Other stories below: In Durban, Progress Expected on Green Fund for Developing Countries; Games can wake people up to climate change
The UK is on track to exceed targets to slash emissions by a third by 2020 — and would have met the goal even without the recession, the Government has said.
The “carbon plan”, detailing progress on and future plans for reducing greenhouse gases, suggests that even without the economy contracting, green policies would be delivering a 34% emissions cut by the end of the decade.
Speaking before he travels to South Africa for the latest UN climate talks, Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said the plan showed the UK was “walking the walk” on global warming, and tackling the issue was “achievable and affordable.”
… Mr Huhne insisted the Chancellor backed efforts to tackle climate change.”He is absolutely committed to dealing with the problem of climate change, precisely because he is convinced of the science,” Mr Huhne said.
Expectations at the UN climate change talks in Durban are low and rightly so.
But meaningful progress could be made. Particularly in the area with perhaps the greatest tangible effect on the real economy: climate finance for developing countries. This is where innovation and concrete action can be advanced via the new multilateral Green Climate Fund (GCF) and through bilateral initiatives, such as the UK government’s £2.9bn International Climate Fund (ICF).
At Durban two climate finance innovations in particular should be given the go-ahead. The first is a new way of deploying low interest rate climate finance to enhance its impact, while the second can cost effectively generate the real cashflows needed to make environmental and developmental projects viable.
Loans with reduced interest rates can help address the serious problems developing countries face in getting affordable funding, in particular for climate projects. Without lower cost capital and more of it, countries will not be able to develop in clean and sustainable ways.
When Pablo Suarez began teaching farmers, fishermen and emergency volunteers about rising sea levels and extreme weather patterns using scientists and a powerpoint presentation, people were falling asleep in their chairs.
Eventually he decided on a very different approach.
“I had to convey the idea of a storm, of an extreme weather event, and I had a Frisbee and I just threw it into the audience,” Suarez, a Red Cross associate director of programs, told Reuters on the sidelines of a global climate summit.
“And the audience woke up, they saw that there was danger.”
Soon Suarez began using games to explain more complex ideas like micro insurance to mitigate risks for subsistence farmers. He also teamed up with the Parsons School for Design in New York to create a number of climate games geared at communities, volunteers and policy makers.
“Farmers in Ethiopia don’t have insurance in their language so we introduced a game with stones, where everyone has some stones but not enough to pay for when their child gets malaria and has to go to hospital,” the Argentine researcher said.
Brighten clouds with sea water? Spray aerosols high in the stratosphere? Paint roofs white and plant light-colored crops? How about positioning “sun shades” over the Earth?
At a time of deep concern over global warming, a group of scientists, philosophers and legal scholars examined whether human intervention could artificially cool the Earth — and what would happen if it did.
A report released late Thursday in London and discussed Friday at the U.N. climate conference in South Africa said that — in theory — reflecting a small amount of sunlight back into space before it strike’s the Earth’s surface would have an immediate and dramatic effect.
Within a few years, global temperatures would return to levels of 250 years ago, before the industrial revolution began dumping carbon dioxide into the air, trapping heat and causing temperatures to rise.
But no one knows what the side effects would be.
European Union negotiators leading the push to keep U.N. climate talks on track are fighting a sense of despondency as the struggle to save the euro has pushed the one to save the planet down the priority list.
In the United States, seen as the biggest single obstacle to a new global climate deal, academic opinion says an “iron law” means economics trumps the environment in times of crisis.
“When policies focused on economic growth confront politics focused on emissions reductions, it is economic growth that will win out every time,” said Roger Pielke, a professor at the University of Colorado and author of a book The Climate Fix.
In the U.S. Congress, attempts to pass environment law have stalled as the issue has turned into a flashpoint between U.S. President Barack Obama’s Democrats and the Republicans.
In Europe too, the “iron law” has sapped political will.
The United Nations body that oversees civil aviation is considering four main options to address greenhouse emissions from jetliners, and has not yet made any decisions, a spokesman said on Thursday.
The basic options are some form of emissions trading, fuel-based carbon levies, levies on departing passengers and cargo, and carbon offsetting, International Civil Aviation Organization spokesman Denis Chagnon said in an email.
We can’t give details now,” he said, noting that the issue was the subject of a study to be discussed by ICAO’s next meeting.
A trade conflict over the European Union’s emissions trading scheme has pushed ICAO to accelerate its hunt for “market-based measures” to combat climate change. The Montreal-based organization hopes to have a deal in place by the end of 2012.
When I think of Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park, I envision its beautiful rock spires (also known as “hoodoos”) reaching into the sky. I think of it as an amazing place to visit and hike, one of our country’s beautiful national parks famous for its stunning vistas, and for its unique plants and animals. It’s a place I’d love to take my young daughter someday, to show her the wonders of our Western landscapes.
The last thing I think of is a dirty coal mine. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is getting ready to open more than 3,500 acres of land next to the park for a new Utah coal strip mine, just to supply a few more years of dirty energy to power to Los Angeles.
It turns out that the city of Los Angeles is largely responsible for this misguided assault on Bryce Canyon — the coal mined at Alton would be sent to the Intermountain Power Plant, which in turn feeds 50 percent of its electricity to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Scottish Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson has said the country is making “real progress” towards meeting its climate change targets.
He was speaking before travelling to South Africa to attend this year’s UN climate change conference in Durban.
Mr Stevenson said Scotland had a valuable role to play at the talks.
He said Scotland was a good example of how countries could cut carbon emissions and create jobs through the development of renewable energy.
“Scotland is clearly a leader in the climate change agenda, “ he said.
“We’ve set the world’s most ambitious targets and we’re a developed country showing that we can live with this agenda while creating new, green jobs.