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MEDIA REPORTS

CLIMATE AND ATMOSPHERE

This page was updated on: 01/14/10

2005

 

Climate and Atmosphere Media Reports Archives: 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2004; 2003; 2002

 

DECEMBER 2005

 

FAO OFFERS TO HELP DEVELOPING COUNTRIES EXPLORE WAYS TO REDUCE FOREST LOSS

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has offered to provide data and technical advice to help developing countries explore ways to create financial incentives to reduce forest loss. The offer came during the eleventh Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 11) in Montreal in early December 2005.

 

“There are a number of strategies that countries can use to accurately monitor reductions in deforestation and increases in carbon storage, especially in tropical countries where forests do the most to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” said Dieter Schoene of the FAO’s Forestry Department. 

 

Link to further information

FAO news release, 9 December 2005

 

NOVEMBER 2005

 

UK, NORWAY LAUNCH UNDERWATER CO2 SCHEME

Norway and the UK have agreed to collaborate on the development of a system to inject carbon dioxide into oil fields under the North Sea.

 

Link to further information

WBCSD/AFP news story, 30 November 2005

 

DEVELOPED COUNTRIES CUT EMISSIONS, BUT CHALLENGES LOOM – REPORT

The world’s developed countries had reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 5.9 percent in 2003 compared with 1990, according to a new publication from the UN Climate Change secretariat. However, much of these reductions were achieved in the early 1990s in countries of the former Soviet Bloc, while future projections show that many developed countries are facing a major challenge in meeting their Kyoto Protocol obligations. The new report, Key GHG Data, contains data from 40 developed and 121 developing countries.

 

Link to further information

The report

 

CLEAN DEVELOPMENT MECHANISM PROPOSALS SURFACE

The system developed for the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) should be reviewed, according to several new reports. The CDM has been criticized by some for being too complicated and for not approving projects quickly enough, according to critics. One new study in India, Profit’s the imperative: A report on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), argues that the rules are leading to “poor quality projects.” Another new study, by the European Climate Platform (ECP), suggests how the CDM might be improved “in order to transform it from a limited instrument to a major tool to achieve long-term climate change objectives.” However, supporters have noted that the CDM Executive Board has been making progress, issuing the first ever certified emission reduction credits under the Kyoto Protocol in October 2005.

 

Links to further information

CSE India report, November 2005
UN/CDM Executive Board press statement, 20 October 2005

ECP report, November 2005

 

UK, EU DISCUSS VOLUNTARY TARGETS

Britain’s Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett has indicated that the UK might be willing to replace mandatory emissions targets in favor of a voluntary or sector-by-sector approach if it means securing a multilateral consensus on tackling the problem. The announcement could reflect a possible shift in approach within the EU, with Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas recently stressing that any future deal for post-2012 – when the Kyoto Protocol’s “first commitment period expires – should include the U.S. and developing countries. Beckett’s speech was criticized by some environmental groups. In related news, the UK government appears to be leaning towards increasing nuclear power generation as a means of tackling the climate change problem.

 

Links to further information

Observer newspaper report, 20 November 2005:
“Britain opens way for new climate deal” EU hints at policy shift on climate change talks, Eupolitix news, November 2005

BBC news report, November 2005

 

U.S. PUSHES TECHNOLOGY PARTNERSHIPS

The United States is promoting a number of bilateral and regional technology-focused partnerships to address climate change, according to a recent media report. Such deals would not include the type of targets set out under the Kyoto Protocol, which the Bush administration has rejected.

 

Link to further information

WBCSD report, 23 November 2005

 

CARBON DIOXIDE LEVELS REACH 650,000 YEAR HIGH

Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have reached their highest point in 650,000 years, according to a new study in the Antarctic.

 

Link to further information

AFP/WBCSD news report, 25 November 2005

 

FIRST KYOTO MEETING OF PARTIES UNDERWAY IN MONTREAL; MARRAKESH ACCORDS ADOPTED

The historic first Meeting of the Parties serving as the Conference of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 1) is underway in Montreal, Canada, and has adopted the Marrakesh Accords – a package of decisions to operationalize the Kyoto Protocol. Up to 10,000 participants are expected to attend at least part of the event, which started on 28 November and continues through until 9 December in Montreal, Canada. The meeting has a heavy agenda, with Parties expected to discuss and adopt decisions on the outstanding operational details of the Protocol, including details and procedures relating to compliance and the “flexible mechanisms” intended to help Parties reach their emissions targets. Another issue on COP/MOP 1’s agenda is the complex and politically-sensitive issue of future commitments for the period after 2012 (when the Protocol’s first commitment period ends). In recent weeks, several high-level political figures, including EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas, have played down expectations that the event could produce any firm deal for post-2012. The meeting is taking place in conjunction with the eleventh Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

 

Link to further information

Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of the negotiations and side events

Report on adoption of the Marrakesh Accords

 

PARTIES PREPARE FOR HISTORIC KYOTO MEETING IN MONTREAL

Organizers, governments and other stakeholders are busy preparing for the historic first Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol starting in Montreal on 28 November 2005. The meeting, which is taking place along with the eleventh Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, is expected to draw as many as 10,000 participants. Delegates are expected to celebrate entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol in early 2005, as well as to finalize many operational issues, including the work of the Protocol’s flexible mechanisms.

 

CDM Issues Raised

The operation of the “joint implementation” mechanism and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) are likely to feature prominently, with the World Bank recently calling for CDM activities to be scaled up and improved.

 

Post-2012 Expectations Played Down

Meanwhile, some initial posturing over talks on the post-2012 period has also occurred. Australia’s Environment Ministers has dismissed the idea of holding talks to establish post-2012 greenhouse gas targets. Just weeks earlier, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas had stated that, while no new greenhouse gas targets could be expected in Montreal, an agreement to start talks on the post-2012 period should be approved. The Kyoto Protocol establishes targets for a “first commitment period” of 2008-2012. Both Canadian and EU officials have recently sought to play down expectations for any major breakthrough on post-2012 issues in Montreal.

 

Links to further information

IISD “Linkages” meeting webpage

Official UN website

Australia rules out new post-Kyoto limits, Reuters news report, 31 October 2005

Blair makes climate summit call, BBC news report, 1 November 2005

Blair signals move away from climate targets after 2012, Edie news summary, 4 November 2005

COP/MOP should focus on improving CDM – World Bank, Environmental Finance report, 3 November 2005

 

CLIMATE CHANGE WILL HURT HEALTH, ECONOMIES – STUDY

Climate change will have a major impact on human health and cause severe economic costs, according to a new Harvard University study. The report, Climate Change Futures: Health, Ecological and Economic Dimensions, was released on 1 November 2005.

 

Link to further information

Climate Change Futures Report

 

VOLCANOES HIDE CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS – REPORT

Heightened volcanic activity over the past fifty years could be concealing the extent of current climate change, according to a new study. Several volcanic eruptions since the 1950s have caused an increase in sulfate aerosols in the stratosphere, according to a report by John Church of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia. In an article published in Nature magazine, Church and his colleagues explain that such aerosols have a cooling effect, which could be offsetting some of the current climate change trend.

 

Link to further information

CSIRO press release, 3 November 2005

 

SUPERCOMPUTERS CONFIRM U.S. CLIMATE RISK

The United States will experience significant disruptions to its economy and infrastructure, according to one of the most comprehensive studies yet undertaken. A climate model run on supercomputers at Purdue University has reportedly provided one of the most complete pictures of climate change in the continental U.S. to date.

 

Link to further information

Purdue University press release, 17 October 2005

 

JAPAN PLANS NEW CLIMATE TAX

A new plan proposed by Japan’s Environment Ministry would impose a new tax on coal, oil, kerosene and other sources of carbon dioxide.

 

Link to further information

The Asahi Shumbun, news report, 26 October 2005

 

NEW YORK ADOPTS VEHICLE EMISSIONS TARGETS

The state of New York has taken on greenhouse gas emissions targets on vehicles starting in 2009.

