Energy and Global Warming News for November 24th: World Bank boosts clean energy lending 300%, fossil fuels 430%; UK wants central role for business in Cancun; World’s first hybrid tugboat

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"Energy and Global Warming News for November 24th: World Bank boosts clean energy lending 300%, fossil fuels 430%; UK wants central role for business in Cancun; World’s first hybrid tugboat"

World Bank Giving More to Clean Energy, but Also to Fossil Fuels

The World Bank has been talking more and more about focusing its support on clean energy projects, and apparently it has been putting much more into clean energy lately. “The World Bank’s lending for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects increased by 300 percent between fiscal year 2007 and fiscal year 2010, to a record $3.4 billion,” Timothy Hurst of ecopolitology reports.

However, while that alone might look really good, it’s also important to note that lending for fossil fuels increased 430 percent in the same time period. Lending for coal plants reached a record $4.4 billion and lending for fossil-fuel projects, in total, reached a record $6.3 billion.

This is despite the World Bank admitting a couple years ago that climate change is one of the biggest threats to the development of poor countries.

“In its actions, the World Bank has deviated from its rhetoric,” says Janet Redman, co-director of the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington. “It has not done clean energy when it could. It has not prioritized clean energy sources over traditional fossil-fuel sources. And it is constantly stalling on one very important policy: calculating the greenhouse-gas emissions produced by its own projects.”

One of the biggest disappointments of late was in April when the World Bank approved the world’s fourth-largest coal power plant in South Africa, a 4,800-MW plant. (The U.S., Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Italy showed their disapproval for this project by abstaining from the vote,.. a typical, but, in my opinion, not very brave way of showing disapproval.)

Another clear failure was giving support to a 4,000-MW coal plant in India. The World Bank is supporting the emission of 50 million tons of carbon dioxide a year with these two projects alone, about equal to Ireland’s total emissions.

While the World Bank recently appointed Daniel M. Kammen as its “clean tech czar,” I am still hesitant to believe it is planning to live up to its responsibility to address and limit the devastating effects of climate change.

UK wants central role for business in Cancun

The UK’s negotiating team for next week’s Cancun climate change summit has signaled that it wants to see the global business community play a central role in the crucial talks, insisting that support from the private sector is vital if progress towards an international deal is to be delivered.

Speaking to reporters earlier today, climate change minister Greg Barker said he would act as a liaison between business leaders and the negotiators as part of an effort to improve upon previous UN summits where the “voice of the private sector has not been sufficiently heard”.
He acknowledged that while there has been “scepticism and in some cases outright hostility” amongst some developing countries to the role of the private sector in tackling climate change, the UK would make the case that private finance will be critical to the development of a global low carbon economy and would not be used to replace government funding.

Barker said vocal support from the business sector could help revive the negotiations following the deadlock at the end of the Copenhagen Summit.

“What we need to get out of this round of talks is a sense of momentum,” he said. “The central question is whether the drive to a low carbon economy is compatible with prosperity and economic growth – we think it can be done and can actually help drive economic growth.”

The negotiating text will not be directly changed to give business leaders a more central role, but Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said he was hopeful the summit would deliver progress in a number of areas that will throw up new business opportunities.

Most notably, he expressed optimism the talks could see agreement on the final outline of a deal on forestry protection mechanisms and the formation of a new international green fund to distribute climate financing that could combine public and private sector funding.

He also said the UK would be looking for a number of multilateral agreements with “progressive developing countries” that would demonstrate how a mixture of public and private finance can effectively drive low carbon and climate adaptation projects.

Huhne reiterated the UK “is not expecting a final agreement in Cancun”, but he insisted the groundwork done by the Mexican hosts suggested agreements could be reached on forestry and financing that could then be finalised when other issues are addressed at next year’s talks.

He also said the UK was hoping to see some progress on a number of the more contentious issues in the negotiating text.

In particular, he said the EU would push for the targets contained in the Copenhagen deal to be formally recognised in the UN negotiating process. He also said he remained hopeful that countries such as China that are opposed to MRV measures on the grounds that they represent an infringement of their sovereignty may be willing to shift their position, given they are already signed up to other international treaties that are more invasive.

He concluded that the UK negotiating team would not be armed with “a lot of difficult red lines” and would regard the talks as a success as long as they deliver clear progress towards a deal that can be finalised next year.

“The last thing we want is a confrontational shambles that ends in a lot of name calling,” he said.

The news comes on that same day as the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Finance Initiative announced that it will host a major new business summit alongside the main Cancun talks dubbed the World Climate Summit.

