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MEDIA REPORTS

CLIMATE AND ATMOSPHERE

This page was updated on: 01/14/10

 

2002

 

Climate and Atmosphere Media Reports Archives: 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2003

DECEMBER 2002

 

CANADA RATIFIES KYOTO, MEMBERSHIP NOW 100
Canada’s recent ratification of the Kyoto Protocol puts the number of Kyoto-committed countries at 100. The world now awaits ratification by the Russian Federation, which has announced that it will act within months, for entry into force of the 1997 Protocol on climate change. Entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol requires not merely ratification by 55 States, but also that the ratifying governments must include developed countries representing at least 55% of that group’s 1990 carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. With Canada's ratification, developed country ratifications now account for 43.7% of 1990 CO2 emissions. Russia's emissions of 17.4% is critical for attaining the required 55%. Japan and the European Union and its member states have already ratified, while Australia and the US have declared that they will not join the Protocol.

 

Links to further information

UNEP press release, 20 December 2002

http://www.unep.org/Documents/Default.asp?DocumentID=274&ArticleID=3191

The Economic Times, 19 December 2002

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/html/comp/articleshow?artid=31698818

 

2002 SECOND WARMEST YEAR ON RECORD
Forecasts by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) demonstrate that this year will replace 2001 as the second warmest ever recorded. Since 1860, when instruments first began recording land and sea surface temperatures, 1998 has been the hottest year, and 10 of the warmest years have occurred since 1987, with nine of these years occurring since 1990. WMO records show that drought conditions heightened in the western US, contributing to the second worst wildfire season in history. In the Greater Horn of Africa, particularly in central and southern Ethiopia, the drought that began in 1998 continued unrelentingly through this year. In west Africa, rainfall was below normal in the Sahel and the Guinea Coast throughout much of the usual wet season, and the western Sahel, Mauritania, Senegal, and Gambia saw a dry season, with some locations receiving only 25 to 50 percent of their normal rainfall by the end of September.

In addition to drought conditions, this year also experienced extreme flooding in certain areas. Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, and some eastern European countries saw the tremendous swelling of the Elbe and Danube rivers, with damage estimated at US$9 billion in Germany. Rainfall records were set and over 100 deaths were reported with more than 450,000 people forced to evacuate.

 

Links to further information

ENS news service, 18 December 2002

http://ens-news.com/ens/dec2002/2002-12-18-01.asp

 

EU LAUNCHES STRATEGY TO CUT AIR POLLUTION FROM SHIPS

The European Commission recently adopted a new strategy aimed at reducing atmospheric emissions from seafaring ships. Targeting the contribution of shipping to acidification, ground-level ozone, eutrophication, health, climate change and ozone depletion, the strategy will also help promote shipping as an environmentally-friendly mode of transport. A key feature of the strategy is a proposal to limit the sulfur contents of marine fuels used in the seas around the European Union. The strategy also advocates stricter global engine standards at the International Maritime Organization and development of market mechanisms to promote low-emission shipping in the EU.

 

Links to further information

European Communities website, 20 November 2002

http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/environment/air/transport.htm#3

 

NOVEMBER 2002

 

SWAP UK CLIMATE LEVY FOR CARBON TAX, STUDY SUGGESTS

The UK’s climate change levy, a tax on business energy use, should be scrapped in favor of a tax on fossil fuels use to reverse the rise in polluting emissions, states a report by the Royal Society. The report urges the UK government to start charging for the right to emit carbon dioxide (CO2) and to abandon the levy that is put forward in the government’s White Paper on energy policy. The report notes that the levy, which came into force in 2001, has proven to be inefficient, and concludes that the UK could fall short of its 12.5 percent goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2010, unless a tax is imposed on all CO2 emissions and a system of tradable permits launched.

 

Links to further information

Reuters News Service, 19 November 2002

http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/18646/newsDate/19-Nov-2002/story.htm

 

WATER IN WESTERN US WILL BE AFFECTED BY GLOBAL WARMING

Water availability in the western United States is predicted to be severely affected by global warming, according to a recent report involving over two dozen scientists and engineers from around the US. Results show a best-case scenario predicting that water supplies would fall short of future demand by cities, farms and wildlife, elevating critical water-rights' issues that have already surfaced amidst the current drought. Continued population growth is expected to aggravate water scarcity. Participation in the study included researchers from institutions, such as Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of Washington, the Energy Department, and the US Geological Survey. Results will be published in an upcoming issue of Climatic Change

 

Links to further information

Environmental News Network, 22 November 2002

http://www.enn.com/news/wire-stories/2002/11/11222002/ap_49028.asp

 