 

Link to further information

ENN news, 10 November 2005

 

OCTOBER 2005

 

JAPAN’S EMISSIONS FALL SLIGHTLY

Greenhouse gas emissions declined slightly in Japan from 1 April 2004 to 31 March 2005, according to a new government report. Initiatives to use more nuclear power and cut air conditioner use were apparently instrumental in the 0.8 percent reduction, although the country still faces a significant challenge if it is to reach its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

 

Link to further information

ENN/AP report, 24 October 2005

 

EU FALTERING ON CLIMATE CHANGE, CLAIMS NGO

Some European ministers appear to be rethinking their previously-strong line on climate change just when a “tough” stance is most needed, according to Friends of the Earth. The environmental group expressed concern that Europe is watering down its commitments in the lead up to the first Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, taking place in Montreal in December 2005.

 

Links to further information

Friends of the Earth International press release, 17 October 2005

EU to Hold Climate Change Talks, BBC news, 17 October 2005

 

SECOND EUROPEAN CLIMATE CHANGE PROGRAMME LAUNCHED

Europe’s Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas has launched the second European Climate Change Programme. The Programme, which was launched on 24 October 2005, will focus on cost-effective measures and technologies that allow the EU to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Link to further information

EC press release, October 2005

 

MANY AMERICANS STILL SKEPTICAL ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE – POLL

Many Americans remain skeptical about global warming, according to a new poll. In a Washington Post-ABC News survey, 40 percent said they did not believe climate change was happening. Although 56 percent did believe in climate change, nearly half (47 percent) felt the problem needed further study before action is taken. Just 41 percent said it required “immediate government action.” The poll, conducted shortly after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, also found that 54 percent believed the storms were part of a natural cycle, while 39 percent linked them to climate change. Twenty-three percent said they were “deliberate acts of God” and 8 percent felt God had sent the hurricanes to punish sinners.

 

Link to further information

Washington Post report, 1 October 2005

 

U.S. OFFICIAL “CAN’T GUARANTEE” EMISSIONS PROGRESS

Further progress in slowing down the growth in emissions in the U.S. cannot be guaranteed, according to the country’s chief negotiator on climate change, Harlan Watson. While noting an improvement on business as usual, Watson told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in early October that further progress could be hard to achieve, according to news reports.

 

Link to further information

ENN/AP news story, 6 October 2005

 

2005 COULD BE WARMEST YEAR YET, SAYS NASA

2005 could become the hottest year on record, surpassing 1998 for the top spot, according to recent data compiled by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

 

Link to further information

Washington Post report, 13 October 2005

 

WARMING FUELS DISTURBING WATER VAPOR TREND – STUDY

An increase in water vapor in the atmosphere has been confirmed in a recent study. The research, conduced by the University of Miami, confirms that the global warming scientists believe is due to greenhouse gas emissions is also causing an increase in atmospheric water vapor. Because water vapor is responsible for trapping much of the heat in the atmosphere, the results raise concerns that it could strengthen the warming effect. "The CO2 is the trigger [for global warming]…and water vapor acts as an amplifier,” said Miami University expert Brian Soden.

 

Research Heats Up Solar Debate

Meanwhile, solar radiation is partly to blame for at least 10-30 percent of global warming over the past quarter century, according to a Duke University study. The study is based partially on controversial research released by Columbia University in 2003.  

 

Links to further information

Seattle Times/Knight Ridder report, 7 October 2005

CTV news report, 2 October 2005

 

ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS WILL DISPLACE 50 MILLION BY 2010 – STUDY

As many as 50 million people will be displaced in the next five years due to climate change and other environmental factors, according to a new study. The UN University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security, based in Bonn, released the study on 12 October 2005, the International Day for Disaster Reduction.

 

Link to further information

UN University press release, 12 October 2005

 

REGIONAL CLIMATE PACT SUMMIT POSTPONED

An Asia-Pacific regional pact announced by Australia, the U.S. and others in July 2005 to combat climate change through technology-based measures has had its first meeting postponed. The group’s first gathering was originally scheduled for November 2005, prior to the first Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.

 

Link to further information

BBC news report, 5 October 2005

 

SEPTEMBER 2005

 

CORPORATE INTEREST IN CLIMATE CHANGE PICKS UP

U.S. businesses are taking an increasing interest in the risks and opportunities resulting from climate change, according to a coalition of investors with assets of over US$21 trillion. The findings, published in the Carbon Disclosure Project 2005 report, suggest that the private sector in the U.S. in increasingly alert to climate change and its possible impacts.

 

Link to further information

The report

 

HURRICANE-CLIMATE CHANGE DEBATE STRIKES U.S.

A major media storm has hit the United States over the links between hurricanes and global warming in the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The recent hurricanes has prompted a series of newspaper articles, editorials, and radio and television reports on the possible links, with experts, commentators and politicians offering some contrasting opinions.  

 

Links to further information

Katrina reignites debate over global warming, CNN news, 1 September 2005

Hurricanes and global warming – a link?, BBC news, 23 September 2005

Time to connect the dots, New York Times editorial, 28 September 2005

Global warming activists turn storm into spin, USA Today, 27 September 2005

 

ARCTIC SEA ICE DECLINE ALARMS EXPERTS

A “stunning” reduction in Arctic sea ice over the northern summer has been observed by U.S. experts. The change in sea ice has prompted one expert from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center to product that the summertime Arctic could be ice-free well before the century ends.

 

Link to further information

Press release, 28 September 2005

 

EU AMENDS AIR POLLUTION PLAN, CONSIDERS AVIATION EMISSIONS TRADING

The European Union has allegedly changed earlier plans to combat air pollution, according to reports. Meanwhile, the European Commission has proposed adding airlines to the EU’s emissions trading scheme.

 

Links to further information

EU Proposes Ambitious Plans To Clean Up Air Pollution by 2020, ENN news, 22 September 2005

EU airlines could face CO2 trading regime, EU Observer report, 26 September 2005

Questions and answers on aviation and climate change, EC press release, September 2005

 

EU PLAYS DOWN EXPECTATIONS FOR MONTREAL

An agreement on commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions after 2012 is unlikely to be reached at a major climate conference in Montreal later this year, according to the European Union’s Environment Commissioner. Stavros Dimas told journalists recently that it is unrealistic to expect a mjor breakthrough at the first Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 1), which begins on 28 November 2005. The comments mirror a similar statement recently by Canadian officials.  

 

Link to further information

ENN/Reuters news report, 23 September 2005 

 

BLAIR’S KYOTO COMMENTS CAUSE ALARM

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been accused of backing away from the Kyoto Protocol and shifting to a pro-U.S. position. The allegations followed a recent speech by Blair delivered in New York at an event hosted by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, in which the Prime Minister admitted to “changing my thinking about this [issue] in the last two or three years.” Blair went on to question whether an agreement was possible on mandatory emissions targets for the period after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period is set to end. Environmentalists also expressed concerns at Blair’s apparent endorsement on technological solutions, an approach strongly supported by current U.S. President George Bush.  

 

Links to further information

Transcript of Blair’s speech, 15 September 2005 (see pages 14-15)

Blair is accused of Kyoto U-turn, The Observer, 25 September 2005

Friends of the Earth press release, 27 September 2005 

 

NUCLEAR ENERGY ROW FLARES IN AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL

Environmentalists in Australia and Brazil have protested comments from senior government ministers in both countries favoring nuclear power.

 

Links to further information

Melbourne Age, 8 September 2005

ENN report, 7 September 2005

 

CLIMATE CHANGE RAISES HUNGER RISKS FOR 50 MILLION

Climate change could put a further 50 million people at risk of hunger and malnutrition by 2050, according to a British climate expert. 

 

Link to further information

Reuters/ALertnet news report, 5 September 2005

 

EU, CHINA ANNOUNCE CLIMATE DEAL; CANADIAN INITIATIVES MAKE NEWS

A new technology agreement has been announced by the EU and China on emissions from coal, while Canada may be set to join a recent six-nation climate technology pact, according to reports. The EU-China agreement, which was made public during the Eight EU-China Summit held in Beijing in early September 2005, includes will focus on developing power stations whose emissions can be captured and stored underground. The pact also pledges cooperation on renewable energy and hydrogen technology. The announcement follows a flurry of diplomatic activity in recent weeks, with several reports surfacing about Canadian initiatives. According to one report, Canada may be set to join the recent technology agreement announcement recently by Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and the United States. However, it appears that recent bilateral talks with Chinese officials have confirmed that China is not willing to agree on a national target for reducing emissions, according to Canada’s Environment Minister, Stéphane Dion. In other news, Dion recently provided an upbeat assessment of programme in implementing the country’s Climate Change Plan. The government has also released its framework Canadian Offset System for carbon markets in recent weeks. 

