Greenhouse Gases and the Climate on the Web
Every week, the Eastmain1.org team posts news of interest in the area of climate changes (conference anouncements, major discoveries, innovations, scientific reports), culled from various websites–press agencies, international organizations, media, scientific organisations, etc.
These information and links to external sites do not imply official approval of the content of the sites or the organizations hosting them.Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Doha United Nations' Climate Change Conference: An African Perspective
As the main victim of the negative impacts of the changing climate, Africa lost important points at the Doha Conference, held 27 November to 7 December: The Green Climate Fund (GCF), launched at the 2011 UN Conference in Durban, continued to be empty, as rich countries put off, for another year, a long standing commitment to contribute 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to help poor nations slash emissions and adapt to a warmer world, and; Japan, Russia and Canada refused to endorse the extension agreement of the Kyoto Protocol up to 2020. The biggest gains for Africa: an agreement by wealthy countries to finally consider compensating poorer countries for the impact of climate change, and; an agreement wherein all major emitters would conclude, by 2015, a new treaty that would enter in force by 2020. Observers believe the next three years will be difficult for Africa because of the vast expertise that complex international negotiations require.
>> Read the complete article in AllAfrica Magazine
Friday, November 30, 2012
Latest Uncomfortable Truth: Sandy Is “The New Normal” – Ban Ki-Moon
The international community must act without delay. This is one of the main conclusions that Ban Ki-moon, United Nations’ Secretary-General, made in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Even though we cannot attribute any single storm to climate change, he said, “we all know this – extreme weather due to climate change is the new normal. This may be an uncomfortable truth, but it is one we ignore at our peril.” He therefore pressed the world leaders, who convene for the next round of climate talks in Doha, Qatar, from November 27 to December 7, to agree on a legally binding agreement to limit GHG emissions by 2015. Sandy, which paralyzed the United Nations’ headquarters for several days, left more than 170 dead in the Caribbean and in the northeast region of the United States.
>> Read the article on the website of The Hindu Business Line.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
China takes a step forward, towards a domestic carbon trading market
China, the world’s biggest polluter, plans to reduce its CO2 emissions by 40 to 45% per unit GDP by 2020 from a 2005 baseline by implementing a carbon trading market that will penalise major polluters. In the first stage, presented as an experiment, the province of Guangdong, the country's leading economic region – often called the "Workshop of the world" – will be required to reduce its carbon intensity by 19.5% by 2015 compared with 2010 levels, thus limiting its emissions at 660 million tonnes (having an absolute cap, rather than a limit based on economic growth, is a first). The first stage targets nine areas that produce 70% of the energy of the country, including coal-fired plants. Other pilot markets are in development in five cities - Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing, Shenzhen - and in the province of Hubei.
>> Read a related article in ChinaDaily.com.cn
Friday, October 05, 2012
Wind Power: 100 Times the Present Global Primary Power Demand
Wind turbines could become humanity’s primary kinetic energy, with the added bonus of near-zero-emissions. Such is the conclusion of a study led by Kate Marvel, from Cambridge University, performed under the auspices of the US Department of Energy. “Considering only geophysical limits”, the study estimates that over 428 terawatts (TW) of power could be extracted from surface winds while high-altitude winds could yield more than 1,800 TW, since high-altitude winds are usually steadier and faster than near-surface winds. The level of the present global primary power demand is approximately 18 TW (with an expected 50 per cent increase by 20150, when there will be an estimated 9 billion people on the planet). Also, another study (Stanford, Jackson et al, 2009) shows that a system 100 per cent powered by wind energy would considerably reduce the demand for energy, in particular because of the higher efficiency of hydrogen and battery powered electric motors, compared to internal combustion engines.
>> Read the article in Nature Climate Change.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
CO2 Emissions from Coal-Fired Plants: Ottawa Softens Its Requirements
Canada’s Environment Ministry has set the emission limit for new coal-combustion plants at 420 tons per gigawatt hour of electricity generated, rather than 375 tons as planned in August 2011. The standard will come into effect July 1st, 2015, but existing plants will have 50 years to comply with the new requirements (rather than 45 years, as originally planned). Environmentalists, who see coal as one of Canada’s worst polluting fossil fuel, with 77 per cent of emissions from the power generation sector and 11.5 per cent of the country’s GHG emissions, believe that this amounts to giving the industry the permission to pollute, free of charge, for the next 50 years. Quebec’s Association de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique (AQLPA) is mainly concerned that this might foresees a similar softening of requirements in the oil sector.
>> Read the article in the Huffington Post.
Friday, September 07, 2012
Irreversible Planetary Collapse Is Imminent – Study
A paper recently published in Nature magazine predicts that our planet’s ecosystems are headed towards a “quick and irreversible” collapse. Examining the present loss of biodiversity, extreme climate fluctuations, growing connectedness between ecosystems and total energy budget, the team of 18 scientists suggests we could reach a tipping point in the 21st century. Cities and agriculture occupy 43 per cent of the planet’s surface, making it increasingly vulnerable to environmental epidemics, and we should do everything possible to avoid reaching the 50 per cent mark, concludes the study. It also contradicts two popularly held beliefs, i.e. that human activity is not a planetary threat and that any collapse would happen gradually, centuries from now. One of the authors said: “The next global state change will be extremely disruptive to our civilizations.”
>> Read the article in Simon Fraser University’s News Online
Monday, July 16, 2012
Canada Will Only Achieve Half of Its 2020 Climate Target – Scientific Report
“Unless significant new, additional measures are taken”, Canada is not poised to achieve the federal government’s 2020 GHG reduction target of 17% below 2005 levels. Such is the conclusion of a report which the federal Minister of the Environment ordered last year from the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRT). To date, provincial policies produce the largest portion of emission reductions – 75% of all reductions by 2020. According to the NRT, the oil and gas sector will have to generate the most reductions, followed by manufacturing, electricity generation, and transportation. In order to meet the 2020 target, more than half of all future reductions emission reductions would have to come from Alberta, followed by Ontario and British Columbia. Last spring, the Federal government chose not to renew the budget of the NRT.
>> Read the release by the NRT
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
The Eastmain-1-A Hydroelectric Power Plant in Operation
Inaugurated June 28, 2012, Eastmain-1-A is an integral part of the Eastmain-1-A-Sarcelle-Rupert project, aimed to leverage Quebec’s hydroelectric potential in order to stimulate development, increase wealth and create new jobs in the province. The new plant, which has an installed capacity of 768 MW, can generate enough electricity to power more than 135,000 homes for a year. The project also included several actions to protect the environment and meet the concerns of native populations. The annual report by the Observatoire des énergies renouvelables also pointed out that Eastmain-1-A-Sarcelle-Rupert is a model project because of the way it integrates environmental constraints.
>> Read the press release (in French only).
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Devastating Global Report on the Environment
After 20 years of discussions and negotiations about sustainable development, the world’s climate and its biodiversity are still deteriorating. Such is the stark conclusion of the fifth edition of Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5), the most accurate and comprehensive scientific report produced in the last 20 years, coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). For example, the highest increase of GHGs was recorded in 2011 and the extinction of species rolls on at 1000 times the normal rate. Our planet’s biophysical phenomena are stressed to the limit and some are already in the danger zone. In an interview with Radio-Canada, environment journalist Louis-Gilles Francoeur admitted that the report had left him “breathless”. The UNEP report emphasizes the vital importance of the work done by scientific research organizations, both to monitor the effectiveness of actions and build awareness among the authorities and the public.
>> Listen to the interview (in French) on the SRC website. Read the UNEP’s executive summary.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Carbon Dioxide Could Be Used to Produce Semiconductor, Energy, and More – Scientific Breakthrough
Using CO2 to make carbon-based products such as semiconductors is nothing new. However, because of the stability of carbon dioxide molecules, the process requires so much energy that if fossil fuels are used it produces more carbon dioxide than it consumes. However, a research team led by Michigan Technological University materials scientist Professor Yun Hang Hu recently developed a reaction between carbon dioxide and lithium nitride (Li3N) that converted CO2 into a solid material, amorphous carbon nitride (C3N4), which could be used as a semiconductor, e.g. in solar cells. The reaction also produced Lithium cyanamide (Li2CN2), a precursor to agricultural fertilizers while releasing considerable heat (one gram of Li3N reacting with carbon dioxide at 330 °C increased the surrounding temperature to about 1,000 °C). Observers already speculate that lithium nitride could be used to help power vehicles.
