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Does GDP really correspond to happiness? Is our happiness ...

  1. 1. THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS Thursday, 29 July, 2010 UNEP and the Executive Director in the News • Reuters: UN Environment Programme Chief congratulates Plastiki crew on boat's arrival in Australia • ISRIA: UN environment chief lauds marine adventurers as they end anti-pollution voyage • Nine to Five (Australia): Plastiki adventurer David De Rothschild to speak in Sydney • The City Fix (Blog): Shanghai’s 2010 World Expo Exposes Challenges for China’s Cities • Care 2 (Blog): Monstrous Waste: Citizens Unite to Ban Plastic Bags in California • The Ecologist (UK): What is a sustainable lifestyle? • Green Prophet (Middle East): Will AFED’s Documentary “Wet And Dry” Catalyze Arab Environmental Action? • CSR Digest (Malaysia): Guess what we saw at Yves Rocher Subang Parade? • YES (Blog): 2010 a Tipping Point for Renewable Energy • El Periodico (Spain): Cartas de los lectores • Il Giornale (Italy): Ahmadinejad ha fatto il nido al Palazzo di vetro Other Environment News • Telegraph (UK): BP oil spill in Gulf of Mexico disperses quicker than was feared • Guardian (UK): BP petrol stations have pumps closed by Greenpeace activists • New York Times (US): Another Oil Leak Hits Gulf of Mexico • AFP: US hit by new oil spill • AP: EPA: 1M gallons of oil may be in Mich. River • Reuters: Water cut to north China city after chemical spill • BBC: Plankton decline across oceans as waters warm • Guardian (UK): Global warming pushes 2010 temperatures to record highs • Reuters: Indonesian Sinar Mas-linked firms wrecked forest: report Environmental News from the UNEP Regions • RONA
  2. 2. UNEP and the Executive Director in the News Reuters: UN Environment Programme Chief congratulates Plastiki crew on boat's arrival in Australia 28 July 2010 I would like to express my admiration and communicate my congratulations to David de Rothschild and the courageous crew of Plastiki for their epic, around 8,000 nautical mile voyage across the Pacific Ocean. David, you and your shipmates have achieved not only a journey but a milestone in terms of raising global awareness of human-kind's increasingly serious impact on the marine environment. Through the novel and inspiring design of Plastiki-with its innovative use of recycled materials- to the informative, daily blogs and tremendous media coverage, you have engaged the heads but also the hearts of millions upon millions of people. The message- indeed the multiple metaphorical messages contained in the 12, 500 plastic bottles used as buoyancy- is simple. If collectively we carry on using the seas and oceans as a dustbin, human-beings will soon have turned the once beautiful and bountiful marine environment from a crucial life- support system into a lifeless one. UNEP has, at the requests of governments, been chronicling and compiling accelerating change and degradation. More than 13,000 pieces of plastic litter are now floating on every square kilometre of the world's oceans Some 8 million items of marine litter are thought to enter the oceans and seas every day, about 5 million (63 percent) of which are solid waste thrown overboard or lost from ships 100,000 turtles and marine mammals, such as dolphins, whales and seals, are killed by plastic marine litter every year around the world Over two billion tones of wastewater, a cocktail of sewage, heavy metals, fertilizer, pesticides and other pollutants, are discharged into rivers, estuaries and coastal waters annually An estimated 200 temporary or permanent de-oxygenated 'dead zones' now exist in the world's seas and oceans as a result Three quarters of marine fisheries are exploited up to, or beyond their maximum capacity About one fifth of all coastal mangroves-natural sea defenses and fish nurseries-have been lost since the 1980s Climate change is beginning to acidify the seas with real threats to shellfisheries, coral reefs and the food chain Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ ISRIA: UN environment chief lauds marine adventurers as they end anti-pollution voyage 29 July 2010
  3. 3. The head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, has congratulated the adventurer David de Rothschild and his crew for completing a voyage across the Pacific Ocean in a boat fashioned from recycled plastic bottles to raise awareness about pollution of the seas. The boat, named the Plastiki, was constructed from 12,500 recycled plastic bottles. It reached Sydney Harbour in Australia yesterday after a four-month voyage that started from the United States city of San Francisco in March. “David, you and your shipmates have achieved not only a journey but a milestone in terms of raising global awareness of human-kind's increasingly serious impact on the marine environment,” Mr. Steiner, UNEP’s Executive Director, told Mr. de Rothschild by video link from UNEP headquarters in Nairobi. “Through the novel and inspiring design of Plastiki – with its innovative use of recycled materials – to the informative, daily blogs and tremendous media coverage, you have engaged the heads but also the hearts of millions upon millions of people,” Mr. Steiner said. “If collectively we carry on using the seas and oceans as a dustbin, human beings will soon have turned the once beautiful and bountiful marine environment from a crucial life- support system into a lifeless one,” he added. According to UNEP, more than 13,000 pieces of plastic litter are now floating on every square kilometre of the world’s oceans and some 8 million items of marine litter are thought to enter the oceans and seas every day, about 5 million (63 per cent) of which are solid waste thrown overboard or lost from ships. An estimated 100,000 turtles and marine mammals, such as dolphins, whales and seals, are killed by plastic marine litter every year around the world, according to the agency. UNEP research has also shown that more than 2 billion tons of wastewater – a cocktail of sewage, heavy metals, fertilizer, pesticides and other pollutants – are discharged into rivers, estuaries and coastal waters each year. Climate change is also beginning to acidify the seas with real threats to shellfisheries, coral reefs and the food chain. “If society can begin to turn the tide [of sea pollution] in 2010 and beyond, then I am sure that David and the Plastiki crew will have played their part in helping humanity to chart a new and transformational course towards the low carbon, resource efficient green economy so urgently needed,” Mr. Steiner added. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ Nine to Five (Australia): Plastiki adventurer David De Rothschild to speak in Sydney 28 July 2010
  4. 4. UK-based environmentalist David de Rothschild will speak about his groundbreaking expedition on a vessel made from plastic at the University of Sydney on Thursday (July 29). David de Rothschild is the founder of Adventure Ecology and a modern-day environmentalist who seeks to raise awareness of the human impact on the environment, whilst driving innovative real-world solutions. In his Sydney Ideas lecture, co-presented with the University‚s Institute for Sustainable Solutions, de Rothschild will discuss his four-month journey from San Francisco to Sydney on board The Plastiki, an 18-metre vessel created from 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles. „It‚s about re-thinking waste as a resource,‰ said de Rothschild, who will also address the impact of pollution on the ocean. „We need to move on from just articulating the problem and actually inspire action for solutions.‰ David de Rothschild conceived the idea for the voyage after reading a report issued by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) called „Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Deep Waters and High Seas.‰ He was also part inspired by Thor Heyerdahl‚s epic 1947 expedition, The Kon-Tiki, which questioned the treatment of waste materials. „The expedition is not only influenced by the Œcradle-to-cradle‚ design but also brought together a team from various fields to create The Plastiki as a truly unique vessel,‰ de Rothschild said. The Plastiki is engineered almost entirely from plastic bottles, which provide 68 per cent of the vessel‚s buoyancy. The sail is hand-made from recycled PET cloth and the mast is created from aluminium irrigation pipe. De Rothschild argues waste, principally plastic, can be transformed into a valuable resource, which can help lesson the human footprint on the natural world. „Almost all of the marine pollution in the world is comprised of plastic materials,‰ remarks Rothschild. „Scientists estimate that every year at least one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die when they entangle themselves in plastic pollution or ingest it.‰ David de Rothschild is a UK-based environmentalist and the author of “The Global Warming Survival Handbook”, “The Boy, the Girl and The Tree” and is the editor of Dorling Kindersley‚s “Earth Matters”. In 2006, he spent more than 100 days crossing the Arctic and became the youngest British person to reach both geographical poles. He has been named as a National Geographic Society ŒEmerging Explorer‚, the World Economic Forum ŒYoung Global Leader‚ and a UNEP ŒClimate Hero‚. Also appeared in: North Side (Australia), Central News Magazine (Australia), The Mosman Daily (Australia), North Shore Times (Australia), Wentworth Courrier (Australia) Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________
  5. 5. The City Fix (Blog): Shanghai’s 2010 World Expo Exposes Challenges for China’s Cities 27 July 2010 Cities in China are “becoming ever less habitable,” and their future will depend on an “urban awakening” that includes the Chinese government’s support of public participation in urban planning and decision-making, says Zhang Song, a professor at Tongji University’s College of Architecture and Urban Planning, in a two-part interview on chinadialogue. China is a country of superlatives. It has the world’s fastest train. It uses the most energy. It even has the world’s highest cocktail bar. It’s no wonder, then, that Chinese cities are now feeling the burden of having to deal with astronomical rates of sprawl, motorization and population growth. ALL SHOW, NO SUBSTANCE? The “Better City, Better Life” theme of the 2010 World Expo (another superlative: the biggest world’s fair) seems to signal an urban sustainability future for China. Indeed, many of the pavilions on display (here are some pictures of the coolest ones) use modern and environmentally conscious design elements, like energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, recycled building materials, and a “green wall” (another world’s largest.) The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released a report last August to assess Shanghai’s efforts in nine key areas: air quality, transport, energy, solid waste, water, green coverage, protected areas, climate neutrality and the overall situation of the Expo Site. UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: “The Shanghai Expo…is offering us a glimpse of a greener future.” But only a glimpse. The UNEP report applauds many of the city’s efforts, but also outlines several key areas for improvement. This includes developing renewable energy sectors to move away from coal-powered electricity, promoting public transportation, reducing waste, cleaning up rivers, and encouraging public participation from NGOs and “green citizenship.” Some critics have flat-out accused the Expo for being “insultingly hypocritical,” for being organized more like a utopian theme park than a true testament to sustainability. There are 192 countries and 50 organizations involved in the massive construction of pavilions, many of which won’t have any lasting benefit to the city. Richard Brubaker, an expert on environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility, was quoted by NPR as saying, “the Expo, by its nature, is the very opposite of sustainable development,” and in a separate email to TheCityFix, he adds an important caveat: “If you are ONLY focused on the buildings. There are a number of very sustainable elements that exist, and this Expo will be the only site where up to 600,000 people will be sustained for 6 months in a sustainably designed site.” (Read more about why Brubaker thinks “this Expo should be given some green credits” on his blog, Cleaner Greener China.)