 

Links to further information

New agreement between EU and China on climate change and coal, SCiDev.net news, 6 September 2005

Canada keen to join up, The Australian, 2 September 2005

China won't agree to emissions target: Dion, C News, 2 September 2005

Government of Canada Moves Forward on the Implementation of Its Climate Change Plan, Government press release, 2 September 2005

Commentary on Canada’s Offset System, 31 August 2005

 

AUGUST 2005

 

OZONE LAYER STABILIZES

The ozone layer is no longer shrinking, although it may take decades to recover fully, according to a U.S. study.

 

Link to further information

Reuters news report, 31 August 2005

 

U.S. JUDGE ALLOWS CLIMATE CHANGE LAWSUIT

A federal judge in the United States has ruled that government agencies can be sued for allegedly financing overseas projects that contribute to climate change.

 

Link to further information

Reuters report, 24 August 2005

 

NEW U.S. ENERGY LAW PASSED

The United States Senate and House of Representatives have passed new energy legislation. While supporters praised the new law for offering tax incentives for conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, some environmental groups were critical of the legislation for offering considerable support to those producing and using oil, gas and coal.

 

Link to further information

GreenBiz/WBCSD report, 1 August 2005

 

UK EMISSIONS RISE - AGAIN

The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions rose for a second year in 2004, according to new statistics published by the Department of Trade and Industry. The rise has led to concerns that Britain may struggle to meet its pledge to cut emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.

 

Link to further information

WBCSD/EurActiv report, 4 August 2005

 

UNIDO LAUNCHES FRANCOPHONE CDM PROJECT

The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has launched a regional project to support Clean Development Mechanism activities in 10 Francophone African countries. The project will begin with a technical meeting and training session in Vienna, Austria, starting on 19 September 2005.

 

Link to further information

Demonstration Project for 10 African Francophone Countries on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)

 

JULY 2005

 

CLIMATE CHANGE STRENGTHENING HURRICANES – STUDY

Hurricanes have been increasing in strength and duration since the 1970s, according to new U.S. research. While previous research has predicted greater hurricane intensity in the future, this study found that hurricane intensity is already on the rise. It did not find evidence that the number of hurricanes is increasing, however.

 

Links to further information

Nature journal abstract, July 2005

AP/Fox News report, 31 July 2005

 

AMAZON’S CARBON SINK CAPACITY QUESTIONED

The Amazon basin stores greenhouse gases for only a few years, rather than decades, according to new research published in Nature. U.S. researchers found that a great deal of carbon dioxide was being leaked out of forests and rivers back into the atmosphere.

 

Link to further information

SciDev.Net article, 28 July 2005

 

NEW ZEALAND ANNOUNCES CLIMATE POLICY REVIEW

The New Zealand Government has announced a review of “current climate change policy settings and objectives.” The decision was apparently prompted by faster-than-expected growth in emissions, particularly in the transport sector, as well as “changes to our forest sink position.” The results of the review are expected in late October 2005. Some commentators have suggested that the upcoming general election, scheduled for 17 September, may also impact policy.

 

Link to further information

NZ Government announcement, July 2005

 

UPDATED CEMENT EMISSIONS PROTOCOL ANNOUNCED

A revised version of the Cement CO2 Protocol has been released by the Cement Sustainability Initiative of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The updated Protocol is intended as a tool for cement companies worldwide, containing guidance and a methodology for calculating carbon dioxide emissions. The original protocol was agreed in 2001.

 

Link to further information

WBCSD press release, 19 July 2005

 

CANADA JOINS METHANE INITIATIVE

Canada has joined 15 other nations in an initiative to help control emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas. The Methane to Markets Partnerships, which involves the U.S., China, Brazil, India, Russia, UK, Italy and various other countries, was set up earlier in 2005. Canada joined the initiative in July 2005.

 

In other news from Canada, the government has announced a number of recent initiatives to strengthen its emissions reduction efforts. However, one news report has claimed that the group of staff working on meeting the Kyoto Protocol’s binding emissions targets has been hit by a number of resignations. The impact of the resignations was played down by officials.  

 

Links to further information

Canada Joins Methane Programme, US Embassy announcement, July 2005

Kyoto team jumping ship, Canadian Press/Globe and Mail, 20 July 2005

 

NEW REGIONAL CLIMATE PACT MAKES WAVES

A new six-country pact to combat climate change through technology-based solutions has been announced. The new deal involves Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States, which between them produce nearly 45 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The announcement was hailed by some observers as a valuable initiative. UN Environment Programme head Klaus Töpfer applauded the agreement, noting that it should complement, and not compete with, the Kyoto Protocol.

 

However, some environmental groups have been skeptical about the announcement, arguing that it is a voluntary with no binding targets, meaning it is unlikely to reduce overall emissions. 

 

Links to further information

New Asia-Pacific climate plan, The Australian, 27 July 2005

Statement by Klaus Töpfer in Response to US-Led Climate Initiative, UNEP statement, 28 July 2005

Senator outlines climate deal, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 28 July 2005

Transcript from Press Conference with Ian Campbell, Australia’s Minister for the Environment and Heritage, 27 July 2005

 

SEA LEVEL RISE ACCELERATES

Sea level rise is occurring at an increased rate, according to research conducted in the U.S. Recent NASA satellite observations show the average increase in global mean sea level has increased 50 percent more rapidly since 1993 than the average rate for the previous 50 years.

 

Link to further information

Scientists Get a Real "Rise" Out of Breakthroughs in How We Understand Changes in Sea Level

 

WIND, SOLAR NO SOLUTION TO ENERGY NEEDS, SAYS EXXON

Wind and solar power will not provide an answer to the growth in energy demand expected over the next few decades, according to Exxon Mobil Corporation Chairman Lee Raymond. In an interview published in a company newsletter, Raymond argued that, because they are starting from a low base, wind and solar will not have a significant impact, commanding only a one percent share by 2030. Instead, he suggestd that “the key issue in energy will be how to find and produce enough conventional energy to support global economic activity and prosperity.”

 

He also described the goal of energy independence as a “flawed notion,” and said the US has an obligation to “understand what the facts are when assessing its resource base,” including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

 

Link to further information

Raymond’s interview

 

JUNE 2005

 

HELSINKI PROCESS REPORT TACKLES GLOBALIZATION

A new report has been released urging action to make globalization work for all. The report, Mobilizing Political Will, deals with issues of poverty and development, human rights, environment, peace and security, and governance. Recommendations including reviewing the Geneva Convention, seeking agreement on long-term greenhouse gas emissions reductions, reducing agricultural subsidies, and establishing a World Environment Organization and a new UN Human Rights Council. The Helsinki Process was started by the governments of Finland and Tanzania in 2002. The Helsinki Conference, scheduled for 7-9 September 2005, is intended to be the culmination of the Helsinkin Process.
 

Link to further information
Press Release

 

EXPORT DUTY COULD RESOLVE CLIMATE IMPASSE, ARGUE EXPERTS

An export duty on carbon-intensive products could help break the impasse on developing country participation in a future climate change deal, according to a think piece published on the SciDev.Net website by Benito Müller and Anju Sharma.

 

More information

Trade tactic could unlock climate negotiations

 

U.S. SENATE BACKS RENEWABLE ENERGY, REJECTS EMISSIONS TARGETS

The United States Senate has passed legislation offering significant tax breaks for renewable energy, while rejecting mandatory emissions targets in favor of voluntary measures.

 

Links to further information

Senate Passage of Energy Bill Offers Tentative Victory for Renewable Energy, Renewable Energy Access news report, 29 June 2005

Senate Passes Energy Bill, CNN news report, 28 June 2005

Senate Passes Climate Change Measure, CNN news report, 22 June 2005
Official Website of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

 

UNCTAD LAUNCHES BIOFUELS INITIATIVE

A new initiative to help developing countries build capacity in the production, use and trade of bio-fuels has been launched by the UN. The BioFuels Initiative, which was officially launched on 21 June 2005, will be coordinated by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).The Initiative will also promote ways of generating new investments, including through the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and will offer a test for CDM in the area of bio-fuel production in order to increase CDM projects and transactions. An international expert group has been set up to help developing countries increase the production, use and trade of bio-fuels resources and technology. UNCTAD will coordinate the different activities, which will be carried out jointly with other UN agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and applied research centers.