>> Read the news item on PhysOrg.com.
Friday, May 11, 2012
“Research really matters!” – Gro Harlem Brundtland, International Polar Year 2012, in Montreal
In her inaugural address at the International Polar Year 2012, Gro Harlem Brundtland, ex-Prime Minister of Norway and international leader of sustainable development, reaffirmed the critical importance of research. She deplored the demise of the Kyoto protocol and declared that science must be at the heart of sustainable development, calling for all countries to build “a new global regime” to curb greenhouse gases. Mrs. Brundtland highlighted the fact that Arctic indigenous communities suffer greater health problems than the average of the world population and that we need to draw upon their knowledge to gain a better understanding of the Arctic environment and ensure that future developments take their well being into consideration. The International Polar Year 2012 was held in Montreal from April 22 to 27, and was attended by over 2600 participants from 47 countries.
>> Read Gro Harlem Brundtland’s inaugural address.
Monday, May 07, 2012
Crucial environment satellite no longer emitting
Since it was launched in 2002 by the European Space Agency, Envisat has supplied invaluable data on key environmental factors such as air quality, Arctic sea ice and oil spills. But the satellite – which was designed to operate for five years – stopped emitting data on April 8, and replacements are rarely on hand for ageing satellites. In order to ensure seamless data collection, three out of five new satellites that compose a program called “Sentinel” were to take over the measurements carried out by Envisat. However, a lack of funding is threatening the Sentinel program, which will translate into significant data gaps.
>> Read the article in New Scientist.
Monday, April 02, 2012
Shale Gas Might Pollute As Much As Coal – If Not More
Natural gas is generally considered a "clean" energy source. For example, for the same quantity of electricity produced, natural gas generates half as much CO2 as coal (used to produce 40% of global electricity). However, questions are being raised about the exploitation of shale gas. A team of 27 geoscientists from the University of Boulder, Colorado, has found out that a vast natural gas field north of Denver, where fracking methods are used, generates twice more methane – a much more powerful pollutant than CO2 – than industry estimates. Including the leaks in the transport system, the overall climatic impact of shale gas could be almost as great, or even greater, than that of coal. In the United States, shale gas already represents one sixth of the 600 billion m³ of gas that are extracted each year. Although the results of the scientific research reported in Nature magazine cannot be generalized, they indicate that more independent studies are needed.
>> Read the article in Nature magazine.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Curbing Global Warming May Not Be Impossible, Scientists Say
Cutting soot and methane may be a quicker, cheaper and easier way to control pollution and curb global warming than reducing carbon dioxide, say scientists from the NASA and Columbia University's Earth Institute, in Science Magazine. Their suggestions to reduce methane: capture the gas from coal mines and oil and gas-producing facilities; cut leaks from long-distance pipelines; reduce landfill emissions; modernize wastewater treatment plants; lessen emissions from farm manure; frequently drain rice paddies. To reduce soot and black carbon: use additional filters on diesel vehicles; scrap the biggest-polluting vehicles; replace old home cookers by cleaner-burning models; build more efficient brick kilns, boilers and coke ovens; prevent burning farmland in the tropics. These measures could help prevent up to 4.7 million premature deaths annually while increasing crop yield by up to 135 million metric tons by 2030.
>> Read a summary of the Science article on Earth Times.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Acidification of Lower St. Lawrence Estuary Bottom Waters
Over the last 75 years, the pH of the bottom waters of estuary of the St. Lawrence – the largest in the world – has decreased by 0.2 to 0.3, compared to a 0.1 decrease in the oceans. (Note: the pH scale is logarithmic–each 0.1 decrease actually means a 30% increase of the acid concentration.) Among the culprits: anthropic (man-produced) CO2; nutriments from municipal, industrial and farming effluents; water warming. The next step for the researchers is to assess the impact of this acidification on the river’s biodiversity. It is already known, for example, that certain mollusks cannot build shells because the acidic concentration of the water dissolves the calcium carbonate they are made of.
>> Read the complete article in Québec Science magazine (in French only).
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
131 Years of Global Warming in 26 Seconds – NASA
In an effort to communicate the results of its findings, NASA recently released an animation of global temperature data since 1880. Blues – which are predominant at the beginning – indicate temperatures that are below the baseline period of 1951-1980. Reds – which inexorably take over as the 20th Century flashes by – represent temperatures that are above the baseline average. Scientists do not expect temperatures to rise every year, because of the large natural variability of climate. They do expect temperatures to keep on rising over decades, however, as the levels of GHG emissions and atmospheric carbon dioxide continue to increase. This is supported by the fact that 9 of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000.
>> See the animation and read the article on the NASA website.
Friday, January 20, 2012
2011: Record-Setting Extreme Weather in the US
Persistent rains, wildfires, blizzards, and tornadoes – 199 of which happened the same day: although the number of extreme weather events has been increasing all over the world in the past few years, in 2011 the U.S. set a record in weather-related damage with 12 catastrophes that were not only frightful, but economically taxing, costing at least $1 billion each. The damage from the May 22 tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., alone could top $3 billion. Extreme weather events also hit Pakistan, the Philippines and Australia, which have all seen heavy flooding. Unfortunately, there is no respite in sight, since many experts are convinced that extreme weather is a product of climate change, which means the weather will only get worse.
>> Read the article in Scientific American, as one of The Top 10 Science Stories of 2011, or the article, also in the Scientific American, on weather and climate change.
Tuesday, January 12, 0012
Quebec Sets a Cap on Greenhouse Gases
This month, in a move hailed by environmental groups, Quebec becomes the first Canadian province and the eleventh North American State to set a cap on GHGs with an “emission permit” system which could give way to the creation of a Carbon Stock Exchange. The new regulation targets the industry sector for 2013 and the transportation sector for 2014. Quebec’s goal is to prevent any increase in the industrial sector’s level of emissions, which is presently well below the Kyoto target, i.e. 25% less than for 1990, an achievement that Quebec wishes to preserve despite an anticipated production increase. The sale of emission permits should add $1 billion to the Government of Québec’s Green Fund, the purpose of which is to support sustainable development.
>> Read the article in Le Devoir (in French only) or an overview of the cap and trade exchange project on the website of the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Humans Vs Earth: Near the Tipping Point?
According to the Worldwatch Institute, humans must reduce their production and consumption of goods as soon as possible. If not, we will run out of resources in a context of crisis and conflict since the pace of change presently exceeds the most pessimist speculations. It seems that we reached the threshold of our planet's resources in 1987, and that we used up the equivalent of 1.4 planet in 2007. By 2033, we will be consuming the equivalent of two planets. At the present rate, our consumption will double by 2030 and global temperatures will increase by 1.8°C to 4.5°C by 2100. In 2007, 20% of the world population – including Canada – produced 46% of all greenhouse gases. Possible solutions: reduce the world population by educating women and upholding their right to make decisions about childbearing, reducing our consumption of resources and ensuring a more fair distribution of those resources.
>> Read the article by Le Devoir (in French only).
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Could the Heat Beneath the Earth's Surface Help Fight Global Warming?
Research from SMU's (Southern Methodist University) Geothermal Laboratory, funded by a grant from Google.org, indicates that geothermal resources in the U.S. could produce more than 3 three million megawatts of green power–10 times the installed capacity of coal power plants today. Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) fractures hot rock, circulates water, and uses the resulting steam to produce electricity in a conventional turbine. EGS is a clean renewable energy source that could produce electricity cheaper than coal. According to an MIT Report, 2% of the heat at 3 to 10 km below the continental United States could meet 2,500 times the United States' current total energy use. Although further research is needed, EGS projects are producing power in France and Germany, and over 30 companies are exploring or developing EGS resources in Australia. A first U.S. demonstration project in Desert Peak, Nevada, is run jointly by the Department of Energy, Ormat Technologies, and GeothermEx Inc.
>> Read the complete article on ScienceDaily or view the mapping produced from the research via Google Earth.
