Tumblr Icon RSS Icon

Energy and Global Warming News for December 8th: CA, OR, MA lead list of top clean-energy states; New Mexico to cut CO2 25% below 1990 levels by 2020; Sahara solar project to power half the world by 2050?

By Climate Guest Contributor  

"Energy and Global Warming News for December 8th: CA, OR, MA lead list of top clean-energy states; New Mexico to cut CO2 25% below 1990 levels by 2020; Sahara solar project to power half the world by 2050?"

Share:

google plus icon

California, Oregon, and Massachusetts Lead List of Top 10 Clean-Energy States

With the arrival of the newly elected 112th Congress, likelihood of any significant progress on a focused federal clean-energy strategy in the United States is doubtful – and that’s not good news for the U.S. in its leadership battle with China, Japan, Germany, and other nations in this increasingly critical global industry.  But against this uncertain federal landscape, U.S. states continue to lead the charge in driving clean-energy innovation and advancing the clean-energy economy.

Clean Edge’s first annual U.S. Clean Energy Leadership Index, announced today, provides the industry’s most comprehensive and objective analysis and ranking of how all 50 states compare across the spectrum of clean-energy technology, policy, and capital. And while West and East Coast states dominate the top 10 rankings, innovation and investment opportunities are found across the map in places such as Colorado, Iowa, Texas, and Michigan.

According to Clean Edge’s assessment and ranking of more than 80 different state-level indicators, the top three states in the nation are California, Oregon, and Massachusetts. Washington, Colorado, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, Minnesota, and New Jersey round out the top 10. Indicators include such metrics as total electricity produced by clean-energy sources, hybrid vehicles on the road, and clean-energy venture and patent activity.

“In this newly launched service we track more than 4,000 public and private data points across all 50 states,” says Clean Edge cofounder and managing director Ron Pernick. “The industry needs to move beyond the days of using disaggregated and fragmented data to bolster subjective political claims about a state’s or region’s clean-tech prowess or as the basis of fundamental and significant business decisions. For the first time, Clean Edge is bringing timely clean- energy data and analysis under one roof, making this a critical tool for clean-tech decision makers within both the public and private sector.”

The Leadership Index paints an important and sometimes surprising picture of the U.S. clean-energy landscape with highlights such as:

– California is #1 in overall clean-energy leadership by a wide margin, leveraging its history of technology innovation, rich bounty of natural renewable energy resources and investment capital, and consistently supportive government policies.

– California leads in the technology and capital categories, but the #1 state for policy is Washington – just ahead of Massachusetts, which ranks first in regulations and mandates, and Illinois, the top state for incentives.

– Iowa is the nation’s leader in utility-scale clean electricity generation as a percentage of total electricity, receiving more than 14 percent of its in-state generation in 2009 from wind power. No other state exceeded 10 percent electricity from large-scale clean- energy sources.

– California-based companies accounted for nearly 60 percent of all U.S. venture capital investments in clean energy in 2009, but Massachusetts led in VC investments per capita.

– Michigan, with its recent focus on electric vehicle and automotive battery technologies, is the #1 state for clean-energy patents – a key indicator in the human & intellectual capital area of the Index’s capital category.

Sahara Desert Solar Project (Not DESERTEC) to Power Half the World by 2050?

If you haven’t heard about this project yet, it is a HUGE, renewable energy project with a ton of cool features. The Sahara Solar Breeder Project is its name, though it has also been referred to as the Super Apollo Project by the project leader.

To start with, it will build a silicon manufacturing plant in the desert, a good location for such a plant. Using that silicon locally (rather than just shipping it around the world), solar power plants will be constructed nearby as well. Then, some of the electricity generated from those will be used to construct more silicon manufacturing plants. Sounds like a solar energy empire in the making.

You are probably wondering at this point which country the people doing all this are coming from. It is a joint project between universities in Algeria and Japan, and Hideomi Koinuma of the University of Tokyo is leading the project.

“The energy generated by the solar power plants will be distributed as direct current via high-temperature superconductors, a process that Koinuma said will be more efficient than using alternating current,” Lin Edwards of PhysOrg writes. “He envisages a large network of supercooled high-voltage direct current grids capable of transporting the expected 100 GW of electricity at least 500 kilometers.”

Sahara Solar Breeder Project Initial Goals

Initial project goals are to establish project viability, overcome some clear obstacles (i.e. “frequent sandstorms, the need to use liquid nitrogen to cool cables and to bury them in the sand to minimize fluctuations in temperature”), and train African engineers and scientists in research and development regarding this process.
Of course, it will not be completely easy for the researchers to achieve their technological goals. DigInfo TV writes:
“In this initial project, it will be important to demonstrate the possibility of manufacturing high-purity silicon from desert sand and constructing a high-temperature superconducting, long-distance, DC power supply system.”

Cost of the Sahara Solar Breeder Project

“The total research expenditure will be 100 million yen annually for five years, but that won’t be enough to complete the project,” Koinuma said (in the video above). “Nevertheless, we want to establish basic technology for providing an ultimate solution to the energy problem, which must be done before a global crisis occurs.”

As mentioned in the title, the long-term goal is to power half the world by 2050. That is quite an aim, much more than DESERTEC’s aim to power 15% of Europe by 2050.

New Mexico Passes Carbon Plan for 25% below 1990 levels by 2020

Despite powerful opposition from the fossil fuel industry in court, a non-profit environmental organization, New Energy Economy, has succeeded in getting New Mexico to adopt a clean energy plan designed to reduce carbon emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020.

Yesterday, New Mexico’s Environmental Improvement Board adopted the New Energy Economy proposal on a 4-1 vote. It would begin in 2013, and entail 3% reductions annually.

The climate plan is as ambitious as those adopted by the EU, Japan or Australia to meet the Kyoto Accords, and upgraded at Copenhagen. Like those nations, New Mexico would achieve the greenhouse gas reduction by a move to clean and fuel-free energy sources, funded by pollution fees. The state is rich in untapped solar, geothermal and wind resources.

New Energy Economy provided New Mexico’s Environmental Improvement Board a detailed proposal on how to achieve the targets.

“¢ Under this rule, proposed by New Energy Economy – an independent nonprofit organization, electricity generation facilities, petroleum and natural gas facilities in New Mexico with greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution emissions exceeding 25,000 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide (CO2) would, starting in 2012, be required to reduce their GHG pollution emissions by 3% per year from 2010 levels. Electricity generation facilities, petroleum and natural gas facilities emitting less than 25,000 metric tons per year can opt into the regulation, and a baseline other than 2010 can be used if it’s more representative of a facility’s usual operations.