 

Link to further information

UNCTAD press release

 

POVERTY, CLIMATE LINKS STRESSED

Climate change, economic development and poverty have an “inseparable relationship,” according to a new report. Global Climate and Economic Development, a new study from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute, links climate change mitigation with economic development.

 

Link to further information
The report

 

BIROL WINS ENERGY AWARD

Fatih Birol, Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency, has won the annual “Outstanding Contribution to the Profession” award from the International Association for Energy Economics.

 

Link to further information
WEO awards

 

NUCLEAR ENERGY SPAT CONTINUES

The war of words over whether to increase the use of nuclear power as an alternative to energy sources that contribute to global warming has stepped up, with both sides pushing their respective positions. Responding to a campaign by some industry groups to build new nuclear reactors in the US and elsewhere, nearly 300 international, national, regional and local consumer and environmental groups have publicly condemned nuclear energy as “dangerous and dirty.” .

 

Link to further information
Campaign group’s letter to Congress, June 2005

 

TENSIONS RISE OVER U.S. ENERGY BILL

Disagreements between the Senate, House of Representatives and White House have apparently surfaced over the contents of legislation setting out the country’s future energy policies. According to reports, the Senate’s Finance Committee has approved a package of energy efficiency and renewable energy measures that go further than those proposed in the House of Representatives or apparently supported by the White House.

 

Links to further information

U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources – Official Website and press releases

Senate Moving Toward Adding Climate Provisions to Energy Bill, AP report, 13 June 2005

ACEEE Praises Senate Finance for Efficiency Incentives, press release, 16 June 2005

 

DEMAND SPARKS JUMP IN ENERGY USE

A strong rise in demand for energy has fuelled a major rise in energy consumption worldwide. The 4.3 percent increase in 2004 is the largest ever annual rise in terms of total energy consumption, and the highest in percentage terms for 20 years, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2005. China’s energy demand grew significantly, by 15.1 percent compared with the previous year.

 

Link to further information

The report

 

G8 CLIMATE DEAL FEARS RISE

The chances of a strong agreement on climate change at the upcoming G8 seem to be dimming, according to reports. According to some reports, there has been little progress to date in talks between the UK government, which has been pressing for a strong deal on this issue, and the US administration. According to conservation group Friends of the Earth, the latest version of a draft G8 communiqué on climate change has been watered down significantly.

 

Links to further information

G8 Climate Plans 'Watered Down', BBC news, 17 June 2005

Friends of the Earth G8 website

 

EUROPEAN INVESTMENT BANK ENERGY FUNDING CRITICIZED

The European Investment Bank has been investing in “highly unsustainable” projects, according to a coalition of non-governmental organizations. The EIB is the EU’s financing institution and the world’s largest public lender. The EIB has rejected previous accusations, highlighting its environmental objectives and support for renewable energy.

 

Link to further information

NGO coalition press release, 2 June 2005

 

SCHWARZENEGGER SETS EMISSIONS REDUCTION GOALS

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for California. The targets call for a reduction in emissions to the levels of 2000 by 2010, cutting emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and a reduction to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

 

Link to further information

Official announcement, June 2005

 

RENEWABLE ENERGY INITIATIVE LAUNCHED

A new initiative, the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century—“REN21”—has been launched. The new initiative, which was launched in early June 2005 in Copenhagen, starts its work exactly one year after the Renewables 2004 conference, which was held in Bonn from 1-4 June 2004.

 

Link to further information

REN21 web site

 

MAY 2005

 

CLIMATE CHANGE COULD HIT WORLD’S HUNGRY

Climate change is likely to have some serious impacts on food security and the number of people living with hunger and malnutrition, according to a new report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The report was released at a special side event held during the Thirty-first Session of the Committee on World Food Security, which took place in Rome from 23-26 May 2005.

 

Link to further information

The report

Information on the Committee’s thirty-first session

 

CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECTING PLANTS, FARMS, HABITATS, SAY SCIENTISTS

Climate change is already influencing plant growth, farm productivity, and habitats, according to scientists attending a recent meeting in Australia. The 2005 Annual Science Meeting of the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Accounting, held in Canberra in May 2005, resulted in a Communiqué warning about the impacts that are already being observed, and called for urgent action to address climate change.

 

Link to further information

The Communiqué

 

CHINA ESTABLISHES NEW ENERGY AGENCY

The Chinese Government is to set up a new energy agency to oversee its energy sector. The new agency will apparently replace a less influential group that previously dealt with energy matters.

 

Link to further information

China to Create Powerful New Energy Agency Headed by Top Economic Planner, ENN, 2 May 2005

 

UNEP WINS OZONE PROTECTION PRIZE

UNEP’s OzonAction Programme has won the 2005 Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award. This is the first time that the prize, which is awarded each year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has been won by a UN programme.

 

Link to further information

UNEP wins 2005 stratospheric ozone protection award

 

 

PROGRESS REPORTED IN EU-US CLIMATE TALKS

Talks between officials from the EC, Luxembourg, the UK and United States have ended on a positive note, according to reports. According to EU officials, discussions held recently in Washington apparently went beyond the issue of technological innovation, raising hopes for talks on a post-2012 international climate change regime. Multilateral discussions on a climate region after 2012 are supposed to begin by the end of 2005, according to the terms of the Kyoto Protocol. The Protocol sets emissions targets for industrialized countries for the period 2008-2012.

 

Link to further information

EU-US climate change talks make headway, EurActiv news report, 21 April 2005

 

U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY SUPPORTS “CLEAN” COAL

United States Energy Secretary Sam Bodman has proposed a greater focus on “clean coal” technology during a recent meeting with his counterparts from other industrialized countries. The proposal for greater investment in clean coal was made at a recent ministerial meeting of the International Energy Agency. The proposal reportedly received a mixed response from other wealthy countries, with some preferring a focus on renewable energy rather than “cleaning” fossil fuels.

 

Link to further information

U.S. Energy Chief Wants Global Push for 'Clean Coal', ENN, 4 May 2005

 

CARBON TAX INTRODUCED IN NEW ZEALAND

New Zealanders will begin paying a carbon tax as part of the government’s efforts to tackle climate change. The tax, believed to be the first of its kind, will add to the costs of electricity, petrol and other fuels depending on their environmental effects. “The world economy is changing. It is vital for the future of New Zealand that our economy keeps pace with that change, realizes that emissions now have a price and that emissions trading is coming, said Pete Hodgson, who chairs New Zealand’s Ministerial Group on Climate Change.

 

Links to further information

Government Adds Detail To 2002 Carbon Tax Policy, NZ Government announcement, 4 May 2005

New Zealand First to Levy Carbon Tax, The Guardian, 5 May 2005

 

NEW DATA IS “SMOKING GUN” ON GLOBAL WARMING—EXPERT

New data showing a global energy imbalance is the “smoking gun” that should remove all doubts that climate change is happening as a result of human activities, according to NASA scientist James Hansen. New research using ocean readings suggests an imbalance in the amount of energy being absorbed by the planet compared with the amount being released into space.

 

In related news, research published in Science magazine suggests that previously-observed “global dimming” may have been reversed. The theory of global dimming held that radiation was being reduced by atmospheric pollution from aerosols, which reflected sunlight back into space. However, some scientists now argue that, as such pollution has declined in some regions since the early 1990s, more radiation may now be reaching Earth’s surface.

 

Links to further information

Global Warming Proof Detected, BBC news, 28 April 2005

Cleaner Air Makes Brighter Skies, BBC news, 6 May 2005

 

US PUBLISHES PLAN ON GLOBAL OBSERVATION SYSTEM

The US Interagency Working Group on Earth Observations has released its Strategic Plan for the US Integrated Earth Observation System. The Integrated Earth Observation System (IEOS) is the US contribution to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). In February 2005, fifty-five countries endorsed a 10-year plan to develop and implement to achieve comprehensive, coordinated and sustained observations of the Earth system. GEOSS will link existing satellites, buoys, weather stations and other observing instruments around the globe and support the development of new observational capabilities where required.

 

Link to further information

The US Strategic Plan

 

APRIL 2005

 

EU, JAPAN TO STRENGTHEN CLIMATE RESEARCH LINKS 

The European Union and Japan have agreed to increase their cooperation on climate change science and research. The agreement was made at the Third EU-Japan Workshop on Climate Change Research held from 20-21 January 2005 in Yokohama.  