The conference – which UNEP describes as “the beginning of a new, open and collaborative global 10-year framework dedicated to helping governments, businesses and financiers accelerate solutions to climate change” – will take place on December 4-5 in Cancun and will be attended by representatives from over 300 of the world’s largest firms, including Richard Branson and Ted Turner.

“As world leaders drive towards a global agreement on climate change, investors in the world’s capital markets cannot afford to simply sit and wait,” said Paul Clements-Hunt, Head of the UNEP Finance Initiative. “Investors and other financial institutions are determined to work with policy-makers to catalyse new low carbon markets worth USD trillions. The World Climate Summit will bring finance, business and negotiators together to help make those future low carbon markets a reality.”

World’s First Hybrid Tugboat Reduces Emissions at California Ports

Carbon emissions at sea have received more attention over the last decade. Ports, especially, can have a negative impact on air quality in the populated areas that surround them. The many emissions sources at ports include ships, trucks, trains, and cargo-handling equipment. Harbor-crafts also contribute a significant portion of total port emissions. These include tugboats, ferries, fishing boats, and dredge vessels. Recently, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have started using a hybrid electric tugboat. A new study by the University of California (UC) Riverside has shown that this has been effective at reducing emissions.

Tugboats are typically powered by marine compression ignition engines. The engines are built to be extremely powerful relative to the size of the vessel. Larger tugboats used in deeper waters have power ratings up to 27,000 horse power. They can have a power:tonnage ratio of up to 4.5, similar to engines used in locomotives. These engines typically drive the propellers mechanically rather than converting the output through electric motors, as is done on trains.
The massive engines can consume large amounts of fuel and produce harmful emissions full of diesel particulates. This has made the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach the largest contributors of air pollution in the South Coast Basin according to the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Pollution from the diesel-powered tugboats and other port emission sources has caused negative health effects on the surrounding population, including cancer and respiratory illnesses.
Now the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the largest container ports in the nation, are home to the first and only hybrid electric tugboat in the world. Named the Carolyn Dorothy, it runs on four diesel engines and 126 batteries. It was financed by the two ports and the South Coast Air Quality Management District to the tune of $1.35 million. The vessel was built by Foss Maritime, based in Seattle, and began operational duty in January of 2009.

Researchers from UC Riverside’s College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology conducted a study to see how much emissions the new hybrid tugboat saved. They found it decreased emissions of soot by 73 percent, nitrogen oxides (smog forming compounds) by 51 percent, and CO2 (greenhouse gas) by 27 percent. Their report was completed in October of 2010 and presented to CARB.

The widespread adoption of hybrid marine engines would go a long way in reducing emissions at sea and in port. However, it comes with a very expensive price tag, and technical issues resulting in inefficiencies still remain. The UC Riverside researchers are hopeful that there will be further improvements once plug-in hybrid tugboats become available.

A Sustainable Farming System Designed for Practically Everyone

Algosolar LLC, a farming research and design group, has announced the launch of Bioponica„¢ “” an organic gardening system geared for homeowners, schools, restaurants and commercial growers. On November 20th, from 6pm until 12am, the company will begin a public displaying event for this innovative growing system. The 10″²x4″² table, complete with 120 gallon fish tank, is designed to convert waste such as grass clippings, table scraps and other carbon and nitrogen-rich waste sources into fertilizer. “It is unfortunate that we have relied on our municipalities to dispose of waste, whether that be urine, food or yard trimmings,” says co-creator, Dr. Epstein, a holistic osteopathic physician. “It is not practical or sustainable. When nutrients that come from the environment or from the food we eat are buried in landfills or else incinerated then we lose that valuable resource and it becomes a greenhouse gas that negatively impacts our climate and environment. The alternative is to recycle nutrients with the least amount of effort and cost.” The Bioponica„¢ system works by taking waste and converting it into worm castings and worm teas which are then used to fertilize hydroponic plant beds.

The system also accomodates the growth of algae and duckweed, as well as microbes and aquatic animals that feed on the algae. The table is intended for ample food production, and will grow a variety of medicinal and edible plants “” from micro-greens to wheatgrass. “When growing high value crops such as these, the return on investment is less than one year. And without having to purchase fish food or fertilizer the cost is limited to a small electric bill for water pumps and labor,” says Epstein.

The Bioponica„¢ gardening system will grow indoors or outdoors and also come complete with a UV filtered polycarbonate roofing option to help keep the temperature, CO2 and nutrient load stable. Fellow creator and professional engineer, Kenneth Lovell, says, “By converting carbon and nitrogen rich waste into fish and plant food we are effectively sequestering carbon turning it into a food before it escapes as a CO2 gas. The tables capture heat and warm the water within the fish tanks. On cool nights, the heated thermal mass of water returns to the beds, warming the plant area to extend the growing season into colder months.”