“¢ These requirements would initially apply only to electricity generating facilities (coal or natural gas) and the petroleum and natural gas (refineries, processing and treatment plants, and compressor stations) sectors of New Mexico’s economy, and would initially regulate only carbon dioxide (CO2). The baseline for new electricity sources would be 0.5 metric tons per MWh in 2012, and reduced 3% per year. For new petroleum and natural gas sources, the baseline would be best available control technology in the first year of operations.

“¢ An owner or operator of more than one source emitting GHG pollution may use excess reductions at one source to comply at a source that it also owns, operates or controls. In addition, sources can petition NMED for early action credit for voluntary emission reductions achieved by the emitter during or after 2005. Sources may propose the use of New Mexico offsets approved by NMED, or certified by the Climate Action Reserve, to meet their GHG pollution reduction requirements. These offsets could be based on reductions to any GHG pollution emissions, not just CO2. Sources may bank excess reductions indefinitely for later use, and may “borrow” (i.e. delay) emissions reductions for up to one year with a ten percent penalty.

“¢ Full compliance would be excused in any year that the facility demonstrates it has spent, over its prior year’s expenditure, $50 per metric ton times 3% (0.03) of its 2010, or baseline CO2 metric tons, on reasonable and effective GHG pollution mitigation measures. For example, a source emitting 100,000 metric tons in 2010 would be excused after it spent $150,000 ($50 x 100,000 x 0.03). The $50 limit increases by $1 each year after 2012. Sources may seek variances from these regulations.

“¢ During calendar year 2014, NMED would re-examine these regulations and may propose changes to the regulation, in order to have these regulations consistent with what the best science informs should be done to avoid catastrophic climate change. These regulations would no longer apply to any GHG pollution source whose emissions are limited by a regional or national GHG pollution reduction program and would sunset in 2020. Non-compliance would be subject to a penalty and/or other enforcement action, as determined by the New Mexico Environment Department.

Coming from a non-profit environmental group, this is a completely new paradigm. State policy is almost never put in place by outside environmental groups, let alone after facing down a heavily funded legal battle from the fossil energy industry in court. New Mexico is heavily reliant on fossil fuels and has a powerful fossil lobby.
I asked them how they did it. Lilia Diaz of New Energy Economy said, “one of the reasons that we were successful here is because we had a lot of community support throughout the hearings, with people from very different walks of life testifying in support of a cap on carbon pollution”.

Last year a sinkhole caused by years of poor oil and gas drilling practices opened up near interstate 285 in Carlsbad threatening a church, a highway, several businesses and a trailer park with massive fissures through the town. Awareness of the risks associated with fossil fuels is high.

There’s a catch though. The Environmental Improvement Board that passed the measure is selected by the Governor. A new Governor, Tea Party candidate Susanna Martinez will take over from termed-out Democratic Governor Bill Richardson on January 1st.

Like the Republican party platform, the Tea Party platform is ostrich-like in its complete disavowal of the looming realities of climate change, peak oil and the risk of US decline to third world status by its outright filibuster of clean energy. That risk is more serious now because not only Europe, but even China now speeds past the US in developing the coming clean energy economy of the 21st century.
China is adding 500 Gigawatts of renewable energy by 2020. The Recovery Act had 16 Gigawatts, an unprecedented jolt for the US – the only major US government investment since the Carter era – and now, likely the only one we will get.

A board member said last month that a simple edict from the governor is not enough to kill the plan and speculated that even a reconstituted board could take as long as a year to rescind the measures.
Either way, new Governor Susanna Martinez has a historic decision to make.

A grassroots coalition group that put together the support for this in New Mexico is making a smart move. Only those US states that have already put in place clean fuel-free energy will survive. There is a short window for transition in the next few decades.

U.N.’s Ban urges climate deal, short of perfect

Saying the health of the planet is at stake, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged 190 nations meeting in Mexico on Tuesday to agree to steps to fight climate change that fall short of a perfect deal.

“We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” Ban told a first session of environment ministers at the November 29 to December 10 talks in the Caribbean resort of Cancun where rich and poor nations are split over cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

After U.S. President Barack Obama and other leaders failed to work out a U.N. climate treaty at a 2009 summit in Copenhagen, Ban repeatedly stressed lower ambitions for the Cancun talks despite calls by some nations for radical action.

Ban told the ministers: “the stability of the global economy, the well-being of your citizens, the health of our planet, all this and more depend on you.”

The Cancun talks are seeking a package deal to set up a fund to oversee climate aid, ways to slow deforestation, steps to help poor countries adapt to climate change and a mechanism to share clean technologies such as wind and solar power.

Some developing nations, with Bolivia the most outspoken, have said that far more radical action by the rich is needed now to cut greenhouse gas emissions and deadly floods, droughts, desertification and rising sea levels.

Speaking on behalf of Africa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said he was “deeply dismayed” by the loss of momentum since Copenhagen. “Every day of delay is being paid for by the lives of countless numbers of Africans,” he said.

CHINA, INDIA

About 1,500 people marched in Cancun in protest the low ambitions of the talks and dumped buckets of animal excrement in the street. Overnight, some protesters threw eggs at riot police and defaced a fast-food restaurant.

Developed and developing countries are most split about the future of the U.N.’s 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which obliges almost 40 rich nations to cut emissions by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels in the five-year period 2008-12.

“The Kyoto Protocol issue continues to be very tough. It’s not clear whether it’s resolvable,” U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern told a news conference. He said that the Kyoto dispute was distracting time from other parts of the negotiations.

The United States is the only rich nation outside of the Kyoto Protocol after arguing that treaty wrongly omitted targets for 2012 for developing nations and would cause U.S. jobs losses. The U.S. absence is a core part of the problem in designing a new deal.
Japan, Russia and Canada have been adamant that they will not approve an extension to Kyoto when the first period runs out in 2012. They want a new, broader treaty that will also bind the United States and emerging powers like China and India to act.

Asked if Japan might ever agree to extend Kyoto, Akira Yamada of Japan’s foreign ministry told Reuters: “Yes. If U.S., China and other major emitters become Annex One countries.” Annex One lists rich nations bound by Kyoto.

Many rich countries, suffering weak growth and budget cuts, want emerging economies led by fast-growing China and India to do far more to reflect their growing power, including greater oversight of their curbs on greenhouse gas emissions

Developing states say rich nations have emitted most greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution and must extend Kyoto before poor countries sign up for action. Kyoto underpins carbon markets guiding a shift away from fossil fuels.

Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, said positions were “diametrically opposed” and the future of Kyoto was not due to be decided in Cancun.

“Germans have a wonderful word ‘yein’ which means both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and I think that’s the kind of attitude countries are now engaged in,” she said.

A U.N. report showed that residents of the Himalayas and other mountain areas face a tough and unpredictable future as global warming melts glaciers and threatens worse floods.