 

Link to further information

Joint Statement from the Workshop, January 2005

 

UK NEEDS CLIMATE CHANGE MINISTER–PANEL 

Britain should have a Minister for Climate Change to ensure that this issue receives serious attention at the highest level, according to a parliamentary report. The recommendation follows a recent announcement that the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions actually increased in 2004—a trend environmental group Friends of the Earth believes could mean the UK could be at risk of missing its targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

 

Links to further information

Blair Should Appoint ‘Minister for Climate Change,” Panel Says, Bloomberg news, 1 April 2005

Climate Change Data Shows UK Government Could Fail on Kyoto, Friends of the Earth press release, 31 March 2005

 

MONSOONS PREDICTED FOR PACIFIC NORTHWEST

Climate change could bring monsoons in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, according to new research. Greg Retallack, a geology professor from the University of Oregon, studied evidence from a previous global warming episode 55 million years ago.

 

Links to further information

Professor Says Global Warming Could Trigger Monsoons Here, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 5 April 2005

Geology Journal, Volume: 33 Issue: 4 Pages: 333-336, 2005 (abstract only; full article on subscription)

 

PRESSURE GROWS TO CUT U.S. POWER PLANT POLLUTION

More than 100 public health, faith-based, labor and environmental groups have joined together to push for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in the northeastern United States.

 

Link to further information

Over 100 Groups Across the Northeast Join Together to Call for Reductions in Global Warming Pollution from Power Plants, New Jersey Public Interest Research Group press release, 30 March 2005

 

U.S. STATES PUSH EPA ON CLIMATE CHANGE

A group of U.S. states and cities are taking legal action to force the Environmental Protection Agency to take action to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. If successful, the case would have major implications for automakers and other major industries. However, the case is expected to take many months to finish, and an appeal is considered likely whatever the verdict.

 

Links to further information

States Ask Court to Force EPA Action on Greenhouse Gases, ENN news, 11 April 2005

2 Sides Do Battle in Court on Whether E.P.A. Should Regulate Carbon Dioxide, New York Times, 9 April 2005

 

CANADA ANNOUNCES AUTO INDUSTRY EMISSIONS AGREEMENT

The Canadian Government and vehicle manufacturers have agreed on major cuts to automobile emissions by 2010. The new law is similar to reductions required under California’s Clean Car Law. Meanwhile, Ford Motor Company has agreed to issue a report on climate change by the end of 2005 after talks involving a coalition of investors, environmental groups and faith-based based organizations. The report will examine the business implications of climate change, identifying key risks and opportunities.  

 

Links to further information

Canada, Automakers Announce Breakthrough Global Warming Agreement, Sierra Club press release, 5 April 2005

Ford to Issue Report on Global Climate Change, Ford Motor Company press release, 31 March 2005

 

PROJECT REVEALS DEVELOPING COUNTRIES’ SOLAR, WIND POTENTIAL

A project to map the solar and wind resources of 13 developing countries has revealed huge renewable energy potential, according to the UN Environment Programme. The Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment project involves countries in Africa, Asia, and South and Central America.  

 

Link to further information

Thousands of Megawatts of New Renewable Energy Potential, UNEP press release, 14 April 2005

 

UN NAMES SHEILA WATT-CLOUTIER “CHAMPION OF THE EARTH”

Sheila Watt-Cloutier of Canada, who is the President of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, was named one of seven “Champions of the Earth” by the UN Environment Programme, in recognition of her work addressing global warming and contributions to efforts to eliminate persistent organic pollutants. The awards, which honor outstanding environmental achievers and leaders from each region of the world, were presented on 19 April at UN headquarters in New York. Other recipients included: the King and people of Bhutan; the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates; President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa; His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, head of the Orthodox Christian Church; Julia Carabias Lillo, former environment minister of Mexico; and Zhou Qiang and the All-China Youth Federation.

 

Link to further information

UNEP Names Seven "Champions of the Earth"

 

MARCH 2005

 

RELIGIOUS GROUPS RALLY ROUND CLIMATE AGENDA, NEW LAW PAVES WAY FOR ARCTIC DRILLING, MORE

Religious groups in the US have expressed their support for action to combat global warming. Statements acknowledging climate change as a serious issue were put forth after a number of recent meetings, including a gathering of the National Association of Evangelicals. According to some reports, such expressions of concern from religious groups could help influence Bush administration policy, as the current government has many links to the religious community. However, not all Christian groups have endorsed the pro-climate approach, with a “Focus on the Family” statement highlighting uncertainty over climate science. “Any issue that seems to put plants and animals above humans is one that we cannot support,” said the statement.

 

US companies respond to climate pressure: In other news from the United States, six major oil and gas companies have agreed to disclose their financial exposure from climate change and to take action to limit such risks, following pressure from shareholders. The companies, which include Chevron Texaco and Apache, were responding to pressure from shareholder groups voting for increased risk reporting, according to the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES).

 

New law paves way for arctic drilling: Meanwhile, the US Senate has voted to allow drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge area—a decision widely viewed as a serious setback for environmentalists.

 

Links to further information

Evangelical leaders swing influence behind effort to combat global warming, New York Times, 10 March 2005

The greening of evangelicals, Washington Post, 6 February 2005

Focus on the Family concerned by global warming theory, press release, 10 March 2005

US oil/gas companies take action to reduce climate change risks, CERES press statement, 17 March 2005

Senate approves Arctic Refuge oil drilling, ENS, 17 March 2005

 

WORLD METEOROLOGICAL DAY HIGHLIGHTS ROLE OF METEOROLOGICAL AND HYDROLOGICAL SERVICES IN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Celebrated on 23 March, World Meteorological Day underscored the vital links between weather, climate, water and sustainable development and stressed the role of meteorology and hydrology in human progress, sustainable development, environmental protection and poverty alleviation. In his message marking the action day, Michel Jarraud, World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General, highlighted the importance of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in forecasting, preventing and minimizing threats to human safety and the global environment, and called for strengthening the capacity of such services. Jarraud highlighted three new WMO cross-cutting programmes that seek to improve weather-, climate- and water-related monitoring services and applications: the Natural Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Programme, the Space Programme, and the Programme for the Least Developed Countries; and noted that greater emphasis was being placed on supporting developing countries, particularly capacity building of LDCs.

 

World Meteorological Day celebrates the entry into force of the Convention that created the WMO on 23 March 1950.

 

Link to further information

WMO World Meteorological Day website

 

CHINA ADOPTS RENEWABLE ENERGY LAW

China has recently passed a renewable energy law, establishing a 10% renewable energy target for 2020. On 28 February 2005, the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress endorsed the Renewable Energy Law, which was then signed into law by the President of the People’s Republic of China, Hu Jintao.

 

The Renewable Energy Law is designed to promote the development and utilization of renewable energy, improve the energy structure, diversify energy supplies, safeguard energy security, protect the environment, and realize the sustainable development of the economy and society. The Law contains eight chapters addressing a range of issues including: resource survey and development plans; industry guidance and technology support; promotion and application; price management and fee sharing; economic incentives and supervisory measures; and legal responsibilities. The Law, which defines renewable energy as non-fossil energy of wind energy, solar energy, water energy, biomass energy, geothermal energy, and ocean energy, includes a national renewable energy requirement to increase the use of renewable energy up to 10% by the year 2020. It will also require power grid operators to purchase resources from registered renewable energy producers, and offer financial incentives, such as a national fund to foster renewable energy development, and discounted lending and tax preferences for renewable energy projects. Furthermore the Law includes other details related to the purchase and use of solar photovoltaics and solar water heating as well as renewable energy fuels. The Law includes specific penalties for non-compliance, and will become effective on 1 January 2006.


Links to further information

Unofficial copy of the Renewable Energy Law

China passes Renewable Energy Law, RenewableEnergyAccess.com, 9 March 2005
China could transform global market in renewables Environmental Data Interactive, 9 March 2005

China passes Renewable Energy Law to boost clean energy industry Xinhua, 28 February 2005

Greenpeace hails China’s renewable energy law, China Daily, 2 March 2005

 

KYOTO MECHANISMS HEAT UP; JAPAN COOLS ON LONG TERM PROSPECTS

The use of the Kyoto mechanisms is set to rise dramatically over the next few years. However according to reports some experts seem to have cooled on the prospects for a Kyoto-style treaty beyond 2012.