Friday, September 23, 2011
More and more US companies are tackling climate change
The latest report of the Carbon Disclosure Project, an organization that assesses the environmental efforts of major global companies, reveals that a full 68% of 339 of the largest US corporations say they have taken action against global warming, compared to 51% in 2010 and 32% in 2008. 64% of them aim to reduce their carbon output and nearly 50% – compared to 19% in 2010 – have already succeeded in reducing their dependence on fossil fuels. The report also establishes a clear correlation between environmental efforts and market performance, as respondents cite significant commercial benefits, with some companies more than doubling their return on investment between 2005 and 2010, and over 60% of carbon reduction projects offering payback in three years or less. The CDP, which represents 551 signatory investor institutions, which together manage $71 trillion in assets worldwide, will launch its report in Canada on October 12 2011.
>> Read this article on the CDP website.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Renewable energies could meet 80% of the global demand
According to a report by 120 experts headed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 80% of our energy needs could be filled by renewable energies. This would be a major step towards limiting rises in global temperature to below 2°C above pre-industrial times, a goal on which most of the international community agrees. Renewable energy – which presently represents only 2.5% of our overall consumption – would come from the following sources: bioenergy could fill about 25% of the total energy production; wind power, 20%; photovoltaic (solar), from 10% to 30%, depending on technical developments; ocean energy and geothermal, about 5% each. Between 2010 and 2050, these energy sources would make it possible to reduce the quantities of CO2 in the terrestrial atmosphere by 200 to 560 billion tonnes – if, that is, there is a political will.
>> Read the article on Reuters.com.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Record-Breaking Carbon Emissions in 2010
After an encouraging dip in 2009, mankind burned enough fossil fuel in 2010 to pour a record 30.6 gigatonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, according to the International Energy Agency. This carbon output – the highest in history, at 1.6Gt or 5% above 2009 levels – puts the goal of limiting global temperature rises to 2° Celsius largely out of reach. Scientists generally see 2° C as the threshold for potentially “dangerous climate change”. If the pattern continues, with emissions almost back on a “business as usual” path, scientists estimate that there is a 50% probability that the global average rise in temperature will exceed 4° C by 2100. “Such warming would disrupt the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people across the planet, leading to widespread mass migration and conflict. That is a risk any sane person would seek to drastically reduce,” said Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics. It is believed that disaster could yet be averted if annual energy-related emissions are limited to 32Gt by 2020.
>> Read the article in The Guardian.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
World CO2 Emissions Slightly Decrease, New Economies Take the Lead, Canada Reduces Output by 9.7 %
The latest figures published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that global CO2 emissions from energy consumption–the vast majority of CO2 produced–decreased by 0.3% between 2008 and 2009. Other highlights: Established economies have large, but declining, carbon emissions; China is the world’s largest emitter of CO2, ahead of the US (2nd) and Canada put together, with a 171% increase since 2000; India comes 3rd, pushing Russia into 4th place, followed by Japan; Among the major economies, the US (-7%) is still number one in terms of per capita emissions with 17.67 tonnes per person (Gibraltar is the world champion, at 152 tonnes); Canada (7th) has an output of 16.15 tonnes per person, reducing emissions by 9.7%. Globally, we emit an average 4.49 tonnes per person per year. As the Guardian specified, however, “looking at CO2 emissions doesn't give us the total for all greenhouse gases”.
>> Read the article in The Guardian. Check out the Energy Information Administration’s data.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Support for EVs: A 900,000 Metric Ton Reduction of GHGs Emitted In Québec by 2020?
As soon as January 2012, Quebecers could receive a government rebate of up to $8000 if they buy an entirely electrical car such as the Nissan Leaf. The government estimates that if 25% of the cars bought in Québec by 2020 are electric or hybrids GHG emissions could be reduced by 900,000 tons, which is 6% of the objective set for 2020. This program, which will allow consumers to receive rebates according to the autonomy of the batteries of the cars they buy, represents an investment of $50 million by 2015-2016. The government also intends to invest $200,000 million to support the development of recharge infrastructures and the manufacturing of products and components for electrical vehicles, and to encourage electric mass transit.
>> Read the article on Radio-Canada.ca. (In French only)
Monday, April 04, 2011
Climate Disruptions Driving Civil Unrest in North Africa and the Middle East–UN Official
Food shortages and rising prices caused by climate disruptions are among the chief contributors to the civil unrest coursing through North Africa and the Middle East, according to top UN official Christiana Figueres. She says that climate change-driven drought, falling crop yields and competition for water are fuelling conflict throughout Africa and elsewhere in the developing world. She warned that unless nations took aggressive action to reduce emissions causing global warming such conflicts would spread, toppling governments and driving up military spending around the world. Climate change “will threaten where we can live, where and how we grow food and where we can find water,” said Ms. Figueres. “In other words, it will threaten the basic foundation – the very stability on which humanity has built its existence.” The link between food and resource shortages and Egypt’s revolution is not clear but rising food prices were a factor in the riots that unseated Tunisia’s regime.
>> Read the article in the New York Times.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Research on Global Warming Increasingly Points At the Human Factor
Two studies in Nature conclude that climate warming presently causes extreme weather events that affect the lives of millions, taking a huge human and financial toll. More importantly, it is becoming increasingly difficult to explain increased rainfall intensity, for example, through natural climate variations. Thus, climate change triggered by human activity may have almost doubled the risk of extremely wet weather conditions that caused damaging floods in England and Wales in 2000. Although increased precipitations in Northern Hemisphere areas have been observed for over a decade, this is the first time that the human “contribution” is clearly identified. As one researcher says, "This has immense importance not just as a further justification for emissions reduction, but also for adaptation planning." Insurers will take note, as will those developing policies for adapting to climate change.
>> Read the article in Nature News.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Obama’s 2012 Budget: $8 Billion for Clean Energy and Support for Nuclear Technology
U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2012 budget proposes to boost funds for clean energy research and deployment by slashing $3.6 billion–$46.2 billion over a decade– in subsidies for fossil fuels. Some $8 billion would support research in clean energy like wind, solar and advanced batteries. The budget would also provide $853 million to support new nuclear energy technologies, with a request to add $36 billion to an $18 billion federal loan program to help build nuclear power plants. The budget would also double US “energy innovation hubs” to six, so more scientists can work on topics like rare earth elements, energy storage, batteries, and “smart grid technologies” designed to make electricity transmission more efficient.
>> Read the whole article on Reuters.
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
2010 the Hottest Year on Record
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), 2010 was the hottest year ever recorded, with temperatures half a degree (0.53) Celsius above the averages measured from 1961 to 1990. Besides, 2010 ended the hottest decade ever recorded and confirmed a “significant” trend towards long-term global warming. The year was also interspersed with numerous extreme climatic events, such as unusual cold spells in most of Europe, a heat wave in Russia and floods in Pakistan, Brazil, Sri Lanka and Australia. The WMO also highlighted the fact that atypical climatic events like this kind are on the rise. Finally, the Arctic cap is still receding, with 1.3 million square meters less in December 2010 compared to readings taken the same month during 21 years, from 1979 to 2000.
>> Read the article in LeDevoir.com (in French only).
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Alberta, Canada’s richest province… in terms of pollution
Recent Environment Canada figures show that Alberta is Canada’s premier polluter. Even though Albertans make up just over 10 per cent of the population of the country, half of the country's greenhouse gases that are generated by industrial facilities located in Alberta. Where does this pollution come from? Tar sands, of course, but also from coal-fired electric power plants. The province says that it wishes to use carbon capture and storage technologies, but these projects will not materialize before 2015 at the earliest. However, Albertans can take comfort in the fact that a team of scientists from the Royal Society of Canada recently concluded that the effect of Alberta tar sands on the health and environment of near-by communities is not as bad as feared.
>> Read the article on the Canadian Business website.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Cancun: Fear of a Failure Due To a Gridlock between Washington and Beijing
From November 29 to December 10, 194 countries meet in Cancun, in an endeavour to take action on climate change. However, the outcome of the UN conference is threatened by the opposition between China and the United States, the world’s two largest polluters. China believes that the US should improve on its proposal to lower its GHG emissions by 17%, compared to its 2005 levels, for 2020. Washington replies that China must do better than its “voluntary” plan to reduce carbon emissions from 40% to 45%, compared to 2005, for 2020. However, Barak Obama needs the vote of 67 out of 100 senators to ratify any international treaty. Since the Democratic Party could lose its majority at the Senate in 2012, China will probably balk at the idea of making a commitment.