  6. 6. Nonetheless, the Expo does reveal China’s market-led mentality of rebuilding, rather than restoring or preserving, for the sake of maximum profit, as Zhang points out in his chinadialogue interview. “The Expo has many showy buildings,” he says, “but it doesn’t seem like any of them will become classics.” Part of problem, Zhang says, is that many of the old factory space that used to be on the Expo site was demolished. “If that had been made full use of, perhaps things would have been simpler, or have better embodied environmental principles.” TOWARDS AN URBAN AWAKENING To fight its “urban disease,” China needs to focus more on human society, Zhang says. He outlines several recommendations, paraphrased below: Preserve, don’t destroy: “Protecting and changing the use of old buildings is better for the environment and saves resources and energy – and also touches on hidden issues such as social structure.” Be narrow-minded, at least when it comes to roads: “The marker of liveability for a city is its human scale…In Shanghai’s [major financial district], the roads are too big, the huge buildings leave people feeling alienated, the space is badly organised and living and travelling are extremely inconvenient.” Think green: “You need to remember that greenery and landscaping aren’t just to look nice, they actually improve the ecological environment.” Don’t be a copycat: “There is a misconception that bigger cities are better cities. But it isn’t a question of size, it’s a question of comfort, efficiency, environmental quality, liveability and, in particular, suitability for different types of people to flourish. The government needs to recognise the nature of cities, rather than treat them as a source of prestige or as a copy of other urban centres like New York” Involve the public: “Urban planning is a social activity that citizens can get involved in….The future of the Chinese city depends on the citizens waking up, not just a few officials.“ Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ Care 2 (Blog): Monstrous Waste: Citizens Unite to Ban Plastic Bags in California 28 July 2010 Assembly Bill 1998 goes to the California State Senate in mid-August; if passed, the bill will outlaw plastic bags at large retail outlets throughout the state. Passage would be a major victory for environmentalists and the planet, and hopefully would set the trend for other states to follow. TAKE ACTION: NO MORE PLASTIC BAG POLLUTION!
  7. 7. What harm can a little plastic bag do? A lot. Californians dispose of 19 billion plastic bags a year. Those bags don't dissolve into air…they end up in landfills and, even worse, in the ocean, where many become part of the swirling mass of plastic garbage known as the Pacific Garbage patch. The 'patch' is the size of Texas, a swirling vortex of plastic and other waste that persists in the ocean and in some patches now outweighs the plankton in the water by a ratio of 6:1. According to Greenpeace, about 10% of the 100 million tons of plastic produced each year ends up in the ocean; while about 20% of this waste comes from ships and platforms, the rest is from land. The durable plastic does not degrade, but accumulates; the UN Environmental Program reports that plastic waste kills up to 1 million sea birds, 100,000 sea mammals and countless fish each year. UNEP has called for a global ban on plastic bags; Mexico City and other countries and municipalities around the world have nixed them, and China banned free plastic shopping bags in 2008. Plastic bags are often used for mere minutes, but they persist in the environment for centuries. Those "free" bags cost us a lot: they are derived from costly and finite petroleum; they kill wildlife, and they clog our landfills. The City of San Francisco, before passing a ban on plastic bags in retail outlets in 2007, estimated that the city spent 17 cents per bag to clean up, recycle or landfill plastic bags. Recycling is not the answer; Californians recycle only 5% of plastic bags currently; recycling them is costly and difficult. Californians have been agitating to get rid of plastic bags for years. One particularly creative anti-bag campaign is carried out by the BagMonster. Created by the inventor of a brand of reusable bag, BagMonsters are volunteers in costumes made of 500 plastic bags, representing the 500 bags that Americans use on average every year. BagMonsters turn up at rallies, farmers markets and other green events, wafting along, covered in 15 pounds of plastic baggery, a visible and visceral demonstration of an expensive waste that could so easily be avoided. Sometimes making the best sustainable, green decision is a tough choice, but living without mountains of single-use plastic bags? I think we can do this! Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ The Ecologist (UK): What is a sustainable lifestyle? 28 July 2010 Does GDP really correspond to happiness? Is our happiness tied up with ''stuff''? And what is a sustainable lifestyle? A UNEP video helps explain Next to demands for international climate agreements and government targets for carbon emissions and biodiversity, the way we live our lives often gets lost or forgotten. 'The area of lifestyle choice has often been regarded as too subjective, too ideological, too value laden, or simply too intractable to be amenable to policy intervention,' argues Tim Jackson, author of 'prosperity without growth'.
  8. 8. The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) have produced a report and this video to look more closely at ideas about sustainable living from around the world and how more of us could achieve them. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ Green Prophet (Middle East): Will AFED’s Documentary “Wet And Dry” Catalyze Arab Environmental Action? 28 July 2010 Even as they sound an important climate change alarm for Middle Eastern viewers, AFED’s endorsement of MASDAR and KAUST deserves its own alarm. At Green Prophet, we have lamented environmental inaction in the Middle East for a long time. Ridiculous artificial island schemes and dying rivers, such as the Jordan, are only 2 examples from a long list that both reveal and threaten the region’s stability. The Middle East does not spew the kind of emissions seen in the United States, China, or India, but many countries in the region are blinded by fossil fuel wealth, which obscures the attendant environmental decay. The Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) released a powerful 12 minute documentary that finally sounds the alarm. The wave of the future: higher temperatures and higher seas Called Wet and Dry, the documentary launches deep into the crux of climate change: the potential that human activities could lead to a 5 degree Celsius temperature increase by 2100 and a sea level increase of 59cm, according to statistics published by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). A “1m rise [in sea levels] will directly affect 3 – 4% of the population in Arab countries,” according to Dr. Mostafa Kamal Tolba, the former Executive Director for the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), and overwhelm an area 4 x the size of Lebanon. Despite these pressing issues, the narrator draws attention to the irony that while the Maldives is moving their population in land, to prepare for future sea level increases, in the Middle East, Arab countries are “racing to build artificial islands.” The nightmare scenario Najib Saab, AFED’s Secretary General, narrates the importance of fresh water, which will become increasingly scarce, and food production, which is expected to drop by 50% if new crops are not introduced. Infectious diseases will increase. Malaria will spread. And there will be more cases of dyspnea and sun stroke as temperatures continue to rise.
  9. 9. All of these statistics and images generate a frightening momentum for even the most dissident viewer, and then culminates in the typical bottom line for all economies in the throes of globalization: money. Economics – the bottom line “Tourism is one sector of the economy highly vulnerable to climate change,” according to Saab. Rising temperatures will make many Middle Eastern destinations unbearably hot, subject to extreme weather and scarce water supplies, as well as ecosystem degradation. As such, tourism should push for inland activities centered more on culture and entertainment. Biodiversity is addressed as well, noting that after only a 2 degree rise in temperatures, 40% of species are already likely to become extinct. Another serious issue is land use and urban planning regulations. “Choices for construction materials used for buildings and roads do not take into account the risk of rising temperatures,” according to Professor Hamed Assaf from the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, AUB. As a result, “75% of buildings, roads, and other infrastructure could be destroyed as climate change continues to morph our planet. Is there an upside? There is if governments take the hint and introduce serious measures to at least keep temperatures from surpassing a 2 degree increase. And they should ditch short-term thinking in favor of long-term planning. Wet and Dry draws attention to the absence of concerted research, which is good, as well as programs such as MASDAR and KAUST as anecdotes – not good. Both MASDAR and KAUST are flashy efforts to maintain the status quo, a cultural model that has to be reigned in if our quality of life is ever to be restored. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ CSR Digest (Malaysia): Guess what we saw at Yves Rocher Subang Parade? 29 July 2010 In conjuction with its 50th anniversary, Yves Rocher has pledged to one million of the proposed one billion trees under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) initiative, “Plant for the Planet: Billion Trees Campaign”. According to its statement: When the Yves Rocher Brand celebrates its 50th anniversary, this is the Planet which is celebrated. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, to never forget what we owe to nature, to restore and preserve biodiversity, the Yves Rocher Brand is committed in planting 50 million trees across the globe over the next 5 years.
  10. 10. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ YES (Blog): 2010 a Tipping Point for Renewable Energy 28 July 2010 100 days into the BP disaster, it's time to quit claiming that an economy based on fossil fuels is our only option. It’s been a tough summer for the oil industry—or so you’d think. BP’s geyser of oil has now made headlines for 100 days, each one a reminder that oil extraction poses dangers we can’t control. Even with the temporary cap on the well providing a respite from new oil, there’s been little time for the industry to breathe a sigh of relief, much less burnish its image: A second well, even closer to shore, ruptured after being struck by a barge and began spilling more oil into the Gulf. In Michigan, 800,000 gallons of oil poured into the Kalamazoo River from a broken pipeline. In China, an explosion at an oil terminal caused a massive fire that took 15 hours and 2,000 firefighters to extinguish, as well as a nearly 300-mile large spill of thick crude oil, one of the worst in that country’s history. And in the Arctic, May and June broke records for the fastest ice melt of any summer since recording began. The truth is that there not only is an alternative to oil dependence, it’s already being built. But even with the dangers of oil so clearly and horrifyingly illustrated, this summer is unlikely to end with any major constraints on the oil industry in the U.S.—the main responses will likely be a temporary moratorium on new offshore wells (not offshore drilling itself) and a stripped-down energy bill that tries to hold BP accountable for the costs of its spill. Why? Why can't we muster the political will for a real response—one that would help us avoid future disasters by breaking our dependence on fossil fuels? Because of the belief, strongly held even in the midst of our shock and outrage, that there is no alternative to our current oil-based society, dangerous though we must all now recognize it to be. A new UN-backed study of renewable energy worldwide declared that the world has reached a “clear tipping point” for green power. In Europe and the U.S., renewable energy grew faster than fossil fuel energy in 2009—for the second year in a row. Sixty percent of new electricity generation in Europe and more than half of new energy in the U.S. came from renewable sources. China built more than 37 gigawatts of renewable power generation capacity, more than any other country. “If this trend continues,” the report notes, “then 2010 or 2011 could be the first year that new capacity added in low-carbon power exceeds that in fossil-fuel stations" on a global basis.