 

Emissions trading set to reach $40 billion: International trade in carbon emissions is set to reach US$44 billion by 2010, according to market experts. While trade is likely to reach just $3.3 billion in 2005, much of it within Europe, it is likely to jump more than 1300 percent in the next five years, according to Point Carbon, an Oslo-based consultancy. Carbon trading is permitted under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol and through the European Union’s emissions trading scheme.

 

India, Japan announce CDM cooperation: Meanwhile, an agreement has been signed between Japan Carbon Finance Ltd and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) of India to develop projects in South Asia under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The projects should help the region’s sustainable development goals, while assisting Japan in meeting its efforts to honor its Kyoto commitments. A call for “Project Information Notes” was announced on 4 March 2005.

 

…But Japan questions Kyoto path after 2012: However, Japan may not support a “post-Kyoto” treaty for the period after 2012 if it involves binding emissions reduction targets, according to a recent report. The comments were apparently made during a recent carbon trading conference, Carbon Market Insights 2005, held in Amsterdam from 1-3 March. A Japanese expert, Taisha Sugiyama from the Japanese Central Research Institute, reportedly told participants that Japan was unlikely to continue with the Kyoto Protocol’s approach of mandatory cuts. He noted that a second option for the post-2012 period is a climate agreement based on voluntary technology treaties but without mandatory cuts.

 

Carbon market awards recognize top traders, brokers: In other news, Point Carbon recently honored a number of companies for their work on carbon trading. At the Carbon Market Awards 2005 held in early March, BHP Billiton took the award for best trader in the EU emissions trading scheme. Evolution Markets won for best broker, while MGM International was awarded the prize for Best CDM and Joint Implementation Project Developer for its work in Latin America.

 

Links to further information

The Carbon Market conference website, March 2005

Japan to seek alternatives to Kyoto post-2012, Point Carbon news, 3 March 2005 (note: this is a fee-paying news service)

Emissions trade $56 billion industry, Australian Associated Press/Point Carbon, 16 February 2005

BHP Billiton, Evolution Markets, MGM International Win Carbon Market Awards 2005,

Point Carbon/MGM International, 2 March 2005

Call for PIN (Project Information Note) for developing CDM projects under Japan GHG Reduction Fund, February 2005

 

COUNCIL LAUNCHES URBAN CLIMATE CAMPAIGN

The British Council has launched a new global campaign to support efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change in major cities. Announced in early March 2005, the “ZeroCarbonCity” campaign will target cities in over 60 countries.

 

Links to further information

ZeroCarbonCity campaign website, March 2005

 

FEBRUARY 2005

 

BUSH, SHRÖDER PURSUE TECHNOLOGY TIES

US President George Bush’s recent trip to Europe has resulted in a joint declaration outlining shared goals on renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction. The US-German declaration referred specifically to advancing science and technology in pursuit of more environmentally-friendly energy use, energy efficiency, conservation and security.

 

US companies in hot water over climate plans: In other US news, American companies are coming under growing pressure from shareholders to improve their records on global warming, according to a new report. Major investors, including state pension funds, unions and religious groups have apparently filed a record 30 resolutions asking major companies in the oil and gas, auto manufacturing, electricity and other key sectors to disclose more information on the financial risks they face from climate change, and on their plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The increasing pressure on companies to take climate change seriously in their business planning was highlighted by the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), a US group of environmental, investor and advocacy groups.

 

Bush ally supports climate action: Meanwhile, a close Bush family ally has warned the US to take the threat of global warming seriously. In a speech attended by oil company executives and other prominent US businesspeople, former US Secretary of State James Baker said more attention needed to be paid to environmental protection and the threat of climate change. The statement was viewed in some circles as a rebuff to President Bush’s general policy of downplaying the global warming threat. However, Baker’s support for targeting greenhouse gas emissions and alternative energy did not extend to the Kyoto Protocol, which he reportedly described as a “lousy treaty.”

 

Links to further information

Bush, Schroeder pledge high tech energy, climate solutions, ENS news, 24 February 2005

US companies face record number of global warming shareholder resolutions on wider range of business sectors, CERES press release, 17 February 2005

Baker’s warning on global warming, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 March 2005

 

SCIENTISTS HIGHLIGHT HEALTH FEARS, OCEAN RISKS

Climate change is set to bring a series of health crises, according to experts at a major science gathering held in Washington, DC. It is also believed to be causing profound changes to the world’s oceans that are threatening many plant and animal species.

 

The warnings about the risks of global warming were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), held from 17-21 February 2005. Jonathan Patz, an expert on the health impacts of environmental change, warned participants that climate change would bring a range of health risks in its wake. He also suggested that it was not the gradual warming of the globe, but rather the increase in extreme weather events, that would bring the most significant changes. “Averages don’t kill people - it is the extremes,” he said.

 

Patz’s comments were echoed by other researchers at the meeting, who also warned of the risks facing parts of the United States where wind movement and speed is expected to decline. This “stagnant” air could lead to an accumulation of pollution that would bring more respiratory illnesses. Officials from the UN Environment Programme have also warned recently of the growing risks of infectious diseases resulting from environmental changes and pollution.

 

Experts attending the meeting also discussed the impact of climate change on oceans, with one scientist pointing to the death of a huge number of birds in the Bering Sea several years ago as evidence that global warming is already having an impact. Some experts also warned of huge impacts on ocean ecosystems in the coming decade. As well as discussing climate change and meteorology, scientists also shared information on numerous other topics, ranging from neurobiology to astronomy.

 

Links to further information

Meeting website and key news, February 2005

Climate Change to Bring a Wave of New Health Risks, University of Wisconsin-Madison press release, 20 February 2005

Environmental Changes are Spreading Infectious Diseases – UN Study, UN News, 22 February 2005

Scientists on AAAS Panel Warn that Ocean Warming is Having Dramatic Impact, AAAS press release, 17 February 2005

Climate Change Could Bring More Smog, Floods, Drought, MSNBC news, 21 February 2005

 

BUSH TALKS CLIMATE CHANGE WITH EUROPEAN LEADERS

United States President George Bush has held talks on climate change with his European counterparts during his latest diplomatic visit. While the main focus of talks was on security issues such as the role of NATO and the situation in Iraq, Bush also appeared willing to discuss climate change. Although he did not change his stance on the Kyoto Protocol, the President did seek to assure European leaders that the US shares their environmental concerns. He also highlighted his country’s $5.8 billion annual budget on developing suitable technologies.

 

“We have a great opportunity to work with a great nation like Germany to share research, share intelligence… and make sure that kind of technology is available not only for our own country, but for developing countries like China and India,” Bush said following a meeting with German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

 

However, some environmentalists expressed disappointment at Bush’s visit, saying they had hoped for a more significant commitment on the issue. While applauding the President’s “apparent recognition of the need to tackle global warming,” conservation group Friends of the Earth urged Bush to take action to cut US emissions.

 

“The United States, the world’s biggest polluter, must join the rest of the world in tackling this problem. And that means making significant cuts in US emissions. Unless the US takes action, a new era of transatlantic unity cannot begin,” said Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Catherine Pearce.

 

Links to further information

President Bush and Chancellor Schröder Discuss Partnership, Whitehouse statement, 23 February 2005

President Discusses American and European Alliance in Belgium, Whitehouse statement, 21 February 2005

Bush Disappoints Europe with Climate Change Ideas, Reuters Alertnet, 21 February 2005

United States Urged to Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions, As President Bush Accepts Need for Action on Climate Change, Friends of the Earth press release, 21 February 2005

Bush to Seek Cooperation with Europe on Climate Change, 18 February 2005, Japan Today

 

CELEBRATIONS, PROTESTS MARK KYOTO ENTRY INTO FORCE

Celebrations, protests and lively debates in the media marked the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol as a legally-binding international treaty on 16 February. Official events took place across the world in about 40 countries, including Germany, India, Morocco and Japan.

 

“The 16th of February 2005 marks the beginning of a new era in international efforts to reduce the risk of climate change,” said Joke Waller-Hunter, Executive Secretary of the UN Climate Change Convention. “The Kyoto Protocol offers powerful new tools and incentives that governments, businesses and consumers can use to build a climate-friendly economy and promote sustainable development,” she added.