Optimizing Large Wind Farms

ScienceDaily (Nov. 23, 2010) “” Wind farms around the world are large and getting larger. Arranging thousands of wind turbines across many miles of land requires new tools that can balance cost and efficiency to provide the most energy for the buck

Charles Meneveau, who studies fluid dynamics at Johns Hopkins University, and his collaborator Johan Meyers from Leuven University in Belgium, have developed a model to calculate the optimal spacing of turbines for the very large wind farms of the future. Theyl presented their work November 23 at the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD) meeting in Long Beach, CA.

“The optimal spacing between individual wind turbines is actually a little farther apart than what people use these days,” said Meneveau.

The blades of a turbine distort wind, creating eddies of turbulence that can affect other wind turbines farther downwind. Most previous studies have used computer models to calculate the wake effect of one individual turbine on another.

Starting with large-scale computer simulations and small-scale experiments in a wind tunnel, Meneveau’s model considers the cumulative effects of hundreds or thousands of turbines interacting with the atmosphere.

“There’s relatively little knowledge about what happens when you put lots of these together,” said Meneveau.

The energy a large wind farm can produce, he and his coworkers discovered, depends less on horizontal winds and more on entraining strong winds from higher in the atmosphere. A 100-meter turbine in a large wind farm must harness energy drawn from the atmospheric boundary layer thousands of feet up.

In the right configuration, lots of turbines essentially change the roughness of the land — much in the same way that trees do — and create turbulence. Turbulence, in this case, isn’t a bad thing. It mixes the air and helps to pull down kinetic energy from above.
Using as example 5 megawatt-rated machines and some reasonable economic figures, Meneveau calculates that the optimal spacing between turbines should be about 15 rotor diameters instead of the currently prevalent figure of 7 rotor diameters.

China hits efficiency and pollution targets

China will have achieved its goal of a 20 per cent reduction of energy intensity and a 10 per cent cut in major pollutant emission against 2005 levels by the end of 2010, according to official figures reported yesterday.

Success in meeting the goals is largely thanks to hefty government investment coupled with draconian threats for non-compliance towards the end of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2005-2010).

The China Daily cited a study by the National Development and Reform Commission (NRDC) showing that government funding of more than 200bn yuan ($301 bn) for energy conservation, emissions reduction, and environmental protection measures unlocked over 2 trillion yuan ($30bn) in green investment from the private sector.

The commission study also says that more than 70 per cent of coal-fired power stations have installed Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) systems, while 998 energy-consuming enterprises achieved energy-saving goals laid out by the government.

Earlier this year Chinese premier Wen Jiabao warned he would use an “iron fist” to ensure the targets were met, promising to close some of the country’s most inefficient factories and heavy manufacturing plants if they remained non-compliant with the targets.

It was also reported in the People’s Daily that some regions have carried out enforced power blackouts over the last few days to ensure the targets were met.

However China still remains the world’s second-largest energy user, consuming 2.146 billion tonnes of oil equivalent last year, versus 2.382 billion tonnes used by the US.

The NDRC report said “arduous efforts” would be needed to realize the country’s ambition of moving toward more environmentally-friendly economic growth by 2020, including decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40 to 50 per cent per unit of GDP from 2005 levels, increasing non-fossil fuel energy share to 15 per cent in primary energy, and adding 40 million hectares of forest land.

A series of new policies are to be launched over the next few months for the forthcoming 12th Five-Year Plan which will run from 2011 to 2015. The plan is expected to include new national targets for energy and carbon intensity, as well as regional targets for provinces to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, plans to roll out carbon trading schemes, and measures to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles and renewable energy capacity.

Ontario feed-in tariffs creating solar jobs at the cost of a donut per month

Using a measure of cost that all Canadians understand, a provocative new report says the impact of Ontario’s feed-in tariffs for solar photovoltaics (PV), which will create 70,000 jobs, is no more than one Tim Hortons donut per month.

Tim Hortons is a popular Canadian coffee-shop chain found in even the smallest village.

The confidential report comes at a time of heated political debate in the provincial capital of Toronto about the cost of the current government’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act. Ontario’s feed-in tariff program is the most visible — and the most controversial — aspect of the policy.

The report by ClearSky Advisors was prepared for private, and so far unnamed, clients. However, a summary has been released to the media. ClearSky says that by 2015, Ontario’s solar PV industry will have created 72,000 person-years of jobs.

Ontario plans to close all its coal-fired power plants by 2014. Generation by renewable sources, including solar PV, will be used to offset the coal-fired generation lost.