>> Read the article on LeDevoir.com. (In French only)
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Could Cities Play a Role in the Fight against GHGs?
Four capitals–Amsterdam, Mexico City, Paris and Zagreb–have committed to reducing their GHG emissions by 10% during 2011. These initiatives are a response to the 10:10 climate campaign orchestrated by the GoodPlanet Foundation, wherein October 10 has been dubbed “International Work Day for Climate Awareness”. Mexico City plans to replace its taxis, open a new line of its Metrobus and build more sustainable homes. Paris intends to renovate social housing complexes, as well as the town halls of its 20 twenty districts, install less energy-consuming equipment, “rationalize” the use of the public vehicles in an attempt to cut carbon emissions, and build geothermal wells to power some 12,000 homes. For lack of a global agreement, these small steps by cities represent a concrete effort...
>> Read the article in The Guardian.
Monday, November 01, 2010
Coal Mine Methane Might Be Used as a Source of Energy
Could the methane from coal mines become a source of green energy? The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and Methane to Markets (M2M) have jointly published a “Best Practice Guidance for Effective Methane Drainage and Use in Coal Mines”. This would allow the industry to both improve the safety of miners and produce electricity, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In October, the UNECE held a workshop at a symposium in Beijing on how Chinese coal mines could commercialize methane. By 2030, a 93% growth of the energy demand from emerging economies–largely driven by China and India–is projected, with coal expected to be the leading fuel to meet this demand.
>> Read the press release from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Montreal’s Greenhouse Gases: The Good and the Not-so-good News
The good: between 1990 and 2006, Montreal’s GHG emissions per capita fell from 8.9 to 8.3 tons (compared with 10.8 and 22 tons, respectively, for Quebecers and Canadians in 2006). Much of the drop is due to the fact Montreal started collecting methane gas at landfill sites, instead of allowing it to dissipate into the atmosphere, thus reducing emissions by 62%. The not-so-good: first, population growth; second, a 27% increase of transportation–the main source of greenhouse gases, with 38% of total emissions (urban sprawl and the popularity of low-mileage vehicles are pointed at); finally, a 100% increase of the commercial and institutional consumption of natural gas. Bottom line: a 6% increase of GHGs, whilst the Kyoto Agreement recommended reducing emissions by 6%.
>> The release (in French only). The Gazette’s report.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Central America Taps Volcanoes for Green, Renewable Electricity
As demand for electricity outstrips supply, Central America seeks to tap its unique geography to produce green energy and cut dependence on oil imports. Dotted with active volcanoes, sitting above shifting tectonic plates in the Pacific basin–known to cause earthquakes and volcanic eruptions–the region has huge potential for geothermal power generated by heat stored deep in the earth. Although expensive to build, geothermal power plants can provide a long-term, reliable source of electricity and are considered even more environmentally friendly than large hydroelectric dams. Guatemala, Central America's biggest country, aims to produces 60 percent of its energy from geothermal and hydroelectric power by 2022.
>> Read the whole article on PlanetArk.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Climate Change Is Driving Pakistan Floods and Events in China, Russia–UN Climate Experts
Mudslides in eastern China. Fires and heat wave in Russia. Floods in Pakistan. ―The warming is a driver for all these events," said Ghassem Asrar, director of the World Climate Research Programme and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The events in Pakistan could turn out to be the worst impact of climate change to date, according to UN climate experts, with warmer temperatures likely contributing to the heavy rains. Satellites reveal that around one-fifth of Pakistan is under water. The Indus River reached its highest recorded water level in more than 100 years and floods displaced up to 20 million — and killed an estimated 1,600 people — in one month. "This is a disaster which has affected many more people than I have ever seen," said John Holmes, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
>> Read more on SciDev.Net – the Science and Development Network.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The Forests of the Planet Are Storing Less Carbon
According to a recent study by University of Montana researchers published in the journal Science, the plants of the world have been absorbing less CO2 since 2000. The researchers came to this conclusion after analysing NASA satellite images and observing that in the last 10 years our planet’s vegetation has absorbed less carbon–550 tons per year, or the equivalent of the emissions from 350 cars–particularly because of droughts in Australia, Africa and South America. Fortunately, warmer weather has also lengthened the growing season in the North, which has allowed northern forests to trap more carbon, even though this cannot compensate for the decline in the Southern Hemisphere. Again, global warming is involved: the last decade is the hottest ever recorded since instrument-based measurements began in the 1880s.
>> Read a review of the article on DiscoveryNews.
Friday, July 23, 2010
U.S. Report to the UN Projects 4% Emissions Rise by 2012, Focuses on HFCs
its first major climate report to the United Nations in four years, the United States projects that climate-warming greenhouse gases will grow by 4 percent through 2020. Besides a 1.5 percent rise in CO2, the report highlighted the rise of hydrofluorocarbons. HFCs were promoted worldwide to replace chemicals that harm the globe's ozone layer under the 1987 Montreal Protocol, widely viewed as one of the most successful environmental treaties ever. Presently at 2 percent of world GHGs, the share of HFCs is expected to represent 33% by 2050. The report also renewed US commitment to help developing countries deal with the effects of rising temperatures, with a fund that will attain $100 billion a year by 2020, a ten-fold increase since 2009.
>> Read the article on Fox News.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Is Quebec Better Informed About Climate Issues Than The Rest Of North America?
Only 15% of people living in Quebec refuse to believe that global warming could be caused mainly by human activities. An overwhelming majority of Quebecers thus agree with the conclusions of almost all scientific studies and with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concerning the present evolution of our planet’s climate. This makes Quebec the most “enlightened” area on the subject in North America. On the other hand, certain surveys indicate that the number of sceptics in the United States has increased over the last year, which could be due to the controversy that hit Great Britain’s University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit a few weeks before the Copenhagen Climate Summit. “Climate skeptics” represent 22% of the population in the Atlantic Provinces, 34% in Ontario, 44% in Alberta and in Manitoba, 52% in Saskatchewan and… 59% in the United States.
>> Read the article in L’actualité (in French only).
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
New UN Climate Leader Does Not Expect to See an Agreement in Her Lifetime
We’ll be hearing about climate warning for some time. For Christiana Figueres, the U.N.'s new climate chief, the solution will be the outcome of a “gradual” process which will take several decades. Yet the Porto Rican, who succeeded Yvo De Boer after he resigned following the Copenhagen climate summit, believes that the next important conference could be a success. From November 29 to December 10, 182 countries will meet in Cancun to try to implement the promises of Copenhagen, e.g., in terms of the fight against deforestation or the financial support that is needed to help poor countries fight the effects of climate warming. Figueres, who finds it “simplistic” to focus on a legally binding agreement, prefers to see this meeting as a major step forward in a process which could take 20, 30, or 40 years.
>> Read the article on Canada.com.
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
“Climategate”: The Climatologists’ Point of View
In an open letter published by Science magazine, 255 American climatologists, members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences–including 11 Nobel Prize winners–sent out a warning to those who doubt that human activity contributes to climate change. “For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.” The signatories declared they were “deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular.” Lobbies have leveraged the “Climategate”–emails from climatologists at the University of East Anglia, in the United Kingdom, that were hacked and disclosed just before the Copenhagen climate change conference–to discredit the idea that global warming is caused by human activity, thus paralysing the UN conference talks, held December 7 – 18, 2009.
>> Read the letter published in Science magazine
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
“Utter Catastrophe” Should Dominate Calculations of Reducing GHG Emissions–Nobel Prize Economist
In “Building a Green Economy”, a long article published in the New York Times, Paul Krugman, 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science, argues that we should weigh the costs of limiting GHG emissions against those of long term damage and even of “utter catastrophe”–a realistic possibility which he says “should dominate cost-benefit calculations”. Despite the rise of scepticism, says Krugman, climate modelers have sharply raised their estimates of future warming in the last years, making action all the more imperative. Krugman, who leans towards drastic cap and trade market incentives–along with some direct controls over coal use–for reducing GHG emissions, maintains that the costs are manageable. “All we need now is the political will.”