 

The accord, which has now been ratified by 140 countries and the European Community, obliges 35 of the world’s industrialized countries to reduce their emissions of major greenhouse gases to about 5 percent below 1990 for the period 2008-2012. Conservation group WWF welcomed the Protocol’s entry into force, but stressed that much more needs to be done.

 

“While it is a big step forward, the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol is just the first step in containing the threat of climate change,” said Jennifer Morgan, Director of WWF’s Global Climate Change Programme. WWF released a report outlining ten steps it believes are needed to avoid dangerous levels of climate change—which many believe would equate to about 2°C of warming globally above pre-industrial levels. The Protocol is the first of these steps. Others include a greater focus on the power sector, stronger national plans for the EU’s emissions trading scheme, and “increased pressure on the US and Australia” to cut emissions.

 

Bush Administration pressure grows: Meanwhile, the Bush administration, which rejected the Protocol in 2001, has received widespread criticism in recent days. Protesters marched on US embassies in London and a number of other cities, while Inuit groups in the Arctic announced that they are planning litigation against the US government. The groups allege that the US has violated their human rights by causing the global warming that is threatening their communities and way of life. The US is the world’s biggest polluter. The Arctic has experienced significant loss of sea ice and permafrost, a change that experts believe will threaten the future of many species, as well as the Inuit communities that depend on them. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference, which represents more than 150,000 people in Arctic areas, plans to take its case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

 

The Bush administration has responded to criticisms by highlighting plans to spend nearly $6 billion in 2005 on climate change-related research and other initiatives. Meanwhile, US Senator Chuck Hagel is planning to introduce climate change legislation dealing with technology tax incentives, technology deployment, and assistance to developing countries.

 

A controversial bi-partisan bill introduced last year by Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman that would set emissions limits is also being resubmitted. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a Washington, DC-based group, the bill could create over half-a-million jobs in the next ten years. Anti-Kyoto advocates have dismissed the bill on economic grounds.

 

EU considers post-Kyoto plans: Just days before the Protocol’s entry into force, the European Union announced that it was planning new initiatives focused on the post-Kyoto period, and released a paper outlining its options (see article below). Proposals will be discussed at the EC’s Spring Council meeting, with heads of States expected to consider strategies relating to energy efficiency and supply, as well as climate-friendly technologies.

 

Experts debate post-Kyoto strategies: A few days after the EC’s policy paper was released, a Forum held at the European Parliament debated future climate strategies and considered the challenges faced by the EU in keeping up its global leadership in the area of climate change. Outlining critical elements for a post-Kyoto global climate agreement, Sweden’s former chief climate negotiator Bo Kjelln noted the need for a multifaceted approach comprising a “Kyoto bis” protocol with absolute emissions caps along the lines of the current Protocol and accompanied by targets to cut emissions relative to energy intensity or economic growth. He also stressed the need for a separate adaptation protocol aimed at helping poorer countries cope with climate change impacts, and for a comprehensive investment scheme aimed at promoting cleaner transport. University of Amsterdam Professor Joyeeta Gupta said developing country commitments should be weighted according to emissions per capita and average income, and that a country’s climate change obligations would be modified according to whether these indicators rose or fell.

 

India, Britain announce climate research pact: Kyoto’s entry into force also coincided with an announcement that the United Kingdom and India will collaborate on climate research. The details of the deal are expected to be announced in March. The UK is hoping to initiate a similar programme with other developing countries, starting with China.

 

Links to further information

Experts Thrash Out post-Kyoto Climate Futures, Environment Daily, 16 February 2005

Feted and Hated, Kyoto Global Warming Pact Starts, Reuters, 16 February 2005

Inuit to Charge US for Climate Change, Inter Press Service News Agency, 16 February 2005

US to Commit $5.8 Billion to Climate Change, CNN, 15 February 2005

Setting a New Course on Climate Change, speech by US Senator Chuck Hagel, 9 February 2005 Statement of Senator John McCain on the Climate Stewardship Act of 2005, John McCain’s website, 10 February 2005

Action on Climate Change Post 2012: The EU’s Contribution to Shaping the Future Global Climate Change Regime, 9 February 2005

Britain and India to Collaborate on Climate Research, SciDev Net news, 9 February 2005

Jobs and the Climate Stewardship Act: How Curbing Global Warming Can Increase Employment, Natural Resources Defense Council, February 2005

Nine Steps to Make Kyoto a Success, WWF, February 2005

 

EC ANNOUNCES POST-2012 CLIMATE POLICY OPTIONS

The European Commission recently adopted a communication outlining elements of its possible post-2012 climate change policies. The Communication includes a set of proposals designed to structure the future negotiations of the EU with its global partners over climate change policies after 2012 when the first commitment period under the Kyoto protocol ends. The Communication also includes proposals on increased energy efficiency and security of energy supply, including an increase in EU research spending, and the development of new climate-friendly technologies.

 

Other recommendations in the Commission’s report include: broader international participation in reducing emissions, including exploring options for a future regime based on common but differentiated responsibilities; inclusion of the aviation and maritime transport sectors in a post-2012 framework; a push for innovation in the EU to ensure the development and uptake of new climate-friendly technologies and the right decisions on long-term investments into energy, transport and building infrastructure; and adaptation policies in the EU and globally, with increased efforts to identify vulnerabilities and implement measures to increase resilience.

 

On the next steps for EU climate policies, the Commission has recommended that the European Council base the development of the Union’s climate change policy on: immediate and effective implementation of agreed policies; increased public awareness; more and better focused research directed at improving knowledge on climate change; stronger cooperation with developing countries through a strategic programme for enhanced technology transfer; and a new phase of the European Climate Change Programme in 2005. The Commission has also recommended that the EU engage in dialogue with its international partners during 2005 before deciding on its position in upcoming negotiations, and use its international leadership role on climate change to pursue an action-oriented approach at the international level. It further suggests that these discussions could be fed into the UNFCCC negotiations, through commitments to act or to meet targets, in order to establish a post-2012 multilateral climate change regime, with meaningful participation of all developed countries and the participation of developing countries that will limit global temperature increase to 2 °C.

 

Links to further information

Winning the Battle Against Global Climate Change: Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions

Action on Climate Change post 2012 - The EU’s Contribution to Shaping the Future Global Climate Change Regime

 

KYOTO SUPPORTERS SET TO CELEBRATE ENTRY INTO FORCE

The international community is set to celebrate the imminent entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol as a legally-binding treaty. On 16 February 2005 the Kyoto Protocol will become an officially-recognized treaty, with dozens of meetings, debates and other celebratory activities planned by government agencies, international organizations and other groups to mark the event.

 

Taskforce Targets Post-Kyoto “Stalemate”: Meanwhile, a plan to persuade the US and Australian governments to join other countries in a post-Kyoto agreement has been proposed by policymakers. The International Climate Change Taskforce, a collaboration of leading American, Australian and British politicians, academics and business leaders, has released a report it hopes will break through the current “impasse” in climate negotiations.

 

The Taskforce suggests a multilateral agreement to prevent global average temperatures from rising more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. In addition, it calls for a long-term post-Kyoto treaty that involves Australia, the US and developing countries; a globally-integrated emissions trading market by 2012; and the formation of a “G8 plus” group involving the world’s largest economies—including key developing countries—to pursue technology agreements aimed at cutting emissions. Taskforce members have urged British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other leaders to give their proposals consideration at this year’s G8 meeting.

 

Links to further information

Events Marking the Kyoto Protocol’s Entry into Force, UNFCCC Secretariat, February 2005

Meeting the Climate Change Challenge: Recommendations of the International Climate Change Taskforce, January 2005

New Plan Confronts Climate Change Stalemate, Australia Institute press release, 24 January 2005

 

JANUARY 2005

 

NEW STUDY DOUBLES PREVIOUS WARMING FORECAST

Results from a major climate forecasting project have raised fears that temperatures could rise by twice the amount previously predicted. The internet-driven project, known as “climateprediction.net,” involved almost 100,000 people downloading climate modeling software similar to a climate model developed by the UK’s Met Office. The software ran as a background programme while people’s computers were switched on, and eventually sent results back to UK-based researchers over the internet. Preliminary predictions through to 2050 show warming that could reach as high as 11°C—roughly twice as high as the upper level scenarios approved by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

 

Climate Change Linked to Increased Drought: Meanwhile, researchers from the US National Center for Atmospheric Research found that drought is now affecting a far larger part of the Earth than it was 30 years ago—and that much of this is resulting from global warming. According to their research, 30 percent of the Earth’s surface experienced drought in 2002, up from just 10-15 percent in the 1970s.