Sempra’s Copper Mountain is Now the Largest PV Plant in U.S.

This is the year that utility-scale solar in the U.S. broke. Hundreds of megawatts are now online and operational. And next year will be even more impressive.

The mantle of the largest U.S. PV plant has been passed from Florida Power and Light’s 28-megawatt (DC) DeSoto photovoltaic farm in Arcadia, FL to the 55-megawatt (DC) Sempra Copper Mountain solar facility in Boulder City, Nev., about 40 miles southeast of Las Vegas. Construction at the 380-acre desert site began in January of 2010 with about 350 construction workers installing almost 775,000 First Solar solar panels. First Solar also served as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor.

The Copper Mountain facility was built by Sempra Generation, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE). “Completing Copper Mountain Solar is a major accomplishment. It demonstrates that large-scale solar can be developed at a rapid pace to help this country meet its clean energy needs, and further solidifies our position as one of the leading solar developers in the U.S.,” said Jeffrey W. Martin, president and chief executive officer of Sempra Generation.

The power from Copper Mountain Solar and Sempra Generation’s nearby 10-megawatt El Dorado Solar plant has been sold to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) under separate 20-year contracts.

It’s easy to see from the chart below that First Solar and SunPower dominate the utility PV market in the U.S. today; one of the two companies has been involved in every one of the 11 largest operating projects in the country. Greentech Media Research takes a deep look at the U.S. utility-scale solar marketplace in this report and both of these articles.

We took a detailed look at the Blue Wing solar project here and the proposed 50-megawatt Turning Point Solar project here.

During COP16, a Plea for ‘Policy Pragmatism’ in the U.S.

As COP16 continues in Cancun this week, some onlookers in the U.S. are calling for a renewed focus on bottom-up, local initiatives rather than a top-down approach.

Washington, D.C. — Last year’s failed COP15 conference was a big blow to the climate advocacy community: In a period of weeks, hopes for an international agreement crashed and burned, leaving people wondering if any kind of movement would come. Shortly after, it became clear that the U.S. Congress wouldn’t pass a climate bill, further dimming prospects for action.

The November elections turned the chilly politics of global warming in America ice cold. After winning 65 seats in the House, Republicans are now taking control of key committees that could determine the future of energy policy; some of the leaders in the running for these committees are vociferous foes of climate science.

Elizabeth Kolbert, a staff writer for the New Yorker who has been covering climate change issues for over a decade, profiled some of those leading Republicans in a piece last month.

“A lot of people who’s positions are not even necessarily mainstream…are going to come into power,” she explains in an interview.

There’s John Boehner, the presumptive Speaker of the House, who said in a television appearance last year that “the idea that CO2 is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.” He went on to opine that because people breath out CO2 and cows “do what they do,” we shouldn’t consider the gas a problem.

Then there’s John Shimkus, who’s been running for the Chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He became well-known last year for quoting a passage from Genesis during a hearing as evidence that climate change is not an issue, saying “there’s a theological argument that we are a carbon starved planet.” (It should be noted that Shimkus is not a front-runner in the race. Fred Upton, who is considered far more moderate on climate and energy issues will likely get the seat. He’s battling Joe Barton, another leader who is extremely skeptical of climate science).

And there’s also Darrell Issa, the incoming Chairman of the House Committee for Oversight and Government reform. As leader of that body, he’ll have the power to open investigations on a variety of issues. One of his stated priorities is to investigate climate scientists associated with the “Climategate” scandal. (Multiple independent inquiries found no evidence that climate data was skewed by scientists).

These are a few among a handful of powerful politicians who have vowed to thwart climate-change mitigation efforts when they take leadership positions. Kolbert says this change in leadership makes it increasingly unlikely that the U.S. will play a positive role in international climate negotiations in the foreseeable future.

“This is a situation where irrationality has won the day,” says Kolbert. “Without strong leadership from the U.S., I have never seen how we are going to get from here to there.”

But some people don’t believe that all is lost. The renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors are maturing quickly, accelerating solutions to the problem. Although the politics around climate change are vitriolic, there is still strong bi-partisan support for clean energy.
Jigar Shah, the CEO of the non-profit investment firm Carbon War Room, has been telling renewable energy advocates to “stop bitching” and “go out and build businesses.” The industry made it this far, he says. Companies can continue to persevere in spite of the challenges.
His business partner, Virgin Airlines Founder Richard Branson, recently wrote a piece in the Guardian newspaper urging the investment community to stay ahead of policymakers: “Legislation and public policy will only shape the market, it will not deliver solutions,” he wrote.

Activity at the COP16 conference in Cancun mirrors this new political reality. Rather than push for a large-scale global agreement, negotiators are focusing on the details of a climate fund that will help finance renewable energy, energy efficiency and mitigation projects in developing countries. Even if political leaders can’t agree on how (or whether) to price carbon, there is still support for investment in technological solutions at the sub-national level.

In America, industry leaders are pushing for extensions of the federal grant program and key tax credits. (Aside from solar, which has an investment tax credit through 2016, tax credits for other technologies expire in one or two years, making it difficult to plan large-scale projects). Trade groups were hoping to have those extensions in a bill currently before Congress that will extend tax cuts and unemployment benefits, but they didn’t get them in.

Beyond that immediate priority, industry leaders have halted their push for a comprehensive energy policy on the federal level.
Lewis Milford, president and founder of the non-profit policy and investment advisory firm Clean Energy Group, believes there will be a trend toward more specific and localized action in the U.S. With the prospects for cap and trade or a national renewable energy standard virtually dead, Milford says the U.S. needs to focus on “policy pragmatism” and establish solutions on a more local level.

“We’ve tried big and grand, let’s try small and experimental and work from the bottom up, rather than assume we have the answers in Washington to all these problems,” he says.

He recently co-authored a report for the Clean Energy Group outlining some ideas on how to redeploy existing federal dollars to programs at the state level. By giving more local control over the money (which again, has already been appropriated to federal agencies) he says we can continue building the clean energy industry without a climate bill or national renewable energy target.

“This is the opposite of what many people have been promoting [on the federal level] for years,” he says.

A few ideas include: Using $100 million to mimic corporate technology-procurement programs and better link R&D and commercialization efforts; deploy over $1 billion to help state agencies procure electricity from emerging technologies; and invest $650 million into existing state-level clean energy funds to help grow technology funding partnerships, improve regulatory coordination and build workforce development programs. These efforts could leverage billions more dollars in private investment on the local and state levels, providing a direct economic boost.

Milford admits that these programs are only one piece of a long-term clean energy strategy. While this “Clean Energy Federalism” approach is good for helping early-stage technologies, it may be less effective for helping companies build large-scale wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and bioenergy facilities. Ultimately, long-term tax credits are the key to helping developers in that sector – and developers in most industries are nervously watching the expiration dates for those credits get closer.