Program cost minimal

Critics of the program say that feed-in tariffs are the cause of what they claim are increasing electricity costs.
Not so, says ClearSky’s summary. Cost of electricity in the province will increase slightly to a maximum of about one percent of a typical household’s bill, then decline steadily as the initial contracts work their way through the system.

Solar PV is the most expensive of the new renewable energy technologies. Though costs are rapidly declining, generation from solar PV is still several times more costly than that from wind, hydro, or biogas. Thus, feed-in tariffs for solar PV are a lightning rod for critics of renewable energy.

In a previous report, ClearSky estimated that Ontario will install 3,000 megawatts of solar PV in the next five years. During the period studied in this report, ClearSky says Ontario will install a total of 6,000 megawatts of solar PV by 2021. For comparison, California is expected to have a total installed capacity of 800 megawatts and the U.S. 1,700 megawatts of solar PV by the end of 2010.

If ClearSky’s estimates become reality, Ontario will soon become the largest center of solar PV development in North America by a wide margin, and rival European countries, which are currently the leaders in solar generation.

More jobs from solar PV than coal or nuclear

The Green Energy Act was in part justified by the job-creation potential in Ontario’s industrial sector, which was hard hit by the collapse of North America’s auto manufacturers.
Implementation of the province’s feed-in tariff program by the Ontario Power Authority includes a controversial domestic content provision. In effect, a substantial portion of any solar system installed in Ontario must be manufactured in the province.
ClearSky’s summary suggests that this policy may in fact work as intended at creating new jobs. The report says solar PV creates 12 times more jobs than nuclear per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated and 15 times more than coal.
More jobs per dollar invested

ClearSky calculates that while investment in solar PV results in 30 percent to 40 percent as much electricity as investment in conventional sources, the investment in solar PV pays dividends in job creation. According to ClearSky’s summary, investment in solar PV creates 2.4 to 6.4 times more jobs than a similar investment in conventional sources.

Ontario solar PV billion dollar market

At the current pace of development and with the limitations of a weak, antiquated grid in mind, ClearSky projects that between 2010 and 2015, Ontario’s burgeoning solar industry will attract nearly $7.8 billion (USD) in private capital.

Clean generation saves ratepayers 20 percent

On Oct. 17, 2010 the Ontario government announced a rebate of 10 percent on ratepayers’ electricity bills to compensate for what it calls the “Clean Energy Benefit” of the Green Energy Act. The rebate will be paid for from tax revenue.

In a posting on their website, “Why Ontario’s Clean Energy Benefit Makes Sense — Sort Of,” ClearSky argues that the rapid development of clean sources of generation to replace the existing coal-fired plants saves taxpayers money by eliminating coal’s social and environmental costs.

The posting has revised interest in a long-forgotten report on the cost of coal-fired generation. The 2005 report, Cost Benefit Analysis: Replacing Ontario’s Coal-Fired Electricity Generation [PDF], tallied the then social cost of electricity from the province’s nuclear-powered and fossil-fired fleet of generators. The report says Ontario’s coal-fired power plants cost Ontario nearly $0.127 (USD) per kilowatt hour in environmental and social impacts.

According to ClearSky, new renewable generation under the Green Energy Act’s feed-in tariffs saves ratepayers the equivalent of 20 percent on their electricity bills. Thus, they reluctantly say, the province’s Clean Energy Benefit does appear justified and could be even higher.

While ClearSky’s market analysis won’t settle the debate on the future of Ontario’s electricity system, it clearly shows that the province is headed toward becoming a leader in renewable energy development, and especially in the creation of a solar PV industry.

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33 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for November 24th: World Bank boosts clean energy lending 300%, fossil fuels 430%; UK wants central role for business in Cancun; World’s first hybrid tugboat

  1. DRT says:

    Hey Joe, Are you going to repost James Hansen’s recent article:
    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2010/20101122_ChinaOpEd.pdf
    Maybe it’s already here and I just missed it.

    Thanks

    [JR: I'd like to find the text itself.]

  2. Prokaryotes says:

    Conservation, habitat and species related news.

    There are about 3000 news article at google …

    Putin praises DiCaprio as ‘real man’ after harrowing journey to tiger summit

    But on his way to attend the global “Save the Tiger” summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, Mr. DiCaprio nearly met with real-life aviation disaster twice: first when his Moscow-bound flight had to turn back to New York with its engine reportedly in flames, and again when the private aircraft he chartered was so severely buffeted by winds that it had to make an emergency landing in Finland. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2010/1124/Putin-praises-DiCaprio-as-real-man-after-harrowing-journey-to-tiger-summit

    Winds that create emergency landings are a little odd – climate extreme wise.

