be a fiercely contested debate. Many member states are strongly committed to slashing emissions, and the climate change department within the Commission, the EU’s executive, would likely resist any attempt to water down the EU’s green credentials. There has been frequent past friction between the energy and climate change departments in Brussels.
Still, the EU has long been recognized as a global leader in the fight to slash carbon emissions and the region’s commitment to environmental goals has been a badge of honor in Brussels, especially at a time when the region is mired in a debt and economic crisis.
The European Union must make a drastic shift from fossil fuels and derive more and more of its power from renewable sources, driving up electricity costs over the next two decades, according to a draft document seen by Reuters on Monday.
The 2050 energy road map to be published by the end of the year complements a 2050 low carbon road map released by the European Commission earlier this year, which seeks to chart a way to reducing carbon emissions by more than 80 percent by the middle of the century.
“Currently, Europe’s power system is based mostly on fossil fuels. This has to change,” the draft energy 2050 road map writes.
“Most scenarios suggest that electricity prices will rise to 2030, but fall thereafter,” it said.
The cost in energy-related expenditure could result in a rise to as much as 15 percent of a household’s income in 2030 and 16 percent in 2050, although this would include capital costs and transport fuel costs.
Earlier this month, officials in the South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu had to confront a pretty dire problem: they were running out of water. Due to a severe and lasting drought, water reserves in this country of 11,000 people had dwindled to just a few days’ worth. Climate change plays a role here: as sea levels rose, Tuvalu’s groundwater became increasingly saline and undrinkable, leaving the island dependent on rainwater. But now a La Niña–influenced drought has severely curtailed rainfall, leaving Tuvalu dry as a bone. “This situation is bad,” Pusinelli Laafai, Tuvalu’s permanent secretary of home affairs, told the Associated Press earlier this month. “It’s really bad.”
So far Tuvalu has been bailed out by its neighbors Australia and New Zealand, which have donated rehydration packets and desalination equipment. But the archipelago’s water woes are just beginning — and it’s far from the only part of the world facing a big dry. Other island nations like the Maldives and Kiribati will see their groundwater spoil as sea levels rise.
Last year was a turning point in the global race to develop clean technology. It marked the first time that more new wind power generating capacity was installed in developing countries than in the rich world.
China led the way, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), and now has the most wind generating capacity in the world, thanks to favourable government policies. A record capacity of 19 gigawatts was added in China last year, taking the total to more than 42GW. India also showed strong growth, in line with the government target of adding more than 10GW of new capacity by 2012, and there are industry estimates that 100GW is possible.
According to GWEC, the growth illustrates the advantages of investing in green power. “This puts an end to the assertion that wind power is a premium technology only for rich countries which cannot be deployed at scale in other markets,” it says in its annual report. “It is also testament to the inherent attractiveness of wind power for countries striving to diversify their energy mix, improve their security of supply in the face of rapidly growing demand and relieve national budgets of the burden of expensive fossil fuel imports at volatile prices.”
The EPA is trying to put to rest what it calls a “myth” that it is going to crack down on farm dust.
In letters to two senators last week, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the agency won’t expand its current air quality standards to include dust created by agriculture. The agency released the letters Monday.
Republicans and some farm-state Democrats have used the issue on the campaign trail, arguing that the EPA is set to penalize farmers for everyday activities. Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said in a recent debate that the agency is “out of control” and was preparing to regulate dust.
The House GOP has pushed a host of measures aimed at weakening, delaying or scrapping environmental regulations in recent months, saying they view them as job killers. Similar efforts are not expected to be successful in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Obama administration officials have tried to deflect talk of a dust rule for months, to little avail. A statement released by the agency Monday said that “EPA hopes that this action finally puts an end to the myth that the agency is planning to expand regulations of farm dust.”