With the exception of some possible tax credit extensions, Milford believes this approach is currently one of the only realistic options.
“We have to think smaller, more locally. I think this can reconcile the differences between the two groups who either do or don’t want do something about climate change,” he says. “It can really appeal to anyone.”

That is also the hope on the international stage. To keep momentum going, policy makers are trying to hammer out any viable package that will accelerate clean energy development on the national or sub-national level.

The New Yorker’s Kolbert sees this as a somewhat positive trend during an otherwise dismal period for climate action. Despite the continued attack on scientists and advocates trying to raise awareness of the issue, there is a wide-spread recognition that renewables and energy efficiency are an important investment.
“It’s a very frustrating time right now. But at least we can feel positive that we’re going in the right direction in some ways,” says Kolbert.

Thailand: 4,300 MW of Renewables with Feed-in Tariffs

Since the introduction of its small power program in 2006, Thailand has signed contracts to develop 4,300 MW of renewable generation. Nearly half of the contracts–1,800 MW–are for solar energy alone.
Currently 850 MW of generation is online as a result of the program, says Chris Greacen, a former consultant to the Thai government. The large majority of that, 700 MW, is from biomass. Only 16 MW of solar is in operation, but the number of projects is growing rapidly, according to Greacen.

Thailand’s Very Small Power Producer (VSPP) program uses the “bonus model” of feed-in tariff design where the final tariff paid is composed of several “adders” on top of the avoided wholesale cost of generation.

As in successful program elsewhere, the Thai feed-in tariffs are differentiated by Technology. However, the Thai feed-in tariff program contains several unique features. There is a specific “adder” or bonus for offsetting diesel-fired generation. There is also a location adder or risk premium for projects in three southern provinces and an adder to compensate for fossil-fuel price volatility.

Thailand joins several other Asian countries, such as China, Malaysia, and the Philippines, that have moved to feed-in tariffs or are in the process of doing so.

The Thai program includes anti-gaming provisions to discourage “briefcase” project developers from clogging the program with applications that are unlikely to be built. The program requires 200 baht/kWh ($6/kW) deposit to prove the developer’s good faith. Further, no adder will be paid if project completion is more than 1 year past its due date.

Contracts to date are dominated by proposed biomass and solar thermal electric projects. There are 1,400 MW of solar thermal electric projects under contract, and 2,100 MW of biomass projects under contract.

To increase project diversity, Thailand is providing government-backed loans at 4% interest up to 50 million baht ($1.6 million) per project. Similar to Germany’s KfW (the German Bank for Reconstruction and Finance), the government has loaned 4 billion baht to 13 banks at 0.5% interest for use in the program.

The Thai program followed the introduction of a net-metering policy in 2002. The current feed-in tariff program went into effect in 2006.

Projects are limited to 10 MW.

Contracts vary from 7 to 10 years.

Most solar photovoltaic projects under contract are large, groundmounted arrays. Interestingly, nearly all will use inverters made by a domestic Thai manufacturer.

Payment for a typical solar project not located in the southern provinces would include 8 baht/kWh solar bonus, 2.6 baht/kWh for the wholesale avoided cost, plus 0.93 baht/kWh for the fuel volatility bonus. The total payment, 11.5 baht/kWh is about $0.38 USD/kWh. However, solar contracts are good for only ten years.

Can “Electrofuels” be a Source of Green Energy Storage?

Here’s an interesting idea: use the energy of the sun or bacteria to create clean (or kind of clean) energy that also reduces CO2. It could happen. This concept was first presented to me during a trip through upstate NY, visiting a number of universities, including Cornell. In one cleantech approach, Emmanuel Giannelis, co-director of Cornell’s KAUST Center for Energy and Sustainability, says CO2 sequestration – made possible with nanoparticle ionic materials – could be combined with a solar photocatalysis process. “People are focused on systems where you can split water into hydrogen and oxygen and combine the hydrogen with sequestered CO2 to make methane or methanol. You can then store and use that just like gasoline or other fuels,” he said.

While I had not considered gasoline and other fuels, such as methane or butane, as a form of energy storage when setting out to create my blog on energy storage trends, they are of course the most commonly used forms of energy storage. I won’t be covering them much (if at all) moving forward, but it is interesting to think that they could be produced in a “green” fasion (i.e., without petrochemicals or biomass). I subsequently learned that this approach is actually the focus of an ARPA-E program called “Electrofuels.” Most of the methods currently under development involve converting biomass or waste, while there are also approaches to directly produce liquid transportation fuels from sunlight and carbon dioxide. Although photosynthetic routes show promise, overall efficiencies remain low. “The objective of this topic is to develop an entirely new paradigm for the production of liquid fuels that could overcome the challenges associated with current technologies,” notes the ARPA-E site. ARPA-E is looking for technologies that can use metabolic engineering and synthetic biological approaches for the efficient conversion of carbon dioxide to liquid transportation fuels. ARPA-E specifically seeks the development of organisms capable of extracting energy from hydrogen, from reduced earth-abundant metal ions, from robust, inexpensive, readily available organic redox active species, or directly from electric current. Theoretically such an approach could be 10 times more efficient than current photosynthetic-biomass approaches to liquid fuel production.

In one example, researchers from Columbia University will use the chemolithoautotrophic ammonia-oxidizing bacteria N. europaea to produce isobutanol from carbon dioxide. The team will genetically engineer the microorganism to demonstrate that they can efficiently reduce ammonia that can be generated electrochemically from nitrite, or supplied from waste water streams.

World Bank to lead global carbon market charge

The World Bank will today formally launch a new multimillion-dollar fund designed to help developing countries deploy carbon market mechanisms to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions.
Trailing the announcement, which will be made later today on the sidelines of the UN’s climate change summit in Cancun, World Bank President Robert Zoellick released a statement yesterday confirming the bank would unveil a host of new measures designed to help those countries most vulnerable to climate change invest in adaptation and mitigation measures.

“We know that the poorest countries will suffer the earliest and the most from climate change,” he said. “We also know that, while these countries would like to see a comprehensive global accord on climate change, they are not waiting for one. They are acting now and acting differently to shift from being climate vulnerable to being climate smart. We are fully engaged and have been ramping up our efforts with countries as they put in place practical, effective solutions leading to low-carbon growth and inclusive efforts to overcome poverty.”

Central to the bank’s new climate initiatives will be the new fund to support developing countries’ domestic carbon trading schemes.

The organisation did not disclose the size of the fund or which countries will receive the new money, but it could be worth up to $100bn and China, Mexico, Chile and Indonesia are expected to be amongst those that will access the fund to accelerate their carbon trading plans.