 

Ancient Extinction Linked to Climate Change: In other news, the most devastating mass extinction in Earth’s history could have resulted from global warming, not an asteroid strike, according to new research. The Great Dying, which obliterated most of the plant and animal life existing 250 million years ago, had previously been blamed on a comet or asteroid strike. However, new research led by University of Washington paleontologist Peter Ward found no evidence that any large object struck the Earth at the time. Instead, Ward suggests the mass extinctions may have resulted from warming triggered by volcanic eruptions.

 

Links to further information

Uncertainty in Predictions of the Climate Response to Rising Levels of Greenhouse Gases, Nature, 27 January 2004

Climateprediction.net website

Drought's Growing Reach: NCAR Study Points to Global Warming as Key Factor, NCAR, 10 January 2005

New Evidence Indicates Biggest Extinction Wasn’t Caused by Asteroid or Comet, University of Washington paper, 20 January 2005

 

SCIENTISTS DISAGREE OVER HURRICANES, CLIMATE POLICY; AMERICAN OIL INDUSTRY TARGETS BRITAIN

A number of disagreements have reportedly arisen in the scientific community in recent weeks. According to media reports, Chris Landsea, an expert from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has resigned from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, alleging that his colleague Kevin Trenberth had overstated the link between hurricanes and climate change. There have also been reports of disagreements over climate change policy between NASA climate veteran James Hansen and senior Bush administration officials.

 

American Oil Industry Targets Britain: On the other side of the Atlantic, lobbyists funded by the US oil industry to cast doubt on climate change are exporting their message to Britain, according to a prominent academic. Royal Society president Robert May has accused climate skeptics with links to major US companies such as ExxonMobil of targeting the UK because of the lead it has taken on pushing for global cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Links to further information

UN Storm Brews over Hurricane-Global Warming Link, Reuters, 20 January 2005

NASA Expert Wages Global Warming Fight, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 23 January 2005

Hotting Up: The Debate Over Global Warming is Getting Rancorous, The Economist, 4 February 2004

Oil Firms Fund Climate Change Denial, The Guardian, 27 January 2005

 

COUNTRIES AGREE DEAL TO CUT AVIATION POLLUTION

Flights over the Americas are set to burn less fuel and produce less pollution as a result of a new deal to cut the vertical distances between aircraft. The minimum vertical distance between aircraft flying anywhere in the Americas has been cut from 2000 to1000 feet at higher altitudes following extensive preparation facilitated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)—the UN’s specialist aviation agency. The change means aircraft can select more efficient flight paths, which should result in time savings that cut aircrafts’ fuel use. Reduced vertical distances have already been introduced over the North Atlantic, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Europe-South American flight corridor. ICAO celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2004.

 

Links to further information

Reduced Vertical Distance between Aircraft Benefits Airlines, Passengers and the Environment, ICAO statement, 20 January 2005

 

UK, JAPAN ANNOUNCE “SUPER-TECHNOLOGY” CLIMATE PLAN

Scientists from Japan and the UK are to work on creating a “super-technology” for modeling future climate change. The collaborative project will involve the latest British climate models and Japan’s Earth Simulator supercomputer. It is hoped that the project will allow for more accurate and detailed predictions on climate change for the coming decades, and will help identify specific social and economic vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.

 

…While Greenpeace Alleges Blair “Betrayal”: Meanwhile, Greenpeace has stepped up its attack on British Prime Minister Tony Blair for allegedly trying to backpedal on commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The environmental group has released documents it claims shows the British government claiming credit for its long term commitments to combating climate change while simultaneously trying to remove references to such commitments from EU documents.

 

“Blair is selling out on one of his two great international themes in an effort to appease his friend in the White House,” said Greenpeace Director Stephen Tindale. “Instead of kow-towing to the flat-earthers in the White House, the British government should be leading European action and forging alliances with major players like India, China and Brazil, and with the increasing number of U.S. states, which are implementing progressive climate policies,” he added.

 

Meanwhile in a recent article to the Economist, Prime Minister Blair has pledged to make Africa and climate change his top priorities during Britain’s G-8 Presidency in 2005.

 

In other UK news, Friends of the Earth have applauded new legislation supporting the use of renewable energy to generate heat. One third of Britain’s energy demand is for heat. The legislation is being sponsored by Mike Weir, the Member of Parliament for Angus.

 

Links to further information

Top global scientific minds meet to study climate change, Edie newsroom, 14 January 2005

Leaked documents reveal Blair’s global warming betrayal, Greenpeace, 17 January 2005

A year of huge challenges, Tony Blair for the Economist, 29 December 2004

MP introduces new bill to tackle climate change, FoE press release, 14 January 2005

 

BEARS LOSE SLEEP OVER CLIMATE CHANGE

The world�s bears are losing sleep in winter due to global warming, according to climatologists. Experts in Russia, Scandinavia and elsewhere are concerned that the mild northern winter is causing some bears to wake up three months early from their hibernation. Other bears have not gone into hibernation at all. Experts are also concerned that a decline in the amount of sea ice in the Arctic could affect polar bears� ability to hunt for seals, which could ultimately lead to the bears� extinction.

 

Researchers in the U.S. have also found evidence that spring is arriving earlier than in the past due to the global warming trend. In other evidence that climate change is affecting flora and fauna, scientists from Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin have found that lilacs are now blooming several days earlier than in previous decades.

 

Links to further information

Bear facts point to global warming in Arctic, The Guardian, 15 January 2005

Earlier spring from global warming, say researchers, CNN, 15 December 2004

 

EXPERTS WARN OF GLOBAL �DIMMING�

The amount of solar energy striking the Earth�s surface has declined in recent decades, according to new research. The significant drop in sunlight measurements was first detected by a British scientist working in Israel, and later confirmed by Australian experts. While the declines showed variability in different regions, ranging from 10 percent in the U.S. to 30 percent in parts of the former Soviet Union, the overall trend appears to be the result of air pollution brought on by human activities. According to scientists, polluted clouds reflect more sunlight back into space.

 

Experts have also expressed concern that the rise in �global dimming� may also be masking the true impacts of human activities on the greenhouse effect. Some experts fear that the warming impact of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide has been counteracted by the cooling effect of global dimming. If this interpretation is correct, then the likely fall in particle pollution in the coming decades could mean that the global dimming trend will reverse�which in turn would lead to a significant increase in the pace of global warming.

 

Links to further information

Why the sun seems to be dimming, BBC News, 13 January 2005

 

FURTHER U.S. CLIMATE CHANGE LAWSUITS PLANNED

Environmental activists and a number of cities in the U.S. are planning to take the country�s development agencies to court in an effort to push the government into taking further action on climate change. The lawsuit, which is due to be heard in April, is seeking a ruling to force two development agencies to carry out environmental assessment on fossil fuels projects they have supported in developing countries. In July 2004, eight U.S. states and the city of New York took five power companies to court for allegedly fueling further climate change.

 

Global Warming �Thriller� Sparks Media Spat: In other news from the United States, a new novel by best-selling author Michael Crichton has sparked debate on the accuracy of mainstream climate change science. The book, State of Fear, tells of a plot by radical environmental groups to influence climate change policy. It also seems to reject some mainstream findings on climate change science. The book has inspired a number of Op-Ed pieces in the U.S. media from climate change skeptics.

 

Connecticut Plans Emissions Cuts: Meanwhile, the state of Connecticut has received recommendations for 55 different measures to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The plan, which was submitted by the Governor�s Steering Committee on Climate Change, proposes measures ranging from cutting vehicle emissions to improving energy efficiency in public buildings. The plans would help Connecticut reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2010, with even larger cuts in the long-term. Several other states have adopted, or are in the process of developing, emissions targets and strategies.

 

Links to further information

Green groups hope suit forces U.S. hand on warming, Kerala news, 15 January 2005

Climate change plan submitted to Connecticut legislature, NBC news, 7 January 2005

Caving in on global warming, The Washington Times, 10 January 2005

 

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