Conference on climate change in Poland

December 1, 2008 at 3:30 am | Posted in Climate and economy, Climate and politics | Leave a comment
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Photo by Marcin Wichery.

Coal, cars and climate. Photo by Marcin Wichery.

This week delegates from more than 190 countries will meet in Poland to discuss climate change and a successor treaty for the expiring Kyoto Protocol.

In a sign of the challenges associated with forging any international agreement about how to act, they will find a country – and a region – that are torn by internal quibbles over climate change policies.

The Poznan meeting has been organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and takes place in preparation for a planned climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009.  At the Copenhagen meeting, a new international climate change treaty may be ratified to replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.  

Bridging the differences of opinion about how to respond to climate change, however, could take at least another year or longer.

On the eve of next week’s Poznan conference, The New York Times’ blog Green Inc. has reported a squabble in Poland over the economic costs of implementing an emissions permitting system proposed for the European Union.  

The tiff began with the release of a September report that argued the permitting system would curb the country’s economic growth.  

Along with Italy, Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk campaigned at a EU meeting in October against a new package of climate change policies, including the more stringent permitting platform.

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Busy week for climate change

November 20, 2008 at 5:28 pm | Posted in Climate and economy, Climate and politics | Leave a comment
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It’s been another busy week for pronouncements and announcements about climate change.  Indeed, it seems with each passing day since Senator Barack Obama was declared President-elect, the Google alert lists for ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ grow longer.

At the start of the week, President-elect Obama signaled that climate change is a priority issue for his administration by addressing via video message an international conference on global warming hosted by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. 

In his message, Obama reiterated his plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and pave the way for deeper reductions by 2050 with investments in clean energy. 

According to The Boston Globe, Obama said in his message:

“Few challenges facing America – and the world – are more urgent than combating climate change,” he said in the video. “Climate change and our dependence on foreign oil, if left unaddressed, will continue to weaken our economy and threaten our national security.”

Obama continued that “too often, Washington has failed to show the same kind of leadership. That will change when I take office. My presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.”

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Obama gets a wish list from green groups

November 15, 2008 at 3:45 am | Posted in Climate and politics | Leave a comment
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More than 30 leading environmental groups endorsed a set of recommendations on climate and energy policy delivered to President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team in the days after the election.

The groups involved include the Environmental Defense Fund, the League of Conservation Voters, the National Audubon Society, and the National Wildlife Federation, among others.

According to the groups, the policy changes proposed are necessary to stem increases in the earth’s average surface temperature to 2 degrees Fahrenheit, a threshold that many scientists think it would be dangerous to cross.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that temperatures can likely be held below a 2-degree rise if developed countries cut their emissions by 25 percent to 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, and by 80 percent by 2050.

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Leaders call for climate change leadership

November 12, 2008 at 5:36 am | Posted in Climate and politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Four world leaders urged representatives to take action on climate change at the recent G-20 summit convened to discuss the global financial crisis. As reported by The Times of India, the leaders made their plea in a joint op-ed published in The International Herald Tribune.

“The global financial crisis is most immediate; the more existential is climate change. The urgency of the first is no excuse for neglecting the second. To the contrary, it is an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone,” reads the op-ed written by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

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How “enviro” were Tuesday’s votes?

November 7, 2008 at 5:45 am | Posted in Climate and politics | 1 Comment
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After two long years of electioneering, the American political climate seemed to change in a moment on Tuesday night when Barack Obama became the next president-elect of the United States. 

And although he won’t officially take the reins until January, world leaders are already calling for him to act fast on climate change. 

On Wednesday, The Globe and Mail reported that Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is “proposing to strike a joint climate-change pact” with Obama.  Such a pact could establish common standards for carbon emissions trading systems, and meet some of U.S. energy demand with supplies from oil sands in Ottawa. 

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Germany’s Foreign Minister called for Obama to work closely with Europe to tackle climate change at a conference today. 

While international cooperation will be critical to deal with climate change, cooperation between the White House and Congress, as well as with state-level officials across the country, will be equally important.

So, now that America will soon have a president who is likely to act on climate change, will it have a Congress and state leaders who are ready to do the same?

It’s not a question with an easy answer.  But a new Web site, Envirovote, takes a first step toward assessing what the new political climate will mean for the world’s natural climate. 

The site is tracking gubernatorial and U.S. congressional races across the nation, and as the results continue to come in from Tuesday’s votes, rating what they mean for the environment on a “green meter.”

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PBS Gets “Heat”

October 22, 2008 at 5:44 am | Posted in Climate and economy, Climate and politics, Climate solutions | 1 Comment
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This is so HOT. 

And I almost missed it.  But I took a minute to visit SolveClimate, an excellent blog about climate change, earlier tonight and found a notice about the new PBS documentary “HEAT” just in time to tune in. 

The full program, which was produced by the Frontline producer Martin Smith, is available to watch for free on the PBS Web site. 

“I have reported on the Cold War, the breakup of the Soviet Union, the rise of Al Qaeda, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” says Smith. “But nothing matches climate change in scope and severity.”

The report, split into four chapters, investigates how governments and major companies, such as Exxon Mobil and General Motors, are responding to the threat of climate change. 

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