The bank said it would also announce a new initiative to boost access to renewable energy by climate-vulnerable island states and an international ‘roadmap’ for improving agricultural practices to increase food productivity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance resilience to climate change.

The package of measures is the latest in a series of moves from the World Bank designed to establish it as a leading investor in low-carbon projects and overcome opposition from some developing countries and NGOs that have accused the bank of investing in carbon-intensive projects and imposing unsustainable levels of debt on developing economies.

The bank noted that it has pledged to deliver $6.4bn through its Climate Investment Funds and a further $2.5bn through its carbon finance funds, while helping to ensure that climate change plays a central role in countries’ development plans.

However, its support for carbon-trading mechanisms is likely to prove highly controversial, given that a group of left-leaning Latin American countries are currently threatening to hold up progress at the Cancun Summit in protest at the use of market mechanisms, such as the proposed REDD forest protection scheme, to help tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

An Alert on Ocean Acidity

Carbon dioxide emissions from man-made sources are causing the acidity level of the world’s oceans to rise at what is probably the fastest rate in 65 million years, threatening global fisheries that serve as an essential food source for billions of people, according to a new United Nations report.

Roughly 25 percent of the carbon dioxide generated by the combustion of fossil fuels enters the oceans, and as the gas dissolves in seawater, it changes into carbonic acid. One result has been a rapid alteration in ocean chemistry that is already affecting marine organisms.

The acidity of the oceans has grown by 30 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. At current emission rates, ocean acidity could be 150 percent higher by the end of the century, the report states.

Marine life and coral reefs have already shown vulnerability to rising levels of acidity, and the changes expected in coming decades are severe enough that they could have a serious impact on the ability of people around the world to harvest needed protein from the seas, according to Carol Turley, senior scientist at Britain’s National Oceanography Center and the lead author of the report.
“We need to start thinking about the risk to food security,” Dr. Turley said in a statement.

The report also warns that the rise in ocean acidity poses a severe threat to coral reefs, which are already under stress from pollution and the warming of oceans “” a concern shared by a growing number of marine scientists.

Acidification could conceivably wipe out most of the world’s already ailing coral reefs within a generation or two, said John Veron, former chief scientist of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, in an essay posted this week on the Web site Yale Environment 360.

“The potential consequences of such acidification are nothing less than catastrophic,” Dr. Veron writes.

As acidification continues, coral and marine organisms like shellfish will begin to suffer from osteoporosis “” an inability to fix calcium into shells and other structures.

“No doubt different species of coral, coralline algae, plankton, and mollusks will show different tolerances, and their capacity to calcify will decline at different rates,” Dr. Veron wrote. “But as acidification progresses, they will all suffer from some form of coralline osteoporosis.”

“The result will be that corals will no longer be able to build reefs or maintain them against the forces of erosion,” the article continues. “What were once thriving coral gardens that supported the greatest biodiversity of the marine realm will become red-black bacterial slime, and they will stay that way.”

Clean Energy Sector Scrambles to Save Incentives

Representatives of the renewable energy industries are scrambling to salvage what they say is a crucial federal incentive that has helped keep them afloat during the worst of the recession.
In a release circulated Tuesday afternoon, the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group, said that “tens of thousands of Americans could lose their jobs or not get called back from layoffs” if the incentive program is not extended.

The program, part of last year’s federal economic stimulus package, allows qualified renewable energy projects to access a cash grant “” 30 percent of the project’s cost “” in lieu of traditional tax credits. The measure, industry representatives have said, proved vital in helping developers to secure financing amid the downturn.
The incentive will expire in a little over three weeks unless Congress extends it.

“We have people being laid off right now, and we expect to see more without fast action on the tax extenders now being negotiated,” Denise Bode, the chief executive of the wind energy association, said in a prepared statement.

“We are risking those jobs,” she added, “by not sending a clear signal that America remains open for business in wind energy.”
Proposals to extend the program have been floated, including one recently slipped into Congressional tax negotiations by Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat. But whether any sort of extension will be included in a pending deal on a new tax bill is far from certain.
As my colleague Matt Wald and I wrote recently, renewable electricity development in the United States has been reeling of late “” in part because of the recession and associated drops in electricity demand. Rock-bottom prices for natural gas “” a chief competitor for renewable forms of electricity “” are also proving a challenge, leaving the industry heavily reliant on what few federal incentives are available to it.

Renewables advocates had been certain that 2010 would yield a price on carbon dioxide emissions “” either through a direct tax or a cap-and-trade system “” or federal targets for renewable electricity generation. Neither of those, came to pass, however, and with Republicans signaling that issues like climate change will not be driving the energy agenda in the new Congress, it appears unlikely that such measures will be explored again anytime soon.

Meanwhile, developers are racing to meet eligibility deadlines for the existing grant program. To qualify, projects must be physically under way or have incurred at least 5 percent of the projected cost by the end of 2010.

The $3 billion grant program was established under what is known as Section 1603 of last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. On Tuesday, the American Wind Energy Association posted a “Take Action” alert on its Web site, imploring visitors to lobby their representatives in Washington to extend the program as part of the compromise.

“We need you to CALL your Senators and Representative IMMEDIATELY,” the alert stated, “and ask them to only support a final tax bill that includes an extension of the 1603 Program.”

‹ David Rose destroys his credibility and the Daily Mail’s with error-riddled climate science reporting

Deploying clean energy in developing countries through innovative feed-in tariffs ›

26 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for December 8th: CA, OR, MA lead list of top clean-energy states; New Mexico to cut CO2 25% below 1990 levels by 2020; Sahara solar project to power half the world by 2050?

  1. Prokaryotes says:

    Scientist: Fire in Israel is a typical example of climate change effects in Mediterranean
    The fire disaster in the Carmel Mountains near Haifa is a typical example of climate change effect and a taste of the future, says Dr. Guy Pe’er, one of the authors of Israel’s first report to the UN on climate change. Ten years ago, Dr. Pe’er and other Israeli scientists collated knowledge about the effects of climate change for Israel. They warned already in the year 2000 of expected climatic fluctuations, heat events, decreased rainfall and delayed late winter rainfall, all of which would lead to increased risk of intense forest fires.

    According to “Israel’s National Report on Climate Change”, prepared by Pe’er and other members of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev on behalf of the Israeli Ministry of the Environmental Protection, the frequency, intensity and extent of the fires would increase due to the prolongation of droughts, increase in water evaporation and an increased frequency of intense heat waves. At a warming of 1.5 degrees by the year 2100, which is by now considered a conservative scenario, models predict the desert to expand northward by 300 to 500 kilometers to the north. Mediterranean ecosystems, such as the one occurring in the Carmel Mountains, would thus disappear from Israel. Forest fires in the Carmel mountain range in northern Israel was preceded by eight months of drought and occurred during a heat wave with temperatures around 30ºC. Normally, first rainfall should have come in September or October, and the maximal daily temperature at this time of year should be around 15-20ºC.
    … overwhelmed by the intensity and extent of the fire: the largest fire in 1989 has destroyed an area which was ten times smaller than the current one.