  3. Prokaryotes says:

    Cancun Climate Conference: Chris Huhne says the world is ‘within shouting distance of a deal’
    Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, has promised to get the ‘show back on the road’ towards an international agreement to stop global warming.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/8157398/Cancun-Climate-Conference-Chris-Huhne-says-the-world-is-within-shouting-distance-of-a-deal.html

  4. Prokaryotes says:

    Businesses Bring the Climate-Change Fight to COP16

    Focusing on the role of business in developing solutions to climate change, a group of business, finance and government leaders is launching its inaugural World Climate Summit at the UNFCCC COP16 conference in Cancun, Mexico. The summit conference marks the beginning of an open and collaborative global 10-year framework aimed at helping governments, businesses and financiers accelerate climate-change solutions.

    As part of the World Climate Summit, more than 300 leading companies, financiers and government leaders will work together to implement, scale and collaborate on climate-change solutions to help reach regional and global 2020 targets.

    A study recently released by the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) finds that the top 3,000 public companies were responsible for $2.15 trillion, or about one-third, of all global environmental damage. http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/11/24/businesses-bring-the-climate-change-fight-to-cop16/

  5. Prokaryotes says:

    Gigaton Awards Highlight How Businesses Lead on Climate Change

    The time for business to lead on climate change and sustainability — while still making profits — is now. Every year there are globally 50 billion tons of human generate CO2 emitted per year. By 2020 — that number is expected to reach 60 billion tons. Who is out there doing the most to reduce this number in the business community?

    The nominees include Global 1000 companies across six sectors of business: Consumer Discretionary, Consumer Staples, Industrials, Telecommunications, Energy, and Utilities. In each category, there will be five nominated companies based on those that have achieved the largest reductions in CO2e emissions between FY 2008 and FY2009.

    In analogy to the Oscars, the Awards recognize best performances by business in major sectors. The launch of the Awards will occur at the World Climate Summit: The Business Conference at COP16, an event hosted by World Climate Limited in partnership with CWR, among others. A pool of five nominees across each of seven major sectors will be selected based on quantitative data indicating emissions reductions on an annual basis.

    The time to act is now, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUS223144708220101123

  6. Prokaryotes says:

    Cities, states start to adopt climate change survival strategies

    A report released this week by the California Adaptation Advisory Panel laid out the myriad threats climate change poses to the Golden State — as well as strategies to anticipate and prepare for rising sea levels, along with more wildfires, heat waves, and water shortages.

    “Failure to anticipate and plan for climate variability and the prospect of extreme weather and related events in land development patterns and in natural resource management could have serious impacts far beyond what has already been experienced,” the report states. http://www.grist.org/article/2010-11-24-cities-states-start-to-adopt-climate-change-survival-strategies

  7. Prokaryotes says:

    To much informational content to quote …

    Green Economy, Climate Change Debate Could Turn Out Differently This Time

    Cap-and-Trade is dead even though it was originally a Republican idea. Green Business Becoming Economic Enginehttp://uk.ibtimes.com/articles/20101124/green-economy-climate-change-debate-could-turn-out-differently-time.htm

  8. Prokaryotes says:

    Yvo de Boer says developing nations pay ‘lip service’ to climate change

    Former UN climate chief says poor countries think west is using climate change to keep them poor and maintain status quo
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/nov/24/yvo-de-boer-climate-change-cancun

  9. Prokaryotes says:

    56 Religious Groups to U.S. Senate: Save the Clean Air Act

    Rockefeller Bid to Delay EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases Mentioned as Unwise Move; Effort Involves Protestants, Jews, Unitarians and Other Leading Faith Organizations http://www.bradenton.com/2010/11/23/2761679/56-religious-groups-to-us-senate.html

    Shame on Rockefeller for not switching to clean technologies!!!!!!!!!

  10. Prokaryotes says:

    UN sparks methane global warming scare on Cancun eve

    Greenhouse gases reached record levels in 2009 reports the United Nations World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in a press release about a new report that it says highlights concerns about global warming and methane.

    The UN’s weather agency has used the press release announcing its annual report on greenhouse gas levels to raise the spectre of rising temperatures triggering the rapid release of methane, a powerful warming gas, that could accelerate climate change. The announcement comes on the eve of the The United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Cancun, Mexico, from 29 November to 10 December 2010. http://www.reportingclimatescience.com/news-stories/article/un-sparks-methane-global-warming-scare-on-eve-of-cancun-conference.html

  11. Prokaryotes says:

    Call in the women

    A critical mass of female voices changes the tenor of political and corporate decisions — and should be used to galvanize climate policy, says Susan Buckingham.