>> Read Building a Green Economy in the New York Times.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Refusing To Take Science Seriously: A Risky Bet
Nicholas Stern, who signed in 2006 an influential report on climate change and the economy, declared in an interview with Le Monde, a French leading publication, sees cause for concern in the present campaign against the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He notes that the campaign, which is based on a series of errors in a report, obviously strives to discredit the IPCC while avoiding to confront the real issues. Noting that not a single study actually contradicts the climate warming hypothesis, Stern explains that if we take science seriously and it turns out that the risks were overestimated, “we will have discovered many useful technologies, we’ll have a cleaner world, and we will have secured our energy supplies”. However, if we make light of the problem we could end up putting the human species in danger. Stern, who now believes that his report was too “optimistic”, recognizes that measures will be expensive, but warns that inaction could prove even more expensive.
>> Read the interview in Le Monde (in French only)
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Stolen E-Mails: No Scientific Conspiracy, But Climate Researchers Need Support – Nature Magazine
Used as “proof” that climate researchers systematically conspire to suppress any evidence that goes against the “dogma” of human-caused global warming, the e-mail archives stolen from the University of East Anglia last November had a devastating effect on the climate-change summit in Copenhagen. In an editorial, influential Nature magazine stated that the emails revealed no scientific conspiracy. It also maintained that “multiple, robust lines of evidence” show that global warming–“almost certainly caused by human activities”–is real. After pointing out that climate-change researchers need support in the face of ongoing harassment from “denialists” determined to undermine trust in scientists and science, Nature said they also need to strive for transparency, “lest they provide their worst critics with ammunition.” The magazine expressed concern that a powerful denialist trend may undermine efforts in the US to sign a “much-needed” climate bill in 2010.
>> Read the Nature editorial
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
New Indication Humans Are Tampering With Climate: Arctic “Heat Wave”
Research done by five U.S. and Canadian universities shows that the Canadian Arctic is experiencing a heat wave seldom matched in 200,000 years. The new scientific paper is based on the study of sediments found at the bottom of a remote lake on Baffin Island. “This historical record shows that we are dramatically affecting the ecosystems on which we depend. We have started uncontrolled experiments on this planet,” said Dr. John Smol, a biologist at Queen's University in Kingston. The new findings add to many studies suggesting that spectacular and far-reaching change is under way in the Arctic, which is considered the part of the world most at risk from climate change.
>> Read more on the University of Alberta’s ExpressNews Media Clippings.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Tck tck tck… World Campaign Races against Time before Copenhagen
Concerned that time is running out and that next December talks in Copenhagen might be unfruitful, a group headed by Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, Peace Nobel Prize laureate and President of Global Humanitarian Forum, has launched the world’s very first music petition. Over 60 artists from around the world have collaborated in a remake of the popular ‘Beds are Burning’ hit. “Climate change is having a real impact on communities and individuals around the world,” declares Annan in a dramatic introduction. The goal: create the largest online petition ever, targeted at world leaders so that they can convince them to take “fair and robust decisions that deliver a just climate deal.”
>> Watch the ‘Beds are Burning’ video
>> Visit the Timeforclimatejustice website
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Copenhagen May Be the Last Opportunity to Avoid Irreversible and Catastrophic Changes–European Union
Today, average global temperature is almost 0.8 degree Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures and a full 1-degree Celsius increase may already be inevitable. For the European Union (EU), the Copenhagen agreement is a rare window of opportunity to prevent global warming from reaching dangerous levels of 2-degree Celsius or more above pre-industrial temperatures, which could trigger irreversible and catastrophic changes. The EU–who envisions the Copenhagen agreement as a single, legally binding instrument that would build on the Kyoto Protocol–warns that this meeting is likely to be the last chance to prevent climate change from reaching 2 degrees Celsius or more. “In one decade or more it will be too late to prevent dangerous climate change.”
>> Read more on The Hindu.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Humanity’s Future Lies in the Hands of the Governments of the Planet–UN
At the Copenhagen Summit, December 7 to 18, countries of the world are to decide what will be the successor to the Kyoto protocol, in which 37 industrialized countries committed to a quantified reduction of their GHGs. Experts believe that success hinges on the leaders of planet, who will have difficult decisions to make. The involvement of developing countries– who now produce more GHGs than developed countries–is a major stake. Yvo de Boer, the current Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said: "All of the ingredients for success are on the table, and what we must do now is to hold back from self interest and let the common interest prevail." Is it mere coincidence? On December 10, Barack Obama will be receiving the Peace Nobel Prize in Oslo, a few hundreds of kilometers from Copenhagen…
>> More on Euroinvestor (in French only)
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Countries which will turn to low carbon growth will economically be favoured
Countries that adapt quickly to a carbon constrained world will be in a better position to offer their citizens lasting prosperity, says a report produced for E3G, an independent not-for-profit organization, and the Climate Institute from Australia. For prominent British economist Nicholas Stern, “the global economic recovery presents an ideal opportunity for countries to shift towards low carbon growth. Countries which don’t seize this opportunity will undermine their future competitiveness and prosperity.” However, the report notes that a majority of countries are not taking the necessary measures to avoid global warming from exceeding the 2 degree Celsius mark. The most “developed” countries in this respect are Mexico and Argentina, followed by China, South Africa, and Germany.
>> More on the E3G website.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tar Oilsands Emit More GHG than Entire Countries: Report
A report commissioned by Greenpeace predicts that by 2020 the GHG from Alberta's oilsands–which presently equal that of Estonia and Lithuania–could exceed that of countries like Belgium and Denmark. Report says energy exports to the US and tar sands production have placed Canada among the world’s top per capita GHG emitters. Oilsands use up enormous amounts of natural gas and electricity, and the–yet unproven–carbon capture and storage technology destined to make coal-fired electricity plants (which supply oil companies) cleaner will cost taxpayers $2 to $3 billion a year until 2029 (Alberta’s Carbon Capture Council estimate). Oilsands are the world's largest energy project and they are likely to expand 300 to 500% by 2020 says the report, thus threatening to “tip the scales towards dangerous and uncontrollable climate change.”
>> More on CBC.ca.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
The Real Culprit behind Global Warming: CH4, not CO2
Methane, which is 21 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, is the main cause of global warming, says leading scientist Dr. James Hansen, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who’s been called “a grandfather of the global warming theory”. Methane emissions cause nearly 50% of the planet’s human-induced warming. EarthSave, an organization committed to building awareness about the environmental impact of our diet, suggests that decreasing global meat consumption is the quickest way to cool the earth, since animal agriculture is the No 1 source of methane worldwide. However, meat consumption has increased by 500% in 50 years, with little sign of abating. Yet, as the website says, As Eartsave puts it, “Cuts in agricultural methane emissions are achievable at every meal”. One can wonder if it will prove easier to change human eating habits than to fight the auto and oil industries…
>> Read more on EarthSave’s website.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
From a Saharan Solar Power Station to Biomass Kilns, 20 Ideas to Save the Planet
Major German companies (RWE, Siemens…) and the German Space Agency plan to implement large thermal solar power stations in the Sahara. This would allow Europe to meet its objective of generating 20% of its electricity through renewable energies by 2020 (at 8% currently) and cover 15% of its electricity requirements in 2050. Cost: 400 Billion Euros. That is one of the “20 Projects to Save the Planet” indexed by Consoglobe.com, a French portal devoted to sustainable development and eco-friendly consumption. Also reviewed: home-based mini power plants; marine or water turbines; livestock production that mimics the migrations of wild herds; advanced geothermics; cheap and simple biomass-powered stoves and… universal access to family planning.
>> Read more on Consoglobe.com (in french only)
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Between 1981 and 2000 China’s Ecosystems Absorbed 1/3 of the Country’s CO2 Emissions
During almost 20 years, Chinese ecosystems soaked up between 28 and 37% of the country’s emissions of CO2 from fossile fuels. Mainly located in the south, where more humid conditions encourage plant growth, the Chinese carbon sink was supported by reforestation programs and a modernization of agricultural methods. However, these figures–which compare with the USA’s (20 to 40%) and are higher than Europe‘s (12%)–have dropped since 2000, because of a severe increase in fossile fuel consumption. These observations come from a study carried out by an international scientific team headed by Shilong Piao, from the University of Beijing, the results of which were published in Nature magazine.