    Israel has since then been engaged in heavy debates on responsibility: how did the government, the ministers and the fire-brigade contribute to this failure? Guy Pe’er holds a different opinion, suggesting that the discussion should involve the longer and more substantial causes of this fire, namely climate change. “It’s a matter of our consumption, our society and habits. We consume more than we need and more than Earth can sustain, and by that we bring about climate change and risk our own future. Can we behave as responsible humans and change our habits?” says Pe’er. From the perspective of the Israeli conservation biologist the international politics should reflect this incident onto the ongoing UN conference on Climate Change in Cancun, and ensure that its decisions will finally lead to the mitigation of climate change. Because climate change is not fiction: Israelis these days have got a glimpse of what may awaits the coming generations.

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-12-scientist-israel-typical-climate-effects.html

    Wasn’t this the worst drought in 60 years?

    And hint to Israel, the area will become “uninhabitable” on current emission path.

  2. Prokaryotes says:

    UK Climate Change Committee recommends for 60% emissions cut

    The UK Climate Change Committee (CCC) has urged for a 60% reduction in the country’s emissions by 2030 for meeting the 2050 target laid down in the Climate Change Act.

    The CCC, in its fourth carbon budget report, said that a 2030 emissions reduction target of 60% will pave the way for a 62% emissions reduction by 2030 to meet the 2050 target, energyefficiencynews.com reported.

    The report said that UK is now halfway towards the 2050 deadline.

    Committee chair Lord Adair Turner said that the target is ‘stretching but realistic’.

    The CCC says that for meeting the 2030 target, the carbon budget up to 2022 needs to be tightened to achieve a 37% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 compared with 1990 levels, up from the current target of 34%.

    The committee further urges that by investing in wind and nuclear power and applying carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to coal and gas facilities, 2030 target can be achieved.

    The report also recommends for the roll out of smart meters to homes and non-residential buildings for helping consumers manage their usage.

    The report added that the industry will have to adopt CCS technology, as well as the use of biomass and biogas for heat demand. http://carbon.energy-business-review.com/news/uk-climate-change-committee-recommends-for-60-emissions-cut-081210

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    The Sahara solar project is exciting, but I’m surprised they specified PV, which even with thin film costs more than solar thermal. The DC lines are a good idea, though, especially since cables will transfer the electrons across the Mediterranean.

  4. Michael T. says:

    Updates from NOAA/NCDC:

    State of the Climate National Overview – November 2010
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/?report=national

    Temperature & Precip. Time Series
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/time-series/

    Temperature Highlights
    •November temperatures, when averaged across the contiguous United States, were near-normal, 0.8 degrees F (0.4 degrees C) above the 1901-2000 average. The combined average temperatures for the fall season (September-November) was 1.5 degrees F (0.8 degrees C) above normal.
    •Warmer-than-normal conditions were scattered about the Great Lakes region and a portion of the Northeast. Cooler-than-normal conditions existed for a subset of states in the western half of the U.S.
    •For the fall season (September-November), warmer-than-normal temperatures were predominant throughout much of the country. These conditions were mostly reflective from the above-average warmth during September and October.

  5. paulm says:

    It is amazing that they are a large amount of climate warming deniers in Alaska still.
    It wont be for long though…

    http://climatesignals.org/2010/12/doubling-of-alaskan-fires-now-fueling-global-warming-feedback-loop/

  6. Prokaryotes says:

    Snow and floods chaos on continent

    Severe weather has brought misery to parts of the continent, with snow closing the main airport in Paris and a flash flood causing the death of a boy in Spain.

    Flights in and out of Charles de Gaulle were suspended for several hours on Wednesday afternoon, while at Orly, Paris’s smaller airport, flights were delayed by up to two hours.

    The snow quickly turned into a slushy mess in the streets of the city, halting traffic.

    The Eiffel Tower was shut to tourists as staff were unable to put salt on the tower’s floors because of concerns it could damage the iron structure.

    In Spain, rescuers found the body of a nine-year-old boy who drowned in a flash flood as torrential rains lashed central and southern parts.

    The boy had been travelling with a brother and their father on Tuesday when their all-terrain vehicle was overwhelmed by water from the Alcudia River near the south-central city of Ciudad Real.

    Elsewhere in Spain, around 100 homes in Cordoba were evacuated amid fears the Guadalquivir River would burst its banks. Another 150 families had to leave their homes in Lora del Rio in neighbouring Seville province. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/snow-and-floods-chaos-on-continent-15024893.html

  7. Prokaryotes says:

    November major disasters roundup

    Aon Benfield has released its latest Monthly Cat Recap report, which provides an analysis of global natural perils in November.

    Published by the company’s Impact Forecasting team, who evaluate global natural hazards for the re/insurance industry, the report highlights that the first winter weather event of the season occurred across Europe and had notable affects. Heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures left 40 people dead across parts of the UK, Germany, Poland, France, Italy, Russia, Albania, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, the Czech Republic and the Balkans. The event created travel chaos and caused an estimated economic loss of at least USD2 billion in Britain alone due to productivity interruption.

    Also in Europe, heavy rains in parts of France and Belgium led to floods that killed at least five people. Belgium’s Hainaut and Brabant provinces were worst affected, with Belgian officials declaring the floods the worst in 50 years.

    Later in the month, a separate flood event inundated Britain’s Cornwall region and more than 1,000 homes, businesses, schools and bridges were damaged. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), total insured losses were GBP10 million (USD15.5 million), and total economic losses were in excess of GBP16 million (USD25 million).

    The United States also experienced its first winter storms of the season, with the Northeast, Upper Midwest, Pacific Northwest and the Rockies all being affected by heavy snows and gusty winds.

    Severe thunderstorms in association with the storm systems also caused tornado damage across the Southeast, Great Lakes and the Mid-Atlantic States. Total economic losses were in excess of USD100 million, with insured losses expected to top USD25 million.

    Meanwhile, after passing through the Windward Islands, Hurricane Tomas crossed parts of Hispaniola and Cuba, killing 55 people from the end of October through the first week of November. Total economic losses from Tomas in St. Lucia, the Leeward Antilles, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti were listed at USD588 million.