    In 1992, the United Nations called for women to be engaged in environmental decision-making at all levels. This was on the grounds of human rights and justice, and because of their distinctive experiences of childbirth, caring for vulnerable family members, unpaid or undervalued work and subsistence food production. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v468/n7323/full/468502a.html

  12. Prokaryotes says:

    Youths urged to avoid tobacco products

    “One tree is felled for the production of every 300 cigarettes. Smokers are not only burning the cigarette but also the environment, which ultimately adds to global warming and hazardous climate change.” http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hubli/Youths-urged-to-avoid-tobacco-products/articleshow/6983273.cms

  13. Prokaryotes says:

    Feds set aside ‘critical habitat’ for polar bear

    The Obama administration is setting aside 187,000 square miles in Alaska as a “critical habitat” for polar bears, an action that could add restrictions to future offshore drilling for oil and gas. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ihodpPezL6GWoR5nYrPNL2rcvgJg?docId=6a76fa452155404cabc112b8457197fa

  14. Prokaryotes says:

    Indonesia’s climate aid questioned

    Indonesia is eyeing $1 billion in climate aid — intended to halt deforestation and reduce carbon emissions

    “REDD Alert: Protection Money,” released Tuesday, Greenpeace said that because of vague definitions, continued clearance of forest could be allowed in Indonesia under the guise of rehabilitation of degraded forest areas.

    Greenpeace said documents from the forestry, agriculture and energy departments in Jakarta reveal plans for expansion in the pulp, palm, agriculture, biofuel and coal sectors that could bring an additional 156 million acres of land into use by 2030.

    “The land is roughly equivalent to all the currently undeveloped land in Indonesia,” says the report. “The government plans for a trebling of pulp and paper production by 2015 and a doubling of palm oil production by 2020.”

    This expansion, along with weak definitions for degraded land in Indonesia, could result in the REDD funds, earmarked for protection of the country’s forests and peat lands, actually being used to support their destruction, Greenpeace said. http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Resource-Wars/2010/11/24/Indonesias-climate-aid-questioned/UPI-90481290622143/

  15. Prokaryotes says:

    Vice President to visit flood affected areas in the north

    interim assessment of the disasters showed that between 170,000 and 200,000 people had been displaced with substantial destruction of crops and farmlands.

    the Chinese Ambassador in Ghana, through the Ghana Red Cross Society, presented a cheque for $50,000.00 to support the victims in the three northern regions and parts of the Volta and Brong Ahafo regions. http://www.ghananewsagency.org/s_social/r_22863/

  16. Prokaryotes says:

    UK flood damage bill up 200%

    The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has reported a “massive rise” in Britain’s flood damage bill.

    Since 2000 the cost to insurers of flooding across the UK has leapt by 200% on the previous decade to £4.5 billion, with more people set to be at significant risk of flooding, according to the ABI.

    Major floods since 2000 have included the 2007 summer flooding which resulted in insurers paying out £3 billion; the 2005 floods in Carlisle that cost £272 million, and the Cumbrian floods in November 2009 costing £174 million.

    The Association claims that nearly 500,000 people are currently facing a significant flood risk, with the total possibly rising to 840,000 by 2035 without adequate investment in flood defences. http://www.insurancedaily.co.uk/2010/11/24/uk-flood-damage-bill-up-200/

  17. Prokaryotes says:

    Audi Opens New Development Center For Hybrid And Electric Vehicles

    The era of mainstream electric vehicles is nearly upon us. Next month first deliveries of the Nissan Leaf will officially start and soon after the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric vehicle will be in showrooms. The major luxury automakers are a step behind but even they are focused on releasing a new generation of hybrids and pure electric vehicles in the near future. http://www.motorauthority.com/blog/1051379_audi-opens-new-development-center-for-hybrid-and-electric-vehicles

  18. Prokaryotes says:

    Last week, the Senate of Canada voted to defeat Canada’s only piece of federal climate change legislation, Bill C-311, The Climate Change Accountability Act. This legislation had passed twice in the House of Commons, the first time in 2008 and the second in May 2010.

    This forward-thinking bill would have set firm targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. With short- and long-term goals, it would have held the government accountable through regular reports to Canadians on the achievement of these goals and made Canada a leader in the fight against catastrophic climate change.