>> Learn more on Enerzine.com (in French only)
Monday, July 27, 2009
UN Experts Deplore Lack of Concrete Measures at the G8 Summit
According to Rajendra Pachauri, chairmain of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its summit held at L’Aquila, Italy, in early July 2009, the G-8 “clearly ignored” any concrete measures which would help limit climate change. Pachauri, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, welcomed the decision to slash half of global greenhouse gases by 2050 compared to 1990 levels and reduce emissions from industrialized countries by 80% by 2050, in order to keep global temperature increase within 2° centigrade. However, industrialized nations did not consider any of the measures set forth by the IPCC to achieve these goals.
>> Read more on Canoë (in French only)
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Developing Countries: 1% of Global Greenhouse Gases and 99% of Climate Change Victims
The 50 least developed countries, which generate less than 1% of the world’s CO2, are hit the hardest by global climate warming, says a report from the Global Humanitarian Forum, chaired by Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations. Each year global warming–which the report says could cause the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time–kills 300.000 people a year and costs $125 billion. If nothing is done, by 2030 every year nearly 500.000 people will die because of climate change and related costs could reach some $300 billion. Kofi Annan highlighted the necessity for a “courageous post-Kyoto agreement”, in Copenhagen, next December. The alternative is to “continue to accept mass starvation, mass sickness and mass migration on an ever growing scale."
>> Read more on the Davis Climate Change Law Practice Group Blog
Friday, June 12, 2009
Methane in permafrost: a slow-motion time bomb
As the Arctic thaws, it will intensify climate warming, according to an article published in Nature magazine. In 15 to 20 years, new plants that appear as the Arctic gets warmer and greener will no longer act as buffer, which could trigger a global warming spiral: the more temperatures rise, the more permafrost thaws, releasing more greenhouse gases that reinforce global warming, etc. Worse, much of the gas trapped in permafrost is methane, which is more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. By 2025 or 2030, the Arctic would thus emit 1 billion tons of greenhouse gases a year. This is the equivalent of present tropical deforestation and represents about 15% of the greenhouse gases produced by fossil fuels. Lead author Ted Schuur stresses that the process, once started, will be irreversible.
>> More on MSNBC
Monday, June 01, 2009
Investing About 1% of the World's Economic Output Could Curb Global Warming
According to a former chief economist at the World Bank, roughly 1% of the world's economic output–about 10% of current military spending–for the next decades could suffice to mitigate climate change. Nicholas Stern’s book, Blueprint for a Safer Planet, proposes six essential elements, e.g. adopting binding targets for GHGs (i.e. 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 for developed countries and by 2020 for developing nations), creating a global carbon trading system integrating national and regional schemes, halting deforestation (one of the cheapest ways to reduce carbon emissions), and developing and sharing clean energy technologies. Stern hopes to fuel a vision for a global deal that could be acceptable to all major parties to the Copenhagen conference in December 2009.
>> Find out more, on nature.com.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Joint Control of GHGs by Quebec and Ontario, and a Carbon Stock Exchange in Sight
As soon as 2010, Quebec intends to team up with Ontario to implement a register and a verification system to cross-check reports on greenhouse gases (GHGs). The goal is to put a cap on the emissions of certain sectors, starting in 2012, and to position the Montreal Stock Exchange, which has an agreement with the Chicago Stock Exchange to manage the carbon market. The present bill would make Quebec the first jurisdiction in America to vote a law establishing a limit for GHG emissions. Quebec has modeled its approach on the “Cap and Trade” system used by the US in the Nineties to control acid emissions.
>> Find out more on LeDevoir.com (in French only).
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Canadian GHGs Rise by 4% in 2007
A federal government report released on Earth Day revealed that Canada had produced a total of 747 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2007. This is nearly 26% more than in 1990 and is 33.8% above the target established for Canada’s Kyoto commitment. Total emissions have increased in particular because of a greater reliance on coal-fired electricity, the growing exploitation of oilsands and a hike in heating fuels caused by a more rigorous winter. Équiterre called the situation “catastrophic”. According to the well-known Quebec organization, Canadian emissions are no longer controlled at the federal level, since what it calls “the dismantling of programs designed to fight climatic change”.
>> Find out more on the SRC’s website (in French only). View Canada's 2007 Greenhouse Gas Inventory.
Monday, May 11, 2009
The US Targets GHGs
In a gesture described as historical, the Obama administration presented a bill designed to include six GHGs–CO2 in particular–among the chemical contaminants that disrupt global climate and ecosystems, besides threatening public health, especially that of the destitute. Recognizing that GHGs represent a serious problem for present and future generations, Barack Obama appealed for a low carbon economy which would allow the United States to take the lead in the area of clean energies and climate protection, while supporting the creation of green jobs by the millions and putting an end to the dependence on foreign oil. The major auto makers were given 60 days to react to the project.
>> Find out more on LeDevoir.com (in French only).
Monday, April 20, 2009
Earth Day Quebec, April 22: An Invitation to "Give the Planet a Break"
Earth Day Quebec has a mission to develop awareness among citizens, municipalities, organizations and businesses about our current environmental challenges, and to encourage them to take action. On April 22, all are therefore encouraged to “Step back, assess the situation and gather our energies to push forward!” One of the event’s spokespersons, Jacques Languirand, philosopher and radio host for 50 years, said: “Today, more than ever, we must reconsider the way we envision the future”. Over 300 activities are planned for the Earth Day Quebec 2009.
>> Check out the calendar of events on the official Earth Day Quebec website (in French only), or visit the Earth Day Canada website.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Economy: $1.1 trillion, Environment: $0 – G20
According to science leaders and environmentalists, the latest G20 meeting in London paid little attention to climate change and the green economy, despite the fact that urgent action is needed. World leaders agreed to inject US$1.1 trillion into the global economy, but failed to commit to using any of this amount on developing clean-energy technologies. Climate change and low-carbon technologies are mentioned only in the final paragraphs of the statement on actions to take–apparently as an afterthought. Said specialist Nicholas Stern: "Low-carbon growth will be the only sustainable growth story and will be full of opportunity. An attempt at high-carbon growth will unravel and ultimately end in failure, and low growth is unacceptable in a world of poverty."
>> Read more on naturenews.com.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Fragile Ecosystems and Societies Are the Most Threatened By Global Warming
According to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), scientists have underestimated the speed and extent of the damage caused by GHGs. Increased temperatures threaten both unique and vulnerable ecosystems and less developed societies located on low shorelines. “The more we know about this problem, the closer and more severe the danger seems to be”, says the report. The surest way to reduce the danger would be to “speedily reduce greenhouse gas emissions”. According to these specialists, the remedy would prove less expensive than inaction. “We’re not talking about a costly proposal: it represents no more than 3% of the world’s gross domestic product in 2030.”
>> Read more on notre-planete.info (in French only).
Friday, March 27, 2009
Global warming threatens to cause “irreversible” changes
Hundreds of scientists gathered in Denmark to review climate change issued a warning that global warming is accelerating quickly than anticipated, threatening to cause “irreversible” damages. For example, by the end of the century sea levels could go up by 50 to 100 cm–rather than 18 to 58 centimetres as predicted–particularly because of melting polar ice. They consider that political decision makers already have at their disposal all the tools they need to fight against greenhouse gas emissions. However, the scientists agree that these tools need to be used broadly and vigorously in order to bring about the social transformations that are necessary to make our economies less carbon-dependant.
>> Read more on AFP (in French only).
Monday, March 23, 2009
Economic Crisis 'Nothing' Compared To Climate Change: Prince Charles
"We have less than 100 months to alter our behaviour before we risk catastrophic climate change, and the unimaginable horrors that this would bring," Prince Charles told a meeting of Brazilian business leaders and officials in Rio de Janeiro during a recent Latin America tour. "Any difficulties the world faces today will be nothing compared to the full effects global warming will have on the world-wide economy." The prince praised Brazil for measures it has implemented to protect the Amazon–sometimes called "the lungs of the Earth" because of its role as a carbon sink–describing them as part of a new approach that dovetails with the search for solutions to the present global economic and financial crisis.
>> Read more on AFP.
Monday, March 09, 2009
Greenhouse Effect in Full Swing
Greenhouse gases are accumulating in the atmosphere faster than expected, according to climatologist Chris Field of Stanford University, and a leading member of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This increases the probabilities of an irreversible climate change. Moreover, the tropical forest, which theoretically absorbs CO2, is actually beginning to emit the greenhouse gas. Moisture evaporation makes the whole area more and more vulnerable to forest fires, and as a result the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increases. This could trigger a global warming spiral. Our only hope, according to the expert, lies in more drastic measures designed to counter CO2 emissions.
