Other stories below: Europe’s Debt Crisis Threatens Cap and Trade; U.S. Helps Britain Investigate Hacked Emails
The European Union’s highest court on Wednesday endorsed the bloc’s plan to begin charging the world’s biggest airlines for their greenhouse gas emissions from Jan. 1, setting the stage for a potentially costly trade war with the United States, China and other countries.
A group of United States airlines had argued that forcing them to participate in the bloc’s potentially costly emissions-trading program infringed on national sovereignty and conflicted with existing international aviation treaties.
But in its ruling, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg affirmed an opinion issued in October by its advocate general, who had rejected their claim.
“The court confirms the validity of the directive that integrates aviation activities in the system for trading emissions quotas,” the ruling said, adding that it “infringes neither the principles of customary international law at issue, nor the ‘Open Skies’ agreement” concluded with the United States in 2007.
Europe’s main weapon in the battle against climate change is now fighting for its own survival.
In early January, investors in the continent’s cap-and-trade system still had to pay some €14 ($18.30) for the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide into the air. By last week, the price of one emission allowance had tumbled to a meager €6.41 — making it much cheaper to pollute and slashing the financial incentives for companies to invest in low-carbon technologies.
Analysts warn that the prospect of another recession in the debt-ridden continent, and the accompanying decline in emissions, could push prices below €2 by the end of next month.
The Justice Department is helping British authorities in an investigation into the hacking of climate scientists’ emails, which caused an uproar among skeptics of global warming when they were released two years ago.
Ten days ago, the Justice Department contacted San Francisco web development company Automattic, asking it to preserve records of three climate skeptic bloggers in the U.S., Canada and Britain who recently received another batch of stolen emails sent from a server in Russia.
The Justice Department declined to comment on the nature of the investigation and did not give Automattic a reason for its request. But the letter to Automattic suggests the request is part of an ongoing investigation by law enforcement officials in Britain.
On Dec. 14, the home of Roger Tattersall, the British blogger “Tallbloke,” was raided by detectives from the Metropolitan Police in London and members of the Norfolk Constabulary, whose jurisdiction in East Central England includes the University of East Anglia, whose scientists’ email accounts were targeted. Tattersall was not arrested, but the police confiscated two laptop computers and other equipment, according to his blog.
A common assumption is that rising global temperatures will increase the spread of malaria — the deadly mosquito-borne disease that affects millions of people worldwide. But a study out today in Biology Letters finds that warmer temperatures seem to slow transmission of malaria-causing parasites, by reducing their infectiousness.
The study was done with rodent malaria, but the researchers, at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, expect the pattern to apply to human malaria and possibly to other mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever and West Nile virus.
Studies predicting that warmer climates will increase malaria infections commonly assume that the disease-causing parasites will develop faster and that the ability of the mosquito to acquire, maintain and transmit the pathogen will remain constant. They conclude that as temperature rises, mosquitoes become infectious quicker and therefore malaria transmission increases.
As the Philippines begins to bury more than a 1,000 disaster victims in mass graves, Philippine President Benigno Aquino has ordered an investigation into last weekend’s flash flood and landslide, including looking at the role of illegal logging. Officials have pointed to both climate change and vast deforestation as likely exacerbating the disaster.
“We have no desire to engage in finger-pointing or to assign blame at a time like this. Yet, we have an obligation to find out exactly what has happened,” Aquino said, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
On Friday, Typhoon Sendong brought 12 hours of continuous rain to Mindanao Island; reports say rivers flooded and villagers were crushed by logs or drowned. The Philippines has declared a national disaster with the storm affecting 338,000 people in 13 provinces. The storm is now the deadliest of 2011.
President Aquino stated that he was concerned a logging ban was violated, worsening the disaster. In February, following flooding that killed around 40 people, Aquino banned logging across the Philippines arguing that deforestation had made much of the country dangerously prone to landslide and flooding.