CANADA REAFFIRMS RATIFICATION

Despite fears expressed by some of its provinces and industry groups of economic damage from reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Canadian federal government is still aiming to ratify the Kyoto Protocol this year. The government has softened its reduction plan and is limiting the burden on big business of implementing the 1997 Kyoto protocol, which obliges Canada to cut emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 6 percent from 1990 levels in the first commitment period from 2008-2012. The scale of the challenge is underscored by the fact that if no action is taken, Canadian emissions by 2010 are predicted to be 33 percent above the 1990 level. New facets of the reduction package, include picking up additional costs to industry, if the price of carbon permits rises too high. Canada is also counting on its citizens to make voluntary cuts. The new plan will be discussed with all Canadian provinces at a meeting next week.

 

Links to further information

Environmental News Network, 22 November 2002

http://www.enn.com/news/wire-stories/2002/11/11222002/reu_49011.asp

 

AUSTRALIA SET TO SEE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Australia will have a harder time preserving its standard of living as plague, pestilence and disaster increasingly become a part of life, says a new federal report on population growth and climate change. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) report indicates that Australia could cope with a population of 50 million by the end of the century. At the lowest projected population of 20 million, it notes that Australia would face serious challenges in managing its air quality, oil stocks, fisheries resources and potential mega-cities of Sydney and Melbourne, whose populations could reach 10 million each. A report by Climate Action Network Australia, focusing on the potential impact of climate change on the nation's health in the coming decades, compliments the CSIRO report. It projects a general increase of 6 degrees Centigrade by the end of the century, which is expected to reduce rainfall and trigger weather fluctuations that will increase droughts, storms, floods and tropical cyclones in Australia. The report states that infectious, food, mosquito and waterborne diseases will be affected by predicted climate changes, in most cases increasing both deaths and the incidence of potentially fatal conditions.

 

Links to further information

New Zealand Herald, 6 November 2002

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?thesection
=news&thesubsection=&storyID=3002852

 

OCTOBER 2002

 

WORLD FAILING TO REACH KYOTO TARGETS

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of OECD countries by 2010 will be 29 percent higher than the target committed to in Kyoto, says the International Energy Agency (IEA). The energy watchdog further expects CO2 levels to rise to 25 percent higher than 1990 levels by 2030, even with the adoption of all policies under consideration. The 1997 UN Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mainly CO2, from the developed world by 5.2 percent of 1990 levels by 2012. Presenting at a recent press conference at the UNFCCC COP-8 session, IEA Executive Director Robert Priddle, indicated that measures taken to curtail emissions are not sufficient and that OECD countries, including Russia and the former Soviet states, still account for the majority of the 13.7 billion tonnes of CO2 emitted, compared to 8.9 billion for the developing world. Priddle suggested introducing non-binding targets for developing countries who are using a growing proportion of the world's energy.

 

Links to further information

Reuters News Service, 21 October 2002

http://cnie.org/News/

 

TRADING CARBON THOUGH FORESTRY PROJECTS

A new report urges Kyoto Protocol countries to change the rules on carbon trading at the ongoing Eighth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP-8) in New Delhi, India. Prepared by Forests Trends and a Future Harvest center in Indonesia, the report urges increasing the role of forestry projects in carbon trading, arguing that extending world forestry ventures to meeting Kyoto targets could assist in recovering the natural habitat for millions of hectares of forest and bring benefits to large numbers of rural people. The report notes that community forestry projects are possibly one of the most cost effective ways for companies to offset their carbon dioxide emissions, enhance biodiversity and provide economic benefits to rural communities. The report calls on signatories to the Protocol to make all such forestry projects eligible for carbon-trading investment, in addition to reducing associated financial risks for communities and investors through appropriate mechanisms.

 

Links to further information

UNWIRE, 18 October 2002

http://www.unfoundation.org/unwire/util/category_search.asp?objCat=environment   

 

JULY 2002

 

WESTERN POLLUTION TRIGGERED SAHELIAN DROUGHT, SCIENTISTS SUSPECT

The drought that occurred across Sahelian Africa from 1970-1985 may have been caused by pollution from industrial nations, scientists say. Sulfur dioxide particles from factories and power plants in North America, Europe and Asia are believed to have altered the physics of cloud formation and reduced rainfall in Africa by up to 50 percent, according to researchers of a study that will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Climate. The process known as “teleconnection” continues in the atmosphere today. Some researchers suggest that the study is too simple to solve the question of what caused the Sahelian drought, noting that the global rainfall pattern simulated by the computer model does not correlate neatly with rainfall observations. The lack of rainfall over the Sahel, which caused the starvation and death of over a million Africans, has been blamed on factors ranging from overgrazing to El Nino. Lead author Leon Rotstayn states that “The Sahelian drought may be due to a combination of natural variability and atmospheric aerosols,” adding that “cleaner air in the future will mean greater rainfall in the region.” Rains returned to the Sahel in the 1990s, the same period that laws in the West were being passed to reduce aerosol pollution.

