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Energy and Global Warming News for June 5th — UK to double Kyoto target with 23% GHG cut below 1990 levels, China’s wind industry booms

New data confirms UK will double Kyoto emission targets

The UK will today mark World Environment Day with the release of new data showing the country is on track to deliver emission cuts that are almost double its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.

According to a new UN report, UK greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be 23 per cent below 1990 levels by 2010, far exceeding its official target of a 12.5 per cent reduction in emissions.

Climate change minister Joan Ruddock insisted that while there was plenty of work still to be done, the cuts delivered so far provided evidence that economies could continue to grow while delivering rapid cuts in carbon emissions.

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“Our latest report to the UN shows what can be achieved when government, communities and business work together to reduce emissions,” she said. “Our progress report tells those who claim there is no alternative to a high-carbon society: there is an alternative. We’re creating an alternative.”

For more, see “Europe poised to meet Kyoto target: Does this mean the much-maligned European Trading System is a success?

Foreigners swept aside as wind power blows through China

The world’s biggest wind farm, China’s Rudong, is unlikely to blow any business the way of foreign turbine manufacturers such as Vestas, Gamesa and Suzlon, according to local officials.

Those foreign companies complain that despite jumping through hoops to meet “localization” rules requiring 70 percent of their equipment to be sourced and built domestically, they are still unable to win orders from state projects like Rudong, which form the bulk of China’s ambitious wind build-up over the next decade.

They also say China’s efforts to eliminate turbines with capacities of less than 1 megawatt is also a form of restrictive practice that plays into the hands of domestic firms.

Study Finds Potential Profits in Conservation

Selling credits for the billions of tons of carbon that are locked in Indonesia’s tropical rain forests could be as profitable as converting these areas into palm oil plantations, a study released Friday found.

The study, in the current issue of the peer-reviewed journal Conservation Letters, also found that conserving the 3.3 million hectares (8.2 million acres) that are slated to become plantations on Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, would boost the region’s biodiversity. The 800 proposed plantations that were studied contain 40 of the region’s 46 threatened mammals including orangutans and pygmy elephants, the study found.

‘’Our study clearly demonstrates that payments made to reduce carbon emissions from forests could also be an efficient and effective way to protect biodiversity,’’ said Oscar Venter, a conservation biologist at the University of Queensland in Australia and the study’s lead author. ‘’We now need to see policy discussions catch up with science because at the moment the potential co-benefits of linking forest protection to biodiversity are not getting the attention they deserve.’’

Invest in trees and soil, not just cleaner coal: U.N.

Chopping down fewer trees and caring for the soil may be cheaper and more effective in fighting climate change than curbing emissions from coal plants, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said on Friday.

Many energy companies and analysts say the world should invest in technology which traps carbon emissions from the flue gas of coal plants and then buries it underground.

But the technology is untested. And according to a UNEP report, there are better natural ways to store carbon.

Slide Show: The World’s 10 Largest Renewable Energy Projects

Today, renewable energy sources generate 12 percent of electricity in the U.S. But wind, wave, sunshine and others represent more than 93 percent of the energy the country could be producing, according to the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy.

“¦Here are 10 massive projects already producing energy.

Falling short of Kyoto goals, Boulder raises carbon tax

It’s time for an in-your-face approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Boulder City Council decided Thursday night.

The council unanimously approved increasing the city’s voter-approved carbon tax from its minimum to its maximum level beginning Aug. 6, providing an additional $810,000 annually toward meeting the city’s carbon-cutting goals.

The tax, built into utility bills, is expected to help the city reach 95 percent of the Kyoto Protocol “” which calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels “” before the tax ends in 2013.

David Driskell, Boulder’s deputy director for community planning, said the city must reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 400,000 metric tons by 2012 to meet its short-term goals.

Greening the Herds: A New Diet to Cap Gas

Libby, age 6, and the 74 other dairy cows on Guy Choiniere’s farm here are at the heart of an experiment to determine whether a change in diet will help them belch less methane, a potent heat-trapping gas that has been linked to climate change.

Since January, cows at 15 farms across Vermont have had their grain feed adjusted to include more plants like alfalfa and flaxseed “” substances that, unlike corn or soy, mimic the spring grasses that the animals evolved long ago to eat.

As of the last reading in mid-May, the methane output of Mr. Choiniere’s herd had dropped 18 percent. Meanwhile, milk production has held its own.

Wind industry pushes Reid, Pelosi for tougher RES

Wind industry officials who say proposed House and Senate renewable electricity mandates are too weak took their case directly to Democratic leaders this afternoon.

A group of executives from companies including Clipper, Vestas and Iberdrola met separately with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Industry and environmental advocates say the House and Senate renewable electricity standard (RES) plans are too modest to spur new renewable generation and greater investment in domestic manufacturing of turbines and other components.

Legislation the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved last month would require utilities above a certain size to supply 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020, but governors may lower their states’ requirements to 12 percent. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee finished amending an RES bill today that reaches 15 percent in 2021, allowing a fourth of that to come from efficiency measures.

Bingaman unwraps oil and gas, renewables proposals

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman unveiled draft proposals today on oil and gas development and renewable energy projects on public lands that he intends to add to the major energy bill being crafted by his panel.

Today, the committee is marking up perhaps the most controversial provision in the energy bill — a nationwide renewable electricity standard. Bingaman hopes to complete the entire markup next week.

The oil and gas title would alter and broaden a comprehensive inventory of offshore resources that was required under a 2005 energy law but has not been funded.

U.S., Canadian groups gear up to halt oil sands development

The Sierra Club, Greenpeace and 28 other North American environmental groups are calling on the United States and Canada to boost investments in clean energy, halt industrial fishing in the Arctic and freeze expansion of the Alberta’s oil sands — a key source of U.S. petroleum imports and greenhouse gas emissions

The groups’ joint declaration, signed in Washington on Tuesday, comes as Democratic leaders in Congress attempt to pass legislation that would cap U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases at 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050 while boosting renewable energy production.

Calif. seller to offer Chinese electric sedan

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Miles Electric Vehicles will begin selling all-electric sedans next year, paving the way for Chinese-made cars offered for regular use in the U.S.

Miles will sell the Coda model of sedans, produced by China’s Hafei Motor Co. The vehicle runs on lithium-ion batteries that allow up to 120 miles of travel when fully charged.

According to Miles CEO Kevin Czinger, the vehicle will sell for $45,000 and will qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

Bioenergy Makes Heavy Demands On Scarce Water Supplies

The ‘water footprint’ of bioenergy, i.e. the amount of water required to cultivate crops for biomass, is much greater than for other forms of energy. The generation of bioelectricity is significantly more water-efficient in the end, however — by a factor of two — than the production of biofuel. By establishing the water footprint for thirteen crops, researchers at the University of Twente were able to make an informed choice of a specific crop and production region. They published their results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of 2 June.

US sales stall, but Prius is still big in Japan

The figures show that Japan’s attempts to kick-start its flagging economy and car industry may be working — for Toyota at least — with the Prius topping sales charts from the Japan Automobile Dealers Association, having sold about 10,915 cars in May.

“¦Sales of the Prius in the US were down from 15,011 in May 2008 to just 10,091 for the same month this year. For the year to date, sales of the Prius in the US stand at 42,753 compared to 79,675 in 2008 — a drop of more than 45 per cent.