  11. 11. The report also found that more than 100 countries, half of them in the developing world, now have policies to promote renewable energy. Achim Steiner, the UN’s undersecretary general, noted that there is “a serious gap between the ambition and the science in terms of where the world needs to be in 2020 to avoid dangerous climate change. But [this research shows that] this gap is not unbridgeable." "Indeed," he said, "renewable energy is consistently and persistently bucking the trends and can play its part in realizing a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy if government policy sends ever harder market signals to investors.” That’s a big "if," considering the failure of the U.S. Congress to turn this summer’s oil disasters into strong climate legislation. But at least now, neither industry nor government can continue to claim that an economy based on fossil fuels is our only option. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ El Periodico (Spain): Cartas de los lectores 29 July 2010 Siendo congruentes con la prohibición de los toros en Catalunya, habría que prohibir también los correbous, la matanza del cerdo, la caza, la pesca, cerrar los zoos, acabar con la comercialización del fuagrás y vetar las langostas, las almejas, los filetes de ternera, los mejillones, el lechón y el corderito lechal. También es curioso que se dé libertad de voto a sus señorías para votar el asunto de los toros y no para el aborto. Parece ser que los seres humanos importan mucho menos. ¡Cuánta hipocresía! Sociedad adocenada Eugeni del Castell Sant Andreu de Llavaneres La polémica en torno a la abolición de los toros es el paradigma de la sociedad catalana actual, una sociedad adocenada, acrítica, manipulada por una mesocracia inepta, demagógica y populista. Así nos va. Reses bravas libres Juan Diego Escartín Utrecht (Holanda) El toro bravo ha existido en todo el continente europeo desde hace siglos. Hoy en día, solo hay toros donde se celebran corridas: España, Portugal y el sur de Francia. En el resto de Europa fue erradicado por ser un animal peligroso y económicamente improductivo. Tras la prohibición en Catalunya, ¿qué vamos a hacer con esa masa de reses bravas que ocupan nuestros campos? Los dueños de las ganaderías querrán ganarse el pan de otra manera. Me temo que con la desaparición de las corridas haremos desaparecer también al toro.
  12. 12. Se acabó la tortura Marc Cortal Barcelona Siempre he optado por el voto útil en Catalunya, pero los dos grandes partidos catalanes me decepcionaron ayer profundamente al dejar una cuestión tan importante como la prohibición de la tortura de los toros al libre albedrío de cada diputado. En cambio, felicito a los partidos pequeños, que han demostrado su responsabilidad y coherencia al votar a favor del fin de las corridas. Para mí, sería una verdadera animalada votar por un president que no está en contra de estas torturas. Ahora solo falta acabar con esta vergüenza de tener que esperar aún hasta enero del 2012 para que se acaben estas carnicerías en público. Más parados Montse G. P. Barcelona Vaya por delante que soy catalana y que no me gustan los toros, lo cual soluciono no acudiendo a ninguna corrida, pero ¿y a los que si les gustan? ¿Qué harán? Pues fastidiarse, igual que los fumadores y tantas otras personas que se ven rodeadas de prohibiciones. Eso sí, ahora se sumarán al paro los ganaderos, toreros, banderilleros y la inmensa mayoría de gente que vive de los toros bravos, animales que toda la vida se han criado en España. Por esta regla de tres, también tendrían que cerrar los mataderos donde sacrifican los animales que luego nos comemos. Con la cantidad de cosas urgentes que tenemos por arreglar en Catalunya (sanidad, educación, delincuencia, paro...), nuestros gobernantes se dedican a estos temas, que no hacen más que atraer más antipatías por una comunidad que no es como los políticos insisten en demostrar que es. IMPUESTOS MUNICIPALES Aumento desmedido Fernando Delgado López Santa Perpètua de Mogoda El gobierno municipal de Santa Perpètua de Mogoda (PSC, ERC y CiU) ha cambiado la gestión de los tributos a través de la Diputación de Barcelona. Ya se ven las consecuencias para los contribuyentes: una denuncia por estacionar mal ha pasado de 48 a 200 euros. Y en tres años el IBI me lo han subido un 110%. EL CUIDADO DEL MEDIOAMBIENTE Empresas sucias Jordi Serrano Alcaraz El Masnou Hacía tiempo que no se daba una posición tan rotunda en un organismo de la ONU: el director ejecutivo del Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA), Achim Steiner, acusa a las grandes empresas de explotar los recursos
  13. 13. naturales de manera desenfrenada, sin protección de la naturaleza. Steiner añade que un porcentaje bajísimo de empresas se dedica a la conservación de los ecosistemas. El informe del PNUMA se centra en las grandes compañías mundiales, aunque deberíamos preguntarnos qué hacen las empresas españolas por la naturaleza, y de dónde y cómo extraen los recursos que luego transforman. Deberíamos plantearnos también si las administraciones deberían incentivar y bonificar a las empresas más limpias. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ Il Giornale (Italy): Ahmadinejad ha fatto il nido al Palazzo di vetro 29 July 2010 Dell’Onu, dei suoi paradossi, abbiamo già volte tentato di ridere per non piangere, e tuttavia non si può fare a meno di soffrire: nata per preservare il mondo da dittature, persecuzioni, guerre è divenuta spesso la più ipocrita e aggressiva cassa di risonanza antioccidentale e antidemocratica. Causa ne sono le maggioranze automatiche cosiddette “non allineate” e islamiste. Adesso a misurare in maniera intelligente e particolare il danno ci aiuta la giornalista Claudia Rossett su Forbes, e lo diciamo per non derubarla del difficile computo da lei operato sulla presenza dell’Iran dentro le istituzioni dell’Onu. È formidabile a dir poco quanto il Paese che oggi rappresenta una delle maggiori minacce per tutto il mondo con il suo programma atomico che procede, conformemente alla politica iraniana, contro Israele e la civiltà ebraico-cristiana; ormai colpito da quattro round di sanzioni obbligatorie del Consiglio di Sicurezza; macchina organizzatrice e ideologica di terrorismo internazionale; violatore senza remore di diritti umani… quanto questo Paese si sia insediato all’Onu in lungo e in largo. Ad aprile, dopo che avevamo rischiato di vederlo nel Consiglio per i Diritti Umani, l’Iran ripiega sulla Commissione per lo Status delle Donne. Questo, mentre escono via internet le immagini delle sue donne costrette in palandrane totali e sottoposte a regole di segregazione sotto la sorveglianza delle Guardie della Rivoluzione, o peggio mentre si diffondono immagini di fedifraghe fustigate, sottoposte a lapidazione, impiccate. Ma questo è solo un incipit: l’Iran è uno dei 36 membri della maggiore organizzazione Onu, l’Undp, programma per lo sviluppo. Lo ha presieduto l’anno scorso, e essere nel direttivo gli dà l’accesso anche al direttivo che governa l’Unfpa, il fondo per la popolazione, e l’Unifem, il fondo di sviluppo per le donne. I tre anni nel direttivo dell’Undp si concluderanno alla fine del 2010, ma l’Unifem dà diritto a far parte del direttivo dell’Unicef (che si occupa dell’infanzia) fino alla fine del 2011 e del Wfp (il programma per il cibo) fino al 2012. Altrettanto pervasiva la presenza iraniana nel settore delle armi, dello spazio, del crimine globale. Fino alla fine del 2012 infatti l’Iran di Ahmadinejad, che si pregia di una minaccia di sterminio al giorno, sarà vicepresidente del consiglio esecutivo dell’Opcw, l’organizzazione per le armi chimiche; inoltre, siederà in due commissioni dell’Unodc, l’ufficio Onu per la droga e il crimine, e la sub commissione di 20 membri della commissione per la Prevenzione del Crimine e la Giustizia Criminale, di cui fa parte dal 2009 per la durata di tre anni. Da questo aprile l’Iran è entrato per 4 anni nella commissione con base a Ginevra per la Scienza, la Tecnologia e lo sviluppo. L’Onu
  14. 14. consta anche di un sub comitato legale del Copuos, Comitato per l’Uso Pacifico dello Spazio, ed esso è presieduto da Ahmad Talebzadeh dell’Iranian Space Agency. L’Iran siede anche nel consiglio dell’Unhcr (l’Agenzia per i rifugiati) e fa parte del comitato direttivo delle sue centrali di Nairobi. Manca alla nostra lista ancora l’Unep, il programmna per l’ambiente, e l’Un Habitat, il Programma per gli insediamenti umani. Ahmadinejad è anche là. Dice la Rossett inoltre che il mandato dell’Iran alla Fao come presidente del consiglio direttivo è scaduto, ma ne è già prevista la candidatura per il periodo 2011-13 e intanto siede nella commissione finanze fino alla fine del 2011. Ahmadinejad, oltre a primeggiare in conferenze Onu come quella di Ginevra contro Israele detta “Durban 2”, dal 2005 ogni settembre, in occasione della inaugurazione annuale, è volato a New York per tenere un suo discorso: sempre ha lasciato gli ascoltatori senza fiato per la smodata aggressività anti occidentale e per la promessa ripetuta del genocidio degli ebrei. Possiamo dire che l’Iran si è impossessato del discorso pubblico internazionale e l’ha tutto quanto volto verso sé stesso: Ahmadinejad è il grande capo di un movimento mondiale, il suo comportamento ci dice se si mette bene o male per tutti. La forza diplomatica dell’Iran gli ha certo fatto da scudo simbolico contro le sanzioni votate dall’Onu stessa. Esse sono sempre state sbeffeggiate. Adesso l’Ue ha scelto a sua volta di adottare dure sanzioni che riguardano gli scambi commerciali, i servizi finanziari e l’energia. Solo un paio di settimane fa il Consiglio di sicurezza dell’Onu aveva adottato una quarta tornata di sanzioni, e l’Ue, pressata dagli Usa, l’ha battuta in severità. Lo shock sembra aver indotto Ahmadinejad a riproporre uno «scambio di carburante senza precondizioni». Sarà saggio guardare a questa proposta con scetticismo. L’Iran ha sempre usato i negoziati per guadagnare tempo: vuole raggiungere l’arma atomica prima che la pressione economica diventi intollerabile. Dunque l’Europa deve tener fede alla sua intenzione: l’Iran deve essere bloccato. Anche per l’Onu è venuto il tempo dell’intransigenza: date le sanzioni del Consiglio di Sicurezza, sarebbe logico anche in uno stop alla nidificazione in tutti gli angoli del Palazzo di Vetro. Back to Menu ============================================================= Other Environment News Telegraph (UK): BP oil spill in Gulf of Mexico disperses quicker than was feared 28 July 2010 The Gulf of Mexico slick is disappearing far more quickly than expected, leaving clean- up workers struggling to find oil to remove. Two weeks after BP finally managed to plug a hole that had leaked 200 million gallons of crude oil, officials said the pollutants were dispersing and evaporating. Adm Thad Allen, the national incident commander, said: "It's becoming a very elusive bunch of oil for us to find."