>> Find out more on eurekalert.org.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Canada: Sustainable Development at a Standstill
Ottawa has invested $2.5 billion to fight against pollution with “no measurable results”, says the federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development in his annual report. For example, $635 million were invested to refund users of public transportation in order to reduce Canada’s GHG emissions by an estimated 220.000 tons. The actual reduction due to this measure was 30.000 tons, which means that each ton cost $21.200, at a time when a ton is “worth” about $43 on the European markets. Another example is the fact that the provinces and territories received $1.5 billion to fight climate change but were in no obligation to report on the results. Finally, the report concludes that the federal government does not ensure that the tools it uses to curb GHG emissions are efficient.
>> Find out more on LeDevoir.com (in French only). Also see how Canada compares with other developed countries.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Jet-Based Laboratory Flies around the World, Measuring GHGs in Real Time
A team of scientists has launched a three-year project to take airborne measurements of greenhouse gases aboard an advanced research aircraft. Their task: track with unprecedented precision the estimated 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide emitted by human activities each year. The research jet, which is owned by the US National Science Foundation and operated by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, has a range of about 7,000 miles, and gathers air samples from 1,000 feet to as high as 47,000 feet. Says principal investigator Steven Wofsy of Harvard, "This is giving us a completely new picture of how greenhouse gases are entering the atmosphere and being removed from it, both by natural processes and by humans."
>> Read more on Environment News Service.
Monday, February 16, 2009
France well on its way to achieving its Kyoto commitments
The French Minister of ecology, Jean-Louis Borloo, announced that in 2007 France had reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 2%. With this new reduction, which comes after a 2.2% decrease in 2006, greenhouse gas emissions in France have reached an all-time low since 1990. Moreover, France’s GHG emissions are 5.6% lower than the maximum level set by the Kyoto protocol for 2008-2012. This makes France–along with Germany–one of the few industrialized countries to go beyond its international commitment. And that’s not all. “We intend to do much better”, commented the Minister.
>> Read about this on the “the Prime Minister’s portal” (in French only).
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The Effects of Carbon Dioxide Emissions Will Last for Ten Centuries
A scientific study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) concludes that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will cause 1,000 years of climactic changes after they are completely stopped. Consequences include irreversible regional climate impacts such as decreasing human water supplies, increased fire frequency, expanded deserts, rising sea levels, and ecosystem change. “Carbon dioxide loss and heat transfer (…) work against each other to keep temperatures almost constant for more than a thousand years, and that makes carbon dioxide unique among the major climate gases,” said NOAA senior scientist Susan Solomon. Her conclusion: “Current choices regarding carbon dioxide emissions (…) will irreversibly change the planet.”
>> Learn more on the NOAA’s website.
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Better tracking Of Rising Carbon Dioxide Thanks to NASA Orbiting Carbon Observatory
For the first time, a NASA orbiting satellite–the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, set to launch in early 2009–will record daily measurements of our planet’s carbon dioxide, analyzing the sources and sinks of this greenhouse gas. Highly sensitive instruments will measure the distribution of carbon dioxide over scales as small as a medium-sized city. The new technology will help scientists to more accurately distinguish movements of carbon dioxide from natural sources versus from fossil fuel-based activities.
>> Read more on Science Daily.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Greenhouse Gases Could Asphyxiate the Oceans
According to a Danish study published in Geoscience Nature, some broad ocean areas of the planet could suffer a lack of oxygen, with dire consequences. Two scenarios, with different quantities of emissions, both predicted ocean oxygen depletion in the first 500 meters of the oceans and especially a slowing down of the “ocean overturning”, which moves oxygenated surface water downwards. There is only one way we can avoid unpredictable, large-scale consequences on the structure and productivity of the ocean ecosystem: “Substantial reductions in fossil-fuel use over the next few generations are needed if extensive ocean oxygen depletion for thousands of years is to be avoided”.
>> Read the abstract on CiteULike, a free online bibliography manager.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
2008 Among the 10 Hottest Years Since 1850
For the first time, a NASA orbiting satellite–the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, set to launch in early 2009–will record daily measurements of our planet’s carbon dioxide, analyzing the sources and sinks of this greenhouse gas. Highly sensitive instruments will measure the distribution of carbon dioxide over scales as small as a medium-sized city. The new technology will help scientists to more accurately distinguish movements of carbon dioxide from natural sources versus from fossil fuel-based activities.
>> Read more on Science Daily.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Canada Ranks Second Last on International Climate Comparison
In 2008, Canada slipped from 53rd to 56th position on the annual Climate Change Performance Index, which ranks the “climate protection performance” of the 57 countries that, together, are the world's biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, responsible for more than 90 per cent of global energy-related emissions. Canada arrived last among OECD (industrialized) countries, with only one country–Saudi Arabia–behind it.
>> Read more on the Pembina Institute’s website.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Carbone storage: economically viable in 2030, says McKinsey
Europe will have to develop technologies to capture and store carbon (CSC) on a large scale, according to a study by McKinsey & Company. Fossil energies will continue to play an important role in the energy mix until at least 2050, and carbon storage is one of the most effective means to reduce CO2 emissions. The study estimates that carbon storage would make it possible to reduce global emissions of CO2 by 3.6 billion tons a year by 2030. The projects are viable in the long term, but McKinsey recalls that it will take subsidies of more than 10 billion euros to build a first generation of 10 to 15 demonstration plants.
>> More on Euractiv, an independent media.
Friday, December 05, 2008
China Admits Being Top Global Polluter, With no Decrease in Sight
A leading Chinese official has recognized China is now the world’s top GHG producer. Although willing to combat climate change, China sticks to its coal-dominated energy mix with no intention to sacrifice economic development, arguing that the economic take-off of rich countries produced nearly all the human-produced GHGs, and that China's per capita emissions, at about a fifth of the U.S. average, remain much lower than rich countries'. U.S. Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimates that in 2007 fossil fuel combustion produced 1.8 billion tonnes of carbon in China, and 1.6 billion tonnes in the U.S. Analysts say “top polluter position” is politically charged, touching on a nerve point at UN talks to address climate change.
>> Find out more on Reuters.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
The Environmental Future of the Planet Is Being Written in China
The Chinese Academy of Sciences estimates that China's annual greenhouse gas emissions could more than double by 2020, reaching 2.5 to 2.9 billion metric tonnes of pure carbon (maybe even 4.0 billion tonnes a year by 2030). Natural sinks can absorb about 2 billion metric tons a year. With current global emissions at about 8.5 billion metric tonnes per year, scientists believe global emissions would have to fall at least 80% below today's levels by 2150 to attain climate stability. Since China refuses to sacrifice economic development to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, only one solution remains: to develop clean and cheap energy sources that can power sustainable development in China and elsewhere.
>> Find out more on Reuters.
Friday, November 21, 2008
GHG Still Rising–UN Report
GHG emissions are still on the rise, indicates the annual report of the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Between 2000 and 2006, 40 industrialized countries emitted 18 billion tons of carbon dioxide, a 2.3% increase. Highlights: a 7.4% GHG emissions increase in the former Soviet republics between 2000 and 2006, a 0.1% decrease in the US in 2006, and a global 0.1% decrease between 2005 and 2006. US President Elect Barack Obama has committed to invest $150 billion over 10 years in the clean energy sector and reduce GHG emissions by 80% compared to 1990 by 2050.
>> Read more on Silobreaker, an online search service for news and current events.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Less meat, Less Greenhouse Gases
If the populations of richer countries diminished their meat consumption by the equivalent of one hamburger per person per day, it would be enough to influence climate changes, according to British medical magazine The Lancet. Meat consumption in the richest countries is actually 10 times higher than in the poorest countries (200 to 250 grams of meat per day, compared to 20 to 25 g). Agriculture produces 22% of the world’s emissions greenhouse gases (almost as much as the industrial sector and more than transportation) and nearly 80% of agricultural emissions are from cattle, particularly food and transportation.
>> Read more on Radio-Canada’s website (in French only).