    Steve Jakubowski, President of Impact Forecasting, said: “While the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season has officially come to an end and the United States did not see a landfalling hurricane for the second consecutive year, the season will go down historically as the third-most active on record. http://continuitycentral.com/news05508.html

  8. Prokaryotes says:

    Flooding and landslides continued to inundate parts of South America in November, including in Venezuela, Peru and Colombia. In Venezuela, the worst floods in 40 years affected the states of Vargas, Miranda and the Capital District, killing at least 31 people. The rains destroyed over 56,000 homes and submerged large swaths of agricultural crops, airports, roads and bridges and forced the shutdown of several oil refineries.

    In Asia, Cyclone Jal made landfall just north of Chennai, India and submerged at least 214,486 homes, nearly 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles) of roads and over 350,000 hectares (864,868 acres) of agricultural land. Jal left at least 54 people dead and caused total economic losses of INR10 billion (USD224 million).

    Flash flooding also left significant damage in parts of Thailand, India and Vietnam. In India and Thailand alone, combined economic losses from separate flood events totaled USD1.72 billion. Over 530,000 homes were destroyed along with wide swaths of crops and transportation infrastructure.

    In Oceania, record rains fell across parts of the city of Melbourne in Australia – prompting several rivers to reach and surpass flood stage. The Victoria State Emergency Service (SES) reported having received over 1,000 damage reports primarily due to flooding and fallen trees.

  9. Prokaryotes says:

    What to do Next?

    Unite the World to lead the combined combat against Climate Change. Most ambitious emission targets are a must. Ban of Co2 emitting devices everywhere asap.

    Wikileaks is a great moment to come clear for everybody and should be adopted widely. Deal with the situation in honesty and truthful, stop lying make it a requirement. There is really no need anymore for any agenda beside the world wide fight for the survival of the species. Everything else will just fail and weaken the entire system even further and faster.

    Think of a computer game like “Populous”, your peons symbol eg. Israel and Palestina’s fight for decades and then climate change eradicates both within a few years, the irony. And later armageddon, breakdown of the entire northern civilization will follow. Politics are so far totally overwhelmed. Incapable to deal with it and change. Because long term commitments and ill advised agendas led the path to destruction.

    The Decline and Fall of the American Empire

    A soft landing for America 40 years from now? Don’t bet on it. The demise of the United States as the global superpower could come far more quickly than anyone imagines.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/12/05/opinion/main7121029.shtml

    Kudos for Obama to not overreact on Wikileaks so far – he needs to make friends with Wikileaks, the only logical way. The information is leaked already. The fault is not the messenger, but an ill advised system, which started recently to hit itself.

    Show some balls and deal with it or start a fight which can not be won.

  10. Colorado Bob says:

    Lonnie Thompson, distinguished university professor in the School of Earth Sciences at Ohio State University, posed that possibility in a just-released special climate-change edition of the journal The Behavior Analyst.

    He also discussed how the rapid and accelerating retreat of the world’s glaciers and ice sheets dramatically illustrates the nature of the changing climate.

    It is the first time in a published paper that he has recommended specific action to forestall the growing effects of climate change. During the last three decades, Thompson has led 57 expeditions to some of the world’s most remote high altitude regions to retrieve cores from glaciers and ice caps that preserve a record of ancient climate.

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-12-climate-scientist-world-widespread-forestalled.html

    [JR: Post is coming!]

  11. Bio-CCS: new climate solution with enormous potential presented at workshop in Cancun: http://bit.ly/BioCCS

  12. paulm says:

    #10 Bob, one nit-pick with this….possible should read probable. Still hedging low here.

    “…Thompson said that virtually all climate researchers [and a ton of other credible professionals] “are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization.”

    “… that warming is causing important changes to many of the Earth’s support systems, and that rapid and potentially catastrophic changes in the near future are possible.

  13. Prokaryotes says:

    Conservationists push for ocean wind power
    The National Wildlife Federation admits costs and complexity make wind projects a tough sell.

    Flanked by Maine representatives from business, labor and environmental groups, the National Wildlife Federation laid out a vision for how the eastern seaboard can become a hub for ocean wind power. It also offered state-by-state summaries of project proposals and other initiatives from Maine to Florida.

    The group noted that while European countries have 948 ocean turbines spinning, with enough capacity to power more than 450,000 homes, not one is operating off the United States.

    “This is a huge opportunity for Maine and the country,” said Catherine Bowes, a representative of the conservation group.

    Wind power has emerged as Maine’s most divisive energy issue. Broad support from diverse interest groups, such as those at Wednesday’s news conference, is tempered by a small but vocal coalition of residents that questions whether the noise, the visual presence of turbines on ridgelines and today’s high price of wind power are justified.

    http://www.pressherald.com/news/conservationists-push-for-ocean-wind-power_2010-12-02.html

  14. Prokaryotes says:

    Barton signals he won’t challenge Upton’s Energy and Commerce victory

    “It has been a privilege to serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee for 24 of my 26 years in the House of Representatives, and it was a high honor to lead this committee,” Barton said in a prepared statement.

    “Now I want to offer my congratulations to Fred, who is taking over the best committee in Congress. He has an enormous job ahead, and I’m going to do everything I know how to make his chairmanship the kind of success that the American people want and expect,” he added.

    A challenge would have been a longshot despite Barton’s endorsement from some key House conservatives. The Steering Committee is closely aligned with GOP leadership.

    Upton’s victory – if ratified by the House GOP conference Wednesday – will give him control of the panel that has jurisdiction over climate change and many other major energy matters.

    The committee will also be on the front lines of GOP efforts to repeal the Democratic healthcare law.

    Upton overcame concerns by some conservatives that he’s too moderate for the job, and he ran rightward during his campaign for the slot. His goals include reversing what he calls “job-killing” Environmental Protection Agency rules.

    Just before his presentation to the Steering Committee last week, Upton told reporters that he’s primed to go after EPA climate change rules and other EPA policies, vowing to work with the Appropriations Committee that can halt rules by freezing funding.



    “It is our job to build the case of where they have gone overboard on these regulations and stop them,” he said.

    Upton said in a prepared statement after the Steering Committee vote Tuesday that attacking the healthcare law is his top goal.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/132531-barton-signals-he-wont-challenge-uptons-energy-and-commerce-victory

    Climate > Healthcare

  15. paulm says:

    Some more to the wild weather round up….

    Flooding Forces Panama Canal to Close
    http://www.accuweather.com/blogs/news/story/42744/flooding-forces-panama-canal-t.asp

    The Panama Canal was closed for the third time in its history on Wednesday due to flooding rain.

  16. Prokaryotes says:

    Cruise Ship Tossed Around in 30-Foot Waves

    Cruise Ship Tossed Around in 30-Foot WavesPassengers aboard the luxury expedition ship MV Clelia II are probably wishing their biggest problem was subsisting off mayo sandwiches, after the ship lost an engine this week while on an Antarctic cruise and hit 30-foot swells. http://gawker.com/5710125/cruise-ship-tossed-around-in-30+foot-waves

  17. Prokaryotes says:

    Just one cigarette

    Even brief exposure to tobacco smoke causes immediate harm to the body, damaging cells and inflaming tissue in ways that can lead to serious illness and death, according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s new report on tobacco, the first such report in four years.