  15. 15. Local communities have begun asking if fishermen who are being paid to help with the clean-up will soon be out of pocket. By some estimates, up to 40 per cent of the oil may have evaporated as soon as it reached the surface. Experts said that warm surface water and weeks of sunlight had broken up the crude, along with strong winds and waves during storms last week. The Gulf's waters also contain bacteria that have always degraded oil that seeps naturally from the ocean floor. Since the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig, the effort by the US government and BP, which involved 4,000 boats and an army of workers skimming, scooping and burning the oil, has also played a significant part in shrinking the slick. Early on in the crisis, fishing was suspended in about a third of the Gulf, while there was extensive damage to wildlife. The tourism industry was hit as holiday-makers stayed away, with a fifth of the 253 beaches in four affected states were subject to closure or health warnings. Officials remain wary about the effects of the 86-day leak, partly because the damage to the ecosystem below the surface is not yet fully understood. "Less oil on the surface does not mean that there isn't oil beneath the surface, however, or that our beaches and marshes are not still at risk," said Jane Lubchenco of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Louisiana politicians are concerned that even when shrimp, oysters and fish have been declared safe the industry could suffer from negative publicity. "It's a matter of making everyone realise that our fish and shrimp are edible," said Louisiana Congressman Charlie Melancon. At its peak, the leak tested relations between Washington and the Government as President Barack Obama made hostile remarks which were seen as detrimental to BP's share price. He then persuaded the company to set up a $20 billion escrow account to deal with claims from the public. A US Senate panel meanwhile postponed a hearing due to be held today on BP's alleged role in the Lockerbie bomber's release after British and Scottish officials including Jack Straw, the former Foreign Secretary, and Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland, refused to appear. Tony Hayward, BP's chief executive who will be stepping down in October, also declined to accept the invitation from the Senate foreign relations committee. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________
  16. 16. Guardian (UK): BP petrol stations have pumps closed by Greenpeace activists 27 July 2010 Protesters shut down 46 outlets to highlight environmental promises made by oil giant BP petrol stations across central London were temporarily shut down by activists today in a move they said was designed to make the troubled oil company adopt greener policies. Greenpeace claimed supporters had at one time stopped the pumps at 46 outlets by stealing parts of safety switches in forecourts – action the company said was "childish and irresponsible". The protests, coinciding with the replacement of BP chief Tony Hayward by Bob Dudley, was meant to encouraged the public to help speed-up the end of the oil age. Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said: "The moment has come for BP to move beyond oil. Under Tony Hayward the company went backwards, squeezing the last drops of oil from places like the Gulf of Mexico, the tar sands of Canada and even the fragile Arctic wilderness ... They're desperate for us to believe they're going 'beyond petroleum'. Well now's the time to prove it." About 50 protesters were involved in the action today, including three teams of 12 who moved between BP sites attempting to remove pieces of safety equipment which they intended to return later. Greenpeace said it had been unable to halt the flow at a handful of stations and some had got services back on line quickly because of back-up equipment. The action is not thought to have led to any arrests by police, whom a Greenpeace spokesman described as "relatively friendly and reasonable". But BP said the protesters had interfered with safety systems that allowed emergency services to switch off power to the pumps. "To interfere with them is just childish and irresponsible," a spokesman said. The company believed up to 30 stations had been affected. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ New York Times (US): Another Oil Leak Hits Gulf of Mexico 27 July 2010 A wellhead in southeastern Louisiana was spewing a mist of oil and gas up to 100 feet into the air after being hit by a tug boat early Tuesday morning, officials said. It is at least the third unrelated oil leak in the area since the Deepwater Horizon spill began 99 days earlier.
  17. 17. The well is about 65 miles south of New Orleans in Barataria Bay, which is surrounded by wildlife-rich wetlands and was a fertile area for fishermen, shrimpers and oystermen before the BP spill. By Tuesday afternoon, a reddish brown sheen 50 yards by one mile long was spotted near the well, according to a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard said the well was owned by Cedyco, a company based in Houston. The wellhead burst at 1 a.m. local time Tuesday after being hit by a tug boat, the Pere Ana C, that was pushing a dredge barge, Captain Buford Berry, though details were still being investigated. A cleanup crew from a company in nearby Houma that was already involved in the Deepwater Horizon spill response was sent to the area. A Coast Guard strike force team was also sent. About 6,000 feet of boom was placed around the spill, and the Coast Guard was surveying the scene from the air. The Coast Guard said it would use the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, financed by a tax on oil companies, to pay for the response. No specific flow rate has been determined, officials said. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ AFP: US hit by new oil spill 29 July 2010 A new oil spill is sullying US waters in the northern state of Michigan after a pipeline leak sent more than a million gallons of crude into a river tributary, officials said Wednesday. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the spill began Monday when a 30-inch (76-centimeter) pipe in Marshall, Michigan burst, spewing the crude into Talmadge Creek, a waterway which feeds into the Kalamazoo River. Officials said the pipeline belongs to the Canadian company Enbridge Inc. The agency said it is directing and monitoring all aspects of oil spill clean-up and containment efforts over 30 miles (48 kilometers) of the Kalamazoo River, including marshlands, residential areas, farmland, and businesses. "This is a serious spill that has the potential to damage a vital waterway and threatens public health," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. "Staff from EPA's regional and headquarters office are on the scene and ensuring the leaked oil is contained and cleaned up as quickly and effectively as possible."
  18. 18. On Tuesday, the environmental agency requested that the US Coast Guard make two million dollars available for the federal response to the spill, and said the money eventually will be reimbursed by Enbridge. Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm however criticized both EPA and Enbridge Wednesday for what she described as a slow response so far. "The situation is very, very serious," Granholm said in a conference call with the news media, adding that oil could reach Lake Michigan if more intensive containment measures are not put in place. The Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge said in a statement that it views the incident "very seriously." "We're treating this situation as a top priority," the company statement said. "We are committed to thoroughly cleaning up the site as quickly as possible. The safety of people and the protection of the environment are our highest priorities during the clean-up." Enbridge said that the faulty pipeline has been shut down and isolation valves closed, stopping the flow of oil. An investigation is underway into the cause of the leak, it added. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ AP: EPA: 1M gallons of oil may be in Mich. river 29 July 2010 Federal officials now estimate that more than 1 million gallons of oil may have spilled into a major river in southern Michigan, and the governor is sharply criticizing clean-up efforts as "wholly inadequate." The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the update Wednesday night, shortly after Gov. Jennifer Granholm lambasted attempts to contain the oil flowing down the Kalamazoo River. She warned of a "tragedy of historic proportions" if the oil reaches Lake Michigan, which is still at least 80 miles downstream from where oil has been seen. Granholm called on the federal government for more help, saying resources being marshaled by the EPA and Enbridge Inc., which owns the pipeline that leaked the oil, were "wholly inadequate." Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge said earlier Wednesday that it had redoubled its efforts to clean up the mess. Chief executive Patrick D. Daniel said the company had made "significant progress," though he had no update on a possible cause, cost or timeframe
  19. 19. for the cleanup. The company didn't return messages for comment after Granholm's statements. The overall work force on the spill Wednesday was likely more than 400 people. EPA officials said they're ramping up efforts with air and water testing. Local officials said they weren't concerned about municipal water supplies. Tom Sands, deputy state director for emergency management and homeland security, said during a conference call with Granholm that he had seen oil past a dam at Morrow Lake. The lake is a key point in the river near a Superfund site upstream of Kalamazoo, the largest city in the region. But his report could not be immediately confirmed. The company's latest update statement Wednesday said oil was about seven miles short of the opening to Morrow Lake. A press conference scheduled for late Wednesday, which was to include company and EPA officials, was canceled for what a company spokesman called scheduling conflicts. State and company officials previously said they didn't believe the oil would spread past that dam. "It's going to hit a Superfund site unless somebody like the EPA and the company get very serious about providing significant additional resources," Granholm said. The spill has killed fish and coated wildlife as it made its way westward about 35 miles downstream past Battle Creek, a city of 52,000 residents about 110 miles west of Detroit. Both company and EPA officials have said oil is no longer leaking. Enbridge has been working to clean up the spill since the leak was reported early Monday. Before the EPA announced its new estimate, Enbridge reiterated its belief that about 819,000 gallons of oil spilled into Talmadge Creek, which flows into the Kalamazoo River. State officials said they were told during a company briefing Tuesday that about 877,000 gallons spilled, but company officials disputed the number. An 800,000 gallon spill would be enough to fill 1-gallon jugs lined side by side for nearly 70 miles. It also could fill a wall-in football field including the end zones with a 14-foot- high pool of oil. Granholm has declared a state of disaster for some areas along the river, and President Barack Obama called Granholm to offer federal support. An oily reflective sheen could be seen in patches along the Kalamazoo, and the affected area still had a strong odor, although not as strong as on Tuesday.
