Friday, December 25th, 2009
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an agreement with U.S. dairy producers to accelerate adoption of innovative manure to energy projects on American dairy farms. The agreement represents a dynamic public/private partnership and is another demonstration of the Obama Administration’s commitment to curb the emissions of greenhouse gases.
“This historic agreement, the first of its kind, will help us achieve the ambitious goal of drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions while benefitting dairy farmers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The “Use of manure to electricity technology is a win for everyone because it provides an untapped source of income for famers, provides a source of renewable electricity, reduces our dependence on foreign fossil fuels, and provides a wealth of additional environmental benefits.”
Monday, December 21st, 2009
Reverberations from the disappointing Copenhagen climate summit continued to be felt worldwide, with political leaders blaming each other for the meeting’s outcome, U.S. senators saying that the lack of progress will make it harder for Congress to pass a climate bill, European Union carbon prices falling, and some businesses lamenting the continuing lack of uncertainty about future CO2 cuts and carbon prices.
Britain’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown told an environmental meeting on Monday that a handful of countries blocked a legally binding deal on climate change, adding,
“We will not allow a few countries to hold us back. What happened at Copenhagen was a flawed decision-making process. We’ve just got to find a way of moving this process forward.”
Although Brown did not mention any countries by name, Ed Miliband, Climate Change and Energy Secretary, specifically mentioned China, noting that it had vetoed proposals calling for a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and an 80 percent cut in emissions by developed nations by mid-century. Miliband said China exercised its veto despite support for the proposal by a broad coalition of industrialized nations and the vast majority of developing nations.
Tuesday, December 8th, 2009
Delegates from developing nations at the Copenhagen conference were incensed after reading a leaked document purporting to show that a group of wealthy nations intends to sideline the UN in future climate change negotiations and place CO2 emissions restrictions on poorer nations.
The Guardian reported that the so-called “Danish text” — reputedly drafted by wealthy nations including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Denmark — would abandon the principles of the Kyoto Protocol requiring industrialized nations to commit to binding greenhouse gas emissions while poorer nations were not compelled to act. The draft text would hand control over financing climate change projects in the developing world to the World Bank and would make funds given to poorer nations for climate change adaptation contingent on those nations taking actions to reduce emissions.
Tuesday, December 8th, 2009
The United States Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward in regulating greenhouse gas emission in the US from both mobile sources (principally autos and trucks) and stationary sources (industrial and power generation sources). The actions taken today support EPA in regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.
[Yesterday], the US EPA Administrator signed two distinct findings regarding greenhouse gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act:
Monday, November 30th, 2009
Denmark, host of the upcoming climate summit, is proposing that global greenhouse gas emissions be cut by 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, with emissions peaking by 2020, according to Reuters.
A draft of the Danish proposal, now being circulated, said that to meet the 2050 target industrialized nations will have to slash emissions by 80 percent in the next 40 years.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said he hopes that the 192 nations at the climate summit will approve a five- to eight-page “politically binding” agreement that spells out emissions reduction commitments for each nation.
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
In an effort to reduce automobile usage and greenhouse gas emissions, the Dutch cabinet has approved a driving tax that would charge motorists seven cents a mile.
The plan, which must still be approved by parliament, would use GPS systems installed in each car to keep track of mileage and automatically bill drivers. The mileage charges would be higher at rush hour, for large cars, and for commercial vehicles.
Dutch officials said the driving tax, which would replace existing road taxes and duties on new car purchases, is designed to cut traffic by 15 percent and reduce emissions from transport by 10 percent.
Friday, November 13th, 2009
As debate heats up around the proposals for clean energy legislation in Congress, one of the main points of contention is the amount of money it will cost. More specifically, everyone wants to know how the average American household will be impacted by the respective energy bills in the House (Waxman-Markey’s American Clean Energy and Security Act) and the Senate (Kerry-Boxer’s Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act). This article will investigate the change in energy prices one can expect from legislation that could be passed within the coming months, and try to sift through the wide discrepancy in figures that are being tossed around. Then some recommendations will be presented as to how energy usage can be reduced, to preempt any anticipated rises in cost.
Friday, October 30th, 2009
The high tech industry will play a significant role in the battle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as long as the Internet remains a level playing field. The opportunities for software companies to innovate in the energy generation and energy efficiency sectors are substantial if the priority of traffic over the Internet remains neutral (i.e., the FCC adopts net neutrality rules).
The smart grid is the main prerequisite to the Internet’s involvement in energy. The Obama Administration recently announced $3.4 billion in the development of the smart grid and related technologies. Much of these funds went directly to utilities to provide smart meters in homes and businesses. Southern California Edison has already started its rollout of smart meters under a program called SmartConnect; they hope to have 5 million smart meters active by 2012.
Thursday, October 29th, 2009
A study by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang of the World Bank looked at the relative importance of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses from oil, natural gas, and coal compared to the life cycle and supply chain emissions of domesticated animals raised for food. They conclude that greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the lifecycle and supply chain of animals raised for food account for 51% of annual emissions caused by humans and should be given higher priority in global efforts to fight climate change.
While livestock are already known to contribute to GHG emissions, their levels have been underestimated or simply overlooked, former and current World Bank environmental experts Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang.
The authors recognize that the 51% figure put forward “is a strong claim that requires strong evidence,” but stress that if their argument is right, “it implies that replacing livestock products with better alternatives” would have far more rapid effects on the climate than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.
Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
Interfering with the Earth’s climate system to counteract global warming is a controversial concept. But in an interview with Yale Environment 360, climate scientist Ken Caldeira talks about why he believes the world needs to better understand which geoengineering schemes might work and which are fantasy — or worse.
Atmospheric scientist Ken Caldeira first became known for his groundbreaking work on ocean acidification, a phrase originally coined as a headline for one of his papers. Of late, however, Caldeira’s research has led him into the controversial area of geoengineering — the large-scale, deliberate manipulation of the Earth’s climate system.
Many scientists have shied away from the subject because they feel it is a wrongheaded and dangerous path to pursue. But Caldeira — who heads a research lab at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University — has not been so dismissive, in part because his climate modeling has demonstrated that some geoengineering schemes may indeed help reduce the risk of climate change. In fact, few scientists have thought harder about the moral, political, and environmental implications of geoengineering.