    Despite Parliament’s support and adoption of this bill, the unelected, unaccountable Senate voted down and killed this much needed legislation in a snap vote at second reading. The Senate killed the bill before they studied it or even heard from expert witnesses. It is virtually unprecedented for the unelected Senate to defeat a bill passed by the elected House of Commons. http://thechronicleherald.ca/Opinion/1213598.html

  19. paulm says:

    Long term climate predictions need to improve
    http://www.caymannewsservice.com/science-and-nature/2010/11/24/long-term-climate-predictions-need-improve

    Many small island states have economies based on tourism which would not be spared the ravages of climate change,, Sambula said.

    “Rising sea levels and heavier storm surges may damage beaches, for example, combined with other effects such as coral bleaching. Warmer temperatures may also affect the comfort level of visitors, leading to an expanded demand for investment in this sector.”

    He explained that the shift towards climate services represents an effort to assist governments to improve governance through scientific data that will support forward planning and sustainable national development.

    “When we look at the potential fallout, meteorologists must move from merely giving short-term weather forecasts, to researching and predicting future climate impacts. We must help governments stay ahead of the game,” Sambula stated.

  20. Chris Winter says:

    The NRDC has produced a good film about what some scientists call the other carbon problem: ocean acidification. The film is called Acid Test, it runs about 21 minutes, and it’s found here:

    http://www.nrdc.org/oceans/acidification/aboutthefilm.asp

    Sigourney Weaver narrates, and scientists like Steve Palumbi and Ken Caldeira are featured.

    I found the link in a HuffPost thread on the WMO’s announcement of record-high CO2 concentration (the story cited above by Prokaryotes). Another HuffPost piece explains that thanks to the boom in natural gas discovery and fracking, the U.S. is beginning to export that fuel.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/raymond-j-learsy/the-uss-booming-gas-indus_b_787949.html

  21. PeterW says:

    Hi Joe, Thanks for posting the article on Ontario. Perhaps no area in North America has changed so much in the last 8 years. Ontario has already started shutting coal generating plants. It has quickly gone from nowhere to one of the North American leaders in wind-power, and now solar. And all this could go up in smoke as the Liberal government is at its lowest popularity since it was first elected. Next fall the Conservatives have a very good chance of taking power and will try to scuttle all the green projects.

    The problem is that people only talk about the cost of the projects, never the benefits. The way they talk about real-time electricity metering you would think it was a communist plot.

    Ontario citizens should be proud of their governments’ efforts. but the press as usual always neglect to mention the benefits.

  22. Prokaryotes says:

    Harper government ends funding to climate research organization

    Ottawa to lease out science vessel for oil exploration http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Harper+government+ends+funding+climate+research+organization/3881710/story.html

  23. Prokaryotes says:

    Forecast for the winter of 2010 – 2011

    We currently have moderate La Niña conditions over the tropical Pacific ocean, which means that a large region of cooler than average waters exists along the Equator from the coast of South America to the Date Line. Cooler than average waters in this location tend to deflect the jet stream such that the Pacific Northwest experiences cooler and wetter winters than average, while the southern U.S. sees warmer and drier winter weather. NOAA’s forecast for the upcoming winter issued on October 21 calls for a typical La Niña winter over the U.S.

    What happened during the last three La Niña winters?

    It’s worth noting that two of these three La Niña winters (2007 – 2008 and 1998 – 1999) saw record levels of tornado activity. Of the three winters, I believe that the winter of 2007 – 2008 may be the best historical analogue for the coming winter, since Arctic sea ice loss, which can significantly affect winter weather, was most similar to the conditions observed this year.

    Wildcard number 1: What will the NAO do?
    The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is a climate pattern in the North Atlantic Ocean of fluctuations in the difference of sea-level pressure between the Icelandic Low and the Azores High. It is one of oldest known climate oscillations–seafaring Scandinavians described the pattern several centuries ago. Through east-west oscillation motions of the Icelandic Low and the Azores High,the NAO controls the strength and direction of westerly winds and storm tracks across the North Atlantic. A large difference in the pressure between Iceland and the Azores (positive NAO) leads to increased westerly winds and mild and wet winters in Europe. Positive NAO conditions also cause the Icelandic Low to draw a stronger south-westerly flow of air over eastern North America, preventing Arctic air from plunging southward. In contrast, if the difference in sea-level pressure between Iceland and the Azores is small (negative NAO), westerly winds are suppressed, allowing Arctic air to spill southwards into eastern North America more readily. Negative NAO winters tend to bring cold winters to Europe, and the prevailing storm track moves south towards the Mediterranean Sea. This brings increased storm activity and rainfall to southern Europe and North Africa.