  20. 20. Anil Kulkarni, a mechanical engineering professor at Penn State University, said a quick response was vital to the river's ecology. Snails, frogs, muskrats and even birds eat, live and nest on or near the riverbank. "The river banks are nearby. It has more potential to inflict damage because of the proximity to land. Anything that comes in contact with oil is going to be affected badly. It prevents the natural life of species, whether it's collecting food or anything else." Enbridge affiliates have previously been cited for skirting environmental regulations in the Great Lakes region. Houston-based Enbridge Energy Co. spilled almost 19,000 gallons of crude oil onto Wisconsin's Nemadji River in 2003. Another 189,000 gallons of oil spilled at the company's terminal two miles from Lake Superior, though most was contained. In 2007, two spills released about 200,000 gallons of crude in northern Wisconsin as Enbridge was expanding a 320-mile pipeline. The company also was accused of violating Wisconsin permits designed to protect water quality during work in and around wetlands, rivers and streams, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said. The violations came during construction of a 321-mile, $2 billion oil pipeline across that state. Enbridge agreed to pay $1.1 million in 2009. The Michigan leak came from a 30-inch pipeline, which was built in 1969 and carries about 8 million gallons of oil daily from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario. The river already faced major pollution issues. An 80-mile segment of the river that begins at Morrow Lake and five miles of a tributary, Portage Creek, have unsafe levels of PCBs and were placed on the federal Superfund list of high-priority hazardous waste sites in 1990. The Kalamazoo site also includes four landfills and several defunct paper mills. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ Reuters: Water cut to north China city after chemical spill 29 July 2010 Water supplies were cut in parts of the northeastern Chinese city of Jilin on Thursday, after a flood washed thousands of barrels of a dangerous chemical from a factory into the area's main river, state media said. After the accident tap water supplies were stopped in Jilin, the official Xinhua agency said, though residents reached by telephone on Thursday morning said water had been restored to some districts. Local officials said it was merely an unexpected technical suspension unrelated to the accident, but by Thursday afternoon supplies had not resumed.
  21. 21. Downstream in Harbin city -- where the barrels could arrive in the next day if they are not picked up first -- "panicked residents" were buying up bottled water, even as the government assured people water supplies were uncontaminated, Xinhua added. "No chemicals had been detected in the river water," it quoted environment ministry spokesman Tao Detian as saying. In Jilin a "small quantity" of two pollutants produced by the plant were found in the Songhua River, and a reporter smelt a strange odor as he watched dozens of the metal containers float through downtown, Xinhua said. It was not clear how well the barrels were sealed. But the environmental protection ministry said late on Wednesday that tests showed nothing abnormal about the water quality. It would monitor the river closely, it added in a statement. Jilin city suffered a major chemical spill in November 2005, when an explosion at a petrochemical plant released tonnes of hazardous chemicals into the river. That was covered up for over a week. In the face of widespread panic, officials were forced to cut water supplies to millions of people, including the city of Harbin in neighboring Heilongjiang province. The latest incident was triggered when a flood surged through a chemical plant on Wednesday morning, carrying off barrels. Around 3,000 barrels contained 170 kg (375 lb) of chemicals, and another 4,000 were empty, Xinhua said, citing a government official speaking at a news conference in Jilin. Some 2,500 contained trimethyl chloro silicane, a colorless, flammable liquid with a pungent smell, and another 500 contained hexamethyl disilazane, another colorless but smelly liquid. Altogether as much as 500 tonnes could potentially be floating down river. The government of Jilin, which has a population of 4.5 million, said it had acted quickly. "The city government paid great attention, and immediately reported the incident to the provincial government and rapidly put in place an emergency plan," it said in a faxed statement. The Songhua River is a major tributary of the Heilongjiang or Amur River, which forms China's border with Russia for several hundred km (miles) before crossing fully into the neighboring nation. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ BBC: Plankton decline across oceans as waters warm
  22. 22. 28 July 2010 The amount of phytoplankton - tiny marine plants - in the top layers of the oceans has declined markedly over the last century, research suggests. Writing in the journal Nature, scientists say the decline appears to be linked to rising water temperatures. They made their finding by looking at records of the transparency of sea water, which is affected by the plants. The decline - about 1% per year - could be ecologically significant as plankton sit at the base of marine food chains. Algal blooms can be imaged from space This is the first study to attempt a comprehensive global look at plankton changes over such a long time scale. "What we think is happening is that the oceans are becoming more stratified as the water warms," said research leader Daniel Boyce from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. "The plants need sunlight from above and nutrients from below; and as it becomes more stratified, that limits the availability of nutrients," he told BBC News. Phytoplankton are typically eaten by zooplankton - tiny marine animals - which themselves are prey for small fish and other animals. Disk record The first reliable system for measuring the transparency of sea water was developed by astronomer and Jesuit priest Pietro Angelo Secchi. Asked by the Pope in 1865 to measure the clarity of water in the Mediterranean Sea for the Papal navy, he conceived and developed the "Secchi disk", which must be one of the simplest instruments ever deployed; it is simply lowered into the sea until its white colour disappears from view. Various substances in the water can affect its transparency; but one of the main ones is the concentration of chlorophyll, the green pigment that is key to photosynthesis in plants at sea and on land. The long-term but patchy record provided by Secchi disk measurements around the world has been augmented by shipboard analysis of water samples, and more recently by satellite measurements of ocean colour. The final tally included 445,237 data points from Secchi disks spanning the period 1899-2008.
  23. 23. "This study took three years, and we spent lots of time going through the data checking that there wasn't any 'garbage' in there," said Mr Boyce. "The data is good in the northern hemisphere and it gets better in recent times, but it's more patchy in the southern hemisphere - the Southern Ocean, the southern Indian Ocean, and so on." The higher quality data available since 1950 has allowed the team to calculate that since that time, the world has seen a phytoplankton decline of about 40%. Ocean cycling The decline is seen in most parts of the world, one marked exception being the Indian Ocean. There are also phytoplankton increases in coastal zones where fertiliser run-off from agricultural land is increasing nutrient supplies. However, the pattern is far from steady. As well as the long-term downward trend, there are strong variations spanning a few years or a few decades. Father Secchi's simple disk has been used for more than 100 years Many of these variations are correlated with natural cycles of temperature seen in the oceans, including the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Arctic Oscillation. The warmer ends of these cycles co-incide with a reduction in plankton growth, while abundance is higher in the colder phase. Carl-Gustaf Lundin, head of the marine programme at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), suggested there could be other factors involved - notably the huge expansion in open-ocean fishing that has taken place over the century. "Logically you would expect that as fishing has gone up, the amount of zooplankton would have risen - and that should have led to a decline in phytoplankton," he told BBC News. "So there's something about fishing that hasn't been factored into this analysis." The method of dividing oceans into grids that the Dalhousie researchers used, he said, did not permit scrutiny of areas where this might be particularly important, such as the upwelling in the Eastern Pacific that supports the Peruvian anchovy fishery - the biggest fishery on the planet. Absorbing facts If the trend is real, it could also act to accelerate warming, the team noted. Photosynthesis by phytoplankton removes carbon dioxide from the air and produces oxygen.
  24. 24. In several parts of the world, notably the Southern Ocean, scientists have already noted that the waters appear to be absorbing less CO2 - although this is principally thought to be because of changes to wind patterns - and leaving more CO2 in the air should logically lead to greater warming. "Phytoplankton... produce half of the oxygen we breathe, draw down surface CO2, and ultimately support all of our fisheries," said Boris Worm, another member of the Dalhousie team. "An ocean with less phytoplankton will function differently." The question is: how differently? If the planet continues to warm in line with projections of computer models of climate, the overall decline in phytoplankton might be expected to continue. But, said, Daniel Boyce, that was not certain. "It's tempting to say there will be further declines, but on the other hand there could be other drivers of change, so I don't think that saying 'temperature rise brings a phytoplankton decline' is the end of the picture," he said. The implications, noted Dr Lundin, could be significant. "If in fact productivity is going down so much, the implication would be that less carbon capture and storage is happening in the open ocean," he said. "So that's a service that humanity is getting for free that it will lose; and there would also be an impact on fish, with less fish in the oceans over time." Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ Guardian (UK): Global warming pushes 2010 temperatures to record highs 28 July 2010 Scientists from two leading climate research centres publish 'best evidence yet' of rising long-term global temperatures Global temperatures in the first half of the year were the hottest since records began more than a century ago, according to two of the world's leading climate research centres. Scientists have also released what they described as the "best evidence yet" of rising long-term temperatures. The report is the first to collate 11 different indicators – from air and sea temperatures to melting ice – each one based on between three and seven data sets, dating back to between 1850 and the 1970s.