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Europeans Also Draw up an Air Pollution World Map
After 18 months of observation, SCIAMACHY, the world’s largest environment monitoring satellite, on board European satellite Envisat, made it possible to draw up a world map of the distribution of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a gas primarily produced by man. Established over an 18-month period, this “high-resolution” map gives a clear picture not of only the vertical columns of nitrogen dioxide coming from America and Europe’s large cities, for example, but also from South Africa’s coal-fired electricity plants. It even shows the “atmospheric wake” of ships navigating along very busy routes, such as the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, between Indonesia and the southern point of India.
>> Learn more on the European Space Agency’s website (in French only).
Thursday, November 06, 2008
First Global Carbon Dioxide Maps Released
A NASA/university team has published maps revealing how carbon dioxide moves around in Earth's troposphere, about 8 km above the Earth’s surface. The troposphere is compared to “international waters," where "what's produced in one place will travel elsewhere." Thus, increased levels of carbon dioxide detected over the western North Atlantic are attributed to emissions from the Southeast U.S., while carbon dioxide over the Mediterranean results from North American and European sources, carbon dioxide from South Asia ends end up over the Middle East, and carbon dioxide from East Asia flows out over the Pacific Ocean.
>> Read more on the Nasa’s website.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Greenhouse Gas Threatens the Ocean Food Chain
Atmospheric carbon dioxide could be fatal for krill, the tiny crustacean at the heart of the Antarctic food web. An Australian krill breeding research facility was used to expose larvae to atmospheric carbon dioxide level increased to the worst-case 2100 level. "Their anatomy wasn't quite right," said researcher Lilli Hale. "They were a bit deformed, and they were listless. It's unlikely they would have survived through to adulthood." This would have a catastrophic impact on several species–seabirds, penguins, seals, whales, etc.–which depend on Antarctic krill for food. Carbon dioxide is most easily absorbed by the sea in the colder Southern Ocean.
>> Read more on the Sydney Morning Herald’s website.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Six Billion Dollars to Fight Climate Change
Leading industrialized nations–Australia, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States–have pledged more than US$6.1 billion to the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), to help developing countries in their efforts to mitigate increases in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to climate change. The first projects are to be announced early in 2009. Potential recipient countries are Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, South Africa, and Turkey.
>> More on The World Bank’s website.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Small Causes Producing Large Effects: Beetles and Climate Warming–A Snapshot of a Cascade Effect
In the American West, a recent succession of mild winters has brought about the dehydration of the Pinus Contorda (“twisted pine”), causing its natural barriers to collapse, creating a fertile environment for the proliferation of the bark beetle, a small insect originally from the Rockies whose natural habitat is the bark of this tree. BEACHON, an international research project, will evaluate the apprehended effects of the proliferation of this insect over four years, including: an interruption of the photosynthesis and the emission of large quantities of carbon dioxide; local temperature rises (from 2 to 4 degrees); forest loss; soil drainage and evapo-transpiration, as well as soil temperature increases, and; a significant reduction of the water table. In a nutshell, what is feared, as a result of the over-multiplication of this small insect? Nothing less than major water supply problems for several American states!
>> Read more about BEACHON in Innovations Report.
Friday, October 17, 2008
“Cutting Greenhouse Emissions Will Take Major Changes”– BP's Chief Scientist
BP's chief scientist Steven Koonin, who was a professor of theoretical physics at Caltech for 30 years, believes the onus of establishing the rules to curb global warming is on governments. According to Koonin, humanity’s habitual way of coping with problems “partially” will not suffice to prevent concentrations of CO2 from rising. On markets: “I think markets are good for tactical allocation, but it's not obvious to me that they're the right thing for strategic allocation [or] longer-term planning.” On oil companies: “…companies are wonderful optimizers of their situation. If the government sets the playing rules appropriately, they will respond strongly and rapidly.”
>> Read the interview in Technology Review.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Serious Science-Fiction Scenarios to Offset Global Warming
For some scientists, trying to curb greenhouse-gas emissions is not enough: they advocate re-engineering the Earth. “Geo-engineering” sets forth a broad range of solutions, e.g.: planting fast-growing genetically modified trees in order to capture carbon dioxide quickly; fertilising the oceans with iron to stimulate a bloom of planktonic algae that would suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere; “deliberately polluting the stratosphere with sulphate in order to reflect solar heat back into space,” and; ejecting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at the Earth’s poles by using lasers to ionize molecules of carbon dioxide and radio waves to spin these molecules at the correct rate, thus causing them to spiral away along the lines of our planet’s magnetic force.
>> More in The Economist .
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Growth Rate of Carbon Emissions Speeding Up
“Unprecedented” and “most astonishing” emissions growth for 2000-2007 surpass worse-case scenarios
According to the Global Carbon Project, the global growth rate of emissions continues to speed up: Man-made CO2 emissions “have been growing about four times faster since 2000 than during the previous decade.” Increasing emissions from developing nations China and India, decreasing forest cover in tropical countries, and less efficient natural land and ocean CO2 sinks are seen as the major causes of the trend.
>> Read about it on Science Daily
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
By September 23, Humanity Had Used Up the Resources produced by Nature In 2008
According to Global Footprint Network, by September 23 humanity had used up more resources than our planet will produce this year. The research organization, which measures the way we exploit natural resources, says humanity has been in “ecological overshoot” since the 1980s. In other words, we are using our resources faster than they can be regenerated and putting carbon into the air faster than it can be reabsorbed. On a global scale, we now require the biological capacity of 1.4 planets, says Global Footprint Network. As a result, our supply of natural resources–e.g. trees and fish–is shrinking, while our waste–primarily carbon dioxide–accumulates.
>> Read more on the ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability site
Friday, October 03, 2008
Green Economy Could Create Tens of Millions of "Green Jobs" - UN Report
A recent United Nations Environment Programme study says changing patterns of employment and investment resulting from efforts to reduce climate change and its effects are already generating new jobs in many sectors and economies, and could result in the creation of millions of new “green jobs” in the coming decades, in both developed and developing countries.
>> Read more on the International Labour Organization’s site
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Ozone Hole to Be Repaired "Soon"?
More than two decades after it was discovered, the famous “ozone hole” over the South Pole is not getting any smaller. In fact, most scientific models indicate that we might have to wait until 2060 or 2075 before the ozone concentrations reach the levels they were at before 1980… However, according to a report published in online magazine Science Actualité, the international scientific community still hopes to see it shrink one day, even portraying the ozone case as an example of a positive interaction between scientists, policians and business leaders, and as “an example, also, of an effective international joint effort to tackle a major environmental problem.”
>> Read more on Science Actualités (In French Only).
Monday, September 29, 2008
How can we slow down climate change? How can we adapt to it? – An International symposium on electricity and climate change
Today, climate change is a reality that can no longer be ignored. How can we slow it down? What actions can we take to adapt to it? In the context of an international conference, the “Vingt-et-unièmes Entretiens”, held by the Centre Jacques-Cartier, on October 7th Hydro-Quebec will set forth pragmatic answers drawn from experience, presented by President and CEO Thierry Vandal. Other topics include the role carbon markets can play in reducing GHG emissions and the best ways to adapt the production, transportation and distribution of electricity to climate change.
>> Read more on the Conference site (in French only)
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Nature Journal: Next decade 'may see no warming'
Scientists predict the Earth's temperature may stay roughly the same for a decade, as natural climate cycles enter a cooling phase. A new computer model developed by German researchers, reported in the journal Nature, suggests the cooling will counter greenhouse warming. However, they say temperatures will again be rising quickly by about 2020.
>> Read more on bbc.co.uk.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
800.000 years of GHG
For the first time, researchers have been able to estimate the fluctuations of the concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane in our atmosphese over the last 800.000 years by studying Antarctic ice extracted during the EPICA drilling. They hope this will help them develop more accurate scenarios of our planet’s future climate.
>> Read more on CEA.fr (article in French)
Monday, September 22, 2008
Japan: Carbon footprint labels
Japan is to carry carbon footprint labels on food packaging and other products in an ambitious scheme to persuade companies and consumers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The labels, which are to appear from next spring on many items including food and drink, detergents and electrical appliances, will provide detailed breakdowns of each product's carbon footprint under a government-approved calculation and labeling system.
>> Read more on guardian.co.uk.