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Energy and Global Warming News for July 7th: Power plant sulfur emissions plummet 24% ahead of 2010 regulations; Coral reefs face imminent destruction from climate change

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"Energy and Global Warming News for July 7th: Power plant sulfur emissions plummet 24% ahead of 2010 regulations; Coral reefs face imminent destruction from climate change"

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Yet another reason why cap-and-trade is likely to achieve the emissions reductions deeper and faster than people project.

U.S. power plant emissions fall as regulation looms

U.S. power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide dropped sharply in the first half of the year as the electricity industry prepared for tighter regulation in 2010, Genscape said Monday.

Sulfur dioxide emissions were down 24 percent compared to the first half of 2008, much more than would be expected due to the recession and lower electricity demand, the power industry data provider said in its quarterly review of energy trends.

“The industry is clearly going through a dress rehearsal for the implementation of the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) in 2010, and judging by allowance prices as well as the fundamental data, it is a stellar performance,” Genscape said.

Coral Reefs Exposed To Imminent Destruction From Climate Change

Coral reef survival is balancing on a knife edge as the combined effects of ocean acidification and ocean warming events threaten to push reefs to the brink of extinction this century, warned a meeting of leading scientists.

“¦At anticipated rates of emission increase, it is expected that 450 ppm CO2 will be reached before 2050. At that point, corals may be on a path to extinction within a matter of decades.

By 2050, the remaining coral reefs could fall victim to ocean acidification. Such a catastrophe would not be confined to reefs, but could start of a domino-like sequence of the fall of other marine ecosystems.

New climate strategy: track the world’s wealthiest

To fairly divide the climate change fight between rich and poor, a new study suggests basing targets for emission cuts on the number of wealthy people, who are also the biggest greenhouse gas emitters, in a country.

Since about half the planet’s climate-warming emissions come from less than a billion of its people, it makes sense to follow these rich folks when setting national targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions, the authors wrote on Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

As it stands now, under the carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol, rich countries shoulder most of the burden for cutting the emissions that spur global warming, while developing countries — including fast-growing economies China and India — are not required to curb greenhouse pollution.

House to vet ‘model’ U.S.-UAE civil nuclear agreement

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will examine the proliferation implications of a civil nuclear agreement between the United States and the United Arab Emirates in a hearing tomorrow.

The agreement would allow U.S. companies to sell advanced nuclear information and technology, such as reactors, to the UAE and could be worth billions of dollars. The UAE said it plans to build up to 10 nuclear reactors over the next 20 years to fill its growing need for electricity and power for desalination facilities. It is preparing to award a contract for its first reactor as early as this fall.

The UAE deal was among a string of civilian nuclear deals the Bush administration brokered, including agreements with India, Russia and Turkey. Congress approved the India deal with some additional protocols last fall, but the Russia deal was derailed by armed conflict in Georgia last summer. Turkey’s agreement took effect last June.0

Duke Energy expands wind portfolio to Colo., Pa.

Duke Energy Corp. announced plans today to build a 51-megawatt wind farm in Kit Carson County, Colo.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based utility (NYSE: DUK) said it has also acquired a 70-megawatt wind farm in central Pennsylvania from Gamesa Energy USA. Financial terms of the projects were not disclosed.

Duke plans to complete construction of the Kit Carson project, located about 150 miles southeast of Denver, by the end of next year and sell electricity to the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. Duke plans to bring two more wind farms online later this year in neighboring Wyoming, boosting the utility’s wind power portfolio to more than 700 megawatts (Greenwire, April 1).

Solar companies merge technologies in bid for utility-scale production

As the race to create clean, renewable power heats up, the solar industry is focusing on a technology in hopes of producing utility-scale energy.

Concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar power — which marries traditional solar photovoltaic technology to large-scale concentrated solar power plants — could ramp up utility-scale solar production, advocates say, especially in niche markets. But as with all developing technologies, the effort faces significant hurdles.

Popular Calif. ‘net metering’ program nearing limits

A $3.3 billion program that pays California residents with solar panels on their roofs the retail rate for extra electricity fed into the grid is nearing the legal limit for how much power utilities can buy from consumers.

Eager to keep the program growing, the solar industry is pushing for the approval of a bill that would quadruple the cap. Currently, utilities are limited to buying 2.5 percent of their power capacity from consumers; the bill would raise this limit to 10 percent.

The state’s three for-profit utilities oppose the bill, saying they fear the incentives come at the expense of customers who can’t afford costly solar panels, according to Jennifer Briscoe, a spokeswoman for San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

Spain goes halfway on nuclear power

Increasingly unpopular Spanish Prime Minister Jos© Luis Rodr­guez Zapatero sought a Solomonic solution last week when he ordered the shutdown of the country’s oldest nuclear power plant for 2013, but few are pleased.

Mr. Zapatero had pledged to decommission nuclear plants once their 40-year lifespan expired, which in the case of the Santa Mar­a de Garo±a station would have been in 2011. But then politics and the economy got in the way.

“It’s not an easy decision,” he said Thursday, acknowledging that he would be “criticized by both sides.”

And indeed he was. Parties to the left – vital to Zapatero’s governing coalition in Parliament – attacked the decision to postpone the closure of Garo±a and questioned the prime minister’s credibility and integrity.