    The winter of 2009 – 2010 had the most extreme negative NAO since record keeping began in 1950. The NAO index was -1.67, beating the previous record of -1.47 set in the winter of 1962 – 1963. The record negative NAO was responsible for unusual cold weather and snows over Eastern North America and Europe, and resulted in an upside-down winter: coldest in 25 years in the U.S., and warmest on record in Canada, with snow needing to be trucked in for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. This “Warm Arctic-Cold Continents pattern” had occurred previously only three times in the past 160 years. If a strong negative NAO establishes itself this winter, we could have a winter like 1995 – 1996, which featured a weak La Niña and a strongly negative NAO. That winter featured many cold air outbreaks across the Eastern U.S., resulting in fifteen major cities setting new all-time seasonal snowfall total, including 75.6″ at New York City’s Central Park. Unfortunately, the NAO is not predictable more than about two weeks in advance.

    Wildcard number 2: How will Arctic sea ice loss affect the winter?
    NOAA issued their annual Arctic Report Card last month, and discussed the fact that recent record sea ice loss in the summer in the Arctic is having major impacts on winter weather over the continents of the Northern Hemisphere. The Report Card states, “There continues to be significant excess heat storage in the Arctic Ocean at the end of summer due to continued near-record sea ice loss. There is evidence that the effect of higher air temperatures in the lower Arctic atmosphere in fall is contributing to changes in the atmospheric circulation in both the Arctic and northern mid-latitudes. Winter 2009-2010 showed a new connectivity between mid-latitude extreme cold and snowy weather events and changes in the wind patterns of the Arctic; the so-called Warm Arctic-Cold Continents pattern…With future loss of sea ice, such conditions as winter 2009-2010 could happen more often. Thus we have a potential climate change paradox. Rather than a general warming everywhere, the loss of sea ice and a warmer Arctic can increase the impact of the Arctic on lower latitudes, bringing colder weather to southern locations.” As a specific example of what the Report Card is talking about, Francis et al. (2009) found that during 1979 – 2006, years that had unusually low summertime Arctic sea ice had a 10 – 20% reduction in the temperature difference between the Equator and North Pole. This resulted in a weaker jet stream with slower winds that lasted a full six months, through fall and winter. The weaker jet caused a weaker Aleutian Low and Icelandic Low during the winter, resulting in a more negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), allowing cold air to spill out of the Arctic and into Europe and the Eastern U.S. Thus, Arctic sea ice loss may have been partially responsible for the record negative NAO observed during the winter of 2009 – 2010, and the emergence of the “Warm Arctic-Cold Continents pattern.” This pattern is kind of like leaving the refrigerator door ajar–the refrigerator warm up, but all the cold air spills out into the house. If the Arctic Report Card is right, we’ll be seeing more of this pattern during coming winters–possibly even during the winter of 2010 – 2011.
    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1702

  24. Prokaryotes says:

    Microbursts reported in Stafford

    The tree line damage was significant, authorities say, but property damage was not. No injuries were reported.

    http://www.fredericksburg.com/News/Web/2010/112010/1117-microburst

    Damaging burst in Aspendale Gardens
    microburst was one of the worst weather events the team had seen in recent times.

    “It was lucky no one was injured, given the amount of debris flying around and the number of huge trees that came down,” Mr Wall said.

    “It’s going to take quite a while to clean up all the damage.” Australian Weather Bureau forecaster, Tony Bannister, said a microburst was an intense, localised downdraft of air and rain hitting the earth at high speed.

    “The thunderstorm was moving at about 60km/h and wind speeds reached more than 100km/h. We have classified it as a severe event,” Mr Bannister said. “It all happened very quickly,” Mrs Pearson said. http://mordialloc-chelsea-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/damaging-burst-in-aspendale-gardens/

  25. Prokaryotes says:

    Industry wants climate tackled: Swan

    The federal government’s 19-member business roundtable on climate change held its first meeting in Canberra on Friday, a month after the high-profile appointments were announced.

    Mr Swan told reporters the industry leaders on the panel appreciated the need for a carbon price.
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    “There was a broad appreciation across the room of the need for a price on carbon,” Mr Swan told reporters after the meeting.

    “There were a variety of perspectives, but it is fair to say the overwhelming view in the room was the need for action, and that includes a price on carbon.”

    The deputy prime minister said points of difference were minimal.

    “Some might prefer a (carbon) trading scheme, some may prefer a carbon tax,” he said. http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/industry-wants-climate-tackled-swan-20101126-189uc.html

    Wiki – Population 2010 estimate 22,536,793

  26. Prokaryotes says:

    Flood-related death toll had risen to 255 on Friday, as the Meteorological Department warned more rain is expected in the South due to a strengthening northeast monsoon. http://www.bangkokpost.com/breakingnews/208289/flood-death-toll-at-255