  25. 25. The newly released data follows months of scrutiny of climate science after sceptics claimed leaked emails from the University of East Anglia (UEA) suggested temperature records had been manipulated - a charge rejected by three inquiries. Publishing the newly collated data in London, Peter Stott, the head of climate modelling at the UK Met Office, said despite variations between individual years, the evidence was unequivocal: "When you follow those decade-to-decade trends then you see clearly and unmistakably signs of a warming world". "That's a very remarkable result, that all those data sets agree," he added. "It's the clearest evidence in one place from a range of different indices." Currently 1998 is the hottest year on record. Two combined land and sea surface temperature records from Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and the US National Climatic Data Centre (NCDC) both calculate that the first six months of 2010 were the hottest on record. According to GISS, four of the six months also individually showed record highs. A third leading monitoring programme, by the Met Office, shows this period was the second hottest on record, after 1998, with two months this year – January and March – being hotter than their equivalents 12 years ago. The Met Office said the variations between the figures published by the different organisations are because the Met Office uses only temperature observations, Nasa makes estimates for gaps in recorded data such as the polar regions, and the NCDC uses a mixture of the two approaches. The latest figures will give weight to predictions that this year could become the hottest on record. Despite annual fluctuations, the figures also highlight the clear trend for the 2000s to be hotter than the 1990s, which in turn were clearly warmer than the previous decade, said Stott. "These numbers are not theory, but fact, indicating that the Earth's climate is moving into uncharted territory," said Rafe Pomerance, a senior fellow at Clean Air Cool Planet, a US group dedicated to helping find solutions to global warming. The Met Office published its full list of global warming indicators, compiled by Hadley Centre researcher John Kennedy. It formed part of the State of the Climate 2009 report published as a special bulletin of the American Meteorological Society by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which runs the NCDC temperature series. Seven of the indicators rose over the last few decades, indicating "clear warming trends", although these all included annual fluctuations up and down. One of these was air temperature over land – including data from the Climatic Research Unit at the UEA, whose figures were under scrutiny after hacked emails were posted online in November 2009, but the graphic also included figures from six other research groups all showing the same overall trends despite annual differences.
  26. 26. The other six rising indicators were sea surface temperatures, collected by six groups; ocean heat to 700m depth from seven groups; air temperatures over oceans (five data sets); the tropospheric temperature in the atmosphere up to 1km up (seven); humidity caused by warmer air absorbing more moisture (three); and sea level rise as hotter oceans expand and ice melts (six). Another four indicators showed declining figures over time, again consistent with global warming: northern hemisphere snow cover (two data sets), Arctic sea ice extent (three); glacier mass loss (four); and the temperature of the stratosphere. This last cooling effect is caused by a decline in ozone in the stratosphere which prevents it absorbing as much ultraviolet radiation from the sun above. One key data set omitted was sea ice in the Antarctic, because it was increasing in some areas and decreasing in others, due to reduced ozone causing changes in wind patterns and sea-surface circulation. This data set showed no clear trend, said Stott. These figures were also in the last report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007. "It's not that the IPCC didn't look at this data, of course they did, but they didn't put it all together in one place," he added. The cause of the warming was "dominated" by greenhouse gases emitted by human activity, said Stott. "It's possible there's some [other] process which can amplify other effects, such as radiation from the sun, [but] the evidence is so clear the chance there's something we haven't thought of seems to be getting smaller and smaller," he said. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ Reuters: Indonesian Sinar Mas-linked firms wrecked forest: report 29 July 2010 Greenpeace said on Thursday it had fresh evidence that palm oil firms linked to Indonesian agribusiness giant Sinar Mas have bulldozed rainforest and destroyed endangered orangutan habitats in Kalimantan. The charges were denied by palm oil firm PT SMART Tbk, part of Sinar Mas, which has already said it would stop clearing critical forests. The accusations, leveled by Greenpeace in a new report, is the latest chapter in a long and bitter dispute between the conservationists and a key player in one of Indonesia's biggest industries, palm oil. The high stakes battle has already led to top palm oil buyers Unilever and Nestle dropping PT SMART as a supplier.
  27. 27. Industry giant Cargill on Thursday reiterated that it may also delist the Indonesian producer if the allegations of wrongdoing are borne out in an audit due to be released next month. It also has implications for Indonesia, which competes fiercely with neighboring Malaysia for dominance of the lucrative palm oil market and which is also under intense international pressure to curb deforestation, seen as fuelling dangerous climate change. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has promised to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 by as much as 41 percent from business-as-usual levels, and agreed to a moratorium starting in 2011 on issuance of new permits to clear primary forest. The ban is part of a $1 billion climate deal signed with Norway earlier this year. SMART has already promised to stop clearing high conservation value (HCV) forests, which refers to forests that shelter endangered species or provide valuable natural services such as trapping climate-warming greenhouse gases. It said it will publish an audit of its operations on August 10. SMART manages Indonesian palm oil firms PT Agro Lestari Mandiri (ALM) and PT Bangun Nusa Mandiri (BNM). The parent company for SMART, ALM and BNM is Singapore-listed Golden Agri-Resources, which is part-owned and led by the Widjaja family that controls Sinar Mas. AERIAL SHOTS Greenpeace said in a report released on Thursday that aerial photographs taken in July by their own photographers, as well as by a Reuters photographer, showed that ALM was still clearing carbon-rich peatland forests in Ketapang district, in Indonesia's West Kalimantan province. "What we found was that, despite their commitment, high carbon destruction is still going on," said Greenpeace forest campaigner, Bustar Maitar. "This is still happening, even while their auditor is writing the report." Greenpeace also published photographs which it said showed BNM clearing in an area in Ketapang that was identified by the United Nations Environment Program as habitat for highly endangered orangutans. SMART released a press statement the firm did not clear virgin or primary forest and that it complied with Indonesian laws and regulations. "We are not responsible for clearing primary forests, which are the natural habitats for orangutans, and High Conservation Value areas. On the contrary, all our concession areas do not contain primary forests and we conserve High Conservation Value areas, creating sanctuaries that will continue to preserve biodiversity," said Daud Dharsono, PT SMART's president director. Areas of untouched greenery in the aerial shots were proof
  28. 28. that parts of their concession areas are being set aside for preservation, the statement said. Enormous amounts of greenhouse gases are emitted when peatland forests are cleared and drained. Their preservation is seen as crucial to preventing runaway climate change. SMART's spokesman, Fajar Reksoprodjo, told Reuters that in the past, aerial photographs that appeared to show clearing in peatlands had been misinterpreted and showed mineral soil. SMART initially planned to release its audit in July but delayed it to August 10 because it was not yet finished. The auditors are paid by SMART and were selected in collaboration with Unilever, which chairs the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an industry body made up of producers, consumers and non-government organizations. The Greenpeace report also called on fast food chains Pizza Hut -- a unit of Yum Brands Inc -- and Burger King to stop buying palm oil from firms linked to Sinar Mas. Back to Menu ============================================================= RONA MEDIA UPDATE THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS Wednesday, July 28, 2010 UNEP or UN in the News Reuters: Executives See Biodiversity as Key to Business Growth Executives See Biodiversity as Key to Business Growth Reuters, 28 July 2010, By Yale Environment 360 (Re-printed) An increasing number of corporate executives, particularly in biodiversity-rich nations of Latin America and Africa, view declines in biodiversity as a challenge to business growth, according to a new study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). More than 50 percent of chief executive officers surveyed in Latin America and 45 percent in Africa expressed concerns about the loss of "natural capital," the study found. Only about 20 percent of executives in Europe share those concerns. The report says business leaders who do not address sustainable management could see profits suffer as consumers become increasingly concerned about the loss of ecosystems and biodiversity.
  29. 29. According to the study, more than 80 percent of consumers surveyed said they would stop buying products from companies that do not use ethical practices when sourcing materials. Yet despite increasing corporate awareness - and some successful regional responses - rates of biodiversity loss worldwide have not slowed, the study said. Reprinted with permission from Yale Environment 360 [] General Environment News Reuters: Obama Says Will Keep Pushing For Climate Bill The New York Times: Cap and Trade Is Dead. Long Live Cap and Trade The New York Times: The Chevy Volt’s Sticker: $41,000 Los Angeles Times: Western Climate Initiative: California, New Mexico and 3 Canadian provinces push greenhouse gas controls Los Angeles Times: Wind farm 'mega-project' underway in Mojave Desert ClimateWire: Electric carmakers focus on incentives, not carbon prices ClimateWire: Foundering U.S. industry calls for Senate lifeboat ClimateWire: Congress debates easing forest restrictions The Aspen Times: Aspen Enviro Forum panel: Urbanized world is developing ‘nature deficit disorder' Canada: The Toronto Star: Three millions litres of oil spill from Enbridge pipeline into Michigan river Montreal Gazette: Michigan declares pipeline spill a disaster area The Globe and Mail: Michigan oil spill Enbridge’s ‘highest priority’ The Globe and Mail: Biggest provinces push plan to cap emissions Obama Says Will Keep Pushing For Climate Bill Reuters, 28 July 2010, By Jeff Mason President Barack Obama pledged on Tuesday to keep pushing for legislation to fight climate change despite a move in the U.S. Senate to focus energy reform more narrowly on offshore drilling. Senate Democrats unveiled a bill on Tuesday that omits setting caps on carbon emissions -- the key element of a more comprehensive energy and climate bill that failed to gain sufficient support in the Senate. The Senate bill would require oil companies to cover all oil spill costs by removing the $75 million cap on liability, and provide rebates for purchasing vehicles that run on alternative fuels and making existing homes more efficient. Obama said it was "an important step in the right direction" but it was not enough.