The conservative Popular Party, already in pre-campaign mode, said it would overturn the government’s decision if it wins the 2012 general elections and that it would extend Garo±a’s lifespan until 2019, which is the date approved by Spain’s nuclear watchdog agency in a non-binding report.

Older Cars Fouling Region’s Air Quality

The recession is contributing to higher levels of air pollution in the Washington area as new car sales plummet and older, dirtier vehicles remain on the road longer, according to a recent study by regional planners.

The trend is expected to show up across the country as transportation planners use vehicle registration data collected after the economy soured to adjust local air quality forecasts required by federal law. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments is believed to be the first planning agency to analyze that data.

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8 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for July 7th: Power plant sulfur emissions plummet 24% ahead of 2010 regulations; Coral reefs face imminent destruction from climate change

  1. paulm says:

    ….450 ppm CO2 will be reached before 2050. At that point, corals may be on a path to extinction within a matter of decades.

    Also…
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/07/coral-attenborough
    David Attenborough joined scientists yesterday to warn that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is already above the level which condemns coral reefs to extinction in the future, with catastrophic effects for the oceans and the people who depend upon them.

    “We’ve already passed a safe threshold for coral reef ecosystems in terms of climate change. We believe that a safe level for CO2 is below 350 parts per million,” said Alex Rogers of the Zoological Society of London

  2. James Thomson the second says:

    I understand the principle that you are trying to demonstrate but suphur is an unfortunate example!

    http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?id=1404

    “In the atmosphere, sulphur dioxide gas emitted by burning coal and oil is converted into sulphate aerosols that enhance the reflection of solar radiation, thereby tending to cool Earth’s surface,”

  3. James Thomson the second says:

    Unbelievable. Is this really what passes for government in the US?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/01/us/politics/01climate.html?_r=2&th&emc=th

    [JR: This is what passes for govt pretty much everywhere. I already posted a very similar story on this days ago. This is not "unbelievable" -- this is politics.]

  4. KJ says:

    The EDF’s tutorial on “The Cap and Trade Success Story” boasts that “The expected market price for SO2 allowances was in the range of $650-$850 (in 2000 dollars). The actual market has been between $100 and $200 for most of the program.” Question: Is that good or bad? Should the policy objective of the SO2 program have been to achieve an unsustainable cap as cheaply as possible? Or should it have been to spend as much as we were willing to spend to reduce SO2 emissions (in which case the Clean Air Interstate Rule’s emission target might have been achieved much sooner without further regulatory intervention)? Does this have any implications for global GHG regulation?

  5. paulm says:

    ‘Time to ditch climate policies’
    n international group of academics is urging world leaders to abandon their current policies on climate change.

    The authors of How to Get Climate Policy Back on Course say the strategy based on overall emissions cuts has failed and will continue to fail.

    They want G8 nations and emerging economies to focus on an approach based on improving energy efficiency and decarbonising energy supply.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8138429.stm

  6. James Thomson the second says:

    [JR: This is what passes for govt pretty much everywhere. I already posted a very similar story on this days ago. This is not "unbelievable" -- this is politics.]

    I think US politics is more compromised by corporate interests than anywhere else in the world. Much of what happens in the US would be completely illegal in the UK, re funding of political parties by companies. And this shows in the way that legislation gets passed. The climate bills in the UK and in Scotland are relatively simple, went through without much fuss and without any visible intervention from “special interests”.

    As an exercise for the reader, try and find a website anywhere (apart from CP!) that has anything nice to say about W-M. THis one is particularly scathing:

    http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/commentaries/3913

  7. ClaudeB says:

    Tough few days ahead for Stephen Harper in Italy:

    British Prime Minister Gordon Brown suggested in an interview that Stephen Harper’s government has fallen out of step with the thinking of other major nations on climate and development issues.

    I believe Canada will be hit by a sledgehammer at the G8 summit for its complete inaction on climate change. Time for a fourth minister of the Environment in less than four years?

  8. From Peru says:

    “U.S. power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide dropped sharply in the first half of the year as the electricity industry prepared for tighter regulation in 2010, Genscape said Monday.

    Sulfur dioxide emissions were down 24 percent compared to the first half of 2008″

    Is really an unfortunate example. From this, sulfur aerosol will plummet in the the next few months ( surelly arlready is ). The unavoidable effect will be a SUPER-FAST WARMING, thanks to the reduced solar dimming. They really want massive HEATWAVES?!( and there is on heatwave right now).

    Why greenhouse warming started in the 1970s and not decades before? Because before greenhouse was offset by aerosol dimming, until the clean air regulations made by Europeans countries reduced the amount of sulfur aerosols, and then ….. a spike in NH temperatures , and super-warming in the arctic, ending decades of aerosol arctic cooling.

    Expect a new and fast acceleration of global warming in next years.

    At least, I hope, the heat will kill the A H1N1 influenza virus

    …..Ah, this pandemic is another example of government incompetence, letting the virus spread and hope the antivirals( wich are becoming useless as the virus evolve tamiflu-resistance) reduce deaths (and farmaceutic industry win a lot of money), I repeat , hope the heatwaves do the work, because authorities will certainly do not.