    While the report, out today, focuses on the medical effects of smoke on the body, it also sheds light on why cigarettes are so addictive: They are designed to deliver nicotine more quickly and more efficiently than cigarettes did decades ago.

    Every exposure to tobacco, from occasional smoking or secondhand smoke, can damage DNA in ways that lead to cancer.

    “Tobacco smoke damages almost every organ in your body,” says Surgeon General Regina Benjamin. In someone with underlying heart disease, she says, “One cigarette can cause a heart attack.”

    About 40 million Americans smoke — 20% of adults and older teens. Tobacco kills more than 443,000 a year, says the 700-page report, written with contributions from 64 experts.

    Cigarette smoking costs the country more than $193 billion a year in health care costs and lost productivity.

    Recent changes in the design and ingredients in cigarettes have made them more likely to hook first-time users and keep older smokers coming back, Benjamin says. Changes include:

    •Ammonia added to tobacco, which converts nicotine into a form that gets to the brain faster.

    •Filter holes that allow people to inhale smoke more deeply into the lungs.

    •Sugar and “moisture enhancers” to reduce the burning sensation of smoking, making it more pleasant, especially for new cigarette users.

    “This is the first report that demonstrates that the industry has consciously redesigned tobacco products in ways that make them even more attractive to young people,” says Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

    David Sutton, a spokesman for Altria, parent company of Philip Morris USA, declined to comment until he had time to study the report. http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/health/2010-12-09-1Asmoking09_st_N.htm?csp=34news

  18. Prokaryotes says:

    Key FBI whistleblower: Had WikiLeaks existed, 9/11, Iraq war ‘could have been prevented’ http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/exclusive-wikileaks-benefits-public-intelligence-officers/

  19. Prokaryotes says:

    Harper government lax on climate change issues, report says

    The federal government has failed to develop a plan to help Canadians adapt to the potentially devastating impacts of climate change, Canada’s Environment Commissioner says in a new report that admonishes the government for its lack of leadership around environmental issues. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/harper-government-lax-on-climate-change-issues-report-says/article1828178/

  20. Prokaryotes says:

    A climate change expert has warned that if humans don’t moderate their use of fossil fuels, there is a real possibility that we will face the environmental, societal and economic consequences of climate change faster than we can adapt to them.

    Lonnie Thompson, distinguished university professor in the School of Earth Sciences at Ohio State University, also discussed how the rapid and accelerating retreat of the world’s glaciers and ice sheets dramatically illustrates the nature of the changing climate.

    It is the first time in a published paper that he has recommended specific action to forestall the growing effects of climate change.

    “Unless large numbers of people take appropriate steps, including supporting governmental regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, our only options will be adaptation and suffering,” he wrote in the concluding paragraph.

    “And the longer we delay, the more unpleasant the adaptations and the greater the suffering will be.”

    In the paper, Thompson said that virtually all climate researchers “are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization.” http://sify.com/news/expert-issues-stark-warning-on-climate-change-news-international-kmjqknccbea.html

  21. Prokaryotes says:

    U.N. links climate to chemical exposure

    Climate change increases the exposure of persistent organic pollutants, which have long-term health effects on humans, a U.N. study released in Mexico said.

    A U.N. research team unveiled the first comprehensive review of the link between climate change and exposure to persistent organic pollutants.

    POPs are substances that linger in the environment for several generations and have potentially toxic effects on the human population. Exposure increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, metabolic disorders and cancer, the U.N. Environment Program said.

    Global climate change, the study found, increases the level of POPs through the food chain while extreme weather events, such as monsoon rains and flooding, trigger secondary POPs emissions. Scientists attribute an increased number of extreme weather events to climate change.

    Katarina Magulova, a program officer with the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, said warming trends meant harmful chemicals like POPs had a greater potential to accumulate in the biosphere.

    “Climate change increases the planet’s vulnerability to persistent organic pollutants, by increasing emissions and the bio-availability of POPs and thus the potential for bio-magnification through the food chain, one of the chief pathways of human exposure to POPs,” she warned. http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Resource-Wars/2010/12/08/UN-links-climate-to-chemical-exposure/UPI-93581291818666/

  22. Prokaryotes says:

    WikiLeaks climate change cables: the unanswered questions

    With the US and its counterparts frequently portrayed in an unflattering light in the cables and reluctant to talk, can you help get the answers to the questions raised?

    The WikiLeaks climate cables I have reported over the past week have left some important questions unanswered. And no one is especially keen to do so, given that while the US often comes out worst in the cables, its foreign counterparts are rarely shown in a flattering light either.

    I posted the very limited US and EU reactions yesterday which can be summarised thus:

    • US – “no comment”, except you can’t ask for money and then accuse us of bribery
    • EU – the US cables only report one side of the story (I’ve asked for the other side of the story)
    • Bolivia, which vociferously opposes the Copenhagen Accord and is sharply criticised in the cables, responded strongly

    Below are my key remaining questions, which I am sending to the relevant embassies and spokespeople. I will report back if and when I get replies. If you have other questions, let me know in the comments below. If you want to ask the same questions to the relevant authorities wherever you are, please do so and let me know how you get on. I’m on Twitter as @dpcarrington.

    Spying at the United Nations

    US aid to the Maldives

    Dutch linkage of climate aid and support for the Accord

    Saudi Arabia’s audacious appeal for US help in “economic diversification”

    US blocking of Iranian scientist from senior IPCC post

    Germany loses renewable energy agency HQ to oil-rich UAE

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2010/dec/08/wikileaks-climate-cables-questions

    I think a class of 6 years old would create better solutions …

  23. Prokaryotes says:

    Tough carbon cuts ‘key’ to climate funding

    Rich nations must cut carbon emissions further in order to raise $100bn (£60bn) per year needed to help poorer nations deal with climate change, Norway’s prime minister has said.

    Jens Stoltenberg led a UN-commissioned task force that explored ways to raise the sum, agreed by most nations at the Copenhagen summit as a target for 2020.

    Current emission targets will not raise the sums necessary, he told BBC News. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11954266

  24. Prokaryotes says:

    Pacific leaders say the impact of climate change has reached a crisis stage in their countries and urgent action is needed. http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/world/63791/pacific-leaders-say-climate-change-at-crisis-level

  25. Solar Jim says:

    A small point: I’m not sure if the reference is correct but 100 gigawatts is not enough to “power half the world by 2050.” Along with many issues, let’s just say this scheme is in the initial (interesting) concept stage.