 

Links to further information

Environmental News Network, 23 July 2002

http://enn.com/news/wire-stories/2002/07/07232002/s_47920.asp

 

 

MARCH 2002

 

GLOBAL WARMING THREATENING ANTARCTIC ICE SHELF, SPECIES SURVIVAL - STUDY

An ice-shelf in Antarctica the size of a small country is rapidly disintegrating, according to British scientists. The ice shelf is over 3000 square kilometers large and 200 meters thick. The Antarctic Peninsular, where the floating "Larsen-B" ice-shelf was, has warmed by 2.5 degrees centigrade over the past 50 years, which is a quicker rise in temperature than that observed over land and in other parts of the world. Commenting on the finding, glaciologist David Vaughan observed that the speed at which the melting took place was "staggering," with 500 million billion tonnes of ice sheet disintegrating in less than a month.

In related news, another study, published in the journal Nature, documents the effect climate change is beginning to have on life across the planet, showing parallel trends in plants, birds, animals and fish. Geobotanist Gian-Reto Walther from the University of Hanover in Germany cautioned that "the big difference between now and previous periods of climate change, like the Ice Age, is that seven billion people live on earth now and many migration corridors for species are blocked." He warned that these factors mean that extinctions are now inevitable.

 

Links to further information

Reuters newswire, 28 March 2002

http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15233/story.htm  

Reuters newswire, 20 march 2002

http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15103/story.htm

Environmental News Network, 20 March 2002

http://enn.com/news/wire-stories/2002/03/03202002/reu_46711.asp  

 

 

FEBRUARY 2002

 

BUSH RELEASES NEW CLIMATE PLAN

US President Bush has announced details of his administration’s approach for combating climate change. Released mid-February, the "clear skies and global climate change" initiative aims to address climate change in the US, following the country’s decision last year to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. The new plan relies on voluntary efforts and a market-based approach, rather than binding commitments, and sets a goal for reducing emissions intensity per capita by 18% over the next decade. The plan includes US$4.6 billion of incentives and tax credits over the next five years for research and for encouraging voluntary reductions by utilities and manufacturers.

However, the initiative has not been well received in some quarters for setting a target for emissions intensity, rather than for the actual quantity of emissions. Critics have also noted that it does not deviate significantly from business-as-usual scenarios for the next decade. Internationally, Japan and the EU reacted to the plan with some reservations, while Australia backed the initiative.

 

Links to further information

BBC online, 14 February 2002

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/americas/newsid_1820000/1820584.stm

CNN online 14 February 2002

http://www.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/02/14/bush.global.warming.reax/index.htm

The Guardian online, 15 February 2002

http://www.guardian.co.uk/globalwarming/story/0,7369,650478,00.html

Reuters newswire, 19 February 2002

http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/14602/story.htm

 

 

JANUARY 2002

 

TRANSPORT MINISTERS ADOPT DECLARATION ON ENVIRONMENT

Transport ministers from 20 countries have adopted a declaration pledging to cooperate in tackling environmental problems caused by transportation. The declaration was adopted at the conclusion of a ministerial conference on transport held in Tokyo, which was attended by ministers from 14 European countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the United States. The declaration recognized the contribution of the transport sector to air and marine pollution and climate change, and stated the need for implementation of applicable international standards. Ministers also "proclaimed (their) intention to take the initiative to work together to tackle the environmental problems arising in the transport sector in a more energetic and cooperative way."

 

Links to further information

Ministers' declaration on transport, environment, 16 January 2002

http://home.kyodo.co.jp/all/display.jsp?an=20020116084 

 

REINSURER LINKS WEATHER EXTREMES WITH WARMING CLIMATE

Significant financial losses from natural hazards in 2001 were caused by weather extremes, according to Munich Reinsurance, the world�s largest reinsurer. Natural disasters caused the deaths of 25,000 people in 2001, and economic losses of USD 36 billion, with windstorms and floods taking the greatest economic toll. Heatwaves, droughts and forest fires also caused extensive damage in many regions. Munich Reinsurance further stressed the connection between climate change and increasing weather-related catastrophes, noting that 2001 was the second-warmest year on record. The company expressed support for the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. The reinsurer continues to expect significant increases in insured losses from natural catastrophes.

 

Links to further information

Munich Reinsurance press release, 28 December 2001

http://www.munichre.com/index.html  

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