  30. 30. "I want to emphasize it's only the first step and I intend to keep pushing for broader reform, including climate legislation," he told reporters in the White House Rose Garden after meeting with congressional leaders. "If we've learned anything from the tragedy in the Gulf, it's that our current energy policy is unsustainable." Obama, who spoke before details of the Senate proposal were disclosed, did not set out a timetable for a future climate push and it is very unlikely that any legislation on the subject will be passed this year. If likely Republican gains in November elections change the balance of power in Congress, climate change legislation would face an even more uncertain future. With that in mind, the White House indicated on Tuesday that climate provisions could be added back into a bill once negotiators from the Senate and the House of Representatives hammer out differences between their respective versions during "conference" talks. The House bill, passed last year, includes climate provisions to cut greenhouse gas emissions. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, when asked whether the administration would seek to do a separate climate bill later after getting a narrow energy-focused bill first, said: "No, I think the process is you get an energy bill through the Senate then you can conference that legislation with the House." Gibbs said that process could happen in September. Obama's comments were likely meant as a nod to the international community and environmentalists, who are counting on U.S. action to help advance U.N. talks to form an international pact to curb greenhouse gas emissions and fight global warming. Obama said climate change legislation would create high-wage U.S. jobs in the renewable energy sector. "We can't afford to stand by as our dependence on foreign oil deepens, as we keep on pumping out the deadly pollutants that threaten our air and our water and the lives and livelihoods of our people," he said. Cap and Trade Is Dead. Long Live Cap and Trade. The New York Times, 28 July 2010, By Felicity Barringer trade/?hp Hard on the heels of the Senate Democratic leadership’s decision to put aside climate legislation intended to cap carbon dioxide emissions, another carbon-capping precinct was heard from this week.
  31. 31. On Tuesday, representatives of some of the Western Climate Initiative, a group of seven states and four Canadian provinces, unveiled a rough blueprint for a cap-and-trade program that would begin operating in 2012. A subgroup — California, New Mexico, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia — intends to move first in limiting carbon dioxide emissions. Each is writing its own rules, but all are working from the same template, with a shared understanding of how to count emissions accurately and a shared value for the allowances that emitters will be awarded in each jurisdiction. And to prevent a utility in, say, New Mexico from buying electricity from a coal plant in Texas to skirt the cost of compliance with the emissions limits (in policyspeak, this is called leakage), the emissions associated with imports of electricity are included in the total cap for a given state or province. But there is one significant difference between the emissions profile of this core group and that of the United States as a whole. Whereas the electric power industry, with its huge fleet of coal-fired power plants, is the biggest single source of carbon dioxide emissions in the country over all, in California and the three provinces, the transportation sector — think passenger cars — creates the preponderance of emissions. Yet planners anticipate that emissions related to transportation fuels and fuels for home heating or commercial use will not fall under the emissions cap until 2015, three years into the program. And a more tangible threat to the system is on the horizon. Proposition 23, on the California ballot this fall, is intended to derail the state’s signature climate-change law. And California accounts for one-third of the full Western Climate Initiative’s total emissions. Finally, even as the Western states and Canadian provinces announced that they can act regardless of what the United States Congress does, the value of the emissions allowances being traded under the auspices of a different coalition — the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a coalition of 10 states in New England and the mid-Atlantic — are dropping in the absence of a federal law that could bolster their value. Point Carbon, a ThomsonReuters publication that follows the carbon market, reported on Friday that activity in the RGGI (pronounced Reggie) market had come to a near standstill. “Fading hopes for passage of a federal climate bill that would give value to RGGI allowances” has also deterred financial speculators from participating in what the creators had hoped would be an inspiration for a nationwide carbon market, it said. Based on their statement on Tuesday, the architects of the Western Climate Initiative still hope to produce a model market that could join with the smaller market on the East Coast, which covers only the electrical sector. That is, if California is still a leader in the group after the November election. The Chevy Volt’s Sticker: $41,000 The New York Times, 27 July 2010, By Todd Woody
  32. 32. General Motors began taking orders for the long-awaited Chevrolet Volt on Tuesday, pricing the plug-in hybrid car at $41,000. A federal tax credit can reduce the net cost of the Volt to $33,500, and a 36-month lease will be available for $350 a month with $2,500 due at the signing. Production of the Volt will begin in September, and the car will initially be sold in California, New York, Michigan, Connecticut, Texas, New Jersey and the nation’s capital, G.M. said. The car’s suggested starting price is $8,220 higher than that of the all-electric Nissan Leaf, which will also go on sale this year. With the Volt ready for the assembly line, executives began a full-court press to persuade consumers that the car’s cutting-edge technology and features are worth a BMW price tag. “It’s a real car — it just happens to be electric,” Joel Ewanick, G.M.’s vice president for North America marketing, said at a dinner Monday night at the Plug-In 2010 conference in San Jose, Calif. “This car is designed for the majority of Americans. This is a car that the average person can drive on a daily basis. It’s not something that’s a unique little niche vehicle.” “The marketing challenge is communicating how different this is than what they’re used to,” he added. The Volt’s lithium-ion battery pack gives the car an emissions-free range of 40 miles. When the battery is depleted, a small gasoline engine kicks in to run a generator that supplies electricity to the motor, extending the Volt’s range by 300 miles. Mr. Ewanick said that a Volt driven 15,000 miles a year would use 550 fewer gallons of gasoline than a comparable gas-only car. G.M. executives, however, insist on calling the Volt an “extended range electric vehicle,” underscoring the balancing act between promoting its green credibility and its utility as competitors roll out all-electric cars. The Leaf will go up to 100 miles on a charge, according to Nissan, which has been touting the car as “100 percent electric, zero emissions.” During a test drive in San Jose on Monday, a Nissan representative pointed out that the car’s interior is made of recycled water bottles and cited the availability of a solar panel that serves as a spoiler. If Nissan appears to be targeting the Prius set, G.M. is emphasizing that the Volt comes packed with whiz bang technology that lets drivers use their smartphones to do things like turn on the car’s air-conditioner or control when the vehicle is charged. As a sweetener, OnStar, the G.M. subscription service that provides driving directions and allows cars to be remotely controlled, will be included free with the Volt for five years.
  33. 33. A fully loaded Volt, with specialized wheels, paint and other options, will cost $44,600 before tax credits. Executives said the company plans to manufacture 10,000 Volts in the 2011 model year, with 30,000 cars produced the following year, when it will begin selling the plug-in hybrid nationwide. G.M. chose the initial markets to show that the Volt can operate in a range of climates, from frigid Northeast winters to hot Texas summers, said Tony DiSalle, director of product marketing for the Volt. In Texas, the Volt will first available only in Austin, and in New York, the car can only be bought in New York City for now, Mr. DiSalle said. Beginning Tuesday, buyers can go to a Web site,, to find Volt dealers who can take orders. Those 600 dealers have received special training on handling Volt orders and customers. “Lots of those will be people we haven’t seen in Chevrolet dealerships before,” Mr. DiSalle said. Western Climate Initiative: California, New Mexico and 3 Canadian provinces push greenhouse gas controls Los Angeles Times, 27 July 2010, By Margot Roosevelt California, joined by New Mexico and three Canadian provinces, outlined a detailed plan Tuesday to curb greenhouse gas emissions in a regional cap-and-trade program by January 2012. The Western Climate Initiative, two years in the making, comes as Congressional legislation for a federal climate legislation has stalled and the focus of U.S. action to curb global warming shifts to the states. A Northeastern cap-and-trade program is operating, covering power plants, but the economy-wide Western program, if enacted, would be three times larger, eventually encompassing most industrial and transportation sources of carbon dioxide and other gases that have begun to alter the global climate. Europe has been operating under a cap-and-trade program for industry for several years. But the future of the Western initiative is up in the air: California’s push for statewide controls are under challenge in a ballot initiative, as well as by gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. According to a news release from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office Tuesday the California-led plan “will be the most comprehensive carbon-reduction strategy adopted anywhere in the world.” While international and federal climate controls are needed," Schwarzenegger said, “California and the rest of the Western Climate Initiative partners are not waiting to take action.”
  34. 34. Wind farm 'mega-project' underway in Mojave Desert Los Angeles Times, 27 July 2010, By Tiffany Hsu,0,7972223.story It's being called the largest wind power project in the country, with plans for thousands of acres of towering turbines in the Mojave Desert foothills generating electricity for 600,000 homes in Southern California. And now it's finally kicking into gear. The multibillion-dollar Alta Wind Energy Center has had a tortured history, stretching across nearly a decade of ownership changes, opposition from local residents and transmission infrastructure delays. But on Tuesday, the project is officially breaking ground in the Tehachapi Pass, a burgeoning hot spot for wind energy about 75 miles north of Los Angeles. When completed, Alta could produce three times as much energy as the country's largest existing wind farm, analysts said. It's slated to be done in the next decade. The project will probably be a wind power bellwether, affecting the way renewable energy deals are financed, the development of new electricity storage systems and how governments regulate the industry, said Billy Gamboa, a renewable energy analyst with the California Center for Sustainable Energy. "It's a super-mega-project — it'll definitely set a precedent for the rest of the state and have a pretty large impact on the wind industry in general," he said. The project's developer, New York-based Terra-Gen Power, plans to coax three gigawatts of power from the wind farm over the next eight years. It has led some industry experts to predict that California might have a shot at reclaiming the wind energy crown from competitors such as Texas and Iowa. "Alta's an absolutely enormous project in probably the most promising wind resource area that remains in the state," said Ryan Wiser, a renewable energy analyst at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "It's the single biggest investment in California wind project assets in decades and is likely the largest the state is ever going to see." Southern California Edison agreed in 2006 to buy 1,550 megawatts of electricity from Alta over 25 years, one of the heftiest power purchase agreements ever signed. That would be enough energy to serve 275,000 homes and is twice the capacity of the country's largest existing wind farm, a 735-megawatt project in Texas. Terra-Gen is building Alta as a collection of wind farms; it has finished funding and started building the first group of five. The cluster's 290 turbines will be scattered across 9,000 acres, most of which are leased from private landowners. As early as next year, executives said, the turbines could start producing enough power to boost California's wind energy output more than 25% while creating thousands of local jobs. By 2015, another batch of farms, with roughly 300 turbines — some with blades
  35. 35. spanning nearly the length of a football field — is expected to be producing an additional 830 megawatts. Beyond that, details are scarce. "The first Alta phases are very real, but future phases might be a little less tangible," said Matt Kaplan, a senior analyst with IHS Emerging Energy Research. "We've seen California utilities sign a lot of power purchase agreements for not necessarily the most realistic projects." For years, Alta seemed to some like just another ambitious pipe dream tied up in red tape and stymied by a lack of transmission lines to carry the energy to customers. The project was originally conceived as the Alta-Oak Creek Mojave initiative in the early 2000s by Australian infrastructure fund Allco Finance Group. But when the firm went bankrupt in 2008, Terra-Gen bought control of Alta for $325 million. The permitting process took about three years, said Steve Doyon, vice president and head of development for Terra-Gen. Along the way, Terra-Gen had to abandon several proposed sites because of landowners' concerns about noise and frosty turbine blades slinging chunks of ice. Some worried that the skyscraping structures could malfunction and collapse or impede firefighting efforts. Last year, a petition opposing part of the project collected more than 1,000 signatures. The Federal Aviation Administration also jumped in, saying that some of the proposed turbines would interfere with flights at the nearby Mountain Valley Airport. "We're not against green energy in any way, but there just comes a time when you say that this is my community and I don't want turbines encroaching in full view," said Merle Carnes, president of the Old West Ranch Property Owners Assn. "There's room somewhere else." The Alta project had other big hurdles. California has been falling behind in the wind power race, increasing its capacity just 7% in 2008 while Texas and Iowa each doubled theirs. Pockets where high wind is common — such as the Altamont Pass in Northern California and the San Gorgonio Pass near Palm Springs — ran out of space early on, crammed with small turbines using inefficient old technology, analyst Wiser said. That has led to just "dribs and drabs" of installation over the last two decades. The Tehachapi area is one of the few windy regions left with room to grow, he said. Edison has been making headway on its Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, connecting alternative-energy projects such as Alta to electricity-hungry city centers. The utility is trying to meet a statewide goal for investor-owned utilities to use renewable energy for 33% of all power supplied to customers by 2020. Previously tight-fisted investors also are more confident about financing renewable energy projects. Terra-Gen recently secured $1.2 billion in funding for the Alta project. Vestas-American Wind Technology said last week that it would deliver 190 turbines to
  36. 36. Alta, the largest order ever for the turbine-making company. It was unable to land any contracts last year because of the credit crunch. The industry is not out of the woods yet: In the first half of 2010, newly added wind capacity in the U.S. tumbled 70% compared with the same period last year to just 1,200 megawatts, the American Wind Energy Assn. said Monday. But for now, experts said, the Alta project seems to be on track. "I'm not seeing any great big red flags there," Wiser said. Electric carmakers focus on incentives, not carbon prices ClimateWire, 28 July 2010, By Saqib Rahim LIVONIA, Mich. -- With climate legislation seemingly dead in Congress, many clean- energy advocates are going back to the drawing board. But the electric-car industry, which is relying on other federal incentives to get ahead, remains upbeat. Industry officials have met just outside Detroit for the past two days to discuss the state of the growing industry: whether the United States can build enough batteries, at a low enough price, to compete globally. Michigan has enjoyed much of the early investment, initiating battery-manufacturing plants and starting to set up the supply chain for electric cars. Those at the conference agreed that federal investment has set up a formidable amount of manufacturing and research in just two years. Yet in assessing what needs to come next, they called for more such investment -- not a price on carbon. In a recorded video address, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) said, "We need help from Congress," namely, renewing the clean energy manufacturing tax credit and the tax incentives that make plug-ins cheaper to buy for consumers. She did not mention climate or energy legislation. To be sure, the electric-car industry has never made a collective push for climate legislation. That may be because the climate bills were unlikely to cause an electric-car breakthrough by themselves. Some modeling of the economywide bills suggested carbon prices would only add a few cents to the price of gasoline, widely considered short of what's needed to change fuel consumption. A substantial price difference would be necessary to bring the economics in line with an electric car. Yesterday, General Motors Co. announced its Chevy Volt will cost $41,000 when it debuts this November.
  37. 37. Carbon prices 'don't move the ball' for vehicle sales "It may not be as much of a driver or a benefit in the short term as we would like it to be," said Bill Van Amburg, senior vice president with CALSTART, a group promoting hybrids and electric-drive in trucks. He said some carbon markets trade at about $3 a metric ton today, which has a negligible effect on fuel prices. "That doesn't really move the ball for transportation." Even prices around $30 to $40 may fall short of some of the cheaper fixes in the transportation industry, Van Amburg said. He said when fuel prices spiked in 2008, that really got drivers' and truckers' attention -- they all began to watch their driving as well as the cars they drove. "I've encouraged companies as they've looked at this, don't build your business case around the carbon price. Make that an add-on to your business case," he said. "Really focus on what you're delivering, and then if you get some additional benefits from the carbon reduction, that's good. But it may not totally move the market, and that's what we've been concerned about." Those in the industry, and in Michigan, are feeling better about the manufacturing side. The state estimates it's had almost $6 billion in battery-related public and private investment since 2008, and 16 battery companies have ongoing projects there. Officials speak of becoming the "battery capital of the world." The White House, meanwhile, has taken credit for putting a down payment on the U.S. battery industry that may reduce battery prices in the coming years, thanks to the scale of the investment (ClimateWire, July 15). Some of that investment will help General Motors, which is aiming to release a partly electric car in the next few months. The Volt's 40-mile battery will be built in Michigan. A GM spokesman said a carbon price would advance alternative-fuel vehicles, and that GM formally supports the policy, but he disputed whether it was "essential" for the Volt to thrive commercially. In an e-mail, GM's Greg Martin said, "Policy makers can do their part to speed the market acceptance of these vehicles as part of a much broader energy policy that sends a market/economic signal that places a premium on fuel efficiency. Could a carbon price be a part of such a policy? Yes. As well as consumer tax incentives." Cautious optimism from the 'battery capital of the world' At the Detroit-area conference, the general sense was that manufacturing has been kick- started, so now the industry wants to be sure there's a market for the cars. Even if the batteries get cheaper, they warned, investors will turn sour if no one buys the cars.
  38. 38. One battery manufacturer, Boston-based A123Systems, has received hundreds of millions in government aid to set up a new plant in Livonia. Les Alexander, the company's general manager of government solutions, said federal spending on manufacturing and research is helping, but "if we do not have the vehicles being built, or customers buying those vehicles, it's a risk that this industry will go away." Alexander's job is to convince the federal government to be a first market for electric- drive vehicles, such as the U.S. Postal Service and other government fleets. The U.S. Army also sent several representatives to the conference -- it has roughly 400,000 vehicles, and leaders have begun to push for electric vehicles that can handle the battlefield. Even so, others called for sweeter incentives that promote electric cars among civilians, since they're the bulk of the several hundred million cars that are on the road today. Yesterday, Nissan announced that its Leaf, an all-electric car with a 100-mile range, will debut in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Tennessee this December. It will have rolled out to nine more states and Washington, D.C., by April of next year; the car will be available nationwide in fall of 2011. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) provided more encouragement that when those cars hit the streets, there could be more refueling stations waiting for them. Unveiling the latest version of his slimmed-down energy bill, Reid included more aid for "electrification deployment communities," or towns and cities that make a push to develop the infrastructure needed to convince people that pioneering the return of the electric car won't be as difficult as some imagine. Robbie Diamond, president of the Electrification Coalition, said the bill, if passed, will ensure that electric cars will be successful beyond early adopters of the technology. Foundering U.S. industry calls for Senate lifeboat ClimateWire, 28 July 2010, By Joel Kirkland Wind power installations in the United States plummeted 71 percent in the first half of 2010 as compared with the same period last year, according to an industry analysis, triggering an eleventh-hour push by the industry to bring a proposed national renewable energy standard before the U.S. Senate. "The numbers are dismal, and they're getting worse," Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), said in a call with reporters. "We're going to see jobs lost and see manufacturing facilities not getting built in the U.S." Senate Democrats yesterday rolled out a limited energy bill that did not include a 15 percent renewable energy standard (RES) by 2020 for utilities. The national requirement won bipartisan support in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year.
  39. 39. The original sponsor of the RES, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), had given up on pursuing the measure once Senate Democratic leaders indicated their intention last week to narrow the energy bill to bare essentials. Election-year concerns about partisan brawls over energy policy and a shrinking legislative calendar also played into the decision to kick major initiatives to a lame-duck session or into next year. Still, the jobs that come with wind power projects benefit both blue and red states. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) on Monday said he plans to push for an RES, but that could run into problems if the Democrats decide not to allow amendments. The fate of any lingering RES proposals rests on the extent to which Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is willing to consider amendments. So far, he's been unwilling to open the door to a messy energy debate before the congressional recess begins in early August. "Why do we even need a special agreement? We have an amendment process that works," said Robert Dillon, Republican spokesman for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "Reid just doesn't like to use it." U.S. becomes less attractive for wind turbine investments The committee's top Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted in favor of Bingaman's RES proposal when it passed out of committee, but she did so primarily because there were other sweeteners in the overall bill that could attract broader Republican support. Dillon couldn't say exactly how Murkowski would vote if presented with the option during floor debate, but he said she's not a big fan of an RES. "If we put a price on carbon, she sees it as a redundancy," he said. "She agreed to it, but her inclination is that supporters of the RES would try to increase it to 25 percent." AWEA's Bode put it all in stark terms. She warned that the U.S. wind industry is about to walk off a cliff, led by the paltry 700 megawatts of wind generation added in the second quarter and the significant drop-off in manufacturing facilities coming online. It indicates utilities are less willing to sign long-term contracts with wind power providers and turbine manufacturers are looking to China and the European Union, both of which have national policies in place to build out wind power. In the United States, Bode said, the 30 or so states with renewable energy requirements aren't enforcing those rules consistently. Litigation in California and elsewhere has slowed full implementation. She said a federal standard would send the message to utilities and global turbine manufacturers that the United States is safe for investment and has a long-term policy to develop wind power. "Utilities make short-term decisions in terms of purchasing natural gas or coal because they are waiting for the long-term policy," said Bode, a former state regulator in Oklahoma.